Many who take up careers in clinical psychotherapy have a deep personal commitment – some might say calling – to help others on their journey toward better mental health. Some, like post traumatic stress expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk (whose father was a Nazi concentration camp survivor), found powerful motivation to improve mental illness treatment, after bearing witness to the deep impact of trauma on a loved one.
Good cheer, happiness, family and a spirit of giving are a big part of the holiday season. But for many people, stress and loneliness are major players that upset plans to stay positive. If your tension level rises when the decor goes up, you are not alone. It is common for some people to feel more anxious or lonely as the season begins.
Holiday stress can trigger negative thinking that builds on itself. To avoid this cycle, we can take this opportunity to find new comforts and enjoy the holidays differently. We can take simple, meaningful steps for healthy self-care, and put some fun back into our celebrations. Continue reading
Do holiday family gatherings stir up feelings of excitement and dread at the same time? Do you feel a little thrown off your game as your visit gets underway? Maybe you’re like the golfer in this story. Stick with me here — it relates back to holiday stress, I promise:
The tragedy of suicide has struck again, here in Northern Virginia. I am heartbroken to learn of four student deaths in three days, in nearby Prince William County. Each one was ruled a suicide. As we grieve more dreadful losses to mental illness, I must ask, how can we stop this from happening again?
Nobody welcomes feelings of sadness or dejection, but feeling down is sometimes part of life. Sadness is a normal, healthy emotion, and a natural response to loss or disappointment. Depression is a mental health issue, and a treatable illness.
While it may not seem to matter what you call it when you or a loved one is hurting, it is important to understand how these conditions are different.
Bad, how deep the pain is
Oh, you just couldn’t believe
And yes, I’m good on the surface
But I’m a mess, I’m a mess underneath.
See Winter took most of my heart
And Spring punched me right in the stomach
Summer came looking for blood
And by Autumn, I was left with nothing
It took a whole damn year to repair my body…
Survivors of childhood trauma deserve all the peace and security that a loving relationship can provide. But a history of abuse or neglect can make trusting another person feel terrifying. Trying to form an intimate relationship may lead to frightening missteps and confusion.
How can we better understand the impact of trauma, and help survivors find the love, friendship and support they and their partner deserve? Continue reading
Adolescence arrives with a surge of emotional energy. It can empower youth to expand their capabilities, make new friends, depend less on parents, and live more passionately. The influence of parents remains important in a child’s life, and is necessary to support teens in making good choices.
What Causes Substance Abuse and Dependence, and How to Help Break the Cycle
On the day Amy Winehouse died, my whole body caved in. My warped logic was that if Amy’s manager, her family, her doctors, her bodyguard couldn’t keep her alive, then honestly, what hope did we have? Us or any of the families… who reluctantly tag along on an addict’s grand tour, seeing sights we never wanted to see, meeting people we never would have chosen to sit next to at breakfast, in the cockeyed hope that one day our loved one might come home to us. Continue reading
PTSD: Why Does It Happen? How Survivors Can Heal
A traumatic event is something no one is prepared to deal with. You may feel your mind and body are in a state of shock from the experience. You may have nightmares, feel jumpy, or find yourself re-playing the event in your mind. You may even feel disconnected from the world around you. What happened was traumatic, and any person would feel shaken up. This is natural and human. Continue reading