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Reflect On This

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Local Mental Health Non-Profit

Posted on March 21, 2017 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (156)
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Possible Warning Signs of Suicide

Posted on January 30, 2017 at 9:44 AM Comments comments (1)
POSSIBLE WARNING SIGNS

There is not a single cause for suicide, nor is there always a certain warning sign that a person may be suicidal. Depression, stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns beyond the level with which a person can cope can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. If left untreated, these mental health conditions can increase a person’s chances for suicidal thoughts or actions. However, when treated properly people can manage their mental health concerns and lead happy, fulfilling lives.

Possible Warning Signs:
Something to be aware of when someone may be suicidal is a change in behavior. This can mean new behaviors appearing that have not been present before, or the absence of behaviors that are generally common. This change is especially important if it happens alongside a major life change or a particularly painful event.

What to Look For:
A person may be thinking about suicide if they engage in the following behaviors:
-Intentional self-harm, such as cutting or burning
-Looking for ways to kill themselves
-Reckless behavior such as increased drug or alcohol consumption
-Withdrawing from or losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
-Acting more aggressive or depressed than usual
-Visiting or calling friends and loved ones to say goodbye
-Giving away valuable or prized possessions

What to Listen For:
A person may be thinking about suicide if they talk about the following:
-Wanting to die or kill themselves
-Feeling worthless or guilty
-Feeling helpless, hopeless, or trapped
-Experiencing unbearable pain
-Being a burden to others




Risk Factors for Suicide attempts:

In addition to the outward warning signs like behaviors and talk, there are other risk factors to consider when a person may be suicidal. Whether they are occurring currently in someone’s life or they are a part of the past, these risk factors can increase the likelihood of a person considering suicide.



Personal Risk Factors:
-Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline        personality disorder, impulse control or conduct disorder, and others.
-Drug and/or alcohol abuse or dependency
-Long-term health concerns such as an incurable or unknown condition or chronic pain


Environmental and Historical Factors:
-A history of suicide attempts
-Family history of suicide attempts
-Exposure to the death or suicide of another person
-Exposure to traumatic events such as war or repeated emergency situations
-Prolonged exposure to stress such as abuse, bullying, harassment, stalking, work problems, or  relationship problems

-Access to lethal means such as firearms, illegal drugs, or large quantities of prescription medications

Diabetes and Depression

Posted on November 14, 2016 at 2:33 PM Comments comments (4)
Depression can strike anyone, but people with diabetes may be at a greater risk. Diabetes is a serious health concern that afflicts an estimated 16 million Americans. Treatment for depression helps people manage symptoms of both diseases, thus improving the quality of their lives.
Several studies suggest that diabetes doubles the risk of depression compared to those without the disorder. The chances of becoming depressed increase as diabetes complications worsen. Research shows that depression leads to poorer physical and mental functioning, so a person is less likely to follow a required diet or medication plan. Treating depression with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of these treatments can improve a patient’s well-being and ability to manage diabetes.

Causes underlying the association between depression and diabetes are unclear. Depression may develop because of stress but also may result from the metabolic effects of diabetes on the brain. Studies suggest that people with diabetes who have a history of depression are more likely to develop diabetic complications than those without depression. People who suffer from both diabetes and depression tend to have higher health care costs in primary care.
Despite the enormous advances in brain research in the past 20 years, depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated. People with diabetes, their families and friends, and even their physicians may not distinguish the symptoms of depression. However, skilled health professionals will recognize these symptoms and inquire about their duration and severity, diagnose the disorder, and suggest appropriate treatment.

To learn more go to:

Schizophrenia

Posted on October 14, 2016 at 3:37 PM Comments comments (0)

Schizophrenia can be a very intense and scary experience for both the sufferer and their family and friends.  The good news is that it can often times be successfully treated with medication.  The difficult part of treatment is getting the individual who is suffering to consistently take their medication. 

Individuals who suffer from schizophrenia struggle with accepting their hallucinations (hearing things and seeing things) are not real.  This is because the hallucinations are just as real to them as hearing or seeing you. Think about it.  How likely are you to believe someone that is telling you the items around you right now are not really there?  Not likely, right?  This is one of the first major hurdles of getting someone with schizophrenia to accept help.

At this time, schizophrenia is best treated with medication and counseling.  Because scientist and doctors still know very little about the chemicals in our brains, finding the right medication can take time.  Once a medication begins to work, sufferers may not like the way it makes them feel and/or they feel as though others are controlling them, changing them, through the use of medication.  These factors lead to many people not taking their medicine as prescribed, which in turn causes successful treatment to take longer to achieve.  This is where counseling can really help. 

In counseling, I help my clients who suffer from schizophrenia understand the biology behind the disorder.  I educate my clients on how neurotransmitters in their brain work and normalize their experience of seeing and hearing things.  I teach them the importance of taking their medication consistently and inform them of the dangers of stopping their medication without their doctor’s approval.  I then help them discover ways of distinguishing their hallucinations from reality.  I also help them find ways of lessening the occurrence and intensity of the hallucinations.  Lastly, I work with their family and friends to help them understand why their loved one is struggling and what they can do to help them. 

Overall, schizophrenia can be a disabling disorder.  However, with consistent psychiatric care and supportive counseling, individuals who have the disorder can live a successful life.  The key to their success lies in their willingness or ability to get help and receiving support, non-judgment, and unconditional love from their family and friends.

Additional resources can be found at:




Heather N. Smith, M.Ed., Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor

The Dangers of Untreated Biploar Disorder

Posted on June 22, 2016 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health problem that affects about 2.3 million Americans, more than one percent of the population. The main reason many people with bipolar disorder are not being treated is because it's hard to diagnose. But even after diagnosis, treatment may be difficult. Some people who are diagnosed stop their treatment because they decide they don’t need it anymore, or because medication side effects are too distressing.

All of this adds up to many people with bipolar disorder who are not getting the treatment they need—and who risk serious health consequences.

Why Bipolar Disorder Is Hard to Recognize

Most people with bipolar disorder—about 70%—are misdiagnosed at least once before the condition is identified, and the average length of time from when symptoms start to a correct diagnosis is 10 years.

Bipolar I disorder is the most common type. Once called manic depressive disorder, bipolar I involves mood swings from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression).

Bipolar II disorder involves severe depression, but the manic moods, called hypomania, are less so. This type of bipolar disorder is often not recognized by primary care doctors, largely because hypomania is hard to spot.

Hypomania has some of the same characteristics as mania, but it doesn’t last as long (four days compared to at least a week for mania) and is not accompanied by major disruptions in your social or work life. In fact, some people view hypomania in a positive light. A hypomanic person may be the “life of the party,” always coming up with new ideas, and not needing much sleep.

Other reasons for misdiagnosed bipolar disorder:
  • Many people with mania, especially hypomania, do not recognize it as abnormal. They may think of it as simply a high amount of energy or joy.
  • People may have more depression than mania and may be misdiagnosed as having major depression.
  • People in a severe manic episode may see, hear or believe things that are not real and be misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia.
  • Up to 60% of people with bipolar disorder also abuse drugs or alcohol, and bipolar disorder is sometimes misdiagnosed as substance abuse.
  • In children and adolescents with bipolar disorder, the symptoms may be misdiagnosed as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

The Risks of Untreated Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder tends to get worse the longer it goes untreated. Delays in diagnosis and treatment can lead to personal, social and financial problems that make the disorder more difficult to deal with for those who have it and for those around them.

Dangers of untreated bipolar disorder include:
  • Loss of ability to work. Bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world.
  • Stress on personal relationships. This can result in unemployment, divorce, and legal problems.
  • Substance abuse issues. Delayed diagnosis may contribute to people with bipolar disorder abusing drugs and alcohol. Studies show that 56% abuse drugs and 44% abuse alcohol.
  • Suicide. Thirty percent of people with untreated bipolar disorder commit suicide.

Getting Diagnosed and Getting Treated

While bipolar disorder is generally a life-long illness, treatment helps most people manage their symptoms. You may still have lingering symptoms and relapses, but you can enjoy a good and productive life. Because there is no blood test or brain scan that can diagnose bipolar disorder, you need to let your doctor know if you have any of the symptoms. You may be at increased risk of bipolar disorder if you have a family history of the disease.

Symptoms to report include:

*    Periods of depression when you may be very tired, have no energy, be unable to think straight, feel helpless, or have thoughts of death or suicide
  • Periods of mania when you may not need sleep, talk very fast, be very restless, have unrealistic ideas, and engage in reckless behaviors
  • Periods of mania or depression that last for at least seven days
  • Periods of mania or depression that are a major change from your normal behavior, most likely affecting your work and social life
  • Shifting back and forth between periods of feeling low, sad and helpless and feeling high, unstoppable and energetic

  • Counseling With Kade

    Posted on January 22, 2016 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

    Seeking counseling can be a scary thing. The idea of opening up to someone about our deepest, most intimate fears, worries, and desires can cause anxiety. What if it does not work? What if I do not like my counselor? These questions, along with many more, can make the idea of counseling unappealing. Counseling does not have to be a scary or mysterious thing though. Allow me to share a bit about the process of counseling and common areas of concern I work with. It is my sincerest hope that this will help remove the anxiety surrounding seeking counseling.

                Individual talk therapy can be used for a wide variety of issues. Common concerns include depression, anxiety, anger, impulse control, self-esteem, communication with others, and many more. In working with each of these concerns, we will look at how past decisions and beliefs are impacting your life currently. We will use the insight we gain in these investigations to help us identify how to best empower you for the future. It is my personal belief that we are personally responsible for the decisions we make, and that who we are in the present is a result of a lifetime of decisions and beliefs. Once we are able to identify the decisions and beliefs that limit our growth, we can begin working toward making deep, meaningful changes in our lives. While none of us live a perfect life, we each deserve to live as fulfilling of a life as we can. While coming to individual talk therapy may initially be uncomfortable, as the process continues it can provide a great deal of relief for a number of concerns. Let us explore what we can do to help you live the life you deserve.

                The approach I use in counseling is called existentialism. One of the primary focuses of existential counseling is not to “cure” the negative feelings we experience, but to learn to cope with them knowing that at some point in each of our lives, we are likely to encounter them again. A life without negative feelings is not possible, but what is possible is learning to face stress, sadness, anxiety, fear, and other negative emotions in a positive, productive manner. Your happiness is in your hands, and you have the responsibility to give yourself the best life you can. In counseling, we will explore ways you can expand your decision making skills to further increase your satisfaction with life. Not only will we look at what you are currently experiencing, but we will also explore bigger picture questions. How do you live life to the fullest? How do you develop and express your individuality while remaining connected to others? How do you tolerate uncertainty? Coming to a better understanding of your personal answers to these questions serves to better prepare you for the future. Existential counseling aims to understand the link between what we do and how we feel so that we may act more deliberately and with greater ownership of our actions.

    Mental Health Stigma

    Posted on October 9, 2015 at 9:09 AM Comments comments (0)
    Mental Illness in America Comic Strip

    I had recently come across this comic strip that was originally from a blog called Robot Hugs which eloquently expresses how much of society sees mental illness and how it is treated in comparison to physical diseases. Although it is a tad exaggerated, it doesn’t dampen the gravity of the way some individuals view mental illness. Unfortunately, despite the
    progression of contemporary psychology and psychiatry today, society still views mental illness with a stigma. Often, individuals who are suffering from depression, anxiety, and any other mental illness are viewed as weak and unable to emotionally adapt to the stressors and the harshness of life. However, what people fail to understand is that just like physical diseases, individuals also do not have control over their mental illnesses. Mental illnesses are caused by a multitude of factors, such as genetic heritability, the occurrence of chemical imbalances in the brain, as well as other environmental causes.
    According to the Diathesis-Stress model, different people have different predisposed vulnerabilities to stressors, which are environmental factors that can disrupt an individual’s psychological stability that can trigger the development of a mental disorder. Individuals have an inherent susceptibility or vulnerability to stressors, and some people may be more at-risk to mental illnesses compared to others. The more susceptible an individual is to these stressors, the less environmental factors it will take for them to develop mental illnesses. If the individual’s predisposition in conjunction with the amount of stressors extends beyond his or her mental capacity, he or she will develop a disorder.
    Let’s talk about this in simpler terms by comparing people’s ability to handle stress to jars of water. In this example, the water in these jars represents stressors. The size of the jars represents the capacity for individuals to handle stressors. The sizes of the jars will vary, just as people’s ability to cope with stress will vary. Similarly, the amount of water each jar can hold will also differ just as the amount of stress one individual can cope with will differ. The big jars and/or jars with less water can handle more water, just as individuals with a greater capacity to cope and/or are experiencing less stress can handle more stressors. However, small jars and/or jars that are already full cannot take on much more water, making them unable to hold as much water as the other jars. This is similar to people who have less ability to cope and/or are already experiencing lots of stress in their life and are unable to cope with added stress. If a jar is constantly filled with water without any means of draining it, it will eventually overflow. Just like individuals when stress exceeds our mental capacities, we become overwhelmed to the point of dysfunction in our lives.
    Therefore, just as different people have varying immunity (immune strength) and susceptibility to sickness, every individual has a varying susceptibility to mental illness as well. Being unable to see the physical manifestation of mental illness does not make them any less grave than a physical disease or injury.
    The reason I shared this comic strip is to raise awareness of how we interact with those who are suffering from mental illnesses. A lack of understanding can lead to, whether or not deliberately, a lack of empathy.
    Source:

    Mental Health Tips for College Students

    Posted on August 13, 2013 at 12:08 PM Comments comments (13)
    Healthy Minds: Tips for Every College Student

    Did You Know?
    · Mental health conditions are most common during the ages of 18-24. In fact, twenty-seven percent of young adults experience mental health conditions, of which anxiety disorders and depression are the two most common disorders.
    · Mental illnesses – if left untreated – can derail a young adult’s college career and dismantle many other areas of their life and dreams. With treatment, nearly all people who experience a mental health condition can live normal, productive lives.
    · Support is available at school and in the community, and mental health treatments are extraordinarily effective.

    What College Students Should Know
    · One in four adults experiences a diagnosable mental health disorder each year.
    · Without proper mental health treatment, mental health conditions may lead to poor school performance, trouble with the law, strained relationships and even suicide.
    · Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.
    · It’s important that college students familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions. If a person feels they or someone they care for needs help, they should not hesitate to ask for help.
    · Support is available at school and in the community, and mental health treatments are extraordinarily effective.
    · Most colleges provide some free mental health services and can refer students who need longterm treatment to local professionals.
    · Mental Health America of Illinois (MHAI) can help students find the help they need.
    · To find help or get more information contact RCD at (940) 367-9887 or go to your on campus student counseling center.

    Depression and College Students
    · Depression affects approximately 10 percent of all American adults each year.
    · Depression is a serious mental disorder. It is not a normal part of growing up or a personal weakness.
    · Nearly 50% of all college students report feeling so depressed that they have had trouble functioning, and 15% meet the criteria for depression.
    · Depression is very treatable: more than 80% get better with treatment. The most common treatments are antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, or preferably, a combination of the two.

    Anxiety Disorders and College Students
    · Extreme forms of fear, worrying and panic could signal an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million American adults each year. 5
    · There are a range of anxiety disorders that include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.
    · If left untreated, an anxiety disorder can interfere with students’ academic, social and personal lives. Fortunately, treatments are effective and often combine medication with specific kinds of psychotherapy.

    Info from Mental Health America 2007

    Locations Served

    Posted on August 3, 2013 at 5:28 PM Comments comments (1)
    Reflections Counseling of Denton serves clients from many areas including Denton, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Sanger, Argyle, Corinth, Lake Dallas, and many more.  We offer affordable rates so that anyone can get the help they need.  Give us a call at (940) 367-9887 for more details or to schedule an appointment.

    Why Yelling Defeats Your Purpose

    Posted on June 1, 2013 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)
    For some, when in a heated conversation, emotions are not  the only thing on the rise; so is the volume of the voice.  When this occurs the individual is attempting to get their point across or be heard.  The idea of increased volume = increased understanding is an irrational thought; meaning it is not based on factual evidence. 
     
    If you are a yeller you need to understand the following:
     
    Abstract cognitive processes occur in the frontal part of our brains.  This type of thinking is needed for successful communication.  When you choose to yell at someone, you are forcing them into "Fight or Flight"; the survival mode of the brain.  "Fight or Flight" occurs in the lower part of the brain far away from where purposeful thought occurs.
     
    So what does this mean?
     
    This means that when you yell at someone you are decreasing the likelihood of being heard or understood.  So the next time your are in a heated conversation and you find yourself yelling and frustrated that you cannot get your point across....Now you know why; yelling defeats the purpose : )

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