When it comes to our moods, none of us could deny feeling low, sad or gloomy at one point or another in our life. Luckily, the feeling lasts between a couple of hours to days for the majority, and they feel normal soon after. Our routine mechanisms like distracting our minds with different tasks and goals, indulging in pleasant activities and socializing with people helps uplift our moods.
However, it doesn’t work the same for everyone. Some people report their sad mood and loss of pleasure to persist. It may last for weeks and months to even years during the same episode. When this occurs, it is referred to as depression.
Symptoms of depression (also referred to as Major Depressive Disorder or MDD) include a persistent:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities, also called anhedonia
- Changes in appetite or weight; either increase or decrease
- Changes in sleep; either too much or too little
- Restlessness or slowed movement
- Persistent fatigue or low levels of energy
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating, inability to think clearly, or make decisions
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive feelings of guilt
- Persistent ideas of, or actual plans to die or kill oneself
People who report Depression often have struggles at school or at work. They may also report difficulties in functioning areas like home or in social relationships. Depression often occurs with anxiety, learning disabilities, behavior problems, anger issues or chronic pain.
ANXIETY, STRESS, WORRY, SHYNESS, AND PANIC
Stress and anxiety is something a lot of kids, teens, adults and even seniors struggle with. Some people experience social anxiety or panic attacks, while others may experience insomnia, stress induced physical symptoms or uncontrollable worries or obsessions. Anxiety is more common than we know – In fact, according to studies, 1 out of 20 people in Canada, at some point in their lifetime, will struggle with problematic anxiety.
You are not alone!
Some symptoms of chronic anxiety include:
- Chronic, excessive, and uncontrollable worry or obsessions
- Feelings of panic or anxiety at nighttime
- Feeling constantly nervous or “on edge”
- Being easily drained
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Irritability or anger
- Constant muscle tension or inability to relax
- Problems sleeping or insomnia
TREATMENT FOR ANXIETY
Psychotherapy and counseling are shown through studies to be effective in treating different anxiety disorders. The results of a recent Canadian study on the efficacy of CBT revealed that short-term cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) proved to be helpful in treating problematic anxiety even after one year of receiving treatment in 77% of the group. Some of the other therapies that have proven to be helpful in treating anxiety include mindfulness meditation and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
In life, often we go through events and experiences that overwhelm us emotionally and limit our ability to cope. These events, generally referred to as traumatic incidents, might involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, witnessing harm to others, physical or sexual assault or abuse, car accidents, natural disasters or workplace accidents. Individuals who experience trauma report feeling intense fear or helplessness.
Studies reveal that about 4 out of 5 North Americans report to have experienced
a traumatic event during their lifetime.
Luckily, most of the people who experience traumatic events naturally recover from them. Nevertheless, a number of people develop and experience persistent psychological symptoms that cause emotional distress and disturb their day-to-day functioning. About 10% of people experiencing a traumatic event develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
WHAT IS POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER OR “PTSD”?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder develops in response to a traumatic experience. Signs and symptoms of PTSD include:
- Intrusive, distressing and disruptive memories
- “Flashbacks” – re-experiencing the trauma, as if it is happening in the present moment
- Night terrors or nightmares
- Severe distress when exposed to reminders of the trauma
- Anxious avoidance of reminders of the trauma
- Feeling “unreal”, “in a movie” or out-of-body experience
- Depressed or low mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Anger outbursts
- Feeling constantly nervous or “on edge”
- Insomnia or sleep difficulty
- Trouble focusing or concentrating
- Easily alarmed
- Feeling unsafe or on guard
Obsessions & Compulsions
Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) involves experiencing certain repetitive thoughts (called “obsessions”) and/or feeling the desire to carry out certain routines or acts repeatedly (called “compulsions”) to a degree which produces distress and causes impairment in functioning.
The individual feels unable to withhold either the obsessions or compulsions for very long. Typical compulsions include cleaning, handwashing, ordering, counting of things, and checking (doors or locks). These thoughts and acts occur to such an extent that the person’s routine life becomes adversely affected, oftentimes consuming an hour or more a day.
The exact cause is unknown. Some evidence suggests some genetic components appear to be involved. Precipitating factors include a history of childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse or some other stress-inducing event.
Insomnia is known as a sleep disorder which involves people having trouble falling and/or staying asleep. Sometimes it is referred to as merely “sleeplessness”. Naturally, it is typically associated with drowsiness during the day time, fatigue, irritability, anxiety and depression. Insomnia may be short-term or may even last for weeks, months, or years when not treated.
Signs and symptoms of insomnia include:
- Trouble falling asleep
- Waking during the night and being unable to go back to sleep
- Feeling fatigued upon waking
- Sleepiness during the day, irritability, or anxiety
- Poor sleep quality can be caused by, for instance, restless legs, sleep apnea or depression.
WHAT CAUSES INSOMNIA?
- Starting or quitting certain medications
- Use of drugs like stimulants, caffeine or nicotine, or excessive alcohol use
- Chronic pain that disturbs sleep
- Altering hormone levels
- Stressful or adverse life events
- Psychological conditions like anxiety disorders, PTSD, depression or ADHD
- Shift work and jet lag
- Traumatic brain injury
- Poor sleep hygiene (consuming caffeine or stimulants before bed, staying up too late,
excessive “screen time” before bed)
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD typically starts during childhood. However, a lot of people continue to exhibit ADHD symptoms into adulthood. ADHD involves issues with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, or both.
Some people exhibit problems with all 3 types of symptoms, while the rest have problems specifically with attention. People with ADHD typically struggle with the following:
- Difficulty following simple to complex instructions
- Disorganization or inability to structure
- Frequently interrupting others or inability to wait for turn
- Acting without thinking or reckless behavior
- Talking excessively for longer periods
- Feeling restless or fidgety
People with ADHD often report having difficulties in areas of school or at work. These difficulties also appear at home or in their social or familial relationships. ADHD usually co-occurs with issues like behavior problems, depression, anxiety, anger issues and learning disabilities. Psychologists are well-qualified experts that conduct psychoeducational assessments in order to diagnose ADHD in children as well as adults.
TREATMENT FOR ADHD
Evidence-based short-term cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) treatment for ADHD includes learning strategies for attention, concentration, organization, problem-solving, and overcoming procrastination. Other therapies that have been shown to be helpful, include mindfulness, meditation and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
Learning & Intellectual Disability
Learning disabilities are considered neurodevelopmental disorders. This means that they start during an individual’s developmental years
(i.e., childhood). Sometimes, doing basic skills like reading, writing, or math becomes challenging to a person because of the way their brain
A core feature of learning disabilities is unexpected underachievement. People with learning disabilities typically manage other non-academic aspects of their life well, but have specific struggles when it comes to academic areas.
A psychoeducational assessment can help determine if someone has a learning disability. The assessment typically involves an assessment of
an individual’s intelligence, academic skills, and if there are concerns with behaviour, then a behaviour assessment can be conducted.
Results from a psychoeducational assessment can include specific recommendations to help the individual learn how to compensate for weaknesses or build new capacity in a skill. These results are usually shared with school teams as they can be helpful when determining
Intellectual disabilities are also neurodevelopmental, meaning that they occur in an individual’s early years. People with intellectual disabilities struggle with overall thinking and reasoning skills, and may find abstract problem-solving difficult. Another area that is impacted are adaptive skills, which include basic day-to-day behaviours such as self-care, health and safety, and functional communication.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), occupational burnout is a syndrome resulting from chronic work-related stress, with symptoms characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.
While burnout may affect general health and well-being and may cause people to contact health services, WHO does not classify it as a medical condition or a mental disorder.
When someone (or something) in our life ceases to exist, our natural response to it is referred to as grief. Sometimes we grieve over losing a loved one, while other times we may grieve over losing a dream that no longer exists. Similarly, the state of grief over loss is referred to as bereavement.
It is normal human experience to grieve a range of losses. People might grieve losing a job, losing a child to miscarriage or stillbirth. It’s likely for parents to grieve losing their adult child to addiction or severe mental illness.