Holiday Stress

on Thursday, 21 November 2019.

Holiday Stress

It’s common for the holiday season to cause more stress than joy for many people. Anxiety and depression symptoms can rise even though those around are enjoying the festivities.

While depression can come any time of the year, many studies show that stress and anxiety in November and December can be far greater for some people. Many things can trigger this “holiday stress.”

One factor can be social isolation. Many people have a relatively small social circle or none at all. People who feel disconnected from others will avoid social interaction more this time of year, as many around are celebrating with multiple social events. This personal, social withdrawal makes any holiday depression symptoms that much worse.

Another reason could be returning grief. If a loved one was lost earlier in the year, their absence can be felt more intensely around the holidays when family comes together. A previous loss during the holidays may spoil current celebrations as well, as this brings up difficult memories.

While isolation is not the best choice, there are times it may be better for you to excuse yourself from a social event if attending is going to make you more miserable. If you do skip a festivity, try to find an alternative to being alone at home.

Many people may find themselves feeling persistently sad or anxious this holiday season despite their best efforts. If unsuccessful in feeling better, consider consulting a professional. At The ITM Group, we regularly see people who may need to talk to someone with experience in order to climb out of that depression. The important thing is to take that first step to seek qualified professional help.



on Thursday, 07 November 2019.


While most pregnant women experience mild mood changes during or after birth, 15 to 20% of women experience severe symptoms of depression or anxiety. With proper care you can prevent the worsening of these symptoms and can fully recover.

Every woman has the possibility of developing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. Symptoms can begin any time during pregnancy or the first 12 months post-birth. Though common, there are effective and well-researched treatment options to help recuperate.

Depression during and after pregnancy occurs more often than most people would think. Depression during pregnancy is also called antepartum or prenatal depression, and depression after pregnancy is referred to as postpartum depression. 

Approximately 15% of women experience significant postpartum depression, though the percentages rise for women who are also dealing with poverty or teen pregnancy. Ten percent of women experience antepartum depression in pregnancy.

Symptoms can start anytime during pregnancy or the first year postpartum. They differ for everyone, and could include:

·         Feelings of anger or irritability

·         Lack of interest in the baby

·         Appetite and sleep disturbance

·         Crying and sadness

All forms of pregnancy mood disorders are treatable. If symptoms are making it difficult to enjoy your current pregnancy or newborn child, contact a doctor to find a treatment right for you. Having a child should be a joyous time; don’t let depression or anxiety get in the way.

Mental Health Day

on Monday, 21 October 2019.

Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day was celebrated Oct. 10. While the day has come and passed, we can still remember it as an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues and advocate against social stigmas. This year’s theme focused on suicide and suicide prevention to bring light to the issue and start a discussion within not only organizations, but also communities and social circles.

Globally, nearly 800,000 people take their own life each year, though there are many more people who attempt to. It is also the second leading cause of death globally among 15-29-year-olds.

Every suicide is a tragedy. They affect families, communities, friends and peers long-term. This World Mental Health Day and through October, consider how you can help educate others on their overall level of understanding of mental health, and specifically discuss the stigmas surrounding suicide, to support those who might most need help.

Everyone has their own battles – stress, grief, sadness – and all these emotions add up. World Mental Health Day allows a chance to step back and assess our own mental health and to encourage us to make changes where needed. Chances are, there’s more to anxiety, OCD and depression than you thought you knew. Inform yourself on statistics and facts and use this info to help inform and educate those around you.

You don't need to suffer or experience any mental illnesses to make a difference on the topic. Educating yourself and offering support to your community can better the health of those around you, while also contributing to the conversation.

Pursuit of Happiness

on Thursday, 17 October 2019.

Pursuit of Happiness

Being on the pursuit of happiness and seeking inner peace are very different goals. Here are some ways in which our journeys differ depending on what we’re pursuing.


·         Attaining happiness is reaching a point where we enjoy and appreciate our lives. This is a product of an enjoyable life situation (things go well) combined with an ability to appreciate our circumstances regardless by maintaining a positive mindset.

·         Attaining inner peace means that we feel at peace with our life regardless of if things go well or not.


How to view external circumstances:

·         Part of attaining happiness is to focus our efforts on improving the negative aspects of our lives. This way, we can be truly happy.

·         Instead of trying to change our life situation (as is the case for happiness), inner peace focuses on changing our attitude and reactions toward life.


How to view positive experiences:

·         Seeking happiness assumes that we can reach a point when we have mostly positive experiences; it’s a constant search for that “feel good” feeling.

·         A pursuit of inner peace is not a pursuit of enjoyable experiences or situations; it’s a journey toward creating an attitude of acceptance and appreciation, regardless of the obstacles or situation.


How mindset plays into it:

·         To be happy, we need to approach situations from a positive place. Some argue that a positive mindset not only impacts how we experience life, but can also change circumstances within our lives.

·         Inner peace goes beyond the mind. It’s not a matter of changing how we think, but a path toward taking a different approach at experiencing and relating to the world you live in.


If you’re pursuing happiness, you’re on a self-improvement journey.


If you’re pursuing inner peace, you’re on a spiritual journey.


Both happiness and inner peace can be found. Pursuing happiness and inner peace are not mutually exclusive, and for most of us they are likely to merge over time.


on Friday, 27 September 2019.


Feeling overwhelmed by work? Have you skipped out on vacation plans this year or the past few years? Taking a vacation is much-needed downtime that your body needs – both mentally and physically, to maintain a happy work and play balance.

Research shows that Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world. They also take less vacation, work longer days and retire at older ages. But people who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, are happier and have more motivation to achieve goals. 

Mental and Physical Benefits

Improved Physical Health: The New York Times reports that taking a vacation every two years will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks. Stress is known to bring on such ailments.

Improved Mental Health: Feelings of calm come with time away from work and relieve stress, which allows the body and mind to heal in ways that it couldn't if it were still under severe pressure.

Greater Well-Being: One study found that three days after vacation, participants' physical complaints, quality of sleep and mood had improved compared to before vacation. These positives were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacation or downtime.

Decreased burnout: Workers who take regular downtime to relax are less likely to experience burnout. This makes these employees more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.

Planning: Research shows the biggest boost in happiness comes from planning the vacation. A vacation can serve as daily motivation toward something fun and can help keep a positive mindset through difficult obstacles and workplace stress.

The bottom line is, taking time away from work and daily life can improve health, motivation, relationships, job performance and perspective, and give us the break we need to return to our lives, jobs and responsibilities refreshed and better equipped to handle anything.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

on Monday, 23 September 2019.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or the "winter blues," is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder that occurs and ends around the same time every year. Seasonal depression typically starts when the seasons change during fall and goes through winter. Seasonal depression can still occur in the summer or spring but is less likely.


Since seasonal depression has a predictable time of arrival, preventative measures can be taken to reduce symptoms. Prevention can include beginning light therapy in the early fall before the onset of symptoms, exercising more or visiting climates with more sunlight. 


1.      5% of Americans suffer from SAD per year

2.      4/5 diagnosed with seasonal depression are women

3.      Typical age to experience is 20-30 years old

4.      Further from the equator, the more likely to experience symptoms of seasonal depression


Symptoms of seasonal depression are typically similar to those that occur with depression, making it sometimes difficult to diagnose SAD. Unlike other forms of depression, SAD increases hunger. Larger appetite, excessive sleepiness and weight gain are all common symptoms of seasonal depression. A diagnosis of SAD can be made after two consecutive occurrences of depression that occur and end at the same time every year, with the symptoms subsiding the rest of the year. 

1.      Mood changes: extremes of mood and sometimes mania during spring and summer

2.      Lethargy: fatigue and inability to carry out daily activities

3.      Overeating: craving for sugary or starchy foods causing weight gain

4.      Anxiety: tension and inability to handle stress appropriately

5.      Depression: misery, guilt, no self-esteem, despair, diminished interest in activities

6.      Social problems: irritability and aims to avoid social contact


Phototherapy, or bright light therapy, has been proven to slow the brain’s release of melatonin. Although, there have been no research findings to definitely link this therapy with an antidepressant effect, light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85% of diagnosed cases. Antidepressant drugs may prove effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms, but many come with unwanted side effects. Discuss your symptoms with your family doctor and/or mental health professional to find the right path of treatment for you.

Back-To-School Stress

on Monday, 26 August 2019.

Back-To-School Stress

Stress plagues both kids and parents alike during back-to-school transitions. Being proactive to these stressors will combat negative stress early on and make back-to-school time easier on everyone.

Listen to one another

In order to be able to recognize heightened, school-related anxiety in your child, listen to their specific grievances. If your child is complaining about attending school or having difficulty doing their work, get to the root of the problem. Suggesting solutions and solving problems early on will relieve unnecessary stress.


Kids need a lot more sleep than most people think. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children in kindergarten to 3rd grade should be sleeping up to 12 hours per night, while high schoolers need 8-10 hours. Cut nighttime habits that are timewasters, such as TV or video games, to get a good night’s rest. Better sleep will help make the school day the best it can be.

Contact the teacher

Contact your child’s teacher respectfully for their side on what's going on at home if schoolwork seems to be stressing their mental health. For example, if homework seems to be taking much longer than expected, check-in with their teacher to see how long it should be taking them to complete X assignment; are they falling behind? The teacher might then be able to clarify what your child should and shouldn't be focusing on in order to be more productive. At home, work on bettering nighttime habits and positive reactions to stress to relieve negative associations with homework.

Combating the back-to-school season with various tactics and preparations can reduce stress and help keep both your student’s stressors and mental health in-check. That way, they’re set up for success in the new school year.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

on Monday, 12 August 2019.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

Children and teenagers with social anxiety disorder (SAD) may live with symptoms into adulthood without ever being diagnosed. Although SAD is the third most common mental health disorder, many parents and teachers are not familiar with the signs and symptoms in children and teenagers.


Those with SAD experience an intense fear or phobia of social situations. Although most teenagers go through periods of normal anxiety related to the changes, those with SAD experience fear that is out of proportion to the situations that they face. For some adolescents, social anxiety becomes chronic and affects everything – doing well in school, making friends and extracurricular activities.



It’s important to note that not all of the following behaviors mean your child or teen has a social anxiety order, but it’s important to look into it with a specialist if the behavior repeatedly occurs.


Pre-School Children

·         Fear of new things

·         Irritability, crying, or whining

·         Freezing or clinging

·         Refusing to speak

School-Aged Children

§  Fear of reading aloud or answering questions in class

§  Fear of talking to other kids

§  Fear of being in front of the class

§  Fear of speaking to adults

§  Fear of musical or athletic performance activities

§  Fear of ordering food in a restaurant

§  Fear of attending birthday parties

§  Fear of having friends visit

§  Refusal to participate in activities or school


Look for a teenager who...

§  is quiet

§  keeps to him/herself

§  becomes more withdrawn if encouraged to talk

§  is hesitant

§  fears being embarrassed or humiliated

§  crosses his/her arms

§  keeps his/her head down

§  displays few facial expressions

§  has nervous habits such as hair twirling or fidgeting



Treatment of SAD in children and teenagers is aimed at helping to alleviate anxiety and allow the student to cope with school and day-to-day functioning. Effective treatments under the watch of a professional may include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Family therapy
  • Medication

In addition to standard treatments, there are a number of coping strategies that can be employed by teachers, parents and students to manage social anxiety both in and out of school. This, in addition to professional help, can really help combat SAD in children and teens.

Schools can play an important role in this process, as it is the place where social anxiety disorder can often have the most negative effect on a child. School-based interventions led by psychologists that teach social skills training and academic skills training are helpful ways that schools can intervene in cases of SAD.

If you worry your child or teen is suffering from a social anxiety order, get help! If not treated, SAD can worsen into more anxiety issues or depression.

Self-Care and Mental Health

on Wednesday, 24 July 2019.

Practicing self-care isn’t always convenient. Most of us are crazy busy, have stressful jobs or are too consumed with technology to make time to focus on ourselves. Alone time is usually last on the agenda, or nonexistent. Practicing self-care can improve your mental health, calm your moods and improve confidence. Getting started with self-care can be challenging, though it’s actually very simple.

 Getting started:

1.      1.         Make sleep part of your self-care routine. Stress and other distractions can wreak havoc on our sleep, causing us to lose control of our emotions when tired. Make time to set yourself up for success the next day with a good night’s sleep.

 2.      Daily exercise can help you both physically and mentally, boosting your mood and reducing stress and anxiety. The gym is an intimidating environment to some. Find an activity that you enjoy and will look forward to doing to ensure you’ll stick to it.

 3.      Say no to others, and say yes to your self-care. Learning to say no is difficult, as many of us feel obligated to say yes when someone asks for our time or energy. However, if you’re already stressed or overworked, saying yes to even loved ones or coworkers can lead to burnout, anxiety, and irritability. Be realistic about how much you can handle at once.

 4.      Taking a self-care trip can make a huge difference in your life. Getting away for a weekend every now and then can help you disconnect, relax and feel recharged. A change of scenery and a little fun can really help improve motivation and productivity throughout your lifestyle.

 5.      Schedule time for self-care and stick to it. Improving or maintaining both your mental and physical health by taking the time to focus on your needs is not a selfish task. Anything that improves your mood, makes you happy or feel a little better is worth spending the time doing. The more you can work self-care time into your schedule, the better you’ll be able to thrive and be happy.


Positivity and Mental Health

on Thursday, 11 July 2019.

Positivity and Mental Health

A new field suggests choosing to focus on the positive in all situations can combat mental illness. The science of happiness, or positive psychology has opened a new way of looking into problems. It recognizes happiness and wellbeing as an “essential” human skill. Choosing and practicing positivity is simple through these actions.

1.Learn from negativity.

Negative encounters can teach plenty of positives. Past experiences make a person more resilient to stress. When we eventually overcome the challenge, we become more aware and thankful of the things and people we have. 

2.Practicing gratitude

Gratitude is a great way to better you, but also bring an ease of mind. Just list the people and the things you are grateful for, or take time to show or say your thankfulness to someone aloud. This can bring self-peace. If you choose this activity daily, consider gratitude journaling, visits or notes.

3.Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Happiness does benefit your lifestyle, but research also shows how putting a healthy lifestyle in place can create happiness too. A positive lifestyle can act as a natural healing mechanism. Positivity helps the body rid harmful toxins and can lead to lesser susceptibility to illness and psychological distress.

4.Monitor your mood

Your thoughts and actions are dependent on your mood. If your moods tend to be inconsistent, try tracking them. Research suggests mood charts are a great way to track your ups and downs, and later understand why we act and feel the way we do. These can later lead to a more consistent mood and stronger ability to combat stress.




on Tuesday, 25 June 2019.


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. This could be a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist act, war/combat event or violent assault, among numerous other things.

PTSD has been called “shell shock” during the years of World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II, but PTSD does not only affect combat veterans.

PTSD can occur in anyone of all ethnicities, nationalities or cultures at any age. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults, and an estimated 1 in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD.

PTSD has many misconceptions surrounding the disease that can keep those with it from becoming healthy again. These myths can easily be debunked.

Myth 1: I’ll be forced to discuss bad memories at therapy.

Discussing trauma when symptoms are not contained can worsen symptoms and cause further psychological damage. The first step of trauma therapy includes learning how to contain or manage symptoms.

This is done through a personalized combination of treatments such as learning about the symptoms of PTSD, grounding exercises, creative expression, art and sometimes medication. Once individuals learn how to manage their symptoms, most will want to talk about specific memories. Therapists can aid this process.

Myth 2: It happened a long time ago, and I should be over it.

Brain function changes after trauma. Our fight-or-flight response is stuck on at all times for those with PTSD. Because the brain is stuck in stress overload, mental health must first be cared for before worrying about “moving on.” If PTSD is not addressed, attempts at self-medication or “moving on” are not likely to be successful.

Myth 3: I will never be able to recover.

This is simply not true. People who have experienced even the most intense traumas have been able to go on to lead happy, fulfilling lives. It is important to keep in mind that PTSD is a natural reaction to abnormal stress just as bleeding is a natural reaction for an open wound.

The mind and psyche can heal just as the body can. Healing takes time, in-depth personal work and dedication to treatment. However, healing does not mean the past disappears as a physical wound would, but rather that the past no longer has the power to dominate the present.

Resources For Seeking Mental Health Help

on Tuesday, 18 June 2019.

Resources For Seeking Mental Health Help


Mental-health disorders are more common than you think – and often treatable. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in America are diagnosed with a mental-health illness each year. Seeking help and finding resources for support and care are important to live a healthy lifestyle.

Where to Start

The nature of the problem and/or its symptoms and age (adult or child) will determine where you need to go for help. Often, the best place to start is your local mental health organization, or your primary care doctor can usually forward you to a suggested psychologist or psychiatrist. The ITM Group can certainly be one of those referral points.

First Steps

  • Referrals can come from your family doctor, clergy or local Mental Health America office (which also may provide mental health care services) and crisis centers.
  • Your insurance company can provide a list of providers who are in your plan.
  • Eligible veterans can get care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
    • For more info:
    • Or call 1-877-222-8387
  • You can find affordable mental-health services through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
    • For more info:
    • Or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • Your local health department’s mental health division or community mental health center provides free or low-cost treatment and services to those who meet certain criteria.
  • Medicare offers a list of participating doctors on its website.

Choosing a Mental Health Professional

  • Psychiatrist: A medical doctor with special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional illnesses. Psychiatrists are qualified to prescribe medication.
  • Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist: A medical doctor specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of emotional and behavioral problems in children.
  • Psychologist: A professional with a Doctoral degree in psychology, two years of supervised professional experience and is trained to make diagnoses and provide individual or group therapy.
  • Clinical Social Worker: A counselor with a Master’s degree in social work trained to make diagnoses and provide individual and group counseling.
  • Licensed Professional Counselor: A counselor with a Master’s degree in psychology, counseling or a related field that is trained to diagnose and provide individual or group counseling.
  • Mental Health Counselor: A counselor with a Master’s degree and several years of supervised clinical work experience trained to diagnose and provide individual or group counseling.
  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor: A counselor with specific clinical training in alcohol and drug abuse trained to diagnose and provide individual or group counseling.


 Next Steps

Make sure to interview your options. You want to find the best person to help you find success with your mental health. Ask about their approach to care, their philosophy and specialties. Overall, find someone you’re comfortable with.

Make an appointment and be honest about your symptoms and side effects. This info will best help professionals diagnose you properly to know how to get you healthy again. Again, the ITM Group is ready to work with any people dealing with mental-health issues.


Mental and Physical Health

on Tuesday, 28 May 2019.

Mental and Physical Health

Health of the body and mind are two separate categories that often intertwine. Poor physical health can increase risk of developing a mental illness. In comparison, low mental health can cause failing physical health. Incorporating certain lifestyle factors can impact the state of both health factors.


Physical activity doesn’t only mean going to the gym. Going for walks around the neighborhood or playing a game of soccer is great to do on a daily basis – anything to get moving. Exercise has positive impacts on both mental and physical health while releasing feel-good endorphins.


Good nutrition is crucial to positive health. A balanced diet includes healthy amounts of proteins, essential fats and complex carbohydrates. The food we eat plays a major role in developing or preventing mental health issues – including depression and Alzheimer’s.


Smoking negatively impacts both health categories. Many believe smoking relieves mental health symptoms, though these are only short-term.

  • People with depression are two times as likely to smoke as other people.
  • People with schizophrenia are three times as likely to smoke as other people.
  • Nicotine interferes with brain chemicals - Temporarily raises dopamine levels, but while switching off the brain from making more

Two Worlds Combine

The promotion of positive mental health can often be overlooked when treating a physical condition. Psoriasis is a condition in which mental and physical health play hand-in-hand.

Psoriasis is a condition that is commonly characterized by red flaky sores on the surface of the skin, but its effects go beyond the visual signs and symptoms. It is an autoimmune condition commonly triggered by stress. It affects 8 million people in the United States and can impact emotional and physical well-being.

The physical and psychological impacts can be cyclically linked: the condition can cause emotional distress, which can trigger a psoriasis flare and, as a result, cause further distress.

For a positive, healthy future, be sure to tend to the health of both your body and mind. Your mental and physical health play a hand-in-hand role in your life that equally need to be tended to.

The Differences Between an Emotional Support Animal, Service Dog and Therapy Dog

on Monday, 13 May 2019.

The Differences Between an Emotional Support Animal, Service Dog and Therapy Dog

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are animals that accompany a human with a mental, emotional or psychological disability. ESAs are most commonly dogs or cats, but differing cases show other animals being the solution, such as a horse or rabbit.

Emotional support animals have to be prescribed by a doctor. A therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist or any licensed mental health professional must determine that a person needs to have a companion to alleviate side effects from a condition.

Emotional support animals or emotional support dogs do not have any special training, as the law does not require it. Their primary goal is to provide emotional comfort, companionship and affection to their owner. An ESA’s presence alone should bring the owner a feeling of friendship and support at all times to better operate various difficulties or conditions. ESAs are more than household pets because of the purpose they serve.

Emotional support dogs and cats are lawful exceptions to “no pets policy” housing contracts and entrance to an airplane cabin. Proof of a letter from a licensed mental health professional is needed to obtain clearance.

In contrast, service dogs are highly trained. They have to fulfill a need or action to accompany their master’s limitations, such as a physical impairment or blindness. Service animals learn to do tasks like push wheelchairs, guide the blind or alert if a medical condition is flaring up. Service dogs are permitted to accompany their owners at all times, anywhere.

Though therapy dogs are also highly trained, they are taught to be more social to adjust to various people and environments. Therapy dogs can be found at hospitals, schools or places needing a psychologically calming presence. These animals do not have the access that service and emotional support dogs have.

Why Students Are Stressed

on Saturday, 27 April 2019.

Why Students Are Stressed

With it being finals season for most college and high school students around the nation, it is important to talk about why their stress levels are so high and what they can do to manage them.

Although school may be, in fact the best time of your life, it is also one of the most stressful. That is because school is meant to prepare you for the next step in your life, whether that be graduate school or a career. On top of that, for college students, they are struggling with the fact that they are away from home and family. That can be a lot for these 18-24-year olds, especially when they are also developing physically and, in the meantime, trying to fit some fun memories in the mix.

All of this together can be overwhelming and can really take a toll on anyone’s life. To make matters even worse, most college students fall victim to the terrible freshman 15 (weight gain), because they are away from home cooking and on a budget so the food they are putting in their bodies tends to not be healthy or nutritious. This adds to the increased stress on their bodies.

Aside from the suggestions of drinking water in copious amounts and eating healthy foods, students should take the time to do healthy things that they like to help them de-stress. These activities can be anything from going to the gym to reading a book or drawing a picture.

Engagement in healthy things that students enjoy and that help them escape from the things that stress them out, even if it is only for moments at a time, will go a long way in assisting them in relieving their stress and also possibly lead to them doing better on their tests simultaneously.

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