Month: October 2016

Signs That You May Have an Anxiety Disorder

Your Struggle With Anxiety Has Cost You

Maybe it has cost you time, energy, deep and painful regret, financial burden, lost moments, lost celebrations, restricted freedom, missed opportunities and damaged or strained relationships with those whom you love and trust.  Below is a list of common things people do and feel when they struggle with anxiety and fear. Look it over. Do any of these apply to you? If so, you may have an anxiety disorder and could find relief in participating in counseling.

  • Avoiding situations or activities that bring on anxious thoughts, feelings and memories (e.g. going to a party, speaking at a meeting, going outside, being in a crowd, experiencing a new situation, driving, working)
  • Signs of a Anxiety Disorder, Lindsay Melka, Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver COFeeling constantly overwhelmed
  • Fear of losing control
  • Distracting yourself from anxiety, fear and worrisome thoughts
  • Being in a state of uneasiness, apprehension; as about future uncertainties
  • A heightened fear of what people think of you
  • Self-doubt and low self-esteem
  • Fear resulting from anticipation about realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation
  • Fear of dying
  • Feeling like you’re going crazy
  • Inability to rest; sleep problems
  • Heart palpitations
  • Stomach aches and or nausea
  • Neck tension or headaches

Although the above list includes common symptoms, this is by no means an exhaustive list. A more thorough and formal explanation of what an anxiety disorder looks like can be found in the DSM-V (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). For example, some of the diagnostic criteria includes:

The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least 6 months and is clearly excessive.

Excessive worry means worrying even when there is nothing wrong, or in a manner that is disproportionate to actual risk. This typically involves spending a high percentage of waking hours worrying about something. The worry may be accompanied by reassurance-seeking from others.

In adults, the worry can be about job responsibilities or performance, one’s own health or the health of family members, financial matters, and other everyday, typical life circumstances. Of note, in children, the worry is more likely to be about their abilities or the quality of their performance (for example, in school).

The worry is experienced as very challenging to control.

Worry in both adults and children may shift from one topic to another.

The anxiety and worry is associated with at least 3 of the following physical or cognitive symptoms (In children, only 1 symptom is necessary for a diagnosis of GAD.):

  1. Edginess or restlessness.
  2. Tiring easily; more fatigued than usual.
  3. Impaired concentration or feeling as though the mind goes blank.
  4. Irritability (which may or may not be observable to others).
  5. Increased muscle aches or soreness.
  6. Difficulty sleeping (due to trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, restlessness at night, or unsatisfying sleep).

Many individuals with GAD also experience symptoms such as sweating, nausea or diarrhea.

The anxiety, worry, or associated symptoms make it hard to carry out day-to-day activities and responsibilities. They may cause problems in relationships, at work, or in other important areas.

These symptoms are unrelated to any other medical conditions and cannot be explained by the effect of substances including a prescription medication, alcohol or recreational drugs.

These symptoms are not better explained by a different mental disorder. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)

Effective therapy and counseling can significantly reduce or eliminate symptoms associated with anxiety in a relatively short time, allowing you the ability to resume regular activities and regain a sense of control. Although some may not be able to identify the cause of their anxiety, after attending a few therapy sessions, many people are able to find the source of their struggle and work through this in more depth with their therapist. Psychotherapy aims to identify and address the source of the anxiety rather than treating the symptom alone.  The self reflective process of therapy helps people understand, unhinge and transform anxiety.

Counseling may also include some homework. There are a number of exercises that will provide you with new perspectives- leading to new experiences. Doing work outside of sessions will help you make contact with what works and what doesn’t. Some work may entail helping you feel worries, anxieties and fears-but will show you how you can experience all of them without acting on them. Understanding this logically is helpful, but only experiencing it yourself will make a difference in your life. Therapy can help you and work for you – but only if you work with it!

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy

If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact mehere.

Is it Depression?

Many people wonder if they’re really depressed. Often times they think their mood is attributed to “just life stuff”. You know, work-stress, marital difficulties, a few too many beers.  It can be difficult to recognize when it’s more than that. People may be scared of the diagnosis, the meaning behind the word depression, the implications. Depression is actually quite common, and with the right help, very treatable. There are different levels of depression. One may think they have to be incapacitated, suicidal or totally hopeless to really be depressed. This is not the case. There are several indicators of depression and whether you experience three or ten symptoms, it really doesn’t matter.  Long story short, if you feel sad, you can get help and you can get better.

Symptoms of Depression

So…Are you depressed? The symptoms of depression may surprise you…or not.  Symptoms of depression tend to look like this:


Feelings of hopelessness

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or shame


No longer enjoying what you used to

No longer interested in social engagement

Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, making decisions

Persistent aches or pains, headaches or stomach aches

Loss of appetite or overeating

Loss of sex drive

Insomnia or sleeping too much

Persistent sad or angry feelings

Thoughts of suicide


Recognizing the symptoms of depression is often the biggest step you can take towards recovery. Is it Depression, Lindsay Melka LPC, Denver COSomething doesn’t feel right and you know it, but you aren’t quite sure what to do about it.  Dealing with depression can be difficult and participating in counseling can help. You don’t have to be a total mess to seek out a therapist! Therapy can help you identify what’s happening in the present moment, preventing you from feeling worse down the road. Maybe it is just some family discord, your tyrant of a boss or some serious boredom. Whatever the concern, talking to a professional certainly can’t hurt.


What happens in therapy?


In a nutshell, counseling can help you identify destructive thoughts that get you down and help you understand where those thoughts come from-thus teaching you how to cope.

Therapy for depression often involves examining how the interaction among thoughts, feelings and behavior impacts your well being, then helps change the interaction to produce greater life satisfaction. On a much bigger and philosophical scale-you can begin to develop a new relationship with pain and suffering and reach beyond your pain, finding a larger sense of purpose.  The therapeutic process can help you learn how to create self -compassion and mindfulness skills to help get you through the tough stuff. On a less clinical note, it can feel really good to just talk to someone. Someone who is not your friend or family member. You may be surprised what comes out-in a good way. It can feel like a ton of bricks off your chest. It can also feel really painful. That happens too. Great thing is, once is out there, out in the open, in can be processed, healed. “A problem aired is a problem shared”. Old saying for the importance of sharing yourself and your problems. Side note- it’s helpful to remember some of the catchy sayings because they tend to hold some truth. Really.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, sadness or overall discontent, it may be in your best interest to talk to someone about it. I cannot stress how normal these feelings are. You are not alone. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel better, regardless of what’s going on.

Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy

If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.



Men Thrive in Therapy

Asking for Help

Men seek help less. It’s true. But- this is changing. The stigma is diminishing and men are coming to Men thrive in Therapy, Lindsay Melka Denver COcounseling more than ever before. Why is this? Do they see the benefit? Are they hearing about it from other men? Is their spouse asking them to come?

It’s not like its inherent or biologically determined that men seek help less. It’s learned. Men learn that they should be able to do it on their own. They learn to be tough, stoic and strong. So what does it mean if they ask for help? Are they not tough, stoic or strong? No. That’s not what that means. Asking for help is a sign of strength.

Seeking guidance from a therapist is a courageous step for a man to take. It’s admitting that they are struggling with something that feels beyond their control. Admitting this is the first step in what could potentially be, very powerful change.

How does therapy help?

When men share shameful, embarrassing, or unpleasant thoughts with a nonjudgmental, empathic therapist, they can feel relieved, normal and sane. They may realize, for the first time, that what they are thinking and feeling is actually very normal for many men. This alone can empower men to share emotions that may have bottled up for months, even years. When men start to release the weight of negative thoughts and feelings, they can begin to see what’s been happening inside for all this time. They are better able to see patterns, self-talk and resentments that are no longer serving them.

How do men thrive?

Through therapeutic work, men can learn to look inward, self-reflect and gain new awareness of their thoughts and feelings. When you can take a step back, observe yourself and get objective perspectives, you can facilitate change in your life.

When men learn that gaining emotional control directly contributes to regaining control in their personal and professional lives, change happens. Learning to regulate one’s emotions can contribute to success in all areas of a man’s life.

Case Example:

A man comes in to therapy with an anger problem. His problem with anger is causing marital distress, irritability, depression and conflict at work. He is drinking more and the drinking almost always contributes to anger outbursts. He lists the many reasons why he is so angry and shares that “if that person” or “that situation” were to change or be different, he would be “okay”. Throughout the course of therapy he begins to learn that he has little to no control over people, places and things. He learns that anger is a secondary emotion and that there is something happening deep below the surface. He discovers that he feels inadequate, scared and hopeless. His career is unfulfilling and he feels he is letting his family down. He’s struggled with depression for many years and has drank to avoid the feelings that come along with this. Soon, over the course of counseling, he discovers that he can actually manage his emotions. He can learn healthy coping skills and begin to notice triggers and thought patterns that contributed to his struggle with anger. He develops new insight around his behaviors and makes conscious decisions to change them.  He sees small improvement, reinforcing the new behaviors and begins to live a more fulfilling, valued life. This is just one example how transformative therapeutic work can be.

How do you know if it’s time for some counseling?

Listen to your gut. Does something feel off? Maybe you’re tired of dealing with unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Maybe someone suggested it. There is no harm in checking it out and seeing if counseling could be beneficial for you. Life does not have to be completely out of whack for one to get some guidance, feedback and support. Who knows, you might actually enjoy it!

Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver







Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy

If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.





New to a City and Lonely ?


Lonely in a Crowd

Just moved to a new city? Maybe you’ve been here a little while and feel a little lonely. Maybe you’ve been here a few years and are still feeling like a newcomer. Whatever the case, I can tell you, you are not alone.  “Everybody” knows that “everybody” is moving here…has moved here, whatever. So if there are so many people, there should be so many people to hang out with, right? Life should be filled with all the amazing stuff  people do, right? You know, like snowboarding or going to the beach followed by cocktail hour followed by dinner with a huge group of amazing friends followed by a romantic walk home with an amazing new partner. Right?

You are not AloneLonely in Denver, Lindsay Melka, Denver CO

Not necessarily. That’s actually not how it is for everyone. And more importantly, that’s totally normal and okay.

I’ve only been here a few years myself and I can tell you that during this time I have seen several, lots of clients actually, that feel lonely, discouraged and frustrated with the whole thing. Little do they know, that there are tons, TONS, of people out there feeling the exact same way.

So what happens when we feel out of the loop? Well, we typically feel lost, disconnected, lonely and bored. So what can we do about it?

To start, we don’t have to have lots of relationships to feel connected and a part of. Having meaningful relationships is important, yes, but there are things we can do in the meantime to help us feel present, safe and connected.

How do we do this?

  • We change our perspective

Having alone time in a new place can be refreshing and exciting. Discovering new places keeps us in the moment. We can learn about ourselves through what brings us joy. You may discover that with a fresh pair of eyes, you see something you’ve never seen before.

  • We hang out at public places, even by ourselves.

Go to a coffee shop and work or read a book. Go to a movie. I go to movies pretty often and I always see people on their own. And guess what? They always look happy! How about a museum? The Botanical Gardens? A wolf sanctuary? Point is, being around others, even if we’re not technically engaged in conversation, can help us feel a part of. Did you know that it’s common to go to a nice restaurants and offer to share your table with another single guest? Yes, it’s true. I spent 10 years in the restaurant industry and I always thought this was the best idea! Single people love it! One more thing on restaurants-it can feel luxurious and comforting to get a nice meal alone. Bring a book, sit back and treat yourself.

  • We check out meet-up groups.

We can type in any hobby, interest, activity etc. on and instantly find a group of like-minded people who are interested in the same things. There’s literally a meet-up group for everything. Many of my clients have found these groups to be beneficial. It’s great because most individuals looking for meet-ups are in the same boat. There’s no need to feel singled out!

  • We stay in contact with friends and family.

It can get lonely in a new place and hearing familiar voices can remind us of who we are and why we’re here. It’s okay to feel scared and lonely in a new city. There is no need to act as if you are on top of the world. Chances are, however you got here, it was for good reason. Give yourself some time and be patient with yourself. How would you help a friend?

Next time you’re feeling lonely or anxious about your new abode, remind yourself that that this is part of the process. Chances are you’ll look back in a few years (months even) and realize how important this phase of life was. We don’t see growth while it’s happening, but are always better for it. Maybe someday you can be a newbie’s new friend. Show them the ropes and empathize with their experience because, well, you will have gotten through it.


Lonely in Denver, Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy

If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.