Telepsychiatry for Children and Adolescents: How it Works and Why it’s Effective

It should come as no surprise that technology has revolutionized various aspects of our lives, including healthcare. One area that has seen remarkable advancements is the field of psychiatry. With the rise of telemedicine, specifically telepsychiatry, accessing mental healthcare for children and adolescents has become easier and more convenient than ever before. In this blog post, we will explore how telepsychiatry works and why it is an effective and valuable option for parents seeking mental health support for their children.

Understanding Telepsychiatry

Telepsychiatry is the practice of delivering mental healthcare remotely, using secure video conferencing technology. It allows patients and psychiatrists to connect in real-time, bridging the geographical gap between them. Through a computer, tablet, or smartphone, children and adolescents can receive the same level of care as they would during an in-person visit, all from the comfort of their own homes.

How Telepsychiatry Works

  1. Scheduling and Setup: To initiate a telepsychiatry session, parents can schedule an appointment with the psychiatry practice, just like they would for an in-person visit. The practice will provide instructions on how to set up the necessary video conferencing software or platform, ensuring a secure and confidential connection.
  1. Initial Consultation: During the first telepsychiatry session, the child or adolescent and their parent(s) will meet with the psychiatrist virtually. This consultation serves as an opportunity for the psychiatrist to gather information about the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and concerns. It is crucial to establish a strong rapport and open lines of communication from the outset.
  1. Ongoing Treatment: Subsequent telepsychiatry sessions will follow a similar format to in-person visits. The psychiatrist will engage with the child or adolescent, discuss their progress, and provide therapy, counseling, or medication management as required. These sessions are highly personalized and tailored to the individual needs of each patient.

Benefits of Telepsychiatry for Children and Adolescents

  • Accessibility and Convenience: Telepsychiatry breaks down barriers to mental healthcare by eliminating the need for travel and reducing wait times. It offers parents and children in rural or underserved areas access to specialized psychiatric care that may not be readily available locally. Additionally, busy parents can avoid the hassle of commuting and can schedule appointments during more convenient times, promoting better treatment adherence.
  • Comfort and Familiarity: For many children and adolescents, the idea of visiting a psychiatrist’s office can be intimidating. Telepsychiatry allows them to receive care from the comfort of their own home, in a familiar and safe environment. This can help alleviate anxiety and encourage more open and honest communication between the child or adolescent and the psychiatrist.
  • Privacy and Confidentiality: Telepsychiatry platforms employ strict security measures to protect patient privacy and maintain confidentiality. Sessions are encrypted, ensuring that sensitive information shared during the appointment remains confidential. Parents can have peace of mind knowing that their child’s personal information is secure.
  • Parental Involvement: Telepsychiatry provides an opportunity for parents to actively participate in their child’s mental healthcare journey. They can join the sessions and collaborate with the psychiatrist, gaining a deeper understanding of their child’s condition and learning effective strategies to support their well-being at home. This collaborative approach enhances treatment outcomes and empowers parents to be more involved in their child’s care.
  • Continuity of Care: In cases where a child or adolescent requires ongoing treatment, telepsychiatry ensures consistent access to care, regardless of external factors such as school vacations, family travels, or inclement weather. The continuity of care plays a vital role in managing mental health conditions effectively and preventing relapses.

Telepsychiatry has emerged as a powerful tool in the field of mental healthcare for children and adolescents. It offers accessibility, convenience, and comfort while maintaining the same level of care as in-person visits. The benefits of telepsychiatry extend beyond the immediate therapeutic sessions, fostering collaboration between parents, patients, and psychiatrists. 

If you are a parent seeking mental health support for your child, consider exploring telepsychiatry with Hudson Psychiatric Associates as a viable option. Schedule an initial appointment today and embark on a journey towards improved mental well-being for your child, all from the convenience of your own home.

Caring for Your Mental Health in the Digital Age

Tips from a Telehealth Psychiatrist

Living in the digital age has brought numerous advancements and conveniences to our lives. From staying connected with loved ones to accessing a wealth of information at our fingertips, technology has revolutionized the way we navigate the world. However, it’s important to recognize that excessive digital engagement can take a toll on our mental health. As a team of telehealth psychiatrists, we understand the unique challenges that arise in the digital age. In this article, we will provide you with valuable tips on how to care for your mental health in an increasingly digital world.

Establish Healthy Digital Boundaries

In today’s hyperconnected world, it’s easy to become consumed by digital devices. Establishing healthy boundaries can help protect your mental well-being. Consider the following tips:

  1. Define “tech-free” zones: Create specific areas in your home where digital devices are off-limits, such as the bedroom or dining area. This promotes quality face-to-face interactions and helps establish a healthy balance between virtual and real-life experiences.
  1. Set screen time limits: Determine how much time you want to dedicate to digital activities each day and stick to it. Various apps and features can help you track and manage your screen time effectively, ensuring that you don’t fall into the trap of mindless scrolling.
  1. Practice digital detox: Take regular breaks from digital devices to disconnect and recharge. Engage in activities that allow you to be present in the moment, such as reading a book, going for a walk, or engaging in a hobby. Disconnecting from technology helps reduce mental fatigue and promotes overall well-being.

Foster Meaningful Connections

While technology has enabled us to connect with people across the globe, it’s essential to prioritize meaningful and authentic relationships. Here’s how:

  • Quality over quantity: Instead of pursuing a large number of virtual connections, focus on nurturing deep and meaningful relationships. Invest your time and energy in those who truly matter to you, and engage in meaningful conversations that promote understanding and support.
  • Prioritize face-to-face interactions: While digital communication is convenient, nothing can replace the power of face-to-face interactions. Make an effort to meet friends, family, and loved ones in person whenever possible. Engaging in real-life connections helps foster a sense of belonging and strengthens emotional bonds.
  • Utilize technology for connection: While technology can sometimes feel isolating, it also offers opportunities for connection. Take advantage of video calls, voice chats, and messaging apps to stay connected with loved ones who are far away. Seeing and hearing their voices can help bridge the distance and maintain strong relationships.

Practice Digital Self-Care

Taking care of your mental health in the digital age requires practicing self-care specific to the online world. Consider the following strategies:

  • Cultivate a positive online environment: Be selective about the content you consume. Unfollow accounts that trigger negative emotions or promote comparison. Instead, curate your online experience by following accounts that inspire, educate, and promote positivity.
  • Limit social media usage: Social media can be a significant source of stress and anxiety. Set specific time limits for social media usage and be mindful of how certain platforms make you feel. If a particular platform negatively affects your mental health, consider taking a break or limiting your engagement with it.
  • Seek reliable information: The internet is a vast sea of information, and not all sources are credible. Be discerning about the information you consume, especially regarding mental health. Rely on reputable sources and consult professionals to ensure you’re accessing accurate and evidence-based information.

Engage in Digital Mindfulness

Being mindful of your digital activities can significantly impact your mental well-being. Consider incorporating the following practices into your daily routine:

  1. Practice digital mindfulness: Before engaging in any digital activity, take a moment to check in with yourself. Ask yourself how you’re feeling and whether you’re in the right state of mind to interact with technology. This simple act of self-awareness can help you make conscious choices about your digital engagement.
  1. Take mindful breaks: Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media or constantly checking emails, take intentional breaks. Engage in activities that promote mindfulness, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or simply observing your surroundings without distractions. These breaks help you refocus, reduce stress, and enhance your overall well-being.
  1. Be aware of online negativity: The digital world can be filled with negativity, including cyberbullying, online harassment, and toxic comments. Protect your mental health by being aware of these negative elements and actively avoiding or disengaging from them. Surround yourself with positive and supportive online communities that uplift and inspire you.

Utilize Telehealth for Mental Health Support

In the digital age, accessing mental health support has become more convenient through telehealth services. Consider the following benefits:

  1.  Increased accessibility: Telehealth allows you to connect with mental health professionals from the comfort of your own home, eliminating geographical barriers and reducing the need for travel. This accessibility makes it easier to seek support when you need it.
  1. Flexibility and convenience: Telehealth appointments provide flexibility in scheduling, allowing you to find a time that works best for you. Additionally, you can receive support without having to leave your home, saving time and reducing stress associated with commuting and waiting rooms.
  1. Confidentiality and privacy: Telehealth platforms prioritize confidentiality and ensure secure communication between you and your mental health provider. This can alleviate concerns about privacy and create a safe space for discussing sensitive topics.

Remember, it’s essential to find a balance that works for you. Embrace the advantages of the digital age while also prioritizing real-life connections and self-care practices. By being mindful of your digital consumption and taking proactive steps to care for your mental health, you can thrive in the digital age while maintaining a healthy and balanced life.

If you’re in need of professional support, our team of telehealth psychiatrists is here to help. We specialize in providing comprehensive mental health care and guidance tailored to your unique needs. Reach out to our practice today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward prioritizing your mental well-being.

Remember, you don’t have to navigate the digital age alone. Together, we can work towards a healthier and happier future.

How to Care for a Loved One with Mental Illness

Mental illness is a broad term that is used to describe a wide range of mental health conditions. These include, but are not limited to, conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People living with mental illnesses may experience a range of symptoms, including changes in mood, thought patterns, and behavior.

Mental illness is a complex and individualized condition, therefore the best approach for caring for a loved one who has a mental illness is tailored to their specific needs. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are some general tips and strategies to help you better care for your loved one.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that mental illness can affect everyone differently. Each person may have different coping strategies, treatments, and preferences. It’s important to take the time to understand your loved one’s specific needs and how to best support them.

1. Educate Yourself

Investing some time to learn about mental illness can help you to gain a better understanding of your loved one’s condition. Many times, simply understanding the basics of the disorder can provide an increased level of support. For example, if your loved one is diagnosed with depression, understanding the signs, symptoms, and treatment options can help you better recognize and respond to their needs.

2. Listen and Ask Questions

It’s important to listen without judgment and be open to understanding your loved one’s experience. Ask questions and let them share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without feeling the need to “fix” it. Providing a space for them to express themselves can show them that you care and are there for them.

3. Offer Physical Support

It’s easy to forget that mental illness affects all aspects of an individual’s life, including physical health. Offering your loved one help with grocery shopping, going to appointments, or preparing meals, can help them to manage their condition.

4. Provide Encouragement and Reassurance

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated when dealing with mental illness. Offering your loved one encouragement and reassurance can be a great source of comfort and can help them to remain positive and motivated.

5. Connect to Community Resources

There are many resources available to those with mental illness. These can include therapy, support groups, and online resources. Connecting your loved one to these resources can provide them with additional support and help them to cope with their condition more effectively.

6. Take Care of Yourself

Caring for a loved one with mental illness is no small task. It’s important to take the time to care for yourself as well. Taking care of yourself is essential for your own health and well-being.

By following these tips, you can provide your loved one with the care and support they need. It’s important to remember that no two individuals are the same and that the best approach is tailored to their individual needs. Mental illness is a complex condition that requires compassion and understanding. With the right care, your loved one can manage their condition and live a fulfilling life.

How to Recognize the Warning Signs of Suicide

Every year, nearly 800,000 people across the globe take their own lives, leaving friends and family members behind. That’s one person…every 40 seconds. It’s a heartbreaking and tragic event that should be taken seriously and addressed with vigilance and compassion.

Unfortunately, many times the signs of a person’s distress can be overlooked until it’s too late. That’s why it’s important to recognize the warning signs of suicide and take steps to provide help for anyone at risk. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to recognize the warning signs of suicide and what steps to take if you think someone may be in danger.

1. Changes in Behavior

One of the most common warning signs to look for in someone who may be considering suicide is changes in their behavior. This can include everything from a loss of enthusiasm for activities they once enjoyed, to appearing more withdrawn or isolated, to changes in their eating or sleeping habits. It’s important to look for any sudden or subtle shifts in their normal patterns of behavior.

2. Talking About Death

If someone begins talking about death or expressing a desire to die, this should be taken as a red flag. This can range from making comments about wanting to end their life, to talking in a morbid fashion about death in general. These conversations can occur in various contexts, but it’s important to take them seriously.

3. Risk Taking

Another sign to look out for is an increase in risk-taking behavior. This can include activities such as drinking heavily, using drugs, or engaging in dangerous activities. This can be a sign of wanting to escape from one’s current situation or, in the worst cases, a sign of wanting to hasten one’s death.

4. Impulsiveness

It’s important to be aware of sudden changes in a person’s behavior. If someone starts making reckless decisions or making impulsive choices, this could be a sign that something is wrong. This can include everything from suddenly quitting a job, to abandoning friendships or relationships, to making extreme purchases.

5. Looking for a Way Out

If a person begins to talk about being a burden to others, or if they start acquiring things they’d need to end their life (such as weapons, drugs, etc.), this is a huge sign that something is wrong. If a person starts talking about finding a “way out” or an “escape”, it’s important to take this seriously and intervene.

6. Sudden Mood Swings

Rapid changes in a person’s mood can be a sign of distress. If someone suddenly switches from being in an upbeat mood to appearing despondent and hopeless, this is not a good sign. It’s also important to take note of any extreme spikes in mood. For example, if a person goes from feeling down one day to seeming overly happy the next, this could be a sign that they’re trying to escape from their own reality.

7. Giving Away Possessions

If someone you know starts giving away items that have sentimental value, this is a sign that they may be thinking of ending their life. This could include items such as favorite books, jewelry, or clothing. If someone starts to do this without offering an explanation, it’s important to take note and take action.

8. Withdrawal from Friends and Family

One of the most common warning signs of suicide is when someone begins to isolate themselves from their friends and family. This could include withdrawing from social activities and refusing to hang out with friends, or it could be something as simple as refusing to answer texts or phone calls. If you notice this kind of behavior in a loved one, it’s important to take action and reach out to them.

9. Loss of Interest in Activities

If someone you know suddenly loses interest in the activities they once enjoyed doing, this is a sign that something is wrong. This can include things like no longer wanting to go to the gym, or no longer being interested in a hobby they used to be passionate about. If you notice this kind of behavior, it’s important to take action and offer support.

10. Writing About Death

If someone you know starts writing about death or expressing a desire to die in some way, this is a sign to take seriously. This can range from writing sad poems or letters, to creating a goodbye video or post on social media. If you notice any of these behaviors, it’s important to intervene and offer help.

Unfortunately, suicide affects thousands of people every year and it can be devastating for those left behind. If you have a friend or family member who is showing any of these signs, reach out and offer them help. You can contact a mental health professional, go to the emergency room, or call a crisis hotline like 988. Every life is valuable and it’s important to take any signs of distress seriously.

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.