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

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

Sweat Away the Stress

Stress ReductionMost people experience stress on a daily basis.  For some it is mild and easily controlled, but for others it can be serious and begin to affect their everyday lives.  There are many ways to manage stress, but exercise is one that can assist in stress management as well as provide many other health and mental benefits.

1. Increase Energy. Your daily routine can be physically and mentally draining.  You may think that you cannot possibly squeeze one more thing into your schedule; however, finding time to exercise on a regular basis has been shown to give you even more energy to achieve those everyday tasks.  It may seem strange that exercise, which can be exhausting, can actually replenish your energy levels.  Not only can your energy be restored, but your ability to concentrate can be increased as can your overall brain function (1).  In order to fully utilize this energy, working out in the morning is a great option.

runStress22. Encourage Stability. Having a consistent routine as well as a goal to be attained can shift the focus of a person’s mind.  Even if the stress factors in his life have not been removed, the stability offered by a proper exercise regimen can allow him to concentrate on something other than those stress factors.  If you are in need of some consistency in your everyday schedule, make exercise part of your daily routine, not just something that you do if you have time.  The best way to accomplish this is to join a specific class that meets at a specified time or to work out with a friend; if someone is relying on you to be there, you are less likely to make excuses.

3. Release Tension. Exercise is a science.  There are many chemicals that can be released and many nerves that can be stimulated through physical activity.  Endorphins are released during physical activity, and these chemicals offer a person relief from stress as well as a chance to get a better night’s sleep (2).  Many people who are trying to do exercise specifically for stress relief choose yoga since it also requires that you concentrate and control your breathing.

4. Balance Emotions. The body and the brain go hand in hand.  What affects one will naturally affect the other.  When your body is stronger, so is your mind.  One of the greatest benefits of exercise is that it allows all the systems of the body to work together.  This includes the brain function, which then allows the body to handle stress more efficiently (3).  One of the best exercises to accomplish this is running since it works the muscular, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.  Only a strong and focused mind will be able to balance all these functions properly.

Using exercise as a weapon against stress has been shown to be successful for many people (4).  Whether physical activity actually reduces stress or simply lessens the effects of it, there is no question that it is a great outlet for stressed people.

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 Activity Reduces Stress, Benefits of exercise on energy levels, 2015, http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st
2. Exercise for Stress and Anxiety, Endorphins released during exercise, 2015, http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
3. Exercise Fuels the Brain’s Stress Buffers, Body systems, 2015, http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/exercise-stress.aspx
4. Exercise Fuels the Brain’s Stress Buffers, Body systems, 2015, http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/exercise-stress.aspx

When Anger is a Positive

There are many misconceptions about the emotion of anger. One of those misconceptions is that anger is a negative thing and that being happy is its opposite. Another misconception is that, when people become angry, violence will most likely ensue. While these thoughts are sometimes true, they are also missing the other aspect of anger – the positive side.anger management

There is a way to display anger in a proper manner that is actually helpful rather than hurtful. While constructive anger has no exact definition since it varies from one situation to another, there are some common elements (1).

  • Constructive anger is controlled. Instead of immediately expressing anger when first instigated, take time to think about the situation and determine whether your anger is appropriate (2). Thinking about your response first will help you avoid destructive anger.
  • Constructive anger is justified. Do you actually have a reason to be as angry as you feel, or could you be overreacting to the situation? Did you do anything that could have contributed to the problem? Is the level of anger you feel proportional to the situation? Considering these questions will help you avoid regretting your anger later.
  • Constructive anger is shared (3). If you are expressing your anger and the object of your anger isn’t even present, you are wasting your breath and most likely just working yourself up. If you have a legitimate reason to be angry, it should be discussed face to face with the person. In addition, the other person should be given a chance to explain, share his perspective, and eventually apologize without being attacked further.

anger managementNot only can constructive anger help an immediate relationship or situation, it can have positive effects on the future as well. Studies have shown the repressed anger is more likely to result in violence than immediately expressed anger (3). The following are a few of the positive aspects of anger.

  • Resolves. Constructive anger results in a situation being resolved, which in turn strengthens the relationship rather than hurting it.
  • Motivates. Anger is an excellent motivator. If you feel wronged about something, it can motivate you to do something about it. This can work to your advantage in the workplace, politics, health and fitness, etc. (1)
  • Helps. Constructive anger can help you learn something about yourself and the other party that you may have never known before. It has been said that, in conflict, you will see a person’s true colors. This is true for others as well as yourself. In a relationship, learning these intimate details about each other can bring you even closer together (3).

Although anger can be difficult to control, especially for people who have long-term anger issues, anger can be used constructively to benefit you and your relationships rather than harm them.

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. When Anger’s a Plus, Aspects of constructive anger, 2003, http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar03/whenanger.aspx
  2. Anger – How It Affects People, Characteristics of constructive anger, 2014, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Anger_how_it_affects_people
  3. The Upside of Anger, Benefits of constructive anger, 2015, http://www.spring.org.uk/2012/03/the-upside-of-anger-6-psychological-benefits-of-getting-mad.php

Is Kindness Contagious?

I’m confident you have heard the saying, “Kindness is contagious,” before right? Well, if you hadn’t- now you have! The idea that showing someone kindness, even through just a smile, can be passed on to that person making them more likely to be kind to someone else is one that has been handed down through generations.

Just recently new research was conducted that may unlock the mystery; is kindness really contagious? According to a 2010 study done by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Plymouth, “It is natural for people to seek the positive emotions that accompany seeing and doing acts of kindness.” (1) Because there is moral beauty in being kind, humans have a natural desire to see others be kind, and in return to be kind themselves causing a natural high-like sensation. Research published in the journal of Biological Psychiatry has even aimed to learn what these moral, high-like elevations actually look like in the brain and human body. (2)

So, what does this mean for you?kindness

It means to be kind, of course! When we take the necessary time to be kind to those around us in both big and small ways we can pass on our kindness to everyone we cross paths with. Believe me, there are far worse things in life than creating a society of kind people who love to spread their kindness to others! Here’s a few ways you can show kindness today!

  • Smile. You can impact a large number of people with kindness simply by smiling. It doesn’t take any more time to smile than it does to frown. In fact studies have shown when you frown you actually use more muscles than you do when smiling. Remind yourself to offer others smiles whenever you get the chance.
  • Help. Whether it’s through simply being aware of your surroundings when you witness people needing help, or by volunteering your services to a needy cause by helping others you can show kindness.
  • Listen. A listening ear is a kind ear. Often times people are just looking for someone to talk to who will listen. Be kind today by listening to a loved one, friend, child, or even a complete stranger. Kindness knows no bounds.

For once, an old wise tail passed down from generation to generation is ringing true according to science. Kindness is truly contagious. Spread the word, and the love by being kind to one another every chance you get.

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. Kindness is Contagious, New Study Finds, Kindness is contagious study findings, 2010, https://helix.northwestern.edu/article/kindness-contagious-new-study-finds
  2. Autonomic and Prefrontal Evens During Moral Elevation, Research on moral elevations, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25813121
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.