Transgender Mental Health Issues: The Challenges of a Binary World

trans rights sign male activist rally

Adam was assigned a female gender at birth, but from an early age he did not feel comfortable identifying as female. Like many transgender people who struggle with mental health issues, the pressure of society’s gender norms caused stress and confusion.

Coming out as transgender is a challenge for anyone, but it was especially difficult for Adam. He grew up in a small, close knit town with one high school. His uncle was also his landlord, an example of how his environment could be suffocating at times.

At the age of 15, Adam came out as transgender and began identifying as a man. With the exception of his father, no one in his family or community supported him. Peers mercilessly bullied and ridiculed him until he dropped out of high school. Then the final blow hit: Because of his decision, his uncle, the landlord, refused to provide him a residence. Continue reading Transgender Mental Health Issues: The Challenges of a Binary World

The Weirdest Place I’ve Ever Talked To My Therapist

texting therapist Talkspace beer glass

At Talkspace we have spent plenty of time talking about how you can sign up and text a therapist from anywhere. But what exactly does that look like?

To paint a more vivid picture of how people are using Talkspace, we reached out to our clients and asked them to send us details on interesting and unusual places where they have texted their therapist. They showed us that “anywhere” really can mean anywhere.

Here are some of the places and situations they shared:

At Work

via GIPHY

It can be difficult to leave work to meet a therapist in an office. Most traditional therapists only work during business hours. Many employees do not work in environments that promote openness regarding mental health and therapy, so they are afraid to ask for time off to commute to a therapist’s office.

Texting a therapist during breaks at work allows employees to avoid these issues. It can be especially useful if they are texting about something work-related, perhaps an important issue they might forget about if they had to wait until after work. Continue reading The Weirdest Place I’ve Ever Talked To My Therapist

How to Ask Your Therapist For Changes

woman on couch with therapist

When Michelle started therapy with Talkspace, she was happy with how it was going. Her therapist, Rachel, generally reiterated what Michelle said and then asked some questions to dig into the issues.

At first this style suited Michelle, and she was making progress. After a few weeks, however, Michelle felt the therapy had become stale.

“I was feeling frustrated by all the questions and really wanted something more actionable from her,” she wrote in her review of Talkspace.

Then Michelle remembered what Rachel told her at the beginning of their work: “Tell me how you feel things are going so this can be beneficial to you.” Following Rachel’s instructions, Michelle communicated her concerns. Rachel responded by offering actionable mental health strategies. Continue reading How to Ask Your Therapist For Changes

How Divorce Impacts Men’s Mental Health

sad wedding cake toppers

Men are statistically less likely than women to seek help for mental health and to celebrate Men’s Health Week we’re highlighting issues specifically related to men and their mental health.  

When Zak married his ex-wife, he wasn’t sure they were compatible. At the time it didn’t deter him, however. He was in love, and that seemed like enough.

“I think that’s normal,” Zak said.

Rather than spending time as a married couple without children, Zak and his wife started a family immediately after the honeymoon. After their first child was born, and somewhere between multiple moves, career shifts, and learning to be parents, their relationship became strained.

The changes were stressful, Zak said, and they exposed a preexisting lack of communication.

“We didn’t proactively do any work on the marriage,” Zak admitted. “Nobody said, ‘Hey, we need to go to therapy’ or ‘We need to work on this.’” Continue reading How Divorce Impacts Men’s Mental Health

When Does Therapy Start ‘Working?’

woman client couch therapist

Ashley Laderer remembers exactly when therapy started working for her, the first time she could feel its benefits without any doubts or skepticism. The healing began with a single, surprising word: “lumpy.”

During her initial sessions Laderer constantly felt nauseous and had anxiety about vomiting.

“My therapist was like, ‘We need to stop giving the nausea so much power. Let’s make it less powerful,’” Laderer recalled.

Rather than saying she felt nauseous or had nausea, her therapist suggested using “lumpy” to describe what she was experiencing.

“At first it seemed so silly and I always forgot to use the word,” Laderer said. “But then in session I would always say ‘lumpy’ instead of nauseous.”

Shortly after, Laderer felt significantly better about her nausea and anxiety. She recognized this as a result of therapy. Continue reading When Does Therapy Start ‘Working?’

I Actually Enjoy Going to Therapy

man smiling holding phone

When I worked with a therapist for the first time, I did not imagine it was something I would ever enjoy. Part of it was the way I started. My parents nagged me into going. After doctors were unable to diagnose or treat my sleep deprivation, my mom suggested it might be related to mental health and that seeing a therapist could help. After months of resisting her recommendations, I finally booked an appointment.

At first I perceived it as the mental health equivalent of eating healthy foods that tasted terrible, going to the dentist, or getting a physical. It was an unpleasant chore, but it couldn’t hurt.

The initial months were difficult and painful. My therapist and I discovered I had constructed a subconscious system of negative beliefs to cope with the pain of living with undiagnosable, painful, relentless, and stressful health problems. Rather than protecting me, this system had poisoned my mind and exacerbated my physical issues. Continue reading I Actually Enjoy Going to Therapy

When Does Normal Anxiety Become a Mental Illness?

anxious man hand in head

Imagine a caveman returning from a hunt. He is dragging the heavy carcass of a wild boar behind him. As he nears the glowing cave where his brethren await him, he constantly peers around to ensure there are no more threats.

If something attacked him now, it would be difficult to defend. He hasn’t seen anything dangerous for an hour, yet his eyes continue to dart around. He checks his back every couple of seconds.

Then he hears a rustle in a bush next to him. He reflexively thrusts his spear toward the noise.

In its purest, primal state, anxiety is an emotion that keeps us alive and unharmed. Our ancestors needed it to avoid being eaten by wild animals. By worrying about threats ahead of time, they became prepared to fight or take flight when necessary. This helped them survive and eventually thrive. Continue reading When Does Normal Anxiety Become a Mental Illness?

Good Mental Health: 12 Therapist-Approved Tips

hands green brain

Good mental health is both a state of mind and a lifestyle. Part of it is developing a rational, positive mindset about oneself and the world. Having sources of pleasure and a manageable level of stress facilitates good mental health as well.

Additionally, it’s important to have a lifestyle that helps maintain this state of mind. This goes beyond fulfillment in work and relationships. It’s about regularly engaging in activities that provide a sense of peace or catharsis, including being in nature, meditating, or working with a therapist.

By practicing good mental health, people become more resilient and able to cope when their lives are riddled with stress and misfortune.

“Practicing good mental health habits before you feel distressed is like putting money in the bank for the bad times,” said Jude Miller Burke, Ph.D., a business psychologist and author of The Adversity Advantage. “When a bad time then comes, you are more prepared.”

If you feel like you’re missing a positive mindset or healthy lifestyle, try out some of the tips we gathered by asking therapists how to practice good mental health. Continue reading Good Mental Health: 12 Therapist-Approved Tips

Different Types of Anxiety Disorders: How Are They Classified?

woman male therapist clipboard

There is a history of division in the psychological community regarding how to classify different types of anxiety disorders. For decades before the release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM-5] in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association [APA] classified the following under the broad umbrella of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder [GAD], social anxiety disorder [SAD], panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD]. The DSM-5, however, removed OCD from the anxiety disorders category and listed it as its own category, along with other related disorders.

The prevalence of anxiety is still a component of OCD, and the DSM-5 acknowledges this. The manual focuses more, however, on the differences.

“The trademark of OCD is a behavioral aspect that is not necessarily present in anxiety disorders” said Anya Shumilina, a director at Behavioral Associates, a center that specializes in providing cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT]. “Individuals diagnosed with OCD are known to engage in rigid compulsive and repetitive behaviors, such as switching lights on and off 10 times before leaving the house, to alleviate stress brought by obsessive thinking.”

On the other hand, people with anxiety disorders are not likely to use these behaviors to cope. Anxiety disorders also tend to emphasize concrete worries and concerns, Shumilina said, including losing one’s job for specific reasons. OCD, however, often involves obsessions with vague fears such as germs. Continue reading Different Types of Anxiety Disorders: How Are They Classified?

What Is a Mental Health Counselor?

mental health counselor client couch

The basic definition of a mental health counselor is simple. Understanding all of what the term can mean, however, is more complicated.

Mental health counselors are licensed professionals who help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with family and other relationships, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They communicate with clients to understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives.

Depending on the context, “mental health counselor” can refer to a specific license rather than the actual work. Mental health professionals can earn the proper mental health counselor license, but their daily work might not involve counseling. Before or after their clinical work, many become administrators, educators, or consultants. Nonetheless, most professionals who advertise themselves as mental health counselors provide mental health support as their primary source of income. Continue reading What Is a Mental Health Counselor?