Will Consistency Help Treat Bipolar Disorder?

consistencyIt is common for people to have emotional highs and lows caused by everyday stress.  However, there are some people who suffer from a severe mental illness known as bipolar disorder in which sudden shifts in mood and energy may be seen on a regular basis (1).  These mood swings can negatively affect a person’s home life as well as his career if they are not controlled as well as possible.  However, as with most mental illnesses, having a consistent routine can ease the symptoms and make the disorder easier to handle.  There are 3 areas of consistency that should be met.

1. Be consistent in your treatment. There are many treatments that can be used for bipolar disorder.  Some people are capable of coping with it on their own while others may need the help of a therapist or need to take medication to provide a balance (1).  No matter which one you choose, however, it is important to be consistent in your treatment.

For example, once you find a good therapist, stick with him so that you become comfortable talking to him.  Once you find a medicinal regimen that is providing relief, continue taking the same type and amount; switching medicines can also mean suffering from different side effects.  Constantly looking for new doctors or trying new medicines is going to cause even more stress for a person with bipolar disorder.

2. Be consistent in your daily routine. A person who knows what to expect on a daily basis will be able to cope better with bipolar disorder, according to the American Psychological Association. (2).  A daily and weekly routine should consist of schedules for many things, such as work, school, errands, exercise, sleep, relaxation, etc.

For example, try to eat each meal and snack around the same time each day, and choose your foods wisely to keep your body and mind regulated.  Even if that means taking a break at work to replenish your body, it is important to stay consistent.  As part of your routine, you can even do your best to control how much time is spent with certain people.  Having a routine of daily activities will prevent unexpected circumstances, which can easily trigger a reaction in someone with bipolar disorder.

3. Be consistent in your sleep. Getting enough sleep has been shown to provide relief from many physical and mental ailments, and the same is true with bipolar disorder.  Sleep deprivation can increase the effects of bipolar disease in many ways.

First, the overall quality of life is lessened, which can cause more depression and stress.  Second, sleep deprivation can increase the chances of a relapse in a person who has the disorder under control.  Third, cognitive functions are greatly affected by a person’s sleep habits, and this is especially true in those that suffer from a mental illness.  If you are having trouble getting enough sleep, you can make adjustments to your diet and physical activity and see if that helps (3).

Routines and consistency are beneficial to everyone, but this is particularly true for those with bipolar disorder.  If you are struggling to control your symptoms, sticking to a routine may be just what you need.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:
1. What is Bipolar Disorder? Definition and treatments, 2015, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml
2. Consistent Routines May Ease Bipolar Disorder, Importance of daily routines, 2008, http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb08/consistent.aspx
3. Sleep Disturbance in Bipolar Disorder, Importance of sleep, 2009, http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb08/consistent.aspx

When Anger is a Positive

There are many misconceptions about the emotion of anger. One of those misconceptions is that anger is a negative thing and that being happy is its opposite. Another misconception is that, when people become angry, violence will most likely ensue. While these thoughts are sometimes true, they are also missing the other aspect of anger – the positive side.anger management

There is a way to display anger in a proper manner that is actually helpful rather than hurtful. While constructive anger has no exact definition since it varies from one situation to another, there are some common elements (1).

  • Constructive anger is controlled. Instead of immediately expressing anger when first instigated, take time to think about the situation and determine whether your anger is appropriate (2). Thinking about your response first will help you avoid destructive anger.
  • Constructive anger is justified. Do you actually have a reason to be as angry as you feel, or could you be overreacting to the situation? Did you do anything that could have contributed to the problem? Is the level of anger you feel proportional to the situation? Considering these questions will help you avoid regretting your anger later.
  • Constructive anger is shared (3). If you are expressing your anger and the object of your anger isn’t even present, you are wasting your breath and most likely just working yourself up. If you have a legitimate reason to be angry, it should be discussed face to face with the person. In addition, the other person should be given a chance to explain, share his perspective, and eventually apologize without being attacked further.

anger managementNot only can constructive anger help an immediate relationship or situation, it can have positive effects on the future as well. Studies have shown the repressed anger is more likely to result in violence than immediately expressed anger (3). The following are a few of the positive aspects of anger.

  • Resolves. Constructive anger results in a situation being resolved, which in turn strengthens the relationship rather than hurting it.
  • Motivates. Anger is an excellent motivator. If you feel wronged about something, it can motivate you to do something about it. This can work to your advantage in the workplace, politics, health and fitness, etc. (1)
  • Helps. Constructive anger can help you learn something about yourself and the other party that you may have never known before. It has been said that, in conflict, you will see a person’s true colors. This is true for others as well as yourself. In a relationship, learning these intimate details about each other can bring you even closer together (3).

Although anger can be difficult to control, especially for people who have long-term anger issues, anger can be used constructively to benefit you and your relationships rather than harm them.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. When Anger’s a Plus, Aspects of constructive anger, 2003, http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar03/whenanger.aspx
  2. Anger – How It Affects People, Characteristics of constructive anger, 2014, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Anger_how_it_affects_people
  3. The Upside of Anger, Benefits of constructive anger, 2015, http://www.spring.org.uk/2012/03/the-upside-of-anger-6-psychological-benefits-of-getting-mad.php

3 Ways to Help Prevent Depression in School Age Children

Counseling for child depressionWhile many of us are familiar with ways to both control and cope with depression symptoms, you may be surprised to learn that research findings show we may also be able to help prevent them. According to the American Psychological Association (APA) psychologists Jane Gillham, Lisa Jaycox, Karen Reivich, and Martin Seligman all set out to prove just that (1).

The APA continues to state that through their school based prevention program the team of psychologists were able to reduce the number of depressive symptoms and improve overall classroom behavior in participating young people (2). It’s time for parents, teachers, and caregivers alike to turn their attention from controlling to preventing depression in school age children.

To better equip you, here are 3 ways to help prevent depression in the school age children closest to you.

1. Encourage strong, caring relationships early on.
When it comes to preventing depression in children, providing a valuable foundation consisting of strong, caring relationships with parents, teachers, relatives, and even community early on is key. According to a 2014 Delphi Consensus study, “The family setting, particularly parents, is a strategic target for preventive interventions for youth depression and anxiety disorders.” (3)

Help to prevent adolescent depression by simply encouraging strong, caring relationships from the start.

2. Leaving space for living life.
Far too often, caregivers opt to become helicopter parents, or simply parents who hover over their child’s every move, in hopes of protecting children not only from scrapes and bruises but also depression. Unfortunately, helicoptering is not the answer. Instead, leave space to allow them to live life through trial and error. Allow them to make mistakes, learn new things, chase after dreams, and yes, even get a few scrapes and bruises along the way.

Allowing them to experiment teaches them how to maneuver through both triumph and failure in a healthy way.

3. Establish open and honest communication.
Promoting communication that is both open and honest within your home, classroom, or other area of inhabitance is a proactive way to help prevent the development of depression. By doing so you can create an atmosphere where children feel comfortable both sharing and exploring the link between thoughts and feelings just as participants in The Penn Resiliency Project, the school based program developed by psychologists to prevent depression, did. (4)

With depression on the rise it only makes sense that parents, teachers, and caregivers alike would want to turn those increasing frowns upside down. Luckily, the prevention of depression in school age children is hopeful. You can do your part by simply encouraging strong caring, relationships, leaving space to live, and establishing open and honest communication. Together we can help transform depression one smile at a time.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:
1. School-Based Program Teaches Skills That Stave Off Depression, School-Based program findings, 2003, http://www.apa.org/research/action/school.aspx
2. School-Based Program Teaches Skills That Stave Off Depression, School-Based program findings, 2003, http://www.apa.org/research/action/school.aspx
3. Parenting strategies for reducing the risk of adolescent depression and anxiety disorders: a Delphi consensus study, Strong relationships quote, 2014 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24359862

Expectation vs. Performance

performanceThe Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term “expectation” as “a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen”; It defines “performance” as “the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request; something accomplished.” We have expectations in every aspect of life: for our kids, our marriages, our careers. In some areas, we set our own expectations; in others, they are set for us.

Our performance shows whether or not we fulfilled those expectations. For example, if you are asked to write a report by a specific deadline, you will be expected to fulfill this. The level of your performance may be determined by the quality of the report as well as your timeliness and accuracy. In general, if we meet all of the expectations we create for ourselves or are given, we might consider ourselves “successful.”

Expectation Mindset

expectationsThe expectations that you set for yourself and your life can be determined by your overall attitude. If you are an optimistic person, you will most likely have high expectations regarding the outcome of your life, career, and family. You imagine everyone at his best. If you are a pessimist, you might have low expectations or have doubts that you can fulfill expectations in those areas, reasoning that you will be pleasantly surprised if it turns out better than expected but prepared if it does not. These views are not necessarily wrong or right, just different.

Expectation Level

  1. High Expectations. Setting high expectations for yourself or for others can provide great motivation to perform. In sports, if a coach puts great trust in you and expects you to be a team leader, you will be very motivated to prove to him that you are capable of doing so. At work, setting high expectations makes you work harder to achieve that goal. However, setting your sights too high can be detrimental to your success. If the bar is set too high and you are not able to reach it, you may feel disappointment or inadequacy. You might feel embarrassed if you do not perform the way that you were expected to.
  2. Low Expectations. If your expectations are too low, the performance might be too easy. If there is no challenge, then there may be nothing to work for. Instead of having a drive to succeed, you may get comfortable in your position and reach a plateau.
  3. Realistic Expectations. Set expectations for yourself and others that you know will be motivational and require hard work but that will also be achievable. This will give you something to work for and then provide great satisfaction when you accomplish it.

Expectation Failure

We have all failed at something or fallen short of the expectations. Instead of letting this get you down or giving up, use it as motivation to improve or change what is needed to perform the way you are expected to.

Whether your performance succeeds your expectations or not, it’s important to keep in mind success is reached through trial and error. In all aspects of your performance, try-try-again!

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Expectation, Definition, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expectation
  2. Performance, Definition, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/performance
  3. High Hopes and Happy Homes, Mindset of Expectations, 2004, http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep04/highhopes.aspx

 

Newly Single? How to Cope.

Single CounselingThe majority of people have experienced at least one break up. In fact, a study in 2011 showed that 37% of people ages 18 to 35 had been through at least one break up in the past 20 months (1). Regardless of the circumstances or the length and seriousness of the relationship, breaking up is hard to do. The mental and social side effects can sometimes be devastating. What can you do to make it easier on yourself?

Emotional

After a break-up, you will most likely be swarmed with emotions – anger, resentment, depression, heart-break, etc. These emotions need to be addressed, not repressed. When trying to get your feelings out, make sure it is done in a productive way. Yelling and venting to a friend is not going to be very beneficial. Instead, many experts suggest writing as a means of therapy (2). When you write, you take time to form your thoughts instead of thinking and speaking irrationally. Writing also gives you the chance to go back and analyze your feelings and to see how far you have come from where you were immediately after the break up.

Another way to cope with these feelings is to stay active. Not only is physical activity beneficial to the mind and body, staying active will keep you busy, which means you will have less time to dwell on the break up. Another helpful idea is to find someone to confide in. But don’t pick just anyone – make sure it is something that you trust to give you sound advice and comfort.

Socially

Depending on where you met your significant other, the social aspect may be a problem. You may have mutual friends, making it difficult and tense to be around those friends. You may work with him, making work more stressful and awkward. However, this problem may give you a chance to branch out; meeting new people and trying new things may be just what you need.

Personally

Because relationships can give a person meaning and purpose, a break up might cause you to feel less satisfied with your life. Discontentment can lead to bitterness and will not have any positive outcome, so do your best to avoid it. A person’s reaction to a break up can greatly affect the future. Those who have a positive outlook and desire to look for someone new are less likely to be affected by depression and low self-esteem. Remember also that a break up can actually benefit you in many ways. Being newly single gives you a chance to re-evaluate your life and what is important, and it can help you find your identity as an individual. Finding the positives in a break up can make your future relationships even stronger.

No matter how you deal with a break up, there is one essential: do not let your break up define you.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Statistics and effects of a break up, 2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21517174
  2. Break Ups Aren’t All Bad, Ways to cope, 2009, http://www.apa.org/research/action/romantic-relationships.aspx

 

 

Coping with Shared Custody

Family CounselingWith over 35 percent of all U.S. marriages ending in divorce according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shared or split custody of children is becoming part of the norm. (1) But how do parents cope with shared custody of their children?

It goes without saying how challenging it is to go from seeing your child(ren) on a daily basis to half the time with shared custody. Oftentimes these periods when the child is in the opposite parent’s care, can lead to sadness, depression, and loneliness. To help you better transition to a shared custody lifestyle, here are a few tips for coping thorough shared custody.

  1. Stop with the “what ifs.” When you’re lonely and sad because you miss your children it can be easy to get caught up in the “what if” game but you should stop while you’re ahead. Asking yourself about what may or may not be different if you had only stayed married won’t change or help the situation now. What is, is.
  2. Soak up your time. When it is your turn to care for the child be sure to soak of every moment of your time with them. Get all your moneys’ worth, if you will. Whenever you have the chance be spontaneous with them and enjoy each other’s company.
  3. Document it. Like with kindergarteners who bring a family photo to school for when they may feel homesick, you should document your favorite times with your children and display them in your home. This means hanging photos of you and your children or displaying their artwork. Having small mementos of them will help make them feel more a part of the home even when they are not physically present.
  4. Invest your time. Often times parents of shared custody children find themselves with empty time on their hands. Though you may not be sure what exactly to do with your new found free time, sulking alone in your home is not the answer. Instead invest it into something enjoyable and that you are passionate about. Learn something new, join a team, or volunteer.
  5. Seek support. People need support for all sorts of life challenges including shared custody. Seek support in loved ones, friends, or even a professional to help. With the support you need you can openly discuss your feelings and any challenges you may have while embracing any aid they may offer you.

With an increasingly high divorce rate, it’s obvious why we have so many families living with shared custody. While shared custody offers the benefit of the child being able to spend time with both parents separately, it does leave room for sadness, depression, and loneliness to develop in parents while the child is away. Better cope with shared custody by keeping these 5 tips in mind and applying them to your daily life.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Marriage and Divorce, Number of divorces statistics, 2014, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/marriage-divorce.htm
  2. Child and Family Coping One Year After Mediated and Litigated Child Custody Disputes, General topic information, 1994, http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/fam/8/2/150/
  3. Preparing Your Child for Back-to-School http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/school-rush.aspx

 

Is Kindness Contagious?

I’m confident you have heard the saying, “Kindness is contagious,” before right? Well, if you hadn’t- now you have! The idea that showing someone kindness, even through just a smile, can be passed on to that person making them more likely to be kind to someone else is one that has been handed down through generations.

Just recently new research was conducted that may unlock the mystery; is kindness really contagious? According to a 2010 study done by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Plymouth, “It is natural for people to seek the positive emotions that accompany seeing and doing acts of kindness.” (1) Because there is moral beauty in being kind, humans have a natural desire to see others be kind, and in return to be kind themselves causing a natural high-like sensation. Research published in the journal of Biological Psychiatry has even aimed to learn what these moral, high-like elevations actually look like in the brain and human body. (2)

So, what does this mean for you?kindness

It means to be kind, of course! When we take the necessary time to be kind to those around us in both big and small ways we can pass on our kindness to everyone we cross paths with. Believe me, there are far worse things in life than creating a society of kind people who love to spread their kindness to others! Here’s a few ways you can show kindness today!

  • Smile. You can impact a large number of people with kindness simply by smiling. It doesn’t take any more time to smile than it does to frown. In fact studies have shown when you frown you actually use more muscles than you do when smiling. Remind yourself to offer others smiles whenever you get the chance.
  • Help. Whether it’s through simply being aware of your surroundings when you witness people needing help, or by volunteering your services to a needy cause by helping others you can show kindness.
  • Listen. A listening ear is a kind ear. Often times people are just looking for someone to talk to who will listen. Be kind today by listening to a loved one, friend, child, or even a complete stranger. Kindness knows no bounds.

For once, an old wise tail passed down from generation to generation is ringing true according to science. Kindness is truly contagious. Spread the word, and the love by being kind to one another every chance you get.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Kindness is Contagious, New Study Finds, Kindness is contagious study findings, 2010, https://helix.northwestern.edu/article/kindness-contagious-new-study-finds
  2. Autonomic and Prefrontal Evens During Moral Elevation, Research on moral elevations, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25813121