There is so much information available today about Mental Health. It seems like everyone is talking about it. Social media, TV, sporting clubs. But what are we actually meaning when we talk about Mental Health?
Often it’s used to describe things like depression or anxiety, eating disorders or bi-polar. However, The World Health Organization defines Mental Health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
That’s a twist! It’s about wellness not illness! Beyond Blue explains that to experience mental health implies increased learning, creativity and productivity, social behaviour and positive social relationships. It also results in improved physical health and life expectancy. Mental health is about being emotionally, cognitively and socially healthy.
Yet many people experience some mental health conditions that impact daily life and relationships. It can even have harsh outcomes such as suicide.
Depression and anxiety are two common mental health conditions that impact many people. There are also a range of mood disorders, psychotic disorders and personality disorders that impact wellbeing. Mental health is complex, but information and support can make a huge difference to wellbeing! Seeking assistance from a skilled counsellor can be the start to a new you!
Anxiety is a normal part of everyday life as we cope with the often conflicting demands of work and study, relationships, families and friends. Sometimes we may fee more anxious than other times and this is normal.
However, the quality of life can be significantly impacted when symptoms of anxiety become severe and occur when there is no threat or danger apparent.
Anxiety can cause strong physical responses such as a rapid heart beat, chest pain or increased sweating. Racing thoughts and a sense of panic and fear often become unbearable and relentless. The anxiety can become overwhelming and extremely distressing, and often people experiencing anxiety symptoms feel desperate about how to manage everyday life and feel trapped and isolated.
Anxiety and Depression – A Link
Anxiety and Depression are both normal emotions that everyone experiences in difficult situations. However, they become problematic when they persist over time and can have a huge impact upon your life. Often they make normal everyday activities difficult to manage.
Experts in mental health maintain that nearly 50% of people with depression also have anxiety, and vice versa. Although they are different mood disorders, they have the following similarities
- Sleeping difficulties
- Concentration difficulties
- Loss of pleasure in everyday life
It’s not all bad news though! When you seek support to address either depression or anxiety, counselling can effectively help resolve both issues due to the overlap of symptoms. Evidence based interventions are available immediately, so seeking immediate counselling support is a step in the right direction to get you back on the path to health and wellbeing!.
The Facts about Anxiety Disorders
- Most commonly diagnose mental health problem in Australia.
- Around 11% of the population experience these problems.
- Almost twice as many women as men are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Some common types of anxiety disorders
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Panic Disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Specific phobias
What causes anxiety disorders?
Although there is no specific cause responsible for the development of an anxiety disorder there are a number of variables that can contribute:
- Family history of anxiety
- Excessive alcohol and drug use such as cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy.
- Personality factors
How to Manage Anxiety
Just breathe! A helpful way to manage the physical symptoms is to focus on your breath, breathe deeply and slowly. Perhaps count…in -2-3 out-2-3, as you breathe in and out for a few minutes at a time until the symptoms subside.
- Ask for help and support from family, friends and work mates
- Listen to music, relaxation or mindfulness recordings.
- Exercise. Perhaps use music as you exercise as a way to stop the racing thoughts and help improve your mood.
- Do things you enjoy.
Seek expert help from someone who can help you:
- Identify what triggers the symptoms
Learn some practical strategies to help you manage and overcome the symptoms
Or to make an appointment contact Heather
Nearly 20% of Australians will experience depression at some stage in their life. From children to the elderly, anyone may be impacted at some stage by low mood. It’s part of being human.
When we talk about depression it can mean anything from feeling flat or down, to being deeply troubled where the quality of daily life is significantly impacted. If you experience low mood for more than two weeks you may have mild depression.
When your feelings impact day to day living it’s time to seek professional support.
Anxiety and Depression are often linked, often making normal everyday activities difficult to manage. Mental health experts maintain that nearly 50% of people with depression also have anxiety, and vice versa. Although they are different mood disorders, they have the following similarities
- Sleeping difficulties
- Concentration difficulties
- Loss of pleasure in everyday life
When you seek support to address either depression or anxiety, counselling can effectively help resolve both issues due to the overlap of symptoms. Evidence based interventions are available immediately, so seeking immediate counselling support is a step in the right direction to get you back on the path to health and wellbeing!.
Common Symptoms of Mild Depression.
Loss of interest in everyday activities
- A sense of hopelessness
- Tearfulness and crying
- Negative self-talk
- Negative thoughts
- Withdrawal from social connections
- Feeling numb
- Chronic fatigue
- Reduced libido
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Change in eating habits
Causes of Depression
For many people, there is no reason and there is no cause for their feelings. This makes it painful and difficult for people because others don’t understand this.
For others, there are multiple contributing factors to depression that includes:
- Mild to severe life stress
- Substances you may take (some medications, drugs and alcohol.) Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems have major or clinical depression.
- Medical conditions
- Biological or genetic factors: A family history of depression may increase the risk. Depression is a complex trait so there is no one single gene that contributes to disease risk.
- Psychological factors
- Abuse: Past physical, sexual or emotional abuse
- Conflict: Personal conflicts or disputes with family members or others
- Death or loss: Sadness or grief from the loss of a loved one
- Major events, either positive or negative
- Personal problems
- Serious illness
Treatment for Mild Depression
Counselling treatment results in good outcomes for people experiencing mild depression, and there are a variety of effective interventions available.
What else helps?
There are four things you can do for yourself to help manage your symptoms.
- Healthy eating
- Sleep well
- Avoid alcohol and drug use.
For more advise on how to deal with depression click here
Sometimes symptoms persists for months or years, causing havoc to a person’s physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, interfering with daily life and relationships.
The following symptoms may be indicators of severe depression in addition to the symptoms of mild depression.
- Difficulty getting out of the house
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Recurrent intrusive thoughts of death and suicide
- Restlessness, feelings of worthlessness
- Daily insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
Treatment for Severe Depression
Evidence demonstrates that severe depression is best treated by a two-pronged approach; medication and counselling. Indeed, therapeutic interventions have an 80% success rate, so counselling is often the key to long-term recovery.
The first step is to seek the assistance of your GP who will assess and perhaps prescribe useful medication, and then seek counselling.
Or call Heather Thompson to make an appointment.
Family Violence is one of the biggest issues facing Australian families. Any family can be impacted. If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence there is help available.
What will everyone say? What will my friends or family think of me? Perhaps I’m overreacting? These are common responses from people who are experiencing family violence. However, it is not OK for you or anyone to be treated violently, either verbally or physically.
Perhaps you are the one abusing your partner or children. Help is available, and taking the first step of acknowledging what’s going on could be the best decision you ever make.
So, what are we talking about here?
The facts about Anger:
Anger is defined as:
a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire.”
a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire
Anger is an emotion common to everyone! However, it can result in significant harm when it is not managed well.
Anger can be both an internal experience and result in an external event. Someone, an event or your own personal issues including difficult memories can cause feelings of anger, raising your heart rate and blood pressure as well as triggering the release of adrenaline.
Expressing anger is often to respond aggressively, a reaction which stems from our fight or flight instinctual response during stressful or seemingly threatening situations. Laws, social norms and common sense place limits on what is an acceptable form of displaying anger. It’s how anger is expressed and managed that is often problematic.
There are three main conscious and unconscious ways people deal with their angry feelings – express, suppress and calming.
Assertively expressing anger in a way that communicates your feelings and needs effectively in a situation is the healthiest way of expressing anger. This is successfully done when you are assertive without being aggressive, pushy or demanding and being respectful of yourself and others.
Anger can be suppressed and redirected or converted, this is when you hold in your anger and focus on something more productive and positive. The danger here is that if anger isn’t released in some form, it can turn inward causing a whole host of other issues both physical and psychological negatively impacting on your life and the people around you.
Taking steps to calm yourself by not just controlling your outward responses but also your internal responses such as lowering your heart rate and letting the feelings subside.
All three can be healthy ways of dealing with anger, however, depending on the person negative effects can ensue and that is when anger issues begin to arise.
What causes anger issues?
Many anger issues come from a persons’ environment – stress, financial issues, difficult relationships and feelings of overwhelming expectations can contribute to the formation of anger. Anger issues may also be evident in people whose parents have experienced similar difficulties. Hence the ways a person responds when angry may be learned behaviours. Physical contributing factors such as your body’s ability to deal with certain hormones and chemicals in your body (e.g. serotonin) can also play a role in how you process anger.
What are the signs that you have an anger issue?
It’s often when things get out of control that you become aware that you have an issue with managing anger appropriately. Other people may become scared by your behaviour, or you may scare yourself by a strong angry response. This often happens within families or close relationships.
Family violence is often a result of out of control anger and is a clear sign that there is a significant anger issue that needs to be addressed to prevent harm. Road rage is another common example of an inappropriate anger response. It is recommended that you seek assistance with how you manage anger if you are experiencing issues such as these.
However, losing your cool from time to time doesn’t mean you have an anger issue. In fact, not all anger related issues are felt or expressed as anger. A number of emotional states such as anxiety, depressed mood and irritability are possible symptoms of not processing anger in a healthy manner. Physical signs of an anger issue range from fatigue to heart palpitations or tightening of the chest. Strong emotions such as anger can have a very real impact on your body leaving issues unaddressed can put your overall health at risk.
How to manage anger:
The challenge with managing your reactions to feelings of anger is finding what the anger relates to, what triggers anger and then to find ways to appropriately manage strong emotional responses. Relaxation, communication skills and problem-solving techniques are some helpful strategies that may make a big difference to how you deal with anger in appropriate ways.
Counselling can provide an opportunity for you to focus on what it is happening for you and think about how you might do things differently. This will benefit you and those around you who might be struggling with your behaviour.
Heather Thompson Consulting provides two treatment approaches to anger management and behaviour change:
1. A six session course for individuals
2. Anger management counselling
A certificate of attendance is provided at the conclusion of Anger Management treatment.
Themes addressed in Anger Management Treatment include:
• Anger and violence defined and explored
• Patriarchy and violence
• Taking responsibility for your own thinking, feelings and behaviour.
• Positive, healthy ways of dealing with conflict
• Strategies for managing high-risk situations
• Making amends with people you have used violence or aggressive behaviours against.
Contact Heather Thompson today to make an appointment for anger management treatment.
For immediate assistance:
Lifeline: 131 114
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
1800 Respect: 1800 737 732
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Sexual Abuse and Trauma Counselling
When a person has been sexually abused they are often left with a sense of shame and humiliation that makes it difficult to talk about. Often this is accompanied by guilt as if in some way they are responsible for what happened. It can leave the person struggling to manage life day to day, impact intimacy and the ability to trust others.
For these reasons people who have been abused often find it difficult to tell anyone about what has happened. The Personal Safety Survey reports that 73% children do not disclose until at least one year after the abuse occurred and 45% of victims do not disclose for 5 years, whilst some people never report the abuse. Fear of blame, shame or not being believed are key factors that contribute to these figures.
If you have been sexually abused there are some things you need to know.
All of the following are common reactions to sexual abuse:
- Hyper vigilance
- Sleep difficulties
- Suicidal thoughts
Adult survivors of sexual abuse may experience any of the following difficulties:
- A constant feeling of being in crisis mode
- Negative thoughts of self
- Difficulties in interpersonal relationships
- Emotionally numb
- Disconnected from others
- Anger, rage, depression or suicidal
- Re-experiencing abusive patterns in relationships
- Fear of the impact on current relationships of speaking out
- Anger issues
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Indicated by Intrusive and obsessive thoughts and flashbacks
- Compulsive behaviours: excessive alcohol and drug consumption, gambling, self-harm etc
Sexual abuse is never the fault of the person who has been abused.
- It is crucial for your recovery to seek help.
Counselling can make a huge difference, and enable you to regain your sense of self and wellbeing. Counselling doesn’t mean you have to relive the experience. Rather, it is an opportunity to regain a sense of wellness and wellbeing.
- Sexual abuse can happen to anyone.
In Australia 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will have experienced sexual abuse by adulthood.
- In 95% of child sexual abuse cases, the offender is known to the child.
The abuser may be a family member or foster parent, social contacts such as family friends, or someone in a position of authority (sport coach, clergy or teacher). The abuse to a child is often ongoing over months or years. Children may be threatened and bribed as their powerless and trust is violated.
- There is a stigma still attached to sexual abuse.
However, as people become more aware such as through The Royal Commission into Sexual Abuse (2013) there is an increased awareness within society of the impact of the abuse and the stigma is gradually diminishing.
How can counselling help?
Trauma recovery counselling is effective in reducing the trauma of sexual abuse for 70% – 90% of victims.
You do not need to remember and relive the traumatic experiences.
Talking with a skilled counsellor will enable you to develop:
- Relationship intimacy
- Safety and wellbeing
You will learn practical strategies and techniques to
- Process what happened
- Reduce distressing after-effects
- Build resilience
- Build self-esteem
- Improve coping mechanisms
- Discover a new sense of self
- Enhanced general health and wellbeing
Heather recognizes the courage it takes to engage in counselling to address your experience of sexual abuse.
For more information on Family and relationship counselling or to make an appointment contact Heather.