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At The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, our psychologists have years of experience. Unlike many other providers, our clinicians truly specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety and related problems. Our mission is to apply only the most effective short-term psychological treatments supported by extensive scientific research. We are located in Rancho Bernardo, Carlsbad, and Mission Valley.

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Read our award-winning blogs for useful information and tips about anxiety, stress, and related disorders.

 

Filtering by Tag: older adults san diego

How To Listen When Someone You Love Is Struggling

Jill Stoddard

by Annabelle Parr

Life presents us each with challenges.  While it is often uncomfortable and painful to grapple with adversity, to experience this struggle and to feel pain is to be human.  At some point, we will all find ourselves in this place, as will those we love.  So how can we help each other?  How can we listen when someone we love is struggling, whether it is with a mental health condition or with a painful experience in his/her life?

 LET GO OF THE IMPULSE TO TRY TO FIX

Source URL: https://scott-williams.ca/2013/03/

Source URL: https://scott-williams.ca/2013/03/

It is painful to watch someone we care for struggle or hurt.  And it’s natural to want to take away her pain or try to fix the problem at hand.  However, despite our best intentions, trying to “fix” does not actually help.  It tends to make the person struggling feel as though she cannot share her pain, sadness, or anger.  Trying to “fix” sends this message: “I can’t handle seeing you in pain, so I have to make everything better.”  It also implies that it is not okay to feel sad or angry or anxious, and that these feelings should be avoided at all costs.

AVOID ADVICE

Just like our impulse to fix the pain, we also often believe that the best way to help is to offer advice.  But advice is usually not helpful for several reasons.

  1. If we offer good advice, our loved one will think that anytime he is struggling, he needs our instruction. 
  2. If we offer bad advice or our advice doesn’t work as we hoped, our loved one can place the blame on us instead of owning responsibility.
  3. Advice takes away the gift of helping our loved one to realize that she knows herself best, and ultimately she is capable of navigating difficult situations herself.  (Though, of course, she will always have our love and support).

LIMIT SHARING YOUR OWN SIMILAR EXPERIENCES

Source URL:  http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/the-biggest-communication-problem-not-listen-understand.html

Source URL:  http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/the-biggest-communication-problem-not-listen-understand.html

If you have had a similar experience or believe that you have felt the same way, you can share this with your loved one.  But don’t make it all about you.  Keep your story brief, and make sure the purpose of the story is to let him know that he is not alone.  Also, be sure to include that you understand that your experience, while maybe parallel in some ways, is yours, and you are not claiming to have experienced the exact same situation or feelings.  This allows him to feel comfort in not being alone, but also gives him space to communicate how his experience may be different.

If we shouldn’t try to fix the pain or offer advice, and we should limit how much we share of our own experience, what can we do to help?

REFLECT OR PARAPHRASE BACK TO YOUR LOVED ONE WHAT YOU HEAR HIM/HER EXPRESSING

This shows that we are listening, and gives us the opportunity to clarify that which we don’t understand fully.  While it may sound too simple to just reflect what our loved one is saying, it actually makes the person feel heard and understood.  It also offers her the opportunity to hear what she is expressing, and to clarify how she feels or what she wants.

USE NONVERBAL SIGNALS TO SHOW YOU ARE ENGAGED

Nodding and using eye contact and engaged body language shows that we are interested and open to what our loved one is sharing.  It gives him the space to express himself, and makes him feel heard.

SHOW EMPATHY

Empathy is: “I see that you are struggling and hurting right now, and I am so sorry.  I can’t fix it for you or take it away, but I will sit here with you and listen to your story.  As much as this hurts, it is okay to feel this way.”

Check out Brene Brown’s brilliant short on empathy.

Sometimes, all our loved ones need when they are in pain is to be heard; to be given a space with someone they trust to express how they are feeling.  Sometimes, however, they may need some extra support or professional help.

CSAM IS HERE TO HELP

If you or someone you love might benefit from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or biofeedback for anxiety, depression, stress, or PTSD, or if you would like more information about our therapy services, please contact us at (858) 354-4077 or at csamsandiego@gmail.com.

REFERENCES:
Brown, B.  (2013, Dec 10).  Brené Brown on empathy. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

 

Older Adults Afflicted with Depression, Stress and Anxiety

Jill Stoddard

Image source:  http://www.tricitypsychology.com/older-adults-remember-the-good-times/

Image source:  http://www.tricitypsychology.com/older-adults-remember-the-good-times/

As the baby boomer generation ages, many more begin to experience the physical and mental challenges that inevitably accompany the aging process. The prevalence of mental illness has been found to increase with age. Research indicates that 20 percent of the American population over 55-years-old is afflicted by at least one mental disorder (APA, 2012). Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of those in long-term care facilities display psychological and behavioral challenges (APA, 2012). However, less than three percent of individuals in late adulthood have reported that they seek psychological treatment. Thus, there are likely many individuals within this population who have never sought treatment who could truly benefit from it.

A high co-occurrence rate has been identified between physical health problems and mental health problems. Unfortunately, many physicians fail to notice their patients’ anxiety and depression (Alexopoulos, 2005). As a result, an appropriate diagnosis may be overlooked and associated symptoms may be left untreated.

 Suicide Risk

 Older adults have the highest risk of suicide when compared to all other age groups (Connell, Chin, Cunningham, & Lawlor, 2004). In fact, they are two times more likely to commit suicide in comparison to the general population. Both social factors, such as isolation, and the prevalence of psychological disorders, highly impact the rate of suicide within this population (Alexopoulos, 2005). Thus, if the symptoms of mental disorders are unnoticed and left untreated, they may lead to fatal consequences. Research has shown that approximately 75 percent of older adults who have committed suicide have met with their doctor within the last month (APA, 2012). Thus, it is necessary for everyone, including physicians, to be aware of this high risk age group, so that proper precautions can be taken to prevent suicide and improve overall mental health care.

Potential Signs of Depression in Older Adults

 Here is a list of possible signs of depression in older adults according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI, 2013, para. 3): 

  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vague complaints of pain
  • Inability to sleep
  • Irritability
  • Delusions (fixed false beliefs)
  • Hallucinations
  • Persistent and vague complaints
  • Help-seeking
  • Moving in a more slow manner
  • Demanding behavior

 Treatment

 While the prevalence of mental health problems is higher in older adults, the good news is that there are evidence-based treatments that can help. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been demonstrated to be effective in relieving the symptoms associated with stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. In fact, structured therapies, such as CBT, have been found to be as “effective as antidepressants for moderate depression and may be more effective in reducing recurrence” (Ell, 2006, para. 12).

 If you know anyone who suffers from symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress, please encourage them to seek professional support. If you are in the San Diego area and would like to speak to a professional at CSAM who specializes in CBT for older adult stress, mood, and anxiety problems, please contact us.

 

References

 Alexopoulos, G. S. (2005, June). Depression in the elderly. Lancet, 365(9475), 1961-1970. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com

 American Psychological Association. (2012). Growing mental and behavioral health concerns facing older Americans. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/aging/growing-concerns.aspx

 Connell, H. O., Chin, A. V., Cunningham, C., & Lawlor, B. A. (2004, October 16). Recent developments: Suicide in older people. BMJ, 329(7471), 895-899. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC523116/

 Ell, K. (2006, July). Depression care for the elderly: Reducing barriers to evidence based practice. Home Health Care Serve Q, 25(1-2), 115-148.

 NAMI. (2013). National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=7515