Blog it up
When the snow hits, and the lights go up, some start feeling excitement, others, aren’t sure how they feel. The winter months can be a hard time for many people for any number of reasons. There are some sure signs you might identify with that increase the possibility of holiday depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or a general low mood.
1. Having lost someone.
This time of year is hard for people who have lost someone. This can be loss in many forms including those who are no longer with us, and some who are no longer in our lives. Maybe a significant romantic relationship or friendship ended this time of year in the past. What some people are unaware of is that any loss causes us to grieve, even when we lose those who are still with us; this can be difficult to heal from. If you find yourself missing someone terribly, this can trigger low mood.
2. You’re way too busy
For many people, especially (but not only!) moms, and those with large families, the holidays are a whirlwind of get-togethers, gatherings, dinners, presents, cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping, you name it, it’s happening. When we put ourselves into over drive, we forget to take time for self-care. Many people say they don’t have time, but those are the priorities that will put you into a downward spiral. Taking 5 minutes for yourself once a day (minimum) is one way to combat the possibility of becoming depressed.
3. You don’t want to say no
Another insight on being too busy is that we find it hard to say no. Having healthy boundaries, especially with family members, will reduce the risk of burn out. It is okay to let someone else host the Christmas-eve dinner this year. If we worry about people not liking us or creating issues because we said no, then maybe we need to rethink our relationship with these people. Our mental health is more important than becoming stuck in a low place.
4. You have no desire to do anything
Some of the classic signs of depression are low mood, lack of motivation, low energy, restlessness, irritability, and over sleeping or lack of sleeping. If you find you don’t want to do much, or don’t have the energy to, you might want to ask yourself if you’re also experiencing any of these other symptoms.
5. You’re asking yourself what would it be like if I weren’t here
Some people have thoughts of ending their life that come and go. Some are seriously considering suicide. Whether you have fleeting thoughts of harming yourself, or plans, know there is help for both. Many times there are parts of ourselves that don’t want to die. A mental health professional can help. Reaching out to family and friends is a good place to start for support, and going one step further to talk to a therapist will get you the tools you need to turn these thoughts around.
There are all types of depression and not everyone’s moods will look the same. The most important thing we can do is ask for help. Find someone who you can feel comfortable with to share what you are going through. These signs of depression are not enough to be diagnosed, so if you think you or someone you know might be struggling, please reach out. The nice thing about therapy is that no one will judge you, and it is confidential. So no matter how hard it is, remember that there is always someone who is ready to help! Take care of you first!
Article by: Dr. Ashley Spinney, DSW, MSW, RCSW
Owner and psychotherapist at Mindhous Wellness
Many new clients ask the question: Is there anything I need to do or to bring to my first therapy session? My hope for this post is to reduce some anxiety, and to foster a sense of safety, trust and comfort for new clients in the future attending their first sessions.
The point of view from my chair is that you the client has reached out to me for help and guidance. You are coming to me for a service that you believe may suite your needs. You already have all the information and materials you need - your body and brain. Since you have a pretty good idea why you called me in the first place, there is not much else you need to do to prepare for therapy. At times I will ask clients to do some homework after the first session, but not much is expected at the initial meet and greet. If you are someone who really needs to prepare, reading a therapist's website, company Facebook page, etc., will be helpful for you to gain an idea as to their style and approach to therapy. Every therapist has their own unique style, but the modalities (types of therapies) or interventions may be similar. For example, CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a common modality of treatment. If your therapist reports to be trained in CBT and uses this treatment in their practice, you may want to do some light reading on what this therapy entails. However this is not necessary. I personally love when my clients are educated on the types of treatment I offer. Not that you have to have read a textbook on each type, but just a general overview is helpful. This is especially true for clients who may benefits from EMDR - Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy.
Other than some light research if you choose, showing up on time or 5 minutes early is important. A first session is always a session of getting to know one another. You are welcome to ask the therapist questions about what to expect, their training, or any other questions you may wonder about. The therapist's main job in the first session is to build a relationship with the client. You need to feel you are heard and and you need to feel you are safe. The therapist will listen for cues to guide their assessment of what is going on for you. You may also discuss a treatment plan and duration of therapy. Sometimes a plan will be clear, sometimes it may take a few sessions to understand the client's needs if they are more complex.
I like to look at my first sessions as - getting to know each other in a relaxing environment while also having some fun. I always say, if we're not laughing, I'm not doing my job. So take a breath, relax your body as best as you can, and have a seat on my comfy couch!
There is still such a stigma and negative connotation about going to therapy and seeing a "professional". I can tell you even therapists receive their own therapy because it's something healthy people do. We all know we're supposed to workout our bodies, 30-60 minutes a day or 10,000 thousand steps, so why not take just as good care of your mind? I could argue that our minds are even more important to "workout" because without a healthy mind we may not be able to take good care of our bodies. A mind-body approach to health is, in my opinion, a great one.
You might say, "I'm mentally healthy, I don't need to talk to a therapist", and my reply is, you may be mentally stable, but our lives contain so much information, stress, relationships, work and so on, that it can be helpful to come in for a "tune up" or a session to process; just like you would go for a massage, chriropractic adjustment, physical at the doctor or other self care activity. The reality is everyone needs someone to talk to, to process their thoughts and feelings in order to maintain good mental health. Key word: maintenance. You wouldn't stop going to the gym once you hit your goals, you would maintain your health and weight.
This article is for clients, friends, family, and colleagues. Therapists should practice what they preach. I can for one say that mental health maintenance is one reason why I can do my job so well. Please join me in trying to reduce the stigma of therapy and mental health. Spread the information to loved ones and others who may be struggling with their mental health or someone who may like to add this self care activity to their lives. Book a session today! For yourself, you and your partner, a family member or a friend. It can be a difficult subject to approach but it doesn't have to be. Open with the information about stigma and give the examples above. You wouldn't tell someone with a broken arm not to go to the hospital. Sometimes we need help and it's okay to ask for it! We all need support.... It's so important to support each other to make life more enjoyable.