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North Oakland Counseling LLC   (248) 841-4080 - Therapy & Counseling for Individuals, Couples & Families
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Recent Free Press article: Anti Bullying Efforts

letting go

" Only if I keep reliving the past in the future am I a slave to time.  By forgiving and letting go of the past, I free myself of the painful burdens I have carried into the present.  Now I can Claim in the present without past distortions" Jampolsy

Shedding light on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the Winter Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is the clinical name for winter blues.  It affects about 5% of those who live in northern states (such as Michigan). It is characterized by feelings of sadness and depression during the winter months when the temperatures drop and the days grow short. Women are 2-3 times more likely to suffer from winter blues 

Symptoms of SAD (Occurred for the past two winter seasons) include the followings:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly everyday
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in daily activities
  • Excessive sleeping (Hypersomnia)
  • Diminished ability to concentrate 
  • Excessive eating and Weight gain
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness 


Effective techniques to treat winter depression:
1-Increase your daily exposure to as much natural light as possible when you can gain access to more sunlight in the winter months. Sitting next to a south-facing window when possible will increase your sunlight exposure.
2-Take walks throughout the day (even if you don't normally do so). 
3-Try to exercise next to a window (or outdoor when possible).
4-Maintain your daily schedule and lifestyle as much as possible. 
5-Keep a regular pattern of sleep, this is extremely essential. 
6- Consult with your family doctor about light therapy.  Light therapy has shown to be an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder.  You can purchase inexpensive light therapy lighting fixtures for your home or office.  You can also replace commonly used light bulbs in your home with brighter full spectrum (also known as broad spectrum) light bulbs.  These light bulbs can provide light that is similar to natural sunlight. (Note: Light therapy is very helpful for individuals affected by SAD, but could exasperate symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, provoking a manic episode, so try to refrain from self-diagnosis)

When other self-help methods are not effective, the winter blues can be treated with psychotherapy or psychotropic medications .  Talk about this condition with a professional, it's nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. With a little effort, the winter blues can be beaten.

10 tips to help you cope with the " Holiday Blues"

The holiday season can be a time of joy, parties, and family gatherings.  But for some it can also be a time of loneliness, anxiety, and reflections on past problems and failures. Many people develop stress response or "Holiday Blues" during the holiday season exhibited through physical and emotional symptoms.  Others may experience " Post Holiday Blues" as a result of financial constraints compounded with stress, fatigue and the holiday "Let Down". 
 
These are 10 tips that could help you cope with the " Holiday Blues":
 
1-Try to set realistic expectations and goals of yourself, and LOWER your expectations of others.
2-Surround yourself with caring and supportive people, reach out for new and old friends.
3- Keep in mind that the holidays do not banish reasons for feeling lonely and depressed.
4- Let go of the past and make a conscious effort to move forward with your life by making small positive changes.
5- Continue to engage in physical activities, this will increase the " feel good hormones" in your body.
6- Assert yourself by saying " No, but thanks" when you know for sure that the environment is going to be negative based on past experiences.
7- Be aware of your alcoholic intake, alcohol will increase symptoms of depression. Just say "NO"
8- Choose healthy food that will stabilize your blood sugar, remember the connection between mind and body.
9-Try to focus on the spiritual aspect of the holiday season.
10- Practice gratitude everyday, be thankful for everything you DO have and always look at your glass as " HALF-FULL"
 
I wish all of  you a happy and Joyfull holiday season.
 
Dina Abu-Isa, MA, LPC, NCC
Owner & psychotherapist/ North Oakland Counseling

Magellan Health Services

We added "Magellan Health Plan " to the list of health insurances accepted at North Oakland Counseling.

The Ten Rules for Emotional Wellness

1-Take time to relax, exercise & spend quality time time with the people you enjoy.
2-Choose to find the positives in your life experiences instead of focusing on the negatives.
3-LET GO OF THE PAST!!!
4-Don't get caught in blaming others, take responsibility for your own actions.
5-Take credits for your success and accomplishments / avoid false modesty.
6-Take the time to develop one or two close relationships in which you can be honest in expressing your feelings and thoughts with them.
7-Talk positively to yourself all day long.
8-Remove yourself from hurtful and damaging situations, walk away and give yourself the time and the space to problem solve.
9-Accept that life is about the choices we make.
10-Have a plan for the future.

Seven Basic Steps to Maintaining a Good Relationship

1- Be aware of what you and your partner want for yourselves and what you want from the relationship.
2- Let one another know what your needs are.
3- Realize that it might be impossible for your partner to meet all your needs.
4- Be welling to negotiate and compromise on things you want from one another.
5- Do not demand that your partner changes to meet all your expectations. Work to accept the differences that you see between your ideal and the reality.
6-Try to see things from the other's point of view, this doesn't mean that you must agree with one another, but rather that you can expect yourself and your partner to understand and respect your differences, your point of view and separate needs.
7- Where critical differences exist in your expectations, needs, opinions or view , try to negotiate.

Positive Charges 10/21/2011

- Do more for the world than the world does for you.
- Be thankful for each day, count your blessings instead of your problems.
- Don't take yourself too seriously & try to laugh often.
- laugh with people and never at them.
- Eliminate envy in your life.
- Inspire others by your positive example.
- Create a self fulfilling prophecy of winning and success.
- Realize that your dreams of the future are better than the history of your past.

Steve Jobs

 "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."  Steve Jobs

Symptoms, Causes & Treatment of Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder

A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming fear and anxiety that often strikes when the individual is away from home, but can also happen any time and anywhere. While panic attacks are usually triggered by a specific situation, they may also occur when the person is relaxed or even asleep.  Signs and symptoms develop abruptly & out of the blue and may last from 10 minutes to an hour.  The person may experience symptoms such as heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea, & may even feel that he/she is going crazy or dying.  Some sufferers may also experience Agoraphobia ( fear of public places ) trying to avoid crowded places, shopping malls, and other situations they fear may trigger the panic attacks.  A panic attack could be a one time occurrence, but most sufferers experience recurrent episodes of the disorder. 
The exact causes of panic attacks are unclear, they may be connected to life transitions, severe stress, or even medical conditions.  But regardless of the cause, panic attacks and panic disorder are treatable conditions utilizing one or combination of the following:
1- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy ( through counseling & psychotherapy), this method is proved to be the most effective form of treatment for panic attacks & panic disorders.

2-Exposure therapy , involving exposing the person to the feared situation in a safe and controlled environment. This method is very effective for those suffering from panic disorder with agoraphobia.

3-Medications,  antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can be used temporarily  and are very useful in controlling & reducing symptoms. Medications, however, are most effective when combined with other treatment such as psychotherapy, behavioral modification as well as relaxation techniques.   
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