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Is a Lack of Sleep Causing Your Depression?

uptown dallas counseling and woman sleeping

When you are not getting adequate sleep, you suffer more than just the physical effects of being tired.  You can become irritable, impatient, anxious, and depressed.  Lack of sleep undermines creativity and efficiency. Fatigue can hinder your cognitive skills of memorization, concentration, and motivation. Getting an adequate level of sleep means you are not only sleeping the number of hours your body needs, but also your sleep is high quality sleep.

Negative Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep

  1. Lower stress threshold. Normal, everyday tasks can feel overwhelming.
  2. Impaired memory. Your brain’s ability to form memories declines.
  3. Trouble concentrating. You lose your ability to focus on a task, but also often overestimate your performace.
  4. Decreased optimism and sociability. Sleep-deprived individuals consistently score higher on Hopelessness Scales and report the desire to isolate from others.
  5. Impaired creativity and innovation. New research suggests that sleep deprivation may have a particular effect on these two areas of cognition.
  6. Increased resting blood pressure. Even a half night of sleep loss can cause increases in blood pressure.
  7. Increased food consumption and appetite. Participants in scientific research showed an increase in their desire to consume food.
  8. Increased risk of heart attack. Sleep study participants had increased levels of inflammation associated with cardiac disease.
  9. Weakened immune system.  Sleep depravation causes white blood cell counts to rise.
  10. Decreased ability to metabolize sugar.

Ten Behaviors to help you get more, higher quality sleep:

  1. Establish a nightly sleep routine that includes a set bedtime.  One of the easiest behavior changes you can make to improve sleep is going to bed and waking up the same time every day.  (Including weekends.)
  2. Create a bedtime ritual that will send signals to your body and your brain that you are getting ready for sleep.  This ritual may include changing into pajamas, washing your face, brushing your teeth, etc.
  3. Do not take naps.  Even if you are tired from a previous night of little sleep, challenge yourself to stay awake until bedtime.
  4. Do not drink caffeine or alcohol, or smoke cigarettes close to bedtime.
  5. Exercising in the morning or early afternoon can help sleep patterns.  Vigorous exercise close to bedtime may delay your ability to fall asleep.
  6. Do not go to bed with a full stomach or an empty stomach.
  7. To associate your bed with sleep, do not engage in activities other than sex and sleep in your bed.
  8. Create a quiet, dark, and comfortable sleeping space.
  9. If you are unable to fall asleep for 30-45 minutes after going to bed, get up.  Do something relaxing like drinking herbal tea or reading something calming.  After 30 minutes, try to go to bed again.
  10. Reduce any stressful thoughts by making a TO DO list on paper.  Once you write these thoughts down, your level of stress will almost always decrease significantly.  Practice relaxation techniques before bed.  Deep breathing, meditation, and some forms of yoga can be helpful.

Once you commit to changing behaviors to improve your quantity and quality of sleep, keep track of your moods.  A simple piece of paper where you write your mood level (0 to 10, with 0 extreme sadness and 10 extreme happiness) can provide valuable information and motivation.  If you still need more motivation, keep a copy of the list of the negative effects of not sleeping well with you.

We all have different limitations on our time and resources that may prevent us from fully committing to getting more and better sleep.  If you can’t commit to making all the changes listed above, try a few.  Even small improvements in sleep can have a significant impact on our levels of mental and physical functioning.

Holly Scott, MBA, MS, LPC sees clients at Uptown Dallas Counseling. Holly is trained in the specialty of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and holds the position of Diplomate in the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Holly works with clients to help them overcome challenges in their daily lives that may be preventing them from achieving happiness. She helps clients with stress management, depression, parenting, marriage counseling, and other mental health concerns. If you are looking for a counselor or therapist, explore this website to see if Holly may be able to help you. 

To make an appointment for therapy or counseling with Holly at her Uptown Dallas Counseling, you have the option of using the Online Patient Portal to register and schedule. 

Who gets Depression? What does it look like? How will I know?

what is depression

What is depression?

I love this video created by the Canadian Family Law Firm of Neinstien & Associates.  They published this video to show their support for the annual Let’s Talk Day.  This event helps bring the topic of mental health and depression to the forefront in an attempt to break the stigma of suffering from a mental disorder.

Quotes from the participants in the video include:

I am a mother, a father, a student.  I am loving, smart, generous.  I am alone, in a room full of people.  I want to feel anything, I can’t stand to feel anything, I want the pain to go away.  Depression is not a mood, depression is not a bad day, depression is a disease.  It feels like I am underwater, I need help.  Please don’t judge me, don’t give up on me.

Take a few minutes to watch and see what you think.  Please spread the word.

Holly Scott, MBA, MS, LPC sees clients at Uptown Dallas Counseling. Holly is trained in the specialty of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and holds the position of Diplomate in the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Holly works with clients to help them overcome challenges in their daily lives that may be preventing them from achieving happiness. She helps clients with stress management, depression, parenting, marriage counseling, and other mental health concerns. If you are looking for a counselor or therapist, explore this website to see if Holly may be able to help you. 

To make an appointment for therapy or counseling with Holly at her Uptown Dallas Counseling, you have the option of using the Online Patient Portal to register and schedule. 

Symptoms of Depression & How Talk Therapy can Help

symptoms of depressionWhile the number of suicides is at its lowest in December, the number of people who report symptoms associated with depression is at its highest.  During the holidays, many of my clients report new symptoms of depression, including:

  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Inability to make decisions
  • sadness or unhappiness
  • Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • not wanting to be around other people
If you begin to experience any of the above symptoms or think you may have depression, talk therapy can be helpful, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  If you are not familiar with CBT, you can read about the basic premise for treating depression, anger, and anxiety using CBT in this Post.

One of the most common issues my clients struggle with during the holidays is that of managing expectations about people, events, and feelings. Many people have beliefs about the holidays that are simply not true, such as:

It is the best time of the year.
Everyone will show their love for everyone else.
Family will all gather together and feel only joy.
Carefully chosen presents will be appreciated.
My partner is going to give me that gift I have always wanted.
I am going to love going to 12 cocktail parties.
I have to eat and drink all that is offered.
I am going to use this family time to “fix” all our problems.
I can get by with only 4 hours of sleep.
This tree and my decorations are so fabulous, everyone will know and appreciate how hard I worked.
It is OK to stay up until 3:00am on a work day, because I have to have 4 dozen decorated cookies.
My child will not be able to survive if she does not get DaisyDoItAll Doll.
Everyone else is going to parties every night, I am only invited to one.
I lied to my friend and told her I was busy the night of her party, now I feel guilty.
Why is everyone else have such a great time, and I am miserable?  What is wrong with me?

This list goes on and on.  What are your expectations for the holiday time?  Do you share any of the above beliefs?  Your therapist may be able to help you see the connection between these unreasonable expectations and your symptoms of depression.

symptoms of depressionSome things you can try to help prevent falling into the holiday depression cycle are:
Plan ahead, make a schedule.
Only say “Yes” when you want to say “Yes”. Be okay with saying “No”.
Get your regular number of sleep hours each night.
Let go of Perfection, you can buy cookies at the store, eight strands of lights on the tree are enough.

Prepare a neutral response to conflictual situations, especially with family members.
Don’t expect anyone to behave in a way significantly different from the way they behaved last year, the holidays are not a good time to do a family “intervention” or “rescue”.
Don’t expect a partner of friend to be able to read your mind and deliver the perfect gift.
Create activities that you truly enjoy, even if they are outside your usual holiday traditions.

Challenge yourself to set realistic goals for your holiday time.  Remember, there will be things that do not go as planned.  Try to enjoy the good times.

Benefits of Sleep: it Cleans your Brain.

A new study from National Institutes of Health on the benefits of sleep shows sleep may actually clean the brain. Scientists have recently discovered a process by which the brain actually flushes toxins out of spaces between cells.  We are not yet sure of the significance of this information, but it may help explain why sleep and mental health are so closely related.  A summary of the study here, explains some of the findings.

benefits of sleep

Holly Scott, MBA, MS, LPC sees clients at Uptown Dallas Counseling. Holly is trained in the specialty of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and holds the position of Diplomate in the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Holly works with clients to help them overcome challenges in their daily lives that may be preventing them from achieving happiness. She helps clients with stress management, depression, parenting, marriage counseling, and other mental health concerns. If you are looking for a counselor or therapist, explore this website to see if Holly may be able to help you. 

To make an appointment for therapy or counseling with Holly at her Uptown Dallas Counseling, you have the option of using the Online Patient Portal to register and schedule. 

Controlling Emotions: Is it possible?

This discussion about controlling emotions compares two different women’s reactions to the same event.

 

First Woman’s Reaction:  Take a Picture

controlling emotions

From Hannah Price’s collection, City of Brotherly Love

When photographer Hannah Price moved from Colorado to Philadelphia, she began to experience something new to her – catcalls from men on the street. After several catcalling episodes, she decided to take action.  She would either snap a photo of the man immediately; or she would talk with him about the incident, and then ask if she could make his portrait. Ms Price created a project called “City of Brotherly Love” from these photographs.

Ms Price states her project is not meant to be an aggressive rebuttal to the individuals in the photos. It is, she states, “just a way of trying to understand it. It was way for me to just deal with it on another level besides avoiding it. Sometimes it’s easier to … just respond….. you just start talking to people, you find out more about them than your initial [impression].”

To see the complete 17-photo collection, see the NPR blog post of Code Switch by Kat Chow.

Second Woman’s Reaction:  Send a Message

controlling emotions

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s original posters on Tompkins Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Brooklyn artist Tatiana Fazlalizadeh’s response to her experiences in Brooklyn is very different from Ms. Price’s response with the photography project. She created posters with direct negative messages to the catcallers and posted them around her neighborhood.  Ms Fazlalizadeh states she can’t walk down her street without getting catcalled or harassed. “It happens almost daily to me where I get frustrated or annoyed or upset by something that someone has said to me or done to me outside on the street.”

Ms Fazlalizadeh used her posters to try and rally the neighborhood around her efforts to stop the cat-calling.  She hopes that by calling attention to the negative effects of this behavior, the men will change.

controlling emotionscontrolling emotions

Why the Difference?

Why does one woman feel okay to take photos and even have a conversation about the experience, and another woman feel anger and frustration?  Our individual responses to catcalls are a result of our thoughts about the experience. If we think: “wow, someone thinks I’m cute.”, “I still have it”, or “this is going to be a good day”, our response may be:  happiness, a big smile, a skip in our step, better posture.

If we think:  “that reminds me of my abusive former boyfriend”, “will he try to come after me?”, “they must think I am promiscuous”, our response may be:  fear, increased heart rate, hunched posture, a frown, anger.

I am not expressing approval of the long-standing phenomenon of men yelling things to women in public places.  My writing about this behavior is focused on the difference in the two responses, not a right or a wrong response.  I believe this is a perfect example of the Cognitive Model theory in action.  The theory is:
Our THOUGHTS about a SITUATION create our REACTIONS, which are EMOTIONAL and PHYSICAL.   In Cognitive Therapy, we focus on our THOUGHTS.  A few of the questions we may ask in therapy about our THOUGHTS are:
What are they? Are they true? How much do we believe them? How do we change them?  
 
Through training and practice, you can learn to control or change your thoughts that create negative reactions.  This type of training has been shown through extensive scientific testing to be an affective way to treat depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and other mental health challenges.  My opinion on catcalling is that, for so many women, the experience generates extremely negative feelings; therefore, I do not like the behavior.  For further information and discussions on ending street harassment see Hollaback!.
Sources:
Stephen Nessen : Reporter, WNYC, Not Taking it Anymore: One Woman Talks Back to Street Harassers, Friday, April 19, 2013
Newshttp://www.wnyc.org/story/282239-not-taking-it-anymore-one-woman-talks-back-street-harassers/

Kat Chow, A Photographer Turns Her Lens On Men Who Catcall, October 17, 2013.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/10/17/235413025/a-photographer-turns-her-lens-on-men-who-cat-call?utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprfacebook&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook

 

In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Give a Mammogram

Early detection is the key to surviving breast cancer.  Many women cannot afford the $100 average cost of a mammogram.  In honor of Breast Cancer Month, the National Breast Cancer Foundation is asking for donations to help fund their efforts to provide services for women who cannot afford them.

depression and cancer

You can make a donation here:

Your gift will support the National Mammography Program where NBCF partners with medical facilities across the country to provide free mammograms and diagnostic breast care services to under-served women.

Treating depression in Cancer Patients

 

treating depression in cancer patientsCecelia Gittleson writes in Memorial Sloan-Kettering‘s Cancer Center newsletter about the importance of diagnosing and treating depression in cancer patients.  She discusses sources of support for patients, survivors, and their caregivers.

Ms. Gittelson quotes a physician who specializes in the psychological treatment of people with breast cancer and their families on the importance of psychosocial support, “We’ve learned that depressed people generally do less well in the oncology setting,” explains Memorial Sloan-Kettering psychiatrist Mary Jane Massie. “This is probably due in part to the fact that because they feel bad — psychologically, physically, or both —they decide it isn’t useful to take their medications. And there can be a domino effect: They stop filling their prescriptions and may even start to miss medical appointments. But there is a lot of help available.”

I encourage anyone who is struggling with a cancer diagnosis, no matter which stage of treatment, to reach out to a mental health professionals.  Ms. Gittelson’s article and her recommendations for sources of support are here.

Holly Scott, MBA, MS, LPC sees clients at Uptown Dallas Counseling. Holly is trained in the specialty of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and holds the position of Diplomate in the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Holly works with clients to help them overcome challenges in their daily lives that may be preventing them from achieving happiness. She helps clients with stress management, depression, parenting, marriage counseling, and other mental health concerns. If you are looking for a counselor or therapist, explore this website to see if Holly may be able to help you. 

To make an appointment for therapy or counseling with Holly at her Uptown Dallas Counseling, you have the option of using the Online Patient Portal to register and schedule. 

Postpartum Depression: Tragic Consequences

Did Miriam Carey have Postpartum depression?

postpartum depression

From CBS News: Emergency personal help an injured person after a shooting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. Police say the U.S. Capitol has been put on a security lockdown amid reports of possible shots fired outside the building. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) The small photo comes from what is believed to be the Facebook page of Miriam Carey, who according to multiple police sources, allegedly led authorities on a car chase near the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 3, 2013. / FACEBOOK / EVAN VUCCI/AP/FACEBOOK

We may never know whether Ms. Carey was suffering from postpartum depression when she drove from her home in Connecticut with her 1-year old daughter to Washington, DC., where she lost her life after being shot by police.  At approximately 2:00 in the afternoon on Thursday, October 3, Ms. Carey rammed her car into a temporary barrier in front of the White House, then lead officers on a chase down Pennsylvania Avenue.  Police cars surrounded Ms Carey’s car at Garfield Circle, just south of the Capitol.  Ms. Carey then rammed a Secret Service car (pictured below) in an attempt to escape.

postpartum depression

From USA Today

At this point, officers began to fire shots at Ms Carey’s car.  She then drove to Constitution Avenue before eventually stopping in the 100 block of Maryland Avenue NE, near the Hart Senate Office Building.  She fled from her car on foot and was shot and killed.  Her daughter, who had been in the backseat, was unharmed.
Ms. Carey’s mother, Idella Carey, stated her daughter had been suffering from postpartum depression and had been hospitalized once for the condition.  Other relatives stated Ms Carey believed her apartment was under surveillance and that she was being stalked by President Obama.  Amy Carey-Jones, a sister, spoke to Ms. Carey about a week ago and believed her sister was fine.
Postpartum depression can be difficult to diagnose and monitor.  It is possible Ms. Carey had a severe form of the disease, Postpartum Psychosis (PPP), a rare condition that affects only 1 or 2 women in 1000.  PPP can suddenly come out of nowhere and present any time up to one year after the birth of a baby.  Sufferers and their caregivers are usually totally unprepared with how to cope with the symptoms of this disease.
postpartum depression
Ms. Storrs recommends that family members and friends of a new mother immediately notify a healthcare professional or local emergency department if she suddenly starts showing any of the following signs:
• Acting very energetic or agitated
• Being unable to get out of bed
• Showing unusual or nonsensical behavior
• Acting fearful or paranoid
• Believing bizarre ideas, such as thinking that the baby is the devil

postpartum depression

printed with permission from deamstime

One of the most difficult aspects of PPP is that the new mother does not believe she is ill, and she will often be very resistant to treatment.   Additionally, the worldwide publicity surrounding some especially gruesome PPP outcomes (Andrea Yates drowning her 5 children in 1991) has added to the negative stigma associated with any postpartum mental illness.  Because there is so much misinformation, many new mothers with even slight symptoms can become scared and refuse to seek help.
The vast majority of women who do develop this rare illness are never a threat to themselves or their children.  Early treatment from a qualified mental health professional can have a significant impact on alleviating the symptoms and speeding the treatment of this disease.

 

Decisions and Emotions

decisions and emotionsChipotle’s Scarecrow video and game app is an effort to influence your decisions and emotions.  If you haven’t seen the video, you can view it here:

The video went viral with almost 6 million views on youtube and received wide critical acclaim for the video production quality.

The Week’s Peter Weber calls it “the most beautiful, haunting infomercial you’ll ever see.”  Read Peter Weber’s Review to see the rest of his opinions on the advertisement.
On the other hand, Funny or Die has produced a scathing video parody of  Scarecrow.  You can watch that video along with commentary by Scott Meslow here:

Critics of the Scarecrow campaign believe Chipotle is misleading consumers by displaying an inaccurate view of current factory farming practices.  Others believe Chipotle is attempting to make changes to current practices by increasing awareness.  Chipotle chief marketing officer Mark Crumpacker states in a USA Today article, “We’re trying to educate people about where their food comes from.”

Human beings make decisions based on emotions.  Chipotle’s Scarecrow is a classic attempt at generating an emotional response in individuals that will lead to buying decisions that are favorable to Chipotle.  The rebuttal videos and commentaries are attempting to generate emotional responses that will lead to buying decision that are unfavorable to Chipotle.

Where do you stand?  Is Scarecrow unethical, or is it exactly the same as any other type of marketing we are exposed to everyday?

Suicide Awareness Program.

Active Minds, an organization dedicated to spreading suicide awareness on college campuses, kicked off its tour of Send Silence Packing on September 10, 2013.  The tour is an exhibit of 1100 backpacks that represent the 1100 college students who die by suicide every year.  More details of the tour can be found here.

Are you in crisis? Please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

suicide awareness

Active Minds traveling suicide awareness program of 1,100 backpacks representing the 1,100 college student lives lost to suicide each year is taking a heading to California. The tour is kicked off on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, at Riverside City College in Riverside, CA.

 
Suicide is one of the most frightening possible outcomes of mental illness. If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) immediately. This is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a 24-hour service available to anyone in need of help. Never ignore or underestimate remarks about suicide. Take them seriously, and make certain that the person in crisis is cared for. And if you think your friend is in immediate danger, do not leave him or her alone—stay there and call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Additional Information from Active Minds:
An extensive list of web resources can be found here:  http://www.activeminds.org/issues-a-resources/mental-health-resources