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

 

Why Men Don’t Want Help

Even though they may not like to admit it, men suffer from mental illness almost as much as women. However, the general characteristics of a man often leads to his handling mental illness in a way that is detrimental to his health.

Men and mental illness

man and depressionThe most common mental illness in men is depression. While this is often caused by post-traumatic stress disorder after serving time in the armed forces, many men suffer from depression for genetic, psychological, and stress related reasons (1). In fact, studies showed that over 6 million men in America suffer from depression. Their reaction to depression is usually substance or alcohol abuse, anger (sometimes abusive), and even suicide (2).

Men and Suicide

Only about half as many men suffer from depression as women do, and yet the suicide rate for men is four times that of women. How can this be true? There are a few reasons to consider (3).

  1. Men have a higher attempt to suicide ratio, meaning that they are more likely to succeed in killing themselves than women.
  2. Females are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, but men are more likely to follow through on theirs.
  3. Men most often use firearms when attempting suicide while women usually try to take something orally – it is much easier to save women in an attempt like this.

Men and Seeking Treatment

When it comes to mental illness, men are much less likely to get help for the following reasons (among others):

  1. Pride. It is very hard for most men to admit that something is wrong. They like to pretend that they have everything under control and don’t need help from anyone. Sometimes their pride causes them to overlook the problem and pretend it doesn’t exist or that it is just a coincidence. Other times, men are aware that something is wrong with them but their pride convinces them that they can hand it on their own (1).
  2. Responsibility. The majority of men have innate desire to provide and care for a family. If they are unable to do so because of a mental impairment, it can lead to a feeling of worthlessness and therefore worsen the condition. Because they feel this overwhelming responsibility, they tend to ignore the problem or even immerse themselves in more work.
  3. Selfishness. A man plays many roles in life, but he most likely still enjoys hobbies like working out, fishing, building cars, playing games, etc. If he is spending time and money on getting treated for a mental condition, he may have to give up certain things that he enjoys in life. This selfishness can negatively affect not only the man himself, but also his family and friends.

If a man is honest with himself, he knows whether or not there is something wrong with him. If he is able to get over his pride and selfishness and get help, he can use his overall competitive and determined nature to succeed in overcoming the effects of mental illness.

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. Men and Mental Illness, Mental disorders common in men, 2015, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=4565
  2. Men: A Different Depression, Depression in men, 2015, http://www.apa.org/research/action/men.aspx

Suicide: Facts at a Glance, Men and suicide, 2012, http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/Suicide_DataSheet-a.pdf

Tom Naratadam

Tom Naratadam, Psy.D., LCPC

Dr. Tom Naratadam chicago illinois

Hi and thank you for choosing me!  Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Dr. Tom Naratadam.  I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and both my Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) and Masters Degree in School Psychology (Ed.S.) from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  I completed my Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) certification in Illinois in 2015.  My professional work experience is diverse and includes work in multiple settings including residential, inpatient, outpatient, community mental health, group private practice, and school-settings throughout the Metro Chicagoland area.

I have worked as an outpatient provider with Dr. Mark Parisi since 2010. In addition to my work with Dr. Parisi and Home Psych Services, P.C., I have worked as a bilingual school psychologist at the Chicago Public Schools – performing extensive diagnostic testing and spearheading group therapy with children and adolescents – and more recently in the private school systems.

I have expertise working in multicultural populations and have conducted numerous workshops on cross-cultural issues related to the Latino and Asian-Indian cultures. My experience also includes several years of assessing and working with children and adolescents who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Conduct and Mood Disorders, and issues related to adolescent sexuality and identity.  I provide in-office and teletherapy services for Generations and Home Psych Services using secure video teleconferencing technology for the comfort, convenience, added privacy and safety of my clients.

I am proud of his Asian-Indian heritage. I enjoy traveling, enjoying Chicago’s wide array of restaurants, and spending time with his family and friends. I am a non-native speaker of Spanish and have excellent fluency.

Mark Parisi

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Hello.  It’s great to meet you.  My name is Dr. Mark Parisi.  Let me tell you a bit about myself.  I have been licensed as a Clinical Psychologist in Illinois and Florida since the late 1990s.  I earned my Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Psychology from  Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1991 and went on to earn my Master of Science (M.S.) in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology  and my Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) Degree in Clinical Psychology from the Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) in 1995.

I completed my internship and residency while serving on active duty in the U.S. Army  from 1995 – 1998 and specialized in Child and Adolescent Psychology,  Community Mental Health, Traumatic Stress Disorders, and Neuropsychology. I am proud to say that I am a U.S. Army Veteran having deployed  overseas to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, in 1997 with the 10th Mountain  Division of the U.S. Army as part of Task Force 2-87.  I was awarded  the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for my active duty military service  in 1998.  I have worked as a Psychologist and Healthcare Chief Executive Officer since 2000 and have served as a consultant to countless businesses, schools, and law offices on a wide variety of mental health issues.

As a child psychologist, I have worked as a child advocate, as a consultant for Head Start, and as a  pediatric evaluation and treatment expert.  I have highly specialized  training in the disruptive behavior disorders of childhood (ADHD / ODD) under Drs.  Russell Barkley and Robert Brooks.

I founded Home Psych Services, P.C. in 2011 and envisioned a unique practice combining all facets of behavioral healthcare and working with the uninsured, underinsured and low income clients.  I sold much of my healthcare practice some years back to focus on spending more quality time with my family and grandchildren.  I still maintain a clinical practice largely focused on providing remote, telehealth-based counseling and evaluation services.  I have expertise working with children, teenagers, adults, families, and couples.  My treatment style is pragmatic, Cognitive-Behavioral and Solution-Focused, and strongly influenced by my exposure to such renowned pioneers in the field as Dr. Donald Meichenbaum, Dr. Albert Ellis, and Ms. Insoo Kim-Berg – all of which I had the pleasure of learning under during my post-graduate training.

I grew up in Park Ridge.  I am married and live with my family in Skokie where I enjoy family time, playing with our dogs – Gertrude and Blanca, watching the White Sox and Italian soccer, attending movies and plays, reading, hiking, and running.  I am a member of the  American Psychological Association, the Skokie Valley Rotary Club, and the Des Plaines Elks Club.