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Dr. Deb

Updated: 2018-01-19T07:36:50.949-05:00


January is National Mentoring Month


January is National Mentoring Month - where we celebrate mentors. The 2018 campaign reflects on the incredible growth of the mentoring movement, recognizing the real life mentoring relationships that form and thrive each day, and offer opportunities to thank the mentors who inspired us.
There are few relationships in life that are more influential than those between a mentor and a young person. I know this from both sides of the coin. I've had many mentors in my life growing up. A person who took a unique interest in me, fostered my growth and guided me onward.

I've also been a mentor to many. The experience has been so rewarding and meaningful to me. In fact, research shows that mentoring is an extraordinary experience for all involved.

Be mentor.

Change a life.

And transform your own.

Depression in Later Life Paperback Book Give-A-Way


My award winning Gold Medal Book of the Year, "Depression in Later Life" is now available in paperback. To celebrate, I'm offering an autographed copy via Goodreads. Enter to win today!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Depression in Later Life

by Deborah Serani

Giveaway ends December 31, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

15 Tips for Mental Fitness


1. Learn to Relax: Allow yourself to let go of inner tensions by giving yourself a “mini vacation.” Give your mind a break by becoming engrossed in a book, watching a movie, listening to music, taking a walk, working on a hobby, meditating or just taking a few moments to just be.2. Be Kind To Yourself: People are frequently too hard on themselves when things don’t go right. Tune into your self-talk. Counteract your negative thoughts about yourself with positive statements.3. Eat Properly: Nutrition has a direct impact on feeling mentally positive. Aim to eat healthy.4. Find A Friend: Social connections are very important to mental fitness. Developing acquaintances and friendships combats loneliness. Having supportive friends helps you grow as a person and have a safe place to share your dreams and struggles.5. Learn to Say “No”: Often people feel the need to respond immediately when a friend or family member make a request. Help yourself set limits by avoiding the quick “knee jerk” response in the affirmative. Instead, let them know you will get back to them shortly. Then do a check of your schedule; ask yourself if you really want to add to your load. Give yourself permission to say “No” when you are too busy to take on additional commitments of your time or energy.6. Exercise: Check with your doctor about what level is best for you. Even a brisk 15-minute walk, three times a week does wonders for how you think and feel.7. Do It Now: Procrastination can lead to negative feelings about yourself. One doesn’t have to go to extremes, but it can feel very satisfying at the end of the day to have accomplished a hard task or met a difficult situation head-on.8. Adapt To Rather Than Resist Change: Change is inevitable and is a necessary part of life. The important thing is to be patient with yourself when you are going through change, and to give yourself time to go through the phases of transition. Realize it takes time to let go of the old and embrace the new.9. Test Your Assumptions: Sometimes in our interactions with other people, we make the most incredible assumptions and act as if they are true. Rather than assuming, it might be worth the risk to ask directly what was meant.10. Express Your Feelings: Emotions are a natural response to life. It is important to find ways to express your feelings. Journaling your thoughts is one way that can help you clarify what you are feeling. Once you have identified your feelings, you may find it easier to share them with others.11. Grieve Losses: Sadness and grief are natural and appropriate responses to the losses which we all experience. Grief over the loss of a love one can be very painful and may last for some time. By being kind and allowing ourselves the time to grieve, we have the potential to be stronger than ever12. Rest: Get a good night’s sleep. Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep, but it should be restful sleep. There are many techniques available to help promote relaxation; or, you might want to check with your doctor rather than assuming your restless sleep is simply something you have to live with.13. Review Your “Shoulds”: If you feel stuck by some things you “Should” be doing and aren’t, set a time limit by which you will either have them done or get rid of them. Staying stuck in the middle is a good way to punish yourself and cause mental anguish and stress.14. Have A Laugh: Nurture your sense of humor, especially about yourself. Trying to see the humorous side of things makes even the most difficult situations easier to bear. Laughter is good medicine. Being too serious limits your ability to enjoy life.15. Ask For Help: If you need emotional support or just someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to ask for it. There are times in life when everyone must look outside themselves for comfort and advice. If friends can do the job, ask them to help. If not, be assured that professional help is available throug[...]

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is November 18, 2017


In 1999, Senator Harry Reid, a survivor of his father’s 1972 suicide, introduced a new resolution into the US Senate. With its passage, the US Congress designated the Saturday before Thanksgiving as National Survivors of Suicide Day - an awareness day that reaches out to thousands of people who have lost a loved one to suicide.National Survivors of Suicide Day has evolved into a global awareness day called International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day thanks to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. Sometimes called "Survivor Day," this November 17th will find children and adults affected by suicide loss gathering around the world at events in their local communities to find comfort and heal. Last year, there were over 350 Survivor Day events in 18 countries.Every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide. Every 41 seconds someone tries to understand that loss. If you need help, are suicidal or feeling hopeless, please call 1-800-273-TALK. [...]

October 10th is World Mental Health Day


October 10th 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of World Mental Health Day.

An awareness day that is celebrated around the world to shine a light on the importance of mental health.

This year's theme is mental health in the workplace. 

Link here to read about 9 workplace mental health statistics that show why this year's theme is so important.


October 1-7 2017 is Mental Health Awareness Week


October 1st - 7th 2017 is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in the United States and Canada. 
Since 1990, mental health advocates across North America have joined together during the first full week of October to sponsor awareness, create outreach and provide screenings in the name of mental health.
Also sponsored this week is National Depression Screening Day on October 9th and World Mental Health Day on October 10th. 
Mental health, a component of well-being, is just as essential as physical health and spiritual health. 
Learn how to take action, find support and dilute stigma by reaching out for more information here.

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day


Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt. Behind these statistics are the individual stories of those who have, for many different reasons, questioned the value of their own lives.Each one of these individuals is part of a community. Some may be well linked in to this community, and have a network of family, friends and work colleagues or school mates. Others may be less well connected, and some may be quite isolated. Regardless of the circumstances, communities have an important role to play in supporting those who are vulnerable.This sentiment is reflected in the theme of the 2017 World Suicide Prevention Day: ‘Take a minute, change a life.’ As members of communities, it is our responsibility to look out for those who may be struggling, check in with them, and encourage them to tell their story in their own way and at their own pace. Offering a gentle word of support and listening in a non-judgemental way can make all the difference.World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10th sponsored by The International Association for Suicide Prevention, The World Health Organization, The United Nations and many more grass root health organizations and agencies world-wide. This year's theme is "Connect, Communicate, Care" - three words that are at the heart of suicide prevention. • To learn about the warning signs for suicidal behavior go here  • For suicide resources in the USA use go here  • For global resources go here.  • There's always someone ready to talk to you any day, any time at 1 800 273 TALK[...]

What to Say When Calling 911 for a Mental Health Emergency


Mental health emergencies that are critical require immediate intervention. When self-harm, suicidal risk or violence is evident, calling 911 is THE best intervention. Often, I'm asked what kinds of things to say when calling 911. Here are some tips that are recommended by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.When calling 911, try to remain calm and make the call out of earshot from your loved one. As the call connects, identify who you are, and then the location of the emergency. Give the street address, cross streets. "My name is John Smith. I'm at 10 Oak Street. Closest cross street is Acorn."Describe the nature of the mental health emergency to the dispatcher. This way, the dispatcher can alert the appropriate emergency teams to the scene. Start with a short description. "My brother, Dan, is threatening suicide. He's in his room. And it's locked."Be ready to give more information about the emergency. The dispatcher will likely ask you for your loved one's name, gender, height, weight, race, clothing being worn or any other identifying data.  You might be asked if there are any weapons in the house. If medication is prescribed or if other lethal means have been accessed. Also, you should also identify yourself and your relationship to your loved one to the dispatcher. This includes whether you're a friend or family member. Answering the dispatchers questions will help determine which emergency response team is needed for the crisis. Often, communities have Crisis Intervention Teams to respond to a situation like this.Finally, be prepared to stay on the phone with the dispatcher while an emergency team makes it's way to your loved one. [...]

Stigma and Mental Illness


There are five levels of stigma that can affect your daily living experiences if you have a mental health disorder. Stigmatizing beliefs occur on a personal level, in the general public, within professions, via labels and by associative connections.1. Self Stigma is the self-blame you attach to your identity as being someone who has depression. Whether it's your personal or professional identity, you attach negative self-beliefs about your abilities or worthiness. These pessimistic beliefs can become such a part of your thinking style that you become passive and accepting of their power. In truth, the self-stigma you've assigned yourself is not based in reality. To combat this experience, you need to educate yourself about that mental illness is a REAL illness. Disorders are largely neurobiological issues, not a result of laziness or weak character. Try using these more positive affirmations:"Depression is a real medical illness.""I am much more than my mental illness.""Living with a mental illness offers me greater insight and compassion."2. Public stigma is the experience where myths and misinformation keep the general public fearful about mental illness. Commercials that make fun of someone with depression or anxiety might sell a product, but we'd all agree it perpetuates stigma. Movies, television shows, newscasts and jokes that use mental illness as a tool for ridicule worsens public stigma. Just like self-stigma, educating the public is the key here. Be it writing a letter, firing off an email, or talking to someone directly, taking on a public stigmatizing experience can become a teachable moment.3. Professional Stigma occurs when stigmatizing views of mental illness go beyond the general public to the so-called educated levels of professionals. Studies have shown that well-trained professionals from an array of health fields stereotype psychological disorders. To combat professional stigma, don't be afraid to educate. Take your personal knowledge of mental health disorders and help others learn what it's really about. Just because a person is a professional, does not necessarily mean they are truly educated.4. Label Stigma occurs with the use of diagnostic labels. It's important to note that diagnosis is a meaningful way to identify illness. However, the language of diagnosis can make having a mental illness stigmatizing. For example, "He's schizophrenic" feels more negative as a descriptor than "He is a person who has schizophrenia". Again, put yourself out there and correct the misuses of labels or language that dehumanize.5. Stigma by Association is the experience of being stigmatized because you know someone who has a mental illness. If you are a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor of someone who has mental illness, you have the potential for finding yourself socially disqualified from others. Sometimes called courtesy stigma or associative stigma, stigma by association devalues your status because you share an affiliation with a child or adult who has mental illness. If you are someone who has a mental illness, talk to your family and friends and teach them about the stigma by association. Give them permission to address stigma should they feel the need to do so. For example, if your spouse can educate a misinformed person about a mental illness , three things happen. First, your loved one confirms your importance and value. Second, your loved one minimizes stigma by teaching about the realities of mental illness, and third, the stigmatizing person learns a valuable lesson.Now that you understand how the psychosocial cycle of stigma presses on you, it's time to shift the focus of shame off of your shoulders. As you continue to educate yoursel[...]

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month


July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This awareness day was named after mental health activist and author Bebe Moore Campbell - and focuses on building awareness about the importance of mental wellness and effective mental health care for minorities. According to research, minorities are less likely to receive a mental health diagnosis, less likely to receive treatment for mental illness, have less access to and availability of mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care. More specifically:The percentage of Black and Latino children who use mental health care services is less than half that of Caucasian children (4­–5% & 10%, respectively)88% of Latino children with mental health issues have unmet needsMore than 25% of African American youth exposed to violence have been shown to be at high risk for post-traumatic stress disorderAdolescent Native Americans experience the highest rates of suicide of any population in the United States—at least three to five times the national averageIn the Asian American youth population, suicide ideation and suicide rates continue to increaseTo learn more about the needs of mental health services for diverse populations, or for where can find local activities celebrating this month, please go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness[...]

June is Men's Health Month


The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to increase the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. 

This awareness month encourages health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. 

Take a look at statistics on physical aspects of health for men and link here for mental health facts.

June is Post Traumatic Stress Awareness Month


In order to bring greater awareness to the issue of posttraumatic stress disorder, June has been designated as PTSD Awareness Month by the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD). And the United States Senate has designated June 27th as National PTSD Awareness Day. PTSD is a mental health problem that can occur after an adult or child has been exposed to a traumatic event(s) such as sexual or physical assault, natural or man-made disaster, and war-related combat stress. Symptoms of PTSD include persistent intrusive thoughts and distressing dreams about the traumatic event, triggered emotional responses to reminders of the trauma, efforts to avoid thinking or talking about the trauma, and persistent hypervigilance for cues that indicate additional danger or trauma may occur.PTSD is a treatable disorder. If you are struggling with symptoms, link here to find out how to access professional mental health.[...]

13 Reasons Why and Suicide Prevention


On this radio show of Psych Up Live, listen to me, Dr. Shane Owens and host Dr. Suzanne Phillips talk about the controversial show "13 Reasons Why"  - and ways to help prevent suicide, understand the kinds of trauma teenagers experience, and other crucial aspects of this groundbreaking series.

Terrorism and Disaster Reactions


When news of a terrorist attack occurs, it can cause suffering not only to those at ground zero, but others who witness the aftermath.Watching a traumatic event unfold on television, radio, the internet or social media sets into motion a variety of psychological reactions, called Disaster Reactions.  The list above shows you some of the many kinds of experiences children, teens and adults can have after a crisis. Tips for Coping with Terrorism1. Stay active Falling into passivity can worsen psychological and physical disaster reactions. Children and adults need to engage in meaningful activities. 2. Stay on track Resume a normal routine as soon as possible. Tending to your daily schedule helps ground you in normalcy. For children, this is especially important.3. Understand trauma Remind yourself that it's expected to have these kinds of reactions in the face of the disastrous event. It's especially important to teach children that reactions like these are normal.4. Don't numb your pain Be aware that reducing or avoiding pain with drugs or alcohol will only lengthen your traumatic response. Talk to you children about stress reactions and model healthy behavior for them.5. Express yourself Whether it's talking about your experience or expressing it in other forms, releasing your thoughts and feelings about the disaster will help you heal. Talk openly about the event and encourage discussions. For younger children, drawing and playing can help them express disaster reactions.6. Reach out to others While it's expected that you may want to be alone to deal with the trauma you've witnessed, studies shows that connecting to others helps us recover more quickly from disaster. If your child or teen wishes to "be alone" or disconnects from others, talk about the importance of connection and the healing benefits of staying bonded to others. 7. Unplug from media When disaster strikes, the media tends to over-report and over-saturate the public with images, misinformation and high anxiety information. Limit nternet, television and radio experiences to help shield you - and your children - from over-exposure.8. Be patient with others Realize that those around you are also under stress and may not act or react in a manner you would normally expect. 9. Watch your caffeine Avoid caffeine as its effects can amplify anxiety and disaster stress response. So limit your intake of coffee, soda and tea. And for kids, too much chocolate, and caffeine drinks can heighten anxiety and irritability.10. Celebrate goodness Remind yourself and your children that there is exponentially more good in the world than bad. Celebrate kindness and beauty, and revive your connection to humanity so your mind, body and soul can heal. [...]

Mother's Day: For Those Who Celebrate and Those Who Mourn


Mother's Day is a holiday that is marked world-wide. Countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, China and Japan, just to name a few, give moms a special day shout-out on the yearly calendar.

Historically, Mother's Day has been a day where children and other family members honor mothers or individuals who are nurturing and caretaking in maternal ways. For some, it's a day of celebration, of expressing one's love and appreciation for a mothering figure. The day is met with happiness and a full heart.

However, for others, Mother's Day is not so easy. It can bring forth sadness, loss and yearning if one's mother has died.

Or if a mother has lost a child, it can become an excruciating day filled with grief.

Or if you were never able to have children of your own.

Perhaps, Mother's Day becomes a day of anger and resentment if a person hasn't had a good relationship with a mother.

There are many more examples....too many to list in this post. 

In my work, landmark days, anniversary dates or holidays of any kind can be especially difficult for anyone who has experienced loss, death or the recognition of toxicity in a relationship.

Of all the days in the calendar year, Mother's Day and Father's Day can evoke the most profound emotional responses.

To those of you who struggle with this day, know that you're not alone.

Give yourself permission to feel and think whatever may come from within.

It's important for your to mother yourself.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month


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May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Though about 1 in 5 adults and children experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, mental illness continues to be stigmatized and misunderstood.

Learn more about mental illness, stigma and ways to educate others in my TEDx talk.

Universal Background Checks for Guns Lowers Suicide Rate


According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the suicide rate in the United States is now at a 30-year high. Another way to look at this is that every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide. Nearly two-thirds of the 32,000 gun deaths in the United States are suicides, according tothe latest data from the Centers for Disease Control. Firearm suicides outnumber firearm homicides nearly two to one. Indeed, far more Americans die by turning a gun on themselves than at the hands of others.In the United States, firearms, particularly handguns, are the most common means of suicide. About 85 percent of suicide attempts with a gun are fatal, whereas only 2 percent of overdoses, the most widely used method in suicide attempts, end in death. Despite strong empirical evidence that gun control reduces suicides, access to firearms in the United States is generally subject to few restrictions. However, a current April 2017 study published in the American Journal of Public Health is helping to kick nay-sayers for gun control to the curb - and save millions of lives. This long term study showed that handgun legislation yielded changes in statewide suicide rates. Specifically, data showed states with universal background checks had a decrease of 0.29 suicides per 100,000 people from 2013 to 2014 - nearly a 1/3 reduction in deaths by suicide using a firearm. Research shows the longer it takes a suicidal person to obtain a weapon, the more likely that individual will decide against dying by suicide. According to Dr. E Michael Lewiecki author of a paper on suicide and public policy, “If you have an impulse for suicide and you have easy access to a gun, you’re very likely to be successful at committing suicide. But if access to that means is not there, then the impulse may pass.”Currently, only 18 states in the union require this simple and life-saving universal background check.  Learn more at the Law Center to Reduce Gun Violence. [...]

Tips to Build Resiliency


Resiliency is the ability to spring back from and successfully adapt to adversity.Resilient people are often flexible in their thinking, endure difficulty with a realistic outlook and use the experience in self- empowering ways.Experts are not all in ageement about how much of resilience is genetic. So the thought is that resilience can be learned.Below are tips from the APA Help Center 1. Make Connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.2. Avoid Seeing Crises as Insurmountable Problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.3. Accept That Change Is a Part of Living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.4. Move Toward Your Goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"5. Take Decisive Actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.6. Look for Opportunities for Self-Discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, a greater sense of personal strength even while feeling vulnerable, an increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and a heightened appreciation for life.7. Nurture a Positive View of Yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.8. Keep Things in Perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.9. Maintain a Hopeful Outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.10. Take Care of Yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.[...]

March 1st is International Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Awareness Day


Non-Suicidal Self-injury (NSSI) – is any deliberate, non suicidal behavior that inflicts physical harm on one's body to relieve emotional distress.People who engage in NSSI usually do not involve a conscious intent to die by suicide, though many believe that people who harm themselves are suicidal. There are also numerous myths that surround NSSI, which create a stigma for those struggling with kind of coping behavior. Individuals who use NSSI are often trying to:* Distract emotional pain* End feelings of numbness* Calm overwhelming feelings* Maintaining control* Self-punish* Express thoughts that cannot be put into words* Express feelings for which there are no wordsWho engages in Non-Suicidal Self-Injury?There is no simple portrait of a person who intentionally self-injures. This behavior is not limited by gender, race, education, age, sexual orientation, socio-economics, or religion. However, there are some commonly seen factors:* NSSI  more commonly occurs in adolescent females.* Alexithymia is often a characteristic of those who struggle with NSSI.* Many self-injurers have a history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.* Many self-injurers have co-existing problems like depression, substance abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder or eating disorders.* Self-injures tend to have been raised in families that discouraged expression of anger, and tend to lack skills to express their emotions.What are the types of self-injury?* Cutting* Burning* Picking at skin* Interfereing with wound healing* Hair-pulling* Hitting* Scratching* Pinching* Biting* EmbeddingTreatment NSSI is often misunderstood, and those seek medical or mental health treatment frequently report being treated badly by emergency room doctors and nurses, counselors, police officers and even mental health professionals.Finding professionals who specialize in working with Non-Suicidal Self-Injury is IMPERATIVE. With proper treatment, new ways of coping will be learned and slowly the cycle of hurting will end.ResourcesIf you need help and are not sure where to turn?Call the S.A.F.E. Alternatives information line at (800) 366-8288 for referrals and support for non-suicidal self-injury. In the middle of a crisis?If you’re feeling suicidal and need help right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. at (800) 273-8255. [...]

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week


February 26th - March 4th is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in the United States.

Eating disorders result from an interplay of genetic, social and psychological factors. Some of the most common symptoms involve self-critical beliefs, negative feelings about one's body weight, conflictual thoughts about food, and eating habits that disrupt normal body functioning.

Eating Disorders can range from mild, moderate to severe - and interfere with daily life activities. 

Types of Eating Disorders 

Anorexia Nervosa - Essentially self-starvation, this disorder involves a refusal to maintain a minimally normal body weight. In severe cases, anorexia can be life-threatening Bulimia Nervosa ~ This involves repeated episodes of binge eating, followed by ways of trying to purge the food from the body or prevent expected weight gain. People can have this condition and be of normal weight. 

Binge-Eating Disorder -This is characterized by frequent episodes of overeating without purging. 

Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) - A range of other disordered eating patterns don’t fit into the other types of eating disorders. These eating patterns are still serious, and intervention and attention are necessary.

Eating disorders can affect functioning in every system of the body, especially the heart and kidneys, and may cause lasting damage and even death. Because of the urgency of the risks associated with eating disorders, getting high-quality eating disorder treatment early on is the best way to combat the mental and physical consequences of these devastating mental illnesses. Left unattended, eating disorders can lead to serious health problems or even death. For more information, go to the International Association of Eating Disorders. 

Suicide Facts Infographic



Why Consistency Matters in Your Mental Health Plan


As a psychologist who specializes in working with adults and children,  I’d tell you the most important issue in psychotherapy is how you approach your treatment. In clinical terms this is called treatment adherence, but it can also be known as consistency.Treatment adherence, the state of your acceptance and follow-through with treatment recommended by your healthcare professional, is critical to recovery. But it's even more important to maintain well-being.Consistency doesn’t just mean going to psychotherapy. Or taking your medication. Consistency means making every psychotherapy appointment. Being on time for sessions, and making sure you don’t skip treatment because you want to go to the beach or just don’t feel like talking. Consistency means taking your medication every day at the same time, with the same dose. Consistency means making sure you get refills in time so there’s no break or gap in your medication regime. Consistency means you aim to eat well, sleep well and exercise. The single biggest issue I see as doctor treating depression is non-adherence - how children and adults become too casual in their commitment to treatment. For many, once they begin to feel a bit better, they stop coming to sessions, or decide not to take medication anymore. The problem here is that while their symptoms have improved, the mood disorder is not at a management level. And as such, relapse occurs. The best way to think about being consistent with your treatment plan begins with aiming for managing your ILLNESS, not managing your SYMPTOMS. When you manage your symptoms, you are only taking care of the surface issues. Managing your illness takes more commitment, but it's so worth it.[...]

Tips to Help Your New Year's Resolutions


allowfullscreen="" class="giphy-embed" frameborder="0" height="320" src="//" width="480">It's that time of year again. When millions make resolutions as the new year begins. If you want to be successful with your goals, the American Psychological Association offers tips that will keep your eye on the prize.Start small: Make resolutions that you think you can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days a week at the gym instead of seven. If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yogurt, instead of seeing your diet as a form of punishment. Change one behavior at a time: Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Thus, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time. Talk about it: Share your experiences with family and friends. Consider joining a support group to reach your goals, such as a workout class at your gym or a group of coworkers quitting smoking. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating. Don’t beat yourself up: Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet, or skipped the gym for a week because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track. Ask for support: Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution. [...]

8 Types of Toys for Depressed Children


Shopping for toys during the holiday season always takes a bit of resourcefulness. You need to learn what’s new, what’s out, what’s flying off the shelves - and then carefully consider whether your purchase will add to your child’s entertainment stockpile. But if you have a child with special needs, especially one who is struggling with depression, finding the right toy can feel even more daunting.Though there are many different kinds of games and toys, here are 8 categories that I teach parents to consider thinking about when holiday shopping. These themes help with healing and are also super fun too. Seek out toys that teach about feelings. Though most children find it a challenge to label feelings, depressed children struggle even more in identifying and expressing them. Toys like Eggspressions, Kimochis and Moody Monsters Memory Game invite depressed kids to see the subtle differences between and among emotions. They also teach how actual expressions look on others’ faces as well as their own. Playing with these toys will help your child learn how mad is different than irritated. How sad is different than lonely. Once children learn these subtle differences, they can better label what they’re feeling and talk about it.Get artsy. Research shows that the expressive arts, like drawing, painting and creating music not only lift mood, they help children express and manage feeling states. Old-school toys that encourage artistic expression like crayons, paints, clay are great items. So is getting your child a musical instrument. And don’t forget the new-school digital ways of getting art and music into your child’s life with downloadable apps and computer software like Toca Band, MoMA Artlab, Garage Band or iDraw, for example.Choose problem solving toys: Depression can cause distractibility, lower reasoning and interrupt flow of thinking – parts of the brain area called “executive functioning.” Toys and games that challenge your child to find solutions, tap judgment or use logic will help sharpen these important cognitive skills. Classic games like Chess, Othello, Battleship and Trimonos are terrific board games. Digital ones like Star Wars Pit Droids, Angry Birds, and Bubble Ball are fun and educational too.Pick games that build resiliency: Games that teach depressed children how to be resilientunder pressure can improve self-esteem and reduce hopelessness. Consider classic toys like Jenga, Don’t Break the Ice, Don’t Spill the Beans, Topple, Kerplunk, Crocodile Dentist, Flinchand Hot Potato. Shop for educational and gaming apps for your child that likes tech-y things over old-school games by searching online at stores like Amazon or Toys-R-Us.Toys that relax: Toys and games that incorporate color and lights increase feel-good endorphins and are instant mood lifters. Classic toys like Lite Brite, Melissa and Doug’s Light Box, Rain Tubes, Sand Windows, Water Volcanoes, Sand Play and Lava Lamps are home run toys. Even a simple jar of bubbles can teach children how to deep breathe, offering a space for fun and relaxation skill building. Night Lights like Cloud B Tranquil Turtle, Rainbow Bulbs or Uncle Milton’s Shooting Stars are soothing as are Aromathe[...]