Category: Depression

Breaking Free from a Depressed and or Anxious cycle

 

How do you get things done when you’re feeling depressed, anxious or unmotivated? It’s hard enough for folks who don’t struggle with the depression or anxiety! If you’ve been in counseling before or not, I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve heard someone, maybe even your mom or spouse tell you “Just get up and do something. You’ll feel better”. Yes, this is typically said with good intent, but it does’t always help and sometimes, it can even make us feel worse. Most people know that getting up and exercising or doing some chores just DOING ANYTHING will probably make them feel better, but it’s… just..too…hard.

 

There are Solutions

There are tools that can get us back on our feet and out of our rut but it takes will and it takes effort. Let’s talk about what the hardest part of using these tools are first-you know, get it out of the way. So here it goes: you have to be willing to feel some discomfort in order to feel some relief. That’s it.

 

Let me explain

Example: You want to stay in bed because the thought of getting out of bed is so incredibly anxiety provoking that you avoid the anxiety by staying in bed. Your basically relying on your mood to make decisions for you. You’re what is called being “mood dependent”. You rely on your mood for guidance and chances are if you’re depressed your mood is telling you to do the opposite of what you should do.

Your behavior does not need to be guided by your mood. That’s pretty great news if you think about it!  Just because your mind is telling you you’re sad, does not mean that you have to stay sad and engage in activities (or non-activities really) that are contributing to your sadness.

So What Do You Do?

You practice mood independence. This is where the discomfort piece I mentioned earlier comes in. When you don’t want to get out of bed, you can. There is a choice here. You can and should do the opposite of what your crappy mood is telling you to do. That’s the trick. The more you’re  willing to be uncomfortable and do the healthy things you’ve been avoiding, the sooner you’ll pull yourself out of your rut. If you wake up tomorrow and you don’t want to get out of bed but you do, and you do something meaningful, responsible, healthy etc. you WILL feel better. Chances are you’ll have more hope that you’ll be able to do this again the next day and the next day so on and so forth. Some days it won’t be so easy and you’ll want to pull the covers over your head and avoid the day. And that’s okay. This stuff takes work. The idea is a simple one but it is certainly not easy.

 

You Do Not Have to Act According to How You Feel

You can not want to walk the dog and do it anyway. You can laugh with a friend when you’re sad. Your behavior can be totally different than your mood. Eventually your mood follows and gets used to living life with peace and enjoyment again.

 

One More Tool (my favorite) 

Just imagine how you’ll feel after you do the very thing you’re avoiding. Is it worth feeling really uncomfortable if it means you’ll get to feel better? It’s worth a try.


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.

 

 

ACT vs. CBT What is the Difference?

For those more savvy, self-help accepting, curious potential psychotherapy clients out there, I’ve created a brief description of the differences of two of the more common types of therapy being used by clinicians these days. I don’t expect most people to know the differences between therapeutic techniques, but surprisingly, I’m finding more and more people are knowledgeable about this stuff and are genuinely interested in how this works. This is a good thing as you should know what kind of evidenced-based treatment your therapist is providing to you anyway! Below I have included a general explanation of both CBT and ACT and how they are both similar and different in treating something like depression.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a psychosocial intervention that is the most widely used evidenced based practice for treating mental disorders. CBT focuses on the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems and changing unhelpful patterns in cognitions (e.g. thoughts, beliefs and attitudes). The underlying concept behind CBT is that our thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behavior.

CBT is generally short-term and focused on helping clients deal with a very specific problem. During the course of treatment, people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior. Many people begin to identify “core beliefs” that have dictated their emotions and behaviors for years. CBT teaches individuals to notice thoughts that are contributing to their suffering. i.e. “I will always be lazy and I will always be depressed”.

Example of CBT works:  An individual  reports that he/she is “hopeless that things will get better”. CBT would help the individual  identify the thought distortion and help them discover thoughts that are realistic and effective in helping them feel better. i.e  “I do not always feel depressed. There are times when I enjoy my life”.  Noticing and shifting one’s thinking affects one’s emotions which affects one’s behavior.

Further explanation from above example: When the individual  applies a more optimistic (and realistic) thought, their emotion changes (more hopeful) and their behavior changes (get out of bed and takes a walk).

The goal of cognitive behavior therapy is to teach patients that while they cannot control every aspect of the world around them, they can take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT, pronounced “act”)

ACT is a form of psychotherapy commonly described as a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. It is an empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance, mindfulness strategies, commitment and behavior-change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility.

ACT differs from CBT in that rather than trying to teach people how to better control their thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories and other private events, ACT teaches them to just notice, accept and embrace their private events.

ACT is a powerful tool that can reduce suffering by helping one observe thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to change them. ACT also emphasizes behaving in ways consistent with valued goals and life direction.

Example of how ACT works: One would develop acceptance around depression and learn how to develop a relationship with it rather than avoid it (what ACT refers to “experiential avoidance”).  The basic premise of ACT with depression is that while emotional pain hurts, it is the struggle with pain that causes suffering.

ACT is proven to be effective in treating not only depression but also addiction and anxiety. ACT doesn’t attempt to improve or alleviate symptoms, but rather aims to help the person stop obsessing over his or her symptoms, create new lifestyle patterns, and make healthier choices. It encourages being fully conscious in the present moment and maintaining or changing behavior based on what the moment involves.


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.

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

Irritability

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.