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3 Ways to Create a More Meaningful Holiday Season

The holidays are a time to be with the people you love, spread joy and cheer, and feel a sense of peace. Unfortunately, creating a meaningful holiday season doesn’t always happen in the middle of the hustle and bustle. And what about after the holidays are over?

That said, holiday stress is nothing new. Frantic mobs in the malls, juggling obligations with opportunities and even nostalgic traditions can get overwhelming. In 2020, it was even worse for many people who could’t even pay basic bills or get together with family or friends.

This year, and every year, it’s essential to make the most of the holiday season. That includes finding as many ways as possible to make it meaningful. When you’re able to do that, you can enjoy the season much more and get through it with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

So, what can you do to create a more meaningful holiday season?

1. Using Gratitude

This time of year is the season of giving, but how often do you actually show gratitude? That means so much more than just saying “thank you” for any of the gifts you might receive. Instead, use gratitude daily and take a few moments to really reflect on the things you do have in your life.

This past couple of years has been incredibly challenging for everyone. You may have had to deal with job loss, illness, the death of a loved one, grief, or loneliness. Sometimes, it can be hard to find things in your life to be grateful for — but they are there. Most of the time, we speed though life pursuing what we don’t have rather than acknowledging what we do.

The sooner you can start to recognize them, no matter how small they might seem now, the more appreciative you’ll become. That can make not only the holidays more meaningful but every day of the year. (and the bonus is, with regular practice, it can benefit your stress level and health, too)

2. Acts of Kindness

Instead of receiving this season, consider what you can give. Again, that goes beyond handing someone a present (although there is nothing wrong with that!). A meaningful holiday season can be found in simple acts of kindness.

From raking your neighbor’s yard to buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you at a cafe drive-through, little acts of kindness can go a long way.

Because this year has been so hard for so many, it can be the little things that make the biggest difference. You never know what someone might be going through and how much your moment of kindness can change their perspective and cause them to “pay it forward” to someone else. If there was ever a time to start a kindness change, it’s right here and now.

3. Service to Others

Being kind doesn’t mean merely buying someone something. Your small acts of kindness could (and should) trigger a desire to serve others all season long.

So very many people are in need throughout the holiday season. And even more so if the months that follow. This year rings true more than ever, mainly because people have lost their jobs or are dealing with loneliness or sickness.

You can make a real difference in someone else’s life through acts of service. Volunteer your time as often as possible. Work in a soup kitchen or a local food pantry. Volunteer at an animal shelter, or deliver groceries or medication to the elderly who can’t leave their homes. Ask a local church, temple, school or community center how you can help them.

Not only will acts of service make you feel good this holiday season, but it can genuinely open up your eyes to how many people need assistance. It can inspire you to do more throughout the year, not only around the holidays.

If you want to create a meaningful holiday season, these are just a few ways to get started. However, the best thing you can do is look into your heart and consider how you can take care of others. Now, more than ever, the holidays should be less about the chaos that typically surrounds them. Instead, take a step back to appreciate what you have, and think about helping others.

For more help creating a meaningful holiday season amid a grief-filled year, please contact me today or visit my page on Counseling for Loss to learn more about how I can help.

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Addiction Recovery

5 Signs Your Habit Has Gone Beyond “Harmless” and Become an Addiction

There’s a fine line between a bad habit and addiction. Unfortunately, because it’s such a fine line, it’s easy to cross over it without even realizing it. 

You might think that drinking or using any type of drug is something you have under control. Maybe it started out as something you did with friends. Or maybe you used it to relax.  

In some cases, though, your dependency on such things can become worse, and you won’t give it a second thought. 

With that in mind, it’s important to understand the signs that your habit has gone beyond “harmless”. When it is affecting the quality of your life and how you behave each day, a habit has crossed over into addiction territory. 

But how can you be sure? 

Let’s look at five clear signs that your habit has become an addiction. The sooner you take these signs to heart, the sooner you can seek the help you need and deserve.

1. You Can’t Stop

This is, by far, the most obvious sign that your habit has gotten out of control. If you’re unable to keep yourself from taking the substance, drinking, or performing a certain action (ie; watching pornography, etc.), you’ve become addicted. 

Addicts have an extremely hard time giving up their “habits” on their own. That’s why extensive treatment and rehabilitation are often needed. If you feel a constant need and urge to give in to that habit, it’s time to consider that there’s something more going on.

2. You’ve Isolated Yourself

People who are addicted to something often isolate themselves from others. They know they can’t be away from whatever their addiction is for long. Plus, they might worry that other people could sense something “off” about them. 

If you’ve started to cut yourself off from your friends and family or you aren’t interacting the way you normally would, ask yourself why? Does it have anything to do with that “habit”?

3. You’re Getting Into Financial Trouble

Most addictions cost money. The more you need, the more it costs. Unfortunately, drug dealers know how much people rely on certain substances, so they’re happy to raise their prices so addicts can get their “fix”. If your choice is alcohol, something as simple as a case of beer can cost $20. 

As you continue to feed your addiction, you might find that you run into financial issues. But, because you can’t give it up, you might find other means of getting the money. It’s not uncommon for addicts to take from others in their house, to sell their belongings, or even to give up things like eating or paying for utilities so they can use that money for their addiction. 

If that sounds like you, or you realize you’re experiencing financial strain, it will only continue to get worse unless you seek help.

4. Your Behaviors Are Unstable

Have you noticed yourself doing some things that you wouldn’t normally do? It’s not uncommon for addicts to practice “risky” behaviors. Unfortunately, those behaviors could get you hurt, or cause harm to others. There’s a difference between doing something fun that will boost your adrenaline and doing something that could put your life in danger.

You know yourself better than anyone. You might not want to admit it, but being active in dangerous behaviors isn’t you. Listen to yourself, and to any loved ones reaching out to help.

5. Your Relationships Are Strained

In addition to isolating yourself, have you found that your relationships are struggling? That could include a romantic relationship, friendships, or how close you are with family members. 

Addiction affects every relationship in your life. You might not feel you can be yourself without getting judged. Meanwhile, your friends and family might be concerned about you. 

If you start to become paranoid about your relationships, it might spill over into other areas of life, including your job. That can lead to poor work performance and start a vicious cycle of losing your career and trying to fuel your addiction all at once. 

These signs aren’t meant to convict you. Instead, they’re meant to educate you and to (hopefully) open your eyes. If any of them sound familiar or have caused any realizations, feel free to contact me. You can beat your addiction and take control of your life again— but you don’t have to do it alone

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Addiction Recovery

Why COVID-19 Caused a Rise in Relapse

Why COVID-19 Caused a Rise in Relapse [and What to Do About It]

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted almost everyone in some way. Some people lost jobs. Others lost loved ones. Some even had to battle the COVID virus, themselves. 

But for recovering addicts, COVID struck twice as hard. The addiction epidemic was already running rampant throughout the country, and a pandemic decided to show up, it’s almost as if the two teamed up to make matters worse for those in recovery. 

Simply put, COVID-19 has created a larger addiction problem and has caused a rise in relapses over the last year. 

Why the sudden spike? And what can be done about it now? If you’re a recovering addict, what can you do to protect yourself from relapsing, or get back on track if you’ve already slipped?

Why the Rise in Relapse

Since the pandemic began, there have been plenty of rules and restrictions put in place. The most widely used practices have included social distancing, quarantining/staying home, and wearing masks while out. 

Unfortunately, all three practices can be difficult for those in recovery. 

Isolation comes with plenty of problems for everyone. It has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and a weaker immune system. From a mental health standpoint, it can cause anxiety and depression. 

For a recovering addict, feeling alone is even harder. It’s important to have a support system and people who can hold you accountable. When you feel you can’t see those people who help you or reach out when you’re triggered, it can make it far too easy to relapse. A report by NPR found an 18% increase in overdoses across the U.S. throughout the pandemic. People staying at home and abusing alcohol and other substances behind closed doors created a dangerous combination.

The Stress of Everything

It’s not just the isolation that has triggered a rise in relapse across the country. This pandemic has caused a lot of fear, uncertainty, and stress for everyone. Maybe you had just gotten a new job but were laid off because of the virus. Or maybe you haven’t been able to see older family members or high-risk friends. You might even be concerned about your financial situation. 

Everyone has their own “triggers” with substance use. But a common trigger is stress. Many addicts use alcohol or other substances to deal with stress or cope with anxiety. 

When you feel you don’t have any other outlet and the stress is getting to you, relapsing becomes a greater possibility. 

What Can You Do About It?

The most important thing you can do to keep from relapsing is to be as proactive as possible. Some facilities across the country have seen fewer people looking for treatment and help throughout the pandemic. That doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t have to fall into that statistic.

Now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel in the pandemic. Thanks to the vaccine rollout, more things are opening up. That can serve as your own “light”, too. 

If you’ve been struggling to stay sober, don’t be afraid to reach out to a treatment center as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t able to visit a facility or speak to an addiction specialist in person, it’s worth it to set up an appointment online. 

Remember, you aren’t alone in what you might be feeling right now. Reminding yourself of that can be a tremendous help. The effects of this pandemic won’t last forever, and you can get back on track by seeking the support you need by any means possible. 

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Grief Loss

How to Handle the Loss When a Loved One Dies of COVID-19

It finally feels like there’s some hope when it comes to seeing the end of this pandemic. But COVID-19 isn’t over yet. Even when it is, it’s impossible to ignore the destruction and devastation it has caused. 

People will feel the effects of this pandemic for years to come. It has taken a toll on mental health; it has changed the healthcare industry, and even the way people work. 

But, for some, COVID hit on a more personal level. 

Over 500,000 people in the United States have died due to COVID-19. While those individuals might be just another number to add to a statistic for some, when they are a loved one of yours, it’s different. 

So, how can you handle the loss when someone you care about dies of this virus?  

COVID-19 and Accepting Your Feelings

One of the worst parts about losing someone to the pandemic is that it was probably sudden and unexpected. An unexpected loss can feel so much worse, so people tend to handle them in different ways. 

However you choose to feel is completely up to you. Accepting your feelings and knowing that they are valid is the first step to grieving properly. Chances are your grief will begin with very intense emotions. You may be in denial, or angry, or you might immediately try to care for others.  

It’s easy to get “derailed” in your own thoughts and feelings, too. That’s become a common problem with COVID-19 deaths. You might start thinking about why it had to happen, and what could have been done to prevent it.

While those feelings are just as valid, try not to get caught up in the “what ifs”, as they can hold up the natural grieving process.  

Focus On What You Can Control

When you lose someone you love, it can also feel as if you’re losing control. You might become fixated on the things that are completely out of your grasp, which only serves to fuel frustration and hurt. 

Instead, use this time to focus on the things you can control. They might be small, everyday things, like choosing to take care of your physical health, or finding time to be mindful each day. Small choices can make a big difference.

The more you shift your thinking to things you can control, the stronger you’ll become, and the easier it will be to rise up to life’s challenges. 

COVID-19 and Getting Rid of Guilt

There are plenty of thoughts and emotions that will try to derail your grieving process. Guilt tends to be a big one, especially in dealing with an unexpected death. It can overwhelm you, especially when you wonder why you’re healthy and strong and someone you love had to die because of this disease. 

Survivor’s guilt is natural. But keeping an eye on it and making sure it doesn’t consume you is important. Eventually, you need to focus on experiencing joy and contentment in your life again. It’s okay if that takes a while, but don’t hold yourself back from positive experiences and moments of moving forward just because you feel guilty. 

The grief of losing someone to COVID can be different from the experience of a traditional loss. If you’re struggling to cope, feel free to contact me. This is a unique period of life, and with so many unexpected deaths due to this illness, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed.

Together, we can work on more ways to handle the loss effectively and in healthy ways that will allow you to grieve on your own timeline, with a focus on eventually moving forward in life. 

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5 Dangers of Drinking to Cope With the Pandemic

There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on almost everyone. Now that there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the illness itself, byproducts of the pandemic are starting to show up. Below we take a quick look at 5 dangers of drinking to cope with the pandemic.

There is a significant concern in the healthcare community about a different kind of pandemic — a mental health pandemic.

Stress, loneliness, isolation, and loss have all been common themes over the last year. So many people have tried to find ways to cope. From corporations, to colleges to your neighborhood – the impact is everywhere. Unfortunately, some coping mechanisms can lead to even more significant problems. That includes drinking.

While using alcohol to get through something difficult might feel fine in the moment, the implications are severe.

So, what are the real dangers of drinking to cope with the pandemic?

1. It Can Lead to Addiction

Perhaps the most considerable risk of using alcohol to cope is becoming addicted. The longer you drink, the more your tolerance for alcohol is likely to increase. As a result, you’ll end up wanting more to get the same numbing effect.

It doesn’t take long for that desire for more to turn into a full-fledged addiction. When that happens, it can be a long and challenging road to recovery.

2. It Can Damage Relationships

Using alcohol to cope can create tension in your relationships. You might find yourself distancing from the people you love. Maybe you’re embarrassed by your new “habit.” Or, perhaps you get angry when someone tries to talk to you about it.

It’s not uncommon for the abuse of alcohol to lead to broken relationships. If you see yourself starting to push loved ones away, consider it a huge red flag.

3. You Won’t Look for Healthier Alternatives

If you start using alcohol as a coping mechanism and think it works, you’re less likely to stop. Even if you begin to realize that you’re becoming dependent, it’s hard to turn to healthier coping mechanisms if alcohol seems to be “working.”

It’s better to start with stronger coping mechanisms. Whether that’s a support group, therapy, or even something like exercising instead, they will steer you down a much healthier and more stable path.

4. There Could Be Physical Implications

The short-term physical effects of alcohol might not seem so extreme. But, if you’re continuously using it to cope, you’re putting yourself at risk of some long-term consequences that could be pretty serious.

Alcohol abuse can lead to an increased risk of liver disease, heart disease, and specific types of cancer. It can impair your cognitive function and can even weaken your immune system. As a result, you’ll be much more susceptible to illnesses.

5. Long-Term Mental Health Effects

Not only can drinking to cope with the pandemic cause physical issues, but it can lead to long-term mental health problems, as well. Drinking can increase your risk of developing depression or anxiety.

That often creates a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Drinking causes you to experience symptoms of depression. So, you drink more to cope. That’s how easy it is to become addicted.

If you know you’re drinking to cope with the pandemic, you’re not alone. But, you also don’t have to depend on alcohol to get through it. Consider alcohol addiction counseling if you’ve started to notice your habit turning into something more. There are many other ways to cope, and you can break free from the confines that drinking wants to keep you in.

Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about alcohol addiction counseling. By taking the initiative now, you can break the cycle of addiction before becomes a more severe issue.

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How to Cope After the Death of a Co-Worker

Depending on where you work, you can develop a close, healthy relationship with your co-workers. These are the people you spend several hours a day with, after all. So, it’s natural for friendships to form. Unfortunately, that’s also why the death of a co-worker can feel as difficult to handle as that of a close friend or family member. It’s hard enough when it happens, and tragically it’s happened at bit more for many of us over the past year. That’s why we wrote an article on how to cope after the death of a co-worker.

With the COVID-19 pandemic running rampant over the last year, you may know someone from work who has passed away from it. Even without the pandemic, anything from old age, illnesses, or accidents can cause someone’s life to be cut short.

What can you do to cope after the death of a co-worker? How can you go back to work knowing things will be different and knowing that you’ve lost a friend?

Workplace grief is real, so let’s dive a bit deeper into how to cope after the death of a co-worker.

Talk About That Person

If you work for a large company, people in management or different departments might not feel as strongly as you do about that employee’s death. They may not even bring it up or recognize it.

But it’s okay to talk about it at work. Bring it up to your co-workers. Connect with those who are also hurting at work because of the loss. It can be much easier to grieve together after the death of a co-worker. You can share stories about that person, laugh, cry, and choose to remember them through the pain you’re feeling.

Grieve as a Business

More close-knit businesses may be hit harder by the death of an employee. Suggest some charity or volunteer event in the deceased’s name that the company can participate in together.

Anything from hosting a 5k for charity to planting a memorial tree on the business’ property is a great way to grieve as a company collectively and to celebrate that person’s life.

Give Yourself Time

No matter what your relationship was with your co-worker, it’s critical to permit yourself to grieve. Things won’t be the same at work, and accepting that is a good place to start the grieving process.

Everyone will cope and handle the loss differently. If you had a closer relationship with your co-worker than others, take the time you need to work through the loss. Ask your employer for a few days off or a more flexible schedule as you try to get used to the change. Ensure you get the support you need, both at work and in your personal life, to handle your grief effectively.

Be Respectful of Others

Again, everyone may have had a different relationship with your co-worker. Be respectful of that, especially if you’re unsure what that relationship was. While it’s okay to ask people how they’re doing, be careful not to overstep boundaries.

Additionally, you can set boundaries for yourself. If you don’t want to talk about things right away after the death of a co-worker or if you feel like someone at work is trying to dig too deep for information, it’s okay to tell them you’re uncomfortable answering.

If you’re genuinely struggling to cope after the death of a co-worker, you might benefit from death in the workplace counseling. It’s easy to feel like you’re “alone” in your grief if you were only of the only ones close to your co-worker — but you’re not.

Learning how to work through that grief and get back to your job is crucial, and counseling can help you to do just that. Feel free to contact me for more information or visit my Death in the Workplace Counseling page. We will work through your grief together.

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Addiction Relapse: Understanding the Role of Expectations

Understanding the role of expectations in a key aspect of preventing addiction relapse. If you’re recovering from alcohol or substance abuse, the last thing you want to think about is relapsing. Unfortunately, that’s when it happens the most. It’s far too easy to believe that recovery is permanent.

While it can seem that way at times, it’s very easy to relapse, and several factors can play into it.

Some of the most common causes of relapse include boredom, fear, and resentment.

One of the most significant factors in relapsing is the role of expectations. Expectations can help to guide your recovery. Having unrealistic expectations will only make a full recovery seem impossible.

So, how can you better understand how expectations and addiction relapse are connected? What can you do to manage those expectations better?

Understanding Unrealistic Expectations

Part of the recovery process is setting goals for yourself. Goals come with expectations — that’s just natural. However, your expectations must be realistic. That’s why you need to develop several small goals for yourself, rather than one large one.

Realistic expectations allow you to reach those goals effectively. As a result, you’ll feel more motivated to keep working toward recovery.

Unfortunately, unrealistic expectations happen far too often. You might have an idea in your mind of how recovery should look. Or what you want your life to look like after the recovery process. Some common unrealistic expectations include:

  • Thinking the recovery process will be easy
  • Assuming you can handle it on your own
  • Expecting immediate results

When those expectations aren’t met (because they aren’t realistic), you might become frustrated. You might start to think your recovery program doesn’t work. Or, you might even take all of the blame yourself and slip back into addiction.

How to Set Realistic Expectations

How can you make sure your expectations for recovery are realistic? First, understand that recovery is a process. Nothing is going to get “fixed” overnight. While you might feel impatient at times, trusting the process is essential.

Next, make sure you educate yourself as much as possible. That includes learning about addiction, how it impacts your mind and body, and how the recovery process works. The more you know about addiction, the more realistic your expectations can be.

You should also focus on your health overall. Don’t make the mistake of solely “getting over” your addiction. Instead, think about how you can improve your health. Addiction recovery is only a part of that. But, when you’re focused on your entire person, you’ll want to break free of those chains of addiction the right way — not by rushing.

Keeping Your Expectations in Check

Maintaining your expectations throughout the recovery process is crucial to avoid addiction relapse. You can do that by acknowledging the progress you’ve made. It’s okay to tell yourself that you’re doing a good job! By recognizing how far you’ve come, it will make it harder to fall back.

You can also manage your expectations by reaching out for support. Remember, one of the most unreasonable expectations you can have is thinking you can do this alone.

Whether you need someone to talk to or you feel like you might be slipping, reach out to your support system as often as possible. That might be a family member or friend. Or it could be a recovery group or therapist.

Alcohol addiction counseling or substance abuse counseling can make a big difference in your overall recovery. Talking to a counselor can help you manage your expectations realistically. In doing so, you can reduce your risk of addiction relapse and keep moving forward.

Please contact me today if you need support in your addiction recovery or visit my Alcohol Addiction Counseling page to learn more.

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How Codependency Is Fueling Your Depression

Do you know how codependency is fueling your depression? Did you know that depression is often a symptom of codependency? If not, you’re not alone. Most people who are codependent don’t realize they may have chronic depression.

That’s because the symptoms are usually mild. But, they can become worse over time as your codependency continues to fuel that depression.

People with severe depression might have problems doing something as simple as getting out of bed in the morning. If you have depression due to codependency, you’re more likely to see signs of it in the form of fatigue, sadness, or low self-esteem.

How exactly does codependency fuel depression, and what can you do about it?

How Do You Know You’re Codependent?

You may not realize how much codependency fuels your depression if you aren’t aware of it in the first place. However, there are some common signs that a person is codependent, including:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Persistent people-pleasing
  • Emotionally reactive
  • Obsessing over what another person is doing
  • Willing to overlook destructive behaviors and habits in another person
  • Always needing to be in a relationship

If any of those signs sound like you, you could be dealing with codependency. Once the symptoms are identified, it can often become clearer why it’s easy for depression to grow and thrive in codependent people.

Codependent relationships are often intense and fueled by emotions. That can make it difficult to separate reality from what you’re feeling. For example, if you have a partner that treats you poorly or cheats on you, you might make up excuses for them or think things “aren’t that bad” because you’re afraid of losing them.

Unfortunately, those falsehoods you tell yourself serve as food for your depression and cause it to worsen. If that relationship ends, the depression can become even worse and cause you to become anxious. You might feel the need to get into another relationship immediately, which only continues the cycle.

Codependency and Depression; So What Can You Do?

If you recognize yourself as codependent and you already struggle with depression, there are a few things you can do to stop the cycle and focus on your mental health.

Most importantly, don’t wait to seek out professional help if you feel like your depression is out of control. In some cases, depression can lead to thoughts of self-harm. If you can see that you’re heading down that path or things feel genuinely hopeless, talking with a therapist can help you manage your symptoms of depression and work on freedom from codependency.

Additionally, start taking care of yourself. Codependency can cause a lack of self-esteem. By practicing self-care each day, you can boost your esteem and feel better about who you are on your own. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Lean on friends and family for support, and talk to them regularly about how you’re feeling.

Codependency and Depression; What to Avoid

Codependency and depression don’t just magically go away. They may both be something you have to work on managing for a very long time actively. With that in mind, there are a few things to avoid to keep your codependency from triggering your depression.

Most importantly, don’t isolate yourself from family and friends who love you. One of the biggest mistakes people with codependency make is believing they are weak. Focus on your strengths instead.

Additionally, work on yourself and manage your depression and codependency before getting into another relationship. Make sure you’re ready to be yourself, and you feel good about who you are before letting someone else in.

Codependency and depression are two “friends” you don’t want to have to deal with forever. By recognizing how being codependent can make your depression worse and doing what you can to manage it, you can break free from that emotional turmoil and be happy with who you are.

Please reach out to me today for support or visit my Addiction Intervention page to learn more about my services.

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Fight-or-Flight: How to Spot Familiar Trauma Responses

Fight-or-Flight: How to Spot Familiar Trauma Responses.

Most people have heard of the “fight-or-flight” response when it comes to traumatic or frightening situations. Either you stand up and confront your fear, or you run away from it.

While these are two of the most common trauma responses, they aren’t the only ones. (*even beyond “freeze” and “faun” too)

Additionally, trauma responses can happen years after the actual trauma occurs. Someone who experienced a traumatic situation may still have the same reactions when triggered in a specific way.

How can you spot some familiar trauma responses? What should you do about it if you regularly experience them?

Recognizing the Signs

Other common responses to trauma include everything from avoidance to vigilance. Because these are such varied responses, it’s only natural to expect different behaviors and reactions to each one.

Understanding some of the most common signs can make it easier to recognize trauma in yourself or others.. That said, some of the most common responses include:

  • Shock or disbelief
  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Withdrawl
  • Guilt

One could argue that all of these behaviors fall within the fight-or-flight category, though some are more extreme than others.

For example, if your response to trauma is guilt, you might “run away” or avoid reality to escape that guilt. If your response is anger, you may be more inclined to fight. Unfortunately, that may lead to reckless behaviors and unhealthy ways of coping.

It’s not always easy to spot these familiar signs in yourself. That’s especially true if you’ve been dealing with them for a long time, caused by something like childhood trauma. Understanding the various ways you might feel impacted can help you realize that you might need help working through those experiences.

Trauma Responses Aren’t Always What They Seem

It’s crucial to note that trauma responses are often misdiagnosed. That’s because they might “show up” as another type of mental health condition. Most commonly, they cause anxiety.

Someone who has experienced trauma in their life might struggle with symptoms of anxiety. That includes everything from fear and helplessness to physical signs like rapid breathing.

As a result, it’s critical to get to the underlying root of every mental health condition, especially anxiety and depression. Working through your responses will help with feelings of anxiety. It can also help you manage your symptoms even when you experience a triggering situation.

Why Are Trauma Responses So Important?

Why is it essential to spot familiar trauma responses? Because people respond to trauma in different ways. The more you understand about those various types of responses the easier it can be to recognize them sooner.

Issues like anxiety don’t often go away on their own. And, if you keep ignoring your trauma responses, likely, they won’t go away on their own either. Maybe you’ve been ignoring them without even realizing it. Whatever the case, if you’re dealing with any of these common responses, you’re not alone. Help is available.

If you experience any of the responses listed here or you feel like something is “off,” you could be dealing with the effects of trauma. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through those feelings forever.

Feel free to contact me to learn more about familiar trauma responses or to set up an appointment. Together, we can uncover your responses and what you can do to work through your trauma. That starts with identifying it and figuring out effective ways to manage your symptoms while bringing you into the present and looking toward the future.

Your trauma doesn’t define who you are, and acknowledging your experience(s) can help you realize that. Please reach out today or visit my page about law enforcement and stress to learn more about how I can help.

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5 Warning Signs of Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the world. That said, the signs of depression can vary for everyone. Some people might experience more severe symptoms. Others might be “high-functioning” with their depression. Knowing the signs of depression can help you determine when it might be time to get some help.

Despite some of the differences, there are a few warning signs of depression to be aware of. You may not be experiencing full-fledged symptoms yet, or you might be noticing that you feel a bit “off.”

Understanding some of these warning signs early on will make it easier to seek out help sooner. As a result, you can take control of your depression and manage your symptoms more effectively.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most common warning signs of depression.

1. Your Outlook Has Changed

One of the most common symptoms of depression is a feeling of hopelessness. If you’ve noticed that you have started to see things in a negative light, or your mood is more “down” than usual, it could be an early sign of depression.

Keep in mind that everyone feels sad and down from time to time. But, if it’s persistent and those feelings don’t seem to go away, it may be something more.

2. Physical Signs

While depression is a mental health condition, there are physical signs to watch for, too.

Some of the most common symptoms of depression are changes in sleep patterns or eating habits. If you’ve started to notice some of those changes, consider why they might be happening. Are they connected to how you feel?

3. A Loss of Interest

Do you find yourself not wanting to do things you usually enjoy? It’s normal to want some alone time or to relax. However, if you’re always backing out of something you typically love, it could be a warning sign of depression. That’s especially true if those things usually bring you happiness.

4. Pulling Away From Loved Ones

In addition to losing interest in interests, another potential warning sign is withdrawing from the people in your life.

Have you said “no” to spending time with family and friends lately? When was the last time you talked to someone you love? Withdrawal is a common sign of depression, often linked with feelings of hopelessness or even fatigue.

5. Changes in Your Emotions

It’s not uncommon for emotions to fluctuate throughout the day. But, depression can take those emotions to the extreme. If you feel sad one minute and angry the next, to the point where it causes an irritable outburst, it’s likely more than just your “typical” emotions coming through.

People with depression also sometimes experience feelings of anxiety. Fear can be overwhelming, and you might feel as though it’s taking over every aspect of your life if you don’t find a way to fight against it.

If you feel like you are losing control over your emotions, or they’re controlling you, it’s essential to understand why as soon as possible.

What’s the Next Step?

Again, the warning signs of depression can be different for everyone. But, the signs listed here are relatively common. If you’re struggling with this condition, you’re likely to display at least one of them.

Thankfully, depression isn’t only one of the most common mental health conditions; it’s also one of the most manageable. If you’re experiencing any of these warning signs, even if you’re not sure why, feel free to contact me to set up an appointment or visit my page about Heart Disease and Depression.

Together, we can work out the underlying cause(s) of why you might be feeling this way. Once we understand that root cause better, we can work on a management plan to help you control those depressive thoughts and symptoms.