Category Archives for Downtown Pittsburgh

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 (


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!




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


Lava, N. (2018). Medical Marijuana FAQ. Retrieved from


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


Sasko, C. (2019). People with Anxiety Disorders Can Soon Get Pa. Medical Marijuana Cards. Retrieved from



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 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


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.

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.


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.



The Importance of Sleep For Mental Health

Why Do We Need Sleep?

We generally think of sleep as a time where our body begins to refuel and recharge energy in order to function. While this is true, sleep is also important in processing information, restoring thoughts, and strengthening our minds. Our brains are continually taking in new information. When we are asleep, you could say that our brains are “safekeeping” all that it has learned. Just like eating, drinking, and breathing, sleep is critically important for our optimal health.


Different Sleep Stages

There are four stages that we experience when we sleep. The first three stages are characterized as Non-REM (NREM) sleep, and the last stage is REM sleep. The lightest sleep stage is known as Stage 1. During this stage, brain wave activity slows. Sleep in this stage is known as a “drowsy” sleep, and it because it is so light, we can be easily awakened and aroused. Slow eye movements occur and some people may experience a “falling” sensation when drifting in and out of this stage. During Stage 2, there are no more eye movements and you may no longer be as easily awakened. Heart rate begins to slow and body temperature begins to decrease. Deep NREM sleep occurs during Stage 3. Since it is one of the stages where sleep is at its deepest, it is most difficult to awaken someone during this stage. A person experiencing sleep deprivation will spend a lengthy amount of time in this stage. When REM sleep begins, breathing becomes more rapid, heart rate increases and blood pressure rises.


Mental Health and Sleep

There is an extensive overlap between sleep disturbances and mental health disorders. Chronic sleep disturbances can affect 50-80% of U.S. adults in a psychiatric practice, compared with 10-18% of adults in a general population. Many clients seeking treatment for a mental health disorder will list insomnia as a symptom. Sleep disturbances can exacerbate your mental health disorders, or vice versa. It is important to note that a common side effect of any medication you are prescribed can cause excessive sleepiness or the inability to fall asleep as well. Becoming aware of your sleeping patterns and seeking treatment for a mental health disorder may increase your mood throughout the day and overall leave a positive impact on your health.


Sleep and Anxiety: Having an increased state of anxiety can keep your nervous system alert, which disrupts relaxation and makes it difficult to fall asleep. Just like cortisol is responsible for stress, melatonin is responsible for sleep. When we are stressed, our brain finds it difficult to produce melatonin.

Sleep and Depression: Research has shown that having insomnia can increase the risk of developing depression. A person with depression may spend a longer amount of time falling asleep and spend less time asleep overall. If they have trouble falling and staying asleep, they may not be experiencing much time in the deep sleep experienced in Stage 3, and they are not feeling well-rested.

Sleep and ADHD: Individuals diagnosed with ADHD tend to experience difficulty falling asleep, shorter sleep durations, and restlessness. Symptoms of ADHD also tend to mimic sleep disturbances which can make it difficult to tell the two apart.

Sleep and Schizophrenia: Those diagnosed with schizophrenia are more likely to have random periods of sleep throughout the day/night rather than sleeping for a continuous amount of time at night. Scientists believe these irregular sleeping habits are caused by the lack of melatonin being released and altered circadian rhythm.

Sleep and Personality Disorders: A common sleep disturbance seen in personality disorders is shortened REM latency. REM sleep correlates with cognition, memory, and mood stabilization. When REM sleep is disrupted, the severity of a pre-existing personality disorder may increase.

Sleep and Eating Disorders: Weight loss, malnutrition, and starvation are all important factors that can affect sleep quality. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that can be associated with weight, body-mass index, and eating habits. The interruption of breathing during sleep can cause an individual to experience sleep in smaller increments.

Sleep and OCD: Many diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder may feel an overwhelming sense of danger which can impact falling asleep and the quality of sleep they receive. The time that they fall asleep may be later than anticipated because they can be caught up in routines or they are fixating on their own thoughts.

Sleep and Substance Use Disorders: There is a link between sleep apnea and alcohol consumption as well. Alcohol has the ability to relax the muscles in the throat which obstructs breathing. Withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction can be linked to restless leg syndrome and insomnia, making it incredibly difficult to function during the day after a sleepless night.

Sleep and Bipolar Disorders: Individuals will experience a lower quality of sleep between high (mania) and low (depression) points of a bipolar disorder. One of the earliest signs of mania seen in bipolar disorder is lack of sleep. They will feel energized and have a decreased need for sleep. Once the person begins the depression stage of bipolar, they may start to sleep excessively.



How to Increase Quality of Sleep

Lifestyle Changes: Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can be considered one of the biggest contributors to sleep disturbances. While many will find giving up these substances to be nearly impossible, avoiding them closer to your bedtime can still have an affect.

Would you have guessed that the time in which you sleep could potentially have an impact on your health? Studies have shown that people who work the “graveyard” shift are more likely to be depressed! One reason is related to the possible risk of vitamin D deficiency — since you are asleep when the sun is out, you aren’t receiving the proper sunlight needed in order for your skin to make vitamin D from cholesterol. Another reason, according to David Ballard, a program director at the American Psychological Association, is that “you’re fighting against your body’s natural circadian rhythms.” Working the night shift may cause restrictions from socializing with friends and family and potentially an unhealthy diet.

CBD Oil: Cannabidiol (CBD) communicates with our body’s endocannabinoid system, in helping us sustain a sense of balance or stability known as homeostasis. In a study involving 72 participants (47 with anxiety and 25 with poor sleep), each were given a capsule of 25 milligrams of CBD. This was distributed to them once a day for one month. At the end of the study, 79.2 percent reported lower anxiety levels and 66.7 percent reported an increase in sleep quality. Chronic pain is another common reason many people experience sleep disturbances, and CBD has been beneficial in this area as well. In a 2018 article it is reported that by reducing pain, CBD can improve sleep.

Physical Activity: While exercise is essential for our physical heath, it has a strong impact on our mental health, too. Aerobic exercise can guide in helping people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer without disturbances.

Sleep Hygiene: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is referred to as sleep hygiene. Establishing a routine for your mind and body can potentially program it to sleep better. Staying awake longer than you are used to, but avoiding sleep deprivation, may induce restful sleep. Keeping the room free of distractions can also increase how fast you fall asleep.

Relaxation Techniques: Most of the difficulties people have regarding sleep issues are anxieties and racing thoughts. In order to alleviate these feelings, relaxation techniques are highly recommended and useful. These include meditation, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and listening to binaural beats. A study from the JAMA Internal Medicine consisted of 49 middle-aged and older individuals who reported sleep disturbances. Half of them participated in a mindfulness awareness program that taught them meditation and exercises created to guide them with focusing on their experiences, thoughts, and emotions. The other half participated in a sleep education class that informed them of ways to improve sleeping habits. Each group met for two hours, once a week for six weeks. The group that participated in the mindfulness awareness program reported that they experienced less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the study. Former Harvard professor Dr. Herbert Benson coined the term “relaxation response” in the 1970s. He describes this as a deep physiological shift in the body that’s the opposite of the stress response. This method is known to ease symptoms of depression, pain, and high blood pressure. As a result, many will experience restful sleep.

Binaural beats are another type of relaxation technique that promotes better sleep quality. It is a creation of two slightly different sound frequencies that creates a perception of a new frequency tone. It is believed to be effective by using headphones, listening to one frequency in one ear, and the other frequency in the other ear. When your brain hears the combination of both frequencies, it is able to tune to the new frequency. These frequencies are relatively low, which can trigger slower brainwave activity, resulting in feeling relaxed and a decrease in anxiety. As it has been previously mentioned, the less stressed you are, the more likely you are to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and feel more rested when you awaken.


Feel free to visit our store if you are interested in trying our selection of high quality CBD oilIf you feel that you may have a mental illness that is impairing your ability to get restful sleep, please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to see how we can help.




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

Mental Health Assessment for Court

What’s a Mental Health Assessment for Court?

A court ordered mental health assessment can determine if there are any clinical underlying factors that may have influenced a legal situation. A judge or prosecutor may request an evaluation to increase understanding of any mental illnesses that have impacted an event. Some illnesses that may have an effect on this include depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and substance abuse, among others. It is necessary for a licensed clinician to perform an evaluation in order to determine if a mental illness exists. Having a mental health assessment is extremely important for providing appropriate treatment for the individual as well. Mental Health Assessment for Court


Why Does My Judge or Lawyer Want Me to Get One?

Even though it can seem intimidating to have your mental health questioned, it is in a judge or lawyer’s best interest to understand the reasons behind your offense. A mental health assessment gives you the option to have a better outcome towards your situation while also getting adequate treatment. This can also be seen as an effective way of reducing repeat offenses and helping you move your mental heath in a positive direction.Mental Health Assessment for Court


What is the Process of a Mental Health Assessment Like?

The process of receiving a mental health assessment can vary between 15-30 minutes,. You will first answer a brief questionnaire about your mental health and wellness then send us the results.  An additional session would be scheduled for  30-55 minutes, you will discuss the answers from the questionnaire with a professional counselor. Topics of discussion include your symptoms and severity levels, family history of mental illness, and other psychiatric concerns. Other questions may include personal regards to your childhood upbringing or past traumatic events. Your physical appearance and behavior plays an important role in your evaluation as well. A professional counselor will pay close attention to your overall mood, eye contact, posture, and body language. They may also analyze your ability to think and recall information by completing short tasks. Once the discussion is completed, a summarization of your mental health report can be written by our evaluators. We can provide you with a court accepted document within one business week of your visit. If you need the results faster, we can rush your order for an additional $200.Mental Health Assessment for Court


How Soon Can I Get Started?Mental Health Assessment for Court

We can typically schedule mental health assessments within a week. Please contact our office at (412)-532-1249  to schedule according to your availability and preferred location. We also can conduct these assessments virtually if you prefer to do the evaluation online instead.Mental Health Assessment for Court


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

Nutritional Intervention for Anxiety & Depression

We’ve all likely heard the term “brain food.” Likewise, when we think of mental health we may think of the mind, or certain brain chemicals. Growing research in the field of nutritional psychiatry explores nutritional interventions to relieve mental illness, specifically anxiety and depression. Did you know simply drinking a glass of water can improve brain function??

Adults and children alike are affected by mental illness, with anxiety and depression being the most common. In our ever hurried world, fast food may provide convenience, yet takes its toll on both mental and physical health.

Modifying lifestyle and diet has shown to be a preventative measure in mood disorders. Nutritional interventions encouraging a balanced, nutrient-dense, whole foods diet, helps prevent and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. The Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research brings together practitioners and scientists interested in various nutritional research, linking the effects of nutrition on mental health. Dozens of research on the following nutritional recommendations have shown to have a positive effect on anxiety and depression: nutritional intervention

  • Whole foods (fruits and vegetables): Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption has been associated with lowered depression and anxiety. A diet high in a variety of raw fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal physical and emotional well-being.
  • Probiotics: Probitiocs are the beneficial bacteria in the gut, providing better nutrient absorption, and have been connected to mental wellbeing. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods, beverages, or supplements.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3’s are essential to brain function and development. Low levels may contribute to brain deficiencies and accelerate aging. Omega 3 fish oil has shown to positively impact mental clarity, memory, and depression. Salmon, sardines, and nuts and seeds like flaxseeds and walnuts are high in Omega 3’s.
  • Water: Water is essential to brain function and mood, as it flushes out toxins, carries nutrients to cells, acts as a lubricant to the body, and prevents constipation. Even if you’re mildly dehydrated, you may feel tired, having impaired concentration.

Holistic nutrition and therapy is an approach that looks at the root cause of illness, offering a natural approach to dis-ease. This includes considering a variety of factors affecting physical and mental health, such as nutrient deficiencies, lack of exercise, stress, and thyroid issues. A holistic approach works to improve immune function, digestion, and brain function, with an understanding that all body systems are interrelated. Makin Wellness is happy in providing nutritional intervention and other holistic treatment options. nutritional intervention

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.

Laura Stewart Makin Wellness Nutrition Pittsburgh

Laura Stewart, B.A., CHN – Certified Holistic Nutritionist

Mental Health Services in Pittsburgh, PA – Counselors, Therapists & Life Coaches

Anxiety, depression ,stress and relational issues are all things that can complicate our lives . One of the most difficult things is finding someone who you can trust and count on. It can be tricky finding out who you can trust and who you can’t. Family, friends and loved ones can be supportive while you are having a hard time, but so many people face challenges that require more assistance than they could offer.Mental health Services in Pittsburgh
Makin Wellness mental health services can be your tool in your mental well being. We offer premier mental health counseling and coaching in our Downtown Pittsburgh, Downtown New Kensington and virtual offices.Mental health Services in Pittsburgh

Life CoachingMental health Services in Pittsburgh

The Makin Wellness Pittsburgh Coaching program is created to elevate your mood. The sessions you spend with your coach can be fun, uplifting and an experience that most of our clients say they look forward to!  Interpersonal growth is not something that is done best on your own; having a life coach  can boost your growth much faster. All of our coaches are licensed professional counselors as well, so when you do go through a hard time, you will have someone to help you process through it. Regardless of what you are are looking for, Makin Wellness can assist you. Every client is unique, so our coaching is individualized to best suit what your needs are.

Counseling and Therapy

Makin Wellness Counseling Associates can also help you realize your  habits in life, negative  relationships and challenges. Our counselors are trained to help you see what you have been struggling to acknowledge. If you also struggle with mental health or addiction issues, we are able to accurately diagnose you and collaborate on a treatment plan.Mental health Services in Pittsburgh

Your Makin Wellness Pittsburgh counselor may also help you identify your skills and talents, develop realistic and honest goals, create action steps, and measure progress. When you have been trying to make a change in your life, simply having someone to process your thoughts and emotions with, can make a huge difference.Mental health Services in Pittsburgh

Here’s a few examples of how Makin Wellness Pittsburgh & Makin Wellness New Kensington can make a difference in your life…

Anxiety & Depression

The majority of people don’t fully grasp what it is to live with a debilitating mental health issues like anxiety or depression. Doing mundane tasks like getting out of bed or getting ready in the morning seem like monumental tasks. Feeling trapped in your own negative thoughts can make you feel alone, out of control or even hopeless. The good news is that there is hope .Mental health Services in Pittsburgh

At Makin Wellness Pittsburgh & Makin Wellness New Kensington, truly understand how severe the symptoms of depression and anxiety are. We get how these disorders can wreak havoc on your success, career, relationships, family and basic functioning. Our licensed professional counselors and clinical team are ready to help you. We have decades of experience in treating depression and anxiety. Please know that these conditions are treatable. Give us a call today and set up an initial session with one of our renowned clinicians !

Stress ManagementMental health Services in Pittsburgh

We are sure you have heard how the only consistent thing in life is change. No matter what your background is, you have previously or currently experienced difficulties along your life journey. Regardless of your field of work, the common thing all humans share is stress. If you are overly stressed out, your quality of life and health will decline. Many topics addressed in stress management counseling are career choices, relationship tensions, money worries and / or self doubt. Whether you are looking to make a huge life change or learn effective ways of managing your stress, our professional counselors are trained to help you become less stressed out and more happy.

The Pros Life Coaching, Counseling, and Therapy

It doesn’t matter how complicated or simplistic the challenges in your life are; our staff are ready to provide you with emotional healing and support. We are able to do this by helping you find out what your priorities and goals are. Our mental health counselors can help you to :

  • Learn your priorities
  • Figure out how to manage your priorities
  • Implement strategies and effective coping skills
  • Eliminate obstacles and obstacles in your way
  • Provide emotional support

Scheduling an Appointment at Makin Wellness Pittsburgh or New Kensington

Now that you are ready to meet with a mental health professional, consider reaching out to Makin Wellness Pittsburgh or Makin Wellness New Kensington . Our  counselors, coaches, and therapists at Makin Wellness Pittsburgh know that it can be hard to ask for help. All you need to do is give us a ring and we are more than happy to help you start on your healing journey. We have appointments available for new clients within 48 hours.Mental health Services in Pittsburgh

Call Makin Wellness  today at (412)-532-1249.  Let’s heal & become happy again.


#healinghappenshere Mental health Services in Pittsburgh