Seven Strategies for Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Last
by Kalpana Parekh, MSW, LISW-s
Millions of Americans made resolutions on New Year’s Eve to do better and achieve more in 2021. Within the next 30 days or so, most of those resolutions will be abandoned. Studies suggest that 80 percent of people who set resolutions on Dec. 31 fall back on old habits by mid-February.
If you’re in that 80 percent, don’t lose heart. Our collective struggle with keeping New Year’s resolutions suggest the problem may lie elsewhere—like with the tradition itself.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
We set New Year’s resolutions because it’s a natural point for a fresh start. But achieving a life goal is not as easy as turning the page on a calendar.
“Resolution” is a strong, demanding word. For resolution, we need passion, clarity and inspiration. Yet often, our New Year’s resolutions are too big or vague. We expect change now. And we don’t give ourselves rewards along the way.
Successful goals require planning, process and patience. When we don’t have the right supports and mindset in place, we get frustrated and give up. And then we do it again the next year without understanding why our New Year’s resolutions fail in the first place.
Setting Goals That Stick
If you find your resolutions are getting wobbly, don’t give up. You can still adapt your approach. Here are seven research-based strategies for setting and keeping goals—no matter what time of year you make them:
Create a Vision for Your Best Life
Experiencing the best of your life doesn’t happen by accident. It takes reflection and planning. It also helps to connect your goals to your purpose, rather than just an outcome.
For example, instead of resolving to achieve a specific weight, you can set a target of being healthier. From there, you can develop a plan that incorporates smaller goals, like exercising 30 minutes a day and cooking healthy meals four days a week. Within a few weeks, these goals will become healthy habits—and those healthy habits will become a lifestyle.
Thinking about your goals in this way will make them more sustainable. It will also help you maintain balance. Instead of getting frustrated and quitting or doubling down in an unhealthy way, you can focus on gradual progress.
Above all, be kind to yourself. Developing a new habit takes time. It requires both mental and physical effort. Celebrate the wins as they come, and have grace with yourself if you stray from your goal.
If you’re feeling stuck, consider meeting with a therapist. Compass Point’s clinical experts can provide guidance and support to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. Get started by calling or requesting an appointment online. It could be the first step to unlocking your potential.
How to Breakout from Job-Related Burnout
by Alexandria Fields, MSW, LISW-S, DBTC
Have you reached your limit on work/life stress? Do you lack motivation and energy to get through your to-do list? Feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? You’re not alone. Many of us have had to manage massive upheaval in our work lives in the past year.
However, if the physical and emotional barrier of going to work is starting to feel overwhelming, you may be suffering from job-related burnout. Unsurprisingly, therapists and other mental health providers are seeing an increased incidence of burnout right now, including among our own ranks.
Job-related burnout can have a serious toll on your physical and emotional health, but there is hope. In most cases, burnout is relatively easy to treat.
How to Identify Burnout
Burnout is most often caused by ongoing stress from being overscheduled or overworked. It can also result from a disconnect between workload and compensation—that is, when the financial reward doesn’t make up for the hours or effort you’re putting in.
The signs of burnout include:
Alyx Beresford is a Licensed Independent Social Worker with Supervisory designation. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and her Master’s degree from the University of Kentucky. Alyx is the director of the DBT® Center at Compass Point and is a facilitator of DBT® skills training classes. She is a blogger and entrepreneur who is passionate about helping others and their mental health. You can read more of her work on her blog, Your Mental Restoration.
Nine Steps You Can Take to Alleviate SAD Symptoms
spring and summer, it most often occurs during fall and winter. Regardless of the season, SAD is not something that you need to “tough out.” Treatment is available.
- Feeling depressed nearly every day
- Feeling hopeless
- Extreme fatigue, even after getting lots of sleep
- Overeating, especially high-carb treats and sweets
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Maintain (and Grow!) Your Social Connections. COVID-19 is
limiting in-person gatherings, but there are still many ways to
connect with family and friends. Pick up the phone, schedule a Zoom
session, get together safely outside or send a note or greeting card.
Research shows that when you send a letter of gratitude to
someone, it elevates your mood, makes the recipient feel good and
strengthens the relationship
- Treat Yourself. Make time to do the things that bring you joy,
whether it’s listening to music, baking or cooking, meditating,
reading or even coloring.
- Be Creative. Sometimes breaking out of tired routines can shift us
to a more positive mindset. This is a great time to create new
traditions, take up a hobby or revisit that list of things you’ve always
wanted to do. Paint a picture, try your hand at knitting, build a
birdhouse or take an online class on cake decorating—the
possibilities are endless.
- Exercise. This can be hard to do when you lack energy, but a little
bit of activity every day can make a world of difference. If you do not
feel safe going to a fitness club or studio right now, there are many
online resources you can use for at-home workouts or yoga sessions
- Get Outside. When the sun is out and the temperatures are
tolerable, give yourself permission to go for a walk, hike or run. Just
being out in the sun can lift your mood, and the Vitamin D you gain
from the sunlight is good for your health
- Use Mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being in the moment by
using such tactics as visualization, positive affirmation and calming
music. A search for mindfulness activities online will provide plenty
of strategies you can use.
- Watch What You Eat and Drink. Eat healthy foods, cut back on
the carbs, drink plenty of fluids and abstain from alcohol and drugs.
If you need help to get through the season without partaking in
drugs and alcohol, a professional can help you.
- Engage in Positive Psychology. We are wired to focus on our
problems—it’s evolutionary. Positive psychology seeks to shift that
mindset by focusing on activities and habits that make you happy.
Searching for positive psychology online will reveal a trove of
resources to help you.
- Try Light Therapy. Light therapy involves sitting in front of a light
therapy box that emits very bright light for 20 minutes or more a
day. Improvements may occur within two weeks of treatment, but
you need to stick with it for the whole season.
If you continue to struggle, then reach out to your physician, a counselor, a social worker or a psychologist for help. It is their job to listen, support you and help you find the resources you need to cope.
If you don’t feel secure visiting a therapist in person during the pandemic, then consider tele-therapy. It is safe, effective and convenient. There are many tele-therapists at Compass Point who are accepting new patients now. Compass Point also offers an online scheduling system
for new clients so that you can be matched with a best-fit clinician and schedule an
appointment at your convenience.
Kassey is a licensed independent social worker. She holds a master’s
degree in Social Work from the University of Toledo. Her treatment
philosophy is informed by many disciplines both within and outside of
standard treatment models. She keeps motivational interviewing, the
strengths-based perspective, systems theory, reality therapy and solution-
focused therapy in her counseling toolbox. Contact us to see if Kassey is
accepting new patients.
Mary is a licensed independent social worker. She has a bachelor’s degree
in Sociology and a master’s degree in Education from Xavier University.
She also has a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Iowa.
She provides a safe, relaxed space for individuals, couples and families to
comfortably work on the goals they set for themselves. She will help you
clarify your goals and determine how to use your strengths and
therapeutic interventions to achieve them. Contact us to see if Mary is
currently accepting new clients
- You live in Ohio
- You have a smart phone, tablet or computer with internet connection
- The pandemic has affected your day-to-day life
-Changes have caused you stress, anxiety, etc.
This group will cover different mental health topics including tips, tricks and resources we can use to build awareness, motivation and coping skills.
I know the moms and dads who are trying to work from home and monitor their kid’s school work are very stressed. The people who work in restaurants are wondering when and if they will have a job. Students are missing proms, graduations and most of all just being with friends. Kids who need structure are not adapting well to distance learning, not to mention the teachers who were given no time to adapt lesson plans. College students who are graduating wonder when and if they will be able to get a job. And, over and above all the anxiety producing situations each of us are in, we all have the over- arching worry about the virus itself, “Will I get it, will someone I love get it?” It is scary!
So, again, all normal to be stressed, anxious, sad, afraid, but we can all have hope this quarantine will not last forever. In the meantime, we can do things to help ourselves through this time. We can use coping strategies.
I watched a brief training from trauma expert, Bessel von der Kolk and he discussed how this quarantine has Preconditions for Trauma. He talked about why this is true, but more importantly, he gave ideas on how to navigate through this time to come out the other end feeling OK. Here are the problems he outlined and the ways we can combat the effects:
- Lack of predictability- we don’t know when this will end or how we might be affected. What we can do is take control over our life and the things we can control like planning our day, organizing, keeping a schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time we normally would, planning healthy meals, planning things to look forward to like maybe a Zoom lunch with a friend or a Zoom “cocktail party” with a group of friends or family.
- Immobility- We don’t get to move freely and go the places we normally go. But we can take walks, do yoga, maybe do that home project we’ve been putting off, have a dance party, do a fun craft, build something.
- Loss of connection with people- we need to stay in touch with the people we care about, phone, text, Face time, social media. People have been getting very creative with this.
- Numbing out/ spacing out- Mindfulness helps with this. There are some good mindfulness activities on YouTube. Listening to music, motivational podcasts, reading inspirational books and stories on line. I have been mentioning to clients not to drink, take drugs or overeat. Those things end up making you feel worse afterward.
- Loss of time and sequence- Keeping a schedule, watching enough news to know what’s going on, but not so much it becomes upsetting.
- Loss of safety- Remind yourself that following the guidelines will keep you safe.
- Loss of a sense of person- spend some time thinking about accomplishments and goals. Talk to a colleague, a work friend, someone who respects what you do. Talk to someone who is upbeat and helps you feel better when you are with them.
Mary is a Licensed Independent Social Worker. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Education from Xavier University. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Iowa.
She provides a safe, relaxed space for individuals, couples and families to comfortably work on the goals they set for themselves. She will help you clarify your goals and determine how to use your strengths and therapeutic interventions to achieve them. Contact us to see if Mary is currently accepting new clients
The compelling quality of art makes it an incredibly useful tool in psychotherapy and counseling. Creative activities, in the form of art therapy, become a type of language that allows people to communicate thoughts and feelings that are too difficult or painful to put into words.
WHAT IS ART THERAPY?The formal definition of art therapy is “the application of the visual arts and the creative process within a therapeutic relationship to support, maintain and improve the psychosocial, physical, cognitive and spiritual health of individuals of all ages.” Put more simply, art therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses art and artistic mediums to help people explore thoughts and emotions in a unique way.
Art therapy is facilitated by a trained, qualified professional with a knowledge of visual art—drawing, painting, sculpture and other art forms—and the creative process, as well as human development and counseling theories and techniques.
From the patient’s perspective, art therapy does not require experience or special talent. The work is not criticized or judged for its artistic quality, precision or beauty. The methods used, along with the resulting artwork, are more about the emotions expressed and felt throughout the process.
HELPING TEENS EXPRESS THEMSELVESThe use of nonverbal expression can be especially beneficial for adolescents who are navigating the difficult waters of their teen years. Normal developmental changes, family tensions and social challenges may be further complicated by symptoms of mental illness, which affects 20 percent of all youth ages 13-18.
Teens often see art therapy as a nonthreatening form of treatment. The artwork they produce helps the therapist gain a better understanding of the their concerns and life circumstances, especially those situations that are too risky to reveal or too personally embarrassing to relate. This awareness better equips the therapist in efforts to protect and support them.
In art therapy, teens are able to express themselves in a context of gentle guidance that assists them in self-discovery and growth. The creative process helps them develop an understanding of their own inner voice, establish an identity, examine values and morals, question authority and plan for the future.
BENEFITS OF ART THERAPYThe positive results of art therapy are broad ranging and provide benefits for anyone wishing to learn more about themselves or explore the creative arts as a means of self-expression. But art therapy holds specific benefits for those suffering from a wide spectrum of mental illnesses.
Under the guidance of a trained expert, art therapy can help improve various mental and physical symptoms, bringing significant relief and promoting recovery from debilitating mental disorders. In addition to addressing specific symptoms, art therapy offers many general benefits, such as:
- Offering a nonthreatening way to express inner feelings that can be difficult to put into words
- Fostering a feeling of being understood, relieving frustration
- Providing a safe outlet for feelings such as fear, guilt, pain, rage and anger
- Gaining skills and a sense of achievement, providing ownership of successes
- Building trust, which is encouraged in a safe environment
- Increasing self-esteem and self-respect
- Developing objective perspectives on conditions, challenges or difficult life circumstances
- Experimenting with change that can be applied outside therapy
- Encouraging realization of existing personal strengths and the confidence to use them
- Improving social skills, especially for someone who may be withdrawn or shy
Anxiety comes in many forms, from the general worry that comes from everyday life to the intense fear caused by major psychiatric disorders. As debilitating as anxiety can be to our mental and physical health, it’s also corrosive to our quality of sleep—whether you’re a college student pulling an all-nighter or a veteran jolted awake from a nightmare caused by PTSD. This guide covers how anxiety and sleep are interrelated, change with age, and what you can do to improve both.
Anxiety and Sleep
Nearly 40 million people in the US experience an anxiety disorder in any given year. More than 40 million Americans also suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders. Those numbers aren’t a coincidence. Anxiety and sleep are intimately connected: The less sleep you get, the more anxious you feel. The more anxious you feel, the less sleep you get. It’s a cycle many insomnia and anxiety sufferers find hard to break.
anxiety and sleep are intimately connected: the less sleep you get, the more anxious you feel.
Common anxiety symptoms like restlessness, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and gastrointestinal (GI) problems make it difficult to fall asleep.
Because insomnia and anxiety are so closely linked, one of the first steps in treatment is to determine which is causing the other — that is, which is the primary cause and which is the secondary symptom. “Sometimes, insomnia is secondary,” says psychotherapist Brooke Sprowl, “in that it is caused by another primary disorder such as depression, anxiety, or a medical condition. In this case, usually treating the primary disorder [improves] the insomnia.”
Whether insomnia is the primary or secondary cause, natural remedies like magnesium glycinate and melatonin have been shown to help with sleep, says Sprowl. Non-medication treatments like cognitive behavior therapy along with good sleep hygiene are also effective at combating insomnia and anxiety.
Health Risks of Insomnia
Insomnia affects cognitive functions and cripples school and work performance. According to one study, 70% of college students with lower GPAs also had difficulty falling asleep. Insomnia also slows reaction times, raising the risks of driving a car or operating heavy machinery.
Sleep deprivation is also bad for your physical health, increasing your risk for developing high blood pressure and heart disease. And long-term sleep disruptions may even raise the risk of some forms of cancer.
Common Sleep Disorders
There are many forms of sleep disorder besides insomnia. All interrupt sleep, threaten our health, and increase nervousness and stress. Here are a few common ones:
Delayed Sleep Phase SyndromeAnyone who has changed time zones or experienced “jet lag” understands the effects of delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). When your sleep and wake cycles don’t align with the current time zone, you feel groggy when you shouldn’t.
While these symptoms are temporary for most, people with DSPS stay out of sync for long stretches of time, negatively affecting their work and activities. Because people with DSPS are forced to conform to the external clock rather than their internal one, they suffer from lack of sleep and increased anxiety.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is when a sleeper’s relaxed airways close and obstruct breathing. Interrupted breathing episodes occur numerous times during sleep and are usually accompanied by snoring.
Obstructed airways result in lowered oxygen levels and increased carbon dioxide in the blood. Sufferers are often unaware they have the condition. Sleep apnea increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Sleep studies are required to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea.
Forms of Anxiety
How do you know if you have garden-variety nervousness or a more serious anxiety disorder? Usually, the difference is how significantly your anxiety affects your life.
For someone at a party who doesn’t know anyone, a certain level of anxiety is normal. However, if their anxiety is interfering with daily activities (e.g. making friends, school work, job performance), They may have a serious anxiety disorder.Whether social nervousness or a serious phobia, every form of anxiety will affect your quality of sleep if it goes on long enough. Below are descriptions of the five major anxiety disorders. If you think you may have one, consult your physician or therapist about diagnosis and treatment.
Don't Get SAD This Fall & Winter
Depending on where you live, the fall and winter months can be cold, damp, cloudy, and downright dreary. The holidays can add an extra layer of stress with family and social obligations, gift-giving and office parties, and before you know it, you may find yourself falling into old, unhealthy habits as a way to cope. You may start eating more sweets and unhealthy snacks, drinking more alcohol and engaging in other unhealthy behaviors. This can lead to a loss of energy and motivation for exercise which can then contribute to increased stress and feeling “blue.”
SAD or seasonal affective disorder is a depressive disorder that most often occurs in fall and winter. However, It is not to be confused with the common “winter blues” just described. Symptoms of SAD include fatigue (regardless of the amount of sleep one gets) and weight gain associated with overeating, particularly high-carb treats and sweets. It is associated with higher levels of distress and interference with daily functioning than what most experience in the darker, colder months.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter. With seasonal changes, people’s biological clocks or circadian rhythms can fall out of step with their daily schedules. Symptoms of SAD may require the help of a mental health practitioner.
Whether SAD or Just Blue, Take Action
You (or anyone) can benefit by being proactive and taking steps now to improve your health and wellness so that you’re better prepared to deal effectively with the challenges of fall and winter. Following are tips to give you a better chance of preventing the winter doldrums:
- Give yourself permission to say “no” or turn down invitations for holiday parties that could incite high anxiety. Spending time with family members, friends and neighbors that lead you to excessive levels of anxiety and depression may not be necessary. Choose what you attend wisely.
- Give yourself permission to not repay every gift given to you (with a gift from you). Tit for tat isn’t necessary and can cause anxiety, especially if you find yourself struggling financially this season. True friends will love you regardless. If you feel it necessary, make them a gift or write them a card. After all, it’s the thought that counts.
- Spending time with certain family members can agitate us, or increase stress, anger, or sadness. It may make sense to avoid getting together with these family members. Other times, they may be unavoidable in which case, try to be mindful of what you feel and think so that you can increase your chances of responding more thoughtfully, carefully and respectfully.
- Schedule regular time with people you love and enjoy spending time with. Quality time with people we love is helpful in times of stress.
- Do things that bring you joy such as listening to music, baking, being creative, or establishing less stressful, new traditions with friends and family members.
- Take advantage of the days when the sun is out by exercising outside. Bundle up and take a walk. By absorbing sunlight, you are treating your body to Vitamin D—a vitamin the body can lack in darker months. Vitamin D helps the body use the calcium in your diet.
- Break from the same old routine. Try something new such as a new food, restaurant, form of exercise, or activity. Doing so can lift your spirits, if only just a bit.
- Treat yourself. Warm baths, meditation, long walks, movie with a friend, a date night, dinner with a friend, or a massage could be just what you need to improve your mood.
- Try light therapy. This requires sitting in front of a light therapy box that emits very bright light (and filters out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays) for about 20 minutes or more a day. Improvements may occur within one or two weeks of treatment. You’ll want treatment to continue through winter so you don’t risk relapsing. Begin light therapy in the early fall to prevent symptoms.
- Abstain from alcohol and drugs. Alcohol is a depressant. While it is very common for people to drink alcohol at holiday parties and gatherings, it does not need to be. Drugs may be used an escape from the pressures of the holidays and winter months. Both are harmful even in small amounts. You may need professional help to get you through the holidays without partaking in alcohol and drugs, and that is ok.
- If you continue to struggle, do not hesitate to call a therapist. Talk therapy with a counselor, social worker or psychologist can help. It is their job to understand you, listen, support you and help you identify and use healthy ways of coping. Compass Point offers Care Connect, a service where clients can be seen by a licensed professional within 48 hours of their call.
- Medication may also help. Talk to your physician about what you’re experiencing. He or she may prescribe an antidepressant medication in addition to working with a therapist, as the combination of both is often helpful to those experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression.
If your depression is severe or if you have suicidal thoughts, please consult a doctor immediately, seek help at the closest emergency room or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-TALK (8255).
Rebecca has a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Xavier University, and extensive experience and training in cultural diversity. With nearly 20 years of experience working in healthcare settings, Rebecca is committed to filling in the gap for those who suffer from chronic (or acute) illness or medical trauma by treating their emotional and psychological health.
Rebecca’s interests and experience also include (but aren’t limited to) anxiety, grief, depression, women’s issues, emerging adulthood, parenting and cultural diversity. She enjoys working with all ages and often engages in wellness, creativity and mindfulness.
Problematically, sleep problems worsen mood and can cause depression themselves, creating a vicious cycle.
The CDC estimates that just over 7% of Americans have moderate or severe depression. The severity and symptoms of depression vary, but the most common include:
- Feelings of despair, hopelessness, sadness
- Frequent or occasional thoughts of death or suicide
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lower energy
- Lower libido
- Reduced self-esteem
- Weight gain or loss
- Loss of interest in activities the person formerly enjoyed
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
As you can see, sleep problems are core symptoms of depression. Both depression and severe sleep problems are major risk factors for suicide and health problems like heart disease, other mental disorders, and smoking. People with depression have trouble being productive in work or school, which can impact their career and social life. The sleep issues are often one of the reasons depressed people seek out professional help.
The symptoms of depression are persistent and pervade all aspects of an individual’s’ life, from work and play to basic needs like eating and sleeping. Within the larger category of depression, there are several different types of depression which come with their own sleep problems:
- Major Depressive Disorder: This is extreme depression where the individual feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal through much of the day, regardless of what they are doing. Feelings of pleasure and happiness are hard to come by. Major depression is associated with insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Dysthymia: This is a milder form of major depression, also associated with fragmented sleep and hypersomnia. People with dysthymia experience fewer symptoms from the list above and in a less intense way, but symptoms typically persist for much longer.
- Bipolar Disorder: People with bipolar disorder swing between extreme highs and lows. When they’re high, they’re overly energetic and unable to sleep, even if they’re tired. When they’re low, they oversleep.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): SAD is a type of seasonal depression. The vast majority of affected individuals experience it during the winter months, with symptoms like hypersomnia, insomnia, and worsened mood – although about 10% experience it during the summer. SAD is likely brought on by the changing levels of sunlight, which affect the circadian rhythms of affected individuals, messing with their sleep and emotions.
Anyone can become depressed, but it affects some people more than others, particularly women and adults in middle age. Coincidentally, these two groups are also more likely to have insomnia. The chart below from the CDC reveals the correlation between age and depression as well as the disproportionate prevalence between the genders:
The cyclical relationship between depression and sleep
The sleep problems brought on by depression – or the ones that caused it in the first place – make it much more difficult to get better. Sleep deprived people have stronger emotional reactions in general, so it’s tougher to regulate the emotional volatility associated with depression.
Abnormal sleep interferes with mood and energy levels during the day, so it’s difficult to stay motivated to engage with others, exercise, and even go to work. To cope, people who are depressed may self-isolate, which can lead to more sleep problems: loneliness itself is associated with fragmented sleep.
The cause-and-effect runs both ways. Even if you’re not depressed, lack of sleep increases your chances of depression and other mental illnesses. Depression causes insomnia and hypersomnia.
An article in the Journal Sleep reported that children with both insomnia and hypersomnia are more likely to be depressed, to be depressed for longer periods of time, and to experience additional problems such as weight loss.
Particularly for young adults, there is a strong correlationbetween insomnia and major depressive disorder. Genes involved in the molecular clock and circadian cycle are known to be involved with bipolar disorder, although nobody exactly knows how. When scientists examine mice with mutations in the so-called CLOCK gene (important in the circadian cycle), they find the mice act like humans with mania. When the mice are given lithium (a treatment for bipolar disorder), their behavior reverts to normal. So it appears that this important part of the sleep control cycle is tied up with mood and mood disorders.
Teens who don’t get enough sleep are at a significantly greater risk for depression and suicide.
The good news is that treating either depression or related sleep problems tends to improve the symptoms of the other. Getting good sleep is essential for overcoming depression.
You may have seen stories of sleep deprivation as the new cure to depression, but be wary of these. Researchers have indeed found that a night of sleep deprivation reduces symptoms of depression the following day. However, they can experience a rebound effect (known as “residual insomnia”) the following day. Moreover, sleep deprivation on a long-term basis is simply impractical – and also dangerous, given the serious side effects for your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Rather, the recommended treatment for depression typically combines psychotherapy and/or pharmacology.
One popular form of psychotherapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on helping the individual recognize the negative or destructive thoughts (the cognitive aspect) that make them feel depressed, and the behaviors they’ve become accustomed to responding with. Once they learn to recognize these thoughts and behaviors, they develop new ways of thinking or responding. A sub-type of CBT is CBT-I, which applies the same techniques to curing insomnia.
Although both depression and insomnia can be treated without drugs, there are pharmacological interventions for both, and not coincidentally, both can be addressed with antidepressants. The most common antidepressant medications today are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Those with insomnia who start taking one of those drugs often find relief for their sleeping problems.
The pharmacological treatment for idiopathic hypersomnia is usually a stimulant – something that works opposite of sleeping pills. That’s why it is important for doctors to evaluate whether long-sleeping patients might have depression and be a better candidate for anti-depressant medication.
In addition to the therapies suggested above, the following advice can help you get better sleep while you’re getting treated for depression and related sleep problems.
1. Keep a sleep diary. If you believe you are suffering from depression and/or a comorbid sleep disorder, keep a sleep/mood diary for 2 weeks to share with your doctor.
Note when you go to bed, how long it takes you to fall asleep, when you wake up, and how much time you spent asleep. Also note your level of fatigue or energy throughout the day, as well as any changes in mood, diet, libido, or thought patterns.
2. Turn your bedroom into a sleep haven. Use your bedroom exclusively for sleep and sex. Everything else, from watching television to working to socializing, should take place elsewhere. You want your mind to see your bedroom as a place of rest, not of worry, stress, or social activity. Keep your bedroom as cool and as dark as possible by removing electronics and using blackout curtains if necessary. Invest in a comfortable, supportive mattress that makes sleep come easier.
3. Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even weekends. Ensure you leave enough room for you to conceivably get at least 7 hours of sleep, but don’t worry about whether you spend all of that time asleep. Your only goal is to stick to the schedule; eventually your brain will catch up and train itself to sleep and wake at those times more naturally. Avoid napping if you can. If you’re absolutely exhausted, limit them to short power naps of 30 minutes or less.
4. Create a calming bedtime routine.Depression and anxiety-producing thoughts are a recipe for insomnia. Help ease your mind of worries with a calming bedtime routine. Try relaxation techniques, deep breathing exercises, or meditation. Take a warm bath or light some candles.
If your mind continues to race at night, take time to write your thoughts down in a worry journal – getting them out of your head and onto the page will diminish their power. Relieve anxieties by listing out any remaining to-do items you can take care of tomorrow.
5. Get plenty of sunshine. Natural sunlight facilitates a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Aim to get plenty of sunshine, ideally by exercising outdoors in the morning or early part of the day. This will give you an energy boost that makes it easier to feel better and less fatigued during the day time. Then, as it gets dark, your brain will recognize it’s time to wind down and fall asleep.
While you’re at work or school, sit by the windows to increase your amount of sunlight.
6. Eat well and avoid stimulating substances. Foods that are high in sugar or fats mess with your sleep, your health, and your mood. Instead, fill your diet with foods that promote healthy energy levels and sleep. Also take care to avoid any stimulating substances in the afternoon or evening that interfere with sleep, such as caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine.
7. Stay calm when you wake up. Unfortunately, retraining your body to sleep well is not an overnight process. Expect – and accept – that you’ll continue having disturbed sleep during this process.
When you do wake up, practice your deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation exercises. Meditate or visualize something that makes you feel happy or calm. Turn on a soft lamp and read a book. Stay calm and sleep will come.
Compass Point is located in Cincinnati, Ohio and has quite a few therapists who specialize in Depression in both adults and children. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment please call the front office at 513-939-0300.
Just like physical pain, in and of itself anxiety is not a bad thing: it signals that something is wrong. Temporary anxiety is normal and can count as healthy, because it draws our attention to causes of stress that might need correcting. But anxiety disorders–the excessive and chronic reactions to stress–are mental illnesses. Anxiety disorders are, in other words, worry that sticks way past its usefulness to us; it does not go away and often gets worse with time. According to National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders–from post-traumatic stress disorder, through obsessive compulsive disorder, to a variety of phobias–are the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans. They affect 40 million adults over 18 in the United States, or 18 percent of the population. Many anxiety disorders negatively affect sleep–and vice versa. Doctors call them comorbid: they go hand-in-hand. In other words, anxiety and sleep are connected via a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Feeling rested has been proved to combat anxiety and feeling less anxious leads to sounder sleep. The converse is also true: insomnia feeds anxiety and anxiety keeps us up at night. According to The Cleveland Clinic, two-thirdsof patients referred to sleep disorders centers have a psychiatric disorder. “Anxiety is an emotion that actually wakes us up,” Dr. Steve Orma, author of Stop Worrying and Go to Sleep: How to Put Insomnia to Bed for Good,told The Huffington Post. “There are all kinds of physical changes happening that ramp you up, which is the exact opposite state of what you need to be in when you’re trying to fall asleep.”
This guide gets at the link between anxiety and sleep and covers several anxiety disorders that interfere with sleep and which can be alleviated with sleep: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); social anxiety; obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); phobias; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and panic disorder. It offers solutions to the sleep deprived anxiety sufferers, from treatment options, through online forums, tips regarding healthy sleep hygiene and banishing anxious thoughts, to medical associations that can help.
Anyone who lost a night to insomnia on account of troubling thoughts has been where many chronic anxiety sufferers find themselves all too frequently. According to UC Berkeley researchers, lack of sleep plays a role in ramping up brain regions that trigger excessive worry. Additionally, those who tend to worry too much are more vulnerable to sleep disorders. “These findings help us realize that those people who are anxious by nature are the same people who will suffer the greatest harm from sleep deprivation,” said Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study. Worry about lack of sleep becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy at times. Anxiety causes sleep loss, which in turn can provoke further anxiety in sufferers. The mechanism behind this phenomenon has to do with what researchers call anticipatory anxiety. People prone to sleep deprivation worry that they might not be able to sleep, perhaps based on past experience. That worry fires up the brain’s amygdala and insular cortex, mimicking the neural activity seen in anxiety disorders. And now, indeed, because of the anticipatory anxiety, sleep becomes elusive. Researchers at University of California Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratoryfound that when deprived of sleep, the brain reverts back to more primitive patterns of activity. What this means is that subjects kept awake were less likely to put emotionally-charged information in context. The good news is found in the reverse. Doing the opposite–finding ways to get better sleep–presents us with a tried-and-true solution to alleviate anxiety. “By restoring good quality sleep in people suffering from anxiety, we may be able to help ameliorate their excessive worry and disabling fearful expectations,” says Dr. Allison Harvey, one of the authors of the study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
This article on the correlation between sleep and anxiety was shared with us from Tuck.
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