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How A Counselor Learned To Prioritize Her Health

In my seven years of practicing psychology and counseling, I could no longer count how many times I encouraged my clients to learn how to say no to people.

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For instance, one of my clients sought psychological help because her relatives had been draining her savings and her sanity with their constant demands. Say, her sister would have babies every year and expect her to pay for the bills. Then, her brother would drive under the influence and ask her to pay for any property he’d damage. My client was okay with it initially until she needed help, and no one lent a hand to her. That made her feel miserable and insignificant, considering nobody was willing to offer support when she needed it the most.

In another case, my client had a husband who would not stop having extramarital affairs, and she was livid about it. However, whenever her spouse would reason that he was doing that because my client could not give him offspring, she would feel small and let him walk all over her. Her self-respect went so low that her husband even tried to bring his new girl into their home while she was there.

My clients could have prevented such circumstances if my clients said no initially. “No, I will not give you more money.” “No, I will not take care of your medical bills whenever you drink and drive or have more kids.” “And, no, you cannot hook up with other women and think that I should accept it because I cannot bear a child.”

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While helping my clients was always a fulfilling job, I would be a fool if I would not admit that their issues sometimes got to me. That’s especially true if it was a new client, and the person was drowning in emotional troubles, and they would unload them to me for one or two hours straight. I could not talk to anyone about them every day, so I would be a mess if I did not have time to relax on the weekend.

That One Time I Didn’t Heed My Advice

There was a time when my best friend, a counselor, had to go on maternity leave. She already asked another mental health professional to take over her clients while recuperating and bonding with her newborn, but that person bailed out on her at the last minute. Not knowing what to do, she asked if I could help her.

In reality, I wanted to say no. Heck, I should have said no. My schedule was already full, and I knew that I was close to my limit. But how could I disappoint my best friend? She took over for me when I had an appendectomy a couple of years ago, so it was time to pay her back.

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Although it seemed impossible to work for more than eight hours every day in my profession, I had a game plan. I thought of alternating my clients with hers so that I could make time for both. I also extended my working hours to lessen the number of people I would have to ask to reschedule for another day. My best friend already offered to pay my secretaries for their overtime, so we were all set. “What could go wrong? It’s only two months,” I even said.

For 60 days straight since that moment, I had been working nonstop. Not once did I get to call for a timeout, primarily since the pandemic occurred around the same time, and more people sought mental help. If I was not meeting a client while keeping a physical distance from them, I was on the phone, Skype-ing, or chatting with other clients.

Then, one afternoon, I just stood up to usher my client out of the door when I felt faint and passed out.

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Prioritizing My Health

I woke up to the concerned faces of my secretaries and an older man who was clearly a doctor. I was already on my daybed as well. When I asked what happened, they recounted how they saw me drop on the floor. Luckily, my clinic was already at the hospital, so they got a doctor to attend to me quickly.

Some tests were conducted on me, and I eventually found out that I had anemia. Mixing iron deficiency, stress, and exhaustion, it was more surprising that I didn’t pass out sooner.

Kidding aside, the diagnosis pushed me to reassert my priorities. My best friend was still not back, and I could not wait for her availability, so I got two new counselors to sub for us. Then, I went to my parents’ farm in Omaha and relaxed there for two whole months.

Once I returned to the civilization and got my anemia checked again, all my test results returned normal. I happily resumed my work, but I would never try to take on more than I could handle ever.

A Counselor’s Physical Healing Journey

Like any other profession, it was expensive to get all the requirements to enter a specific career. In my case, since I wanted to be a psychologist and counselor, a four-year bachelor’s degree would not cut it. I had to get master’s and doctoral degrees and all the training that came in between them.

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The thing was, I did not come from money, so I had to get student loans to continue my studies. By the time I finished my doctoral, I was already swimming in at least 100,000-dollar debt. Thus, when I finally got my license to practice psychology and counseling, my primary goal was to establish my clinic to pay off my student loans and provide for my family.

Becoming A Workaholic

In hopes of earning enough money to settle my debt before I even turned 30, I decided to open my clinic seven days a week. Most psychologists and counselors I knew were only available five or six days a week, but I went above and beyond that. While others were happy to stick to an eight-hour schedule, I got licensed to perform online counseling to work still even when I was not in the clinic. This meant that I was on the job for 10 to 14 hours every single day.

I mentioned this work plan to my friends before I even started, and they all laughed, thinking I was trying to be hilarious. They said that no sane person would be able to do that or want to do that. After all, our old professors stressed the importance of REM sleep to increase our effectiveness as psychologists or counselors.

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What my friends forgot to factor into the equation was that I was a woman on a mission. My goal was to make as much money as possible. I would lose a lot of sleep and rest, yes, but it would be worth it in the end when I was already debt-free. Hence, I did my best to stick to my path.

When I Needed A Lifestyle Change

The good news was that I remained effective in my profession despite my lack of good sleep. I got to help many people make sense of their issues; there was never once a person who complained about my skills or knowledge. More importantly, I was earning more money than I ever imagined.

My work plan never failed me, but I had to make a lifestyle change and practically stop working towards my goals at a quick pace because I started feeling like there’s something wrong with my body.

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For one, my menstruation was already three months late. I did not have time for sex and was definitely not pregnant, so that’s bothersome. My feet also started aching even if I wore the same shoes for years. If I stayed in the car for more than 30 minutes, they would swell up immediately. Worse, I could feel my weight increasing because all I could wear were my dresses – none of my pants would fit anymore.

When I consulted a doctor and discussed my symptoms with her, she asked me to do the thyroid tests. The thought of having a thyroid issue never crossed my mind, but then I remembered that my dad’s sister got diagnosed with it two years ago. And before her, my grandmother had it, too. Thus, it might be possible that I had the same condition.

While waiting for the results, I had enough time to accept that I might have a thyroid problem. Because of that, when it was confirmed, I already made peace with the fact that I would have to cut back my work hours and stick to an eight-hour schedule. I also had to take at least a day off, relax, and do nothing so that stress won’t make my health problems worse.

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Was It Easy?

Heck, no. Many people looked forward to a day of relaxation and recreation, but I never felt like I had the luxury to do that. After all, even when I was a student, I would use my free time to do part-time jobs or study for my exams. I did not think that there would be a day when I would have nothing to do since there were so many goals I wanted to achieve. Yet, there I was – forced by a medical condition to stop and rest.

Although I was not used to taking care of myself, my days off helped me realize that there was more to life than working. Ever since my Sundays became free, I got to hang out with friends and family, host BBQ parties, and even go on dates. I continued to do these things even when I got my thyroid issues under control.

It was the first time in a long time that I felt like a real person and not a robot – and it felt incredible.

Frequently Asked Questions About Service Dogs For Depression

Please don’t judge me, but I will start this article with the truth. I do not like spending time with animals. Yes, they can be cute and adorable most of the time. But I somehow prefer them as creatures that need to stay away from me. No, I am not scared of them, and I do not hate them. It is just that I somewhat do not see their significance in my life.

At first, things in my life were okay that way. I am living with my boyfriend, and we have been planning to get married this coming November. But unfortunately, my soon-to-be husband got into an accident and died last year. It was a different pain level, and I can’t seem to have that courage to accept the truth. I was in shock and full of denial. I could not fathom life without the one person I wanted to spend it with. All that is left with me is sorrow.

Last year was the worst part of my entire existence, and until now, it still was the most painful experience I have to endure recalling. I have been depressed for a long period, and I thought it was the end of me. I somehow became a different person and pushed away my family and friends. I shut down. I was so hurt that I thought I would never get better. But that was before. Before I even knew that my life would change once I met Geevo.

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Geevo is a service dog. Honestly, I was hesitant to have him at first because I never really believe that a service dog can assist someone with an emotional and mental health problem. As I said, animals are not for me. But my best friend insists that I should try it, and I did get one eventually. And after a couple of weeks of spending time with Geevo, I was so amazed to see how disciplined, focused, and well-behaved a dog can be. I was in awe. It genuinely convinced me that a dog could be much of a help, especially in depressing times.

What types of mental illnesses qualify for a service dog?

The mental illnesses that qualify a psychiatric service dog (PSD) is included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression. A service dog is a particular class of service animal skilled and trained to aid people with mental illnesses.

What are the best service dogs for anxiety and depression?

Some of the breeds that fit well as service dogs include huskies, boxers, German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and poodles.

How much is a service dog for depression?

A psychiatric service dog can be a little expensive because of the high cost of all the required training. Usually, it cost about $20,000 and $30,000. This rate includes vet care, temperament testing, food, and training.

Is getting a dog good for depression? 

Pets, mainly dogs and cats can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. That is because these animals alleviate loneliness, encourage play and exercise, and even enhance a person’s cardiovascular well-being. Taking care of an animal also provides emotional growth and helps a person become more active and safe. Finally, pets offer an extraordinary companionship for older adults.

How do I know if I need a service dog?

Needing a service dog comes with certain qualifications. You must first meet several criteria to be eligible to get one. Usually, this includes having a physical disability, such as unable to walk, see, or talk. Often, you can get a service dog, too, if you are dealing with a debilitating illness or mental disorder.

Can dogs tell if you are depressed? 

Fortunately, dogs do sense their human’s inner issues such as emotional pain and suffering. Many of these animals react in a caring way towards their human and help ease loneliness and sadness most lovingly and cutely. Dogs make use of their remarkable sense of smell to understand and feel the things around them. They can also smell the increase and decrease of various brain chemicals, making no exemption to depression and anxiety.

What do emotional support dogs do?

ESAs or Emotional Support Animals provide therapeutic benefits to certain people with psychological health issues such as phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. But like other medical solutions, an emotional support animal should be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional.

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Can animals sense Depression?

Yes. Just think of a scenario where our dogs sense a threat; they become alert and get protective. Therefore, dogs can sense depression, and many respond in a loving and caring way to their humans to cheer them up. Dogs use their extraordinary sense of smell to take in and understand their surroundings.

How do you get a service dog for depression? 

Acquiring a service dog to help with your depression is not that complicated. However, it needs to go through a series of processes. You should have a recommendation letter from a certified mental health professional stating that your depression keeps you from doing at least one significant daily life chore without support or aid.

How do you train a service dog for depression and anxiety? 

Training service dogs for depression is the same as training an ordinary dog with some tricks. For example, when your dog focuses on what is happening, reward the dog. Let your dog learn cautions like a shove and follow up with a verbal order. From there, show the anxiety symptoms and the verbal order for the warning sign. When the dog practices the warning while practicing the anxiety indications, reward your dog.

What can a therapy dog do?

Therapy dogs provide relief to those in depression and anxiety-provoking situations. These animals bring comfort to those who are lonely, grieving, and emotionally unstable. These dogs also offer affection to humans in institutions such as those staying longer in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools.

What animal is good for depression?

A therapist with expertise in the animal therapy area uses the most common emotional support animals for depression, such as dogs and cats. These animals help treat people with mental disorders. It is referred to as animal-assisted interventions. The

Can a dog be mad at you?

Honestly, yes. The possibility of dogs getting mad at you is high, especially if you constantly make them feel upset. But here’s the good news. Dogs do not get mad or angry at you the way you imagined. It is different from the actual thing. According to PetMD, while dogs unquestionably feel series of negative emotions, they don’t connect abuse or blame on those sentiments. They feel sad, but they do not entirely get angry for emotionally hurting them.

Can any dog be a therapy dog?

Yes, on several occasions. But note that a certified therapy dog must be friendly and at least one year old to become a therapy dog. Any breed can qualify to give people affection and comfort in schools, retirement homes, mental health institutions, clinics and hospitals, airports, and many other settings.

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Insight

Geevo was so sweet, and he was so focused on providing me with love and care. Yes, I still think of my boyfriend from time to time, and it still pains me to recall that most agonizing death of his. But fortunately, I found myself in the arms of loving animals. Because right now, I realized that my mental and emotional health is more important than my depression. I will be forever thankful for my recovery, and I owe it to my service dog.

 

 

Categories: Pain Management

Frequently Asked Questions About How Chronic Pain And Depression May Be Related

Having chronic pain can be a big hassle.  It does not only give you intolerable discomfort but may also ruin your concentration during the day. While several factors may cause this condition, chronic pain caused by persistent depression can be more difficult to manage.

But first, what is chronic pain, and how can depression make it worse?

Chronic pain is a feeling of pain or discomfort that may last for a prolonged period. Usually caused by unwanted injuries, chronic pain can start from one area to another. The pain can make the body more sensitive. And if it aggravates further, it can cause mood changes, uncontrollable stress, or even delayed mental and physical activity.

Consequently, these body sensations due to chronic stress can affect other aspects of life. It can affect your work performance, relationship with others and can even lead to emotional pains.

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With depression, chronic pain becomes more aggravating. Treatment for chronic pain requires ample sleep and a balanced, well-timed diet. But all these can be undermined when someone has depression. This mental condition can make healing more complicated as it affects specific lifestyle choices fit for combating symptoms of chronic pain.

According to recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 75% of people with depression also manifest pain or uncomfortable sensation. These unpleasant feelings often include back pains and headaches. This data may root from the cyclic or two-way relationship between depression and chronic pain.

In general, chronic pain causes feelings of distress and agony or emotions of irritability and stress. And as negative emotions continue to pile up, it increases the tendency to develop mild depression.

At the same time, depression can also trigger unusual body pains and sometimes headaches. Studies say that these conditions involve similar brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. They also have the same nerve pathways both in the brain and in the spinal cord.

To date, there is still no clear association between the two. But medication to alleviate their symptoms is usually in conjunction with both conditions. Simply put, treatment for these conditions are medications that can work for both.

Other treatments may include lifestyle changes, diet plans, or recommendations for exercise and other physical activities. Therapies also play a significant role in mitigating the signs of depression.

If you want to know the specifics and treatment of chronic pain and how an untreated depression affects its current state, you can check out the FAQ below:

Can chronic pain be caused by depression?

One of the symptoms of depression is chronic pain that does not seem to have a physical source. A study published in 2017 has shown that 85 percent of patients experiencing chronic pains are also experiencing severe depression. These two occurrences can actually make each other more severe. So chronic pains make depression worse, and depression makes chronic pain worse too. Make sure you consult a doctor to avoid further complications and issues.

How does chronic pain affect mental health?

Studies have shown that chronic pain can be caused by mental health issues such as depression. Some studies have also shown that when chronic pain is present, there is a chance that mental illness is also present. These two directly affect each other, so chronic pains become severe with depression present and vice versa.

There is also something referred to as “chronic pain-induced depression,” where a person is also experiencing depression due to chronic pains.

How do you mentally deal with chronic pain?

There are a few different ways that a person can deal with chronic pain. However, this will still depend on the person and their level of sensitivity. Different people will have different sensitivity levels, which does not mean that one is wrong for feeling a certain way. It would help if you mentally prepared to understand and accept that you will need help for this. Find a balance within you and try to calm yourself so that you can cope healthily.

What is the best antidepressant for chronic pain?

Since people with chronic pain often get diagnosed with depression due to the pain that they are experiencing, there have been several different antidepressants that have been found effective for both chronic pains and depression. SNRIs such as Venlafaxine and Duloxetine can be quite effective in battling chronic pains. However, it is still best to consult a doctor to know what is best suited for you and your condition.

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What does anxiety pain feel like?

Some different symptoms or signs can point you towards anxiety. This will usually feel like you will faint, chest pains will be present, and feeling quite dizzy. These chest pains will commonly be described as sharp and stabbing pains that will occur despite the person being still. You can also be experiencing shortness of breath and sweating and the feeling of fear that can become quite overwhelming.

Can chronic pain change your personality?

In a study published in New South Wales, it has been discovered that people experiencing chronic pain have low amounts of a brain chemical known as glutamate, which is responsible for regulating a person’s thoughts and emotions. The study also states that chronic pain can disrupt the communication between our brain cells which could effectively change a person’s personality by impairing their ability to process their emotions properly.

What are the long-term effects of chronic pain?

Based on research throughout the years, it has been found that chronic pains can actually affect a person’s mood. It can also cause a person to experience mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Chronic pains extended for long periods of time can also alter your brain’s structure. Chronic pain can reduce your brain’s grey matter, the area of your brain which controls learning, which can cause difficulty with learning, memory processing, and motor controls.

Our central nervous system can also change as we experience chronic pain for long periods, which means our brain becomes overly sensitive and overly reactive.

Can chronic pain make you crazy?

Chronic pain can make you “feel” crazy because chronic pain can release a chemical in our brain where it stimulates our nervous system because you do not know what to expect and that induces anxiety. Finally, the change can be stressful. These reasons can make you feel like you are going crazy, but no, chronic pain can make you feel that way; however, you are not going crazy. You may become depressed, or anxiety might start to settle in, but you will not go crazy.

What are the 4 types of pain?

The four main types of pain are Nociceptive pain which is usually a result of an injury in your tissues; there is also Inflammatory pain which is caused by an abnormal inflammation which is caused by the immune system’s inappropriate response—neuropathic pain or the pain that is caused by nerve irritations. Finally, we have Functional pain, which is basically pain that has no physical source, but it can still cause you pain.

How do you stay positive with chronic pain?

A person can deal with pain and emotions in different ways that would be ineffective for others but very effective. We all have different ways of coping and staying positive, and we can never invalidate how a person feels.

A few ways to stay positive even when you are experiencing chronic pain are trying to manage stress, staying active, make sure you get enough sleep, keep a journal to log your thoughts and feelings, be open with people you love, and make sure that you are getting the right support that you need.

What causes chronic pain all over the body?

Several different causes can be behind your chronic pain. There is, of course, the underlying reason of disease being behind your chronic pain—diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. However, persistent pain may also be caused by more serious illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, stomach ulcers, and more. Ensure that you can consult a doctor to determine your best treatment methods when you start to experience these chronic pains.

How can I relieve my whole body pain?

Multiple ways can be done to ensure that you are relieving your body of pain. Depending on where the pain is coming from, there are different methods that you could apply to make sure that you soothe your body from the pain. Make sure that you are rested; you can also take medications such as ibuprofen.

Another way is to try and ice the area where the pain originates, reducing the pain and inflammation. Other ways include eating more fiber, warm-up your joints, taking warm baths, and you can also try getting a massage if you feel like it.

Why does my whole body hurt after waking up?

According to scientists, we feel like our bodies hurt when we wake up because the natural ibuprofen that our body emits has not fully kicked in, or you might just not be using the right mattress. Maybe it is too stiff for your body to cause you issues to make your body feel like it is not rested. Overly exerting effort in the gym or training can also cause this pain.

Why am I always tired and have no energy?

Your body might not be getting the amount of rest that it requires. Our bodies need to rest for at least eight hours a day to restore the energy we lost throughout the day. Another reason is that we might not be eating the right amount of healthy food that our body needs. We need a perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to be healthier and more energized.

CONCLUSION

Chronic pain and depression are treatable conditions with the right medication and early diagnosis. However, if left untreated, these conditions may affect daily life. These can also cause difficulties in coping with discomfort to interact with other people. Prolonged chronic pain can worsen depression. It can even lead to unwanted pains and suicidal tendencies.

If you are currently experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek medical help immediately. You may reach out to your local emergency hotlines or call your trusted mental health professional.

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Do not let chronic pain and depression take control of your life. Find legitimate healthcare providers that can give you the most accurate and urgent medical diagnosis. Do not subtend to what the online facts and websites say about what your condition might be. Hearing from a trusted medical practitioner is still your best choice in alleviating chronic pain and,  subsequently, depression.

You can always ask for a second opinion about your present condition. Often, chronic pain and depression can also be caused by other factors. By doing so can make you more sure about achieving wellness in no time.

Categories: Pain Management

Frequently Asked Questions About Helping Someone With Depression

Some of the red flags of a mental illness are not something that we can easily notice. We ignore some details because we believe them to be part of someone’s personality and traits. We understand the complication of the sudden change in words, emotions, and reactions that can mean a thing. However, it does not guarantee a definite conclusion of someone severely dealing with a mental health problem. Not unless that person tells us everything about what he is going through emotionally and mentally.

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The responsibility of helping someone with depression is different from helping ourselves fight the mental health battle. Our ways of handling ourselves are a bit overrated because we feel like the world owes us a lot. When dealing with a mental illness, we sometimes feel obligated to feel and think that we shouldn’t because we are indeed having a mental breakdown. We somehow push people to pay more attention to us because we want them to entirely get through the bottom of our emotional and mental struggles. But when it is the opposite of everything, we become insensitive and full of assumptions.

Realizing that someone we know has depression is quite intimidating. There are these “what ifs” that we pile up for them to answer. We constantly say we understand what they feel, but the truth is, we sincerely do not know anything about their struggle. Yes, we deal with our own mental health issues, but it does not give us a pass to become more knowledgeable about others’ emotional and mental health experiences.

Let’s take time to reflect on our actions and deeply understand how to help someone with depression. Here are a few guidelines to use from the frequently asked questions.

How do you help a depressed person to calm down? 

To comfort and help someone to calm down, you need to be more specific on your role. It is vital that you understand the person’s feelings and not just witness them. You have to be the one that should validate their emotions and never judge them. It is okay to convince them not to think too much about their problems or stressors in life. But never attempt to minimize their pain or cheer them up. It would help if you allowed them to learn more about their feelings to manage them better once they experience them again. As someone concerned, you have to suggest action steps that they can take and offer your help if needed.

But note. Not everyone is happy that you are around. It will also help if you distance yourself from time to time to allow the depressed individuals to obtain their space. It would be much appreciated if you can be there for them without forcing yourself into their lives to avoid straining emotional and mental battles.

 How do you help an individual who doesn’t want to be helped? 

A depressed person often wants isolation, and he does not want anything to do with you or others. If you want to help them, do not force yourself into their situation. Allow them to validate their feelings so they can open up and express themselves. Listen and pay attention to their struggles and suffering. You don’t need to do anything at first. Avoid giving unsolicited advice so that you can try and fix things. Allow the person to ask for help before trying to explore options together. It is significantly important that you also take care of yourself and find support on your own if all hopes went down.

In case the person is entirely out of control and does not want anything from you, respect his space. Give him some time to emotionally and mentally recover, even for a bit, until he realizes that he needs someone to be there for him. Because sometimes, the only way you can thoroughly help someone with depression is by leaving them alone and allowing them to realize their potential.

 What are the general methods used to treat depression? 

There are a lot of techniques to treat depression. However, three of the more common methods used by professional experts include cognitive behavioral therapy. It is a goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that focuses on problem-solving that aims to change thinking patterns or behavior patterns. Second is interpersonal therapy, or the idea of how a person deals with a personal relationship with other people. Lastly, psychodynamic therapy or therapy focuses on finding patterns in one’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs to gain insight into the current self.

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 How do you make someone feel better? 

Trying your best to make a person feel better should start with paying attention to his needs. It will promote a nice feeling if he knows you listen attentively to his every word. It would mean so much for the person because there is affection and support involve there. The time you spend with that someone, regardless of the purpose, makes everything okay. Simple appreciation works well too. You can tell the individual that his thoughts and feelings are worth sharing.

Honestly, there are so many ways that you can do to make someone feel better. You only have to avoid overdoing it. Because if you insist and push it too much, the emotional pressure might buildup. It will make the person believe that he needs to get better just because you think he should be and not because we wanted it.

 How do you cheer up a lonely person?

Sometimes, loneliness is temporary. But you still have to be notably careful with your judgment because it might be a different mental health issue. If you have a chance to cheer up a lonely person, start by hugging him. It might sound like a simple thing to do, but it is worth it. Allow him to feel that you are physically, mentally, and emotionally available for him no matter what. Talk to him and take him out. Spend time with him and do not make him feel that he is not alone.

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Final Thoughts

Helping someone with depression is a responsibility that requires a lot of considerations. Understand that not because you feel like talking to the person or think that your opinion matters, it does not make you entitled to invalidate his mental struggles. Do not assume you understand everything because mental illness is a complicated situation that not even you can easily comprehend.

Categories: Pain Management

Frequently Asked Questions About Light Therapy For Seasonal Affective Disorder

People experience different kinds of pain. There are different types of pain, but the more common type is physical pain. Injuries and diseases are some of the leading causes that result in physical pain. Physical pain can manifest through feelings of aching, burning, and throbbing. 

However, people feel another kind of pain, which we don’t talk about as often. And that is psychological pain. Likewise the former, this type of pain can stem from several causes as well. But in this article, the focus is on seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression induced by seasonal changes. SAD is also known as “winter depression.” People typically experience this condition during the fall and winter seasons where there is less sunlight.

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People with SAD experience symptoms similar to that of major depression, which can interfere with daily functioning. 

Symptoms include the following:

  • loss of interest in activities
  • loss of energy
  • changes in sleep
  • difficulty thinking
  • suicidal thoughts

How does change in sunlight trigger SAD? Researchers have proposed several theories to explain this phenomenon. Decreased exposure to sunlight leads to a shift in people’s biological clocks. This shift affects the regulation of hormones, which in turn affects mood and sleep patterns. 

One of the affected hormones is serotonin – the happiness hormone. Serotonin levels drop with decreased sunlight causing mood changes. Seasonal changes also affect melatonin, the sleep hormone. With a lack of sunlight, there is an overproduction of melatonin. As a result, people feel sleepier. 

SAD’s link with sunlight exposure is mediated with light therapy.  

If you want to learn more about how light therapy may help with SAD, here are the frequently asked questions on this topic. Light therapy is one of the most utilized treatments for the condition. This article will focus specifically on the science behind light therapy—its processes, guidelines, risks, and benefits. Also, learn more about alternative treatment methods for SAD and how to maintain their benefits to prevent relapse. 

Do SAD light boxes really work?

SAD light boxes may ease the symptoms of your health conditions. It can also boost your energy levels and improve your feelings about yourself. Light therapy can begin to enhance the symptoms within a short period. However, light therapy is not the solution or cure for SAD, nonseasonal depression, or other health conditions.

How does light therapy work for seasonal affective disorder?

The lightbox’s light simulates the sunlight, which cannot be seen during the darker winter season. The light may alleviate SAD by decreasing the brain’s melatonin production and promote the creation of serotonin.

Can you use a SAD light too much?

An individual that gets too much light may experience discomfort, like the feeling after consuming too much caffeine. To avoid this, it is best to consult with a clinician to give a proper dose that works well for you.

How long does it take for light therapy to work for SAD?

Usually, people respond to light therapy within three to five days. Meanwhile, if there is no response within the first week, an improvement may appear in the second week.

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Do SAD lights help with vitamin D deficiency?

Experts do not recommend using sun lamps to induce vitamin D production since more research is done on this matter. According to them, the UV light from these may cause an increased risk for skin cancer. Instead, it is better to take supplemental vitamins with 2000 IUs per day to help with vitamin D deficiency.

Does light therapy help anxiety?

Light therapy dramatically reduces anxiety and depression scores. However, there are no significant differences between high- and low-intensity treatment.

Does a SAD lampwork if your eyes are closed?

Most light therapy studies have proven that positive effects are made when the eyes are open. The regular 10,000 lux per ½ hour session requires that your eyes are open.

Do SAD lamps give you a tan?

No, the sun lamps intended for SAD cannot give a tan since they filter the ultraviolet light. If you are using a sun lamp for SAD, it is vital to consult with your doctor. Using an incorrect type of lamp can harm your eyes and cause other detrimental effects.

Can you do light therapy at night?

Results of researches about whether light therapy works more effectively at a specific time of day varies. However, some people with SAD do their light therapy for one to two hours in the evening.

Can you wear glasses during light therapy?

Any individual can wear glasses or contact lenses during light therapy. However, in treating SAD, it is advisable not to wear sunglasses or tinted lenses.

Can light therapy hurt your eyes?

Looking directly at the lightbox can harm your eyes. While light therapy is generally safe, some conditions need extra precaution. People with bipolar disorder may show symptoms and become manic after excessive light exposure. Additionally, people with an eye condition or diabetes do have a higher risk of eye damage.

How long does SAD last?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that happens at a similar time every year. It can occur during spring or summer, but it usually starts late and lasts until the end of the winter season.

Does light therapy really work for wrinkles?

Red light therapy (RLT) pursues to solve skin issues through low wavelength red light. Many experts have confidence that this therapy can aid in cases such as aging and scarring. Although RLT is not a miracle cure, there is some evidence to prove these claims.

Does red light therapy burn fat?

Red Light Therapy is an up to date advanced technology that utilizes a specific type of therapeutic light. This light can penetrate, open up fat cells, and dissolve the fat. Through this therapy, the fats transform and burn as energy.

Can I use light therapy all day?

It is recommended to take light therapy for 30 minutes to 2 hours a day. The recommended duration depends on the intensity level of the light used or whether you have been using it for some time.

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Symptoms of SAD generally improve with seasonal change, but treatment fastens mood improvement. Healthy lifestyle habits can also minimize SAD symptoms and prevent them from coming back. These habits include exercising, getting enough sleep, and eating a well-balanced diet. 

Spending time outside or working near a clear glass window can also help increase exposure to natural sunlight. It’s best to engage in these activities while undergoing treatments to maximize their benefits.

Social support is also important in improving mental health. Depressive symptoms may push people to isolate themselves from social circles and would further reinforce SAD. As such, maintaining connection through volunteering, socialization, and spending time together is beneficial for recovery.

SAD may be linked with the changing seasons, but with the right tools and support, people can work around SAD.  

Categories: Pain Management

Suffering In Silence (Mental Health Issue)

There is no imaginable way that you could count the days that you feel down, alone, vulnerable, and weak. I can say that you suffered a lot from emotional and mental damage for most of your existence. Honestly, almost everybody is like you. A lot of them also suffer the same way you do, including me. We all feel stressed out, anxious, terrified, and confused about many things, especially those we can’t control. But unlike everybody else, how do you manage those life stressors? Do you express your feelings and talk it out? Do you encourage yourself to seek healthy intervention? Do you ignore life’s toxicity and refrain from overthinking? If these are the things you often do, then congratulations! You are doing well in taking care of your mental health. However, if neither of these is your ways and you don’t find yourself doing anything at all, we both can agree that you may be suffering from mental health issues in silence.

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Not Talking About The Issue Is Not A Proper Way Of Recovery

A lot of people’s misconception when it comes to handling mental illnesses is the belief that once they ignore it, it will eventually go away. Unfortunately, that is farther from the truth. It is indeed valid that at some point, you will have to ignore some of the unimportant things that don’t require even the slightest attention. However, that strategy only works if you are trying to secure a positive parameter around you. When you are diagnosed with a mental health condition such as anxiety and depression, not talking about, will only make it worse. You will not only cry in pain for an extended period, but you will also suffer from the agony alone. Thus, not talking about your mental health problems will never help you by any means.

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Not Understanding Limitations And Pushing Yourself On The Edge

Understandably, sometimes you feel you are more than emotionally and mentally strong enough to handle everything around you. That is a good thing. Your positive attitude towards your life stressors can become helpful in dealing with the unbearable ones. However, not every result turns out to be positive as well. Unfortunately, there are times that even if you think you can manage things despite having an emotional and mental imbalance, you end up incapable of doing anything. And when you try to pull yourself again and believe that you can make things right the second time around, still you end up messing things. Please do not feel bad about it. Of course, there are many things you can’t do, and that is okay. Do not torture yourself just because you think you are incapable of so many things.

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Not Acknowledging You Need Professional Help Is Fatal

Sometimes, the only way a person like you wants to deal with mental health problems is by addressing it alone. There is this ideology that the need to try harder in keeping one’s mental health intact is achievable by practice. Unfortunately, that is the dumbest thing anyone could think of. Mental illness is not a temporary state that you quickly turn off whenever you want to. It is a condition that ruins your entire life. So when you rely only on personal choices and get blinded by the idea that you can make it alone, you are only putting yourself in a much-complicated situation. You understand that you need help, so why not take advantage of it? Acknowledge your mental health needs and seek professional advice. Do not settle for remedies that are not clinically proven. Never depend on the limited information you have.

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Not Taking Your Mental Condition Seriously Causes A Severe Health Damage

Usually, you have a mental illness in silence because you do not take your condition seriously. There is a thought that many people share the same outlook and that some of them are okay with having a society-accepted mental incapacity. You indeed have to process every possible solution that you can take to avoid having an emotional and mental breakdown. Because even if you think that you can stay positive throughout your mental illness journey, a split second of undesirable decisions can ruin that piece of hope you have. Never ignore signs and symptoms because these exist for the particular reason of reminding you that everything is psychologically too much already.

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Insight

Perhaps you would say that the things I babble about are just a piece of information you already know. You might also say that I will never understand your situation because I am not in your shoes. You may argue that the things I say only apply to those who need it more than you. Well, that is a fact. But let me emphasize one thing; your mental health needs are always beyond you. That is why mental health reminders are there.

Categories: Pain Management

Family 101: Overcoming Emotional Neglect

When we tolerate and stay in an emotionally neglectful family environment, it causes us to believe that our feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and desires do not matter. It is a negative situation that can make us doubt what we entirely feel. It can make us experience difficulty in trusting people as well. In some unfortunate instances, it makes us push people away and hinder them from getting into our lives. Also, emotional neglect can make us continuously worry about what others might think about us.

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When our emotional demands are not met, it leaves us with no secure emotional foundation. As a result, we struggle to get to know ourselves, and we experience difficulty understanding what we want. Honestly, when we suffer from emotional neglect, we do not realize it most of the time. We are unaware that this type of neglect is not something that quickly goes away when we want it to be over. That explains why this feeling can go unnoticed for a month or even years.

When our family is emotionally neglectful, they do not try to comfort us. They are not there at all. For this reason, we begin to find ourselves in a mentally and emotionally abusive and unhealthy relationship with others. We struggle to deal with different people because of the fact that the individuals who are supposed to stick with us are also complicated to deal with. We do not have a safe zone of loving, supportive, and caring family members around us. It makes us believe that we are alone.

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What To Do?

According to some licensed professionals at BetterHelp, once we realize that our feelings are changing, that is how we can track it down. It can be hard at first because we might think that everything is way too scary. So it would be great if we start understanding the easier ones. We need to identify fear, anxiety, stress, and all sorts. We need to note that overcoming emotional neglect does not happen overnight. It requires time and effort. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways that can help us deal with the situation.

One of the helpful ways is to stop pleasing people. Understandably, we don’t want to feel emotionally neglected by our family; that is why we tend to please everybody. We push ourselves to do things that benefit them, even if it is against our will. However, that should end there. If our family deserves our attention, they should also have to learn to care for us emotionally. They need to realize our worth and not take us for granted. They must understand that we deserve love, understanding, and compassion.

We can also help ourselves from emotional neglect when we stop prioritizing undeserving people’s happiness above ours. We need to tell ourselves that our happiness needs to come first. When we are emotionally neglected, we struggle to know our feelings. To avoid that, we should not allow them to take control of our ability to love and care for those deserving ones. We need to set boundaries and let them know that a relationship should have to be ‘give and take.’ We need to make them realize that it is pointless to spend an hour with people who can’t even spare us a minute.

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When the feeling of emotional neglect is so overwhelming, we can also manage it by talking it out. We need to allow ourselves to acknowledge that there is something wrong and that we need to speak about it. Even if people call it a nonsense rant or whatever, we need to express it in any way. We have to be open about how we feel about our situation. We need to be true to ourselves. We need to acknowledge the pain and accept that we indeed need someone’s help. It could be a friend, a co-worker, or a therapist that we can guarantee that would help us no matter what.

If in case we find it difficult to discuss our emotional struggles with others, at least we can work on self-care. Because when it comes to healing from emotional neglect, self-care becomes the number one asset we got. It is our only way of telling our mind, body, and soul that we care and appreciate their effort in keeping us away from emotional and mental exhaustion. Thus we need to care for ourselves regularly by focusing on the things that help us feel nurtured.

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Takeaway

When we are living in an emotionally neglectful environment, we tend to get numb. When our feelings are ignored for an extended period, it becomes normal for us not to know how we entirely feel. It is a problem because it hinders us from figuring everything in our life. It prevents us from getting a chance to understand ourselves better. But by taking the time to acknowledge our emotional needs, we help ourselves open a new perspective. It will help us believe that our emotions are valid and that they need attention.

Categories: Pain Management

Managing Emotional Pain While In Quarantine

Physical pain isn’t the only challenge during this COVID-19 quarantine. More individuals may be dealing with emotional pain and distress at this time. Anxiety, hopelessness, and sadness are some of the trials that many are going through.

If you find that you can relate, here are some ways of managing emotional pain.

Differentiate Things You Can And Cannot Control

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First, figure out what things to focus on and what to let go of for now.

There will always be things that are out of our control. These events and circumstances are things we should not have to stress over. Instead, we must learn to manage around it or let it go. Examples of these include how long the quarantine will last and how others act while in isolation. While we can’t help but worry over the length of this crisis, we cannot always carry that around with us.

Meanwhile, you can instead focus on what you can change and do. Put your attention towards following guidelines on social distancing and reading credible information from experts. Find fun things to do at home when you feel bored. Reach out to others who might be feeling lonely. Exert your effort and energy towards something you know you can manage.

Take A Break

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During a time of a global pandemic, we must all stay well-informed. However, such does not entail checking the news or searching the internet for updates at every given hour.

Distancing yourself from the disease shouldn’t only be physical. A mental break from it can also benefit you significantly. Staying glued to social media and news outlets can put you into a panic. Stay informed, but keep yourself from becoming too distressed.

Some things you can do are:

  • Set a time limit for social media. There are applications you can use that help track time you spend on a specific website or app. Some can even block you out, so you force yourself to stay offline.
  • Limit yourself to a few news channels and timeslots. You don’t have to watch or read each article from every news agency. For sure, each one will report on important updates and significant happenings. Don’t worry about missing out.
  • Turn the wifi router off. Even when we want to put our phone down, it can be challenging. A single notification can call to us and we and up spending half an hour on our mobile again. If possible, switch off the router to give yourself some downtime. You can keep your phone on if you’re worried about potential emergencies.

Practice Physical And Mental Grounding

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A technique you can employ while on quarantine is grounding. You can carry out this practice in two ways. There is physical as well as mental grounding.

The aim of this practice, based on the name itself, is to keep you from spiraling out of anxiety or panic. It “grounds” you in reality and slows things down when you feel overwhelmed.

To practice physical grounding, first, choose an object. Take a good look at what you’ve picked. Observe how it looks and feels. Describe the object’s color, texture, weight, etc. If there’s writing on the item, you can read that as well.

As for mental grounding, there are several activities you can do. One is to name things you can see in your surroundings. However, some may find this a little overwhelming when their environment is chaotic. If you do feel such, stop the activity and try something else. You can try making a mental list of things or words you know that begin with the letter “S.” Or name a country for every letter of the alphabet. 

Take note that grounding does not make you avoid your feelings. It merely lets you slow down so you can regain control over your emotions.

Summary

Emotional pain can be as taxing and challenging to deal with as physical pain. During a stressful time such as this quarantine, people are more likely to bounce back to normal. “It is possible that those with depression or social anxiety are less capable of releasing opioids during times of social distress, and therefore do not recover as quickly or fully from a negative social experience,” says David T. Hsu, Ph.D.

One of the ways you can deal with emotional pain is by learning what things should get your focus. Attend to something you can control and change and leave those that are out of your hands. Next, you can limit your exposure to news and social media, as those may add to the distress you feel. Lastly, practice emotional and physical grounding.

All these practices put together can help you manage your emotional pain a little easier.

Categories: Pain Management

Dealing With Chronic Pain Management Under Quarantine

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In light of the pandemic that we currently face, it also presents us with an all-time high global health crisis. The adjustments that COVID-19 has caused us to make doubles the distress for those suffering from diseases or chronic pain. That’s why, in this trying time, it’s crucial to address your symptoms while not amplifying fear and anxiety appropriately.

The government has imposed quarantine as a measure to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Because of this, people with chronic pain have lost access to many support programs and medicine access. Many patients are left alone to cope on their own.

As such, for patients and their loved ones, it’s vital to know the support and services available to help them. How can patients rationally manage chronic pain amid the quarantine period caused by the coronavirus?

The Main Challenge

Because chronic pain is an often-difficult condition to treat, patients are often vulnerable to developing depression and anxiety. At this time, chronic pain patients face more significant challenges other than the burden of their pain. As we undergo social distancing, there is a higher risk of mental health challenges.

“Chronic pain and mental health disorders are common in the general population, and epidemiological studies suggest that a bidirectional relationship exists between these 2 conditions,” W. Michael Hooten, M.D., of the Division of Pain Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine notes.

But one of the primary concerns is the abrupt reduction of opioid medication availability. It becomes an even more significant problem if there is a total absence of medication—which can then lead to withdrawal syndrome. Drugs are useful in chronic pain treatment, but they may also produce side effects, which a professional should monitor.

This sudden and rapid withdrawal can lead to haze in decision-making. Patients may end up making risky decisions with long-term consequences.

Medication Shortage

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Some states have revised prescribing regulations for certain medications to prevent shortages and to make it easier for patients to obtain it. Physicians are voicing out their concern for potential shortfalls due to adjustments in production and importation. Hence, a lot of doctors are providing alternative strategies and communication channels to provide support for patients.

Though pharmacy generally has enough stock at this time, the fear and anxiety can lead to another concern—hoarding. Potentially, the higher demand for medications can affect the already limited supply. Hoarding medical supplies can have downstream effects individually and to the public health system.

Supports And Services For Chronic Pain Patients During COVID-19

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Especially at this time, pain management is vital to prevent and lessen avoidable emergency room visits. If many patients go to the ER, it will defeat the purpose of the imposed quarantine—which is to minimize face-to-face interactions.

The American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine has published guidelines on treatments that can go along amid the pandemic.

Regulatory systems have allowed for extended durations of prescription. Here are some alternative treatments to chronic pain amid the global pandemic:  

  • Dose Tapering

For patients undergoing opioid treatment, discuss with your doctor about the possibility of a dose tapering regimen to safely reduce their requirements. If it’s not possible, you can also ask how you can obtain medication. Your doctor can also come up with an alternative treatment or non-medication-based treatment to manage their pain. 

  • Telehealth

The use of telehealthcare broadens access to services without needing to go to a healthcare facility. Doctors can evaluate chronic pain patients without a direct visit to their clinic. These services include:
– Live audio or video consultations
– Virtual check-ins
– Non-face-to-face communication via patient portals

  • Online Exercising Tools

The pandemic may have lessened the regular therapy visits to manage chronic pain, but there are a lot of online tool options. Through these tools, patients can continue to perform exercises at home.

  • Online Support Groups

More than ever, patients need access to medical and psychological consultations. Online support groups can also help chronic pain patients remain connected at a time when they feel more isolated. It’s also important to reach out to families and friends to alert them to the caring measure you’re taking. It can also help them prepare in case anything happens to the patient.

Conclusion

During this time, it’s crucial to understand the connection between anxiety, fear, and physical pain. Chronic pain patients need to know how to access help if they need it during this COVID-19 period. Having effective remote pain management under quarantine can restore the sense of calm and control in your system. Just follow the expert-guided exercises to break the pain-fear cycle. Lastly, it’s essential to have support from a positive-minded community who can help you get through this pandemic.

Categories: Pain Management