Helping Law Enforcement Combat Stress

Law and StressWhile the general public as a whole struggles with a variety of life stressors, law enforcement personnel often have more extreme stressors to combat. While local citizens might worry about their career, family, and finances on a regular basis, people who choose a career in law enforcement take on additional stressors. According to a 2014 study on police personnel and stress resilience training, these additional stressors may include psychological stressors connected with the mission, extended duty cycles, and exposure to horrific scenes of death and injury. (1)

If you are a police officer, military personnel, or another form of law enforcement with an overabundance of stress, this article is for you. To help you battle not only criminals, but also stress- Here are a few tips for helping combat stress.

  1. Recognize. As with most things you must work to overcome, recognizing the problem is the first step. Take the time to assess your personal stress levels regularly. By keeping a close watch you can begin to sense trigger stressors before they build and get out of hand.
  2. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Though the hours of those who have careers in law enforcement can be demanding, it’s important to prioritize good health in your life. Do your best to maintain a regular sleeping schedule, eat healthy foods, and stay active.
  3. Take time away. Don’t be afraid to take a step away from the field whenever you need it. Small vacations away or extra time spent at home relaxing with loved ones can be just what the doctor ordered to help eliminate on-the-job stress.
  4. Prioritize. Law enforcement personnel have a rather important job, but never more important than your family or loved ones. Be sure to prioritize and bring things into perspective regularly to help ward off unneeded stress.
  5. Invest in a hobby. When you’re off the clock, choose to invest in a hobby. Weather its model cars, an instrument, or even sports by learning something new or engaging in an activity you enjoy you can naturally melt away stress and reenergize your body for another day on the job.
  6. Seek help. If you find yourself carrying a heavy weight of stress on your shoulders wherever you go, take the step toward seeking professional help. Confiding in a professional can help you receive the necessary help required to tackle your stress.

While everyone struggles with stress at one point in their life or another, people in law enforcement often have additional stressors. Combat unwanted stress on the job by learning to recognize stress in your life, leading a healthy lifestyle, taking time away, prioritizing, investing in a hobby, and of course- seeking help when you need it most. By doing so you can not only battle criminals but also stress.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation

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Sources:

  1. Police Department Personnel Stress Resilience Training: An Institutional Case Study, Potential law enforcement stressors, 2014, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24808985

Can Hobbies Improve Mental Health?

Improve mental healthIt is easy for people to get wrapped up in various treatments, therapies, and medications when it comes to controlling mental illness but did you know simply engaging in hobbies you already love can help too?

According to a 2009 study testing the potential of managing anxiety in eating disorders with knitting found that, ‘patients reported a subjective reduction in anxious preoccupation when knitting, more specifically- 74 percent reported it had a calming and therapeutic effect.’ (1) Engaging in a hobby you already love may be just the treatment you have been looking for. Some people find that listening to music, volunteer work, keeping a daily journal of events and how they feel, laughter, playing with pets, shopping, or other forms of common hobbies helped them to relax. (2)

From singing to cooking and just about every hobby in-between, taking time to relax with an activity you enjoy can help you reap a multitude of benefits when it comes to mental health. Here’s a few that you can look forward to.

  • Reduces stress. Transitioning the focus from the chaos of life to a fun, easy, and enjoyable task can instantly help reduce stress levels. Harness this benefit by opting for more relaxing hobbies. These may include knitting, painting, photographing, journaling, or even bird watching. Whichever hobby you choose, be sure it makes you feel more relaxed.
  • Improves mood. Taking a break to do something you already love beats an extra hour spent at the office anyway. Investing in hobbies can feel similar to taking a break and enjoying yourself and obviously breaks and joy often produce an improved mood. A hobby should always be something you desire doing.
  • Encourages socialization. Though not all, but some hobbies can help encourage socialization where you would otherwise spend time alone. And numerous studies have found a connection between relationships and happiness. Consider participating in group hobbies like team sports, clubs, or other activities that draw a crowd.
  • Improves memory. Did you know studies have shown that people who regularly challenge themselves through puzzles, games, and reading can not only improve their memory now, but also help themselves avoid memory loss later in life? If you enjoy challenging your mind with puzzles you can expect to reap this benefit.
  • Wards off depression. If your hobby of choice is an activity you find happiness in, it can easily help ward off feelings of depression and sadness. If you find yourself not loving a hobby, stop doing it and find something new that you do love. Hobbies are meant to be fun, and in order to benefit from them you must enjoy doing them.

While people may be consumed with treatments, therapies, and medications- sometimes all you need to lift up your spirits and improve your overall mental health is a little time spent doing a favorite hobby. Invest in yourself by taking the time to participate in things that you love. By doing so you can begin to reap the many mental health benefits that can accompany hobbies.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation

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Sources:

  1. Managing Anxiety in Eating Disorders with Knitting, Results quote, 2009, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=knitting+anxiety
  2. Management, Information about hobbies, 2015, http://www.stress.org/military/combat-stress/management/

Seeking Compensation: Physical vs Mental Pain

Mental PainWhen it comes to the court room we are quite familiar with law suits over physical injuries like broken bones and bruises but are you aware of the many law suites occurring over mental pain as well? Law suits are filed every day on behalf of mental pain such as anguish, emotional distress, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and so on. But do these victims seeking mental compensation win battles within the court room just as well as those seeking compensation for physical pain do?

In a 2008 Texas case 17-year-old Laura Schubert sought compensation for injuries she suffered during an exorcism. Her injuries included physical- cuts and bruises and also mental- mental anguish, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and a suicide attempt. The court ruled in favor of compensation for her physical injuries but not for her mental pain. (1) But why? Is there a double standard? Does physical pain somehow trump mental pain?

Prove it. It certainly is not that mental pain is not comparable to physical pain. We certainly know that feelings of depression, loss, anger, etc. can hurt worse than a scrape or bruise at a times. The challenge is proving your mental pain within a court room. Unlike physical pain you cannot simply submit a photo of a marking on your arm for the jury to examine. Proving mental pain is far more challenging.

Jurors especially are apprehensive to leaning in the favor of mental pain compensation because there is the potential for deceivers to lie and profit from it. Not only do you have to prove it, but you have to make the jury believe your plea.

Make the connection. In order for a ruling to go in the favor of providing compensation for mental pain, the courtroom must first make the connection between physical and mental pain. Many of the uneducated public do not understand that physical health issues like diabetes can cause mental issues such as depression and anxiety, according to the American Psychological Association. (2) These connections are what will award you appropriate compensation.

While there may be a small double standard within the court room when it comes to physical pain vs. mental pain compensation, it’s our job to inform the public. By teaching the mass population about the pain experienced mentally after incidents and its connection to physical issues we can pave the way to a fairer courtroom, without the double standard for all.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Physical vs. Mental Pain: A Legal Double Standard?, Information on 2008 Texas case, 2009, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/jn.aspx
  2. Physical vs. Mental Pain: A Legal Double Standard?, Physical can cause mental, 2009, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/jn.aspx

5 Tips for Encouraging Regular Activity within Your Family

Family TherapyThe average child between 8 and 18 years old spends about 7.5 hours per day in front of a screen (TV, computer, phone, etc.), according to the U.S. government (1). This is a very sad statistic that has many people worried about the activity level of our children. It is recommended that children have at least 60 minutes of activity per day, but that goal is not always reached.

In fact, a study of high school students in 2013 found that less than 30% had reached that goal in the previous week (2). Physical activity is defined as ‘any body movement that works your muscles and requires more energy than resting.’ (3) Some people think that physical activity means playing sports, but there are many other things that quality. Doing yard work, going for a walk, or going for a swim in the pool are all examples of physical activity. If you are a parent that is striving to keep your kids active and away from the screen, here are a few things that could help.

  1. Promote it. If you do not show interest in physical activity, chances are good that your children won’t either. Kids will be deterred from outside play when they hear parents or other kids complaining about how hot it is or how tired they are. Physical activity needs to be portrayed as something fun and something to look forward to, not something to dread. One common mistake that people make is to promote physical activity in boys more than girls. Girls need just as much exercise as boys and they are just a capable of doing vigorous activity (4).
  2. Participate in it. Don’t tell your kids to go outside and play – go with them. Play catch, make up a game, go for a walk, or anything else that your kids mention that they want to do. Instead of telling them to go rake the yard, grab a rake and do it together. Make it fun by making it a competition or offer a reward for a job well done.
  3. Mix it up. Kids need a variety of activities to keep them interested. Play in your backyard, walk to the park, go to a gym, visit the zoo, go to the beach, schedule a play date with friends – all of these things can promote healthy habits in your kids without calling it ‘exercise.’
  4. Give them the opportunity. There are many kids that would love to try a sport, learn karate, do gymnastics, etc. but are never given the chance. If your child shows interest in something, do your best to give them the opportunity. Instead of spending money on a video game, spend it on sports equipment for your home or use it join a team sport (5).
  5. Reward it. Watching television or playing games is not bad in moderation. After a long day of yard work, reward the kids with a trip to the movie theatre. After a long walk to the park while on a play date with friends, let them play a game together. Cutting out screen time altogether will most likely have adverse effects.

No matter what your children enjoy doing, make regular activity one of them. By promoting it, participating in it, mixing it up, giving them the opportunity, and rewarding them for taking part you can help encourage your family to get active daily.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Reduce Screen Time, Screen time statistics, 2013, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/reduce-screen-time/
  2. Physical Activity Facts, Activity level statistics, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/physicalactivity/facts.htm
  3. What Is Physical Activity? Definition of physical activity, 2011, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/physAdding Physical Activity to Your Life, Tips for staying active, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adding-pa/activities-children.html
  4. Parents’ Endorsement of Vigorous Team Sports Increases Children’s Physical Activity, Say Researchers, Parents promoting sports, 2009, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2009/07/parents-exercise.aspx

 

Practical Application Tips for Coping with Sleep Insomnia

Tips for InsomniaAccording to the National Sleep Foundation, 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more.(1) Clearly, getting adequate sleep is a nationwide problem, and one that is leaving lasting negative effects.

“Millions of people don’t get enough sleep, resulting in such problems as daytime sleepiness, poor decision making, interference with learning and accidents,” according to the American Psychological Association (APA). (2) If you are someone who struggles with sleep insomnia you know firsthand how challenging it can be to cope. But there’s hope!

To help, here are proven, practical application tips for coping with sleep insomnia and gaining a good nights’ sleep.

  • Restrict. Restrict the amount of time you spend in your bed to only time actually sleeping. Refrain from laying in your bed to read or rest signaling the brain mixed directions. Your bed should be restricted to a place of sleeping only.
  • Wait. Instead of going to bed at a routine time every day, wait until you begin to feel sleepy before putting your head to the pillow. This will help insure a nights’ sleep with minimal tossing and turning.
  • Try again. According to the APA, if you are unable to sleep within about 20 minutes or so, you should get out of bed and go to another room until feelings of sleepiness return. Notice, you are only to return to your bed with you are feeling tired again.
  • Maintain. While it is recommended that you do not go to sleep at a set time, but rather when you are feeling sleepy- you should maintain a strict sleeping schedule when it comes to waking up. Be sure to wake up each morning at the same time regardless of the amount of sleep you received.
  • Avoid. Often times, those who struggle to sleep at night time, turn to day time cat-naps. Unfortunately, this can make getting into a regular sleep routine even more challenging. Try waiting until night to catch up on all your sleep. This will help you fall asleep quicker and feel more rested in the morning.

With sleep insomnia affecting Americans all across the nation many people are struggling with how to cope. Putting proven, practical application tips like restricting, waiting, trying again, maintaining, and avoiding into action can make all the difference. By doing so you can gain a good nights’ sleep!

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

    1. Getting a Good Night’s Sleep With the Help of Psychology, Number of Americans with sleep disorder stats, 2004, http://www.apa.org/research/action/sleep.aspx
    2. Sleep, Negative effects of sleep insomnia, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/index.aspx

 

 

Find Yourself Forgetful? How to Enhance Your Memory

Improve MemoryWhile you may think of forgetfulness and memory loss as challenges only the elderly face but if you are a young person, you may be disappointed to learn that memory loss can affect you too. Unfortunately, like most mental health problems memory has not prejudice. But there’s something you can do to help!

Young or old, if you are finding yourself forgetful there are certain things you can do to help improve your memory. To help you begin today, here’s a few tips on how to enhance your memory.

  • Train. Yes, it’s true- like training your body through physical exercises you can help train your brain for memory improvement. “People in the early stages of memory loss can benefit from simple memory training, research suggests according to the American Psychological Association (APA) (1) Using popular training techniques like “mnemonic devices” or “vanishing cues” can help trigger you brain to better remember.

Mnemonic devices: To put this training tactic to work simply visualize something that will help you better remember whatever it is you want to be able to recall later. For example, when meeting a new person whose name is Mrs. Teal, you would visualize that person covered in the color teal to better help you remember their name.

Vanishing cues: This tactic is used more often when trying to recall information. For instance, if you are trying to think of Mrs. Teal’s name but can’t remember it, instead write down on a piece of paper any letters of the name that you can remember. Once seeing the letters on the paper fill in more, and more until you begin to remember. By doing this you are training new areas of the brain to take over defective areas.

  • Mental photos. Sometimes, being able to recall memories later on means taking a mental photo or snapshot now. According to the APA, “Good memory requires good learning and good learning is done through forming strong association with new information as you learn it.” (2) While you don’t have to physically walk around life acting like you are taking photos, mentally focusing on new things you are learning or would like to remember later, similar to a camera focuses can help you form those strong associations, and thus help improve your memory.

Make taking notes a routine part of your day. When you set important items down like a cell phone, car keys, or wallet take a moment to focus and take a mental snapshot.

No matter your age, forgetfulness and memory loss can affect you and make life more challenging. But you can work to improve your memory. By working to train your brain and making a point to take mental snapshots all throughout your day you can better challenge your brain and enhance your memory.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation

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Sources:

  1. Enhance Your Memory, Training your brain quote, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/learning/enhance-memory.aspx
  2. Enhance Your Memory, Mental photos quote, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/learning/enhance-memory.aspx

 

 

Sports and Mental Health: What’s the Connection?

Sports and mental healthTeam sports have long been a popular activity for people of all ages. While some people play just for fun, there are many others who play at an extremely competitive level. No matter your reason, however, there are benefits and dangers of playing sports.

Benefits

  1. Mental. Any type of physical activity can be beneficial to a person’s mental health, from walking to aerobics to sports. For people at risk of mental illness, exercise can be preventative; in those who already suffer from mental illness, activity can be used as a form of treatment. Exercise has been proven to lessen depression and decrease the number of psychotic episodes in other illnesses – and this is true for males and females of all ages. The more physical activity, the greater the improvement in mental health will be, according to the American Psychological Association (APA) (1).
  2. Emotional. One of the biggest areas of emotional well-being is self-esteem. Belonging to a team, having people depend on you, and knowing that you are needed can all help a person have a positive view of themselves (2).
  3. Social. Someone who struggles socially can greatly benefit from team sports. A team usually consists of a people of a common age and interest, so you already have something in common with everyone. What a great start to form new friendships.
  4. Familial. So many mental health issues are worsened or even partly caused by a person’s home situation; this is especially true in children with mental disorders. Playing team sports can give a family a chance to spend time together and give a parent the chance to encourage the child.
  5. Physical. Playing sports has many physical benefits. Being in good shape does not just aid in sports performance but also in the performance of your body’s systems. Physical activity is good for the heart, the respiratory system, and the circulatory system among others. The healthier your body is, the healthier your mind will be.

Dangers

  1. Mental. If the athlete has obsessive tendencies or an addictive personality, sports and exercise can actually become detrimental to their mental health. Being so reliant upon physical activity for mental well-being, it could cause problems if you were to become injured or unable to continue for other reasons. Make sure that there are other treatment options in place.
  2. Emotional. There are times that a person playing sports can have a lowered self-esteem due to poor performance or inability to contribute to the team. Choose a sport in which you know you can be successful.
  3. Physical. Competitive teams really emphasize training, and with good reason. However, it is possible to injure yourself if the body is over-exerted. To avoid this, pay attention to your body’s signals of needing a break.

As long as you are aware of the dangers and do everything you can to avoid them, most psychologists will greatly encourage team sports to enhance your mental health.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Exercise Helps Keep Your Psyche Fit, Exercise and mental health, 2004, http://www.apa.org/research/action/fit.aspx
  2. Benefits of Sports, Emotional benefits, 2015, http://www.muhealth.org/services/pediatrics/conditions/adolescent-medicine/benefits-of-sports/
  3. The Benefits of Playing Sports Aren’t Just Physical! Social benefits, 2012, http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/blog/post/the-benefits-of-playing-sports-arent-just-physical!.aspx
  4. Exercise and Mental Health, Dangers, 1990, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2192422

Coping with Obesity

coping with obesityObesity is defined as a condition marked by excess accumulation of body fat, according to the American Psychological Association (1) and it affects a great portion of our population. In fact, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third or 78.6 million U.S. adults are obese.

While you may not be at a healthy weight, there are steps you can take not just to lose weight but to better cope with obesity. If you’re overweight and tired of being down on yourself all the time, this article is for you. Here’s how to cope with obesity.

  1. Make better food choices. Though this may be an obvious tip, it’s an important one. Part of coping with obesity means taking the necessary steps to overcoming it. Learn about healthy foods vs non-healthy foods and make an effort to choose healthy and nutritious foods. Avoid foods which are high in saturated fats and cholesterol and opt for foods high in protein and low in sugars.
  2. Connect. According to a 2015 study on social relationships and obesity people who are socially-connected are at a decreased risk of becoming obese. (3) Connect with people in your community, especially with those who share the same goals as you. Together you can encourage, support, and connect with each other.
  3. Use positive criticism. Being obese does not give you free reign to come down hard on yourself about every little thing you need to change but like with any other condition, it does allow the opportunity for positive criticism. Positive criticism will act as a way to correct yourself in a positive way while building your self-confidence.
  4. Create small goals. Setting small goals for yourself is a great way to cope with obesity. As you work to achieve each little goal you not only get closer to a larger goal but you also make room for regular celebrations of your achievements. Set goals not only for weight loss but also emotions and physical activity.

You are so much more than a number on the scale, finding joy no matter where you are in life both emotionally and physically is key. Coping with obesity requires a balance of embracing who you are while working to better yourself. Remember to make better food choices, connect, use positive criticism, and create small goals for yourself. By doing so you can actively work toward a better, more-healthy you while learning to love the person you are today.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1.  Obesity, Definition of obesity, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/obesity/index.aspx
  2. Adult Obesity Facts, Number of obese American adults, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
  3. Social Relationships and Obesity, Study findings ‘Connect’, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26213644

The First 3 Steps to Changing Unhealthy Behavior

Change BehaviorsUnhealthy behavior can include bad habits such as smoking, drinking, poor diet choices, and lack of physical activity. These behaviors can cause greater health risks, especially in middle-aged people. Statistics show that over 20% of people smoke or drink (or both), over 40% of people are physically inactive, and over 30% of people are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control (1).

However, these people are not the only ones affected by the poor behavior – approximately 25% of health care costs is spent on treating the effects of this voluntary unhealthy behavior (2). So what can be done about this increasing problem? If you or someone you know is making poor choices, a change needs to take place.

1. Determine the cause. There are many things that can cause a person to make poor choices.  These causes can vary for people of different ages, genders, and races.  In young people, habits such as smoking or drinking can be a result of peer pressure; poor diet and exercise choices can come from a lack of education regarding these issues.

In adults, however, the most common cause for unhealthy behavior is stress (3).  Turning to comfort food can cause obesity and inactivity while having a drink to relax after work can easily cause a drinking problem.  Recognizing the cause of your unhealthy behavior is the first step to changing it.

2. Make a plan. Once you have determined why you make the poor choices, you need to determine that you want to make a change.  It must come from you, not others, and you must put a plan of action in place to achieve it.  There are some people who know they have a problem but don’t do anything about it; there are others who know they need to change but continually put it off (4).  In order to accomplish a lifestyle change, a firm decision and commitment must be made.  One way to reach your goals is to find motivation.  Whether it is your health or that of someone that you love, find a reason for the change.

3. Seek support from others. There are support groups created to help people cope with dependency, disease, and social issues (5).  These support groups allow you to share with and learn from others in a face-to-face setting.  When making a change, it is very easy to relapse into your old habits.

A support group will provide the accountability you need to stay on track.  If you are unable to find a good support group, you can start one in your area.  This may provide you with even more motivation since others will be relying on you to lead by example.

Changing is hard – there is no doubt about that. However, it is possible. It simply takes determination and a conscious effort on a daily basis to make better choices in your life. Changing your unhealthy habits will be beneficial to you as well as your family and friends, and in the end your only regret will be not doing it sooner.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Prevalence of Selected Unhealthy Behavior Characteristics, Statistics of unhealthy behavior, 2007, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5916a7.htm
  2. Voluntary Health Risks: Who Should Pay? Cost of unhealthy behavior, 2015, http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v6n1/voluntary.html
  1. Americans Engage in Unhealthy Behavior to Manage Stress, Causes of unhealthy behavior, 2015, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/01/stress-management.aspx
  2. Why It’s Hard to Change Unhealthy Behavior, How to change, 2009, http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-its-hard-to-change-unhealthy-behavior
  3. Receiving Social Support Online, Importance of support groups, 2001, http://her.oxfordjournals.org/content/16/6/693.full

Coping with PTSD as a Family

Coping with PTSD as a FamillyPTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety problem that develops in some people after extremely traumatic events, such as combat, crime, an accident or natural disaster, according to the American Psychological Association. (1) PTSD is often acted out through nightmares, hypervigilance, flashbacks, anger, or depression and can often complicate close relationships like families.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), PTSD is considered one of the mental health conditions most likely to lead to relationship problems (2) but families can find hope in learning new ways to cope.

  • Stress management skills. Families should take the time to learn stress management skills. These skills may include eating healthy, getting active, allowing for alone time, getting adequate sleep, and establishing necessary support. By learning these skills as a family you can help one another along the way.
  • Realizing everyone is impacted. In most scenarios, one family member, often mom or dad, is diagnosed with PTSD- not the entire family. But this does not mean that others are not affected too. In fact, the APA stresses that everyone in the family is affected by PTSD even if it’s not apparent at first or some members aren’t as quick to show it.
  • Everyone processes trauma differently. Like with many emotions, there are a variety of ways to process trauma. Not everyone will react in the same way as you. Realizing this will help you understand one another and in return, be able to offer help when needed. Just because someone doesn’t handle trauma in the same way you do, does not mean they aren’t experiencing affects.
  • Establishing a universal plan. Together, families need to establish a plan. How are you going to address the event to outside family and friends? Especially for emotional traumas such as rape or abuse, this step can be important to healthy coping. Establish a universal plan that everyone agrees with.

To families experiencing it, PTSD is so much more than a stress disorder. It’s a mental illness that threatens to tear their family apart. By turning to each other to cope instead of trying to tackle extreme traumas individually you can better help lessen the relationship effects of PTSD. Coping with PTSD as a family means learning stress management skills, realizing everyone is impacted and processes trauma differently, and establishing a universal plan. Together you can cope, conquer, and thrive as a family despite PTSD.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Definition of PTSD, 2015, http://www.apa.org/topics/ptsd/index.aspx
  2. Helping Families Cope with PTSD, Relationship impact of PTST, 2015, http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan08/helping.aspx