Tag Archives: therapy

Your body under emotional stress: It’s not pretty

Let’s talk about stress. You know it’s bad for you emotionally, but did you know it’s dangerous physically, too?

It’s true. When you’re stressed out and you repress it, the stress can resurface as a physical illness. You may even find yourself in the emergency room with chest pains and shortness of breath — a panic attack masquerading as a  heart attack.

While panic attacks won’t kill you immediately, the long term effects of your anxiety can. We’re talking about blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Stress contributes to each of those.

In the short term, you could experience pain in your head, chest, stomach, or muscles. You might feel fatigued and have trouble sleeping. You could see changes in your sex drive. You might take longer than usual to recover from illness.

You also have to watch out for harmful behavior that could be addictive. Some people self harm or turn to drugs and alcohol to escape their anxiety. Others find an outlet in shopping, gambling, or sexual behavior they later regret.

So you need to find healthy ways to fight your stress. You probably know better than anyone what relaxes you: Is it exercise? Doing art or another hobby? Being with family or friends? Getting a massage? Being in nature? Meditation?

Therapy can be so helpful. Your therapist can help you identify sources of stress and strategies for relieving it. Even just having someone to listen in a non-judgmental way while you talk about your problems can be a big help.

So if you’re stressed, come on in. Let’s talk about it.

Avoiding time change depression

A Danish study recently found that depression diagnoses go up significantly (8 percent) in the month following the change from Daylight Savings Time back to standard time.

With the time change scheduled to happen this Sunday, let’s be on the lookout for signs of depression. Better yet, let’s be proactive in fighting it back.

The Danish researchers suggest the increase is tied to the loss of sunshine in the time when we really notice: The few hours at the end of the day, right when we’re getting off work and hoping to enjoy some free time. It also marks the coming of a long string of dark, cold days (especially in Denmark).

The article announcing the study begins with this disheartening quote by not-helpful Danish poet Henrik Nordbrant:

The year has 16 months: November, December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, November, November, November.

I’d like to counter with this verse by poet Alexander L. Fraser:

Fear not November’s challenge bold—
We’ve books and friends,
And hearths that never can grow cold:
These make amends!

So here’s what you can do: Dust off your favorite books, call your friends, light your fire. In other words, make plans! Do things you love. Go out and serve others (I recommend this website for finding opportunities). Take an ice skating or art class. Bundle up and go for a walk in the sunshine when you can.

If you’re feeling depressed, there are many things you can do. Medication and therapy can be a big part of that.  With work and help, November can turn out to be a good month after all.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.

Basic things to know about ADHD

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a term that’s thrown around so frequently these days, we all assume we know what it means. Used to apply to everyone from a kid who misbehaves in school to an adult who has trouble focusing on a single TV or computer screen at a time, ADHD is actually a clinical diagnosis. Learning more about what ADHD is – and isn’t – can help you determine if you or someone you love warrants further testing

ADHD stands for “attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.” In common parlance, it’s used interchangeably with ADD, which stands for “attention deficit disorder.” However, this term refers to cases where there’s attention deficit, but no hyperactivity involved.
From a layperson’s point of view, ADHD means the person – often a child — has problems concentrating and paying attention.

Of course, that can be applied to pretty much any child over the course of a typical day. What sets people with ADHD apart is that the area of the brain responsible for clarity, mental focus and activity is actually wired differently. What that means is that even when you try to “settle down,” your mind just doesn’t want to comply. You can tell yourself to relax, focus, and pay attention, but you just can’t make your mind and body comply.

So from an outsider’s perspective, how do you tell if your child is just suffering from normal “wigglies,” or really has ADHD? Let’s take a look more closely.

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

There are three main components of ADHD: hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. Each has similar symptoms but they can be distinguished enough to determine if your child has one, two or all of the components.

Hyperactivity
Signs of hyperactivity include:
• difficulty sitting still, frequent fidgeting and squirming uncontrollably
• the inability to stay seated, even when they’re instructed to stay still
• inappropriate behavior like climbing or playing at inappropriate times, or on inappropriate objects like chairs or desks
• problems playing quietly when requested
• incessant talking even when instructed to be quiet

Inattention
Signs of inattention include:
• trouble staying on task for even short periods of time
• lack of attention when you are speaking to them
• issues with staying organized at school, work and home
• forgetfulness regarding assignments, requests, chores, homework, etc.
• easy distractability when performing a task

Impulsivity
Signs of impulsivity include:
• difficulty waiting in line
• blurting out of answers in class or in meetings even when not called on
• constant interruption of conversations

If you or your child has exhibited any of these signs, the next step is testing. A professional assessment can give you more insight into the condition, with regards to possible treatment and management.