We discussed some strategies for coping with the inevitable anxiety that we are all feeling these days. Hint: be generous with the grace you and giving to yourself and others! We are all doing the best we can.
Just a quick note to let everyone know that I am here and am continuing to provide mental health care to the Erie community.
For the time being I am still providing care in person in my office on Mitchell Way. We have increased our cleaning and sanitizing efforts in our suite, have stopped shaking hands and have put away the candy jar 🙁
Just today I got this notice from DORA:
Colorado’s Mental Health Boards are alerting the public that it is at the discretion of mental health providers to account for current circumstances and use their best judgment in choosing telehealth as a modality. This information is in light of the continuing spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and addresses safety concerns of professionals due to the close proximity to clients inherent in face-to-face communications.
So at this time I believe I can safely provide services in person. However, I am open to other forms of communication (telehealth, etc). If you would like to talk about what this might look like for you, please shoot me an email or give me a call. We will get through this together with some flexibility and creativity on all of our parts.
Have you noticed your anxiety levels rising around the COVID-19 outbreak?
Do you find yourself worrying about what the illness means for you, your family and your friends?
Are you struggling to adapt to the ever-changing news stories, event cancellations and economic fluctuations?
You’re not alone. We’re all in this situation together: sharing the same worries.
The American Psychological Association has recently offered some strategies for managing the inevitable stress and fear that arises in situations like these where there are so many unknowns. Check them out:
Five Ways to View Coverage of the Coronavirus
reports about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, becoming more widespread
are making some people anxious. Here are some tips to help you manage
your anxiety, put news reports in perspective and maintain a positive
Keep things in perspective. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that the number of confirmed infections in the U.S. is extremely low. The fact that there is a great deal of news coverage on this issue does not necessarily mean that it presents any threat to you or your family.
Get the facts. It is helpful to adopt a more clinical and curious approach as you follow news reports about the virus. To that end, you will want to find a credible source you can trust. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a webpage dedicated to information on the coronavirus outbreak. You may also find useful information from local or state public health agencies or even your family physician.
Communicate with your children. Discuss the news coverage of the coronavirus with honest and age-appropriate information. Parents can also help allay distress by focusing children on routines and schedules. Remember that children will observe your behaviors and emotions for cues on how to manage their own feelings during this time.
Keep connected. Maintaining social networks can foster a sense of normality and provide valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress. Feel free to share useful information you find on governmental websites with your friends and family. It will help them deal with their own anxiety.
Seek additional help. Individuals who feel an overwhelming nervousness, a lingering sadness, or other prolonged reactions that adversely affect their job performance or interpersonal relationships should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional. Psychologists and other appropriate mental health providers can help people deal with extreme stress. These professionals work with individuals to help them find constructive ways to manage adversity.
Colorado is consistently ranked in the top 10 states in terms of deaths by suicide
Suicidal crises and thoughts are often brief in nature – meaning folks often don’t plan their suicide for long periods of time. It is often an impulsive decision
Because of the impulsive nature of many of these decisions, it becomes important to “put time and space between a suicidal person and means” by which they can harm themselves (i.e., a gun)
It’s OK to ask a loved one directly if they are thinking about suicide. This WILL NOT make them more likely to attempt suicide, instead it will give them an opportunity to share feelings that can be hard to express.
This video offers important information about how to own guns, while also being mindful of the health and safety of those in our families. Check out this awesome resource:
I was recently interviewed for an article about deflection over at Forge. While inspired by political events, like debates, the article offers so much more than the same old commentary about how politicians just say what they want to say and don’t answer the darn questions!
For example, the author describes different types of deflection used in various communications. Check out some of the excerpts from the article:
The Pivot: You recognize the question, then immediately pivot away from it, using a response like, “I understand what you’re saying, but I think the more important point is…” Then shift into the subject you really want to be talking about.
The Spin: “Instead of saying you’re leaving because your job makes you feel like a cog in the wheel, or because your voice isn’t heard, turn it into a positive: ‘That’s exactly why I’m here—because your company offers me a seat at the table and an opportunity to make real change.’
The Attack: It was 1984, and then-73-year-old Ronald Reagan was facing questions about his age in his campaign against a younger opponent. “At the debate against Walter Mondale, when they asked, Reagan said, ‘I won’t make age an issue, or exploit my opponent’s youth and inexperience,’” Bratt says. “It became this really famous deflection.”
Another take away? Deflection can be used in some really positive ways (think: steering the conversation away from politics when talking with a neighbor at the bus stop). But, using it too much can backfire.
Join me as I ramp up my Psychology and Photography series this year. I’m hoping to continue my goal of expressing moods, psychological states and emotions in non-verbal ways through photography. Welcome!
Are you a fan of New Year’s Resolutions? It seems like they have fallen out of favor in the last few years. Instead, folks seem to be making “life/relationship/parenting/etc goals.” Perhaps that’s the same thing as making a list of resolutions, but sounds better and more do-able? Who knows.
No matter what you call it, it can be useful to slow down this time of year and spend some time thinking about 2019. How did it go? What did you do? What didn’t you do? Like a State of Your Life recap. I’m thinking about things like:
How are you using social media?
How do you feel about the words and actions you engage in everyday?
What’s the state of the relationships in your life?
How’s your self confidence? Overall mental health?
What do you do with your free time?
Are you taking care of your body in the way you’d like to?
Is your work life where you’d like it to be?
You get the idea.
Once you think through the State of Your Life, what are you hoping for in 2020? Are there things you’d like to do differently? Try picking one area and start making some small changes. Not sure where to start? Call an expert, read a book, or listen to a podcast for help.
I was reading an article recently about Farm Stress, and the overall mental health crisis that is going on within our country’s farming communities. The pain and suffering is real, and very upsetting.
While I am not a farmer or rancher, I can try to understand the extreme conditions of the job: It’s physically dangerous, unpredictable because of weather, crop prices, and international relationships. Farmers are also making up a smaller and smaller portion of our population (less than 2%), and tend to be more geographically spread out than in years past. All of these factors – and others – combine to create a pressure-cooker of stress.
People are taking notice, however, and working hard to help those who are suffering. I discovered some wonderful resources through North Dakota State University. Here’s one:
For more information on farm stress and how to cope, check out this article:
After reading the last few posts about alcohol, drugs, and addiction; do you think you know someone who is struggling with some or all of these behaviors and symptoms? Watching someone you care about abuse substances can be painful. And it can also lead us to feel helpless in knowing how to help them. Obviously, we cannot force someone to abstain from use and become sober. Likewise, we cannot force them into treatment against their will. What we can do, however, is offer support, knowledge, and resources around addiction treatment.
Navigating the world of addiction recovery and treatment is tricky, so by becoming informed yourself, you can aide your friend or family member in understanding where to go to get help when they’re ready.
Luckily, there are a wide range of treatment options available for those wanting to achieve and maintain sobriety. Many experts in addiction treatment recommend that folks have more than one resource or treatment modality on board for the best chance of success. Here are the options:
Detoxification: “Detox” is a service offered by some addiction treatment and hospital facilities. A stay in detox typically lasts three to seven days and is intended to help you safely withdraw from drugs or alcohol with professional medical help. At the end of the stay, patients are referred on to other, longer-term treatment facilities or programs.
Inpatient Treatment: Residential/live-in treatment for addiction is the most intensive option for treatment of alcohol and/or drug addiction. Inpatient treatment can last anywhere from several days to one month or longer. While participating in residential treatment, you can expect to receive: individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, psychiatric/medication services and possibly family psychotherapy in one place.
Intensive Outpatient: Intensive outpatient treatment is a form of addiction treatment in which you continue to live at home while attending treatment sessions three to four days per week, two to four hours at a time. The idea behind intensive outpatient treatment is that you learn to live a sober lifestyle, while also going to school, maintaining employment, taking care of family members - whatever you normally do in life. Intensive outpatient treatment usually includes psycho-educational and psychotherapy groups, family therapy groups, and individual psychotherapy.
Individual Psychotherapy: For people wanting to achieve and maintain sobriety, individual psychotherapy is often recommended. Working one-on-one with a licensed mental health professional can allow you to explore, in a more individual way, your substance abuse and family history. These individual sessions also allow the mental health provider to assess for any underlying mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc) that may have been either exacerbated or masked by your substance use.
Group Support: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most well-known example of group support available to alcoholics. AA is a free, peer-led support group that has been around since 1939. AA’s 12-step program has been used for a long time, by many people and is very well established all across the world - making it easy to access for most people. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a very similar program that is specifically for people who struggle with drug (heroine, prescription painkillers, cocaine, etc) addiction. There are many other free, peer-led support groups in most communities across the country. For more information about what is available in your area, try asking your physician, mental health care provider, faith community, employer, or school.
Medication-Assisted Treatment: Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs combine medications and supplements, together with psycho-education to help you achieve and maintain sobriety. Naltrexone, Acamprosate and Disulfiram are some of the medications that are often used to help ease the discomforts of withdrawal symptoms, as well as decrease cravings 8.
If you need assistance immediately, you can always call 9-1-1, or go directly to your nearest emergency room.
With the prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse so high, it stands to reason that most of us will know someone, at some point in our lives, that we suspect is struggling with addiction. So how do you know if your loved one (or you) might have an addiction? Here are some signs of problem use:
Drinking more or longer than you meant to (“I was going to stop drinking by 8pm, but before I knew it, it was midnight and I still had a drink in my hand.”)
You tried to get sober, but it only lasted a few hours or days
You have engaged in risky behavior while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol more than once (for example: driving while impaired, engaging in risky sexual behavior, etc)
You need to use more and more of the substance to feel the same effects (this is also known as tolerance)
You continue to use alcohol or drugs, even though you know it is making another physical condition worse (for example: continuing to vape/smoke cigarettes even though you have lung cancer).
You spend a lot of time using drugs or alcohol, thinking about using, preparing to use, and recovering from your use
You experience conflicts with family, friends, and co-workers over your drug and/or alcohol use, but you continue to use at the same rate anyway
You used to enjoy other things (movies, football, skiing) but you rarely – or never – engage in those activities anymore because your alcohol and drug use takes up so much of your time
You experience symptoms of withdrawal (nausea, hallucinations, tremors) when you stop using your substance(s) of choice
You have gotten in trouble with the law more than once or twice because of your use
Identifying signs and signals of alcohol and drug use and abuse is difficult. Whether we are trying to assess ourselves or someone else, it can be a tricky process that involves honesty and candor. It’s important to remember that only a mental health, substance abuse, or health care professional can accurately and thoroughly complete the diagnostic process.