Gender Identity and Mental Illness

“What matters most is not ‘what’ you are, but ‘who’ you are.” 
― DaShanne Stokes

What is Gender Dysphoria? Gender Identity and Mental Illness

The discrepancy of a person’s body and their internal sense of gender is not a mental illness. However, the mental illnesses that coincide a person’s struggle with gender identity should be addressed. There is a strong correlation between gender identity and mental illness. The term gender dysphoria describes the thoughts and feelings that one’s gender does not match their biology. “Dysphoria” is defined as a state of dissatisfaction and worry. Both the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) have removed the term “gender identity disorder” from their manuals. This created a widespread acceptance of those who struggle with gender dysphoria. These individuals are finally able to receive medical treatment without being classified as having a mental disorder. These emotions can cause severe anxiety, depression, and discomfort that can affect your normal life. Many who struggle with gender dysphoria have difficulties in social gatherings and attending work or school. Keep in mind that gender dysphoria is not the same as being homosexual – the gender that you feel you identify with has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. 

Signs and Symptoms of Gender Dysphoria

Children with gender dysphoria will persistently express that they are a girl if they have the physical traits of a boy, or say they are a boy if they have the physical traits of a girl. They also tend to prefer friends of the same gender in which they identify themselves. They will prefer toys, clothing, and games associated with their identified gender as well. Puberty is a difficult time for adolescents with gender dysphoria. During this progression, they may feel embarrassed, confused, and uncomfortable about the physical changes that happen to their body. Teenagers and young adults may start to become more certain that their true identity does not match their physical body. They may develop fears related to showering, changing their clothes, or engaging in sexual relationships.

Treatment of Gender Dysphoria

An estimated 71% of those who struggle with gender dysphoria will experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. The possibility of mood, anxiety, eating disorders are likely to develop. Other disorders include depression, schizophrenia, and suicidal thoughts. The treatment process is not focused on changing the thoughts or ideas the individual has about their gender – treatment is recommended to alleviate any concerns or disappointment one may have about these ideas. In order to lessen the symptoms, talking with a psychologist can be helpful. Other treatment methods include presenting yourself as the gender you feel you identify, possibly dressing a certain way and/or going by a different name to feel more accepted.

In order to contain changes that occur during puberty, an individual during this stage may seek the help of puberty blockers. However, this could be a potentially life-changing decision that a person of a young age may not be able to make themselves. Those at this age should discuss the risks and benefits from a medical professional. As they grow older, the option of sex-reassignment surgery may come to mind. This will help the individual feel more comfortable in their body as their desired gender, if they choose to do so.

The Importance of Acceptance

It is important to understand that those with gender dysphoria did not chose to have these thoughts and feelings. When these ideas begin as a child and progress through puberty and adulthood, they are likely to always feel this way. If your child begins to express these symptoms, doctors recommend to let them be who they are and accept them. If they feel ashamed or embarrassed, comfort them and recommend psychotherapy. Social support as well as professional support can help both children and adults with understanding that these symptoms are normal. Referring to the individual by their preferred name and pronoun will help them feel more comfortable and accepted and this is something that society has still not come to terms with realizing. A person who is living a life feeling inauthentic and unreal is more susceptible to mental illness.

How Can We Help?

If you are struggling with gender dysphoria and the mental illnesses associated with it, we are here to help you. With the proper mental health advice, we can alleviate any symptoms and uncertainty you are feeling. We can provide mental health counseling for different types of illnesses right here in our office. Please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to schedule according to your availability and preferred location.

About Makin Wellness

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

Gender Differences with Trauma

What is Trauma? Gender Differences with Trauma

Approximately 50% of all individuals will experience some type of traumatic event in their lifetime. Several variations of traumatic events can develop and influence mental health disorders in men and women. They often co-exist with other disorders such as depression, anxiety, and alcohol/substance abuse disorders. They can even express themselves in different ways between genders. Trauma is defined as damage to the mind that is created by a stressful event. The major types of trauma include:

Sexual assault – unwanted and involuntary sexual behavior towards another individual; forcing or coercing someone else to engage in an act against their will in a non-consensual setting (rape, groping, forced kissing, or any other form of harassment in a sexual context)

Child Maltreatment 

  • neglect – failure to provide a child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, mental health care, education, supervision, and/or exposing a child to dangerous situations
  • physical abuse – causing or attempting to cause physical injury to a child (punching, kicking, beating, burning, etc.)
  • sexual abuse – sexual behaviors that take place between a child and adult, or forcibly between two children by the pressure of an adult
  • emotional abuse – acts against a child that could cause conduct, cognitive, affective, or other mental disturbances such as verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and/or excessive demands on a child’s behavior that may eventually lead to negative self-image

Domestic violence – the act of or the threat of physical, sexual, and/or emotional violence between adults in an intimate relationship

War related trauma – exposure to war, political violence, terrorism, combat related trauma (military personnel engaged in warfare who were exposed to deaths and threats to life)

School/community violence – personal conflicts between people who are not family (robbery, shootings, rape, etc.)

Medical trauma – caused by invasive medical procedures or frightening treatments that cause pain, injury, or illness

Traumatic loss – sudden, unexpected grief following the death of a loved one

Natural disasters – tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. that causes extreme damage to the extent that local, state, or federal agencies and disaster relief agencies are contacted

Everyone can respond to trauma in different ways, and there is no right or wrong way to feel after being exposed to trauma. These are a few of the most common symptoms that are seen in individuals after a traumatic event:

Emotional/psychological symptoms: shock, denial, disbelief, confusion, difficulty concentrating, anger, anxiety, guilt, withdrawing from others, feeling sad or hopeless, isolation

Physical symptoms: insomnia or nightmares, fatigue, being easily startled, racing heartbeat, agitation, aches and pains, muscle tension

 

Women with Trauma Gender Differences with Trauma

Women are twice as likely to experience longer traumatic symptoms, develop post-traumatic stress disorder, and express more sensitivity to ideations that remind them of the traumatic event. Why could this be? Just like with other health disturbances, researchers believe it could be due to the idea that women tend to seek help, report symptoms, and be more involved in their healthcare than men. After a fearful or worrisome event, it is normal to feel anxious and afraid for a while, but these feelings typically fade within a few weeks. For some women, they continue to feel anxious about the event for months to years after. The thoughts can become crippling and interfere with completing daily activities. Women who have experienced trauma, such as military combat are more likely than men to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. This is characterized by the reliving of a traumatic event through flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and/or other uncontrollable thoughts. They become more easily startled, have trouble feeling emotions or report feeling “numb,” avoid things that remind them of the trauma, or feel depressed and anxious more than usual.

 

Men with TraumaGender Differences with Trauma

Even though trauma is more likely to affect women, the symptoms that men experience should not be downplayed. Females may experience more sexual abuse while males tend to experience physical abuse. Trauma is more likely to make women depressed or anxious while it makes men more aggressive. This could correlate with the theory that men sometimes do not properly express their feelings in a healthy manner. Unfortunately, our society has created unwritten “Man Rules” that men feel they must live by. “Don’t be weak, don’t ask for help, don’t cry, don’t show emotion, and be brave” are what males are told from a young age. This idea of suppressing emotions when it comes to trauma is so unhealthy! It’s not easy at first, but facing the trauma and inner pain associated with it is the key to a healthy treatment plan. Finding someone you can trust, whether it be a family member, close friend, loved one, or therapist can make the discussion tremendously easier.

 

Trauma Treatment

The most effective treatment for a traumatic event is psychotherapy or “talk therapy.” Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that helps an individual recognize their thought patterns and advises them to create more positive thoughts. In the case of treating trauma, the individual and therapist would discuss negative beliefs about the trauma and how to avoid the idea of traumatic events happening again. Exposure therapy is another form of therapy that can be used with CBT for individuals experiencing trauma. With exposure therapy, the person is exposed to the event that causes them anxiety or worry and is taught ways to avoid letting the exposure become too overwhelming by “re-entering” the setting. These treatment methods can help the individual gain control of their feelings about trauma while creating a plan to stay distracted and maintain healthier thoughts.

 

How Can We Help?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to get help. With the proper mental health advice, symptoms of trauma can be treated and we can help you get your health on track. We can provide mental health counseling for different types of trauma right here in our office. We can also provide PTSD Assessments for Medical Marijuana. Please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to schedule according to your availability and preferred location. 

 

 

About Makin Wellness

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

 

Anxiety Symptoms and Treatments

Many individuals use the term anxiety to refer to a great deal of worry. But what does anxiety really mean? And what does anxiety look like? Awareness of anxiety symptoms and treatments can increase the likelihood of getting help and relieving any stress you may be feeling.

 

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety means an excessive worry or anxiousness that lasts for more than six months. The fear and worriedness manifest themselves in various extreme forms. These forms could look like physical and emotional ailments or psychological unrest. The toll that anxiety takes on an individual is very severe. For many individuals, it may not seem clear or evident that he or she is experiencing an anxiety disorder due to the lack of knowledge and information about its manifestation (anxiety.org).

 

Research suggests that women are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder in their lifetime than men (McLean, 2011, pp. 1). Gender differences and anxiety has shown that the manifestation of anxiety in both women and men could be presented in a similar fashion. However, research suggests that the main difference is “the observed differences between men and women are somewhat influenced by gender-related differences in the conceptualization and reporting of symptoms” (McLean, 2011, pp. 11).  

 

Common Anxiety SymptomsAnxiety Symptoms and Treatments

Anxiety’s most common psychological symptoms are: excessive worriedness, nervousness, irritation, racing thoughts, and a sense of panic. On the other hand, anxiety could take a much more physiological form in certain individuals. These common symptoms are: increased heartbeat, difficulty sleeping or remaining asleep, loss of appetite, tense muscles, and sweating. “These shared physiological states suggest a shared underlying biology and that anxiety maybe a whole-body condition” (Jovanovic, et al., 2018).

 

Treatment for anxiety could include various options. When combined, evidence-based therapy (EBT), cotemporary and alternative therapies have been shown effectiveness in the treatment of anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an example of one type of EBT. “It teaches people different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful objects and situations. CBT can also help people learn and practice social skills, which is vital for treating social anxiety disorder.” Typically, some therapies are combined to increase their effectiveness in treating anxiety. CBT and exposure therapy have been utilized quite a bit together to treat social anxiety disorder (SAD) (NIMH, 2018).

 

Another form of treatment for anxiety disorders that has been researched intensively is the use of medical marijuana. The research that has been complied thus far suggests that medical marijuana is capable of reducing anxiety, relaxing muscle tension, and stimulating appetite (Lava, 2018). Pennsylvania is one of the 33 states that has legalized the medical use of marijuana, “short-term use of medical marijuana with low THC and high CBD content has been shown to be most effective in treatment of anxiety disorders” (Sasko, 2019).  

 

How Can We Help? Anxiety Symptoms and Treatments

Rahmah Albugani is a doctorate intern who is conducting evaluations and ongoing counseling here at Makin Wellness. She is a nationally certified counselor with experience in setting goals for clients that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time manageable. If you are interested in mental health counseling for anxiety, please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to schedule with Rahmah!

 

 

References:

Jovanovic, T., Lott, A. P., Michopoulos, V., Stevens, J., Rooij, S. van, Keller, J. M., … Sierra Carter. (2018). What Is Anxiety & How to Treat It – Anxiety Definition. Retrieved from https://www.anxiety.org/what-is-anxiety#anxiety-and-physical-health

 

Lava, N. (2018). Medical Marijuana FAQ. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/medical-marijuana-faq

 

McLean, C. P., Asnaani, A., Litz, B. T., & Hofmann, S. G. (2011). Gender differences in anxiety disorders: prevalence, course of illness, comorbidity and burden of illness. Journal of psychiatric research45(8), 1027–1035. Doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.03.006

 

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2018). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml#part_145353

 

Sasko, C. (2019). People with Anxiety Disorders Can Soon Get Pa. Medical Marijuana Cards. Retrieved from https://www.phillymag.com/news/2019/07/12/anxiety-medical-marijuana-pennsylvania/

 

 

About Makin Wellness

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

 

Rahmah Albugani Makin Wellness

Social Wellness: Meaningful Relationships for a Healthy Lifestyle

“The secret to a meaningful life is meaningful relationships” – Anonymous

Sociologists have noted that the people you spend the most time with largely impact your life. For example, surrounding yourself with those who smoke may make your more likely to start smoking. The five people we spend the most time with can influence our mindset, and other habits too – both good and bad. Choosing friendships with people who you admire or want to imitate can help support the lifestyle you desire. Social wellness involves meaningful, balanced relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.

It takes mindfulness and careful time management to prioritize healthy, meaningful relationships. In the pursuit of financial success, it’s all too easy to lose connection with friends and family. Interestingly, social wellness is a key aspect to mental health, and largely plays into our financial success. Close friends and family help us put things into perspective, keeping our goals and pursuits in line with our personal values.  social wellness

What really is social wellness?

Social wellness refers to the quality and stability of your relationships with others. It includes a positive social network of friends, family, professional contacts, and casual acquaintances. Those who encourage and support you in being your best self positively impact your social wellness. social wellness

Quality over quantity is key. Deep and meaningful relationships provide a higher degree of social wellness over unhealthy, superficial relationships. A strong support system of people you trust provides you greater ability to overcome hard times, whether it be the loss of a loved one, loss of job, or other difficult life circumstance. Research has shown social wellness to correlate with longer life expectancy and improved overall health. Consider some ways to improve your social wellness.

Improving Social Wellness:

Spend Quality Time – A happy, fulfilled life is dependent on healthy and meaningful relationships. This may require a little extra effort in prioritizing these relationships. In the long run, giving of your time will allow for deeper, more meaningful relationships with others.

Successful relationships involve give and take. Think of it as making deposits and withdrawals in your bank account. At times you may be on the receiving end, and other times you may be offering support to someone else.

Maintaining a Balance Finding balance between the amount of time spent with friends, family, and coworkers is essential. Depending on whether your married with children or single will effect who you’re spending the most time with. Making time for yourself and practicing self-care is necessary too in being able to give your best to others.

Prioritize Your Mental Wellness – Mental illness can be as debilitating as physical illness. Modern medical science has proven that the traditional approach of separating the brain from the body is not entirely effective – mental health is just as important as any other part of the body, with the mind and body working synergistically. Prioritizing your mental wellness will improve your overall health and ability to have a better quality of social wellness. social wellness

Building a strong social network will support a happier, healthier, more resilient lifestyle. If you’re looking for support in making more meaningful connections, improving communication skills, and finding greater balance to support overall wellness, contact us today and start living your best life!

About Makin Wellness

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

The Benefits of Adding Juice to Your Diet

The Pittsburgh Juice Company recently donated our founder, Sara Makin, a juice feast!  This allowed her to get firsthand experience on how healthy, organic juices can benefit your body. This juice “feast” lasted five days and consisted of about six organic juices and smoothies per day. Each juice contained a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Only a very small amount of food was eaten during the feast.

Preparation

A juice cleanse is a big diet change, and in order for it to go smoothly, it is important to prepare ahead of time. A few days before the cleanse begins it helps to cut out harmful substances like coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, and sugary drinks. The purpose of the cleanse is to remove the toxins that some of these drinks put into your body. In order to help your body be ready for a large intake of liquids, you should be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water a day or two before the cleanse. Continuing to stay hydrated during the cleanse will also aid in the removal of toxins. Since adjusting to a juice cleanse takes a lot out of your body, getting plenty of rest before the start of the cleanse will be beneficial. Make sure to listen to your body during the process and change exercise/sleep routines to fit your energy levels.

 

Day 1

On the first day, Sara reported that it was challenging to stick with all the juices. It takes adjustment in order to get used to not eating and only drinking liquids. However, since she was busy without the day,

there wasn’t much time to think about food until she came home for the night. Although, the thoughts of food subsided once she continued the cleanse.

 

Day 2

The second day showed the first signs of the benefits of a juice cleanse. Sara started to feel a little better and more adjusted. She felt like she gained a bit more clarity mentally. In the afternoon, she usually takes a B12 vitamin or gets a coffee in order to gain more energy to make it through the day. On the cleanse, she did not feel the need to take a supplement to boost her energy.

 

Day 3

Day three built upon the progress already made from the previous days on the cleanse. Sara began to feel much better and reported having better digestion along with more energy throughout the day. She noticed her skin gradually clearing up. Mentally, she felt sharp and focused but not stressed. She reported her mind feeling clear but relaxed.

 

Day 4

On the fourth day, digestion continued to improve. Her skin looked clear and glowing. Her appetite decreased, but her energy level remained high. Again, she was able to work through the day without feeling drowsy or drained. She didn’t need as much sleep as she previously did but was still able to maintain mental clarity and sharpness.

 

Day 5

This was the last day of the “juice feast”. Juice cleanses take dedication and effort, so at the end of the five days, Sara felt ready to be finished. However, the benefits of the juice reached their maximum levels on the fifth day. She felt very energetic while only needing five hours of sleep, the least amount of sleep that she had gotten that week. She woke up refreshed in the morning and ready to take on the day. Her mind was focused and clear, making the afternoon tiredness completely disappear. She no longer felt the need to take vitamin supplements or coffee in order to push through the day.

 

Overall

As a whole, the juice cleanse raised energy levels, increased digestion, and improved the look of her skin. Along with the many benefits, Sara had her favorite drinks. Witch’s Brew, a juice made from cucumber,

Granny Smith apple, kale, spinach, celery, lemon, ginger, and Drink Me, which was said to taste like a vanilla milkshake. Drink Me is a juice made from Blue Majik spirulina, house-made cashew milk, dates, vanilla, coconut oil, pink Himalayan sea salt. Once the cleanse was over, Sara noticed that she tended to be thirsty more often than she was hungry. This decreased appetite could be beneficial to those looking to lose weight. When adjusting back to eating food, she noticed that her taste buds were more sensitive, almost as if the juice feast had restarted her sense of taste.

 

Returning to a Normal Diet

After finishing a juice cleanse, you shouldn’t automatically binge on food. It will make the transition smoother if you continue the healthy habits of drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeine, coffee, and alcohol. If you’re an avid coffee drinker, it is advised that you introduce coffee back into your diet gradually at around ¼ cup increments. Alcohol, however, should be avoided for about a week after the cleanse. Since the liver is key in flushing out our body’s toxins, alcohol won’t allow it to have the well-needed break it deserves after a week of nutrient-dense juices. The post-cleanse process is very similar to the pre-cleanse preparation. Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber and nutrients will aid in adjusting your digestion. In addition to your greens, proteins and healthy fats are a great way to stay healthy after a cleanse. Exercising and sweating will help clear out other toxins, but it is important to consider taking it slow at first and making sure that you’re eating enough calories.

 

Benefits of Juice

Adding juice into your diet is an easy way to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into your daily routine. There are many benefits of juicing which include supporting the immune system, aiding in digestion, promoting a healthy gut biome, and even affecting our mental health.

 

The Immune System

Fasting has been shown to increase immune rejuvenation. This is because when the body uses up glycogen stores during fasting, the processes carried out support healing throughout the body. The lining of the intestine is usually replenished around every five days. The cells that maintain the intestine, intestinal stem cells, are important in repairing any damage. As people age, the ability to regenerate intestinal stem cells decreases. This, in turn, increases the recovery time for your intestine after an injury or infection. Although the topic is still being researched, it is reported that fasting changes the metabolism to go from burning carbohydrates to metabolizing fatty acids. This change leads to an increase in stem cells abilities to regenerate.

 

Digestion

When you’re only consuming liquids and not food, your digestion system does not have to work as hard. This makes digestion easier. Juice allows the body to absorb nutrients at a more efficient rate because liquid travels through the body faster than whole foods that have to be broken down and digested. Some foods that are not normally in an individual’s diet can be harder to digest, which can cause the nutrients to not be distributed throughout the body. Completing a juice cleanse that helps increase the bacteria that support digesting certain foods can allow those nutrients to be more effectively absorbed.

 

Healthy Gut Biome

Most importantly, however, juices promote a healthy gut biome. The gut biome, in simple terms, is all of the bacteria, viruses, or other living things that are located in your intestines. This biome affects aspects of digestion, the immune system, and even brain health. The bacteria in the gut are key in digesting fiber which is commonly found in fruits and vegetables. This can help with weight loss and diabetes. The gut biome communicates with immune cells to control how your body response to infection. Recently, it has been hypothesized that the gut biome may influence the central nervous system, which controls brain function. The gut is connected to the brain through nerves. It is thought that the gut biome may influence brain health by affecting the messages that are sent through those nerves.

 

Mental Health

There is a strong link found between nutrition and mental health. Studies have shown that adding fruits and vegetables into one’s diet can improve mental health symptoms. A study called “Let Them Eat Fruit! The Effect of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption on Psychological Wellbeing in Young Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial” took a sample of college kids with low fruit and vegetable intake and had them report their initial depression and anxiety symptoms. Some were told to continue their normal diet and others were given two weeks’ worth of fruits and vegetables. The study found that only those who were given the supply of fruits and vegetables showed improvements in “vitality, flourishing and motivation”. Adding juice into one’s diet is a very easy way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your daily routine.

 

Conclusion

Completing a juice cleanse has many benefits that range from supporting our immune systems to aiding in digestion. Although, one does not need to partake in a full-on juice cleanse to reap the benefits of one. Juice cleanses improve our health, but they also serve as a reminder that there is an easy way to work fruits and vegetables into your everyday diet. A juice feast where you drink mostly juices and a small amount of food is still beneficial because you are still adding a large amount of important vitamins and minerals into your diet. It can be difficult to have to remember to eat healthy or to be around places where these foods are available. Juices provide a solution that allows you to improve your health mentally and physically in a way that can even taste better than the whole foods themselves.

 

About Makin Wellness

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

 

Gender Differences with Depression

What is Depression?

Depression is a common mental health disorder that affects approximately 17.3 million American adults. Depression interferes with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. Many people with depression may be told by loved ones to “snap out of it” or “just try to be happier,” but that’s not exactly the solution. Depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Seeking guidance from a mental health professional is the most successful treatment for depression.

When people hear the word depression, they usually immediately think of sadness. But sadness is only a small portion of depression. Chronic pains, headaches, cramps, digestive problems, and sleep disturbances are all symptoms of depression as well. If you have been experiencing any of the following difficulties for at least two weeks, you may be experiencing depression and it is important to seek help from a mental health professional:

  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in once enjoyable hobbies/activities
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Difficultly focusing, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Sleep increase/decrease
  • Weight increase/decrease
  • Thoughts of death or suicide/suicide attempts

Some physical health complications can portray the same symptoms of depression, such as viruses and thyroid disorders. These can be diagnosed by a medical professional by physical exams and lab tests. Keeping note of what specific symptoms you feel, when symptoms occur, and how long symptoms last are key factors to discuss during a doctor visit. This gives the doctor adequate information for diagnosis and treatment options.

 

Women with Depression Gender Differences with Depression

Among the 17 million diagnosed with depression in the United States, the majority of them are women, and approximately two-thirds of them do not seek treatment. Men and women are likely to develop depression at the same rate, until women hit puberty. At that stage, women are twice as likely to develop depression. This is likely due to the changes in hormone levels women experience – puberty, pregnancy, menopause, etc. These hormone fluctuations are also likely to contribute to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), both of which may cause depression and severe mood swings for women. Because women assume that most women experience PMS or PMDD symptoms, they will usually wait for their cycle to pass, not realizing that their hormones may be imbalanced and they are actually experiencing depressive episodes each cycle.

Women who are diagnosed with depression are more likely to be diagnosed earlier than men due these hormonal changes. It is also likely for symptoms to last longer and occur more often. Women tend to experience more stressful life events that can trigger depressive episodes, such as pregnancies or complications with pregnancies. The likelihood of a pregnant woman and a non-pregnant woman being diagnosed with depression are roughly the same. Women who are pregnant that are living alone, have limited social support, marital conflicts, or have uncertainty about the pregnancy are also at risk of being diagnosed. A woman will experience a drop in estrogen levels during pre-menopause and menopause, which triggers depression and anxiety as a result. As previously mentioned, there is a correlation between hormone levels and physical and emotional symptoms.

 

Men with Depression Gender Differences with Depression

While depression is more common and diagnosed in females, males are four times more likely to commit suicide than females. Men have been told to be more in control of their feelings since childhood. Our society has created a stigma that men should just “get over” whatever it is they’re feeling, or “man up.” Men are more likely to mask their emotions by unhealthy coping mechanisms and be more resistant to treatment. There could be several attributes that cause undiagnosed male depression:

Failure to recognize depression – Men may not be aware of the other symptoms that correlate with depression such as headaches, tiredness, irritability, or digestive problems.

Downplaying symptoms – Men may think their symptoms are not that serious or that they are going to affect them long-term.

Reluctance to discuss symptoms – Men may feel it is not “manly” to express feelings and believe they are supposed to suffer in silence.

Resistance to mental health treatment – Men may avoid treatment simply because they fear having a diagnosis will affect their family, social life, or career.

The symptoms of depression between men and women are generally the same. However, men can express other behaviors that women do not. Males will sometimes spend an excessive amount of time at work or on other projects to distract them from their feelings. A lack of awareness for why they feel the way they do may lead to aggression, violence, or abusive behavior. They can become more irritable than women and seek risky behavior, such as reckless driving. Since these behaviors could potentially overlap with other mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a mental heath professional for adequate treatment.

 

How to Help Both Genders

A treatment plan for depression will depend on the severity and frequency of symptoms. A mental health professional will usually recommend an assessment and look for the specific criteria for diagnosing. Successful treatment options for depression are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy. Sometimes medication is necessary to alleviate some of the feelings of depression, and this method of treatment combined with talk therapy is highly effective. Studies have shown that cognitive therapy is as efficacious as antidepressant medications at treating depression, and it seems to reduce the risk of relapse even after its discontinuation. A healthy diet and adequate exercise are also crucial for a healthy mind and body. With these options in mind, it is important to seek help if you or someone you know is feeling depressed.

 

How Can We Help?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to get help. With the proper mental health advice, symptoms of depression can be treated and we can help you get your health on track. We can provide mental health counseling for depression right here in our office. Please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to schedule according to your availability and preferred location. 

 

 

About Makin Wellness

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

 

 

Pittsburgh mental health counseling Makin Wellness

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

You cannot control the world, but you can control how you interpret and handle things when they arise. That is the goal of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT teaches the individual how to take control of his or her thoughts and feelings as they play a central role in our behavior (Cherry, 2019).

 

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that helps clients understand and analyze the underlying cause of their negative thoughts and feelings. These thoughts and feelings can eventually influence and impact a person’s behavior. The client is taught how to identify and modify negative, destructive, and or disturbing thought patterns (Cherry, 2019). CBT is empirically supported in terms of efficacy and is the most researched form of therapy. Specific goals of CBT mean that results are measurable and observable. This makes CBT valid and reliable.

 

What Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treat? Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is “highly effective for adult unipolar depression, adolescent unipolar depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, social phobia, PTSD, and childhood depressive and anxiety disorders” (Butler, Chapman, Forman, & Beck, 2006, pp. 28). CBT is also used to treat:

  • Anxiety
  • Phobies
  • Depression
  • Addictions
  • Eating disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Anger

 

What Do CBT Sessions Look Like and Who is CBT Well-Suited For?

Therapist role is very active and instructional – the therapist has a focused and structured approach that guides the counseling session. The client coming into counseling identifies the specific problem he or she wishes to resolve. This enables the development of a collaborative therapeutic relationship founded on established goals. The goal-oriented and focused sessions are typically comprised of short-term sessions with gradual process or incremental steps towards the change in maladaptive behavior, with homework assigned to be completed between sessions. 

 

What is the Goal of CBT?

The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to change or modify thoughts and feelings that influence self-defeating as well as self-destructive behavior. Cognitive behavioral therapy enables the individual to acquire insights about him or herself, in addition to self-discovery that occurs. Introspection also occurs when the individual begins the development of new skills and coping mechanisms.

 

How Can We Help?

Rahmah Albugani is a doctorate intern who is conducting evaluations and ongoing counseling here at Makin Wellness. She is a nationally certified counselor with experience in setting goals for clients that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time manageable. If you are interested in cognitive behavioral therapy, please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to schedule with Rahmah!

 

 

 

References:

Butler, A., Chapman, J., Forman, E., & Beck, A. (2006). The Empirical Status of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses. Clinical Psychology Review, 26(1), 17–31. Doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2005.07.003 

Cherry, K. (2019). How Cognitive Behavior Therapy Works. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-cognitive-behavior-therapy-2795747 

 

About Makin Wellness

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

 

Rahmah Albugani Makin Wellness

Gender Differences with Anxiety

What is Anxiety? Gender Differences with Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, and they can affect approximately 264 million people worldwide. Women are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder than men, and each gender may present and describe the symptoms differently. Understanding gender differences with anxiety can potentially bring awareness to symptoms. This will hopefully contribute to more men and women seeking therapy to relieve stress in their life. Anxiety can cause excessive fear, nervousness, apprehension, and uncertainty. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all considered common anxiety disorders. A licensed counselor may diagnose you with an anxiety disorder when you meet any of the following criteria almost daily for more than six months:

  • excessive worry
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • sleep disturbances
  • muscle tension
  • rapid heart rate
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • chest pain

 

Generalized Anxiety Disorders: severe, excessive, ongoing anxiety that disrupts daily activities

Panic Disorder: episodes of intense fear followed by physical symptoms, based on a perceived threat rather than imminent danger

Social Anxiety: nervousness when interacting with other people

Phobias: excessive, persistent fear of an object or situation

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: excessive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to disruptive and repetitive behaviors (compulsions)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event

 

Women with Anxiety Gender Differences with Anxiety

Women are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder than men, and each gender may present and describe the symptoms differently. Scientists have some ideas as to why women have higher anxiety diagnosis rates. Dr. Charles Goodstein, a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University Langone Medical Center, says “this may have an impact on psychological functioning.” One reason is that woman have more hormonal fluctuations caused by their menstrual cycles. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that affect appetite, digestion, and energy levels. If these hormones are irregular, a woman’s mood can be affected. If she also experiences a difficult cycle, she may become apprehensive and worry about frequent aches and distress towards the following months.

Another reason women may experience anxiety more often than men is because women are more likely to experience sexual abuse and violence. Women who have been exposed to sexual abuse and violence may have an overwhelming sense of anxiety at all times, or they may have a sudden attack of intense fear. If a woman is in an abusive relationship, sometimes she may feel guilt and manipulation from her spouse. They may spend an excessive amount of time trying to reason why they are being abused. Women may either think about ways to get out of the relationship, or think about ways to cover up their injuries and make excuses for their partner.

Women that tend to take on a lot of responsibilities such as working a full-time job, cooking, cleaning, laundry, establishing childcare, etc., are more prone to anxiety symptoms. Sometimes women in these situations feel like they can never catch a break. This can be considered a cultural acceptance in our society – women tend to “do it all” – which can lead to overwhelming stress and exhaustion.

Studies have shown that women tend to seek help from medical professionals more often than men. For this reason alone, women are more likely to be diagnosed with a variety of health disorders, not just ones that are mental health related. Women tend to be more in tune with their health and report illnesses more frequently than men. This plays a role in one of the many reasons why women live longer! They are more likely to follow up with appointments and treatment after diagnoses as well.

 

Men with Anxiety

In an article written in Men’s Health magazine, author Mike Zimmerman explains how he had no idea what was happening to his body during his first panic attack. He stated that he was sure he was having either a stroke, a heart attack, or an aneurysm. Panic attacks are often misdiagnosed as other ailments. Men who are afraid of a panic attack being diagnosed as something more severe are less likely to seek treatment.

According to a survey conducted by Cleveland Clinic, men are less likely to participate in routine physicals. The chances of men seeking professional help when they feel they have a serious illness are even smaller. There tends to be a cultural bias that men who seek medical treatment feel that it lowers their masculinity. This heavily prevents men ever expressing symptoms, especially those who experience mental health disturbances. Men are often told to “man up” and hold their emotions inside which can be remarkably unhealthy. Men are also more likely to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs in order to avoid meeting with a mental health professional.

 

How to Help Both Genders

Early recognition of psychological stressors are important when treating anxiety. Regardless of gender, lifestyle changes are a critical part of reducing anxiety symptoms. Diet and exercise are one of many ways to eliminate stress in your life. Reducing technology use can be beneficial and make you feel more calm and alert. Instead of focusing on work, deadlines, and social media, try spending a few moments away from the computer or cell phone. Try to reduce your obligations and prioritize what is most important versus what can be done at another time. Make sure to make time for yourself as well. Learn your stressors and develop strategies for distraction. Many people find peace in going for a walk, reading a book, or journaling. You can even try different meditation and breathing techniques to alleviate anxiety.

 

How Can We Help?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to get help. With the proper mental health advice, the overwhelming feelings of anxiety can be treated and we can help you get your health on track. We can provide mental health counseling for anxiety right here in our office. Please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to schedule according to your availability and preferred location. 

 

 

About Makin Wellness

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

8 Autumn Health Habits for Fall Wellness

Welcome to shorter days, crisp air, and changing leaves. A new season is the perfect time for a fresh start to your wellness routine. Seasonal produce, cozy sweaters, and maybe a warm cup of your favorite tea come to mind. Cooler temperatures make for a perfect fall walk, to support the mind and body. fall wellness

Fall recipes are a great way to enjoy fresh produce, helping boost immunity and support overall wellness. Here are some Fall wellness tips to help support your wellness through this changing season. Who couldn’t use a health reset? fall wellness

Fall Wellness Tips:

  • Pumpkin Everything – Ok, well maybe not everything. BUT, did you know the pulp of pumpkin is full of tasty nutrient dense seeds – otherwise known as pepitas?! They are perfect for adding to fall recipes or roasted all by them self.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – Water is key to a strong immune system to flush out toxins and keep things moving. Hydration is especially important if you come down with a cold.
  • Indulge Sparingly – With seasonal treats being available just about everywhere, it’s hard to avoid everything. Enjoy and indulge sparingly, choosing your favorites in moderation.
  • Buy Seasonal Veggies – In season veggies like broccoli, brussel sprouts, and squash can be made a variety of ways. Roasting veggies are simple and delicious. Not to mention, the benefits of a plant-based diet include prevention of diabetes, control of hypertension, and heart health, just to name a few.
  • Practice Year-Long Giving – This season many are thinking of giving to friends and family, but good deeds can be interwoven in large and small ways throughout the year. Help someone in need, offer words of encouragement, or give away some things you no longer need or use. And if you live in a busy city like Pittsburgh, maybe try letting someone in your lane on your morning rush to work. Simple acts of kindness can make a big impact, and brighten up your mood too!
  • Embrace Fall Fresh Foods – Apples, pears, and pumpkins often come to mind in fall. Foods like persimmons may get overlooked, yet they’re packed with B complex vitamins, and vitamins A and C. They are rich in phytonutrients, and potassium, magnesium , copper , and phosphorus. Try something new this season and google a persimmon recipe!
  • Set New Fitness Goals with a Fall Reset – Fall walks are the perfect, simple way to add in a little exercise with the crisp fall air and lovely scenery of changing leaves. Wipe the slate clean and start a new set of goals with the changing season.
  • Incorporate Essential Oils for an Immune Boost – Therapeutic grade essential oils like cinnamon, lemon, clove, and eucalyptus are perfect to boost the immune system, and it makes for the perfect fall scent. Add 8-10 drops in a diffuser and your home will be smelling fresh, while helping rid the air of germs!

If you’re looking to reset your wellness routine, or just need some motivation, contact us today at Makin Wellness for a free 15-minute consultation! We’re happy to support you through a holistic approach incorporating techniques to promote a new mindset, meal planning, aromatherapy, and other natural and effective options to help you reset and reach your wellness goals! fall wellness

About Makin Wellness

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

Understanding Abnormal Psychology

What is Abnormal Psychology?

Abnormal psychology is a subdivision of psychology that deals with “abnormal” behavior or behaviors that don’t follow the norm. It is easier to visualize what we mean by this when we look at a bell curve. The height of the bell curve is the normal behavior. If we were looking at stress levels, for instance, then the stress levels held by most people define the normal behavior. This represents the peak of the bell curve. The outliers, people with higher levels of stress, are those with abnormal behavior. Abnormal behavior doesn’t always have a negative association, as outliers in this example could also be people with an abnormally low amount of stress.

Characteristics of Abnormal Psychology

When considering if a certain behavior is abnormal or not, there are four characteristics that should be considered. Deviance, dysfunction, distress, and danger are all factors that are important to take into account. The bell curve example above illustrates the deviance criteria. This means evaluating how an individual’s behavior relates to the standard behavior of the population. Dysfunction refers to how the behavior interferes with the individual’s life. If someone had an anxiety disorder that prohibited them from being able to go out in public places, then the disorder was interrupting the daily functioning of the individual’s life.

High levels of fear, anxiety, depression or the emotions can be used to measure a level of distress. Phobias can demonstrate distress. An individual who has a phobia of snakes would feel distress while walking in the woods or other areas that snakes usually reside. Danger is the last criteria. Being a danger to yourself or others defines this category. An example of this could be an individual with a substance disorder. A substance disorder not only brings danger to the individual that is abusing a harmful substance but also is a danger to those around him. It can be hard to control one’s actions when under the influence. Abusing a substance can put friends and family of the abuser in harms way.

Common Diagnoses

Many disorders, ranging from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia, fall under the category of Abnormal Psychology. These diagnoses are widespread, with the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reporting that anxiety disorders affect about 18.1% of the US population  every year. This may sound like a small percentage, but 18.1% translates to around 42 million adults. On the other hand, Abnormal Psychology also covers the less diagnosed disorders. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that schizophrenia has a prevalence rate between 0.25% and 0.64% in the United States. The most common disorders are depressive and anxiety disorders.

Depressive Disorders

Depressive disorders include major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder.

One of the disorders, major depressive disorder, is feeling depressed or sad for an extended period of time while experiencing symptoms of hopelessness or loss of pleasure in previously exciting things. Symptoms can also affect an individual somatically through the loss or gain of weight, decreased energy, or headaches/pains that don’t have a clear source. Depression changes a person’s attitude and can make them more irritable or restless. This disorder affects around 16 million American adults a year, making it one of the more common disorders. Risk factors for depression include having a family history of depression, going through a traumatic or stressful time, or even some physical illnesses and medication. Every individual is different, so depression can manifest in a wide range of symptoms that can make each person’s experience with depression different.

Another widespread depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, occurs typically during the winter months when there is less sunlight. Symptoms of this disorder include social withdrawal, weight gain, and increased sleep. This disorder is temporary in the fact that the depression usually decreases during the spring and summer months when the amount of daylight increases.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders affect more people in American than any other mental disorder and include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobias. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), to elaborate on one specific disorder, is intense worry and anxiety that does not have a specific source and occurs over an extended period of time. These negative thoughts are usually accompanied by trembling or shaking, trouble sleeping, muscle tension, or headaches.

GAD generally occurs during childhood or adolescence and builds up gradually. However, it is possible for GAD to come on during adulthood. GAD is associated with fear of future events and anticipating the worst. Individuals with GAD tend to get stuck in thought loops which occur when a person is unable to stop ruminating about a negative thought and the thought continues to be repeated. The individual usually realizes that whatever unpleasant thought they are catastrophizing is irrational, however they do not have the ability to shake their concerns. Many of the anxiety disorders share symptoms, panic attacks and excessive worry being some common symptoms. GAD is different from other anxiety disorders in the fact that it is usually less interruptive in people’s day to day lives. People with GAD tend to be less likely than people with other anxiety disorders to avoid certain situations because of their disorder.

Treatments

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Various forms of psychotherapy can treat these diagnoses. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective type of therapy that helps depression, anxiety, and other disorders. The therapy aims at making the patient aware of their negative thoughts and looking at them from an objective, rational point of view. CBT typically occurs in four different steps. It begins with identifying the troubling parts of your life, whether it be specific anxieties involving school or problems dealing with social relationships. Then, the patient takes notice of these negative thoughts when they occur and can either share their thoughts with their therapist or write them down in a journal. From there, the therapist asks the patient to pay attention to their reaction to these thoughts. The goal is to recognize that the thoughts are negative and irrational. The final step of CBT is to take these unpleasant or inaccurate thoughts and correct them.

If a patient was struggling with anxiety about a presentation in class, they could think that if they mess up then the whole class will laugh at them or the teacher will automatically fail them. CBT would have the patient identify that this an irrational thought and then think about how the situation would go realistically. For instance, most students don’t pay that much attention to presentations and will most likely not remember the presentation come the end of the day. Teachers will probably not fail a student for a mistake in a presentation, and even if, the class can always be taken again. CBT is an effective therapy that some pair with medications like antidepressants or anti-psychotics.

How Can We Help?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to get help. With the proper mental health advice, the overwhelming feelings of anxiety and depression can be treated and we can help you get your health on track. We can provide mental health counseling for anxiety and depression right here in our office. Please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to schedule according to your availability and preferred location

 

 

 

 

About Makin Wellness

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

 

 

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