Help for Depressed Teens and Their Families

I recently joined Inside Edition in discussing the devastating impact of a deeply disturbing trend amongst teens. While the horrors of teens struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts has increased, it is important to keep in mind that help and resources are available.

The trajectory of teen suicide has noted an increase in recent years. Among 100,000 youth, 1.3 in the 10-14 year old age group and 8.2 in the 15-19 year old age group die of suicide annually, as noted by the National Institute of Mental Health. In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst youth aged 15-24 and the sixth among younger youth according to The National Mental Health Association. Each year, suicide takes the lives of 12.9% of youth, noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, every day, there are 12 youth suicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While these statics paint a difficult and troubling picture, awareness and preparedness can help to support teens who are struggling as well as their families. I describe some ways we can offer resources and help in my conversation with Inside Edition’s Maya Chung. Watch HERE to learn more about ways you can support your teen.

Comment below and let me know your thoughts on how we can better support our teens. Feel free to share your thoughts in our social media community so that we can create a greater sense of awareness and support!

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Welcoming Tamera

I am very excited today to introduce a new member into the Chrysalis Psychological Services team! Tamera has been helping me behind the scenes in her role of office manager and I am delighted to share that she will now be more directly interfacing with you.

Tamera’s role is instrumental in ensuring that your needs are addressed so that we can continue to work on the things that will be helpful. She will be providing a great degree of assistance in administrative and billing related matters as well as ensuring that your contacts are addressed quickly and accurately. As you can see, her work will play a key role in providing you with the services that can help you build the life that you want to celebrate!

I have been very delighted to collaborate with Tamera recently and look forward to building on that moving forward. She brings with her a notable amount of experience, professionalism, and bright personality that I know will be as helpful for you as it has been for me.

With Tamera on board, I know that the Chrysalis Psychological Services team will provide you with even greater support and resources than ever before!

Please join me in welcoming Tamera aboard – feel free to leave a comment or join us in our social media communities and say hello!

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Your Pet Loves You – More Than You Know!

For many of us, there is a furry-footed loved one that we call family. Or perhaps it is a feathered friend or fish that we love. We know that our heart warms at the thought of them and that we find ourselves comforted and soothed in their presence. In fact, we might find ourselves marveling at the ways that they know just how to brighten our day, especially when we are stressed.

Research suggests that many animals have an innate knack for connecting with others, often making them impeccable pets. Not only this, but many of these animals go on to become adept healers through their innate traits. Pets who provide a unique comfort for those they live with are referred to as Emotional Support Animals, or ESA’s.

Because of this unique impact that many animals offer to us, research has gone on to explore the ways that pets can enhance the lives of those living with PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. Pets who serve as ESA’s differ from service animals in that they are not trained to assist the struggles in any way, yet their presence and interactions do offer assistance that can facilitate healing and recovery for their human companions. In my Goodtherapy.org article on this process, I explain some of the benefits that ESA’s can offer for those living with PTSD. Click HERE for details:

With this notable impact, it is no wonder that so many of us feel better at the mere thought of spending time with our interspecies loved ones… in fact, many people report that they miss their pets as much or more than other family members! One of the reasons for this is that their pet offers them support and comfort for the challenges that they are facing with anxiety, depression, or the aftermath of a trauma.

If you find yourself benefiting from the ways that your pet enhances and contributes to your emotional well-being, you might be wondering how to go about registering your pet as an Emotional Support Animal. I have recently created a package to facilitate this so that more people can go on to experience the healing benefits of living with a beloved pet! For details, visit HERE to see how you can get started.

In what ways do you love to spend time with your pet?? Share with us in our social media pages to connect with other pet lovers who are finding their lives that much more meaningful with their furry-footed, feathered, and aquatic loved ones present!

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Know Your Superpower!

One of the benefits of the Mindfulness Matters group is to help us get a better sense of our moment to moment experiences. The thing is, I am sometimes asked why this matters.

For many of us, we find ourselves going through our day on autopilot. The downside of that is that, when we are not connecting with our experiences, things seem to pop up out of nowhere… and then we are left in a panic, reactive, or even frozen.

Becoming more Mindful in our routine, day-to-day interactions and mundane activities can help us develop a cumulative buffer against feeling like we are always caught off guard. In fact, it can leave us better equipped to more easily surf and navigate the things that do seem to come out of nowhere for us.

In the short video below, Sharon Salzberg does a very nice job of illustrating this concept in describing the two wolves (metaphorically!) that we all deal with. In fact, having this skill gives us a bit of a superpower in the sense that it can leave us feeling empowered and acting from a place of empowerment rather than reactivity when we are met with difficult situations.

I would love to hear how what you thought of this story! Be sure to share with us in our social media communities listed below so we can celebrate your superpower with you!

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Mindfulness with 5 Senses

One of the aims of my Mindfulness Matters group is to provide people with accessible, fool proof tools to help them ground in the present moment so that they can eradicate the inner critic, paralyzing self judgments, and gain the sense of empowerment they need to make the best choices about how to react to what pops up in their lives. Today, I wanted to share one of these tools with you. This is a quick and relatively easy exercise to bring us into a mindful state quickly. If you only have a minute or two or, for whatever reason, you don’t have the time or tools to try a body scan, this five senses exercise can help you bring awareness to the current moment in a short amount of time.

Use this exercise to quickly ground yourself in the present when you only have a moment. The goal is to notice something that you are currently experiencing through each of your senses. Begin by making sure you are seated or lying comfortably enough that you can relax, yet still upright enough that you can focus on the following questions. As you go through this set of questions, allow yourself to become immersed in each experience before moving on to the next question.

What are 5 things you can see?

What are 4 things you can feel?

What are 3 things you can hear?

What are 2 things you can smell?

What is 1 thing you can taste?

The numbers for each sense are only a guideline. Feel free to do more or less of each – remember to make modifications with Mindful awareness. You can also listen to a guided audio version of this exercise with my “Beyond the Couch” podcast episode easily. 

I would love to hear how this went for you! Be sure to share with us in our social media communities listed below so we can celebrate with you!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/drsallynazari

Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrysalisdoc

 

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Celebrate Your ‘Social Brain’ with Group Therapy!

Recently, I spent some time talking about GROUPS with Katie K. May of Creative Healing Philly. Katie K. May is a DBT Certified, Licensed Therapist for Teens in Pennsylvania.  She specializes in running groups for teens who experience anxiety, depression and self-harm behaviors, with a passion in helping clients learn to express and cope with overwhelming emotions in healthy ways so that they can move forward in life EMPOWERED and able to create their own path to happiness.

In our discussion, Katie and I explored the ways that our group connections help us to build a life we want to celebrate. In fact, groups have helped people excel in work place dynamics, school related tasks, as well as family functions. Katie shares some top tips for connecting in group therapy, below, and debunks some myths about getting started with groups.

Katie’s Top Tips:

+Our interpersonal relationships are one of the most powerful predictors of both our mental and physical health.  People are happier and healthier, with lower rates of depression and greater overall happiness when they are connected socially.

+Take advantage of the “social brain!”  We are by nature social creatures and are strongly influenced by what happens around us in our world.  Be mindful of whom you surround yourself with and the choices these people are making as you are likely being swayed by their thoughts and behaviors too.

+Practicing gratitude for the people in your lives, how they have impacted you and why they are important to you can help you feel more connected and accepted socially.  Each day reflect on something you appreciate about your loved ones and what you appreciate about this person.  At the end of the week, find some way to connect face-to-face to express this gratitude and notice how your own mood improves as a result.

I would love to hear what thoughts you have about the ways groups can help you celebrate your life! In fact, I frequently hear from “graduates” of my groups that they have gone on to silence their inner critics and surrounded themselves with people who uplift them so that they can overcome anxious, debilitating thoughts and overwhelming depression and isolation. As a result, they’ve begun to reshape the celebratory lives they have been looking to build! Be sure to share with us your hopes and goals for groups in our social media communities listed below so we can celebrate with you!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/drsallynazari

Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrysalisdoc

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A Closer Look at PTSD

One of the areas of work I feel particularly passionate about in my practice is facilitating recovery after a traumatic incident. Last week, I began a discussion of trauma and PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder, one of my areas of specialty.

We often think of veterans when we think of PTSD. In large part, much of what we do know about trauma and PTSD is a result of the experiences of Vietnam veterans. Prior to that, while trauma responses existed, there had not been a whole lot of focus on understanding traumatic reactions. Although PTSD tends to be the issue that most often comes to mind when we consider trauma, there are a number of other responses to trauma, including things such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and difficulties in relationships. We will address some of these elements but, in our multi-episode Looking at Trauma series, we will mostly focus on PTSD. Most of these other issues are embedded within the constellation of PTSD and will make more sense as we understand PTSD.

To begin with, it’s important to understand what exactly a trauma is…

If we think about the definition of a trauma, it’s generally defined by dictionaries as a deeply distressing or disturbing occurrence. Often, in medical contexts, it’s described as a disruption. Different experts and different fields describe trauma in different ways, which can be confusing and even intimidate if we are looking to do our research.

However, there are some common elements in thinking about what a trauma specifically is. From the lens of mental health or psychology, trauma, as described by the American Psychological Association, is typically an emotional and somatic response to a terrible, overwhelming, situation.

According to the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, traumatic events are shocking and emotionally overwhelming situations that may involve actual or threatened death, serious injury, or threat to physical integrity. While the World Health Organization describes trauma as more of an emergent/disaster based situation.

There are a number of different events that can be traumatic. Some examples of these situations that may immediately come to mind include a serious and potentially life-threatening accident, assault, natural disaster, or combat. Other types of experiences can be traumatic as well such as surviving or witnessing a crime or physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse, as well as bullying or even a big move. Sometimes, trauma responses can follow any major change or disruption in a person’s life.

Many people are exposed to traumatic events. In the time immediately following a trauma, most people will have the experiences of PTSD that we will talk about. However, over time, for many people, those experiences naturally decrease, and they are not diagnosed with PTSD. In other words, they naturally recover from the traumatic event. There are some people who do not recover and are later diagnosed with PTSD. Based on that, it is helpful to think of PTSD as a problem in recovery. Something got in the way of you having that natural process of recovery, and the work of therapy is to determine what got in the way and to change it so that you can recover from what happened. You and your therapist will be working to get you ̳unstuck.

Let’s look at this in more depth…

Because we know that PTSD experiences are nearly universal immediately following very serious traumatic stressors and that recovery takes a few months under normal circumstances, it may be best to think about diagnosable PTSD as a disruption or stalling out of a normal recovery process, rather than the development of a unique psychopathology. A therapist needs to determine what has interfered with normal recovery. In one case, it may be that someone believes that they will be overwhelmed by the amount of emotional reactivity that will emerge if he stops avoiding and numbing himself. Perhaps s/he was taught as a child that emotions are bad, that s/he should just get over it.‖ In another case, someone may have refused to talk about what happened with anyone because s/he blames herself for ―letting‖ the event happen and she is so shamed and humiliated that s/he is convinced that others will blame her, too. In a third case, a person may have seen something so horrifying that every time s/he falls asleep and dreams about it, s/he wakes up in a cold sweat. So, in order to sleep, s/he drinks heavily. Yet another person may be so convinced that s/he will be victimized again that s/he refuses to go out anymore and has greatly restricted his/her activities and relationships. In still another case, in which other people were killed, a person may have survivor guilt and obsesses over why s/he was spared when others were killed. S/he feels unworthy and experiences guilt whenever s/he laughs or finds himself enjoying something. In all these instances, thoughts or avoidance behaviors are interfering with emotional processing and reshaping our beliefs. There are as many individual examples of things that can block a smooth recovery as there are individuals with PTSD.

There are several categories of experiences that tend to follow a traumatic event. Last week, we more closely examined each of the categories.

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