Steps Your Teen Can Take to Reduce Chronic Anxiety

asian male teen test classroom

Parents know being a teenager can be stressful and anxiety-provoking. There is a barrage of tests, social pressures, and people constantly nagging teens about their future. It’s no wonder one in eight adolescents have an anxiety disorder.

If your teen is feeling stressed out, worried, and nervous about various aspects of life, they’re not alone. Anxiety is a feeling everyone experiences.

Chronic anxiety, however, whether it be seasonal, general, social, or specific phobia-related, is something that should be addressed. When anxiety begins to take a toll on day-to-day life and starts affecting social interactions and relationships, your teen could be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Below are some steps your teen can take to get chronic anxiety or an anxiety disorder under control. Continue reading Steps Your Teen Can Take to Reduce Chronic Anxiety

Online Therapy is The #1 Tool for Single Moms

single mom holding daughter field

I was going to have my dream wedding, marry my dream man, and live happily ever after. Unfortunately adult reality does not always align with childhood dreams. My own parents divorced when I was 11. I remember how difficult it was for me to understand that they didn’t love one another any more, that my love for them both wasn’t enough. I was powerless to bring them back together. Those feelings haunted me far into my teens.

In the US, 83% of single parents are mothers. For us single mothers, solo parenting can often be joyous, but it also brings tremendous stress and anxiety.

You’d think there’d be more support for such a common experience, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Statistically, we face a number of scary statistics:

  • More than half live below the poverty line
  • 28.7% face severe mental disability
  • Twice as high an incidence of anxiety disorders as single fathers

Single parenthood is still in many ways stigmatized in our society. Not every single mother imagined parenting by herself, but even those of us who did, didn’t necessarily think of how to protect our mental health. While there are some resources for us, groups focused on providing emotional support and community, many still suffer in silence. Many are afraid to ask for help.

Though women are more likely to reach out to their support network, or just to talk about their struggles, we often face more difficult challenges than those of single fathers. Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women, and we’re also more likely to be raising the children. That means increased responsibility and financial burden. Continue reading Online Therapy is The #1 Tool for Single Moms

#LightYourWay for Mental Health Month in May

woman dark room lights

Each May, Mental Health Month aims to raise awareness about mental health issues, to advocate for equal care, and provide support to those in need. This advocacy is more important than ever. A recent study from researchers at NYU Langone found that the number of Americans suffering from serious psychological distress is increasing while important access to mental health care has decreased. Talkspace is devoted to reversing these statistics — we cannot let this trend continue.

During May 2017, we focused on empowering individuals to “light their way” to better mental health, happiness, and improved well-being. Throughout the month we brought tips and tools directly from a therapist to help improve daily well-being and deal with ongoing mental health challenges. No appointment needed! Continue reading #LightYourWay for Mental Health Month in May

Is Addiction a Mental Illness?

man drinking bottle bar

Today, it’s widely accepted by major scientific associations that addiction is a medical illness. The National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA] and the American Psychiatric Association [APA] both define addiction as a “brain disease,” and the DSM-V lists criteria for classifying addiction as a mental health condition called “Substance Use Disorder.”

However, it wasn’t always this way. In the United States, there’s a long history of vilifying not only drugs and alcohol, but also the people who use them. Less than a century ago, addiction wasn’t seen as an illness outside of one’s control, but rather as a moral failing rooted in one’s personality.

In the 1930s, when scientists first began to study addiction, the prevailing view was that addicts were simply those too weak in willpower to say no. Because addiction wasn’t seen as an illness, there was no concept of treating it with rehabilitation centers and 12-step programs. Instead, heavy users of drugs and alcohol were seen as degenerates and criminals and were treated accordingly; they were imprisoned or institutionalized so as not to be a nuisance to society. Continue reading Is Addiction a Mental Illness?

Dealing With Depression: What You Need to Know

woman sitting lake mountains landscape

If you are dealing with depression, remember that you are not alone. More than 300 million people around the world live with depression. It is the leading cause of disability.

Dealing with depression is a lifelong journey of overcoming pain, accepting change, challenging your mind, training your body, and engaging in something outside of yourself. To thrive during this sometimes harrowing journey, you might need knowledge of the strategies, treatments, and lifestyle changes that will help you. We outlined them below.

Continue reading Dealing With Depression: What You Need to Know

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

Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression

depressed man airport red suitcase

I always wanted to travel. In college I attended information sessions in stuffy rooms and echoing lecture halls, for at least five different study abroad programs. I dutifully filled out the paperwork, scheduled doctor’s appointments, even met with the other folks I’d be spending time abroad with. It was exciting. But something always held me back.

My depression.

Traveling opens our minds and keeps us young. Women who vacation every two years have a significantly lower risk of heart attack than women who vacation only ever six years. Men who don’t take an annual vacation have a 20% higher risk of death (30% higher risk of heart disease). However, for those of us with depression, travel can pose many challenges or even make it impossible.

Immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture –– and actually getting there –– can be challenging. Between long flights and layovers, short connections, cancellations, not understanding the language, being unfamiliar with the cuisine, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, altitude changes…there are many variables that can pose issues even for the most seasoned traveler among us. Layering in mental illness can exacerbate these situations.

Just because traveling guarantees a disruption of your normal schedule and poses a variety of potential challenges, does not mean you have to abandon your travel plans, give up exploring new areas, or forego trips to visit those you love. There are ways for all of us with mental illness to maintain our mental wellness, while hitting the road. Continue reading Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression

The History of LGBTQ Conversion Therapy

gay man rainbow paint couch therapist

In 1965, TIME magazine published an article titled “Homosexuals Can Be Cured.” The article focused on the “triumphant” results of group therapy work led by psychiatrist Samuel Hadden, who was also a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School at the time. Hadden had been leading long-term (four to eight year) therapy sessions for men who identified as homosexual in the hopes of “curing” them of their sexual “perversions.”

TIME’s article celebrated Hadden’s ability to help men work through their “symptoms” of “illness”—whether that was wearing inappropriately feminine clothing or being sexually interested in men instead of women. Hadden was only one of many esteemed psychiatrists and psychologists to consider — and treat — homosexuality as a sickness during the 1960s. In fact, homosexuality was not removed from the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” [DSM] until 1973.

The pathologizing of homosexuality was not, however, contextually specific to 20th century America. Many of the earliest writings condemning homosexual acts as “unnatural” caught on in 12th century Europe, when religious leaders like Saint Thomas Aquinas denounced homosexuality as a sin in their early writings. Popular disdain against homosexuality, began in the realm of religion, but it quickly moved into the legal arena in centuries to come. Continue reading The History of LGBTQ Conversion Therapy

The Pain of Anti-LGBTQ Bullying: Ending the Silence

sad woman sitting on floor

April 24, 2017 was GLSEN’s Day of Silence, an annual campaign that brings awareness to the silencing effects of anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment. To participate in this campaign, we decided to share the stories (anonymously) of Talkspace clients who faced anti-LGBTQ bullying and used therapy to heal.

How Childhood Bullying Has Lasting Effects

When people face anti-LGBTQ bullying — or any other form of bullying — during their youth, it can affect them for the rest of their lives. One of our therapists worked with a client who was bullied in school because he was gay. His peers also taunted and teased him because he was quiet and shy. Rather than supporting him and being compassionate, his parents told him to “toughen up.”

This had profound effects on the course of the client’s life. Now in his 40s, the client has trouble making friends and believing he is likeable. He finds it hard to believe that anyone would want to spend time with him. He often takes neutral behaviors personally or perceives them as punitive. His world feels small and he struggles with the daily pain of his loneliness. Continue reading The Pain of Anti-LGBTQ Bullying: Ending the Silence

How Being in Abusive Relationships Made Me a Perfectionist

gay man in corner abused

It’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m lying awake listening to the sound of my boyfriend’s light snoring. The box fan is humming softly in the corner. Cool night air blows through the window.

Although I’m happy, I’m also torn. In the dark I debate whether the fan is making enough noise to keep him asleep if I get up to go put away the clean dishes. Half of me is kicking myself for forgetting to do so. The other half is wondering if it’s a good opportunity to also clean the bathroom overnight as a surprise.

I remind myself how lucky I am to have found a good guy. I wonder whether this is business as usual for domestic violence survivors everywhere. I tell myself I’m most likely not as alone and abnormal as I feel. I force myself to fall asleep.

This all sounds weird, but these little debates play out in my head all day, every day. When I shop, I try to find little gifts for him to keep him happy, like a new pair of shoes. Every time I make it home before he does, I try to use those spare moments to clean something. Getting into his car also means clearing out a few bits of trash as I exit. I always make sure he has everything he needs before he leaves for work and his alarm is set before we go to bed.

Sometimes scars make you sweet. Continue reading How Being in Abusive Relationships Made Me a Perfectionist