Laura Greco, MSN, APN

Laura Greco, MSN, APN is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.  She is licensed in the State of Illinois as an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN).

Laura earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (B.S.N.) from Loyola University of Chicago and went on to earn her Master of Science in Nursing degree (M.S.N.) from Walden University with a focus on Family Practice Nursing.  Laura is an experienced Family Nurse Practitioner driven to build strong relationships with her clients through compassionate care.  Her practice utilizes a holistic approach to medical management focusing on the whole person in order to achieve optimal health and healing.  She believes in the importance of the provider – client relationship in order to collaborate with each of her clients to establish an individualized treatment plan incorporating psychoeducation, psychotherapy, and focused, evidence-based psychotropic medication management.

Laura joined Home Psych Services, P.C. in 2018 and works out of its Hinsdale office location.

5 Ways to Better Cope with Stress

cope with stressToday, chronic stress- stress that interferes with your ability to function normally over an extended period- is becoming a public health crisis, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). (1) Caused by a variety of triggers such as money, work, the economy, job stability, personal health, and even family responsibilities, stress is wreaking havoc in the lives of most Americans these days. But what can we do to better cope?

According to the Centers for Disease control, “The best ways to manage stress in hard times are through self-care.” (2) To help you better understand exactly what I mean by “self-care” here are 5 ways to better cope with stress in your personal life today.

  • Find support. Weather from a partner, friend, counselor, doctor, or close family member finding the support you need is critical to coping with stress in a healthy way. Choose someone who is willing to listen to you without judgement, offering constructive advice when needed.
  • Stay connected. When times of high stress arise it’s far too easy to isolate yourself socially but isolation is not the answer. Instead choose to spend those times with a group of close loved ones you can find support in.
  • Say “No” to drugs and alcohol. While both drugs and alcohol are popular coping mechanisms for a number of problems as a quick, temporary fix they tend to create a snowball of problems in the long term. Simply say, “No.
  • Get active. A 2015 study comparing stress and exercise found that one year of physical exercise intervention improved mental well-being among working adults. (3) To better cope with stress, get active through exercise. Join a gym, take a jog, become part of a favorite team-sport. How you choose to be active is not important, simply being active is.
  • Eat healthy. You know what they say, “We are what we eat.” By striving to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet you can prepare your body to better cope with stress naturally. Choose foods high in protein and low in sugars and carbs along with lots of healthy fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

And as a bonus…

  • Take a break. Far too many people are constantly going with the petal pressed to the floor, speeding through life. Sometimes the best way to deal with an overabundance of stress is by taking a break. This means a vacation, time off from work, or maybe just a night to yourself. Don’t be afraid to allow yourself a break every now and then. It’s good for you!

With stress impacting so many Americans today in ways that make life far more difficult to live, it’s time to fight back. Whether it’s money, work, the economy, job stability, personal health, family responsibilities, or something else learning how to best cope with stress can make all the difference. By finding support, staying connected, refraining from both drugs and alcohol, eating healthy, and of course- allowing yourself to take a break when needed you can not only change the way you respond to stress, but also decrease the amount of stress you experience. And who doesn’t want less 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. Stressed in America, Chronic stress crisis, 2011, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america.aspx
  2. Managing Stress, Self-care for stress quote, 2012, http://www.cdc.gov/features/handlingstress/
  3. A 12-Month Exercise Intervention Decreased Stress Symptoms and Increased Mental Resources Among Working Adults, Get active study, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26159956

 

 

Will Consistency Help Treat Bipolar Disorder?

consistencyIt is common for people to have emotional highs and lows caused by everyday stress.  However, there are some people who suffer from a severe mental illness known as bipolar disorder in which sudden shifts in mood and energy may be seen on a regular basis (1).  These mood swings can negatively affect a person’s home life as well as his career if they are not controlled as well as possible.  However, as with most mental illnesses, having a consistent routine can ease the symptoms and make the disorder easier to handle.  There are 3 areas of consistency that should be met.

1. Be consistent in your treatment. There are many treatments that can be used for bipolar disorder.  Some people are capable of coping with it on their own while others may need the help of a therapist or need to take medication to provide a balance (1).  No matter which one you choose, however, it is important to be consistent in your treatment.

For example, once you find a good therapist, stick with him so that you become comfortable talking to him.  Once you find a medicinal regimen that is providing relief, continue taking the same type and amount; switching medicines can also mean suffering from different side effects.  Constantly looking for new doctors or trying new medicines is going to cause even more stress for a person with bipolar disorder.

2. Be consistent in your daily routine. A person who knows what to expect on a daily basis will be able to cope better with bipolar disorder, according to the American Psychological Association. (2).  A daily and weekly routine should consist of schedules for many things, such as work, school, errands, exercise, sleep, relaxation, etc.

For example, try to eat each meal and snack around the same time each day, and choose your foods wisely to keep your body and mind regulated.  Even if that means taking a break at work to replenish your body, it is important to stay consistent.  As part of your routine, you can even do your best to control how much time is spent with certain people.  Having a routine of daily activities will prevent unexpected circumstances, which can easily trigger a reaction in someone with bipolar disorder.

3. Be consistent in your sleep. Getting enough sleep has been shown to provide relief from many physical and mental ailments, and the same is true with bipolar disorder.  Sleep deprivation can increase the effects of bipolar disease in many ways.

First, the overall quality of life is lessened, which can cause more depression and stress.  Second, sleep deprivation can increase the chances of a relapse in a person who has the disorder under control.  Third, cognitive functions are greatly affected by a person’s sleep habits, and this is especially true in those that suffer from a mental illness.  If you are having trouble getting enough sleep, you can make adjustments to your diet and physical activity and see if that helps (3).

Routines and consistency are beneficial to everyone, but this is particularly true for those with bipolar disorder.  If you are struggling to control your symptoms, sticking to a routine may be just what you need.

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. What is Bipolar Disorder? Definition and treatments, 2015, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml
2. Consistent Routines May Ease Bipolar Disorder, Importance of daily routines, 2008, http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb08/consistent.aspx
3. Sleep Disturbance in Bipolar Disorder, Importance of sleep, 2009, http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb08/consistent.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

3 Ways to Help Prevent Depression in School Age Children

Counseling for child depressionWhile many of us are familiar with ways to both control and cope with depression symptoms, you may be surprised to learn that research findings show we may also be able to help prevent them. According to the American Psychological Association (APA) psychologists Jane Gillham, Lisa Jaycox, Karen Reivich, and Martin Seligman all set out to prove just that (1).

The APA continues to state that through their school based prevention program the team of psychologists were able to reduce the number of depressive symptoms and improve overall classroom behavior in participating young people (2). It’s time for parents, teachers, and caregivers alike to turn their attention from controlling to preventing depression in school age children.

To better equip you, here are 3 ways to help prevent depression in the school age children closest to you.

1. Encourage strong, caring relationships early on.
When it comes to preventing depression in children, providing a valuable foundation consisting of strong, caring relationships with parents, teachers, relatives, and even community early on is key. According to a 2014 Delphi Consensus study, “The family setting, particularly parents, is a strategic target for preventive interventions for youth depression and anxiety disorders.” (3)

Help to prevent adolescent depression by simply encouraging strong, caring relationships from the start.

2. Leaving space for living life.
Far too often, caregivers opt to become helicopter parents, or simply parents who hover over their child’s every move, in hopes of protecting children not only from scrapes and bruises but also depression. Unfortunately, helicoptering is not the answer. Instead, leave space to allow them to live life through trial and error. Allow them to make mistakes, learn new things, chase after dreams, and yes, even get a few scrapes and bruises along the way.

Allowing them to experiment teaches them how to maneuver through both triumph and failure in a healthy way.

3. Establish open and honest communication.
Promoting communication that is both open and honest within your home, classroom, or other area of inhabitance is a proactive way to help prevent the development of depression. By doing so you can create an atmosphere where children feel comfortable both sharing and exploring the link between thoughts and feelings just as participants in The Penn Resiliency Project, the school based program developed by psychologists to prevent depression, did. (4)

With depression on the rise it only makes sense that parents, teachers, and caregivers alike would want to turn those increasing frowns upside down. Luckily, the prevention of depression in school age children is hopeful. You can do your part by simply encouraging strong caring, relationships, leaving space to live, and establishing open and honest communication. Together we can help transform depression one smile at a time.

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. School-Based Program Teaches Skills That Stave Off Depression, School-Based program findings, 2003, http://www.apa.org/research/action/school.aspx
2. School-Based Program Teaches Skills That Stave Off Depression, School-Based program findings, 2003, http://www.apa.org/research/action/school.aspx
3. Parenting strategies for reducing the risk of adolescent depression and anxiety disorders: a Delphi consensus study, Strong relationships quote, 2014 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24359862

Expectation vs. Performance

performanceThe Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term “expectation” as “a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen”; It defines “performance” as “the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request; something accomplished.” We have expectations in every aspect of life: for our kids, our marriages, our careers. In some areas, we set our own expectations; in others, they are set for us.

Our performance shows whether or not we fulfilled those expectations. For example, if you are asked to write a report by a specific deadline, you will be expected to fulfill this. The level of your performance may be determined by the quality of the report as well as your timeliness and accuracy. In general, if we meet all of the expectations we create for ourselves or are given, we might consider ourselves “successful.”

Expectation Mindset

expectationsThe expectations that you set for yourself and your life can be determined by your overall attitude. If you are an optimistic person, you will most likely have high expectations regarding the outcome of your life, career, and family. You imagine everyone at his best. If you are a pessimist, you might have low expectations or have doubts that you can fulfill expectations in those areas, reasoning that you will be pleasantly surprised if it turns out better than expected but prepared if it does not. These views are not necessarily wrong or right, just different.

Expectation Level

  1. High Expectations. Setting high expectations for yourself or for others can provide great motivation to perform. In sports, if a coach puts great trust in you and expects you to be a team leader, you will be very motivated to prove to him that you are capable of doing so. At work, setting high expectations makes you work harder to achieve that goal. However, setting your sights too high can be detrimental to your success. If the bar is set too high and you are not able to reach it, you may feel disappointment or inadequacy. You might feel embarrassed if you do not perform the way that you were expected to.
  2. Low Expectations. If your expectations are too low, the performance might be too easy. If there is no challenge, then there may be nothing to work for. Instead of having a drive to succeed, you may get comfortable in your position and reach a plateau.
  3. Realistic Expectations. Set expectations for yourself and others that you know will be motivational and require hard work but that will also be achievable. This will give you something to work for and then provide great satisfaction when you accomplish it.

Expectation Failure

We have all failed at something or fallen short of the expectations. Instead of letting this get you down or giving up, use it as motivation to improve or change what is needed to perform the way you are expected to.

Whether your performance succeeds your expectations or not, it’s important to keep in mind success is reached through trial and error. In all aspects of your performance, try-try-again!

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. Expectation, Definition, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expectation
  2. Performance, Definition, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/performance
  3. High Hopes and Happy Homes, Mindset of Expectations, 2004, http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep04/highhopes.aspx

 

Newly Single? How to Cope.

Single CounselingThe majority of people have experienced at least one break up. In fact, a study in 2011 showed that 37% of people ages 18 to 35 had been through at least one break up in the past 20 months (1). Regardless of the circumstances or the length and seriousness of the relationship, breaking up is hard to do. The mental and social side effects can sometimes be devastating. What can you do to make it easier on yourself?

Emotional

After a break-up, you will most likely be swarmed with emotions – anger, resentment, depression, heart-break, etc. These emotions need to be addressed, not repressed. When trying to get your feelings out, make sure it is done in a productive way. Yelling and venting to a friend is not going to be very beneficial. Instead, many experts suggest writing as a means of therapy (2). When you write, you take time to form your thoughts instead of thinking and speaking irrationally. Writing also gives you the chance to go back and analyze your feelings and to see how far you have come from where you were immediately after the break up.

Another way to cope with these feelings is to stay active. Not only is physical activity beneficial to the mind and body, staying active will keep you busy, which means you will have less time to dwell on the break up. Another helpful idea is to find someone to confide in. But don’t pick just anyone – make sure it is something that you trust to give you sound advice and comfort.

Socially

Depending on where you met your significant other, the social aspect may be a problem. You may have mutual friends, making it difficult and tense to be around those friends. You may work with him, making work more stressful and awkward. However, this problem may give you a chance to branch out; meeting new people and trying new things may be just what you need.

Personally

Because relationships can give a person meaning and purpose, a break up might cause you to feel less satisfied with your life. Discontentment can lead to bitterness and will not have any positive outcome, so do your best to avoid it. A person’s reaction to a break up can greatly affect the future. Those who have a positive outlook and desire to look for someone new are less likely to be affected by depression and low self-esteem. Remember also that a break up can actually benefit you in many ways. Being newly single gives you a chance to re-evaluate your life and what is important, and it can help you find your identity as an individual. Finding the positives in a break up can make your future relationships even stronger.

No matter how you deal with a break up, there is one essential: do not let your break up define you.

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. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Statistics and effects of a break up, 2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21517174
  2. Break Ups Aren’t All Bad, Ways to cope, 2009, http://www.apa.org/research/action/romantic-relationships.aspx

 

 

Stress Reduction – Who Doesn’t Need It?

Summer is a busy time – so much to do and see. But sometimes this extra push we give ourselves may lead to feeling ‘overwhelmed’ or lead to conflicts in our relationships. Maintaining balance is healthy for our own agendas and for our relationships; to minimize burnout, anger, frustration, and conflicts. Dr. Parisi and Associates offers Chicago therapists to help you take a step back, examine your stressors, to find your healthy balance, to organize your priorities and agenda. It is good to feel fulfilled, not overwhelmed.

Here are 5 Tips for Dealing with Life’s Stress

1) Time Management:  Make a schedule for yourself. We need to keep the more important events and obligations at the forefront of our schedules and fill in with the less important as we are able. Be sure to include time to relax, refresh and get the proper rest that you require to be at your best.

2) Healthy Lifestyle:  Believe it or not, eating healthy can actually keep your energy and your moods more steady. We do better when we have the proper rest and some daily exercise can definitely contribute to stress reduction.

3) Be a Positive Person:  It has been said that 90% of life is ‘attitude’ and the rest is what happens. We all get those lemons, yet it is so worthwhile to ‘learn to make lemonade.’ Often times, adversity can be an opportunity in disguise. We can discover some new alternatives or realize a new strength we did not know we had. Negative thinking can produce unresolvable frustration, apathy and burn-out.

4) Hang with Positive People:  Sometimes it seems like attitudes are contagious. Being with negative persons can color your mood dark or drain your energy. Be with people who energize you and make you feel good about yourself.

5) Find Support:  Speaking with another person, especially a professional therapist can truly help you achieve your goals of enjoying life more and not feeling overwhelmed, burned out or over-stressed.

If you find that you are not having success with stress management and need more help, contact Dr. Parisi for supportive counseling. We have locations in Chicago and the surrounding area (Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Barrington, Hinsdale, Skokie, Lincolnwood, Park Ridge, and Wilmette) to help. Affordable Counseling to Be Your Best.

Contributing Editor: Stan Kain, M.S.

Repair Your Relationship This Weekend

Hit a bit of a rocky patch? No worries, Dr. Paris, your affordable Chicago marriage and family counselor has tips to help put you back on track this weekend.

It is important to remember that all relationships will hit a rough spot. Healthy relationships are based on a good foundation. Every relationship will have trying times, but as long as there is a good base to the relationship, you always have something to fall back on.

Taking a weekend to focus only on your relationship can give it the spark you need to remember how special it is.

Conflict is normal. As an affordable therapist who talks to many, many couples, I am telling you that you are not alone. All couples have conflicts over different things. Don’t stress that you are not seeing eye to eye every so often.  Whether it is a difference of opinion about money, chores, or sex, the issue usually can be resolved using some communication techniques to discuss it with your partner.

Talk in first person. When you are talking to your partner about something that is bothering you, make sure you say, “I feel…” or “I do…” Don’t start digging in on what your partner does or doesn’t do. Focus on how the issue makes you feel and portray that to your partner instead of pointing out flaws.Dr. Parisi Marriage and family counseling

Talk. Talk. Talk. Make sure you plan time (other than just this weekend) to focus on your lives as a couple. Take 20 minutes a day to spend together just talking, perhaps over a glass of wine. If there has been some distance between you, use this time to get reacquainted with one another.

Don’t play the blame game. This is a huge down fall for many couples. If they can blame the problem on someone, then they don’t work to fix it. You have to remember that you are in this relationship together, and you both must work to find solutions that fit with both of you.

Take this weekend to really focus on your relationship. Discuss any problems and reminisce about the good things that draw you to one another. Remember, relationships are not 50-50. Your partner deserves 100% of you. Healthy relationships are 100%, 100% of the time. You must both put all you have in to the relationship to get back positive results.

If you find that you are caught in a pattern of behaviors that you cannot find a way to fix and need more help, contact Dr. Parisi for marriage and family counseling. We have locations in Chicago and the surrounding area (Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Barrington, Hinsdale, Skokie, Lincolnwood, Park Ridge, and Wilmette) to help.

5 Tips to Help You Make Better Decisions

You know you have to make a big decision. You know it is important. But we are often caught between making decisions with our head or with our hearts. The truth is, you are likely to make a better decision if you use a combination of the two. Too often, our decisions are based on emotions. Our Chicago counselor offers five tips to help you make better decisions.

  1. Remove yourself from the situation. This is not easy. But if you think about the situation as if it was someone else, you are more likely to base the decision off of the important aspects rather than involving emotions. Wise reasoning includes thinking of others’ perspectives, thinking about the situation in a different way, and thinking about compromises to the situation.
  2. Consider all your options. There are often aspects that you haven’t thought of. Do a little brainstorming to make sure you have looked at the problem from all perspectives. What haven’t you thought of? Make you need an affordable psychologist to help you look at other angles.
  3. Sleep on it. Research has shown that we make better decisions when we use our unconscious mind as well as our conscious mind. Literally, sleep on it. Taking time to let you brain work things out also keep you from making a decision too hastily.
  4. Make a list. Yes, it is a bit cliché’ but a list of pros and cons can really be helpful. When you put it on papers, you can easily see if one side is outweighing the other.
  5. Know your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your emotions as well as emotions of others. Being able to keep your emotions in check and know how your react to certain situations will help keep you from letting emotions from influencing decisions.

When you combine all these tips, you will know you are making every effort to make a good decision based on facts and needs instead of reacting to emotion.

If you need further help in the Chicago and the surrounding area (Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Barrington, Hinsdale, Skokie, Lincolnwood, Park Ridge, and Wilmette), contact Dr. Parisi.