What is an Empath?

Child holding dog

Are you impacted by the feelings of those around you? Do people describe you as empathetic? Perhaps you have always had the ability to feel the emotions and physical symptoms of others as if they were your own. If this rings true in your life, you may be an “empath.”

Only 1 to 2 percent of the population experience this type of sensitivity, having the ability to feel and absorb the emotions surrounding them. They likely view the world through their emotions and intuition rather than putting too much logic behind their decision making. While this characteristic can be a source of personal strength, it is also important to know how to manage common challenges of being an empath. Continue reading What is an Empath?

32 Surprising Mental Health Statistics

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Mental health statistics may not always be at the top of your mind, even when you’re going through a crisis of your own. Some of us get headaches when we even think about math – especially statistics. Yet, hard data based on empirical research helps us better understand the world around us and the people in it. When it comes to mental health, so many of us feel isolated and utterly alone in our struggles. Looking at mental health statistics can put our challenges into context, help us understand the pervasiveness of certain conditions, and offer some bit comfort and solace knowing we’re not alone.

And when you look at the stats about treatment for mental health — such as the fact that mental illness affects tens of millions Americans each year, but only about half of people receive treatment — you can see how these surprising mental health statistics necessitate additional education, awareness, and funding for mental health services.

Ready to take a deeper look at some of the most relevant mental health stats? Continue reading 32 Surprising Mental Health Statistics

Why Am I So Emotional?

Man curled up on the floor

Do you find yourself experiencing emotions more deeply and intensely than those around you? Perhaps you’re told you are “too sensitive” or “too emotional.” For those who feel emotions more intensely than others, their brain is processing information differently and reflecting on a deeper level it may even manifest as being exceptionally perceptive. Yet these individuals can also be easily overwhelmed by the constant wave of feelings and overstimulation.

For the 15 to 20 percent of the population who are classified as a “highly sensitive person,” there are other contributing factors that also play a role. Continue reading Why Am I So Emotional?

What is a “Psych Evaluation?”

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If you are new to therapy or are exploring different options for treatment, it’s natural to have questions about first steps. A common, but misunderstood initial step is the psychological or “psych” evaluation.

It may sound intimidating, but a psych evaluation is a simple way for your therapist or health care provider to understand what you’re going through at the moment. Continue reading What is a “Psych Evaluation?”

The Difference Between Psychology and Psychiatry (and How They Work Together)

Two people talking

“Oh, my daughter is a psychologist too!” my seatmate gushed when I told him that I was a psychiatrist. As I settled into a long-haul overnight flight, I didn’t feel pressed at that moment to highlight the differences between the two oft-confused professions.

Indeed, ask the average person what a “shrink” is or to differentiate between the roles of a psychologist and a psychiatrist, and expect to receive a host of different answers.

While both psychiatry and psychology deal with the assessment and treatment of individuals with a wide-range of mental health needs, there are important differences worth noting between the two fields as well as their practitioners. It’s especially important for the individual left wondering: should I see a psychologist (or another kind of psychotherapist) or a psychiatrist? Continue reading The Difference Between Psychology and Psychiatry (and How They Work Together)

What Does it Mean to “Get Better?”

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For six years I struggled with an eating disorder before making the decision to pursue treatment. After that it still took another year and a half before I considered myself to be in recovery. I didn’t wake up one day and realize that I no longer had an eating disorder anymore; it was a slow abatement of the features of the disorder, which plagued me for so many years, as a result of a combination of nutrition counseling, support groups, psychiatric medication, therapy, and resilience.

Because recovery in mental health is an ongoing process, it can be difficult to recognize what it actually looks like. Sometimes recovery happens so gradually that we’re not even aware that our minds and bodies — because our bodies can also suffer when we are struggling with a mental-health issue — are in the process of healing. That can make it difficult to be able to answer the question: “how will I know when I’m actually better?” Continue reading What Does it Mean to “Get Better?”

What it Means to Be “Neurotic”

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As a New York Jewish woman, I am more than a little familiar with the term “neurotic.” It has been used to describe me – along with several of my family members – more than once. Sometimes the word makes me cringe – and I definitely think that it has negative connotations in our culture. At other times, though, “neurotic” feels endearing. After all, some of our best comedians use “neurotic” as a badge of honor, and find the self-deprecating humor in all their many neuroses. Continue reading What it Means to Be “Neurotic”

Are There Good Reasons for Your Bad Feelings: Interview with Randolph M. Nesse

Randolph M. Nesse

Our relationship with mental health is typically based on challenges we’re currently experiencing — but what if our current issues are rooted in the distant past? Often overlooked is the fact that our predispositions for conditions like depression and anxiety have existed for millenia. From an evolutionary standpoint, why haven’t these detrimental traits and behaviors been filtered out and how might they affect us now?

Randolph M. Nesse, MD, a founder of the field of evolutionary medicine and author of recently-published Good Reasons for Bad Feelings, helped us understand the gap between human physiology and modern environment, and how we can apply this field for better therapy outcomes. Continue reading Are There Good Reasons for Your Bad Feelings: Interview with Randolph M. Nesse

When is Someone Else’s Mental Health Your Business?

Two people sitting next to each other

When the phone buzzed, my heart filled with warmth. With all the news alerts and junk text messages constantly passing through our smartphones, “warm-hearted” is a pretty rare thing to feel from a text notification.

I was going through a rough patch, and the buzzing phone was a message from a friend. She had noticed something was up, and she was just reaching out to express concern and tell me she cared.

These small moments of love, friendship, and concern from people we care about can be life-saving. I mean that literally: Mental health professionals have identified social support and outreach as key in recovery for people at risk of suicide. Even when the stakes aren’t so high, support from loved ones can help us heal and get support in any situation, from workplace troubles to unsafe home or relationship situations. Continue reading When is Someone Else’s Mental Health Your Business?

5 Ways to Break Out of a February Funk

Disco ball head

There are a few things I can always rely on in life: death, taxes, my sister not returning the clothes she borrows, autumn anxiety, and a February funk in the middle of winter gloom.

Even though a count of its days says differently, February feels like the longest month of the year every year. And if I don’t do anything about it, I’m expecting the same this year. Continue reading 5 Ways to Break Out of a February Funk