Signs You Should See a Psychiatrist for Mental Health Treatment

When it comes to mental health and wellbeing, it can be hard to know when to seek help. Mental health issues can manifest in a variety of different ways and no two people experience and cope with them in the same way. It can be difficult to recognize when it is time to seek help from a professional, such as a psychiatrist. This blog post is here to provide some guidance and help you determine when the time is right to seek professional help from a psychiatrist. 

Signs That You Need to See a Psychiatrist

There are a few common signs that can indicate it is time to seek help from a psychiatrist. If you are experiencing any of the following, it is likely time to make an appointment with a professional: 

  • Intense feelings of fear and anxiety that interfere with your daily life
  • Severe mood swings or episodes of depression
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Uncontrollable outbursts of anger
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Hearing voices or seeing things that are not there
  • Fixation on certain topics, ideas, or beliefs
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Social withdrawal or isolation 

If you are experiencing any of the above signs, it is important to seek professional help. A psychiatrist can assess the symptoms you are experiencing and provide advice on the best course of treatment.

What to Expect From a Psychiatrist 

When you visit a psychiatrist, they will assess your symptoms to determine the best course of treatment. They will likely ask a variety of questions about your mental health, such as your medical history, family history, and any medications you may be taking. They may also ask questions about your lifestyle, such as your diet, exercise, and sleep habits.

During the assessment process, your psychiatrist will also work with you to identify any underlying causes of your symptoms. This can include identifying any potential triggers and developing strategies to help you manage your mental health.

Your psychiatrist may also recommend a range of treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medications, or lifestyle changes. It is important to discuss any potential treatments with your psychiatrist and make sure you are comfortable with them before proceeding.

Benefits of Seeing a Psychiatrist

Seeing a psychiatrist can provide a number of benefits. It can help you to better understand your mental health, develop effective coping strategies, and improve your overall quality of life.

By seeking help from a psychiatrist, you can learn to manage your mental health more effectively and recognize any warning signs that may indicate a decline in your mental well-being. This can help to prevent further deterioration of your mental health and prevent any potential crises.

Seeing a psychiatrist can also help to reduce the severity of your symptoms, as they can provide evidence-based treatments that are tailored to your individual needs. This can help to improve your overall quality of life and help you to better manage your mental health.

In addition, seeing a psychiatrist can provide you with a safe space to talk about your mental health and any difficulties you may be experiencing. This can help to reduce feelings of isolation and provide you with the necessary support to make positive changes in your life.

When it comes to mental health and well-being, seeking help from a professional can make a huge difference. It is important to recognize the signs that indicate it is time to seek help from a psychiatrist and make an appointment as soon as possible. A psychiatrist can assess your symptoms and provide evidence-based treatments that are tailored to your individual needs. This can help to reduce the severity of your symptoms and improve your overall quality of life. Reach out to the professionals at Hudson Psychiatric Associates for more information or to establish care. We offer virtual consultations for your convenience and choice of treatment options.

7 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress

Stress has become an increasingly common occurrence in our fast-paced, connected world. In the United States, current events, work stress, and the long-term trauma brought on by the global pandemic have created a mental health crisis across all ages and demographics. According to the American Institute of Stress, the statistics surrounding chronic stress are concerning:

  • 55% of Americans are stressed each day
  • Stress causes 57% of US respondents to feel paralyzed
  • 63% of US workers are ready to quit their job to avoid work-related stress
  • 94% of workers report stress chronic stress in the workplace
  • Over 30% of people report feeling extreme stress
  • 77% of people experience stress that affects their physical health 
  • 73 % of people have stress that impacts their mental health
  • 48% of people experience stress-induced sleep problems

Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to dangerous health concerns, but there are several simple ways to reduce daily stress. These quick and easy practices can help us lead a more relaxed and fulfilling life. Here are 7 quick stress reducers that you can start today:

  1. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. You don’t need a gym, a trainer, or expensive equipment to get started. There are plenty of ways to get your heart rate up and help release endorphins, the body’s natural stress-fighting chemicals. 30 minutes of moderate exercise can also help improve your overall physical health and reduce anxiety. 

If you’re not a regular exerciser, you can start slowly and still begin to reap the benefits. Take a brisk walk, or find a free low-impact beginner exercise like yoga on YouTube. Even incorporating exercise into your hobbies or daily routines, like gardening or performing walking lunges through the house while doing chores, can be an effective start. The point is to find something you can stick with and that you have the motivation to do regularly.

  1. Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing is a simple and quick way to reduce stress. It involves breathing deeply and slowly, focusing on your breath, and letting go of any tension. You can practice deep breathing anywhere at any time, making it a great way to reduce stress at home or on the go. There are many approaches to deep breathing, so find one that feels right and use it any time you feel stressed or overwhelmed to signal a stress-reducing reaction from your mind and body.

  1.  Get enough sleep

This can feel easier said than done for people who don’t have a healthy sleep routine already. But lack of sleep can increase cortisol in your body, which raises stress levels and makes it more difficult to manage stress naturally. If you aim for progress, not perfection, when developing a routine that helps you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night and stick to it, you can improve over time. 

Incorporating small changes like avoiding TV or using electronic devices before bedtime, plugging your phone in another room or across the room and out of sight, doing calming activities like journaling, reading a book, listening to soft music, or doing meditative or mindfulness activities can increase the length and quality of your sleep once they become routine.

  1. Connect with loved ones

When we are stressed, we can tend to isolate ourselves. Remember, spending time with people you care about can be an effective way to reduce stress. It may also provide a supportive network and help you feel more connected to others. Consider a phone call, a video chat, or an in-person visit, and see if making time for friends and family can help you feel more relaxed and reduce stress.

  1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice that helps to focus on the present moment. It can help reduce stress by helping you feel more relaxed and focused. You can practice mindfulness by paying attention to your breathing, the sensations in your body, and your thoughts. There are many apps and resources available that can help you learn mindfulness and start practicing it regularly.

  1.  Get outside

Spending time in nature can be a great way to reduce stress. Whether it’s a walk in the park, hiking in the woods, fishing or taking a swim in the lake, or simply sitting in a quiet place where you can take in the serene sights and sounds of nature, spending time outside can help you feel more relaxed and reduce stress.

  1. Make time for yourself

It’s important to make time for yourself and do things you enjoy. Whether reading a book, doing a hobby that fulfills you, or simply relaxing, making time for yourself can help you feel more relaxed and reduce stress. It’s important to set boundaries at work and with others to take the time to unplug and restore your energy.

Reducing stress is essential for our overall well-being and ability to cope. By incorporating these 7 quick ways to reduce stress into your daily routine, you can help improve your mental and physical health and lead a more relaxed and fulfilling life. Be kind to yourself and make time to check in with yourself. If you’d like to speak with a professional to get more support with stress reduction, and improving your mental health, reach out to our team at Hudson Psychiatric Associates to request an appointment or leave a message.

4 Ways to Overcome Holiday Stress

Tis the season! As many of us are preparing for the upcoming holidays, we’re also facing increased pressures like shopping, holiday parties, traffic, and complex family relationships that can affect our well-being. Stress, anxiety, and depression are often triggered or exacerbated by all the demands the holidays can bring. 

Whether you’re already feeling an impact on your mood or you want to be prepared to address any mental health shifts you may be anticipating, we’ve got practical, actionable tips to help you maintain your peace and get through the demands of the season while still prioritizing your mental and emotional health.

1. Embrace Healthy Boundaries 

It’s time to get comfortable with the word “No”. You may need to use it on yourself and others more now than at other times during the year. Whether you are double booked or simply can’t take on one more thing at the expense of your well-being, permit yourself to say no by prioritizing what matters most to you.

This goes for work obligations, family obligations, and even things you feel obligated to do for yourself. If it doesn’t feel like it is contributing to your goals, values, and priorities. You can say NO. It takes more practice for some than others, so remember you can also leave social events early, and change your mind at any time if your mental and emotional well-being is at stake. 

No is a complete sentence, and you don’t owe it to anybody to explain. But if saying No feels stressful, unnatural, or makes you uneasy about how it will affect relationships that matter to you, take a look at this PsychCentral Article for tips that help make saying No a little more comfortable.

2. Integrate your Favorite Healthy Habits

Now is not the time to adopt a brand-new exercise regime or attempt a food habit that feels limiting or stressful. However, it’s a great time to incorporate the habits you know make you feel great.

What are some of the practices you have already engaged in that make you feel great? Making time for meditation and mindfulness is a strong start to ensuring well-being. Walking is not only a great way to get a little cardio and fresh air, but it has stress-relieving benefits that you might benefit from when things become too much. If you enjoy other activities like free weights, yoga, swimming, or dancing, leave time and space in your schedule to include them.

Meal planning is another smart move where you can incorporate your favorite foods, make sure you’re getting essential nutrition, and be less likely to mindlessly access the extra treats that seem to be available in excess during the holidays. We tend to ignore our hunger signals and then reach for the closest easiest snack. We can also mindlessly binge in an attempt to calm stress and fatigue. Meal planning means ensuring your body and mind have the nutrition they need to operate well. If you truly want the sugar cookie, take it and enjoy it, but paying attention to your body’s needs will help you feel better than scarfing a whole pie.

3. Manage your Expectations

Holidays can feel like a ton of pressure to make everything wonderful and magical. There are countless ways to celebrate, and millions of people believe they can do it all. It’s often a recipe for disaster. You may experience increased stress and anxiety, constant comparison, frustration when things don’t go as planned, exhaustion, burnout, and meltdown. Some people experience these cyclically all season long. 

The holidays represent different things for people. Social media can be a great way to learn about new traditions and trends, events in your area, and opportunities to celebrate in various ways. But it can also cause a comparison game, and we always lose when comparing our real life to somebody else’s highlights. 

You don’t have to do it all, or any of it for that matter. Think about what matters most to you and your loved ones. Prioritize what brings you joy, and set boundaries with the rest. 

Expect the unexpected and roll with it. Some things can’t live up to what we envision, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be wonderful. Celebrate safely and focus on what matters most; the rest will feel much more manageable.

4. Reach Out to Connect with Others

If you’re feeling the holiday mental load, you can and should reach out to others for support. Friends and family can be great sounding boards to help find solutions or offer a sympathetic ear. 

The holidays can be a time of isolation for some people. It’s not uncommon for those who have family that is far away or estranged to feel particularly alone. If you are feeling the blues, reach out to loved ones who may not know you’re feeling lonely. Healthy social interaction is vital for mental health during the holidays and all year long.

This is also a great time of year to get involved and give back by volunteering and working with local organizations that matter to you. Bringing joy to others can be a great way to restore your joy. You may also consider joining a social organization like a choir, religious program, or planning committee to help you feel like part of a community. Just don’t go overboard if your calendar is already bursting at the seams.

If you’re feeling the mental load of the holidays, and need additional support and resources this season, connect with Hudson Psychiatric Associates for professional guidance.

Is it Time to Re-Evaluate Your Friend Group?

Friendships can be deeply complex. Our natural dependency on what they represent can cause us to ignore red flags from friendships that have become toxic and unsustainable. If you are feeling stress, anxiety, or other negative feelings from certain friendships, it may be a sign that it’s time to explore setting boundaries or even ending the relationship.

Unhealthy friendships can profoundly affect our physical and mental health and overall emotional well-being. The stress caused by consistent negative interactions with friends can cause physiological and psychological damage including higher blood pressure, increased inflammation, and impacts on your mood and morale. It’s essential to be aware of typical behaviors and effects that indicate a troubled friendship bond and what you can do to invite healthier boundaries and relationships into your life.

Are your friends critical?

In unhealthy friendships, you may notice that conversations can turn negative quickly. There may be constant put-downs and instances of ignoring or degrading you when something positive happens.

Are you noticing an excess of negative or derogatory remarks made toward you? Are they critical of your decisions and belittling the things that make you excited or proud? There are many reasons a person may act this way toward their friends including jealousy, unrealistic standards, and even factors that have little to do with you and are triggered by something within them.

Are you always the first to make plans or initiate a phone call or text? 

Are you usually the first one to make contact or plans? Do your friends give you a hard time when the plans are made, consistently wanting to change or cancel them? If your friend group seems rather difficult to get a hold of or nail down when it comes to committing to plans, it shows a lack of respect and balance in your friendship. It can create feelings of lower self-worth and even embarrassment or social anxiety.

Do friendship boundaries seem non-existent?

Do you have friends with seemingly high expectations of you to do things for them, but they do not return the favor? Do they cross boundaries by asking uncomfortable questions about your finances, politics, sex life, or marriage? Or do they pressure you to think or feel a certain way that is more aligned with their views or beliefs? You may be experiencing manipulation that is already unhealthy and could escalate to other adverse outcomes and a feeling of losing yourself and your identity.

Is it time to make a change?

Whatever the reason behind the behavior, it’s never okay, and steps should be taken to create healthy boundaries and balance within the friendship if possible. Know that you are not alone, and you can take action to create a healthier friend dynamic in your life and move on from irreparable toxic friendships with confidence.

The first step is to have a candid conversation with your friends regarding the feeling you are having. This may lead to a better understanding of your mutual needs, and occasionally your friendship could mend itself. Be prepared that it could also lead to an end in the friendship, which could be very difficult to come to terms with, even if it means that the unhealthy behaviors are out of your life.

Occasionally, people need additional support. You can seek professional guidance from Hudson Psychiatric Associates, who are here to help you deal with your feelings and the outcomes of your choices. 

Disorders like complex social anxiety can deeply affect existing and future friendships and have become more prevalent in recent years. Our mental health professionals can guide you through numerous treatments to help you heal, attract healthier friendships, and set better boundaries.

Strive for healthy friendships

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously stated that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. When it comes to relationships and friendships, we are influenced — whether we like it or not — by those closest to us. If evaluating your friendships is part of a larger goal in evaluating yourself and your goals, it’s a great place to start.

If you have suffered from toxic friendships, you may need to recognize what a typical healthy friendship dynamic should be. In an ordinary healthy friendship, your friends will check in with you, respect healthy boundaries, support a give-and-take interaction, speak to you respectfully and send positive or supportive messages. They will celebrate your victories with you and comfort you when you are down. 

If you need support as you reevaluate your close relationships, contact Hudson Psychiatric Associates today to connect with a provider.

Identifying the Conventional Impacts of Trauma

According to The National Council, 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some profoundly traumatic event at least once in their lives. That means most of us will experience a deeply distressing or disturbing event or series of events classified as acute, chronic, or complex trauma. 

As alarming as that statistic is on its face, trauma is simply a part of life for most Americans. Even though the effects of trauma are different in each specific circumstance, the impacts of trauma on victims’ lives are often the same. Here are some commonalities among those who have dealt with trauma. These may ring true for those who have experienced trauma and their loved ones.

1. Changes to your perspective on life

Even though types of trauma vary greatly, there is often a current of similarity that runs through the way it manifests itself. Trauma will often critically shift how one sees their life. Self-worth, relationships with others, and what people envision for their future are often all affected by the traumatic events they’ve endured.  

2. Resistance to change 

Most people who have gone through trauma are resistant to change, even if it is positive. Change often represents a perceived threat to safety and control over our lives, and it’s typical to experience a push-back to things that could open us up to vulnerability. 

This resistance can occur with changes in physical locations and residency, interacting with new people, and even a promotion at work that brings new responsibilities can be an unwelcome change to a victim of trauma. Consistency in where we go, what we do, and who we see brings comfort, and change can also reignite your traumatic response and trigger feelings of anxiety, stress, fear, and even anger. 

3. Changes in memory or concentration 

It may feel unnerving, but it’s typical to experience gaps in memory, including events that friends and family may remember, yet the trauma sufferer has no recollection of. This is another natural response to trauma and our brain’s attempt at self-preservation. This symptom can also damage your ability to concentrate as you once did. A generalized lack of focus is often an additional side effect that those who experience trauma report.

Processing and Coping with Trauma 

Trauma survivors experience and cope with trauma in a variety of ways. The mental health effects can manifest immediately, or days, weeks, and even years after the occurrence of trauma. Human beings are unique and complex creatures, and when our brains are processing trauma, our survival and coping mechanisms can upend our daily lives.

Often, symptoms get better over time as we naturally connect with others close to us, and we build meaning out of our lives as we get some distance from the trauma. It is normal to experience sadness, sleep issues, avoidance, anger/rage, intrusive thoughts, other unpredictable emotions, and even physical symptoms related to the trauma.

Additional Support for Victims of Trauma

If these symptoms persist or continue to interfere with your ability to live your daily life, you may be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This type of condition is most common in complex trauma that occurs over time and is deeply threatening to and invasive of personal safety. If you or a loved one is experiencing extreme stress, anxiety, or depression related to one or more traumatic events, it may be time to seek professional care through therapy, medications, and/or other available treatments.

The care team at Hudson Psychiatric Associates is here to help address your mental health concerns and bring you resources to get back on the path to wellness. Reach out today to request an appointment, or get more information about our support services.

Understanding the Stages of Grief

Grief is a natural human response to loss. We often connect the term to a loved one’s death, but grief is an emotional response to having something or someone you love taken away. Often, those suffering loss can feel overwhelming pain and sadness. However, the expression of grief comes in many forms, including shock, rage, disbelief, guilt, worry, fear, and disassociation.

Grief can present itself in various circumstances ranging in severity from a missed or lost opportunity to extreme trauma-related events. It’s important to note that there are five typical stages of grief we tend to cycle through when faced with these situations. Though the length of time to process grief can range from days to years, it rarely occurs linearly and can also return long after we assume that we’ve processed and moved on from the initial triggering event.

It’s essential for those who wish to heal and cope with grief to understand its stages. This information further helps us to recognize how to build tools to address it and when we may need additional support.

The 5 stages of grief and how to recognize them

The stages of grief all have distinct purposes and manifestations. People often assume we move from one stage to the next and eventually recover. While this is possible, it’s also natural to jump around and even revisit stages as we adapt to our circumstances.

Here are some examples of what we might expect from each stage:

1. Denial

This is a form of self-preservation. It can present as avoidance, mindlessness or numbness, distraction, forgetfulness, and convincing yourself and others that you are “fine.”

We may experience shock, confusion, or emotional shut-down.

2. Anger

Anger generally presents in three ways: passive aggression, open aggression, and assertive anger. That can look like physical aggression or verbally lashing out, having a short fuse and being easily irritated,  having a cynical or pessimistic outlook, and reacting with sarcasm and contempt.

We may feel frustrated, full of rage, embarrassed, resentful,  impatient, or like we lack control over our emotions.

3. Bargaining

During this stage, we often run through alternate versions of events. We get stuck obsessing over past and future events, thinking events would have been or will be different ” If only ….”.

We might feel judgemental of ourselves and others, insecure or worried about the present and future. We might compare ourselves to others, feel fear, shame, blame, or guilt,  and have heightened anxiety and fixation on events. 

4. Depression

This is the stage most easily recognized as part of the grieving process. It includes feelings of sadness, despair, and hopelessness. 

We may recognize ourselves experiencing sleep and appetite changes, lack of energy, loss of interest in activities or socialization, decreased motivation, crying, and loss of concern for our well-being. 

5. Acceptance

Experiencing acceptance does NOT mean we stop experiencing the negative emotions related to grief. It is the point in the grieving process where we can build coping mechanisms to orient ourselves in the present moment and help guide ourselves out of the other stages as they occur and recur.

People in the acceptance stage feel more compassion and grace toward themselves. They tend to be open to adopting mindfulness techniques and are willing to be vulnerable, honest,  and responsive to outreach from others without feeling defensive. 

Strategies to work through the stages of grief

The stages of grief are our defense mechanisms to protect ourselves, disconnect, or avoid the reality of loss. Once we reach the acceptance stage, we accept our new reality and set goals to help ourselves adjust to it. The initial 4 stages prevent us from making adjustments, and we may experience a range of complicated behaviors that we’ll need to address once we reach acceptance. These include increased alcohol or drug use, sleep and appetite changes,  increased anxiety and depression symptoms, hyperfocus on external responsibilities and the needs of others while neglecting our own, seeking persistent distraction, and other activities that affect our well-being.

Sufferers also experience physical effects of grief that may have a long-term impact on health if steps aren’t taken to resolve them.

By acknowledging the problems and struggles created by grief, we can reflect on them and identify small changes and priority shifts to address them beneficially. Using self-talk strategies to notice the root cause of your behavior helps us to change or have acceptance for them. For instance, if a grieving person acknowledges that they are sleeping too much, they can set achievable goals to wake up earlier or develop a more concrete schedule. In the same vein, if one recognizes that they are feeling angry, it’s also appropriate to show grace, validate those feelings, and handle them better next time.

When you need more support

Grief can create powerful, all-consuming, and complex emotional and physical responses. While it is a natural process, sufferers may need help guiding themselves out of a specific stage. Often our loved ones and community can be a great support system to help us see our way through our grief, but there are many instances where one may need additional support. 

The dedicated team at Hudson Psychiatric Associates offers clinical and therapeutic support for individuals seeking trained, experienced, compassionate, and empathic mental health professionals. Contact us today to get help addressing grief and developing better tools to handle it.

What to Expect from your Online Psychiatry Appointment

Online psychiatry services offer a flexible and inclusive option that can benefit people looking for more ease of access to mental health services. There are several reasons patients might prefer an online psychiatry appointment including physical distance from the offices for people living in rural or underserved locations, people who prefer to make appointments in between other activities or during breaks in their workday, or people with socially related mental health considerations that are enhanced with face to face appointments and interactions. 

It’s important to understand the key differences between psychiatry and psychotherapy in order to understand what to expect from your online appointment and to further recognize whether virtual services are the right fit for you.

Before Your Online Psychiatry Appointment

Before your appointment, it will help to come prepared by writing out details about your mental health status that your care provider will use to help create a clear picture of your mental health needs and considerations.

Writing down a list of specific medical and mental health details may help you remember important information or have it on hand when it is needed during your appointment. It may also help you consider what questions to ask when you meet with your psychiatrist and can help you feel less anxious and more prepared for your appointment.

During Your First Online Psychiatry Appointment

This appointment will generally take longer than subsequent appointments. Your provider will start by getting to know you, your medical and mental health history, and any pertinent information that contributes to why you are seeking online treatment. This is a good time to share your expectations and concerns if you have any, and your psychiatrist will do their part to help you understand how typical sessions will work, and what other evaluations, medications, medical exams, or labs you may need. 

As of the writing of this post in 2022, medical regulations currently permit doctors to prescribe medications online that previously required an in-person visit. These medications include stimulants, benzodiazepines, and hypnotics. The change was brought on by the Covid19 pandemic and current regulations may be changed by the DEA at any time. When it’s time for you to seek virtual services, your medical and mental health professionals can help inform you about how to proceed.

Technical Difficulties 

Even with the best technology and internet services, occasional internet and technical failures are simply unavoidable. If you get disconnected from your provider, check your connection and contact the main office if you cannot get back into your session. Unexpected problems can be a source of anxiety, so being prepared with a backup plan will help you to be in control while finding solutions to the problem and getting back to your visit. 

After Your First Appointment

Unless you are receiving teletherapy, your subsequent online psychiatry appointments will generally be shorter. Your psychiatrist may work with your other healthcare providers to coordinate a treatment plan and will follow up on your existing treatment plan during each visit to make sure you are getting adequate medical and mental health care.
Online psychiatry is a great alternative to in-office treatment for many people. If you are in search of a psychiatrist who offers these services, contact Hudson Psychiatric Associates today.

After a School Shooting – How to Talk To Your Kids

Mental health in children is an indicator of their ability to thrive in adulthood. Parents and caregivers have learned so much about supporting children and their emotional and psychological well-being in general. Still, when something tragic occurs, it’s important to support caregivers as they help children cope with the possible mental health repercussions. 

Helping our kids navigate their feelings and questions after an occurrence of a school shooting is a complex issue that concerns a lot of parents. Though mass shootings are statistically rare, and are not a new phenomenon, our youth today are facing an immense amount of exposure thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, social media access, and active shooter drills at schools. 

This results in anxiety and fears that did not exist on the same level in previous generations. Parents looking for support when it comes to discussing school shootings with their families can find information and resources to take the next steps in this blog post.

Check your Own Anxiety and Reaction First

Our kids often look to us to set the tone. If we are emotionally dysregulated, have a higher level of stress, and are quicker to react harshly, they notice. It affects their experience of safety and stability when we are not ourselves. It’s absolutely natural and even expected for us to be more reactive or have higher anxiety levels when traumatic events are happening around us, but it’s also important to recognize how our behaviors may be affecting our kids. Here are some things parents and caregivers can do:

  • We can work to make sure schedules, routines, and structures are as predictable as possible.
  • We can seek support from others to work through our struggles: family, friends, clergy, community members, and/or mental health professionals.
  • We can pick a time when we are calm to start talking about their feelings and experiences, which will help them feel comfortable and secure.

Start by Listening

It’s important that children’s feelings are validated, but we also want to make sure we’re approaching them in developmentally appropriate ways. Additionally, we do not want to overwhelm them with excess information triggering more anxiety. Here are a few ideas to help you get started with appropriate ways to discuss heavy topics like school shootings:

  • We can start with open-but-specific questions. Instead of, How are you feeling? We can ask, Have your friends or teachers been talking about what has occurred? Do you have questions about what you have seen or heard?
  • Listening to your children will help you to know which follow-up questions to ask, and empower your children to lead the direction of the discussion to help you understand what support they may need at the moment. 

Give Children Information about What They Can Control 

Experiencing structure and safety is vital during times of tragedy or uncertainty. Remind children that you and the other adults in their lives are here to protect them, and approach drills like any other safety practice. We have fire drills, tornado drills, and hurricane evacuation plans NOT because it is likely we will need them, but because we want to be the most prepared in the very rare instance they may happen. Remind them that active shooter drills are there to help us know exactly what to do in order to be safe and prepared even though it’s incredibly unlikely they will need it.

Children- and many other people for that matter- also take comfort when there is something positive and actionable that they can do to move forward. Fundraising, sending cards and letters, and participating in other acts of kindness can be really helpful during the coping process, and also encourages empathy in children which is beneficial for their overall mental health.

Get Professional Support
If your child appears to have increased anxiety about violent tragedies in our country, and you’re looking for more extensive resources, you may want to talk to a professional to help with coping support. Speaking with a mental health professional can help them regain a sense of safety and preparedness as well as identify additional triggers to their anxieties. Reach out today if your family is looking for more support from our team of licensed professionals.

Social Media and Its Impact on Mental Health

Social media is a place where people can share their life moments, talents, and expertise. It has become a powerful tool that connects people. However, with the rise in social media-related violence and suicides, many experts are asking, do the negative effects of social media on mental health outweigh the benefits? The answer is complicated.

Social Media is a Double-Edged Sword

Social media has changed the way we communicate, connect and interact with people. It’s also a social platform where users can create their own identities and share information about themselves. including personal details, interests, hobbies, life experiences, and more. It gives users an opportunity to have an active online presence and friendships. However, there are several negative effects associated with using social media excessively, especially in teens and young adults, such as:

  • Lower self-esteem 
  • Cyberbullying 
  • Addiction issues 
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Anxiety
  • Physical health problems

Social media has a reinforcing nature. Using it activates the brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine, a “feel-good chemical” linked to pleasurable activities. The most common issues users, especially young people, face include depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, body image and eating disorders, and low self-esteem. Those who used social media more frequently report less satisfaction with their life overall and lower levels of personal well-being than those who use it less often. 

How to Combat the Negative Effects of Social Media

Social media is a huge part of our lives now, but it can cause some serious issues. Teenagers are especially vulnerable. They’re just starting to figure out who they are as individuals and are also trying to find their place in the world. Social media makes this process more difficult because it shows people the highlight reels of other people’s lives. We see skewed pictures of bodies, relationships, social skills, and communication styles that don’t match up with reality

The effects of social media on mental health are still being researched by experts around the world; however, if you experience any lasting negative effects from your online activities or interactions with others on these sites, there are several ways to cope with them:

  1. Set Limits

You may be using social media more often than you realize. Consider tracking your usage and taking a realistic look at how you can decrease your daily use if you feel social media is negatively affecting you. You may also want to look into some online tools developed specifically for managing digital distractions.

  1. Set an Example

Adults who use social media influence their children who have access to social media. They also influence other adults around them like spouses, friends, and family members. Controlling your own usage could help others around you collectively decrease theirs as well.

  1. Practice Being Present

Your day-to-day ability to be mindful about how you spend your time without social media can be improved by meditation and intentional focus. We can help ourselves and our families disconnect from social media by increasing the amount of face-to-face communication we all get. Have a family game night, or dinner around the table with no devices or screens allowed. Take a vacation or day trip somewhere that has no cell service or internet access. The more present we are in reality, the less of a hold social media will have on us. 

  1. Support is Available

If you or a family member is experiencing chronic negative impacts from social media, there are resources available to help. Research programs within your community that may offer support. If you are looking for a therapeutic or clinical approach, the team of practitioners at Hudson Psychiatric Associates offers a variety of treatment options for individuals to address any of the impacts listed above. Contact our qualified doctors and therapists at Hudson Psychiatric Associates to learn more.

5 Ways to Prevent an Anxiety Attack

Anxiety is a normal part of life, and as such, most people experience some level of anxiety at one point or another. However, during particularly stressful times, anxiety can be difficult to deal with and can escalate to what is known as an anxiety attack or panic attack. An anxiety attack is usually triggered by something specific in your environment or thinking patterns.  It creates a physical reaction that can feel very scary. Common physical symptoms of an anxiety attack can include:

  • Sense of impending doom or danger
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • A feeling of unreality or detachment

If you’re able to identify what triggers your anxiety (and talk about it), then you can start working on coping strategies before they have time to really get under your skin (or even worse— cause an attack). If you begin to feel some of these symptoms coming on, consider the following preventative steps to help you through it.

  1. Take control of your breathing

Practice breathing exercises regularly so that when you are feeling an attack coming on, you can prevent it or work through it faster. Try breathing in through your nose, and exhaling out through your mouth for 10-30  seconds. This will help lower your heart rate and make you feel calmer.

  1. Distract yourself

Can you focus on something else? If so, try doing that until the feeling passes (like watching TV or reading). Keep yourself occupied with positive thoughts that are not related to what caused the anxiety in the first place. This will help replace the triggering thoughts and keep you calm and relaxed.

  1. Talk yourself through it

You can prevent or work through an anxiety attack by reminding yourself that you are in control and practicing self-talk.

  • Remember that this too shall pass.
  • You’ve felt this feeling before, and know what to do next
  • You are safe, and it will be okay
  • You are stronger than your anxiety
  1. Be aware of your surroundings

Staying grounded in the moment is a great method for combatting anxiety

  • Stay in the present moment by recognizing physical objects, and senses around you.
  • Focus on your breathing.
  • Practice mindfulness by focusing on what’s around you in the here and now without judging it or getting caught up in any negative thoughts about it (or yourself). 
  1. Write it out
  • Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you process them, and can be a great way to remember what happened in the past. 
  • Write a gratitude list each night before bed so that when anxiety strikes, even during sleep, it’s easier to focus on all that’s going well in life rather than fixating on negative thoughts
  • Write down daily activities such as meals eaten or errands run so that when anxiety escalates, you can track habits and focus on what to do next.

Being prepared for an anxiety attack is a key component of managing it. If you know what to expect, then you can take steps to control it. If you’re struggling with anxiety,  know that you are not alone.  You should talk about it and seek help from a mental health professional, friend or family member, support group, counselor, and/or doctor. If you don’t know where to start and need assistance finding someone who can help you, reach out to the team at Hudson Psychiatric Associates today.