Pandemics like the one we are currently going through from the novel coronavirus, are stressful. Thousands of people have lost their lives, millions have gotten sick, and that’s just from the illness itself. The pandemic has harmed millions more people indirectly, through job losses, isolation, and food insecurity.
“We are facing a national trauma, whether it’s the fear of being infected or infecting someone else, or the economic downturn, and many people are isolated,” says Dr. Robert Leahy, an attending psychologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
It’s natural to experience some stress sometimes, but if left unchecked, it can lead to serious health consequences. According to the CDC, stress from Covid-19 can lead to:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Worsening of mental health conditions.
- Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.
Coping during this crisis
If you’re experiencing depression or other problems due to the pandemic, there are ways you can cope. One of the best ways you can cope with fears about Covid-19 is to educate yourself. Having knowledge can make you feel less helpless. However if you find yourself obsessing it might be good to give yourself mental health breaks from media.
Covid-19 is a deadly disease, and should be taken seriously, but there’s a lot you can do to mitigate your risk. Wash your hands properly, wear a mask, and avoiding touching your face are all things you can do to help reduce your risk of contracting it.
Staying home is also important whenever possible, especially if you are in an at-risk category. If you do contract the coronavirus, there are now therapies and techniques to help treat it that were not previously available, such as using plasma from survivors to help fight the virus. And protocols involving steroids.
If you have lost your job, the government and also many companies are working hard to provide support systems to help. This includes increased unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, and rent or debt relief.
Researching what you can do IF you lose your job, or reaching out if you’ve already lost it, can go a long way to easing anxiety.
Take mental health seriously
Discussing our mental health is still somewhat taboo, but it shouldn’t be. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, don’t be afraid to get help right away. If you are feeling suicidal, call 911 or an emergency suicide hot-line 800-273-8255.
If you are unable to cope with the mental stress from Covid-19, a therapist or counselor can be extremely helpful.
Even if you don’t feel unwell enough for a doctor, you can still take steps to ease your anxiety over the pandemic. Here are a few ways to get a handle on your anxiety, and cope with this rapidly spreading disease.
- Keep a schedule
You might feel a little thrown off if you’ve lost your job and no longer have to get up to an alarm, or no longer need to take the kids to school. Even though these changes have happened, set a routine for yourself and stick to it. It will make coping easier.
Exercising has a host of benefits to it. It makes you feel more positive about your body, improves your health, and releases feel good hormones that improve your mood. Exercising is a great way to cope with stress, so make it a daily habit. Start with 10 minutes of stretching in the morning if that is the best you can do.
- Reach out to friends
While throwing a party or getting together in person is risky, you can still write, Facetime and/or Zoom with your friends. Staying in contact with friends and family helps limit feelings of isolation. Surprisingly, just picking up the phone and having an old fashioned conversation can be enormously helpful to the psyche.
- Go out into nature
Spending time in a green space is one of the best natural stress relievers available. There have been multiple studies done on how spending time under trees or in nature can relieve stress, boost mood, and even improve immunity.
Steven D. Brand can help
Stress from Covid-19 is real. It is okay to feel anxious about it even if you are not normally easy to stress. These are frightening times, and it’s normal to feel stressed when the future is so uncertain.
If you would like to book an appointment, contact Steven D. Brand today.
Steven D Brand is a Roswell Therapist with over 35,000 clinical hours.
MSW, LCSW, ACSW
It happens every Christmas. The 25th rolls up and there you are on Christmas Day, disappointed. Quietly watching everyone hurriedly unwrap a gift and then moving on quickly to the next one, barely taking a breath. Guilt washes over you as you silently think,
“Oh, I forgot to get that done”.
“Oops, Christmas is now over and we never got around to taking care of that person”.
It’s an empty feeling of reflection, so how can this year be different?
1) Burn Down the Calendar! A big headache for families is making every single thing you are invited to. Granted big family events can be awkward to miss, but attitude is everything. What if you decided to narrow down which events actually give you joy? Is it sending out cards while listening to Christmas music? Is it making cookies (maybe you can cut down this year)? Is it doing a drive-by of the neighborhood with good holiday lights? Prioritize the good stuff. Tradition is good but killing yourself to make every party doesn’t make for a “nice Karen”. Sit down with your spouse and decide together (if they are on board). It can cut out the drama later if you mutually decide to only go for an hour to Aunt Harriet’s Annual White Elephant of Guilt Party instead of the typical three.
2) Buy Wisely! Do the kids really want 50 things that you will have to throw away by March when they aren’t looking? Experiences create memories and actually spending time with your family (young, teens or adults) will bring you and them some joy! When we go back through the photo albums, it’s not the cheap stuff from China that impressed them, it was the time you went as a family on that hike and the lunch in that little town that they remember.
3) Drown the Phone! That’s right, pitch it into a lake. Kidding, you can’t do that. But you can prioritize the time you do have by setting boundaries on screens. That means everyone puts their devices in the kitchen in a drawer during dinner. It means as a family everyone watches the same Christmas Classic, not three Netflix movies streaming simultaneously. It won’t hurt them or you to turn off notifications on your phone and actually look into your spouse or children’s eyes for a change. Come on, it’s Christmas!
4) Write a Gratitude List! Every year have the family write down things they are thankful for and put it in the ornament box. Next year when you hang the ornaments, you have something to read! You’d be surprised when you start to see the progress your family has made. Make it a new Christmas Tradition! “The reading of the gratitude lists!”
Did you know 21.4% of millennials still live with their parents?
Many young adults seemingly have valid reasons for being unable to move. Maybe it’s an inability to find work, or they need to lower the cost of their continuing education by staying at home while they go to school. Others however, are not employed or going to school at all. They simply don’t leave home, and are often dependent on their parents for everything from giving them clean laundry to cooking their food.
This problem is so pervasive it has even gotten a name for itself, FTL, or Failure-to-Launch.
Failure to Launch: A Growing Epidemic
Failure to Launch stems from a variety of different sources. In some cases, it is impossible—such as when it is difficult to get even a minimum wage job, combined with the high costs of rent. Others, however, stem from a more unusual source—the culture of developed countries.
In third world countries, FTL doesn’t exist. Children develop a sense of independence, and often voluntarily take on chores to help with the family. This independence leads to the ability to leave the home as an adult. In developed countries, children are treated as more important than adults, rather than the other way around. Children can force their parents to play with them, are never left unattended, and it is considered scandalous if a child is allowed to walk to school where it was once considered normal.
These kids who grow up without any chance to develop independence flounder when trying to reach adulthood. They miss adulthood milestones that are not only normal, but often necessary to have a fulfilling life. It’s also not healthy for the FTL adult either, in case studies Failure-to-Launch adults are often depressed and sometimes even suicidal.
As hard as it is for parents, the solution is actually fairly simple.
Stop Spoiling Your Kids
Stop spoiling your kids. It isn’t too late to start even if they’re 35 or older. Start by reducing how much you do for your child or FTL adult in small steps, one step at a time.
- You might begin by no longer including laundry service with their free room and board
- Stop providing pocket money but continue other care.
- Eventually, begin charging them for rent and utilities. It’s an amazing motivator to realize “Hey I could do this on my own and have my own space”.
In order to raise a child that is strong and independent, you don’t need to “Free range” your child or turn them into a child slave performing all household tasks, but you do have to take a step back and give them a chance to grow. Without learning how to pour their own juice and get their own snacks as children, they may struggle to learn how to support themselves as adults too. A strong, independent person can only develop if given the chance to develop those behaviors.
Get Help from Steven D. Brand
Roswell Therapist Steven D Brand has over 26,000 clinical hours under his belt helping families and marriages around the world. He is available for counseling in his offices in historic Roswell or by phone.
5 Signs That You Have a Technology Addiction
1) At the dinner table, you can’t eat without looking at a screen
2) The first thing you do in the morning before even talking to someone is picking up your device.
3) People have complained to you, more than once, that you aren’t listening to them because you are “device distracted”
4) Family members have said, “can you look at me while I am talking?”.
5) Your children or yourself have a meltdown if they can’t have access to their device.
A couple sits in a high-end restaurant, relaxing for the first time in weeks since becoming new parents. Their child safely with a sitter, they stare down at the table, faces stone, not saying a word to each other. In any other era, anyone would have said they had just been in an argument, but in recent years it simply means they are both on their phones.
When we think of addiction, we typically think of things like cigarettes or alcohol. Technology is so indoctrinated into our lives that it is hard to think of it as an addiction, yet psychologists and other health professionals are beginning to recognize it as a real problem.
What is a technology addiction?
We all need some amount of technology to lead a normal life. Using computers at work is often unavoidable, and we use our phones to help coordinate schedules with work, family, and friends. These are all normal and healthy behaviors, and to a certain extent so playing games and checking social media.
When checking your phone or playing games begins to take over your daily life, however, using technology tips over into addiction. If you choose to stay home and play video games instead of going to a party, or you are constantly scanning your social media at a party instead of being in the moment, you may be addicted.
Did you know in extreme cases, people have even died from their addictions? Two gamers have already passed away this year in Taiwan from excessive gaming, and some parents have even let their infants starve to death because they were too focused on their screens. What a world!
Of course, most of us don’t go to these extremes with our technology, but we also can’t seem to put our phones down, even giving up on experiences rather than simply having them. How many of us have gone to an event with our kids, only to see every moment through the eye of a camera, or clicking away on our phones? At concerts today you can’t even see the stage through the sea of extended arms holding phones.
Combating technology addiction
Despite overwhelming evidence that technology addiction can and does, there is no formal diagnosis of technology addiction. The closest is internet gaming disorder, which has been marked for study, but not yet been researched. This doesn’t mean that technology addiction doesn’t exist, simply that no research has been done on the topic yet.
If you’re concerned about screen addiction for yourself or your loved ones, there are several options that can help you make a healthier approach to technology. These include giving yourself specific guidelines to go by
- Avoid using your cell phone while eating. Chick Fila even had at one time, time out boxes for cell phones on the tables in the restaurant.
- For an hour before bed, and any time during the night.
- For children, pediatricians recommend no more than 2 hours of screen time per day, and none except for video chatting with children under the age of 18 months.
We don’t need to get rid of technology in order to live a fulfilled and happy life, but we do need to remember to look up from our screens and live the life that is going on right in front of us..
Parents, couples, and children will all benefit if we take this electronic intrusion seriously in the coming years.
Contact Steven Brand LCSW if you would like to set up an appointment for psychotherapy counseling in Roswell.
Spring is here and with it brings a desire to get outside and participate in the sunshine! So take advantage of those spring fever activities and enjoy a better perspective on life. Don’t squash that inward cue to get out there and breathe it in. Listen to it and find something to do. If you need a little motivation here are some facts about how mental health is improved by some physical exertion. The good news is that you don’t have to be fanatical to see improvement. Some studies show a 10-minute walk is as good as a 45-minute workout!
Ready to Meet a Roswell Therapist Empathetic to Your Needs?
Exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress. Those who participate in vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years in one study.
4 Spring Fever Activities to Improve Your Mental Health
1) Dancing, jogging or walking a few times a week for 30 minutes. Put on some Motown or grab some headphones and take a walk around the block.
2) Join a class. Group classes can spur you into sticking with it. Wanting to see your classmates regularly can be encouragement enough to not to skip a class. Group classes like Zumba or Martial Arts are a great way to meet new friends.
3) Listen to an audiobook. Sometimes wanting to finish an exciting book or hilarious podcast is enough motivation to get your feet on the street.
4) Finally be patient with yourself. If you miss a class or evening walk, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes giving yourself grace and inwardly saying, “next time”.
Advice from Steven D. Brand
“One of the reasons I encourage exercise for mental health is because it’s a very low risk and the side effects are very minimal compared to other strategies. Exercise works because it releases endorphins, which in turn make you feel better, improve concentration and makes your brain sharper on tasks. Technically, people who exercise are actually happier because they experience higher levels of optimism. Exercise also works because it causes cells to regenerate. Improved brain function has been noted in studies and also leads to increased creativity. It’s a win-win for physical and mental health. Finally exercise improves sleep quality. And better sleep means a happier you!”
Get More Great Advice
If you’re ready to get your mental health on track and are looking for counseling, give Steven D Brand a call today! Working with clients, Steve has amassed over 25,000 clinical hours. In person and phone counseling is available.
Steven D Brand is also an Executive Coach, accompanying clients on a life changing vacations in the great outdoors.
For more spring fever activities and advice, call Steve Brand today (770) 641-8726.
Facts about the Opioid Problem in Atlanta
If you haven’t heard about the heroin and opioid crisis in your subdivision or neighborhood yet, then consider yourself lucky. It’s everywhere and it’s spreading.
In 2015, heroin and opioid drugs killed more people in counties inside ‘The Triangle’ than murders and car accidents combined in 2015. That is a statistic you can’t look away from. Overall in the past 7 years, heroin-related deaths have gone up almost 4000% in Fulton, Dekalb, Cobb and Gwinnett Counties. Death it seems has come to the burbs and most of these deaths occurred in Atlanta’s northern wealthy suburbs.
“Ninety percent of the people who initiate heroin use are white males between the ages of 18 and 25,” says Kevin Baldwin, an author of a new study focused on the opioid problem in Atlanta. “In more affluent areas, people are starting [even] younger.”
Sadly for many families of these new addicts, they were regular kids from average families with no obvious clues that they were at risk for addiction. Growing up they were teenagers engaged in community and sports but somehow, someway opioids were introduced and everything changed. Don’t be fooled, these drugs aren’t like the ones in the 1970s that we remember. The increased quality and strength of these latest drugs make addiction (or sadly even death) after one use easily possible. Regular kids can become addicts overnight.
Locally 11Alive and AJC have covered the problem:
How Did It Begin?
Purdue Frederick the makers of Oxycontin, an opioid prescribed drug for pain came onto the market in 1996. They did a huge campaign getting the word out at pain conferences. Their next step was a reward system that gave doctors a $3K bonus for successfully sharing their stories. And it just kept growing from there.
Doctors have always known that certain pain medications were addictive, however, there were strict limits on who was allowed to receive them, for example only terminal cancer patients were recipients at one time. But the makers of these opioids (Oxy) insisted this was different. By the year 2000, 70,000 physicians were on board prescribing it. No longer was it illegal to help people with their “pain”.
By 2011, addiction specialists were trying to fight the cresting tide. It was too late.
Within the next several years, the cost of prescription painkillers would reach $18 billion annually in the US. There would be 92,000 opioid poisoning visits to hospital emergency rooms at a national cost of about $1.4 billion, and nearly 19,000 overdose deaths.
The facts started to come in. A study in the UK showed that people were worse off after 6 months of being on Oxycontin. Similar studies in other countries showed the same. Opioids are addictive because it retrains the brain the threshold of happiness to where you only feel normal being on it. And to go off of it makes you depressed. From there the gateway to heroin is simple.
Fact: Those addicted to prescription opiates like oxycodone are 40 times more likely to develop a heroin abuse problem. Oxycodone is a pain-relieving drug that is prescribed frequently to address moderate to severe pain.
The Good News
Today every doctor in Georgia must get training on proper prescribing of opioids under a rule approved very recently by the Georgia Composite Medical Board.
I would actually say if there is any addiction in your background, to absolutely refuse going on an opioid, even under a hospital situation. Once your body is on it, it’s so hard to get off. It’s not worth it.
Colleges are a new breeding ground for potential addicts.
The deadly opioid epidemic sweeping the country has largely spared college campuses, but drug abuse experts warn administrators they should be paying closer attention.
“This is a time when young adults have more access to substances than ever before and have more economic leverage and legal protections,” said Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Youth Continuum in Minnesota.
Want to learn more about the opioid problem in Atlanta? Coming up in Woodstock is an open forum on Monday October 2nd addressing the growing problem in Cherokee County.
Thanks for reading. If opioids has affected you or your families life and you are looking for counseling in Roswell, GA please contact me.
Which came first? The insomnia or the depression?
There has now been an established link between insomnia and depression! A comorbidity between not sleeping and mental issues. Recent evidence suggests that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well. In other words, there is a close relationship between insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
Looking for a Roswell Therapist?
“About three-quarters of depressed patients have insomnia symptoms, and hypersomnia is present in about 40% of depressed young adults and 10% of older patients, with a preponderance of females. The symptoms cause huge distress, have a major impact on quality of life, and are a strong risk factor for suicide. As well as the subjective experience of sleep symptoms, there are well-documented changes in objective sleep architecture in depression. Mechanisms of sleep regulation and how they might be disturbed in depression are discussed. The sleep symptoms are often unresolved by treatment and confer a greater risk of relapse and recurrence. Epidemiological studies have pointed out that insomnia in nondepressed subjects is a risk factor for later development of depression. There is, therefore, a need for more successful management of sleep disturbance in depression, to improve the quality of life in these patients and reduce an important factor in depressive relapse and recurrence.”
Recognize the Signs
A need for successful management of sleep disturbance is a solution and awareness is the first step.
The symptons of poor sleep include the following:
- Waking up tired
- More easily frustrated on projects
- Less patient with others
- Slower reflexes
- Lower creativity
The benefits of a good sleep (in addition to improved mental health) are:
- Waking up refreshed
- More patience with others and ourselves
- Ability to focus for longer periods of time
“The battle is won the night before.”
- Don’t get beat up if you don’t go to bed early. Try again the next day.
- See if you can do two nights in a row going to bed at a reasonable time. Then shoot for three nights.
- Turn off screens at least an hour before bed. Get into your pajamas, make some tea. Get some good books to read in bed as you wind down.
- Stay away from caffeine after 5. (this includes sweet tea, my southern friends!)
- Reward yourself for recovery. Give yourself a treat as a goal (as long as it’s not a late night watching of a program).
“A failure to plan is a plan to fail.”
Staying awake at night can be like a drug, an addiction, which creates a circle for issues like depression. Some clients feel bad focusing on themselves instead of their loves ones, I encourage them not to feel guilty about addressing their needs. Self-care is a form of self-love, and the better we love ourselves, the better we can even help others.
Does Love Last?
Working as a national and local marriage counselor in Roswell, I get a lot of clients who ask this very question:
“Can we save our love? Does love last?”
The first thing we do before going any further is to seek to understand what they believe love is. Let’s make sure both parties are using the same deck of cards.
In Greek culture, love was defined into four categories or types, Eros, Phileo, Agape and Storge. The most common love portrayed in culture and media is Eros love. That is the ‘romantic love.’ It’s that love that feels like butterflies in your stomach when you see your “crush” walk into a room. It’s the love that can cause us to do strange or foolish things.
Eros Love ?
At first in dating, most love is Eros. It’s the sensual based neurological feelings in the brain. The technical name for this stage is limerance. Limerence is the natural, involuntary part of being in love with another person; many call it the honeymoon phase. This hormonal time has been studied and researched to last 6-24 months maximum.
After this what are you left with?
If you only think love is a feeling what happens when it’s dried up? Sadly this is how affairs begin. They don’t know about the next phase.
Agape Love !
The next stage of the love cycle, which we call ‘Agape love.’ when loyalty and admiration needs to be shared. Agape love is different because it’s unconditional and transcends all barriers.
“The essence of Agape love is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love.”
Do you admire your partner? Do you show them gratitude?
Awareness that love has moved into a second stage is eye opening for many couples; honestly, it’s not at all like what we see in the movies.
Cultivating these new attitudes will help your marriage last.
Try saying, “I am grateful that you did ______ this week”.
“You look _______ today”. It’s little gifts you are depositing into their love ATM.
Sadly, many people don’t go this route. Instead, they allow themselves to be controlled by their emotions. John Gottman, a nationally recognized clinical researcher of the attributes of love, finds ‘contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling,’ otherwise known as the ‘four horsemen of love’s apocalypse’ can set in at this time. He calls these attitudes the death toll of love.
What can you do today, to cultivate an atmosphere of Agape love with your spouse?
It’s a daily decision, and if you ask me, 100% worth it.
The Holiday Blues
No it’s not a song on Bruce Springsteen’s latest album. It’s an issue millions of people struggle with.
Did you know 2/3 of women report they are depressed around the holidays? (NWHRC Study)
I think this is due in part to expectations and internalizing that they are not meeting them. Every year women think, “this year, I will get it all done”. But then so quickly December 25th sneaks up and the time has passed. Part of getting out of this rut is giving yourself …
Grace to get up and try again.
Grace to say, “I can’t do it anything and it’s going to be okay” or grace to say, “ I will do a little bit and accept that it is enough”.
Grace that Christmas isn’t about looking “perfect” or acting “perfect” on social media.
Grace that Christmas is only about love.
And sharing love, even in small doses.
You would be surprised how good you will feel if you made 3 people smile today. Try it!
This is especially true if you know someone who suffers from depression, it isn’t necessarily your job to make them happy, but acknowledging that they matter and sharing a little encouragement can go a long way.
A solution to turning your holiday blues around is to not spend the entire time isolated if this is your struggle.
“Social isolation is one of the biggest predictors of depression, especially during the holidays. … People who have feelings of disconnectedness often avoid social interactions at holiday time. Unfortunately, withdrawing often makes the feelings of loneliness and symptoms of depression worse.“
Small doses of getting out and participating can give you a sense of accomplishment. Driving by some lights or attending a candle light service is enough.
Find some joy this holiday by giving joy. And if you can’t give joy because of where you are at…
It’s going to be okay.
Steve Brand, Roswell Therapist
What is Codependency?
“It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and abusive.”
In my practice, I have seen a lot of Codependence. It can be hard for a Codependent to accept their label. They have grown up or have learned to cope with life by taking care of others, to an extreme.
How to Spot Codependency?
They are the martyrs. They are the ones always cleaning up after the party. They are the ones smoothing over a narcissist’s consistently inappropriate behavior. They are one making excuses for others. They are the ones putting themselves last but everyone else first.
Can I be real? Codependents make great employees and church members. They will get the job done without setting boundaries for themselves.
Melodie Beattie authored the infamous, “Codependent No More”.
“Beattie’s view of codependency starts from the (counter-intuitive) premise that rescuing someone, in the sense of solving their problems for them, is a less benevolent act than it might at first seem. To avoid the destructive aspects of enabling in the guise of helping, she highlighted how “Co-dependents are caretakers – rescuers. They rescue, then they persecute, then they end up victimized”.”
How Do Codependents View the World?
They hold the constant thought that if someone else would change or do what they wanted, their lives would get better.
“If only __(insert name here)__ would ________, I would be better.”.
Or often say things like, “You make me feel ______.” “You are doing this to me _______.”
It’s the confidence that they must fix others, and that the boundaries between others and themselves are non-existent.
Steps to Fix Codependency
1) Acknowledge it. How often does your mind (or even prayers) quickly turn to solving other people’s issues?
2) Learn about it. The more you know how codependence manifests, the easier you will be able to see yourself heading down the road. A therapist familiar with codependence can be amazingly insightful. For example, how did you end up this way, why do you continue to seek out relationships with those who use your codependency to their benefit?
3) Find a support group and try at least 6 meetings. Al-Anon and CODA are two great support groups for dealing with co-dependence. (Al-Anon only asks that you have a family or friend that is/was an alcoholic. That covers about 90% of the population right there). Many times a parent or spouse was an alcoholic at one time, but the effects are there even 10-30 years later.
4) Read the literature from a support group and make it part of your daily reading.
5) Work the steps or program with a sponsor or therapist.
6) Learn to take care of yourself. What are your needs and desires? It’s called self-care (this is not a selfish choice, codependents have to practice on finding fulfillment for themselves). Examples include: do things you like, get your nails done, read something you want to read, go to eat where you like to eat. Hang out with your friends and enjoy other’s company simply by being you. Don’t keep trying to solve their problems for them.
7) Understand that ignoring codependence will one day lead to extremely low levels of self-esteem.
Want to come and talk with a therapist in Roswell about Codependence? Call Psychotherapist Steve Roswell at 770-641-8726. Offices are conveniently located in Historic Downtown Roswell, GA.