How the Right Song Can Help You Manage Anxiety

happy woman using headphones and listening to music

Maya Benattar is a licensed psychotherapist in New York City. Her office looks like the typical therapist’s office — calm and quiet, comfortable seating, soothing lighting. The perfect place to work through difficult feelings of anxiety and depression.

But a few items might catch your eye: a piano, drums, a guitar, and various other music-making tools. Not things you’d typically expect to see in a therapy setting.

That’s because Benattar — in addition to her credentials as a psychotherapist — is also a board-certified music therapist. Continue reading How the Right Song Can Help You Manage Anxiety

How I Learned to Love My Dark Side

demon in mirror cartoon image

How I Learned to Love My Dark Side originally appeared on Shine, a free daily text to help you thrive.

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m sensitive. Like, we’re talking so sensitive that I can get stressed out from watching The Great British Bake Off because I see the stress in the competitors faces as they race to put a Victoria sponge cake in the oven.

I’ve had people in my life give me flack for being so sensitive, and often I’m self-conscious that I’ll come off as weak or unable to handle what obstacles come my way. That’s why I consider sensitivity my “dark side.” Continue reading How I Learned to Love My Dark Side

Learning to Cope with My Schizoaffective Disorder

illustrated heads collage different colors

I was sleeping on a tile floor during a New England winter with very little heat and no blankets. I starved to the point where I lost too much weight. After all this chaos I was hospitalized at Portsmouth Regional Hospital where the staff diagnosed me with schizophrenia, specifically schizoaffective disorder.

During my first episode of schizoaffective disorder, I experienced psychosis to the point where I had difficulty speaking more than several words at a time. I had referential thinking and lost my ego boundary. Everything external and internal blended together.

I believed there was a telekinetic network and my thoughts were being disseminated to everyone in the world. Continue reading Learning to Cope with My Schizoaffective Disorder

Can A Relationship Make You Mentally Ill?

angry couple arguing on couch

Point blank — relationships are complicated. When they go south, they can sometimes be a blame game, and it’s all too easy point fingers at our partner when you-know-what hits the fan. But can we blame mental illness on our partner? While relationships can be amazing, enriching experiences, they do have the potential to be unhealthy and harmful to your mental health, and therefore, your overall well being.

Mental illnesses are very complex, often with multiple causes, which can be biological, genetic, or environmental. For example, while you might not have been born displaying the characteristics of a certain mental illness, you can be born with a predisposition to it, and it may be lying dormant until it’s triggered by a major life event or trauma. So, how do relationships come into play and factor into mental illness? Can love be so intense that a relationship makes you mentally ill? Continue reading Can A Relationship Make You Mentally Ill?

How To Cure an Emotional Hangover

woman with headache on couch

We all know (and hate) hangovers. A crazy night out drinking too much alcohol can lead to a slew of unpleasant symptoms the next morning. But did you know there’s another type of hangover that has absolutely nothing to do with drinking? You might wake up feeling drained, exhausted, moody, or a bit off…except, the night before wasn’t fun at all. In fact, it was quite the opposite! Welcome to the emotional hangover.

The idea is that the effects of an emotional event can linger for a while after the event actually happens — the same way nausea lingers long after you’ve consumed one too many tequila shots (whoops). This event can be anything from an argument with your best friend to a break up with your partner. While the event is over, your head is still reeling and messing with your current emotions. Continue reading How To Cure an Emotional Hangover

Sexual Harassment Is About Mental Health, Not Only the Workplace

sexual harassment illustration man touching woman shoulder

I remember being in a meeting at a company I used to work for where people were making jokes about a presentation on sexual harassment. None of it made sense to me, and I certainly wasn’t laughing. Why were they were joking about something so serious, chuckling about it, and doing so in front of their boss? Well, actually, he was cracking jokes too.

In what world is it appropriate to make light of harassment? I wondered what would happen if I was harassed while at the company. Would I be taken seriously if I decided to report it? Would they make jokes about me behind my back? Would I get fired? Luckily, I wasn’t sexually harassed on the job — but not everyone is so lucky. Continue reading Sexual Harassment Is About Mental Health, Not Only the Workplace

Ask a Therapist: Anxiety is Tearing My Boyfriend and I Apart

couple arguing outside on city street

Talkspace is pleased to continue our advice column, this week with therapist Dr. Samantha Rodman. Send your mental health questions for Samantha to [email protected].

Dating Drama writes,

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost three months. In the beginning, everything was perfect, but then it’s like a huge storm came and destroyed our relationship. I am trying to help him deal with his severe anxiety, and we constantly fight all day. He accuses me of doing things wrong when I do nothing. I understand I have flaws and faults from the past (before we were together), but I am not the same person as I was when he first met me. I’m constantly being insulted and being accused of these ridiculous things. He even blamed me for what someone else posted on their social media. Continue reading Ask a Therapist: Anxiety is Tearing My Boyfriend and I Apart

How Being in the Military Changed My Mind Forever

soldier in uniform with US flag patch

During my first Christmas in Iraq, we were hit by a roadside bomb. It could have been worse. Luckily, no one died in this explosion. Back at the firebase, we were allowed a call on the satellite phone. Some people freely told their parents or loved ones about what had happened. I felt that unbecoming of an infantryman—why scare people back home?—instead I settled on my favorite topic: the weather. Oh stoic me.

Half a year later I was touring Europe with a friend of mine from the same platoon. I wouldn’t say we had seen all that much action, yet there was an anger that was evident in both of us. A hundred and fifty miles per hour seemed too slow. We threw our wrath at anyone in our way. Verbal wrath, but troublesome nonetheless. Whatever I was experiencing I merely concealed by being a stranger in a strange land: the prattle of a foreign language and people going about their way provided a perfect cocoon for me. Continue reading How Being in the Military Changed My Mind Forever

What Is High-Functioning Depression?

depressed woman working on laptop coffee mug

Imagine someone who seems to be living a perfect life. She has a great job, a loving and supportive partner, and plenty of fun outside of work. Getting to the office on time is no problem, and she is one of the most productive employees at her company.

There’s one problem, though: she is miserable, unable to derive happiness from much of anything. Because she lives with high-functioning depression, it is difficult for people to understand how anything could be wrong. Continue reading What Is High-Functioning Depression?

Can Childhood Traumas Cause Panic Disorder?

mother and father arguing sad daughter with teddy bear

I’ve had severe panic attacks on and off since I was 16 years old. Although I may never be able to pinpoint their exact cause, I’ve long suspected that some of the traumas I experienced as a child (divorce, abandonment, custody battles, and verbal abuse) contributed to my panic disorder.

Recently, though, my therapist mentioned something in passing that illuminated the whole phenomenon for me in an entirely different way. She said that when we hold our emotions inside, they tend to kind of morph into conditions like anxiety and panic.

A lightbulb went off in my brain then: I could picture myself, a young girl, witnessing and experiencing all sort of things that I now know were most certainly traumatic, and basically just standing there absorbing them all. I was always the “good girl,” whom everyone thought was so resilient despite all the difficult things that were unfolding. Continue reading Can Childhood Traumas Cause Panic Disorder?