Category Archives for pittsburgh therapist

Trauma-Informed Care

Imagine that you are a counselor, and one day a patient comes to you complaining that he always has nightmares. However, when he is telling you about his stories, he seems to be pretty calm which makes you wonder if he is making these up or not. Then you take a look at his medical record and find that he had an abusive family when he was young. In this way, his calm may be a way to avoid past trauma or just simply to protect his inner feelings (camouflage). You would not know this if you do not understand his past trauma. Therefore, it is significant for counselors to understand patient’ background to gain a better understanding of their behavior. trauma

 

Trauma is nothing rare. It is estimated that 70% of the US population has experienced some forms of trauma once in their lives. Different people may have different understandings or definitions of trauma. Usually trauma poses severe physical or psychological threats to the person. It can even be life threatening. Some people may go on to develop the disorder which we call Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Some common types of trauma are: rape, life threatening incidents, etc.

http://www.ptsdunited.org/ptsd-statistics-2/

https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=mRtpAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA62&dq=trauma+informed+care&ots=EhwzXMPrEO&sig=bkHgFc8TC8JxX6XwyPKKei4uwnw#v=onepage&q=trauma%20informed%20care&f=false

 

It is important to understand that when people have trauma experiences, especially in childhood, they may not react the same way as we expect. Therefore, it is important for health professionals to learn about trauma-informed care to better understand patients’ needs. Trauma-informed care is essentially saying when counselors meet new clients, they need to learn about his or her history, especially past trauma so that they will better understand his or her behavior and will then use appropriate coping techniques. According to “Shelter from the Storm: Trauma-Informed Care in Homelessness Services Settings”, trauma informed care refers “generally to a philosophical/ cultural stance that integrates awareness and understanding of trauma, there is no consensus on a definition that clearly explains the nature of TIC.” trauma

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-day-slavery/201707/trauma-informed-care-and-why-it-matters

http://www.traumacenter.org/products/pdf_files/shelter_from_storm.pdf

 

A lot of trauma has a root in childhood experiences. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (According to Psychology today, it measures “associations between childhood trauma, stress, and maltreatment and health and well-being later in life”) scores were found to be highly correlated with a lot of aspects affecting well-being like work performance, emotion control, health and risky behaviors. A higher score is also significantly linked to a person’s health in later life, including heart diseases, cancer etc. Trauma experiences can affect every day functioning, sensation and cognition as well. However, different people may have different copying reactions to specific situation, so when assessing a patient overall well-being, we cannot just compare it to other people’s reaction as trauma is usually biologically based (Some people are more fragile than others).

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-day-slavery/201707/trauma-informed-care-and-why-it-matters

 

Right now, coping strategies for trauma are still poorly understood. In order to understand a person as a whole, we need to understand these victims, otherwise we may interpret their behaviors wrongly. Past trauma affects us not only physically, but also emotionally and psychologically. Thus, we need to put more efforts into educating people about trauma-informed care to avoid re-victimization and to best help the patient. Research has also pointed out that education is “the first and most important step in making services more trauma informed”.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-day-slavery/201707/trauma-informed-care-and-why-it-matters

https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/wcdvs-lessons.pdf

https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=mRtpAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA62&dq=trauma+informed+care&ots=EhwzXMPrEO&sig=bkHgFc8TC8JxX6XwyPKKei4uwnw#v=onepage&q=trauma%20informed%20care&f=false trauma

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown, Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling. Schedule your free consultation with Pittsburgh’s best therapists and coaches to begin your wellness journey today!

Xinyu Lu (Lydia)

Medical Marijuana for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

 

Although marijuana is still categorized as an illicit drug and its applications have been limited, people are now becoming more interested towards its medical benefits. While some states have allowed the use of medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), some states are still waiting for further research to give a more definite answer. New Mexico was the first state to add PTSD as a condition for the use of medical marijuana. A two-year study done with 80 patients from New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program has shown that medical marijuana is associated with alleviating symptoms in some patients according to the Clinician Administered Posttraumatic Scale for DSM-IV. More states are showing a more optimistic view towards medical marijuana. Last November, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo legislated use of medical marijuana for people with PTSD. He said on Veterans Day (A lot of veterans suffer from PTSD) that he will provide any treatment he can for people who are suffering from PTSD. Medical marijuana is now available in New York for other serious illnesses as well, such as HIV and cancer. Representative Sen. Irene Aguilar also said that “PTSD is one of those things we really don’t have great medical treatment for and often people are left on multiple medications with side effects.” medical marijuana

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-trauma/201712/medical-marijuana-ptsd

https://news.medicalmarijuanainc.com/colorado-add-ptsd-medical-marijuana-program/

https://hightimes.com/health/cannabis-help-ptsd-patients/

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/cuomo-signs-medical-marijuana-ptsd-veterans-day-article-1.3626193

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02791072.2013.873843?needAccess=trueMore

 

A lot of veterans have supported the study of marijuana and legalization of medicinal cannabis. Elvis Alonzo, who served in the Marine Corps for three years and police department for thirteen years, suffered from severe mental breakdown. He believed that marijuana helped him calm down and sleep better. DeFino, a former soldier with severe injury, switched between different treatment options before he finally found medical marijuana. He said: “I’m able to live a healthy life, sick free, almost pain free and a quality of life to where I’m not thinking about killing myself all the time, it’s really nice to be able to have good medicine in your hands.” He is now growing cannabis at his home, which is approved under Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws. medical marijuana

https://news.medicalmarijuanainc.com/colorado-add-ptsd-medical-marijuana-program/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/as-vets-demand-cannabis-for-ptsd-science-races-to-unlock-its-secrets/

 

Of this plant’s 120+ active compounds, researchers have generally focused on two of them, tetrahydrocannabinol (primary psychoactive ingredient) and cannabidiol (potential medical benefits). Tetrahydrocannabinol works by binding to specific receptors on brain cells which can ease pain, boost mood, and improve sleeping. Some scientists also believe that it can reduce anxiety by interacting with the amygdala, which is responsible for emotion regulation. A clinical trial performed in Canada demonstrated that Tetrahydrocannabinol lowered the intensity and frequency of nightmares in 30 people out of the 42 patients studied. However, other studies have shown that different doses produce difference effects. Usually, lower doses might be beneficial while higher doses might be harmful.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/as-vets-demand-cannabis-for-ptsd-science-races-to-unlock-its-secrets/

 

We still do not know too much about the other major focused ingredient cannabidiol. Marcel Bonn-Miller, a psychiatry and psychology professor from University of Pennsylvania thinks cannabidiol is more beneficial than Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) when it comes to treating PTSD. He also mentions that people tend to buy products with a high level of Tetrahydrocannabinol, which may actually worsen the symptoms in the long term.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/as-vets-demand-cannabis-for-ptsd-science-races-to-unlock-its-secrets/

 

Some veterans are putting their hope on medical marijuana. A 41-year-old veteran Blanchard from Louisiana described his life as follows: “I’d like to be able to just go and enjoy a meal with my family at a restaurant. I have difficulty with that with all the noises, all the movement. I get real anxious really quick.” He really wanted to try medical marijuana as some of his friends from other states considered it incredibly helpful. Louisiana is now making some progress with medical marijuana as well, and marijuana oil (the only thing Louisiana law approves) will become available to patients by the end of this year. medical marijuana

https://www.ktbs.com/news/arklatex-indepth/blanchard-veteran-eyes-medical-marijuana-to-ease-ptsd/article_92238d8c-848a-11e8-9fd3-13fe985ab851.html

 

DISPENSE Magazine seeks to enhance the conversation between patients and medical professionals about medical cannabis. Begining in Autumn 2018, the print magazine will be available in Pennsylvania medical cannabis dispensary lobbies and in the waiting rooms of cannabis-friendly physicians. In print, on podcasts, and at live events, DISPENSE delivers the latest news, medical information and research related to cannabis, Serving as the voice of the Medical Cannabis Society, it is a trusted source of factual and helpful medical news and information.

 

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown, Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling. Schedule your free consultation with Pittsburgh’s best therapists and coaches to begin your wellness journey today!

 

 

Xinyu Lu (Lydia)

 

Medical Marijuana & Opiod Addiction

In October 2017, President Trump declared the opioid crisis as a public health emergency. The opioid epidemic, which kills more than 100 people every day, is considered “the worst drug crisis in American history” as Trump noted. According to CNN, opioid addiction leads to more deaths than breast cancer. Worse still, access to special medications for people with drug use disorder is very limited—only 10 percent of them get specialty treatments. opiod addiction
https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/29/health/medical-marijuana-opioids/index.html

https://www.solevowellness.com/help-end-opioid-addiction/

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/30/17302692/opioid-epidemic-medical-marijuana-painkiller

 

A lot of anecdotes have given hope to the use of medical marijuana in treating opioid addiction. Most anecdotes show that compared to opioids, medical marijuana needs less doses and is more effective with less side effects (especially overdose and over reliance potential). Some also claim that by mixing medical marijuana with opioids, less opioids are needed because medical marijuana can strengthen the effects of opioids. While there is some evidence that medical marijuana can ease pain for chronic pain, little research has been done in this regard. Therefore, we still lack objective data to prove its effectiveness. opiod addiction

https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/29/health/medical-marijuana-opioids/index.html

 

While most studies have pointed that medical marijuana is a non-addictive replacement for opioids, some studies do not find similar outcomes. A study done by Shalev and his research team in 2006 showed that opioids have little influence over rats’ cocaine consumption (While in another study, it showed that opioids have effect on rats’ heroin consumption).

https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19607404/marijuana-drug-addiction-cbd-opioid-cocaine-use/

 

Medical marijuana is not the only non-opioid pain treatment as well; there are more than 200 non-opioid medications according to Stanford University pain specialist Sean Mackey. Also, most researches show correlation instead of causation between medical marijuana and opioid abuse. However, correlation is very different from causation. For example, the consumption of ice cream and drowning are positively correlated. However, does this mean eating ice cream leads to more drowning? Absolutely not. So why they are correlated? Because people are more likely to eat ice cream in summer when people are also more likely to go swimming. The same principle can be applied to medical marijuana and opioids as well. The editors of the scientific journal Addiction concluded as follows: Given these limitations of the evidence, it is premature to recommend the expansion of access to medical cannabis as a policy to reduce opioid overdose risks in the United States and Canada. The research funding is also limited due to federal regulation. Therefore, we still have a long way to go before medical marijuana officially become a treatment for opioid addiction. opiod addiction

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/30/17302692/opioid-epidemic-medical-marijuana-painkiller

https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19607404/marijuana-drug-addiction-cbd-opioid-cocaine-use/

 

However, the future is still majorly promising as more people are finding research evidence to support it. Researchers from University of California Irvine wrote that: “In short, our findings that legally protected and operating medical marijuana dispensaries reduce opioid-related harms suggests that some individuals may be substituting with marijuana, reducing the quantity of opioids they consume or forgoing initiation of opiates altogether.”

https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19607404/marijuana-drug-addiction-cbd-opioid-cocaine-use/

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/30/17302692/opioid-epidemic-medical-marijuana-painkiller

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling .

Contact us to schedule a free consultation and learn highly effective stress relieving techniques!

opiod addiction

Xinyu Lu (Lydia)

 

 

 

How to Communicate Effectively in Relationships

Communication is essential in a relationship because it can either hinder the relationship or make the relationship stronger. However, most people actually do not know how to communicate effectively. A lot of people confuse communication for chatting or just simply getting ideas across. In fact, communication in relationships is about connecting, letting your significant other know that you care, forming a stronger bond and fulfilling each others physical and psychological needs. (https://www.tonyrobbins.com/ultimate-relationship-guide/key-communication-relationships/) communication

Before talking about tips on how to build a satisfying relationship between you and your partner, let’s first take a look at what unhealthy communication looks like: full of negative thoughts and difficult emotion; bad listening skills; lack of understanding of what is going on in your partner’s life. And these poor communication skills can lead to break down of intimacy and trust. It usually happens when all the passion between each other has gone away and you start to pick at their mistakes, which you likely already know. Some harmful communication also happens when you expect your partner to change and they are hoping the same as well. However, these are all better than zero communication. Silence kills whatever relationships it wants, because how can you know what your partner is thinking about when you are not even trying to talk to him or her? https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/communication-in-relationships/#improve communication

 

So, how can you foster healthy communication in your relationship? Here is some advice: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-couch/201501/6-surprising-ways-communicate-better-your-partner

 

➜ Let your partner know that you care about what he or she has to say, which means that you have to put your whole mind into the conversation and listen actively. Listening actively is more than listening with concentration, it actually means interacting and clarifying without acting rude or judgemental.

 

➜ Make sure both sides get a chance to talk. You want to make sure you are not the one who dominates the conversation. Trying to find a balance between talking and listening can ensure a healthy relationship.

 

➜ Share some common memories. Study has showed that couples actually feel closer to each other when they are talking about their common experiences. So, talk about some pleasant or lovey moments you have with you partner and enjoy that moment.

 

➜Give your partner more appreciation, value, and love. Tell them they look pretty and compliment some nice little things they have done for you. Who does not like being respected and praised? But do not overdo it, otherwise you may lose trust from your partner and be labeled as a hypocrite.

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/communication-in-relationships/#improve

 

➜ Pay attention to your pitch and volume. High pitch sounds anxious and immature and loud volume may scare your partner away, especially in an argument. So, next time, try to talk calmly and be mindful of your pitch and volume.

https://www.tonyrobbins.com/ultimate-relationship-guide/key-communication-relationships/ communication

 

➜ Touch. A study conducted by Alberto Gallace and Charles Spence (2010) have found that touching can make people feel being loved and wanted and bring more positive outcomes. That is to say, while communicating with your partner, having some physical contact can sometimes ease the argument and send positive signals.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-the-name-love/201405/why-lovers-touch-is-so-powerful

 

Finally, let me end this with a quote from Shannon L. Alder: “When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret.”

communication

Xinyu (Lydia) Lu

Women With Addiction

Women tend to be thought of as less likely than men to develop addiction. The gender gap is closing though, with statistics showing 4.5 million women having issues with substance abuse, 3.5 million misusing prescription drugs, and 3.1 million regularly using illicit drugs. According to the CDC, women are more likely to have chronic pain and be prescribed painkillers at higher doses, becoming more dependent than men. Why is there an increase in addiction in women? Consider some of the triggers.addiction

Triggers

Triggers of addiction in women include chronic inflammatory pain like fibromyalgia, stress, exposure to trauma, interpersonal violence, low self-esteem, and social pressures. Women are at high risk for developing PTSD due to traumatic life events, such as sexual abuse and physical attacks, and unfortunately may turn to drugs in seeking relief from this emotional trauma.

Previous blog posts on depression and mental health noted the way women process emotions differently, partly due to brain chemistry. Women are more likely than men to revisit negative emotions and replay events in their mind. In efforts to manage intolerable emotions, women may try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Consider another factor related to addiction in women and the important role of hormones. addiction

Hormonal Influence

Hormone imbalance affects motivation, energy, and stress levels. According to drugabuse.com, a study done at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai showed higher estrogen intensifies the brains dopamine reward pathway, creating increased pleasurable feelings. When a woman has higher estrogen and takes a drug, more enjoyment is experienced. Thus, the high is associated with greater enjoyment.

Progesterone – the hormone that prepares the body for pregnancy and regulates the monthly menstrual cycle – has shown to lower drug seeking behaviors. When progesterone levels fall estrogen becomes the dominant hormone, making a woman more susceptible to drug abuse. Researchers noted when people struggling with addiction are given progesterone, the hormone plays a therapeutic role in reducing smoking and cocaine use. addiction

Oxytocin, otherwise known as the “love hormone” is a powerful hormone known to promote maternal and stress reducing behaviors. Oxytocin is released as a nursing mother bonds with her baby and during intercourse. It has also been shown to be released during hugging, helping to decrease stress hormones. In healthy relationships, oxytocin promotes bonding and trust. Therefore, in efforts to recover from addiction, healthy loving relationships are essential. Studies suggest oxytocin therapy may be helpful in reducing drug-seeking behavior and preventing relapse.

Social Pressures

Women are encouraged to be maternal, professional, in control, feminine, and conform to idealized beauty standards. Influences of social media, with terms like “mommy needs wine” or “mommy juice” is celebrated as a way to cope with the stress of motherhood.

Instead of turning to alcohol for relief, choosing nutritious meals, making time for exercise, and spending quality time with loved ones will boost mental health, help to balance hormones, and improve overall wellness. The comparison trap social media presents is dangerous for anyone battling addiction. In seeking to find ways to cope, it is vital for women to feel loved through a positive support system.

Steps to Recovery

Acknowledgement – Recognizing and acknowledging there is a problem is the first important step to recovery.

Consideration – Considering the impact addiction has on your life, friends, and family is necessary in taking action.

Exploring Recovery Options – Consulting with friends and family can help provide needed support to move in the direction best suited to your individual needs.

Early Recovery – Learning coping skills and making changes are essential in this stage. Having a support group and other resources will help prevent relapse.

Long-term Recovery – In this stage of recovery, addicts have overcome a great deal. It is important to keep in mind that it takes a continuous life long effort to guard against relapse. Keeping a strong support system and being alert to triggers is paramount. It is a journey that requires a total transformation of mind, body, and spirit.

addiction

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation and get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists. We can help you find the resources and support you need in your journey to recovery!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling .

 

 

Professional Women & Mental Health

Professional women hold more roles than meets the eye. Mother. Wife. Caretaker. Laundress. Cook. Housekeeper. Nurse. Car detailer. Teacher. Counselor. And the list goes on. Women wear many hats indeed. Whether a parent or not, women take on many tasks unrelated to work. Adding a part time or full time job to parenting will leave you feeling like a juggler in no time. It’s been said that, “A woman’s work is never done.” Work life balance can become a particular challenge for women. This is especially true if caring for children along with elderly parents. women

Women not only struggle to balance work and family life, they also have additional pressure to prove they’re as good as men in the workplace. According to theguardian.com, due to cultural and societal traditions and expectations, women may face discrimination and harassment. Women’s mental health and well-being may also be affected by lower income, lower status, insufficient benefits, or childcare concerns. While mental health is important for overall health in men and women, mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are shown to be higher in women than men.

A long day of work is physically and mentally draining for anyone. With the extra pressures women encounter, it’s no wonder they’re left feeling drained by the end of the day. There are other issues that are specific to women and their mental health. Things like physical changes and the way women process events compared to men are important when considering how their mental health is affected. women

Physical Changes

Women experience many physical changes throughout life, which has a large impact on their mental health. Hormonal changes, pregnancy, and menopause are all contributing factors that affect a woman’s mental health. The changes a woman’s body goes through may cause many discomforts. Pregnancy or other hormonal changes may cause things such as headaches, tiredness, mood swings, irritability, forgetfulness, or difficulty focusing. Fatigue and stress may increase these symptoms. Finding ways to balance hormones is key to minimizing these health concerns, as hormonal issues can affect physical and mental health.

Eating disorders are also shown to be common in young women due to societal pressures such as body image. This not only may cause a number of serious physical problems, but can also contribute to anxiety and depression.

The Way Women Process Emotions

Women have been shown to dwell on stressful events and remember details more vividly than men. This may be due to the fact that women’s limbic systems are larger than men’s. It makes sense that women are known to be more in touch with and expressive of emotions, since the limbic system is the center for emotional responsiveness, motivation, memory, formation and integration, and olfaction (sense of smell). It’s the limbic system that is responsible for emotional memory, causing us to connect a certain smell with a past memory.

The limbic system is closely connected to the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior. This prefrontal-limbic connection is said to be strengthened by practicing mindfulness. These particular systems are of clinical relevance to a psychotherapist; therefore a professional counselor can be helpful in providing support through cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness practices.

Due to having a larger limbic system, women may spend more time discussing a stressful event in more detail, thinking about it longer, and quite possibly making it more difficult to let go of negative emotions due to revisiting emotional memories more than males. According to psychologytoday.com, females are said to “absorb more sensorial and emotive information than males.” Meaning, women sense information from all five senses of what is going on around them, while also retaining that information more than males.

What Can Be Done to Support Women’s Mental Health in the Workplace?

Managers and other leaders can take some of the pressure off by being open about the issue of mental health. Hence, creating a culture where it is acceptable to communicate openly about it and provide resources to find the needed help. Employees who feel comfortable talking about it are less likely to wait until they are in a mental health crisis.

Mental health should be as much of a priority as physical health, having it checked regularly. Corporate health programs help employees by assessing and finding resources to support mental health; thus benefitting both the organization and the well-being of employees. women

Tips to Minimize Anxiety and Stress to Restore Mind-Body Balance:

  • Share responsibilities – Whether at work or home, delegate some responsibility where you’re able to. It can help to lighten your load and ease some stress.
  • Make connections with like-minded, supportive individuals – Positive minded people help to relieve stress while making circumstances seem less challenging.
  • Tune in to and be true to yourself – Taking time to do the things you enjoy with friends and family can improve self-esteem, helping you to tune into yourself and be your best self.
  • Get enough sleep – Sleep is vital to performing at your best and is essential for mental health. It is best to wind down an hour before bedtime, turning of all electronics. Perhaps try reading a good book with a cup of chamomile tea. Lavender oil can also be used to promote restful sleep.
  • Eat a balanced diet – Avoid too much caffeine or sugar during the day and close to bedtime, as these can increase anxious feelings. Eating nutrient dense foods will keep your physical and mental health more in balance.
  • Get outdoors/Exercise – Making it a priority to get outside each day for 20-30 minutes. Take a short mid-day break or go for a walk. Sunlight provides vitamin D, supporting physical and mental health.

If you are having difficulty managing work-life balance and want to process the underlying reasons with a trustworthy professional, schedule a free initial consultation  with us to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling.

 

Sleep and Mental Health

Sleep and Mental Health

According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million adults have a sleep disorder. Among the most common are insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome, but simply the absence of a diagnosed disorder does not imply that an individual is experiencing healthy and regular sleep patterns.

Effects of Inadequate Sleep

Because our sleep needs change with age, people require different amounts of sleep at different points in their lives. Generally, children aged 6 through 12 require 9-12 hours of sleep, teenagers require 8-10 hours, and adults require 7-9 hours. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016) report that over a third of adults in the United States are not receiving adequate sleep on a regular basis. sleepandmentalhealth

Sleep deprivation has implications for your entire well-being. Cognitively, it inhibits your ability to act quickly, concentrate, and remember things. Physically, it increases your risk of conditions and diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Further, one study found that sleep deprived individuals (those receiving five hours of sleep per night or less) had higher rates of mortality by approximately 15% (University of Harvard Medical School, Division of Sleep Medicine, 2007). Finally, sleep largely influences our mood and psychological functioning. Conversely, those aspects impact your sleep as well. Lack of sleep can put you at a higher risk of developing anxiety or mood disorders, and increases negative feelings such as anger, sadness, distress, and exhaustion (Dinges D. et al., 1997; Neckelmann, D. et al., 2007. Consider the following tips to improve sleep and mental health.

Things Anyone Can Do to Improve Sleep

  • Maintain a consistent routine – Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same times each day, including weekends. This will regulate your circadian rhythm, helping your body become accustomed to regular sleeping and waking times.
  • Limit cell-phone and computer use before bed – Research shows that the light emitted from our electronic devices reduces the production of melatonin, one of our natural hormones that tells your body that it’s time to sleep.
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine – Particularly in the afternoon and early evening, exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality. One study found that 150 minutes of exercise each week improved participants sleep quality by 65%, leading to less feelings of tiredness throughout the day (Loprinzi & Cardinal, 2011)
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol – Although drinking may make you feel like you’re sleeping more soundly, it prohibits REM sleep, which decreases the amount of restorative sleep you get. In short, you may fall asleep faster, but you will likely wake up still feeling tired.
  • Journal – If you find yourself up at night with racing thoughts, find ways to process those thoughts during the day to allow yourself calmness when it’s time to rest.
  • Yoga and Meditation – Amongst improvements in stress reduction, body awareness, and mindfulness, practicing yoga and meditation has been shown to help many people with insomnia, including pregnant women, cancer patients, and the elderly.
  • Contact a therapist – Sometimes, sleep problems can lead to or stem from other issues, so it’s important to involve a professional if you are having a significant amount of trouble sleeping. Some professionals use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help restructure your though processes and maintain better sleep hygiene.

If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep and want to process the underlying reasons with a trustworthy professional, schedule a free initial consultation  with us to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling .

sleepandmentalhealth

Depression in College Students ~ Pittsburgh

Depression in College Students

The prevalence of mental health concerns in college students has been steadily rising, with depression, suicide, eating disorders, and anxiety as the most common. According to the American Psychological Association (2013), about 33% of college students in the previous year had felt that depression inhibited their daily functioning, and there are so many potential reasons for this: the increase in pressure and responsibility, lack of adequate support, first-time separation from one’s family, and stress and anxiety concerning academic performance, finances, and what life will be like after college. Further, there are certain genetic, hormonal, and seasonal factors that may induce depressive symptoms or make a person more at risk for acquiring it. depression

Signs & Symptoms

There is no one-size-fits-all picture of what depression looks like. Just as any other mental health disorder, it varies by individual, but there are things you can look for, in yourselves and those around you, that may indicate that a person is struggling with depression. These symptoms typically affect the physical, emotional, and cognitive aspects of individuals who live with depression, as it is an all-encompassing disorder.

Generally, people with depression may experience feelings of hopelessness, guilt, irritability, and sadness, with decreased interest in the things they formerly enjoyed and diminished attention to their hygiene and appearance. Depression can lead to changes in appetite and weight as well and can interfere with the ability to sleep. Moreover, it can lead to the excessive use of things like gambling, the internet, alcohol, and other substances. In fact, individuals “with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely to suffer also from a drug use disorder,” and are more likely to experience internet addiction than the general population (Katikalapudi et al., 2012; National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2008). Some of the most common cognitive symptoms of depression are forgetting things, difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness, and slower reaction time (Tartakovsky). depression

Any combination of these symptoms can pose problems for an individual’s daily functioning. Specifically, in college students, depression may lead to behaviors such as isolating themselves, skipping class, neglecting responsibilities, and binge-drinking.

Steps You Can Take

As a friend, colleague, or professor of a student that may be experiencing depression, it is important for you to be sensitive to and supportive of that individual. Recognize that the things they are going through are likely not in their control, and encourage them to reach out to a mental health professional. One of the worst things you can do is minimize what they are going through and criticize them for the effects it is having in their life.

If you, yourself feel that you are experiencing depressive symptoms, it is good to process what you are feeling with someone else, though it can be hard to talk about. It may be helpful to turn to a trusted friend, family member, or professor at first, but if your symptoms are impeding your ability to function, getting in contact with a counselor or therapist will be the most effective way to work through your emotions and develop healthy coping skills. depression

If you are suffering with depression, please schedule a free consultation today to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling . MStress Management Pittsburgh

Mindful Eating to Improve Mental Health

There are various sources of stress whether it be work related, relational issues, health concerns, or other daily worries. Things like exercise and time outside are encouraged as a way to positively affect our mood and reduce stress. When it comes to our eating habits, we often hear about particular foods linked to increased energy levels and improved physical health. What about mental health though? What does our mood have to do with our food? Surely, it’s unlikely to hear someone say, “My food is really stressing me out.” But it turns out, the old saying “you are what you eat” is ringing true in more ways than one. Consider further evidence of the link between food and its affects on mental health. Mindful eating

An expecting mother will carefully choose what she eats to ensure her developing baby is getting needed nutrients and “brain food” for the brain of her developing fetus. According to nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, “Antioxidants protect the baby’s brain tissue from damage” (S. Kuzemchak, 2018). Dark leafy greens, blueberries, and other dark colored fruits and vegetables provide the most antioxidants. Like a developing fetus, our brains need antioxidants for protection from free radicals – waste produced when the body uses oxygen, which can cause damage to the cells. Eating nutrient rich foods containing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain, while protecting it from damaging free radicals, or oxidative damage. Poor nutrition is taxing to the immune system putting one at risk for free radical damage, premature aging, among other health risks.Mindful eating

Think of when you let a cut up apple sit out. It becomes brown from oxidation. That is exactly what we don’t want to happen to our brains. Just as we fuel our vehicles to keep them properly running, we want to fuel our brains. Choosing high quality fuel will produce the best results. Speaking of apples and brains, eating “an apple a day” may actually help “keep the doctor away” since it contains powerful and beneficial antioxidants. A study at Cornell found apples to protect brain cells against oxidative stress, since they contain high levels of quercetin (G, Stemilt. 2016). It is recommended to eat the entire apple, including the skin, to reap all of the benefits. So why not try out the old saying and give your brain a boost by eating an apple a day!Mindful eating

In seeing the positive effects healthy eating has on our brains, naturally we have to question “how does food actually affect our mood?” Often times we are looking for a quick fix in this fast paced world when it comes to meal time. With fast food restaurants being readily available, it has become even easier to grab something to eat without really considering nutritional benefits. Our enteric nervous system (ENS) which directly controls our gastrointestinal system is said to be our “second brain,” with 95% of serotonin being produced in the intestinal tract. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain (E, Selhub, 2018). Since our GI tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, it makes sense that our digestive system guides our emotions. Researchers believe that serotonin (also called “the happiness hormone”) imbalance influences mood which may influence anxiety and depression. Production of neurotransmitters like serotonin is highly influenced by the good bacteria in our gut. Probiotics have been shown to be beneficial in this regard.

Finding ways to balance serotonin and other neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin, is key to maintaining wellness and improving mental health. One essential way is to be mindful of what foods we’re eating since it directly effects the health of our GI tract, which is so closely linked to our emotions. The process our body goes through when breaking down foods and using them for fuel is a very extensive one. Thus, eating high quality foods is vital to getting the best quality of fuel for our bodies. Below are some tips to boost serotonin, which in turn reduces stress and improves overall well-being.Mindful eating

Tips for improving serotonin levels to improve mental health:Mindful eating

• Take good quality probiotics – Probiotics are the good bacteria found in the gut, which can increase serotonin levels. Dr. David Williams explains the     benefits of probiotics and the connection between gut health and mental health at drdavidwilliams.com. He is known as a pioneer in the field of           probiotics.
• Exercise – Exercise is known for releasing endorphins, but did you know taking a walk or exercising for just 20 minutes can boost serotonin levels? A     little fresh air and sunlight can do wonders.
• Practice Mindfulness – taking time to be present prevents anxious thoughts, allowing one to enjoy the moment and make more meaningful                  connections with others. This includes being mindful of what we’re eating, thinking, and saying.
• Positive affirmations – We are what we think. Positive thinking improves our overall state of mind, promoting harmony between the mind and body.    “I am” statements gives greater opportunity for positive outcomes through a more positive outlook and approach.
• Eat nutrient dense foods – Healthier (mindful) eating habits provides benefits to the brain, which effects our mood and mental health. High quality      foods will give you a higher quality of life, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Remember, don’t drink your calories with thinks like soda or other      drinks with high sugar content.
• Eliminate or reduce sugar intake – Too much sugar is taxing to the body. Try replacing sugary snacks with healthier options like fresh fruit or trail          mix.
• Get a massage – Massage is a perfect way to remove toxins, promote restful sleep, and relieve stress. Essential oils like lavender can be used to aid      in relaxation during massage, which has also been shown to increase serotonin levels. Treat yourself to a little relaxation. It just might do you a lot        of good!
• Get enough rest – Adequate sleep helps reduce stress and produce serotonin, which improves mood and helps control appetite (healthy eating +        restful sleep = improved serotonin levels and improved mental health!)

Practicing these tips can help bring your mind and body into greater balance, improving mental health and overall wellness. If you would like additional support please schedule a free consultation today to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists & coaches!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, relationship counseling & more . mindful eating

mindful eating Laura Stewart, BA Makin Wellness

Laura Stewart, B.A.

Sustaining Mental Health & Wellbeing in College

Sustaining Mental Health & Wellbeing in College

College can be a time of immense change and personal growth. There, you find your passions, get inspired, and figure out who you are and who you want to be. Conversely, it is a time of immense pressure as well. With college comes the advent of new challenges and responsibilities. Often, you are dealing with relationships, academics, finances, and careers on a level you have not yet experienced, which can be a lot to handle. These and other factors can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and hopelessness in the college student. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 75% of all mental health conditions begin by age 24, affecting an estimated 1 in 5 young adults. This makes college one of the most important times to be conscious of your mental state and build a foundation for healthy coping skills.Mental Health & Wellbeing in College

What You Can Do on Your Own

Incorporating your physical, mental, and emotional needs into your daily routine is crucial, and doing so with an individualized perspective is the most effective way. Especially when crafting your schedule, keep your needs and limitations in mind. Designate regular times for meals and breaks, and find recreational activities that bring you calmness and excitement to give yourself joy and relaxation throughout the week.Mental Health & Wellbeing in College

Further, healthy coping skills such as meditation and breathing exercises can be used at a moment’s notice to help you calm down in stressful situations, and creative outlets, like painting, cooking, and journaling, can help you through feelings of low mood. In addition, surround yourself with people you trust who understand the things you are going through. Having social support in college provides a buffer to the stress you may be facing.Mental Health & Wellbeing in College

Lastly, research has long supported ties between physical and mental health, so try not to neglect your body. Give yourself sufficient sleep, healthy food, and exercise to promote optimal functioning all-around. This will have positive effects for your physical health, emotional well-being, and academic performance as well.Mental Health & Wellbeing in College

University Resources

Though every college is different, it is likely that your institution provides resources to aid your transition and overall experience. These may take the form of traditional means like pamphlets, support groups, and mental health centers, but they may also include more contemporary ideas like hosting therapy dogs. It is important to familiarize yourself with what your specific institution has to offer so that in particularly challenging times, you know what your options are.Mental Health & Wellbeing in College

If you are feeling overwhelmed , please schedule a free consultation now to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists!Mental Health & Wellbeing in College

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling . MStress Management Pittsburgh

Sara Makin Makin Wellness

Sara Makin, M.S.Ed, LPC, NCC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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