How to Help Someone Who is Avoidant of Their Mental Illness

A woman lies on her bed surrounded by photos, while covering her face

Often in therapy, clients come in prepared to discuss a single issue, and one that’s relatively minor in their eyes. However, it can quickly become evident they are struggling with severe mental health issues they likely aren’t aware of.

Relatedly, people may come in with a family member or partner who urges them to get help for a specific issue, but the client is defensive about the very idea of having this issue.

To better assist those we feel should seek help for mental illness, it helps to understand common examples where the potential client may not understand our concern for them.

Continue reading How to Help Someone Who is Avoidant of Their Mental Illness

Can Anxiety Make You Depressed (or Vice Versa)?

A rogue potato tries to escape into the tomato bin

Anxiety and depression are intricately linked, which is why the same types of therapy and the same classes of medications are often used to treat both disorders.

In my practice, I have noticed that many clients that have self-diagnosed as depressed are actually experiencing anxiety. Similarly, many clients who identify as anxious are often depressed. Here, I will explain the connections between anxiety and depression, and why one can lead to the other.

Continue reading Can Anxiety Make You Depressed (or Vice Versa)?

Why Are We So Afraid to Feel Happy?

A woman with smeared eye makeup holds a piece of paper with a smile on it in front of her face

Many people struggle with the fear of success, fear of closeness, or fear of happiness. Let’s say your father suffered from depression and ranted about the workplace being a dog-eat-dog environment where everyone has to watch his back.

As a child, you, like all kids, want to think of your father as intelligent and perceptive. You listened to him and thought that his worldview made sense. Even if you later realized, as an adult, that your father was a very negative and depressed person, his impact on your own worldview may be very difficult to change.

Although it isn’t rational, many people subconsciously steer themselves away from experiences where they feel good about themselves, or where they end up feeling happy. But why is this and what can you do about it?

Continue reading Why Are We So Afraid to Feel Happy?

Is It a Rough Patch or You Should Break Up?

A couple stands in a house with broken windows

Relationships can be difficult, and the majority of couples go through ups and downs as they determine whether they are compatible for the long haul. However, some rough patches are more serious than others, and are indicators that the relationship may not, or should not, survive.

Fortunately, there are some ways to figure out whether you’re just in a low point or whether you need to consider ending your relationship.

Continue reading Is It a Rough Patch or You Should Break Up?

How Childhood Attachment Styles Influence Your Adult Relationships

A mother monkey holds her baby lovingly

If you have noticed that your intimate relationships have been stressful or unfulfilling, it might be time to think about your attachment style. Attachment style derives from your earliest experiences with your parents.

Knowing the effects these parenting styles have on you as a child helps you better understand the roots of potential relationship issues, and where to begin when addressing these issues — whether on your own, or with the help of a therapist.

Continue reading How Childhood Attachment Styles Influence Your Adult Relationships

Does Your Mental Health Condition Need to Align With Your Partner’s?

A hand places a piece of puzzle

One in five American adults experience mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, and more. These issues can impact every facet of life including, of course, your romantic relationship.

Some worry that their mental health issues will sabotage their relationship. Others believe that things will possibly be better if their partner has a similar issue. Are compatible experiences with mental health really necessary for a successful relationship?

Continue reading Does Your Mental Health Condition Need to Align With Your Partner’s?

How to Set Boundaries in a New Relationship

A neon "arms crossed" emoji

As a couples therapist, I see many couples who are enmeshed, meaning that they have very poor boundaries. This means that both partners are only friends with the same people (or with no people, if partners didn’t agree on which friends were tolerable), they hang out only together, and they have no external interests that aren’t shared.

Often, one or both partners secretly — or openly — feels constricted and trapped within the relationship. However, they struggle with asserting their own needs or desires for independence, because the relationship has developed into this pattern and there seems like no other option is available.

In the earliest stages of dating, when it feels like you and your new partner are the only people on earth, it is normal and even healthy to want to spend all of your time together. This is the infatuation or honeymoon stage, and it can feel very intense and amazing. But this stage doesn’t last forever, and it is unhealthy to try to extend it for the entirety of the relationship.

Continue reading How to Set Boundaries in a New Relationship

Are You Projecting Your Problems Onto Your Partner?

Two foxes fighting in a snowy forest

Often, people come into therapy complaining that their partner is difficult, or depressed, or self-absorbed. Yet, over the course of counseling, it becomes obvious that they, themselves, struggle with these issues.

However, instead of openly admitting and acknowledging these issues in themselves, their subconscious throws up a defensive wall, and they instead tell themselves that these issues characterize their partner.

Continue reading Are You Projecting Your Problems Onto Your Partner?

Why Gossip is So Seductive (and How to Avoid It)

A mother and daughter tell secrets while one holds string cheese

Gossip is like the junk food of communication. We know that it is bad and unhealthy, but it’s hard to resist its draw. It is rude and unkind, and of course it’s always terrifying to think that something you said could get back to the person you were gossiping about.

Knowing all of its downsides, why is gossip still so hard to resist?

Continue reading Why Gossip is So Seductive (and How to Avoid It)