How Does Acquiring a New Disability Affect Mental Health?

Man on crutches

“I don’t have the life I expected to have,” says Shayla Maas, a disabled woman who was an adolescent psychiatric nurse before her Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome progressed to a point that made it difficult to work. When a series of injuries then left her transitioning to light duty and eventually forced her out of the workplace, it was a total sea change.

According to the U.S. Census, nearly 20 percent of Americans are disabled. Some have congenital disabilities they’ve lived with their whole lives. Others have faced traumatic accidents, diagnoses of chronic conditions, and other life changes — sometimes at the height of a busy career, or while pursuing dreams with tremendous physical demands. A newly-acquired disability — or the diagnosis of a previously unidentified chronic condition — represents a tremendous life change, one that can be very isolating.

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What Is Second-Hand Anxiety?

Anxious young woman being comforted by a friend

Your friend comes over after a bad day. Huffing and puffing, he brings it all to you: His boss was a jerk, he accidentally deleted his presentation, and spilled coffee on a new white shirt. Suddenly, you find yourself tense, even though you were having a relaxed day.

What gives?

There’s a name for the phenomenon of stress spreading: second-hand anxiety. Second-hand anxiety, or second-hand stress, is not a psychological diagnosis, illness, or disorder. It is, rather, a neurological phenomenon that refers to the way emotions spread.

Understanding how second-hand anxiety works not only teaches us more about the social nature of emotions, but can also help us keep our cool when other people’s negative emotions overwhelm us.

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Negative Thinking Got You Down? Here’s How to Shift Your Thoughts

Pensive young woman deep in thought

What would you do if you were in a relationship with someone who constantly criticized, second-guessed or belittled all of your choices, behaviors and decisions?

Hopefully, you would leave immediately, or at least take major issue with being the victim of emotional abuse.

But what if … that critical person was you?

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How Successful People Handle 3 Types of Toxic Coworkers

Young African-American woman works at desk in airy office space

How Successful People Handle 3 Types of Toxic Coworkers” originally appeared on Fairygodboss, an online career community for women, by women. 

Every workplace is filled interesting personalities —including frustrating ones.

If you feel like you’re surrounded by difficult people at the office — perhaps people who talk too much or a micromanaging boss — take heart, because you’re not alone. Studies have found that one in eight people leave a job due to problems with co-workers.

Since we spend more time at work than at home (and quitting tomorrow isn’t an option for most people), it’s worthwhile to figure out ways to get along.

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How Schizoaffective Disorder Has Affected My Relationships

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I’m 30 years old, and for many years, the longest relationship I had to date was in middle school — it lasted six months.

I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder at age 19. Schizoaffective disorder is thought to be a unique combination of schizophrenia and a mood disorder like bipolar, presenting with symptoms like difficulty communicating, episodes of depression, delusions, and even hallucinations. It presents differently from person to person, and there’s still a lot to be learned about it. Though it has negatively impacted my life in many ways, it’s been especially difficult to navigate in my social life.

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What Is Happiness, Anyway?

Person sitting by the ocean

If you Google the phrase “how to be happy,” you’ll be met with about 207 million answers.

There’s the recent study that examined how much money a person needs to make to lead the happiest and most satisfied life possible ($95,000/year for overall satisfaction, and $60-75,000 for day-to-day happiness). There’s a quiz on how to be happier at work, infinite mommy blogs detailing how to find personal happiness as a mom, wellness publications offering unconventional ways to boost happiness, religious content exploring what happiness looks like as a Christian … you get the point. Everyone has something to say about what it means to be happy. As a result, happiness feels almost like a myth.

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Male Survivors of Sexual Assault Face Unique Challenges to Recovery

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According to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, one in six U.S. men have experienced sexual violence, and 17% of those men develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In my years practicing therapy, I’ve found male survivors face unique challenges to recovery, yet hesitate to get the help they need.

The question is why.

For one, we don’t hear much about male sexual assault survivors, although one study found sexual assault history was common among both women and men, reported by 25% of women and 16% of men surveyed. The research participants also faced similar long-term problems, regardless of gender.

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Raised by Anxious Parents? Here’s How it Might Be Affecting Your Mental Health

Mother and son strolling on green path in spring

In my practice, I see many clients who grew up in very anxious families. Parents may have suffered from generalized anxiety, social anxiety, agoraphobia, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Often, these parents were never formally diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and it’s only after the fact, during adulthood, that clients are able to recognize and understand how anxious their parents were — and how it has affected their mental health, both during childhood and into adulthood.

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Why You Shouldn’t Check Your Partner’s Phone

Attractive man confronting bad news on his phone

As a therapist, I can’t tell you how many times clients come to me with information that they have gleaned from checking their partners’ phone. Some people will come in with screenshots of text conversations between their partner and others, hoping to dissect them to determine whether their partner was flirting or whether the conversation was just platonic.

Others come in with call records, telling me that it can’t be innocent when a partner calls a “friend” five times in a week. Some people fear that a significant other is cheating on them and comb through their partner’s email, looking for something that they can use as evidence of infidelity.

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