by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 31, 2018 food for anxiety, food for depression, food for mood0 comments
Food & Mood Series by Liz Mckinney, CNS, Board Certified Nutritionist
“It is both compelling and daunting to consider that dietary intervention at an individual or population level could reduce rates of psychiatric disorders. There are exciting implications for clinical care, public health, and research” – editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09060881
Mood imbalances like depression and anxiety are on the rise in the U.S. In 2016, the National Institute for Mental Health estimated that 16.2 million Americans have experienced at least one major depressive episode and 42 million have an anxiety disorder of some kind. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml Additionally, depression is the leading cause of disability globally. Traditionally, depression and anxiety are viewed as being caused by chemical imbalances, due to under production of our feel good neurotransmitters like dopamine, GABA, and serotonin. Lets explore how food is related to emotional health and how we can put ourselves at risk for developing anxiety or depression with our diet, as well as the good news of how diet can increase of mood, energy, and all around wellness.
So what factors contribute to a drop in the production of neurotransmitters? Biologically, this question has a multi-tiered answer. First, genetics and epigenetics (namely, how our environmental exposures affect which of our genes become activated) certainly play a role in a person’s proclivity towards depression and anxiety. For example, a common genetic mutation called MTHFR has a big impact in how we activate the B vitamin folate in our cells. Those with this genetic mutation are more prone to depression because of folate’s role in making serotonin. But, we know that our genetics don’t tell the whole story. The second factor influencing the expression of our genes, are our mental and emotional stressors or triggers, this is the part that can be effected by our social supports and reduced with therapy. Social factors and cognitive perceptions contribute significantly to the onset of these common mood disorders.
The Standard American Diet, which is low in fiber, healthy fats and protein and packed full of cheap, convenient sugar laden foods means we have less of the amino acid building blocks we need to make GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. A second issue to consider is that poor gut health is directly linked to worsened mood disorders thanks to the two-way gut-brain connection. Intake of processed snack foods packed with sugar, flour, and trans fat are like pouring gasoline on the fire and promote overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria and yeast in our gut where up to 80% of our body’s serotonin is produced. Eating poor quality proteins or simply not enough further compound the issue because proteins are the building blocks for these important compounds that keep our moods stable. Grain fed, factory farmed eggs and meats and genetically modified crops are not only loaded with toxins and pesticides that alter our microbiomes, they serve to ramp up that low grade chronic inflammation. Finally, fiber intake has never been lower thanks to the standard American diet. Fiber rich foods serve as probiotics that feed the beneficial bacteria in our large intestine. Without fuel, the good “bugs” are more likely to die off, leaving room for the pathogenic species to flourish. Our bacteria send signals to our brains, so we want our good bacteria to dominate and send signals that promote brain health, not cause further chemical imbalances and inflammation.
Now time for the empowering news! The food we eat can also improve mood, and decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Food can be a kind of internal therapy, by nourishing organs, healing of stomach linings and then increasing energy and brain health, they have a huge impact on decreasing ones susceptibility to relapsing from mental health disorders.
- High quality proteins
- Cage-free Eggs
- Grass-fed Beef and
- Chicken raised without growth hormones or antibiotics.
Vegan or vegetarian
- Non-GMO soy
- Vegetable proteins like legumes, pea chia, or hemp.
- Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, or sauerkraut which contain live organisms that populate the microbiome with beneficial bacteria.
The above mentioned foods promote emotional and physical health by keeping the gut happy and healthy. As a word of caution, avoid processed, packaged snack foods at all costs and focus on whole, unprocessed foods like promote a good mood. Here are some more delicious options to add to your daily diet that calm inflammation and support mood:
- Dark Chocolate (70% or darker)
- Vitamin B rich foods – eggs, raw dairy, grass fed beef, and organic chicken and turkey, leafy greens like kale or Swiss chard, and bananas
- Red, Purple, and Blue Berries – Contain Vitamin C and other antioxidants
- Omega 3s – wild caught fatty fish (2 servings weekly), walnuts and flax seed
- Coconut oil
As a final note, understanding mood disorders is complex and the underlying factors multi-tiered. Everyone is unique and requires and individualized approach that takes into account genetics and epigenetics, mental and emotional health and diet and lifestyle. When all three are addressed, we are better able to address mood disorders and provide the best outcomes. If you want to learn more about health enhancing diets and what foods can support emotional and physical health, meet with a board certified and licensed nutritionist, our nutritionist, Liz Mckinney, CNS accepts Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance as well as self paying clients.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 21, 2018 counseling for PTSD, psychology, psychotherapy, ptsd, trauma, trauma informed care, trauma therapy0 comments
We have fantastic and astonishing memory abilities, the human mind and its processes, particularly in the way we store and retrieve the effective memories which then effect the way that we store and respond to our other memories and sensory input. Evolutionary psychology examines the way some things that can be problematic are often helpful to us in the past and as we evolved. This is especially true for trauma survivors. According to the American Psychological Association, Trauma is an emotional response to a event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster, abuse or assault. Immediately after the event, shock, emotional upheaval, loss of ability to function, and denial are typical. Trauma is especially present in situations where a person feels powerless and their sense of control are taken. Long term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea, nightmares, inability to rest or calm down, feeling tearful, experiencing fear and heightened startle response. While these feelings are very universal response to the paralyzing fear that is associated with trauma even if the survivor reports feeling neutral in the moment. Biology offers some rational for how we can feel afraid but work through it in the moment of the traumatic situation, but it is later when we are safe and comfortable that the panic can emerge, generally emotions are something that can be seen and felt most when everything is alright around us, meaning the traumatic event is over and we are safe. Some people have difficulty moving on with their lives because trauma can result in long term effects such as PTSD, acute stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and addiction.
There are so many events that we experience which are traumatic, whether these develop into the more complex constellation of behaviors which we identify as PTSD, really depends on an interplay of biological, social, and other environmental factors. Some of the situations which can cause a trauma response include, domestic violence, sexual violence or assault, car accidents, national tragedies, serving in war, robberies. It is possible that we can experience a traumatic response my witnessing these events even if we are not the direct recipient of the threatening attack.
People who later feel the emotional and physical effects of trauma may wonder, what is wrong with me? Also, even if the event seemed manageable in the moment, it seems bizarre that they keep seeing flashes of it months or years later. The answer is while the effects of trauma can be debilitating, our cognitive processes are primed to be traumatized. Evolution explains that we and our ancestors are wired to hold tight to frightening or threatening experiences, imagine what happened to all of the humans who did not startle and produce massive amounts of cortisol and adrenaline at the sight of the saber toothed tiger just through the northern passage on the savannah. They died and did not evolve to have offspring in our gene pool. Having memory of dangerous events, people, situations, and gearing up to flee or protect one’s self is a sign of an evolutionarily healthy adaptation, it allows us to stay safe by avoiding possibly dire situations. In fact, our Vagal nerve which communicates directly to our bodies, without having to yield the advice of our logic, there are long term changes in the way that our Vagal nerve responds to triggers after we have experienced trauma. The vagal nerve is what allows healthy people to experience the ‘startle response’ for example when someone sneaks up behind you, usually we respond with a physical jerking motion in our bodies, and literally jumping. In domestic violence survivors, being ‘jumping’ and easily startled when a person raises their hand, is a well noted phenomenon that may last an entire lifetime.
We are wired to remember traumatic events. Survivors of trauma know that the sight of the perpetrator of their violence, even a coat that’s the same color as the one their attacker had worn can evoke the fear response. ‘Triggers’ are any stimuli which we associate with the traumatic event. These triggers and their associated memories can and do produce a jolt to the vagal nerve resulting in heightened, panicked, and anxious response in the person who is perceiving them. The biological response when we encounter a trigger are a plenty, our bodies enter a state of hyper-arousal, respiration becomes more shallow, heart beat rises, and fear settles in, even cognitive function is impaired as our higher order reasoning is impeded and all neurological resources are yielded to the hind brain and its motor and autonomic functions. The one and only thought becomes fight, flight, survive, and in some cases freeze. Remember, just like on the savannah in the seat of civilization, the extra energy our bodies create allow us to escape danger.
Cognitive processing therapy, systematic desensitization, and exposure therapy, and some therapies which aim to change the tone of the vagal nerve are recommended ways to work through the trauma and empower the survivor to be able to withstand exposure to triggers and regain emotional wellness. It is recommended that trauma survivors do their best to limit exposure to triggers as they heal from the event and associated memories. If you feel that you may be experiencing long term effects from a traumatic situation, it is recommended that you work with a therapist who is specifically trained in trauma informed care. Healing will allow the processing of the entire event, client and therapist will identify triggers, developing the capacity to respond to triggers with mindful balance, and work through the effects of any other psychological effects from the trauma.
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, Serving Western Pennsylvania with Individual Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy and Wellness Services.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 8, 2018 Anthony Bourdain suicide, kate spade suicide, mental health awareness, suicide, suicide prevention, suicide warning signs0 comments
With the suicide of two Hollywood Stars this week, both Kate Spade fashion designer, and beloved Anthony Bourdain, American chef and champion of human rights, we at the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh wish to express our condolences to the families, friends, and all of those effected by these tragic losses. According to the National Institute of Health, suicide rates are rising, 40,000 people will die by suicide each year. As a nation, and as people who want to help, we should think about the signs, symptoms, and behaviors of the people around us so that we can do our best in having awareness to prevent suicide. Suicide is a topic which holds personal importance to me, many years ago, when I was an undergraduate student studying psychology, my boyfriend attempted suicide in my bed by placing a bullet into his brain, after months in a coma, he was lucky enough to survive. Yet the act was one which was shocking for all of his friends, his family, and something that impacted me to this day. As a woman who has devoted herself to studying and working in the mental health field, at the time, I did not see the signs that my boyfriend was suicidal.
Suicide is a taboo topic and product of dismal and ill mental health; major depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, psychosis, and schizophrenia, are a few of the disorders which are typically associated with an increased risk for suicide. For those who are closest to someone suffering from mental health disorders, the symptoms are very difficult to see for what they are. The thoughts, behaviors, and feelings of a depressed person are a set of treatable symptoms which are a produced by mental illness. Our science and psychology hold diagnostic labels but for the human beings who act out suicide, these symptoms are a daily life experience, they are much more than a label. Mental illness is an often invisible disease causing people to suffer immensely, those who are in the depths of depression or other mental illness, often have not sought treatment with a therapist or mental health professional. A person may walk through life for many years, hollow and bleak, no longer able to experience the hope or purpose to continue living. They may become so overwhelmed that they can no longer imagine the purpose of surviving more days while struggling with their feelings of despair, sadness, conflict, and internal pain. Often the person who commits suicide is one whose self-esteem and thoughts have entered a place of such distortion that they imagine the people who survive them will be better off without them in their lives. Again, this kind of thinking is a product of the illness. Please spend a few moments looking over the suicide warning signs according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
- Isolating themselves.
- Not returning phone calls.
- Not showing up for family or friends invitations.
- Being withdrawn.
- Giving away possessions.
- Sleeping too much.
- Sleeping too little.
- Using substances to excess.
- Talking about suicide. *Especially sharing that they have a plan and a way to carry it out.
- Saying that friends and family would be better off without them.
- Feeling like a burden.
- Feeling hopeless.
- Feeling that there is no reason to live.
- Talking about deep feelings of depression or anxiety.
- Sudden increase in mood or energy
Environmental Risk Factors
- Relationship problems.
- Financial problems.
- Having access to lethal means such as pills or guns.
- Prolonged stress.
If this sounds like someone you know, or if you have been feeling these things recently, please seek help. Call your local crisis center, here is a number for a national suicide hotline 1-800-273-TALK. Remember that the emotions are temporary and life’s situations which overwhelm us are solvable. Mental health help is around the corner. If your loved one has expressed these things to you, or is exhibiting some of the warning signs, stay with them, ask questions and let them talk about their worries and problems, your presence will help, listen with patience and compassion and be with them while calling the suicide prevention hotline or getting them to a local hospital.
In love and life,
Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, NCC
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa, 15233
2539 Monroeville BLVD
Monroeville Pa, 15146.
Serving Western Pennsylvania with Individual, Marriage, Family, Counseling and Wellness Services.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 25, 2018 building a therapy business, counseling referrals, therapy referrals0 comments
Getting Referrals for your Therapy Business
We know that for many therapists and counselors who are starting out opening a practice the day your open is such an exciting moment. So many new therapists have asked us, how do you get referrals, in our effort to help, we will share with you some time tested tips. You look forward to the day and after years of education and gaining a professional counseling license, you put you plan into action and with big dreams and great intentions, you hang your shingle. All of those years, you likely imagined that when you start doing business the clients would be flooding your waiting room. There are many parts to managing the business of therapy that are confusing for newcomers and completely prevent great therapists from gaining the momentum that is needed to sustain their dream. The biggest hurdle in opening their practice is usually gaining referral sources. We know that its really is hard in today’s market to get noticed and to then be able to build a therapy business. We know that no-matter how effective and competent a counselor, therapist, or psychologist, without being put in touch with a steady referral source, the clinician will end up frustrated and then become one of the many practices that opens and shortly after, dreams deflated, then forced to close ending up thousands of dollars in debt, without any business to show for their efforts. We want to help therapists to keep their dreams alive, and their doors open so that they are able to serve the children, adults, families, and couples who need them. Being in service to the populations that need us is what we are all aiming to do. Please read our 4 tips for gaining referrals for your counseling or therapy practice.
- Choose a Specialty
If your education hasn’t already provided you with a market specialty take a long look at exactly what kind of therapy that you want to provide and to who. Being broad and too general isn’t very well marketable, don’t blend in, your goal is to stand out. You will only go so far if you spend your time researching the things that every other therapist and practice in your area are doing. Even better if you can fill a niche that has not yet been offered in your area. For instance, marriage counseling specializing in infidelity, or therapy for depression, grief counseling, child therapy counseling for anxiety disorders are specialties which can help you to stand out in a crowded market.
- Take advantage of referral sources such as Psychology Today
This is a reputable and consistent place that most therapists use to gain their referrals. While some counselors feel that the services are too pricey they really are worth their weight in the number of referrals that they provide. Another helpful hint is to make sure you check only the kinds of therapy, ie specialties that you want to offer, don’t be afraid to have a narrow focus so that the appropriate clients find you. One referral that leads you to a client who you can really help is worth way more than several of those who you can only do sub-par work with.
- Provide therapy within your area of Expertise
One mistake that new therapists make is that in being desperate for clients they take any folks who come through their door without having proper regard for their specialty focus. They may end up making mistakes and even worse, ending up with a malpractice lawsuit. By providing counseling that is informed and specialty focus, you increase your client’s chances of having great outcomes.
- Use Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Pay per click advertising is the best way to rapidly generate internet leads. By working directly with Google, paying for an account that will generate abundant referral sources for your specific therapy specialty. This fantastic service can be set up in minutes and google also offers lots of support for how to get this going quickly without making any errors. It really is efficient and allows you to funnel in the appropriate kinds of clients to have your counseling business booming.
Good luck new therapy comers, we know that there are so many people who will benefit from the services that our fellow friends in the counseling field have to offer, keep working at it and your therapy dreams will come true.
Your Friends at The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa, 15233
2539 Monroeville Blvd
Monroeville PA 15146
We proudly serve integrative counseling and wellness solutions to the individuals, couples, and families of Pittsburgh, Monroeville, and all of Western Pennsylvania. We also proudly offer business consulting for our fellow therapists who are just starting out in the field, all services can be provided via skype for your convenience and service.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 10, 2018 addiction, anxiety, cell phone addiction, cell phone anxiety, counseling for addiction, help for cell phone addiction, social media addiction, therapy for addiction, video gaming addiction0 comments
The Dangerous New Addiction that you use Everyday, Hint-It is not a drug!
In a world of highly demanding home lives and work lives, where performance is prized above peace and calm, there is one object which is the focal point of so much of our attention. TO maintain peace, balance, and calm, our human bodies require us to at least sometimes, think without disruption, to look around at the leaves on the trees and to see and be with everyone contained in the horizon around us. To love and care for our spouse and families we need to supply them with attention by unplugging from everything that is not directly in front of us. If we are going to live a life of contentment, balance, and enhance our mindfulness, we must examine the culprit that stands in our way. One very intrusive companion to our feeling of alertness and attention is our cell phones. While they are a way for us to communicate plans and conversations, to manage our work, to find true love and date, as well as find out information about anything in the world that we want to know via the internet, they are also a major problem. There is so much focused awareness placed upon our cell phones that medical community is examining it as an object that can absorb our attention so much, even black out what is around us causing distress and impairment in our physical bodies and relationships. The research community has decided that yes, cell phone use does qualify as a form of addiction and at minimum for most of us, it contributes to our growing levels of stress and anxiety (Desola et al).
The presence of addictive behavior that takes place on our cell phones spans so much more than just compulsive shopping or video gaming. The anxiety that we feel surrounding our cell phone has resulted in new bodies of language, some of our favorite pop terms devoted to describing our responses to not having our most favored objects by our side are; “Nomophobia” meaning that we fear no having our phones, there is also “FOMO” commonly known as the Fear Of Missing Out i.e the fear of being without our cell phone or even disconnected from the Internet, “Textaphrenia” and “Ringxiety” – the false sensation of having received a text message or call that leads to constantly checking the device some of us are so tuned into our cell phones that we hear phantom ringing, imagining that the phones are ringing when they are in fact not. “Phubbing”, meaning to inadvertently ignore someone we are with to check our phone. “Textiety” – the anxiety of receiving and feeling the compulsive urge to then respond immediately to ours texts (De Sola 2016).
Our attachment to our cell phones is so strong that we legitimately feel “separation anxiety” when we are away from them for too long. Bring your awareness to the last time that you lost or misplaced your phone, how did that feel for you in the moment? If you are like many people you felt the typical markers of anxiety including, excessive thoughts and worry, even elevated heart rate and fear that you may be missing something very important out there in our cloud based cyber world. Here are some very good signs that you may have a problem.
9 signs that you or our loved one may be struggling with anxiety or addiction with cell phone use;
- Using cell phones in a dangerous context such as while driving or biking.
- Having had an accident or other incident due to using a cell phone in a dangerous context
- Having problems in relationships, ie your partner or loved one annoys you by criticizing your cell phone use.
- Having problems at work or school because of cell phone use.
- Preferring online, texting, or social media world to real life contact.
- Inability or difficulty sleeping due to cell phone use.
- An inability or difficulty refraining from using cell phones even though attempts have been made to cut back.
- Urgency to respond to messages immediately and having a marked irritability if access to phone is delayed.
- High degrees of anxiety and loneliness and changes in mood due to need to send, respond, or receive messages.
While it is nearly impossible to function in the world without a cell phone, as with all things that are addictive, there are ways to enjoy them and their many functions without being addicted. Whether we are using our phones to be productive or to purchased extra lives on candy crush, what we do is less important than how we do it, and whether or not we meet the diagnostic criteria for problematic use. If you think that you may be experiencing a problem with how you are using your cell phone, or if others suggest that they think you have a problem, spend some time really thinking about whether you do feel balanced or does your attention often get derailed to be plugged into the digital world. The solution may be as easy as trying to cut back or even trying a digital detox. Yet the fact is that if you are experiencing a true addiction or dependence on your cell phone or have developed another anxiety disorder surrounding it, cutting back may be very difficult to do without the support of a therapist or counselor.
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233
2539 Monroeville BLVD Monroeville Pa 15146
Proudly bringing Wellness Counseling to Western Pennsylvania
De-Sola Gutiérrez, J., Rodríguez de Fonseca, F., & Rubio, G. (2016). Cell-Phone Addiction: A Review. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 7, 175. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00175Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 26, 2018 anger, anger counseling, anger management0 comments
Anger is a primary emotion that all humans and even animals exhibit in some forms, anger is an activating response and it can often even signal to us some valuable information if we are open to hearing it. When we are practicing mindfulness and have developed our capacity to respond well to infuriating situations, we can become aware of our feelings, then respond in a way that keeps our goals and values in mind. There are several mental health disorders which can present with anger, such as depression in the elderly and men, and impulse control disorder and more.
Uncontrolled anger can lead to multiple problems, internally, it can also lead to stress related diseases including cardiac problems. Anger leads to a state of hyper-arousal where our heart beats faster and our pulmonary functions become heightened, this is often referred to fight or flight. Anger gets a bad wrap and we too often see the destructive potential that it has when a person responds to their anger in a way that is not productive. In Hawaiian culture there is a goddess worshiped, her name is Pele, Pele has the ability to wreak havoc onto the people of the island by causing the volcano’s to erupt their fiery magma around. Pele has it right, when we bubble beneath our crust and wrath comes to their surface, its effects can be destructive. Read on if you think that you or someone you know has a problem with anger; here are 4 ways to tell if you may need counseling, therapy, or even anger management.
- Doing things that you later regret- There are many ways to respond to the feeling of anger, some of the ones that can lead to problems in children and adults are acting out with verbal or physical behaviors that cause damage to the self or others. Most people can relate to not responding well when they are in the midst of a disagreement and thinking back with regret. This is different from what is experienced by the individual who struggles with anger or even may hold a diagnosis such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder.
- Being unable to remember parts of an angry incident. If you are having some angry episodes and when your partner tries to talk about it you don’t remember much, this could indicate a problem. Certain psychological diagnosis such as borderline personality disorder can go into a full dissociative rage.
- Denying having angry feelings. Anger is a primary emotion, we all experience it sometimes, it is a red flag if someone says that they never get angry. Here we know that this person likely has a passive or a passive aggressive personality style that can also lead to troubles in their relationships and other psychological problems.
- Losing a relationship, breaking the law by hurting someone or their property while angry. Even if we feel that our anger is justified we know that we are treading on thin ice when anger triggers us to violate others or their property which in turns endangers others and our freedom.
Remember that anger can be productive and motivational when we respond to it rationally, yet our goal is always to live a life of awareness and greater peace and happiness and if the answer was yes to any of the above questions you are likely suffering and struggling to find ways of expressing yourself and achieving your interpersonal goals.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 16, 2018 counseling, marriage counseling, mindfulness0 comments
Relationship Wellness Checklist, A Mindful Marriage Moment
Marriage, relationships, couple-dom, all forms of interpersonal dynamics work based upon unstated rules, we peacefully and automatically operate with a lifetime of typical exchanges. Some moments are peppered with glimmers of joy, one part emotional support, heaps of memories made, when we are being good stewards of love we dutifully maintain our promises for commitment. How to maintain contented connections with our loved ones isn’t usually a goal that we think about until something starts to go wrong. We know that to keep our minds, bodies, and spirits healthy, mindfulness holds the keys to happiness and longevity. The wellness model has useful applications to marriage counseling and couples therapy, we have compiled a 5-part relationship wellness checklist – lets take a moment to see how well your relationship makes the grade.
- Do you disagree and air grievances with your partner? By disagreeing, we mean constructively having a discussion about things that are bothering you within the relationship. One very ominous behavior pattern is when a couple comes in for therapy and tells the therapist or counselor that they never argue. We know that this is usually a sign of relationship disease. In this situation, it is likely that one or both partners are withholding vital information and may even be passive aggressive and building resentment by not discussing their true feelings. This communication fallacy is a product of imagining that by not being open about annoyances that they are preserving their bond. Withholding feelings and missing chances to constructively manage disagreements is a relationship destroyer and leads to emotional disengagement in the long term.
- Does your relationship have intimacy? The concept and behaviors associated with intimacy are multifaceted. Intimacy is a dynamic synergy of emotional trust, physical connection, and having shared meaning within the relationship. Intimacy is built over time and is facilitated through travailing joys and difficulties together for example, by exhibiting the ability to offer emotional support through a crisis.
- Do you check in with each other through the day? Many of us have demanding jobs and schedules, even having to endure travel to maintain our work responsibilities. Yet, our cell phones and Skype provide us with a chance to tighten the chasm of disconnection by having some face-time, texting, or calls through the day. It is important to turn toward our partner to share highlights and check in, and this characteristic is something that healthy relationships do have in common. Alternately, this doesn’t mean to call every hour and lapse into conflict if our relationship is not experiencing as much face-time as we would like. We should highlight that checking in, is a natural response to feeling connected and participating in the intimacy of our friendship with our partner.
- Is there sexual and non-sexual touching between you and your partner? Both forms of touch are very important in our relationships, while many couples go through periods of lower sexual frequency, they stay connected by touching, hand holding and having other forms of non-sexual touch. Both forms, sexual and non-sexual touch are equally vital for our sense of well-being and bonding. Keeping in mind, consensual intimate touch provides a cascade of hormonal responses, releasing Oxytocin which is dubbed the cuddle hormone and facilitates bonding.
- Who do you turn to for support? Can you name 5 people? Is your partner one of those people? If your partner is not one of the top 5 people who you turn to for support, your relationship may be headed for trouble and this is an indication signaling that your relationship may be prey to a deeper issue worth exploring with a marriage counselor or couples therapist.
Warmly brought to you by the licensed Therapists and Professional Counselors at
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh serving 5 locations with 75 counselors in Western Pennsylvania
- 830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh, Pa 15233
- 2539 Monroeville Blvd Monroeville, Pa 15146
- 3901 Mcknight Rd McCandless 15237
- 2000 Waterdam Plaza Drive, Suite 240, Canonsburg
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 5, 2018 anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, counseling, counseling for anxiety, counseling pittsburgh, licensed therapist monroeville, licensed therapist pittsburgh, meditation, nature therapy, stress managment0 comments
Green & Serene; Nature Therapy Reduces Stress
Mindfulness, mantras, fitness and new age therapy are all devoted to finding ways to enhance wellbeing, joy, and alternately to decrease stress levels. Combating the effects of stress are increasingly important for all of us as we manage demanding lives. One of the best ways natural ways to enhance feelings of wellbeing is by practicing fitness or some form of exercise therapy. In many studies, cardio vascular exercise is explored and compared with placebos and even pharmacology and it is verified to significantly impact and reduce the symptoms associate with anxiety and depression. Yet, there seems to be new evidence that we can even further enhance the benefits of exercise.
Increasingly, we learn that the great outdoors may have many secrets to enhancing our wellness potential. In fact in a 2013 study published by the National Institute of Health, cortisol levels were measured in people who had taken a long walk indoors and others who had done the same walk outdoors in a green serene setting. Those who had gotten their cardio amidst the trees had significantly less cortisol in their saliva than those who were indoors. Peaceful outdoorsy people have long felt the call of the wild and reported the great benefit of getting their fitness fix by hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. We know that we can boost endorphins and decrease cortisol levels from the experience of being outdoors. Keep in mind the Cortisol is a hormone produced in the body by the adrenal glands, its activating presence leads to the physical responses involved in “fight or flight.” When cortisol is contained in overabundance in our bodies it can lead to many forms of disease, weight gain, and chronic stress to name a few. So in short, discovering ways to reduce cortisol’s overabundance in our bodies is vital, the mental health community is ready to explore many ways to expound upon the health benefits of spending more time outdoors.
Here are a few of our therapists top 12 to be well, ways to enjoy the outdoors:
Learn to forage for wild edible plants and berries with an expert guide.
Take your lunch break outdoors, even a ten minute walk helps.
Learn how to do a walking meditation.
Create an outdoor space at your home.
Pack a picnic with your dog or your partner.
Try to go camping.
Do some star gazing.
Take a flower sniffing tour.
Plant a garden and make some farm to table meals of your own.
Pick up litter, we can even be altruistic with our wellness.
Ask your therapist to do an outdoor walking session.
Take an outdoor fitness or yoga
We love western Pennsylvania and finding ways to enhance wellness with our abundant green outdoor spaces.
This short wellness moment is brought to you by our licensed professional counselors and wellness providers at The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh.
Be Well Pittsburgh, Monroeville, and Western Pennsylvania!
830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh PA 15233
2539 Monroeville BLVD Monroeville PA 15146Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 3, 2018 agoraphobia, anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, counseling for anxiety, counseling pittsburgh, help for anxiety, panic attack, therapist, therapists, therapy, Therapy and Counseling For Anxiety0 comments
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder that can sometimes co-occur with panic disorder. Its prevalence rate in the population is low, occurring in only about 1.1% of the population. Agoraphobia is hallmarked by a fear of leaving the house or other safe place. This often cooccurs with panic attack or panic disorder because a person has experienced a panic attack and then fears that they may have one again or that they will experience some other feared situation such as traveling on a bridge, going through a tunnel, or being stuck in a crowd of people. In some situations, the person may be able to encounter the feared situation, but they do so with such dread that the activity and many other parts of life lose their joy and peacefulness, which can even lead to depression and other psychiatric disorders. In some instances agoraphobia can be diagnosed without a history of panic disorder.
The criteria for Agoraphobia are as follows:
- A fear or anxiety about being in places or situations where escape may be challenging. This fear is often surrounding being unable to quickly escape if the sufferer has a panic attack and could become trapped or unable to leave.
- The fear of being unable to leave leads to an avoidance of said situations which can result in restriction of travel or in some instances the situations are endured but only with a certain safe person or friend.
- This specific phobic avoidance is not accounted for by another disorder such as social anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder.
A person who has experienced a panic disorder may state “ Before I sought treatment and recovered from agoraphobia, I rarely left my apartment for 2 years. It all started when I was walking down a crowded street in downtown Pittsburgh and suddenly I had hot flashes, I was sweating and couldn’t breathe, the pain in my chest became so bad that I ran for help and reached for the lady next to me and told her to ‘Help, call 911!’ When I was diagnosed as having a panic attack the hospital I couldn’t believe it, everything changed for me then. I wanted to avoid having another episode and the only place I felt better was at home. I avoided everyone and even did my grocery shopping online. It became so bad that I started to feel anxious when I thought about leaving home for anything.”
A person with agoraphobia suffers greatly, their ability to function in life is limited including socially, emotionally, and psychologically. Treating panic disorders can be extremely difficult because the person may not want to leave their home even to seek help, fortunately treatment using distance or online counseling is now an option. The best treatment for Agoraphobia is psychotherapy, a counseling or therapy approach which uses exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Medication or Pharmacological therapy including anxiolytic medications and SSRI’s are often used effectively to treat Agoraphobia too, medication is often used in conjunction with counseling or psychotherapy.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 2, 2018 anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, counseling for anxiety, counseling pittsburgh, licensed therapist monroeville, licensed therapist pittsburgh, social anxiety, social anxiety therapy, therapist0 comments
Social Anxiety or Social Phobia
Social and anxiety or social phobia is a kind of anxiety disorder in which the person experiencing the anxiety is fearful of experiencing embarrassment in social situations. According to epidemiological statistics this disorder has a lifetime prevalence rate of as much as 3-13%. Researchers have also noticed a strong family component to this disorder meaning that social anxiety or social phobia occurs with more frequency in first degree relatives. The onset of this particular kind of anxiety disorder is often in the teen years and can sometimes result after having experienced humiliation an embarrassing social situation.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, this fear is very marked and when a person thinks about performing, speaking, or interacting in a social situation they may notice the fear response and or anxiety onset immediately in the form of sweating, heightened heart rate, increased respiration as well as cognitive responses such as worry and fearful thoughts. The symptoms of social phobia are marked and the person experiencing them recognize that they are excessive fears. An example of social phobia or anxiety is that person is terrified that if they speak up in class that they may blush and others will then see it and laugh at them. As you can imagine this can cause impairment in academic functioning and in many instances the person will avoid the possibility of enduring such a response and could skip class or even drop out of school. Some individuals with a social anxiety may be able to face the feared situation with distress.
Treatment for Social Phobia often involves therapy with a licensed professional counselor or licensed therapist. Counseling has many clinically verified treatment methods which are scientifically validated to reduce the anxiety related to this disorder and help individuals experiencing social anxiety to live normal healthy lives. Mindfulness based stress and anxiety reduction techniques including integrative medicine, medication therapy, meditation, acupuncture, diet, and exercise may also be helpful in treating this anxiety disorder. Please talk to your medical or licensed mental health professional to see which of these would be the best option for you.Learn More