BOOKS WHICH MAY HELP
⚫︎ The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
⚫︎ The Road Less Travelled by Scott Peck
⚫︎ Passages by Gail Sheehy
⚫︎ Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
Individuals in distress seek help in the form of individual therapy. Suffering comes in many forms. Below are the most common problems for which relief is found.
Depression steals a person’s energy and interest in life. It is common. Most people will experience a period of depression at some point in their lives, yet the seriousness of depression as an emotional condition cannot be overstated. For some, depression is part of a generational family pattern that has been genetically and behaviorally passed down from parents to children. For most others depression is situational, an emotional reaction to a painful event or adverse circumstances.
Depression exists along a broad spectrum from mild to severe. At the mild end of the spectrum is Dysthymia, a mild but chronic depression that is persistently nagging but not dangerous just concerning. Far more severe is Major Depression, which may completely prevent a person’s daily functioning, often includes suicidal thoughts with a risk of suicide attempts and successful suicide, severely reduced interest in life and requires medication as well as a psychiatric hospitalization. Depression can be experienced in episodes that vary from very short (a day or two) to lengthy (months or even years) and in varying depths.
Depression should not be taken lightly as it may be life threatening, yet it is routinely dismissed by others due to the invisibility of an emotional condition as opposed to an obvious physical injury, such as a broken bone. Symptoms of depression may include depressed mood, low energy, lack of motivation, negativity, aggravated attitude, lack of pleasure in activities that used to be pleasurable (Anhedonia), increased or decreased appetite, increased or decreased desire to sleep, reduced interest in sex, withdrawing from life and seeking isolation, and possible alcohol or drug use as a way to escape the emotional pain.
For many who suffer depression, emotional habits may contribute to the development of depression. Regularly repressing painful emotions, especially angry feelings, may result in the rise of depressive symptoms. Low self-esteem (See articles on self-esteem) causes a tendency to seek to please others, avoid conflict, hold back from asserting oneself, and fulfilling one’s own needs all may contribute to this pattern. Perfectionism, ADHD and trauma also are conditions which may exist alongside depression.
A form of depression that used to be called Manic Depression but is now called Bi-Polar Disorder is characterized fluctuating moods which includes depressive episodes. Again Bi-Polar Disorder affects people mildly or severely. Those who are severely afflicted experience volatile mood swings in which the depressive episodes are deep and may be life threatening, but also manic episodes which have symptoms of unbounded energy with an inability to sleep, sometimes grandiosity, unlimited spending sprees, running away from the home life, excessive sexual desire and irritability.
At its core a depressed person experiences a powerlessness to create a satisfying life. Depression is hopelessness. Love relationships are a rigorous life experience which may activate or “wake up” unresolved issues and challenge a partner regarding personal power. Many a partner feels trapped with little control to influence the partner or quality of relationship, a situation that may easily cause depression.
Depression and Love Relationships
A partner who is depressed is unavailable for for a positive intimate and loving connection. The depressed partner is occupied with having a relationship with his or her depression and is therefore less present for the relationship partner. Having less motivation and interest in activities that had previously been the source of enjoyment, a depressed partner becomes more solitary and less engaged in the relationship. He or she may actively push the non-depressed partner away.
Depression Medication and Relationships
Many medications are available to help relieve the symptoms of depression and bring a depressed partner back to life, the relationship and their “old” self. But medications do have a cost. Most medications also produce side effects, but most comply the side effects are less problematic than the depression. Typical side effects of anti-depressant medication include less sensitivity to emotions, flatter emotional experience, some cause weight gain, reduced interest in sex, and some cause inhibited or inability to achieve orgasm. Each individual and couple must evaluate their own situation to determine if the positive effects of medication outweigh the side-effects.
Andrew Aaron, LICSW has helped hundreds of individuals cope with the pain of depression and help to lighten or even eliminate the symptoms.
Anxiety is a fear-based emotion that ranges in intensity from mild to severe. In our fast-paced society, anxiety is suffered at epidemic proportions, thus unfortunately it is all too common. Stress plays a significant role in the development of anxiety difficulties. But it’s widespread presence in no way diminishes the discomfort and debilitating effect anxiety may have.
At the mild end of the spectrum, anxiety is felt as an annoying discomfort which results in being on edge with a mild inability to relax in general or situationally. In more severe experiences anxiety can disable a person from functioning and live a normal life. Panic is a brief but negatively intense experience of anxiety that may show up as an attack or acute episode.
Through the years, Andrew Aaron, LICSW has helped many to gain relief both reducing their anxiety but also learning techniques to manage anxious feelings so they remain low.
Self-esteem refers to the quality of the relationship between an individual and her or himself. The ease with which this common term is used fails to highlight how painfully profound poor self-esteem can be. Without positive self-esteem a person lives a poor quality of life while falling short of living up to a potential.
Because the amount of love and respect that people have for themselves has a direct and important impact on partner choices and the ability to love others, those with negative self-esteem build relationships that are unstable, prone to conflict, poor connection and failure.
At its worst very low self-esteem appears as mental illness. Those who suffer this way are also at risk for drug, alcohol abuse, self-destructive habits and self-sabotage in achieving goals and relationships.
Andrew Aaron, LICSW helps many individuals and partners in relationships to assess and heal negative self-esteem through cognitive behavioral therapy but also by bringing into therapy an eclectic approach including relaxation techniques, body-centered practices and a deep, safe therapeutic relationship.
See category: Self-Esteem
By experiencing an overwhelmingly frightening and/or painful experience some people are traumatized. The word trauma gives meaning to an experience of a long-term distressing impact caused by the initial damaging event. In some cases traumatic events include physical harm, such as an injurious car accident, in others painful experiences that are unexpected and render the traumatized individual powerless. When trauma effects a person’s Life in an ongoing way for months and years, the condition is call PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which can be expressed through the following symptoms: anxiety, hyper vigilance, easily startled, nightmares, flashback memories which can be intrusive and sudden fits of rage.
Unhealed trauma shows up as low self-esteem, a susceptibility to anxiety disorders, impulsivity, substantial mood changes and likely to be emotionally “triggered” unexpectedly by a variety of daily experiences. Traumatized individual are prone to engage in risky behaviors as well as alcohol and drug use to seek relief from suffering.
Relationships including a traumatized partner is at risk of numerous challenges such as mood volatility, problems with sufficient closeness and the vulnerability demanded by real intimacy being too uncomfortable to be tolerated. Relationships including a traumatized partner is at increased risk for harm caused by infidelity. Past sexual abuse disables many romantic partners from enjoying the pleasure of a satisfying sex life.
The powerful and terrible memories of traumatic life experiences, such as childhood violence, neglect or sexual abuse may be repressed as as to avoid the pain such memories can cause. This can cause the original events to be outside the traumatized conscious awareness; the past events are just gone. At times such buried memories rise back into a traumatized individual’s awareness. Such a shift can caused a dramatic change in the person’s personality, sense of themselves and how he or she is as a romantic partner. The turmoil and threat to the relationship may be significant and to the partner highly confused as well as threatening.
Andrew Aaron, LICSW has helped many individuals whose lives have been damaged by trauma and whose daily lives are effected by the ongoing symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Through a process of guided visualization, body-centered focus, relaxation experiences and cognitive behavioral therapeutic techniques old trauma is healed safely and gradually.
See the Category: Trauma