Understanding Relapse and Moving Forward

on Tuesday, 20 July 2021.

Understanding Relapse and Moving Forward

Addiction, similar to other illnesses or diseases, can see a relapse. Regardless of sobriety length or type of addiction, relapsing is a common experience faced by recovering addicts and emphasizes the need for addiction to be treated as any other illness.

A relapse in addiction is the recurrence of substance abuse or behavior after a period of nonuse –known as sobriety. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, approximately 40 to 60 percent of people treated for substance abuse experience a relapse at some point in their recovery.

A relapse can be caused by a variety of situations. Not only can physical triggers, such as a change in medication or an accident, lead to a relapse but also the social environment a person is surrounded by. Because of this, addiction treatment needs to be all-encompassing.

Despite any negative emotions or reactions felt toward a relapse, a relapse is not a sign of failure in recovery but rather a sign of treatment needing to be adjusted for the addict’s success in sobriety.

Moving forward from a relapse can be incredibly difficult as the experience can be demoralizing and isolating. The re-introduction of the substance abuse or behavior may make the efforts toward long-term sobriety even more challenging initially. However, relapse provides a unique opportunity to reassess treatment and learn from any setbacks experienced in recovery.

If you know someone who has struggled with a relapse, it is important to remember that their addiction is not them. That a relapse in their recovery does not take away from the efforts made toward sobriety.

If you are someone who currently is or has struggled with a relapse in the past, it is necessary to continue engaged treatment and consult a professional on maintaining your path in recovery.

When It’s Hard to celebrate: Father’s Day

on Monday, 14 June 2021.

When It’s Hard to celebrate: Father’s Day

 

In less than a week, millions of people will be celebrating Father’s Day. One Sunday in June dedicated to dad. For many, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are filled with smiles, dinners and gifts. For just as many, however, these two days carry grief, trauma and discomfort.

Parent-centered holidays are experienced uniquely, but many share a negative or sad sentiment of the weekend. For those who lost their loved one, grief can resurface and loneliness can seep in. For those who may have an estranged relationship, anger and resentment are commonly felt. Fathers themselves may see this holiday as a reminder of their own trauma or even may feel challenged in their fatherhood.

In any situation that you may be experiencing, know that it’s OK not to celebrate.

In however way you choose to approach this upcoming weekend, know that your choice is valid, and your feelings are real.

Despite this, there are certain decisions you can make that may help this weekend move forward a little faster.

  1. Let it out

Take a second, take a deep breath and let yourself feel it. Using unhealthy compartmentalization techniques only delay resolving your trauma or conflict in a situation. While it is understandable to want to hide your feelings from the world, don’t be afraid to let yourself express your emotions — venting to a friend, calling another loved one or even just crying it out.

  1. Log off

While social media is a fantastic tool for keeping up with friends and family, it can also negatively affect your mood and mental health. Social media is used by many for their best days: the perfectly edited selfie, the candid laugh, the achievements and engagements. On a day like Father’s Day, it’s OK to log off and protect yourself from repeated reminders.

  1. Lean into yourself

A part of learning to manage troubling holidays is to embrace yourself through it. This embrace should be based in healing. While we cannot always change our situation, we can adapt and grow through it. This growth isn’t linear but prioritizing your healing and leaning into yourself will give you an ability to better approach any trigger or reminder.

So, however you choose to recognize Father’s Day, remember that taking care of yourself should always be the first priority.

 

Imposter syndrome in a “college town”

on Friday, 14 May 2021.

Imposter syndrome in a “college town”

Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon of the internal experience of feeling doubt in yourself related to your academic or skill performance. The inability to internalize your proven success and insecurity over your standing describes the phenomenon. Those who struggle with this add the feeling of being undeserving of their accomplishments.

If this describes how you feel or have felt in the past, you’re not alone. 

According to an article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, nearly 70% of people will experience this phenomenon at some point in their lives. The phenomenon is reflected differently between people, as the behavior behind it can be different. Examples of this include “perfectionists” that cannot meet their unfairly high expectations or “soloists” who refuse to ask for the help of others.

The causes behind the feelings associated with imposter syndrome are speculated and can vary between each person. Influences such as family dynamics, mental health or illness, childhood trauma or even just a competitive environment can affect it.

Living in a “college town” can bring this phenomenon fairly regularly. With consistent graduations, awards ceremonies, job announcements, etc., it can be overwhelming constantly being surrounded by people who seemingly are doing it right.

Despite how imposter syndrome may make you feel, you can overcome it. For many, social media and polite conversations leave out all the messy details of life we all experience.

Because this phenomenon is so widely experienced, it is very likely that you can share your experience with someone who has also dealt with it. Talking about your feelings and seeking affirmations from those around you can help you reframe your thoughts. It is important to also question yourself when these doubts arise. Why are you comparing yourself to someone who has had a different life than you? Are your doubts fair to you? Are you facing these feelings head-on?

It’s important to remember that we are all on this planet together, all living different lives at different paces. Talking to friends, seeing a specialist or even just daily affirmations are all great beginning points to overcoming imposter syndrome.

Avoiding Burnout

on Monday, 05 April 2021.

Avoiding Burnout

Burnout is a mental or physical state experienced after prolonged stress. Burnout is an exhaustion that can be brought on by a variety of situations. Instead of viewing tasks or daily activities as enjoyable, someone experiencing burnout will feel emotionally drained and overwhelmed — typically leading to avoidant behaviors that will worsen the feelings of being overwhelmed or disengaged.

 

Stress and burnout are not the same. Stress is typically experienced as an overegagement or feelings of not having enough time, resources or support to keep up with your responsibilities. Stress can usually be pointed out as a single issue, such as being stressed out about homework or job deadlines.

 

Burnout is past the peak of stress, to the point where every day feels disengaged. People with burnout lose motivation and see all activities as pointless. Procrastination worsens these feelings, as responsibilities begin to stack up, making the burnout even harder to overcome. Burnout without any measures to overcome it can lead to developing depression or worsening anxiety.

 

Academic stress, family relationship challenges, job workload and external stressors such as a pandemic can all lead to burnout. Each situation is different, and it’s important to recognize that burnout, while common, is caused and experienced differently for everyone.

 

Whether you are seeing yourself approach the breaking point or you already are burnt out, attempting to push through it is not the correct response. Burnout is a sign of needing change. Your responsibilities, workload and priorities need to be reevaluated in order to bring change and reignite your motivation to approach each day.

 

Seeing a counselor or therapist during burnout is a great step to make a change as therapy is a sign of mental health prioritization. Beyond therapy, overcoming burnout begins with small changes to your daily lifestyle. Small efforts that make tomorrow a little easier are great stepping stones to working through burnout.

 

Know that you are not alone, and you most likely know someone who has experienced burnout too.

Job Stress and Mental Health

on Friday, 19 March 2021.

Job Stress and Mental Health

There’s been a long-held concept that if you hate your job, and it is impacting your mental health, it’s time to look for another job.

However, given what we have experienced in the last year, leaving a job and finding a new one may be more complicated that you think. As a result, people have been left with weighing the impact of a job loss (especially during a pandemic when jobs are not easy to find) and dealing with the mental-health issues associated with a horrible job.

An additional factor to consider in the last year is the possibility you have lost a job due to the pandemic and cannot find another one in an extremely tight job market.

No matter which of the above may be the case with you or someone you know, the stress related to it is something that has to be considered.

If you are in a work situation that you hate, you are not alone. According to a recent Gallup poll, 51 percent of Americans working full time are uninterested in or dislike their jobs.

People who stay at their job because they felt obligated or couldn’t find another opportunity are  more likely to experience exhaustion, stress and burnout. Additionally, an associated feeling of indebtedness and a loss of autonomy are emotionally challenging over the long term. All of these issues can lead to mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

At work, they can lead to an inability to be productive, which can jeopardize one’s job status. But taking it a step further, depression and anxiety will ultimately lead to greater consequences outside the workplace.

What steps can be taken to prevent this?

First, employers in need of a healthy workforce should be providing mental-health assessment tools, screenings for depression and insurance that includes good mental-health care.

And for those dealing with mental-health issues, it is critical to recognize what you are going through and take advantage of any opportunities available to deal with them. That starts with self-honesty.

Most people fear the consequences related to reaching out for help. However, the alternative is far more serious.

Getting better may require leaving a bad job – a challenging task today. 

But it’s imperative to take the steps to achieve better health. Mental-health issues should be taken seriously and treated – just as one would do when it comes to physical health.

Fractured Love: The Basics and Benefits of Couples Therapy

on Monday, 15 February 2021.

Fractured Love: The Basics and Benefits of Couples Therapy

With the season of love and romance coming to a close with the passing of Valentine’s Day, it’s important to address the negative side of this season — light shined on unhealthy relationships and how it affects your mental health.

All relationships, even friendships, require a little bit of work. However, relationships should not feel like a burden or a chore to complete. Unhealthy relationships can cause increased anxiety, depression and bring out issues with anger management.

While minor disagreements and issues of miscommunication are typically fixable without help, some grievances in relationships need professional guidance.

Similar to individual therapy, couples counseling is meant to help guide you and your partner on a healthy path and give each of you the communication tools to resolve conflict.

Typically, a licensed marriage or family therapist will work with you and your partner. While the specific methods and focus of treatment may vary, couples and family therapy will work to address a specific issue, encourage active participation from all parties and maintain a future and solution-focused approach.

The type of therapy treatments and assessments should consider aspects of your relationship: interracial, heterosexual or homosexual, age, what stage the relationship is in and if therapy is being sought after a specific incident such as infidelity.

An important part of couples therapy is to not wait until it’s too late. Some damage may not be able to be addressed correctly in couples counseling if you and your partner have waited too long to heal the issue. Divorce is not the only option, and statistics suggest that generally relationships can be salvaged, if both people agree to the treatment and stay dedicated.

Achieving New Year’s Resolutions

on Tuesday, 12 January 2021.

Achieving New Year’s Resolutions

 

Every new year is a new opportunity to achieve personal goals and make constructive changes to your life. The tradition of adopting New Year’s resolutions is practiced by many, with some choosing themes or words to live by during the year. The idea behind these resolutions should be based on personal or financial growth, but many feel stress or disappointment related to their resolutions.

 

Instead of resolutions motivating you, some may feel like demoralizing obstacles or boundaries are in the way of your goals. For resolutions related to mental health, physical health or job achievement, there can be added stress of being able to prove to those around you that you have succeeded in your resolutions. What may start out as an encouraging resolution could devolve into a stressful situation.

 

This can be avoided. Instead of a daunting to-do list, resolutions can serve as inspiration and encouragement. Listed below are a few tips we at ITM Group recommend to help you achieve and maintain your New Year’s resolutions:

 

  1. Make it measurable

 

A great way to make sure that your resolutions are healthy and achievable is to make them measurable. Avoiding a broad resolution and breaking it down into measurable actions helps the resolution seem doable. If your resolution this year is to increase physical activity, then setting aside 30 minutes a day to walk outside is an example of how to make it measurable.

 

  1. Keep it attainable

 

Keeping your resolution attainable is another recommended tip to help you achieve it with ease. Start small and take it step-by-step. A resolution to seek mental health can be obtained by setting a goal to reach out to a counselor and schedule one appointment. After the first appointment, schedule the next. The step-by-step decision allows you to take each day as it comes but make small changes to better tomorrow.

 

  1. Talk it out

 

Resolutions are a common tradition, and it’s likely that you may share a resolution with someone you know. Finding those with a similar resolution and routinely discussing it can help you stay on top of your goals. Even in the more virtual present-day lifestyle with COVID-19, talking with those around you about your goals is a great motivational tool. Resolutions are individual and not a competition, but you don’t have to do it alone.

 

  1. Be open and ask for support

 

Many resolutions can be difficult to begin if you don’t know where to start. Setting a goal of going to gym can be hard to achieve if you are unsure what gym routine to set. Asking those around you for support is not something to be ashamed of. Improvement and goal setting is never linear, and it is never as easy as social media makes it look.

 

Working toward improving your physical and mental health through setting a resolution happens one step at a time. A lifestyle change shouldn’t be a stressor, nor should it be about the extent of change. It is about you being the healthiest and happiest you can be.

 

Happy New Year from the ITM Group!

Managing Workplace Stress

on Thursday, 17 December 2020.

Managing Workplace Stress

When not at home, most find themselves at work.

While it’s normal for many to experience a little bit of stress at work, excessive or prolonged stress can be detrimental to your mental health.

COVID-19 has added increased responsibilities and stress to the workplace. It’s important to maintain a healthy environment at your workplace. Managing workplace stress should be a priority if you feel consistent stress from your job.

Workplace stress can lower productivity and morale, as well as lead to mistakes and misunderstandings. Causes of workplace stress can include:

       Pressure to perform or meet certain productivity standards

       Working overtime or long shifts without breaks

       Fear of being laid off or losing your job

       Dissatisfaction with wages

It’s necessary to recognize what causes stress for you at work to be able to address it. The effects of the stress can show through anxiety, depression, lack of appetite and inability to concentrate and perform. To manage or decrease your workplace stress, ITM recommends a few methods:

       Make sure you’re receiving enough sleep each night

       See a mental health specialist to work through a strategy to address the situation

       Adjust your work routine to include more breaks and a balanced schedule

       Prioritize task management efforts in group projects

       Speak with your manager about workplace responsibilities to create clarity and fix workplace stressors

       Try to avoid bringing your work home with you, or try to avoid combining work from home with relaxation

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have rippled into everyone’s life. It’s necessary to acknowledge external stressors that are having an impact on your workplace. Don’t expect perfectionism and maintained productivity when your environment isn’t conducive. Regardless of what your job is, there are a variety of methods to decrease stress and improve your workplace environment.

 

Suicide Prevention

on Thursday, 10 December 2020.

Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a global health concern. In the United States in 2018, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death.

Suicide is a complex public health issue. Treatments and therapies for those contemplating suicide or having suicidal thoughts varies for everyone. Knowing the warning signs and risk factors associated with suicide can help with prevention.

Risk factors

The risk factors behind suicide vary between each person. These factors can affect anyone and do not necessarily lead to suicide.

       Family history of mental health issues

       Family or personal history of substance abuse

       A prior attempt

       Personal history of mental illness, abuse or sexual violence

       Medical conditions

Signs and symptoms

       An increase in substance abuse

       Discussion of feelings of depression, hopeless, guilt, isolation or suicide

       Giving away of valued possessions

       Self-harm, changes in eating habits or extreme mood swings

       Saying goodbyes or putting affairs in order

       Making a plan to commit suicide, writing out a note

It’s important to speak up if you notice the signs of suicide. Treatment can include medications, varying psychotherapies, group and behavioral therapy, and interventions.

If you know someone in a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Available 24/7.

Holiday Stress: Five Ways to De-stress during the Holiday Season

on Monday, 23 November 2020.

Holiday Stress: Five Ways to De-stress during the Holiday Season

2020 has filled the lives of many with grief and isolation. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way everyone has had to live. As the season changes and the holidays approach, managing additional stress may seem like climbing a towering mountain. However, recognizing the stress you are feeling is necessary to manage it.

Although this Thanksgiving and following winter holidays are unlike any other, taking the time and effort to de-stress is just as important. We at ITM recommend these five tips to deal with stress:

  1. Disconnect and unplug

The stress caused by social media is not unknown. Between news outlets and the personal stories of those on your feed, social media can take its toll on your mental health. As noted by Pew Research, frequent internet users are more aware of “stressful events” in the lives of others. Taking even just 10 minutes to unplug from social media can help you de-stress. Instead of online, those 10 minutes can be used productively or even just to get some rest.

  1. Meditate

Meditation is an activity that allows you to spend time focusing inward and channeling out negative stress. The few minutes of quiet meditation can be a quick and easy way to de-stress in the moment. Including yoga or your preferred method of prayer can also add to your meditative experience.

  1. Exercise

Exercise is undeniably an important part of taking care of your body. Even a brisk walk once a week can have a significant positive effect on your mental health and body. The endorphins released during exercise can be an immediate mood booster and help you take a mental break away from stress in your life.

  1. Change your immediate environment

The isolation and quarantining of COVID-19 have been difficult for many to adjust to. Despite the need to stay home, it is still possible to use a change in your immediate environment to de-stress. For example, instead of spending an entire day in your bedroom, you can spend some time moving in the kitchen or relaxing in the living room. Even sitting in your yard and taking some time alone can be a great way to de-stress, especially if you are home with extended family this holiday season.

  1. Find a creative outlet

The winter season is the perfect time to take up a new creative hobby or fall back into one. The outlet of keeping busy while doing something that is not mentally or physically strenuous is a wonderful way to de-stress. For some, it can be an affordable way to prepare for gift giving.

It’s necessary to take time in your day-to-day life to de-stress. While this year has not been kind to many, it does not mean you can’t be kind to yourself. 

Types of Depression

on Monday, 16 November 2020.

Types of Depression

Depression is a serious mood disorder that shows itself in a variety of forms. It is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. The signs and symptoms of depression can be managed but can worsen or be debilitating if left undiagnosed or untreated.

Signs and symptoms generally need to be apparent for at least a few weeks in order to be diagnosed. Common symptoms include: anxious or “empty” moods, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, loss of interest, fatigue, feeling restless, struggles to concentrate, changes in appetite and/or sleep, thoughts of death or suicide and even aches or pains that do not go away with treatment.

Depression impacts millions in multiple ways and can be brought on by external events or seasonal changes. Some forms of depression are:

       Seasonal affective disorder;

       Postpartum depression;

       Persistent depressive disorder;

       Psychotic depression;

       Bipolar disorder.

Treatment for depression is a unique experience for everyone. What works for one person may not work for another person even if their symptoms are similar. Depression treatment and management can be sought out in the form of antidepressants, therapy and behavioral changes. Addressing a mental illness is never a one-size-fits-all experience, and it is important to be patient and listen to your body and mind’s reaction to any treatment.

The Approaching Winter Season and Seasonal Affective Disorder

on Thursday, 22 October 2020.

The Approaching Winter Season and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is known as a type of depression that is related to changes in the season. Typically, SAD occurs in people around the same time every year. For many people who are affected by SAD, the fall transition into winter months is when the symptoms become apparent. Less often do people experience the symptoms in spring or summer, but it is not unheard of.

As we enter the winter season, especially in the time of social distancing during COVID-19, don’t dismiss your emotions as being restless or cooped up. SAD affects approximately 5 percent of Americans, so it’s important to listen to your body and emotions.

Symptoms of SAD vary for everyone, but these are the common symptoms to be aware of:

     Low energy or low interest in activities;

     Changes in diet and appetite;

     Excess or the inability to fall asleep;

     Feeling hopeless, sluggish or unmotivated;

     Increased anxiety.

The effects of SAD can be detrimental if left untreated. COVID-19 has brought on additional concerns surrounding mental health as thousands are struggling with grief, financial inconsistency and social withdrawal. Having a few days occasionally where you are feeling down is normal. But, prolonged symptoms are a cause of concern.

In this unprecedented time, it’s necessary to be honest about your emotions and to check in on those around you.

The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

on Tuesday, 13 October 2020.

The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

When managing trauma or mental health concerns, turning to a variety of coping mechanisms is common. Each person manages their mental health differently, but it is important that the coping mechanisms used are healthy.

Coping skills are an essential part of managing mental health and recovering from trauma. Often used to stabilize mood, decrease the intensity of one’s emotions and minimize stress, these skills can be recommended by therapists and mental health professionals to be accustomed to your needs.

Unhealthy coping mechanisms can provide quick, intense relief from overwhelming emotions. However, long term, there can be serious damage done. Examples of unhealthy coping mechanisms include substance abuse, self-harm, procrastination, drastic diet changes and withdrawal. For each of these, and other examples of unhealthy coping mechanisms, problems will worsen. A key aspect of unhealthy coping mechanisms is that they are used to distract or numb the emotions toward a situation.

Healthy coping mechanisms may not provide the instant gratification that unhealthy ones do, but they help provide positive healing and can lead to strides in managing your mental health. Examples of healthy coping mechanisms are moderate exercise, relaxation techniques, starting productive hobbies, seeking out professional help and making a daily calendar.

Choosing the right coping skills to incorporate into your daily routine is important. Using unhealthy coping mechanisms can add stress to your life. Coping skills are not a one-size-fits-all approach. If meditation is not right for you, then maybe journaling or exercise are. It’s necessary to keep an open mind and to listen to your body and positively address your mental health.

How Aging Affects Mental Illness

on Tuesday, 22 September 2020.

How Aging Affects Mental Illness

Mental health should be a prioritized concern regardless of age. According to the CDC, over 20% of people over the age of 55 experience some type of mental health concern. This number is on the rise, and the severity of concerns experienced by the elderly lead to troubling statistics. For example, men over the age of 85 have one of the highest rates of suicide. The reasons behind how aging impacts mental illness are vast, but it’s important to be aware of the concerns.

Socialization is a great way to help manage mental health. Being surrounded by friends, coworkers and family members can be a positive influence and can help one maintain a schedule. As people age and enter into retirement, there can be a decrease in socialization. This can negatively impact managing depression or anxiety, along with mood disorders.

An unfortunate part of aging is grief. Losing friends, siblings and parents are devastating hardships that take time to recover. As one gets older, the experience of death tends to happen more frequently. It doesn’t hurt any less, and it is important for those experiencing grief to seek therapy or counseling.

Another part of aging that can drastically affect mental health is the physical impairment that comes with aging. Decreasing mobility, hearing and vision impairments, and complications with medications can create symptoms of anxiety.

Even if someone spent their entire childhood and adult life without experiencing concerns regarding mental health, it is possible and increasingly common for aging people to experience late onset depression for a variety of reasons including the ones discussed above.

The concerns surrounding mental health and aging are serious, and it is important that elderly people are able to seek resources to help manage their symptoms. At ITM, our team of licensed therapists and counselors can provide the right treatment and services for you or a loved one who is experiencing concerns about their age and mental health.

Normalizing Therapy

on Wednesday, 16 September 2020.

Normalizing Therapy

Mental illness in the United States is a growing issue. Unfortunately, mental health and recovery are plagued by stigma.

Due to misinformation, fear of being socially rejected and the lack of societal recognition of the severity of mental illness, many do not seek out therapy or other forms of treatment. For those who do seek out therapy, some are faced with expensive bills and high insurance copays. The need for the normalization of seeking out therapy is a necessity in order to address the growing crisis surrounding mental health.

The effects of therapy not being a normalized option for those struggling with mental illness or varying types of recovery are long-lasting and harmful. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly 50% of people with mental illness, regardless of severity, struggle with a form of substance abuse. Statistics such as that highlight how lack of access to treatment can hurt people’s livelihood permanently.

Therapy for many is a safe path for diagnosis. Especially for youth and young adults, finding out early a correct diagnosis is imperative for the successful management and treatment of mental illness. For those struggling with trauma and PTSD issues, therapy is typically the main aspect of recovery.

Normalizing therapy is a multifaceted process that must include all sides of the issue. Not only does it have to include the spread of factual information about the vast benefits of therapy, but it also must include perspectives from therapists themselves. Resources to different types of therapy, including trauma, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and mental illness counseling, must be widespread and readily available.

The hill to climb in managing mental illness can be overwhelming. But you’re not alone. Therapy exists to provide a safe environment that gives treatment.

At ITM Group, we can assure you that our services exist to help you. Our team of mental health professionals only includes qualified professionals with the resources to help you enhance your life experience.

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