Signs Your Teen Might Be Anxious About Returning to School—What to Do About It

Change can cause anyone to feel more anxiety than usual, but change while your body experiences dramatic hormonal growth? A perfect storm.

As summer draws to a close, parents may notice that their bright and bubbly teen is spending more time in their bedroom, avoiding summer practices, and growing more irritable by the minute. While return-to-school anxiety is real for many students every year, it should not impede their social and mental health.

Let’s go over how you can best support your teen this school year, and how the pandemic may contribute to their anxiety.

Early Signs of Anxiety

Think back to pre-pandemic times. Did your child make a habit of missing class because of stress? While a mental health day is important now and then, once it becomes the only way to de-stress from school, it is time to intervene.

Early signs can also look like repeated visits to the school nurse or calls and texts asking to leave early. All these stressors may be enhanced under the haze of COVID-19.

What Do We Consider “Normal” Anxiety Now?

Remember that anxiety is a normal human emotion, just like sadness, excitement, and annoyance. It is particularly useful for identifying threats in our environment, as well as risks before making tough calls. Anxiety keeps us safe by nature.

However, it becomes problematic when our fear level becomes higher than the threat in the environment.

But let’s be clear: the nature of this pandemic shifted our understanding of what “normal” and “harmful” amounts of anxiety look like. Anxiety becomes harmful for teens when they experience…

  • Lower grades
  • Less time spent with friends
  • Lower school attendance
  • Unexplained headaches or stomach aches

Our trained counselors can help teens cope with school-related anxiety if at-home efforts do not seem to be enough.

Ways To Best Support Your Teen At Home

Have a Positive COVID-19 Test Plan

If your child is afraid of testing positive, do not promise them a future that is out of your control. Instead, come up with a plan together to feel as prepared as you can. This will ease more of their anxiety than ignoring their concern altogether.

The CDC is a great resource for staying up-to-date on COVID precautions and protocol. You should also reach out to your school about their plan for positive COVID-19 cases.

Be A Steady and Predictable Element in Their Life

Before the pandemic, did you pack them the same lunch every day? Toss in a handwritten motivational note? Whip up breakfast on test days? Ask yourself what routines worked pre-pandemic and re-establish the most successful ones.

In addition, try to provide a consistent and non-judgemental listening ear. A lot of a person’s anxiety can clear up just by knowing someone is always there to talk to when things become too much.

Work Collaboratively

Empower your teen and their ability to problem-solve by asking them guided questions, like…

  • How much do you feel capable of doing right now?
  • How can I support you?
  • Is there anyone else you want help from?
  • How can we make going back to school easier?

Remember that children are resilient and adaptable by nature, and it is our job to highlight how to self-regulate anxiety. Consider admitting any time you feel anxious yourself. You could say, “This day wiped me out. Want to go on a walk through the Metropark?”

With the right modeling and messaging from parents, teens can overcome their anxiety and reap the benefits of in-person schooling again. If the constant worry ever becomes debilitating for your child, trust that our counselors can help. Make an appointment today and together, we can get back on track.

Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity Starts with Seeking Professional Help

Love is one of the greatest things we get to experience in life. So if you break your trust with the person you love the most, how can you possibly go on together?

First, you don’t have to go through it alone.

When working with couples experiencing infidelity, we provide a listening ear and strive to uncover the unconscious drives that tell us “why” we do what we do.

At our practice, we are not rooting for you to stay together or break up. You won’t disappoint us with whatever decision you make. Our only goal is to get you back to living your most authentic life.

Getting Real Answers

Your first thought after being cheated on may simply be, “Why?”

Did you know that long-term relationships naturally change in ways that we can predict? In counseling, we can discuss the Developmental Model of couples therapy to help you understand what stage your relationship is in.

Perhaps one or both of you are in the Rapprochement stage, where couples tend to need more space from each other. Infidelity is an unhealthy way to adjust to this stage, but through couples counseling, we can identify where each partner is at in the model, as well as explore healthy ways to cope with each stage.

Identifying Unhealthy Habits

Couples who try therapy after an affair tend to display what is known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, or key pain points that can destroy a partnership. They are:

Criticism – Verbally attacking another person’s character.

Contempt – Insulting or abusing someone from a place of moral superiority.

Defensiveness – Victimizing yourself to defend against a perceived attack and trade blame.

Stonewalling – Feeling overwhelmed by emotion and completely withdrawing from the conversation.

Healing Together

The good news is that each of these Horsemen has a solution.

For Criticism, we suggest using what’s called a Gentle Start-Up, or “complaining without the blame”. Talk about your concerns using “I” statements and communicate a positive need.

CRITICISM: “You never cook for me. You are so lazy.”

GENTLE START-UP: “I had a really hard day and could use some chill time. Would you help me out by cooking dinner tonight?”

For Contempt, we strive to Build a Culture of Appreciation. Think about what you love the most about your partner, then take the time to notice and express those things regularly.

CONTEMPT: “Thanks for leaving the garage door wide open again. Glad you care about my safety.”

CULTURE OF APPRECIATION: “I know how much you want to relax right after work, but could you please remember to close the garage door before you come in? I would really appreciate it.”

For Defensiveness, healing starts with the choice to Take Responsibility. Respect your partner’s viewpoint by apologizing for any harm you may have caused.

DEFENSIVENESS: “It is not my fault we missed the movie. You stopped at every yellow light on the way.”

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: “I am sorry that I was not ready when it was time to leave. I know how much you were looking forward to this movie. I can start getting ready earlier next time.”

For Stonewalling, we recommend Physiological Self-Soothing. This looks like taking a break to do something soothing and distracting. Then, when you’re ready, re-enter the conversation.

STONEWALLING: “I’m done with this conversation.”

PHYSIOLOGICAL SELF-SOOTHING: “This conversation is a lot for me right now, so let’s take a 20-minute break to breathe. I’ll be ready to talk again after that.”

Getting Started

Bouncing back from infidelity is a lengthy process that can take weeks, months, or years, depending on the couple. Although, most experts agree that positive change can occur within two years on average.

If your partnership has experienced infidelity and you are wondering what the next steps are, start counseling today and we can figure it out together.

Adult Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, Types, and Treatments

Adult Anxiety symptoms causes and treatment

Statistics reveal that about 30% of adults have experienced overwhelming anxiety at some points in their lives. While feeling anxious is normal, excessive and a deeper level of anxiety can lead to mental disorders. It is a common malady among adults who are facing constant stress at work, at home, and in relationships. About 10 to 20% of the adult population go through life without seeking professional intervention and treatment, believing that the symptoms they are experiencing are normal and manageable. Many do not even acknowledge that they are suffering from anxiety disorders. Left untreated, adult anxiety results in poor quality of life, unhealthy body, cognitive impairment, and disability.

 

Understanding the Common Anxiety and Anxiety Disorder

Everyone experiences anxiety. It is the body’s natural response to handle or manage stressful events and situations. Becoming anxious during frightening events, having an illness, perfecting your task, or undergoing major life changes is normal. You become anxious when you need to prepare a project presentation, meet your boss, go to a job interview, meet the parents of your boyfriend, give a speech, change residence, and a whole lot more.
Anxiety is useful and beneficial when it alerts you to pay attention, prepare against dire situations, or avoid danger. It becomes beyond normal and harmful when it is affecting your daily routine, work tasks, relationships, and social life. In essence, anything that alters the status quo and threatens your comfort level brings anxiety. Whether it is a positive or negative circumstance, the feeling of anticipation, apprehension, or fear of what will happen makes people nervous and stressed.
Studies also show that anxiety is more common among women compared to men. This is because women are more hands-on and involved when it comes to family, job, relationships, health, and other essential aspects of life. Experts are also eyeing hormones as a contributing factor to the prevalence of anxiety among women.
Anxiety disorders are far different from common anxiety. It is not caused by character flaws, upbringing issues, or personality weakness. It is a mental illness that is triggered by a combination of factors.
You may have anxiety problems when your fear or worry manifests most of the time, keeps you awake at night, prevents you from attending to your tasks during the day, or the anxiety attacks are extreme and last longer than 6 months.
Other indicators include:

  • Difficulty in controlling the responses to situations
  • Overreacting when something triggers the emotions
  • Anxiety begins to interfere with the ability to function normally

 

Causes of Anxiety

Until today, the real culprit behind anxiety is still unknown. However, various studies and research pointed out that environmental stresses, genes, and real-life experiences trigger anxiety disorders.
It is important to remember that most anxiety disorder cases are caused by a combination of factors. It is rare to find cases where anxiety is triggered by a single reason unless the magnitude of the cause is overwhelming. Moreover, chronic and severe exposure to stress leads to a chemical imbalance in the brain, affecting moods that over time can cause anxiety disorder.
Anxiety in adults is typically linked to significant risk factors and external factors such as:

Risk factors:

  • Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and thyroid disease.
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Poor health
  • Medications side effects (if using antidepressants, steroids, bronchodilators/inhalers, or stimulants)
  • Stressful life events
  • Misuse and abuse of drugs and alcohol
  • Preoccupation and excessive worrying over physical health symptoms
  • Physical limitations to do the usual daily activities
  • Traumatic experiences during childhood
  • Emotional shock
  • Sexual, emotional, physical, or verbal abuse

External factors:

  • Work stress
  • Financial stress
  • Stress in personal relationships
  • Change in living condition or location
  • Pregnancy and giving birth
  • Death, divorce, or separation
  • Stress from a pandemic, political issues, or global events that may affect the family or work

Personality factors

The type of personality is also seen as a reason why people experience anxiety. The most at risk are those who are perfectionists, timid, easily embarrassed, control-freak, lacking self-esteem, or inhibited.

Genetics

People with close kin or a parent who suffered from mental health problems may be at risk of experiencing the same when triggered. The genetic predisposition can be a risk factor, but not conclusive.

 

Common Types of Adult Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are classified into:

Panic disorder

People with panic disorder tend to live in fear anticipating the next attack. Whether the situation is real or imaginary, panic attacks cause a pounding heart, nausea, excessive sweating, chest pain which is similar to stroke or heart attack, dizziness, and weakness. What is alarming about this disorder is it occurs anytime, even asleep, and can last up to minutes.
Adults with panic disorder usually attempt to prevent panic attacks by doing the following:

  • Carrying water, cell phone, and medications
  • Avoiding certain types of foods and beverages (alcohol, caffeine, junk foods, or spicy dishes) because they can trigger the symptoms
  • Asking a friend or loved one to accompany them
  • Sitting near bathrooms or exits
  • Avoiding physical activities that may cause panic-like symptoms

 

Specific phobias

This condition pertains to the intense, irrational fear of something or someone that may or may not real harm. Phobias that are most common among adults are disasters that can cause danger to the family, fear of death, dental procedures, and fear of being alone.
The most common response of an individual with a phobia is avoidance or removing oneself from the situation or place.

 

Social anxiety disorder

Social phobia refers to extreme fear of what people say about them, causing self-consciousness and overwhelming anxiety. This condition affects the individual’s capability to make new friends or keep friends. Those who need to attend social events and activities usually experience anxiety before the actual date, worry a lot about being judged, or become very uncomfortable throughout the encounter.
Some of the physical signs of social anxiety are trembling, heavy sweating, difficulty in conversing, blushing, and nausea. When social anxiety starts to interfere with regular activities and cause extreme distress, it becomes a real problem.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Those with OCD often display compulsions, obsessions, or a combination of the two. Obsessions refer to unwanted and disturbing impulses, thoughts, and images that can cause distress. Compulsion pertains to deliberate behaviors or mental acts that people do to reduce the intensity of the anxiety.
They want to control things by performing certain rituals like counting things, checking things repeatedly, as well as touching things in a specific pattern. The persistent thoughts are usually related to common fears and worries about the safety and health of loved ones, doubts, and the need for symmetry and order.
Other OCD manifestations are preoccupation with symmetry and order, hoarding unnecessary objects, accumulating items, need to confess or ask reassurance, and mental rituals,

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

This type of anxiety is the result of a traumatic experience or event that caused physical harm or threatened the safety of a loved one. Some of the intense incidents that can cause PTSD are accidents, natural disasters, rape, being mugged, and abuse of any form. Those who become disabled due to the event suffer more due to helplessness.
Symptoms include loss of interest in things and activities they like before the incident, becoming emotionally detached, easily startled, and inability to display affection. They may also experience vivid flashbacks of what happened through nightmares or even during the waking hours.

Separation anxiety disorder

It is fear of being left or away from loved ones or familiar environments. People with this condition become very anxious with the thought of separation or losing someone closest to them. They may refuse to sleep or go out without that person and become very agitated and stressed when they do not have familiar faces around.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

It is a general feeling of extreme and exaggerated tension or worry that can affect daily activities. It can be ongoing anxiety that is associated with job responsibilities, the health of the family, or even minor matters like household chores, dental appointments, and car repairs. Adults with GAD usually worry over nothing or more than what is necessary. The common manifestations of GAD are chronic fatigue, nausea, trembling, twitching, muscle aches, muscle tension, chest pain, headaches, lightheadedness, difficulty in swallowing, hot flashes, breathlessness, and frequent urination.

Health anxiety

Adults who worry a lot about their health are experiencing this type of disorder. It is about preoccupation with the somatic symptoms, current health condition, or fear of getting a serious illness. Sometimes, even the most common sensations are interpreted by people with health anxiety as evidence that they might be ill.
Oftentimes, the misinterpretations lead to an obsession to check their safety and protection, like using home devices constantly, frequent visits to health professionals, and persistent questioning to make sure that they do not have the disease. Another manifestation of this disorder is a refusal to seek medical checkups for fear of discovering that they are ill. Adults with this disorder worry too much that eventually impact their quality of life, including family relationships.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

The signs and symptoms vary depending on the person’s experience and circumstances. You may feel a specific phobia over something or a general feeling of tension when faced with the situation or a combination of the following symptoms.

Psychological symptoms

  • Feeling worried most of the time
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty falling asleep that leads to a lethargic feeling
  • Restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Uneasiness
  • Rumination or non-stop thinking about the situation/problem
  • Obsessive or irrational fear that leads to checking and rechecking for safety reasons
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Irritability
  • Showing alertness
  • Feeling tearful
  • Inability to relax properly
  • Need constant reassurance

Physical symptoms

  • Rapid breathing or hyperventilation
  • Increased heart rate or irregular heartbeat (palpitation)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle tension or weakness
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Numb, cold, sweaty, or tingling feet/hands
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urination
  • Butterflies’ in the stomach

Screening for Anxiety

Do you know that there is an easy, confidential, and quick way to know if your symptoms are related to anxiety disorder? A mental health screening is not a formal diagnosis but a way to know if you need to seek immediate professional help. Check out Mental Health America for this purpose.

 

Diagnosis and Treatment

Prolonged anxiety is debilitating and can impact your life negatively. It is essential to seek professional help to treat the symptoms and prevent the anxiety from becoming more serious.
How would you know if it is time to see your doctor?

  • If you feel anxious most of the days
  • If you notice that you are manifesting one or more symptoms
  • If your emotions and thoughts are beginning to interfere with your life, relationships, work, and activities
  • If your fear or worry is becoming constant and uncontrollable
  • If you feel depressed and begin to use drug or alcohol to stop yourself from overthinking
  • If you are having suicidal behavior or thoughts

 

Diagnosing Adult Anxiety Disorders

Getting a diagnosis is important to rule out other factors that may cause the symptoms. Your doctor can assure you that you have no underlying physical problems or illness after a thorough physical examination, blood test, and interview. Certain medical issues bring out similar symptoms. If he finds out that all the signs are related to anxiety disorder, he can refer you to a trusted mental health specialist for proper treatment.

 

Adult Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety is treatable and manageable, which is why it is crucial to get intervention as early as possible. Allowing your condition to escalate can be detrimental to your wellbeing and relationships. While you may be tempted to manage it all by yourself, a psychological evaluation will help you find out the root cause of your anxiety and be able to overcome it.
During the evaluation, the specialist will ask about your personal and family history, the symptoms, the duration of the attacks, the severity, and other important questions to determine your case. Mental health professionals use specially designed assessment tools, questionnaires, and interviews to figure out the causes of the disorder.
With the help of a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist who is well-trained and experienced in treating anxiety disorders, getting back to your usual self is possible. They are adept in helping you manage and reduce the common symptoms using safe and effective techniques.
Depending on the severity or uniqueness of your case, your healthcare specialist will design your treatment plan, which is typically a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is also known as ‘talk therapy’ that involves counseling to help you deal with the symptoms. This treatment has two approaches:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used for anxiety disorders. This method lets you recognize your behaviors and thought patterns that lead to the condition. After acknowledging them, your specialist will guide you on changing them. CBT is known for its effectiveness as it helps you become more aware of your symptoms and triggers. Changes in behaviors usually happen within a few weeks, improving the overall wellbeing of patients.
The other strategy is exposure therapy. It entails facing your fears that are behind the anxiety through activities and situations. Some of the activities utilize positive imagery and relaxation techniques.

Medication

There is no cure-all for anxiety disorders, but patients are given medications to control the symptoms. The prescription must come from your psychiatrist or specialist. Most of the medications for anxiety are beta-blockers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety pills.
Antidepressants alter the brain chemistry, reducing the severity of symptoms after 4 to 6 weeks of medication. Some of the most used antidepressants are serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs.)
Anti-anxiety drugs (anxiolytics) are given as short-term medication. They are fast-acting and work to arrest the manifestation of symptoms. The most effective anti-anxiety drugs for adults are Buspirone and Benzodiazepines.
Beta-blockers are medications for heart conditions but work well to prevent the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders.

 

Other Effective Ways to Reduce Anxiety

There are natural and safe ways to help you deal with the symptoms and make your treatment more effective.

  • Follow a healthy and balanced diet – A diet rich in organic and fresh vegetables and fruits, fish, high-quality meats, whole grains, and nuts is important in battling the symptoms.
  • Consume fermented foods and probiotics – Regular consumption improves your mental health.
  • Exercise regularly – Regular physical workout is associated with lowering the risk of getting anxiety disorder.
  • Limit your caffeine – Excessive consumption of caffeine can worsen your anxiety level.
  • Quit smoking and alcohol consumption – Tobacco smoking and alcohol abuse are associated with the development of anxiety disorder.
  • Practice yoga and meditation – Regular meditation and yoga practice can reduce the common symptoms as it helps you become more relaxed and centered.
  • Sleep – Getting enough sleep not only makes you more energetic during the day but also alleviates most of the symptoms of anxiety.

 

The Bottom Line

Do not allow anxiety to steal your best life. It is important to seek help and treatment when you feel that anxiety is interfering with your daily activities. You deserve to live a happy, healthy adult life.

Teen Depression: The What’s, Why’s, and How’s

Teen Depression information

Every year, the number of teenagers suffering from mild to severe cases of depression continues to escalate. Statistics reveal that 20% of teenagers experience depression before adulthood, and only 30% of the total number of depressed teens get proper treatment. After a significant decline during the 1990s, many psychologists believe that the primary factors that lead to teen depression are pressures from school or home environment, lifestyle, as well as drugs and alcohol.

 

What Is Teen Depression?

It is crucial to understand that teen depression is more than the ordinary moodiness that your child manifests every now and then. Teen depression is considered a serious health condition that influences and impacts every aspect of his or her young life, such as:

  • personal life
  • school life
  • family life
  • social life
  • Work (if applicable)

Depression among teenagers is similar to adult depression as it involves emotional and mental disorders. However, the signs and symptoms in teenagers manifest differently due to the level of hormonal changes, physical body changes, and peer pressure.
Depressed people, including teens, tend to view the world and environment in a negative light. They often feel unloved, worthless, and highly critical of themselves. Most often, minor problems can overwhelm them. The condition will interfere with their regular routine, change their behavior, and lead to suicidal thoughts.
When depression sets in, teenagers tend to isolate themselves from friends, family, and society. It also results in chronic fatigue, insomnia, headaches, irritability, mood swings, and loss of appetite.
As a parent, it is essential to remember that teenage depression is not a growth phase. It is real and can be fatal in the absence of professional treatment, proper management, and support of loved ones. If not treated immediately, it can affect their adult lives.

 

What Causes Teen Depression?

While there is no single knowledge about the real reason why young people experience depression, multiple factors can trigger it. It can be caused by a mix of psychological, biological, and social factors that range from growth hormones to identity crisis.
Now, more than ever, young people are more pressured and stressed compared to previous generations. While modern technology brings convenience, it weakens the face-to-face interactions and activities of the family. It results in getting less physical exercise, less sunshine, and less social or community involvement.
Other factors contributing to chronic stress are an unhealthy diet, environmental toxins, a busy lifestyle, and too much exposure to electronic gadgets. A stressful home or neighborhood environment, violence, and poverty also lead to depressive behavior.

Emotionally unprepared

By nature, teens are not emotionally ready to handle the circumstances surrounding significant changes or challenges. When faced with emotionally draining situations like abuse, divorce of parents, or learning disabilities that affect school performance, a lot of teens tend to withdraw themselves or become rebellious. While a lot of teens can survive the ordeal of the situations, the effects impact their views in life.

Brain differences

Several studies show that the structural component of the adolescent brain differs from the brain of an adult. The level of neurotransmitters in the teens’ brains and the hormonal differences contribute to the development of depression. Neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine play a pivotal role in moods and behavior regulation. Reducing levels of neurotransmitters can trigger depressive behavior and can lead to depression.

Inherited traits

Depression can be hereditary because of its biological component. If your family has a history of depression, there is a great possibility that your child may suffer from this disorder when triggered by a situation or circumstance.

Early childhood trauma

Any type of traumatic life event can leave the child emotionally scarred, causing a long-lasting impression that leads to fear, insecurity, restlessness, and hopelessness. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuses are the most common reasons that develop teen depression.

Learned patterns of pessimistic views

Teens with parents who are negative thinkers are more likely to develop depression. The lack of positive role models to teach them to face problems squarely and think positively to overcome the situations make them incapable of handling them well.

 

Why Your Teenage Child Is at Risk

Certain factors contribute to teen depression. As a parent, you need to be more observant and knowledgeable about this medical disorder to ensure that your child is not at risk.
Here are some of the known facts and factors that contribute to the development of depression among teens:

  • Neglected and abused teens
  • More female teens suffer from depression than male teens
  • Teens who went through traumatic experiences or disruptions at home like family crisis, death, or divorce of parents
  • Adolescents with chronic physical condition or illnesses
  • Anxiety, ADHD, learning disorder, anxiety, and other mental health issues
  • Teens with substance abuse or mental problems that are not treated properly
  • Young people whose family has a history of mental illness or depression
  • Having difficulty in acknowledging their sexual orientation (whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual)
  • Lack of emotional and social support
  • Living in an unsafe, impoverished, or violent household/environment
  • Bullied by peers
  • Trouble in adjusting socially
  • Academic problems
  • Too much exposure on social media
  • Smartphone or game addiction to escape problems

 

How Would You Know if Your Teenage Child Is Experiencing Depression?

During the adolescence period, it is normal for teens to experience intermittent changes of moods and emotions. These happen because of hormonal changes, causing them to be sad or moody. The emotional episodes can last up to several days, affecting their normal sleep and eating routine, concentration, and productivity level.
While moodiness or sadness can be part of the early manifestation of teenage depression, knowing how to tell the difference is vital. Depression is far beyond the usual swings of emotions, blues, or acting out. It is a strong feeling of despair, melancholy, hopelessness, anger, or discouragement that can destroy the essence of the youngster’s personality. Rebelliousness and unhealthy attitudes can be indications of this disorder. Some ‘act out’ in their attempt to manage or cope with the pain or emptiness that they are experiencing.
As a parent, differentiating the normal growing pains from symptoms of depression can be difficult. During this journey of awareness and seeking enlightenment, your unconditional love, support, and guidance can help your teenage child get back their lives on track.
You need to start observing and taking notes of the following:

  • How long the behavior or emotion lasts? If your child’s sadness or overly-tired behavior lasts for over two weeks, it can be depression.
  • How strong are the emotions? It is crucial to observe if the overwhelming emotions come and go or present all the time for as long you or your child remember.
  • How big is the impact? You need to gauge the effects of the behavior or emotion on his/her physical health and wellbeing, relationships, school works, and daily activities.

Taking these factors into consideration will help you intervene and help your teenage child fight depression and prevent long-term consequences. Early intervention and treatment of the symptoms of teenage depression are important to help his/her handle challenges and problems.

 

What Are the Warning Signs and Symptoms of Teenage Depression?

Knowing how to spot the early signs of depression is important. Here are some of the most common physical, emotional, behavioral, and mental symptoms to watch out for:

Physical symptoms

  • low energy
  • lethargy
  • unmotivated
  • sluggishness or less active in physical activities
  • sudden change in weight and eating appetite
  • sleeping troubles which include oversleeping, insomnia, or staying in bed longer
  • unexplained or vague headaches or stomach aches
  • not caring about his/her physical appearance

Behavioral and emotional symptoms

  • disinterest in activities that he/she enjoyed doing in the past (hobbies, sports, parties)
  • irritability, moodiness, sadness, or tearful episodes while saying she/he feels numb or empty
  • persistent thinking of negative things, including suicidal thoughts, death, or hurting oneself, so watch out when your child start saying ‘I can’t do it anymore’ or ‘I want to die’
  • sudden decision to stop going to social events or seeing friends
  • angry outbursts that are uncalled for
  • low self-esteem
  • spending more time alone
  • running away from home
  • panic and anxiety
  • persistent restlessness that leads to acting out or fidgeting
  • self-mutilation
  • feeling guilty and worthless
  • sensitivity to criticism
  • nothing gives him/her true pleasure or fun
  • everything and anything can make him/her cry all of a sudden
  • exhibiting criminal behaviors like shoplifting or DUI
  • apathy
  • irresponsible behaviors
  • compulsive overeating or loss of interest in eating
  • promiscuous sexual engagement

Thinking (mental) symptoms

  • trouble in concentrating, focusing, or organizing
  • forgetfulness and trouble in remembering details or information
  • difficulty in making sound decisions
  • problems in school (not paying attention during classes, low grades, getting into trouble)
  • pessimistic views about life and the world

 

Why Is it Important to Recognize the Early Symptoms of Teenage Depression?

Often, teens do not realize that they are depressed. What they know is that self-criticism is a normal reaction when they see themselves as a loser, a quitter, a failure, or a bad student.
Their misbehavior can be seen as just having a bad attitude or a bad day. Sometimes, people around the teen think that she/he is not putting enough effort or not trying hard to succeed. Because of this impression, your child tends to keep his/her distance and stop communicating. The thought of ‘Why should I bother?’ leads to skipping classes or running away.
Underlying problems can intensify the teen’s inner pain or feeling of not being worthy. Those who are suffering from eating disorders, harming themselves, or going through extreme mood changes are attempting to cope with unresolved emotional problems that trigger their depression. The only way to treat the other issues is to treat the symptoms of teen depression.

 

How to Help Your Teenage Child Overcome Depression?

Teen depression does not go away on its own but requires the professional intervention of a health professional. It is vital to show your child that you are with him/her every step away. It is also best to seek guidance to help you deal with the problem effectively. Knowing what to do is essential to the resolution of teenage depression.
You may consider visiting the following people/institutions to enlighten you about mental health issues.

  • Your family doctor or GP
  • School counselor
  • Psychologist or psychiatrist
  • Local mental health services
  • Local community health centers

Armed with knowledge and awareness of teen depression, it is crucial to act immediately. Teen depression can be very damaging, so don’t wait until the symptoms are worse. Addressing the problem is the key to helping your child manage depression.
Your teenage child will not seek help by their own volition but needs your help to get treatment. However, it is not easy to talk about your concerns. Expect at some point that she/he will deny that something is wrong and refuse to get treatment. During this crucial moment, it is necessary to be firm about your decision and show some tough love.

  • Encourage your teen to talk about his/her feelings and thoughts or share what he/she is going through.
  • Avoid asking a lot of questions because some teens do not like being patronized or cornered.
  • Listen with empathy, resisting the urge to lecture, pass judgment, or criticize.
  • Make him/her feel that you are there to listen and support unconditionally.
  • When your child shuts you up or avoids discussion, do not give up easily. You need to understand that sharing emotions can be very tough and painful. It is not easy to express what he/he is feeling, so respect his/her comfort level but gently encourage the child to open up when he/she is ready.·
  • Acknowledge the validity of your child’s feelings, fears, and thoughts. Avoid downplaying the emotions, no matter how irrational or silly they are. Let your teenage child knows that you are taking his/her emotions seriously and giving the assurance and support he/she needs to overcome the condition.

 

How Will You Know if it Is Time to Seek Professional Help?

If you suspect that your child is suffering from teen depression, seeking the help of a therapist or health professional is the next step. It is also a must-do when the depressive behavior is getting worse.
Finding the right people and the right treatment is vital to the alleviation of symptoms of teenage depression. For proper diagnosis of the problem, a psychologist or psychiatrist will perform the evaluation, taking into account the family history, relationships with peers, and school performance. The evaluation may involve asking a series of questions about their moods, thoughts, actions, and behaviors.

Psychological and behavioral evaluation

To qualify for major depressive disorder (MDD), there should be at least two major displays of depressive episodes within two weeks. The episodes should include 5 of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Depressed mood most of the day
  • Psychomotor retardation or visible agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sleepiness or insomnia
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Diminished interest in a lot of activities
  • Reduced ability to concentrate or think
  • Recurring thoughts of suicide or death
  • Feelings of excessive guilt and worthlessness

Physical evaluation

A thorough medical checkup is also necessary to rule out underlying medical conditions or diseases that contribute to teen depression. Conditions like hypothyroidism can cause tiredness, low energy level, or depressed mood.

 

How to Treat Teen Depression?

After determining the severity of teen depression, the health expert will recommend treatment to help your child. It may involve psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of the two. For severe depression, it may require confinement in a psychiatric unit to manage the symptoms.

  • Talk therapy. Talk therapy is a type of intervention to overcome depression. It is conducted by a licensed therapist or counselor to help your teenage child change his/her thinking patterns, boost self-esteem and self-acceptance, build confidence to handle stressors and life’s struggles, and adopt more positive emotions. This is best for managing mild to moderate cases of teen depression.
  • Psychotherapy. It is a more advanced intervention to treat depression in youths. It may include the ‘three T’s for depression’- interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
  • Medications. Administering antidepressants to alleviate the symptoms can be helpful, but monitoring is important. Several studies link these types of medication to suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

 

How to Support Your Teenage Child Through Treatment?

Love and support are two factors that make a whole world of difference for teenagers during the low points of their lives. As a parent, it is essential to be your child’s rock and strength during the depression treatment. As much as possible, involve him/her in exploring the treatment options. Get your teen’s input about his/her preferred option and discuss the pros and cons before making a decision.
Be understanding and patient, remembering that your teenage child is not acting out on purpose but seeking help to overcome the negative emotions and thoughts helps you put everything in proper perspective.
Stay involved during the treatment by making sure that all instructions are followed, proper dosage of prescribed medication is given on schedule, and all therapy sessions are attended. Keep track of the changes in your child’s physical, emotional, social, and behavioral engagement.
Celebrate small victories and always be prepared for possible setbacks. The road to recovery can be difficult and bumpy, but going through the rough road is the only key to help your child overcome teenage depression with flying colors.

The Immediate Aftermath of Infidelity Discovery

Aftermath of Infidelity and affairs

When you get cheated on by the one that you love, you’ll see the world in an entirely different light. When you are in love, everything may seem nice and dandy, but when you’ve been betrayed, your surroundings suddenly turn gloomy. You start to question if what you had was truly real or if you’re the only one who thought of it that way. You also begin to ask yourself if you’re enough, worthy, or valuable. And to the people around you, you may seem perfectly fine, but on the inside, you’re shattered into a million pieces.

The truth is, it’s not easy to be cheated on. Some people who vowed to stay single for life were once madly in love with someone who betrayed them. Their heartbreak may have been so brutal that they refused to go down the same path again. However, no matter how much people know about the devastating effects of infidelity and betrayal, it never stopped them from breaking their promises to their lovers.

 

What Pushes People to Cheat?

According to psychologists and relationship experts, there are various reasons why people cheat. In most cases, they were in love and emotionally attached to their respective partners, but that wasn’t enough for them to step on the break in the face of temptation. Sadly, after all, that has been said and done, their partners often end up being the most hurt. Even if they’re the ones who committed a mistake, the party cheated on suffers.

Some people cheat because they are put in a situation that made cheating seem okay. For example, a man fought with his girlfriend. Since they couldn’t settle the matter by talking it out, he went on a drinking spree with his buddies and partied to his heart’s content. When he was already so drunk, he seemingly ‘forgot’ that another woman was flirting with him, and he, in return, gave in to the temptation. The morning after, he realized the gravity of what he did as he started feeling guilty about what happened. Though the situation made it convenient for him to cheat, he still had a choice to say no.

Other people also cheat because of a lack of intimacy and passion in the relationship. A woman who is in a romantic relationship with a man for seven years finally tied the knot. After the marriage, the husband worked doubly hard to support his family. Unfortunately, because he now spends more time in the office, he seemed to have wholly alienated his wife. When she asks for a cuddle, he turns her down because, as he would put, his job completely wore him out.

As days passed by, the woman grew more distant until it didn’t matter to her if he showed care or not. One day, she met a young, passionate guy who made her feel wanted again. They had an affair, and she justifies her acts by saying that her husband wasn’t emotionally available for her.

Aside from these two motivations to cheat, others betray their partners because they hate being rejected or looked down upon, or they’re only bound by an obligation to stay together than by love. Regardless of the reason, it all boils down to this fact — they are dissatisfied with the relationship.

It may be a hard pill to swallow, but that’s the truth. If they’re happy and content with what they have, why would they go somewhere else to fill the void? If they’re satisfied with their partner and the state of their relationship, there won’t be a void that needs filling in the first place.

 

Is Saying Sorry Enough?

Even those who cheat on their partners know that an apology, no matter how sincere, won’t be enough for everyone to forget and move on. Besides, you only say sorry when you didn’t mean to hurt the person. You only ask for an apology if you didn’t know the suffering people would go through if they knew the truth. If you cheat, it’s not like you’re in a daze or went crazy for a moment. You’re fully conscious of the repercussions, yet you simply threw caution in the wind as you go on full ‘you only live once (YOLO)’ mode.

Cheating will always be a choice, never a mistake, so saying sorry is meaningless. You’re not sad because you hurt the person; you seem sorry because you got caught.

Unless it’s rape or coercion, no one can force you to hop on the bed and have intercourse with someone other than your husband or wife. No one can also force you to send sweet nothings to someone other than your spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend. And most certainly, no one can force you to reply to text messages, chats, and invitations to hang out with someone other than the person you’re in an exclusive relationship with.

The point is, cheaters knowingly do these things, hoping that they won’t get caught to continue with the affair.

Though sorry isn’t enough, most people being cheated on are soft when it comes to their cheating partners. They may have been hurt and angry, but they’re still more than willing to work things out. And most of the time, they are even angrier towards the man or woman their partners had an affair with. In their disbelief that their partners are capable of cheating on them, they try to justify their actions by saying that if only the third party didn’t lure them, their partner wouldn’t have cheated.

When you recently found out that your husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend cheated on you, remember that it’s not your fault. You may be predisposed to think otherwise, but you did nothing wrong. It was your partner and his or her lover’s choice to betray you. And it’s not because you’re unattractive, unworthy, or lacking. They made a conscious effort to act on their urges and emotions because of their utter disregard of the consequences. They are cheaters by choice, period. You’re not the cause, so stop beating yourself out.

 

It’s Okay to Mourn

When you lose a lover due to infidelity, it’s normal to feel devastated about it. It’s also perfectly normal for you to think that everything seems surreal. And your family and friends may tell you that it’s okay, but there’s no comfort in their words. Sadly, you’ll have to go through these during or after a heartbreak. Some even experience an immense state of hopelessness and depression that they have a hard time functioning.

If you ever find yourself in these situations, know that you’re not alone. All your feelings are also valid. Don’t let anyone tell you what you ought to do or how you should cope up because it’s you who’s dealing with the problem. It’s also you who has been betrayed. So, if you’re mourning for a week, month, or year — so be it.

Take time to feel and process your emotions and anger so that you can move on without so much excess baggage. It will also help if you seek the help of therapists and counselors to help you address your thoughts and emotions.

 

Should you tell your kids about the affair?

The repercussions brought by infidelity multiply when kids are involved. When one of the parents cheated, they’re hurting not only their partner but also their kids. However, when the infidelity is exposed, the cheating parent feels ashamed to tell their kids about what they did.

Most parents, even the ones cheated on, often choose not to tell their children because they want to spare them from feelings of betrayal and hate. On the other hand, a few want to divulge their cheating partner’s wrongdoings to make them pay. While neither of these reactions is healthy, parents must know that children can sense when something at home is amiss.

Kids are naturally self-centric; that’s why they often assume that what happens is always their fault. Your children will most likely pick up the emotional pain and stress you’re feeling, and they’ll most likely know when something is not right. The sad news is unless you clarify with them that there’s something wrong, but it’s not their fault, they’ll continue feeling this way. These thoughts might even freely run in their minds:

  • Mom and dad are always angry and fighting. If only I were a good boy/girl, this wouldn’t happen.
  • Mom and dad no longer pay attention to me. I must have done something that made them mad.
  • If I would only be nicer and if I won’t complain about my chores, they might like me back.
  • If I stop making noise, mom and dad would be less mad at me.

Kids think this way and assume that they’re the reason for the family strife simply because they’re not doing anything. If parents fail to address this, the child will feel unworthy, wrong, and defective. As a result, their self-esteem and self-confidence will also plummet, thereby developing a negative and skewed self-image. It’s also possible that they’ll develop a sense of shame for who they are.

So, What Should You Say And Not Say to Your Kids About An Affair?

First and foremost, they don’t need to know the details of your sex life, most especially if it has gone awry. It’s safer to say that one of their parents crossed the relationship boundary that caused the other to be upset. They only need to confirm that indeed, there’s something wrong, but it isn’t their fault.

Remember that you can’t take back what you already said. So, make sure that you talk to your kids when you’re emotionally stable and calm. You might just say something that you’ll regret for the rest of your life.

If you have more than one child, speak to them together. And no matter how angry or hurt you are, put them first — at least when you explain to them the situation. Also, remember that pick the right words and make sure it’s age-appropriate.

 

How Can Counseling Help You Deal With The Aftermath Of An Affair?

If there’s one thing you should seriously consider doing after finding out that your partner cheated on you, that would be finding someone you trust that will listen. A trusted friend or a close family member could be that person. However, if you don’t have someone within your circle, it’s best to seek the help of a therapist or counselor that specializes in infidelity. The least you need to hear after infidelity is that you should have seen the red flags and that you should not have entered into a relationship with that cheating partner. It won’t also do good to hear people ‘I told you so.’

Aside from that, it won’t help if you get blamed for your choice of being with that person who betrayed your trust. It’s not the issue now, so that should be put on the shelf. There’s no point rubbing the hurt in and adding insult to injury. You need someone who won’t judge you and won’t make you even more messed up.

Counselors Will Listen Without Judgment

When you go through a betrayal, it’s normal to have so many things on your mind. You will question everything your partner did as you blame yourself for not noticing the signs of their infidelity. You may also think that they cheated because you’re lacking. If you dwell in these thoughts, they will surely consume you. You will only fall into a vicious cycle of self-pity and regret. However, if you let these thoughts out of your system, you can share your point of view with your listener, thereby easing the pain and torture you’re feeling.

And if your listener is a professional who is an expert in handling this kind of concern, they can process your thoughts and actions. Your counselor can help you reframe your mindset from being the pitiful victim to someone who can decide and take charge of the relationship. As Ashitaka from Princess Mononoke said, you ought to see with eyes unclouded by hate. With the help of a professional, you can achieve this emotional state.

Your counselor can explain to you the possible reasons why your lover cheated and also make you realize that it’s not your fault that they chose to be polygamous. Your counselor can also allow you to talk and talk until you dump all your negative and depressive thoughts, helping you find a new, fresh, and better perspective about yourself, your life, and your relationship.

Therapists Can Help You Process Your Own Issues

No matter how successful, attractive, or intelligent they are, some people always end up with a lover who doesn’t recognize their worth and continues to abuse them. They may have broken up with a past lover because that person cheated on them, and they thought that their new one wouldn’t do the same thing. However, later on, they found out that they are just entangled in the same toxic relationship cycle all over again.

By yourself, you may not be able to realize that you’re in the same kind of abusive relationship every single time because of your unresolved childhood issues and trauma. Or it could be because you grew up thinking that you don’t deserve to be loved perfectly and unconditionally. These thoughts may appear harmless, but they can mess your belief system and views. And you know what happens when these toxic beliefs stay in your system? You believe them as accurate. And you manifest them through your actions.

When you were young, your father or mother may have left you, and since then, you thought you’re not worthy of being loved. Because you were abandoned as a child, you believe that your lover will do the same thing. Even if you work hard to make yourself attractive, successful, and worthy to be loved, your belief system will sabotage you and lead you to dysfunctional and toxic relationships.

Your therapist can dig deeper into your subconscious to discover these unresolved issues. They can also lay these issues on the table to see how it hurts your present. After this, your therapist can also guide you on finally letting go of these thoughts and learning new, positive, and empowering beliefs. They will guide and coach you so the next time you enter a relationship, or when you start mending the old one, you won’t be carrying these damaging pieces of baggage anymore.

 

Takeaways

Cheating doesn’t only mean having sex with a person other than your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, or husband. If you’re attempting to do something you’re compelled to hide from your lover, then that could be considered cheating. When someone sends you an over-friendly message, and you’re obligated to keep it from your other half, there’s a considerable possibility that could lead to something more dangerous.

Quit playing with fire. Before entering into a serious relationship, both parties must realize their obligations towards each other. They must also be cautious of the feelings of their beloved that they should evade cheating on them. If you can’t be monogamous, at least keep yourself from entering into a committed relationship. If you’re not happy with your current relationship, better break up than cheat. You see, you won’t only be hurting your partner now, but you will also leave them with issues that they could be carrying for the rest of their lives.

Meanwhile, if you’re going through deep emotional turmoil due to a recently-discovered cheating incident, know that you’re not alone. You always have your family, friends, and other loved ones backing you up. And if they’re not enough, you can always seek the help of professional counselors and therapists. There’s no shame in admitting that you’re breaking down and needing emotional support. Speak to a counselor now and lighten your burden.

6 Tips For Couples Who Are Looking to Improve Their Connection

By Jeni Woodfin, LMFT

As a couples therapist, one of the biggest pieces of advice I would give any couple, happy or unhappy, is to tend to your relationship.  Relationships are very similar to living beings, they need care and comfort to thrive.  When each partner dedicates their time and effort into making small gestures, it can increase the relationship satisfaction tenfold.  

 

Many couples come to couples counseling looking for action items.  Things they can DO to change the atmosphere of their relationship.  Here are 6 tips for couples who are looking to improve their connection.

 

  • Express appreciation.  Sharing your observation with your partner that you see their positive actions is equivalent to giving your partner a little shot of ‘go-juice’ when it comes to continuing the positive behavior.  And people who feel appreciated tend to share an appreciation for others.  It’s a win-win.  

  • Make the most of the comings and goings.  Some couples overlook the little moments of saying hello and waving goodbye and, in reality, these are some of the most important little moments in a relationship.  Making sure to give a kiss or touch hello and goodbye, making eye contact with each other, sharing a smile, these all communicate ‘you are important to me and I am valuing our time together’.  

  • If you do find yourselves in conflict, sometimes it’s better to call for a time-out than continue to escalate.  When recognizing the need for a break is there, created a structured time out instead of just leaving.  To do this, announce the need for a break, “I’m getting escalated, I need a time out” then let your partner know you’re coming back.  State the importance of the conversation and the desire to come together again.  “Our conversation is important to me, but I’m getting too upset to think.  I’m going to take a break for one hour then I’d like for us to meet back here and continue talking”. 

  • Schedule sex.  This tip does not sound sexy, but it’s vital.  Some couples have made the decision to wait until they are both, simultaneously in the mood for sex and they end up having less sex than they’d like.  With scheduling sex, you don’t have to show up ready to go, but rather show up with an openness and willingness to try.  It’s very similar to that feeling before you go to the gym, you may not want to go beforehand but as soon as you finish your workout you feel great, energized, proud.  This is the same thing with sex.  

  • Communicate throughout the day.  By sending your partner a quick text, meme, or call, you’re communicating ‘you’re on my mind’.  This is a quick easy way to give your partner a quick connection point during a busy day.  

  • Try something new together.  Engaging in a new-to-both-of-you activity allows you to experience yourself and your partner under stress.  This may not sound like a fun idea, but you’re creating a stressful environment so you can bond in the stress.  People under stress tend to come together, so explore some lighthearted-stressful activities together.  

Without intentionally putting energy into your relationship, it can become stagnate, unfulfilling, and unsatisfying.  When you each decide to be intentional about your relationship, by creating it together instead of letting it happen by itself, you decide what type of relationship works best for each of you.  It shows you respect yourself, your partner, and the experience you’re sharing together.  

If you’re ready to work towards a more secure connection, give us a call today. We’re happy to guide you towards a healthier relationship.

Why do people cheat?

By: Jeni Woodfin, LMFT

Recently, I was asked the question, directly, “Why do people cheat”?

Such a good question and so many answers. The question I hear from every single betrayed spouse I work with is the “Why?”

There are reasons, fairly well-understood reasons, and none of them bring comfort to the betrayed partner. But they are a good starting point when looking at what needs to be tweaked in the relationship and the betraying partner.

Some of the reasons I see are:

  1. The affair-involved spouse is looking for an exit to the relationship. Some people really struggle with ending relationships or feel they need someone to accompany them in the break-up process. We all have walls up to protect what we hold dear and the walls around that protect the relationship are down leaving room for an affair to bring comfort during a rough breakup.

  2. They want change in the relationship and have felt minimized, unheard, or have been too anxious/uncomfortable to ask for change so they, as I often refer to it, create an explosion that blows the relationship to bits (I don’t use the word bits). This is an unhealthy, messy way to begin the conversation about what they want different in the relationship.

  3. The connection of the relationship has been damaged or severed and the affair-involved partner is angry or resentful. Rather than continuing to try to repair the connection, they look for a separate, idealized connection.

  4. They are unhappy with who they are in the relationship and they find themselves having an affair and exploring new aspects to themselves. In the affair, they get to be sexually daring, bold, fun, young … And in the marriage, they get to be steady, reliable, predictable.

  5. There are also the affairs that stem from narcissistic traits, the “I want this so I deserve this” tendency. A bit of this trait is required for each type, but if there are repeated infractions over a long period of time, these traits typically play a larger part.

There are so many combinations of reasons, it’s very difficult to get to the bottom of the Why. It’s also an important piece to figure out if the couple would like to repair the relationship.

Recovery is an incredibly difficult process, but it is one that can be done successfully if both parties are willing to be open, vulnerable, and take risks.

If you’re asking the question, “Why did you cheat?”, it’s time to reach out. Figuring the answers out is a delicate process. Reach out now and let’s begin.

What Happens if You Stay After They’ve Cheated?

There are many different paths the betrayed partner can take.  In my experience, I see a few different outcomes for the betrayed spouse.  There are always outliers, but these are some common patterns.

First, occasionally is the spouse who stays in the marriage and also stays angry, resentful, and continues to punish their partner. This happens less often and the true outcome is two miserable people staying in a marriage out of fear or obligation.  These relationships can survive, but the betrayed partner may become highly controlling, short with their partner, and very unhappy.  

Or the betrayed partner will stay in the relationship but keep their emotional distance from their partner as a way to protect themselves. This is a relationship that looks great on the outside and even pretty good if you look a little closer. But there’s distance and a lack of true intimacy. With this path of recovery, I see two happy-ish people who are together in being lonely on the inside.  In these relationships, there is the potential for the betrayed partner to shift back into a connected relationship, but the willingness to open themselves back up the risk of trusting has to be present.  

These two outcomes happen less common and take intensive treatment to change.  The betrayed partner must have some willingness to accept this unwanted addition to their life story.  They don’t have to like it, but there must be an acknowledgment and acceptance that it is.  

And here’s the best, most common outcome I see. A couple will decide to be vulnerable, take risks, and stay in the discomfort that comes with recovery together. They realize the old marriage is gone and a new marriage has to be intentionally created. With these couples, I see the betrayed partner gradually become more themselves, more confident in their ability to survive very-bad-things, and proud of the work they’ve done to create a new relationship.

This partner uses the trauma of infidelity and changes the energy of the destruction to the energy of growth and creation. 

Oftentimes, the betrayed will exhibit many symptoms of PTSD after the discovery of betrayal.  They may experience:

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • No appetite

  • Nightmares

  • Clumsiness

  • Forgetfulness

  • Emotions that swing from one extreme to another

In the early stages of recovery, these are all normal.  

However, what I sometimes see in the end stages of recovery for the betrayed partner is:

  • A person more authentically engaged in their relationship

  • A person who knows they will survive if this happens again

  • A person who knows they have the strength to recover

  • A person who knows they have the drive to take charge of their life

These betrayed partners feel joy, contentment, and are glad they made the decision to attempt the repair.  

With therapy, talking with others, reading books, listening to podcasts, they learn to see the infidelity as something that belongs to their partner.  The cheat was something that did not have anything to do with them.  They see the infidelity not as demeaning or humiliating to them but saying speaking solely about their partner.  

Infidelity can demolish relationships and also be something that can be more than just survived.  For both partners.  

I don’t like to use ‘always’ or ‘never’ statements, but I will here.  No couple ever gets through recovery with complete grace.  There is always at least one moment that people look back on and think “yeah, I wish I had done that differently”.  Give yourself the gift of accepting your imperfections and accept, this process does not exist without a few moments you may wish you could take back.  

If you have this type of moment in your recovery, I find they become neutralized with apologies.  Owning your behavior and words, showing you are remorseful, and explaining how you’ll handle things going forward works to rebuild.  

If you’re on the fence about whether to stay or go, let’s talk. You don’t have to figure this out alone.

Are You Suffering From Pregnancy Depression?

By Ellie Messinger-Adams

When we hear the word betrayal we typically think of relationships and the betrayal of someone we love. Betrayal, however, is not that limited. For many women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, betrayal is personal. When our experiences do not line up with the ones we dreamed up and our body does not do things the way “everyone else’s” does we feel betrayed by ourselves, our bodies, our expectations, and our spirit. When this happens it is important to remember that you are not alone, many women before you, now and in the future have and will experience this pain. The question is how do we manage it?

Pregnancy is not always butterflies and lollipops. It is real, it is hard and it brings up so many emotions that we never thought we had. 

  1. Name it: This might sound crazy, but one of the first things that can help us when we feel pain is to name what it is. When we can recognize that we feel betrayed by ourselves we can begin to discover what we need to move forward. It helps us begin to get unstuck. Words that might show up for you: betrayal, grief, loss, disappointment, anger, sadness and so much more.

  2. Grieve the losses: The betrayal of our bodies leaves us with feelings of loss. Before we are able to move on we have to recognize what we have lost and take time to grief those things. It is ok to cry, scream, and … this is normal

  3. Reconnect with your body: After we take time to grieve we MUST reconnect. Honor your body and what it did, does, and can do. Use mindfulness, yoga, exercise, meditation, or other practice to take time with yourself and for yourself.

  4. Talk about it: When we feel betrayed by our bodies it is natural to feel shame and want to run and hide from all the people we love hoping that they will not see “the real you”. When we talk about it and get our story out there, however, we get to normalize it, we get to be vulnerable and grow from our pain. What might surprise you is that when you talk with your partner, family, friends, or even colleagues you are likely to find another woman you know well who went or is going through these same things. 

  5. Find a community of other women: Mom’s need moms.  Finding a group of supportive, nurturing women who just know what motherhood is like can make all the difference.  Having someone who understands what it’s like to be exhausted, how frustrating it is to deal with toddler tantrums, and laugh with you when faced with yet another diaper mishap can be a life-saver for many mothers.  

If this is you and you are struggling to work through your personal betrayal, it is also important to know when to get help. You do not have to do it alone. Counseling can be a great way to help you begin to move forward again. We are here to help. 

Sources:

https://psychcentral.com/blog/when-you-feel-like-your-body-has-betrayed-you/

“Am I An Addict?” 5 Signs You Should Seek Help

When we speak about addiction, we tend to think of drugs and alcohol. But there are many seemingly benign activities that can become an addiction for some people. For some, watching porn is an activity done once in a while for fun, while others watch for hours every day alone. Some people shop only when they need something, others spend more than they can afford chasing a certain feeling that shopping gives them.

Whether it’s chemical substances, social media, sex, video games, food, or anything that forms dependence, all can become a negative influence in our lives if a line is crossed. If you are concerned you may have developed an addiction, here are 5 signs you should seek help.

1. The Activity Has Become a Priority

Family, work, and social activities with friends – these are the things we give priority to in our lives. But when other activities or pursuits become such a priority that we push aside our time at work or with family and friends, it’s a sign there could be a problem. A dangerous priority can be recognized not only by how much you’re doing something, but also by how much you’re not doing other things.

2. Reward Response
We all take pleasure in doing certain activities. Gardening, dancing, or watching our favorite movie can make us happy, and that’s natural. There is a problem when you start to feel good or happy only when involved in your addiction. You may even begin to notice you feel particularly bad when not doing the activity.

3. Compulsion
Do you start out thinking, I’ll just eat a little, or smoke a little, or do whatever for just a little bit, but then find yourself doing the activity for longer periods of time than you planned? Do you become angry when something or someone tears you away from the activity? Do you feel you have to hide the amount of time or money you spend on this activity? If so, this is a sign you may have a problem.

4. Anxiety
One of the clearest indicators of an addiction is the anxiety felt when not doing the activity, or when even thinking about having to give up the activity. The higher the level of panic you feel about giving up this activity, even for just one day, the stronger the addiction is.

5. Isolation
Isolation is perhaps the biggest behavioral change associated with addiction. To an addict, it becomes necessary to withdraw and hide their behavior from loved ones. Akin to isolation is a loss of interest in healthy hobbies or activities you once enjoyed. If you used to enjoy hiking with friends on the weekend, but now all you do is sit around the house getting into bidding wars online, it’s time you speak to somebody.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.