Category Archives: Blog

The Mental Health Impact of Workplace Stress

Stress at work is normal, many would say. But should it be?

While a stressful week on the job or a particularly busy time of year can feel like an expected part of the grind, experts say work stress can have a significant impact on your mental health. Writing it off as “normal” can actually lead to major problems.

The American Psychological Association lists workplace stress as one of the top seven stressors, and some studies list it as the No. 1 source of stress. Certain occupations are even associated with higher rates of suicide – like construction jobs and positions in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media, according to a 2018 CNN article.

Though stress can sometimes be a positive driving force to maintain focus or alertness, it can also become harmful, says psychologist Leslie R. Johnsen, executive and clinical director at Perspectives of Troy Counseling Centers.

“When stress stops being helpful, it can be damaging to your health, relationships and productivity,” she says. “Stress typically occurs when a person is confronted with a threat that he (or) she does not feel they have the resources or coping skills necessary to deal with. Stress becomes negative when a threat is perceived as excessive or unmanageable.”

As summer begins, it’s a key time to pay attention to workplace stress. June is National Safety Month, and parents also face added stress this time of year as kids begin a long break from school. Changes in the family’s schedule can create a stressful transition period, Johnsen says.

“Some parents might also feel a little more guilty being at work, and that might increase the stress of being pulled in two different directions – wanting to be with their family,” she says.

Even without the juggling act, demands at work often feel overwhelming. A recent study by behavioral health system Ginger found that nearly half of American workers have cried at work, 50 percent have missed at least one day of work due to work-induced stress and 83 percent of workers said they experienced stress on a regular basis.

Beyond that, 16 percent of people surveyed said they have experienced “extreme stress” daily at work.

Workplace stress has a variety of causes, including low salaries, excessive workloads, lack of social support, conflicting demands or unclear expectations, according to the American Psychological Association. This can result in anxiety, insomnia, depression and other health problems.

“Many anxiety-related disorders can be related to elevated levels of untreated and unmanaged stress,” Johnsen explains. “Common warning signs are memory issues, inability to concentrate, poor judgement, negative attitude, anxious or racing thoughts and constant worrying. This can be displayed through physical symptoms as well.”

For parents, this can “absolutely” have an effect on their children, Johnsen says, in part because of symptoms like poor judgment or irritability that can impact parenting.

So what can be done about it? The American Psychological Association recommends establishing boundaries, taking time to recharge, relaxation techniques such as meditation and mindfulness and – importantly – talking to your supervisor about what’s happening and seeking mental health support.

It’s also important to “act rather than react,” Johnsen says, by identifying aspects of the situation that you can control and working on those. Eating right, sleeping well and eliminating interruptions at work can also help.

“Schedule your day for energy and focus,” she recommends. “Take regular breaks, stretch (and do) breathing exercises.”

Parents can also benefit from “a cool-down between work and home” to help them refocus on the tasks at hand, she says.

As workplaces become more open about discussing stress and ways to avoid it, there’s hope for a less stressful work life in the future.

“I do think there is a higher level of attention focused on workplace stress recently as focus groups are working towards destigmatizing mental health issues in general,” Johnsen says. And though she believes the stigma is decreasing, “we have a long way to go.”

People in management need to acknowledge workplace stress, validate their employees and try to identify and resolve the root causes.

“Improving communication and assigning appropriate workload are two of the most important preventative measures management can instill in an organization to reduce chronic stress,” Johnsen adds. “Communication is key.”

New Medications Being Tested to Treat Symptoms of Autism

New Medications Being Tested to Treat Symptoms of Autism

Two new drugs targeting the main symptoms of autism have been bumped to the fast lane for testing and approval within the next year. While this is great news, because of the long and arduous process of getting new pharmaceutical drugs to market, it’s not likely that you’ll be seeing these drugs on pharmacy shelves anytime soon.

Balovaptan Thought to Improve Communication and Social Skills for Individuals with Autism

Drugmaker Roche is working on an autism medication called Balovaptan, which supposedly helps to improve social skills and communication for individuals with autism. This drug achieves this outcome by targeting a certain hormone which is tied to behavior. The drug has recently received what’s called a “breakthrough” therapy designation from the FDA which simply means that there has been evidence that shows the drug could offer some form of clinical benefit. Clinical trials are currently being conducted for children, teens and adults with autism.

L1-79 Medication from Yamo Pharmaceuticals Has Also Received Favorable Designation from the FDA

The FDA also provided Yamo Pharmaceuticals with a “fast track” designation for its autism medication called L1-79, which helps to improve socialization and speech by targeting the central nervous system. It’s important to keep in mind that receiving a “fast track” designation is a significant breakthrough for this drug, because it means that Yamo has a lower standard to meet compared to other drugs seeking FDA approval. All that is required for this drug to come to market is that it successfully treats a serious condition, in this case autism, and that it fills a current unmet need in the medical market. According to Yamo’s management, if all goes well regarding meetings with the FDA, the company plans to start a clinical trial in early 2019.

FDA Designations are Significant, But Hard Work is Still Ahead  

While these FDA designations for both of these drugs are quite significant, and show significant promise, both are still in their infancy in terms of the many hurdles related to getting these medications to market. At Perspectives Counseling Centers, we’re constantly monitoring new developments in the treatment for autism, both from a counseling perspective as well as through medication treatment. If you or a loved one has autism, and you’re interested in learning more about our approach to treatment, feel free to reach out to our team today.

Using CBT as an Effective Form of Autism Treatment for Children

Using CBT as an Effective Form of Autism Treatment for Children

Some of the biggest challenges for children with Autism include symptoms such as anger, anxiety and meltdowns that can seem to come about without warning. These emotional symptoms while very real, can be difficult to treat using standard treatment plans that focus only on the social symptoms. A new study from York University is showing that cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT could be an effective autism treatment for children because it helps them to feel more in control of their emotions.

Details of the Autism Study Performed at York University

The way this study worked is that 68 children with autism were randomly chosen to receive either 10 sessions of CBT or be put on a waiting list, which served as a control. After the cognitive behavioral therapy was completed, all of the children were then assessed by a clinician who had no knowledge of which group each child was assigned. 74% of the children that received CBT showed significant improvement in terms of their emotional symptoms, as opposed to just 31% from the control group. Another significant finding that cannot be discounted is that the children’s parents were also involved in the sessions and applied some of these CBT techniques at home with their children.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT is a form of psychotherapy where patients attempt to reframe negative thought patterns into positive ones. The idea is that transforming these thoughts can result in positive actions and behaviors when individuals are faced with difficult situations. CBT has been shown to be useful for a wide array of individuals suffering from all types of conditions including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other conditions such as autism.

It’s important to realize that advances in CBT are based on significant research and clinical findings showing the ample scientific evidence that exists related to CBT improving the function and quality of life for patients of all types.

CBT Counseling Focuses on Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Other Evidence Based Counseling Approaches

For more information on CBT as a treatment for autism in children, or any of our other counseling services, feel free to reach out to us today.

5 Reasons to Get Marriage Counseling

reasons-marriage-counseling

Do we need marriage counseling? This is a question you may ask after a big fight or sudden revelation in your relationship. Most people assume that marriage counseling is only for people on the brink of divorce. That is not the case though. You can benefit from marriage counseling at any stage of your marriage, even if you are on good terms.

Here are some reasons to seek marriage counseling, courtesy of Perspectives Counseling Centers.

You Repeatedly Have the Same Arguments

If you feel like your arguments recirculate time and time again, you may consider marriage counseling. Circular arguments usually come from two sources: the inability to bring closure to past arguments and ineffective communication strategies. With marriage counseling, you can finally put an end to ongoing disputes, and you can learn how to prevent new ones in the future.

You Feel an Imbalance of Responsibilities

Does your relationship feel one-sided? This is also something you can resolve through marriage counseling. There are many ways to create balance in a household. You and your spouse can come up with a way to ease the burden both of you feel. This applies to household and financial responsibilities. Your marriage counselor will be there to guide you every step of the way.

You Have a Hard Time Expressing Your Emotions

Some couples have a hard time getting through to one another. You may feel like you’re expressing yourself clearly, but your spouse does not fully understand your feelings and emotions. Couples counseling will teach you how to communicate with one another in a way that fits both your needs. You can learn to be more vulnerable and expressive, and you can gain insight into your spouse’s perspective.

You Have Gone through a Traumatic Event

Trauma, in all forms, can be challenging for couples to overcome. Going through a traumatic event changes a person, so you must adapt to the changes you each have gone through. If you experienced the loss of a loved one, the loss of a pregnancy, a major financial loss, a severe car accident, or any other traumatic event, consider going through marriage counseling. You can overcome this, and best of all, you can do it together.

Something Feels “Off”

We hear this all the time in marriage counseling. “I don’t know what’s wrong, but something just feels off.” Maybe there is a distance in your relationship that wasn’t there before. Perhaps the stress of work, raising children, or managing a household has dampened your once vibrant spirit. Through marriage counseling, you can find the source of the issue and come up with a plan to overcome it.

Perspectives Counseling Centers offers marriage counseling in Michigan. We have multiple locations to serve you, and they all have licensed marriage counselors on staff. If you and your spouse are interested in couples therapy, give us a call at (248) 244-8644.

Sleep Deprivation: How Much Sleep Do I Need?

sleep-deprivation

Sleep deprivation impacts your energy levels, memory retention, focus, attentiveness, and more. If you can achieve a consistent sleep routine, you will feel better in all areas of your life. What qualifies as sleep deprivation? How much sleep do you actually need? Let’s explore this topic more and find solutions to improve your sleep schedule.

How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need?

You’ve probably heard that adults need 8 hours of sleep per night. However, the amount of sleep you personally need will depend on several factors. Adults who are highly active throughout the day may require more sleep than those with less active lifestyles. Some adults naturally thrive on less sleep than others. The rule of thumb is to get 7-9 hours of sleep, but that can be adjusted to suit your lifestyle.

Note that if you experience several days of sleep deprivation, your body may go into a “sleep debt.” You may need to sleep longer than normal for one night to repay that debt and recharge your mind. If you know you will not get much sleep for a few nights in a row, try to schedule a recharge night for yourself.

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Mental Health

There are many side effects of sleep deprivation, including loss of control while driving and slow productivity at work. What you may not have considered is the mental health side effects of sleep deprivation. Your mind relies on sleep to sort through your thoughts and emotions. Your brain spends all day making sure your legs move, your eyes blink, and your body is working effectively. At night, it can focus on the memories you’ve made.

If you don’t get enough sleep to process those emotions, you wake up with the weight from yesterday on your mind. This compiles over time, leaving you tired and stressed before the day has begun. That is why we focus on sleep maintenance in depression counseling and anxiety counseling. Being well rested will do wonders for your mental health.

Good Sleep Is about Quality vs. Quantity

You can experience sleep deprivation even if you sleep for 8 hours each night. If you wake up multiple times in the night, your body is never fully at rest. Some rest is better than none, but good quality rest is ideal. Keep this in mind as you start planning your sleep routine.

How to Avoid Sleep Deprivation

The best way to avoid sleep deprivation is to get on a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, even on your days off. Create a wind-down routine for yourself, such as taking a bath or watching a calming television show. Avoid looking at your smartphone at least 30 minutes before bed, and avoid eating at least one hour before bed. This will give you the best chance at getting solid rest.

If you find yourself staying up all night with thoughts running through your head, you may consider talking to a therapist. This gives you an outlet for those thoughts so your mind is less pre-occupied with them. Perspectives Counseling Centers has licensed therapists in multiple specialties, including anxiety treatment, depression treatment, grief counseling, marriage counseling, and more. Contact our office at (248) 244-8644 to schedule an appointment with a therapist near you.

What Causes Depression?

what-causes-depression

Depression is a complex condition that affects many walks of life. No matter what race, gender, social class or religion you may be, you could be one of the 6.8 million American adults who suffer from depression. What causes depression, and what are the best depression treatments? We will answer these questions and more in the guide below.

Potential Causes of Depression

Depression can develop in many different ways. For some, it comes about after a traumatic event. For others, it gradually develops over time. Here are some potential causes of depression:

  • Stress
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • The loss of a loved one
  • Certain medications
  • Relationship conflicts
  • A family history of depression
  • Addiction (or depression can lead to addiction)
  • Major life transitions (new job, moving, divorce, etc.)
  • Other mental health conditions, such as anxiety
  • Chronic pain or illness

Because depression is such a personal experience, there are other situations that may lead to depression. Your mind interprets experiences in a unique way, and that interpretation plays a large role in developing depression. Through depression counseling, you can learn how to change your thought patterns to reduce depression symptoms in the future.

How to Treat Depression, No Matter the Cause

Despite the many causes of depression, there are also tested and proven methods for depression treatment. This may include counseling, medication, or a combination of the two. Depression counseling gives you a chance to discuss experiences from your past to find solutions in the present. You can learn what triggers your depression and how to control your reactions.

Depression therapy provides a personalized care plan for you. Rather than following generic advice for depression treatment, you can learn specific techniques that fit your lifestyle. At Perspectives Counseling Centers, we match each person with the best therapist for his or her situation. Clients receive individualized care from licensed counselors in Michigan.

If depression treatment requires medication, a psychiatrist will oversee that process. Psychiatrists have a doctorate of medicine, and they are trained to understand the body’s complex chemistry. They use that information to find the right medication and dosages for each person. Some medication-based treatments only last for a few months, while others are designed for long-term depression treatment.

If you are interested in depression counseling or other depression treatment options, contact Perspectives Counseling Centers at (248) 244-8644.

Knowing When to Seek Marriage Counseling

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Do we need marriage counseling? Will couples counseling help our marriage? These are questions you may ask after an argument or major life transition. Nearly every couple can benefit from marriage counseling in some way. You simply have to determine if the benefits are right for you. Let’s take a closer look at how couples therapy works so you can know when to seek marriage counseling.

What Marriage Counseling Can Do for You

In order to decide if marriage counseling is right for you, you need to understand the benefits of it. Each couple has a unique experience with marriage therapy, depending on their situation. Some common goals of marriage counseling include:

  • Improve communication skills to resolve conflicts and prevent future arguments
  • Overcome difficult obstacles in the marriage, such as stress or infidelity
  • Create a healthy balance of responsibilities and time spent together
  • Discuss disagreements in an open, judgement-free setting
  • Express your thoughts and feelings, and learn about your spouse’s concerns
  • Get personalized advice to resolve marital disputes
  • Bring closure to past events that continue to affect your marriage
  • Rebuild trust and strengthen your bond with one another
  • Find the root cause of your marital disputes so you can conquer them at the source

Your goals for marriage counseling may be different than someone else’s, but the core motive remains the same. Improve your relationship and fortify your commitment to your spouse. That’s what you can achieve through marriage counseling.

Marriage Counseling to Address Current Problems

In terms of when to seek marriage counseling, many couples come to our Michigan counseling centers to address a specific issue. For instance, there may be a circular argument that you and your spouse have repeatedly. Marriage counseling could help you break the cycle and resolve that longstanding conflict. You may have also gone through a traumatic experience that you would like guidance for. Your marriage counselor will help you find coping strategies so you can support one another at this time.

Marriage Counseling to Prevent Future Problems

Marriage counseling can be preventative and reactive. While it is beneficial for resolving current conflicts, it is even more helpful at preventing future conflicts. As you improve your communication, you can express your thoughts in an effective, non-confrontational way. Disputes start as discussions, and you can keep them at that stage with the lessons learned through marriage counseling.

Simply put, you can seek marriage counseling at any time. Whether you’re dealing with serious issues in your relationship or you just want to bond more with your spouse, couples therapy can help.

Contact Perspectives Counseling Centers at (248) 244-8644 to Schedule an Appointment with a Marriage Counselor near You

Tips for Reducing Your Child’s Screen Time

screen-time

Too much screen time can have a negative impact on your child. From temper tantrums to social withdrawal, there are variety of negative consequences associated with technology. This isn’t to say that your child can’t watch TV or play video games on occasion, but it needs to happen in moderation. Here are some tips for reducing your child screen time.

Set Specific Timeframes for Screen Time

Pick certain times of the day that your child can watch TV, play on the computer, use an iPad, etc. The amount of time your child receives will depend on his or her age and maturity level. For instance, you may allow your 10 year old to play video games for 45 minutes after homework is complete. You may allow your 5 year old to have 15 minutes on the tablet after dinner. The specifics are up to you, but just make sure you have some sort of time frame in place. If you allow your child to have open ended screen time, it’s easy for minutes to turn into hours.

Find Alternative Activities for Your Child

There are plenty of ways for a child to be entertained without a screen in front of them. Playing outside, building with Legos, coloring, doing crafts, and reading are just some of the potential sources of entertainment. Find activities that your child enjoys and encourage him or her to do them as much as possible. The screen will seem far less exciting when there are other exciting things going on.

Limit Your Own Screen Time

Children pick up a great deal of their behaviors from the people around them. If they see you consistently on your phone or watching TV, they are more likely to yearn for screen time themselves. When is the last time you read a book for fun? Do you have any projects that need to be completed around the house? If you show your children that you don’t need a screen to have fun, they will follow your example.

Recognize When Screen Time Is Becoming a Problem

If your child is consistently throwing tantrums about watching TV or playing a game, it’s time to re-evaluate his or her privileges. It takes a certain level of maturity to be able to handle technology because it is addicting. Your child may not be ready for that responsibility yet. Make adjustments as needed to ensure your child has positive behavioral development.

For more parenting tips, contact Perspectives Counseling Centers to schedule an appointment with a family counselor near you.

How Long Should Our Engagement Be? Premarital Counseling

engagement

You recently got engaged, and you’re starting to plan your wedding. A big question on your mind is, “How long should our engagement be?” Should you wait six months to get married, or should you stay engaged for a couple years? How long is too long, and how short is too short? We’re here to answer those questions and more, with tips from our premarital counselors in Michigan.

Factors That Influence Engagement Timing

Before we explain the theoretical ‘right’ length of engagement, it’s important to note that every couple is different. There are also many factors that determine how long a couple stays engaged. Some of these might be beyond your control. Some factors that influence engagement time include:

  • How long it takes to plan your wedding
  • When your wedding venue comes available
  • Financial hurdles you have to overcome (paying down debts, making wedding deposits, finding a house, etc.)
  • Personal circumstances, such as a special date for your wedding or an event your wedding must come before
  • How long you have been dating one another
  • Citizenship planning, for international couples
  • Pregnancy and childbirth, if applicable
  • Your personalities

The Average Length of Engagement

If you look up the average timeframe for engagement, the answer will vary based on this source that you read. From our experience working with couples in premarital counseling, most engagements last at least six months, with an average time of one to one and a half years. With that in mind, there are many couples that stay engaged for years and go on to have wonderful marriages. There are also couples that are only engaged for a few short months, and they are able to have successful marriages. You and your fiancé can find a timeframe that works best for your lifestyles and your relationship.

Benefits of Having a Long Engagement

There are some benefits to being engaged for a year or longer. If you decide to live together, this gives you a chance to interact with your future spouse on a daily basis. You can see his or her quirks and notice potential annoyances that you may not have seen before. This is not to say that you will end your relationship because you are spending extra time together. It simply means that you can be prepared for what’s to come in married life.

If you do not choose to live together, having a long engagement still gives you a chance to work out your finances, determine your living situation, get to know each other’s family, and go through other steps in preparation for marriage. The better prepared you are comment the easier what it will be to get to those first few transition years.

How to Ensure a Long, Happy Marriage

The key to having a successful marriage is knowing how to communicate with your spouse. You can prevent or resolve conflicts with ease just by expressing your feelings effectively. This is one of the tasks we focus on in premarital counseling and marriage counseling. It is also something you can work on in your day-to-day life.

If you are interested in premarital counseling, marriage counseling, or couples counseling at Perspectives Counseling Centers, give us a call at (248) 244-8644 to schedule an appointment.

We are what we eat!

We are what we eat!

By Pearl Stewart, LPC

9.30.2018

Omega-3 fatty acids

“Nutritional deficiencies and dietary patterns can affect its function and alter brain chemistry and the formulation of neurotransmitters—chemicals in the brain that can stimulate and calm,” says researcher from CNC. These neurotransmitters influence our mood as well. The most common foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids are: fatty fish like wild salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds. “We are setting ourselves back if we don’t allow our brains to have a good baseline to even approach therapy techniques. This starts with fatty acids. TIP: the best way to get flaxseed, walnuts and chia seeds in your diet is to add it to foods you already eat. Sprinkle some flaxseeds and/or chia seeds into your favorite yogurt, cereal or oatmeal. You won’t regret it!

Caffeine

Caffeine can make us more anxious. A recent study at Wake Forest University found that caffeine reduced blood flow to the brain by 27%. Caffeine also increases your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Another recent study showed that caffeine exacerbates panic attacks in people who have already been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Water water water!

Even mild dehydration can cause mood problems.  According to a study from the University of Connecticut, by the time you feel thirsty it’s too late. Our thirst sensation doesn’t really appear until we’re one or two percent dehydrated.” We need to consume water throughout the day…not just when we feel thirsty. TIP: If you are having a hard time consuming water, add in your favorite fruits and veggies–strawberries, lemons and cucumbers work great.