5 Tips to Prepare for the Season of SAD

woman holding coffee mug during winter snowing

Up to 10% of the American population lives with SAD [Seasonal Affective Disorder]. In the fall and winter months, when the days are shortest, Seasonal Affective Disorder can be very challenging to deal with. As the name suggests, those who live with the disorder may experience a cluster of depressive symptoms such as feeling low or depressed, sleeping too much, experiencing low motivation, and so forth.

SAD can put a strain on those living with the condition. This post includes some tips to help you prepare for the upcoming season of SAD. Continue reading 5 Tips to Prepare for the Season of SAD

When to Disclose Your Mental Health Issues (And When Not To)

anxious woman at conference table with co-workers

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues. It can be hard to determine when it’s the right time to talk about your conditions, and when it’s the right time to sit back and stay tight-lipped. How do you decide?

In the Workplace

My clients often discuss the challenges of dealing with mental health issues in the workplace. They sometimes ask, “Should I tell my employer about my depression?” A lot of times, it depends.

There are some positive signs that might foreshadow a favorable reaction when it comes to talking to your employer about your mental health. The first question I always ask my clients is, “What do you expect or stand to gain from making this disclosure?” Sometimes the answer is direct and concrete, such as more time to complete an assignment or task. Other times it might be about being able to schedule a break in the work day to make a weekly therapy or doctor appointment. Continue reading When to Disclose Your Mental Health Issues (And When Not To)

Living with Summer Depression: ‘Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder’

summer sky shadow over woman

When people talk about seasonal depression, we usually think of the “wintertime blues.” But there are those who live with a rarer form of Seasonal Affective Disorder known as “summer SAD.”

What was previously known as Seasonal Affective Disorder is now under the criteria for Major Depressive Disorder with a specifier for a seasonal pattern. Referred to as “wintertime blues,” those living with seasonal depression report episodes of fatigue, depressed or sad mood, and a host of other symptoms. For most, this occurs when the days are shorter, darker and cooler, usually during the fall and winter months.

What is less common — yet still valid — is summer SAD. Much like it’s wintertime counterpart, summer depression leaves those living with the condition feeling fatigued, hopeless, and lethargic. The difference is it has this effect during months when people are expected to be bright, happy, and excited. This can be frustrating for those with summer sadness. The pressure to seem well can exacerbate the depressive symptoms they may be experiencing. Continue reading Living with Summer Depression: ‘Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder’

Therapy for People of Color: Questions for Potential Therapists

latina woman client black woman therapist couch

Taking the step to start therapy isn’t an easy decision. There are barriers such as cost, access, and unfamiliarity with the process. This can be particularly daunting if you are a person of color, a group that has been chronically underserved by the therapy community.

One in five adults in the U.S. lives with mental illness in a given year. Within that, black and Hispanic Americans access mental health services at about half the rate of their white counterparts. Asian Americans utilize services at about one-third the rate of white Americans. It’s safe to say the mental health community is not meeting the needs of people of color.

If you are a person of color who is considering therapy, here are some questions you may want to keep in mind while you search for a potential therapist: Continue reading Therapy for People of Color: Questions for Potential Therapists

What It Really Means to be a Psychopath, Sociopath, or Narcissist

narcissist woman mirror crown illustration

Psychopath, sociopath, narcissist — these are words we sometimes throw around when talking about people who have difficult personalities or have been harmful to us in some way. Many of my clients, for example, have used these terms to describe their exes or people they don’t like. It’s often used in a pejorative sense.

But what does all of that really mean? The differences are more nuanced and complicated than you may think.

To understand these labels better, we need to first discuss what the basis is for understanding a person’s character or personality. A personality is a cluster of traits that makes up a person’s essence or “feel.” It’s how they interact with the world around them. Continue reading What It Really Means to be a Psychopath, Sociopath, or Narcissist

What Does LGBTQ Pride Mean to You?

stonewall inn memorial LGBT pride

Every June, communities across the world celebrate Pride, also known as “Gay Pride” or “LGBTQ Pride.” For many it’s a celebration of identity, representing freedom of expression and freedom from social oppression. For others Pride represents a time in which they can watch from afar those who have been able to live their lives in an “out and proud” way. For people not in the LGBTQ communities, the month’s events may represent something different.

Pride began as a movement to solidify the rights and existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-1960s — in which Black communities fought for the same legal and civil rights of their white counterparts — spawned its creation.

There are differing stories as to how Pride actually began, yet people commonly think it originated in New York City. Like other activist movements, the modern gay liberation or civil rights movement included violent interactions with police. Most people think of the Stonewall Rebellion (also referred to as riots) as the catalyst for the modern march for civil rights for LGBTQ folks. Continue reading What Does LGBTQ Pride Mean to You?

5 Therapist-Approved Ways to De-Stress Your Day

woman writing pen table journal

Daily stress management is one of the key indicators of mental health and wellness. By being proactive in dealing with stress, we can minimize its impact. Regularly engaging in stress reduction techniques emboldens us to stave off feelings of being completely overwhelmed, depressed, or persistently anxious or panicked.

Here are five ways you can start de-stressing your day today:

1. Journaling

Journaling is a tried and true practice for therapists. Many of us came up in training programs that required writing to process our own experiences as students and trainees. Journaling is a simple yet powerful tool that allows for internal thoughts, worries, and concerns to become externalized onto a page. This can help you gain greater insight into your feelings, thoughts, and motivations as well as provide an emotional holding space for difficult material.

2. Spend More Time in Nature

Often overlooked, spending time in nature has great therapeutic effects. With the power of Vitamin D (which helps lift mood), spending time in nature can also be a great mindfulness activity. By communing with nature, many people discuss feeling a greater sense of peace and less rumination (which is consistent with worry and anxiety). Sites like parks and beaches are often popular because they tend to convey feelings of bright energy, enjoyable activities, and generally pleasant conditions. Continue reading 5 Therapist-Approved Ways to De-Stress Your Day

Recognizing Trauma vs. PTSD: A Quick Primer on Symptoms

traumatic stress vs. PTSD image

Imagine you have just had a car accident on the way home from work. Would you consider this a traumatic experience? What about if you left a country with oppressive government to find asylum in a safer country? Would you consider that traumatic?

There are different kinds of trauma you may experience. In the past, trauma meant experiencing events such as torture or abuse. But mental health professionals have come to see trauma as being more varied. How will you know if you or someone you love is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic stress? Clarification begins first with the definition of trauma.

The International Society for Trauma Stress Studies defines trauma as a set of mild to severe reactions to, “shocking and emotionally overwhelming situations that may involve actual or threatened death, serious injury, or threat to physical integrity.” Continue reading Recognizing Trauma vs. PTSD: A Quick Primer on Symptoms

Children’s Mental Health: When To Worry, How To Take Action

sad boy arms folded

Approximately one in five children experience a diagnosable mental health condition in their lives.

I once worked with a young man (whom I will refer to here as James) who was in his early 20s and had been plagued by difficulties at both work and his personal life. About two years prior to our first meeting, he left school due to his inability to keep up with the schoolwork and the stress that it caused him. James told me he always felt as if he were playing “catch up.”

Throughout our time together in therapy James came to recognize he had been living with untreated ADHD. He spent years internalizing negative messages from his teachers and family members about his behavior and difficulty concentrating. They labeled him as “bad,” and he believed it. Continue reading Children’s Mental Health: When To Worry, How To Take Action

5 Celebrity Women Who Spoke Out About Domestic Violence

kerry washington red carpet

About 20 people are victims of domestic violence every minute in the United States. Domestic violence is an enormous issue, and we need powerful voices to address it.

We wanted to salute those in the spotlight who have spoken about their personal experiences with domestic and intimate partner violence. Because survivors often suffer in silence, we hope these public voices offer inspiration and courage to those who might need support.

Tamron Hall

Tamron Hall, a host for NBC’s “Today” show, has been an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse for many years. Hall’s sister died as a result of her abusive relationship. This was the catalyst for Hall’s advocacy. Her sister’s death is still unsolved.

Hall has been open about her struggles with guilt about her sister Renate’s death. Her feelings echo those of family members across the world who have struggled with having a loved one in an abusive relationship. She started the Tamron Renate Hall Fund with her sons to help survivors of domestic abuse. Continue reading 5 Celebrity Women Who Spoke Out About Domestic Violence