sleep

Nine Warning Signs of Depression

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What might be some reasons you could wonder if you have depression?  It could be that you’ve noticed you’re feeling unhappy or gloomy a lot lately, and it’s hard for you to tell if it’s just a bad mood, or if there’s something more serious going on.  Or maybe you’ve been feeling this way for a long time, but it’s so much a part of your personality and who you are that it just seems normal at this point.  Either way, it can be hard to discern whether what you’re experiencing is normal, or if it could be categorized as depression.

If you’re struggling to know if you're experiencing depression, here are some symptoms to look out for:

Sadness is a common mood for you.

On a day to day basis, you might find yourself feeling discouraged or hopeless.  Or maybe you feel numb, or like you don’t have any feelings at all.  But if someone were to stop you and ask about how you’re feeling, you might start to cry or be overcome by feelings of sadness.  Sometimes you might switch back and forth between sadness and irritability or frustration with others. 

The things you used to love to do don’t seem fun anymore.

Do you find yourself thinking, “I just don’t care anymore”?  Oftentimes, the things that used to make you happy or bring you a sense of peace or joy lose that power.  It can feel like there’s nothing you really want to do, or it takes too much energy to do things you used to love.  You might notice yourself spending less time with people and avoiding social situations.

You’ve noticed your weight fluctuating significantly.

It may be that you feel as though you’ve lost your appetite, and you have a hard time feeling any desire to eat, which causes you to lose weight.  Or, on the other side of the coin, you could be eating more and having more cravings for carbs or sweet foods, which may cause you to gain weight.

You’re sleeping a ton, you feel lethargic, and you’re tired all of the time.

Another common symptom of depression is sleeping longer than normal, taking a lot of naps during the day, or having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.  You might feel lazy or tired all of the time.  You may have lethargic movements and speech, in a way that is noticeable to others as well.  Has anyone pointed these things out to you? You could also notice fatigue without any apparent cause.  You might find normal daily tasks, like getting up, showering, or cooking a meal, to be too exhausting to complete. 

Insomnia feels like a familiar friend.

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, waking up early without being able to fall back to sleep, or having trouble falling asleep at night, depression could potentially be the culprit. 

Others tell you that you seem jumpy, and you feel restless.

Your restlessness could show up as fidgeting, pacing, or being unable to stand still.  Likely, people around you may have noticed some of these things and mentioned something to you before.  

A core belief you hold about yourself is that you’re worthless, or you’re consumed by feelings of guilt.

You might notice constant feelings that you have no worth or value, which can feel true even if they aren’t based in any facts.  Guilt over past mistakes or wrongs could be haunting your day-to-day thoughts.

You have a hard time focusing, remembering things, or making decisions.

You might walk into a room and forget what you’re looking for.  Or you can’t read a book or keep your mind on a task for more than 5 minutes at a time.  A simple decision, like what to make for dinner, can sometimes send you into such a tizzy that you feel unable to do anything. 

You have thoughts about death, and sometimes even suicidal thoughts.

There can be a wide range of suicidal thoughts: it can start with wishing not to not be alive any longer and worsen to seriously considering or planning a suicide attempt.   If you are experiencing thoughts or plans of suicide, please call 911 immediately or drive to your nearest ER facility.

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you?  If four or five of them sound true, it may be time for you to consider seeing your primary care physician or a therapist to help you decide if you’re experiencing clinical depression.  Your healthcare provider can support you and help you make decisions to take care of yourself.  You are worth receiving care and relief from your pain.

This article was originally posted on March 9, 2017.

Are you dealing with feelings of worthlessness and feeling like a failure to yourself and to people around you?  Are you constantly lacking energy and motivation?  Do you get hit with bouts of sadness or crying without an obvious cause?  At Restored Hope, I know the pain and loneliness that come from experiencing depression. My goal is to support you on your journey of overcoming depression through counseling at my Ann Arbor therapy office.  Give me a call at 734.656.8191 or fill out my form here to schedule your first appointment today.

Why Sleep is More Crucial Than We Think

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When was the last time you got a full night’s sleep?  For many of us, that’s a question without a simple answer.  The insistence of our morning alarm clocks and the demands of our busy lives whittle away the time we have available to get our much needed shut-eye.  Insomnia creeps in as we’re too anxious to fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night inexplicably.  Our fast-paced lives and the pressure of parenting and career can cripple our ability to get the rest we so desperately need.

Our culture doesn’t help either.  Prior to the invention of electricity, the rising and setting of the sun dictated sleep.  Now that we’re in a world where technology reigns supreme.  The distraction of smartphones, TV, tablets, and all other manners of tech stimulate the brain just before bed in a way that interferes with sleep.  But our bodies still need that sunset to sunrise sleep cycle.

We believe sleep is a luxury, a waste of time.  We could be so much more productive if we just cut back on our sleep a little bit, we say.  We glorify Netflix binges and brag about how little sleep we can survive on.

What do you believe is the purpose of sleep?  We’re used to thinking of sleep as a way to regain energy or restore our minds.  But neuroscientist Russell Foster talks about the implications of sleep in brain chemistry in a way that will revolutionize your view of those 8 hours a night.

According to research studies, sleep deprivation and mental illness are intricately linked and feed into one another.  If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you set yourself up for anxiety, depression, stress, and even addictive behaviors as a way of self-medicating or soothing.  If you already struggle with one of these issues, your lack of sleep exacerbates the problems you’re already facing.

According to research studies, sleep deprivation and mental illness are intricately linked and feed into one another.

According to Foster, sleep isn’t just for restoration: it’s also a necessary part of our mental health. Connections between mental illness and sleep disturbances put a stark focus on the essential nature of sleep.  It isn’t just a luxury – it is something that you need.

In addiction recovery, particularly with process addictions like sex addiction, the goal of recovery is transforming the brain.  Instead of taking in a mind-altering chemical, your brain learns to reward itself with a rush of dopamine, the feel-good hormone, when you engage in addictive sexual behaviors.  Getting enough sleep is a crucial part of rewiring your brain so that you can reduce and eventually eliminate your dependence on the dopamine rush that comes with addiction.

Think of sleep as the brain food you need to be able to renew cells in your brain and wash away the neuropathways linked to sex addiction.  If you starve your brain of sleep, the craving for addictive behaviors will grow stronger.  Just like Foster talks about the body craving carbohydrates when it’s sleep deprived, your mind will crave the stimulation of the dopamine high that comes with addictive sexual behaviors.

If you starve your brain of sleep, the craving for addictive behaviors will grow stronger.

He also talks about depression as it relates to sleep deprivation.  One of the first goals for healing from depression is getting enough sleep each night. Give it a try – see how your mood and presence completely change when you wake up after a full night’s sleep.  Compare that to a night of 4-5 hours to see how drastically your mood shifts.

If you struggle with depression, lack of sleep directly affects the severity of your symptoms.

If you’re having a hard time sleeping and beginning to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue, it’s worth it to seek help.  While increasing sleep can reduce the impact of the symptoms of these disorders, it also gives a red flag that you likely need additional support for the mental health issues you’re facing.

How much sleep do you need?  Foster says 8 hours is an average, so you may need more or less sleep than that.  Test this out for yourself: the next time you are able to sleep without the alarm clock waking you up, pay attention to when you naturally wake up.  How many hours did you need?

If you have trouble falling asleep or if you struggle with insomnia, make your bedroom a haven for sleep as Foster suggests.  Setting yourself up for good quality sleep now will change how you experience mental health beyond just restoring your energy levels.

How will you prioritize sleep as part of your mental health?

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Are you struggling to find the time to sleep in your busy and stressful life?  Do you feel exhausted all the time?  Do racing anxious thoughts keep you up late at night, but you feel like you can’t get out of bed when your alarm clock rings in the morning?  At Restored Hope, I believe your depression, stress, or addictive behaviors can be made worse by lack of sleep.  At my Ann Arbor counseling office, I’d love to provide you with support to help you get the sleep you need, as well as learn ways to overcome depression and addictions.  Give me a call at 734.656.8191 or fill out my form to schedule your first appointment.

Self-Care Saturdays: Catch Some Zzz's

Welcome to Self-Care Saturdays, a series of bonus blog posts that will be released on the last Saturday of each month.  In a world where we are constantly faced with demands on our time and energy, it can feel impossible to slow down enough to pay attention to our own needs and take steps to care for them.  These articles are meant to get you thinking about one small step you can take today to practice kindness and care for yourself. 

In a world where technology is supposed to create easier and faster ways for us to finish our tasks in the workplace and at home, it is an unfortunate truth that we find more ways to fill our days as a result.  When we find ourselves busy, sleep is often one of the first things to go.

The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep a night, but 30% of adults report getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night.  The CDC has called sleep deprivation a public health problem.

And this lack of sleep is causing us to struggle in other areas of our lives.  Without a full night’s sleep, it is difficult to focus the next day.  It can impair your ability to drive to a level that’s similar to drunk driving.   In terms of mental health, sleep deprivation can lead to depression, anxiety, and in extreme cases, more severe mental health problems. Sleep is one major area therapists focus on in order to alleviate some of the common symptoms of depression and anxiety.  Even if you don’t struggle with mental health issues, sleep is still an important part of self-care.

Here are some tools and strategies to improve your sleep. 

Give yourself a bedtime.

Yes, I know you aren’t a child anymore, when your parents likely gave you a strict boundaries around when you would go to bed.  And all the fun stuff happens late!  Some good primetime TV shows don’t even air until after 10pm.  But the best way to make a habit in your life is to make a plan and then stick to it.  The first night might be tough – if you’ve been going to sleep late, it’ll take some adjustment to fall asleep earlier.  But if you’re consistent, your body will begin to adapt to the change.  Before you know it, you’ll be falling asleep more consistently and easily.

Journal.

Oftentimes difficulty sleeping is due to a racing mind full of thoughts that haven’t been categorized from the day previous.  However, the brain needs sleep in order to categorize and process that information.  One way to do this is to keep a journal before bed.  This can be a list of worries that are on your mind, a gratitude journal, or just a record of the day.  Make it your own.

Get an actual alarm clock.

…and leave your phone downstairs.  Scrolling through your Facebook news feed or reading articles on Pinterest late at night is a common way to let time get away from you, and before you know it you’re getting to bed an hour later than you normally would.  The light from the screen also interferes with your brain’s ability to shut off and fall asleep.  Leave your phone in its charger in another room, and set your old-school alarm clock to wake you up in the morning.

Or use the Sleep Cycle app.

For those of you who can’t leave your phone elsewhere during the night, I recommend that you purchase the Sleep Cycle app.  For a low cost, you get a great app that allows you to track your sleep quality with fun charts that show you when you are in both heavy and light sleep.  You can also track different behaviors (such as exercising and drinking coffee) to see how they affect your sleep quality. One of the best features is the alarm clock, which has a feature that will gradually wake you up at the time when you are in your lightest stage of sleep during the half hour before you set your alarm to wake you, to make you more refreshed in the morning. 

Read before bed.

You’ve likely heard that it’s important to shut off any screens and put yourself in a more dimly lit room about an hour before bed in order to wind down and prepare your body and mind for sleep.  I’m going to take that a step further and encourage you to read a book or magazine before bed.  Reading can provide a mental break from the stressors of your everyday life, you can learn something new – or honestly, it could be what puts you to sleep itself.  My only recommendation is that you not read a compelling novel – or you may find yourself staying up later than you had planned!

While these may not be novel ideas, I hope that you can take one of these concepts and make it a part of your nightly routine.  I believe that taking steps to care for yourself by getting a sufficient amount of sleep can be a game-changer for your mental health and quality of life.

You may have noticed that sleep deprivation feels all too common for you, brought on by stress or feelings of overwhelm in your life.  You also may experience sleeplessness as a symptom of anxiety or depression.  Or maybe you'd just love to see your personal self-care improve.  Restored Hope is an Ann Arbor based therapy office seeking to support you in your goals for breaking free of anxiety, depression, stress, and trauma to help you live a more full and rich life.  Give me a call today at 734.656.8191 or fill out the form here to talk with me and hear about how I can help.

9 Warning Signs of Depression

What might be some reasons you could wonder if you have depression?  It could be that you’ve noticed you’re feeling unhappy or gloomy a lot lately, and it’s hard for you to tell if it’s just a bad mood, or if there’s something more serious going on.  Or maybe you’ve been feeling this way for a long time, but it’s so much a part of your personality and who you are that it just seems normal at this point.  Either way, it can be hard to discern whether what you’re experiencing is normal, or if it could be categorized as depression.

If you’re struggling to know if you're experiencing depression, here are some symptoms to look out for:

Sadness is a common mood for you.

On a day to day basis, you might find yourself feeling discouraged or hopeless.  Or maybe you feel numb, or like you don’t have any feelings at all.  But if someone were to stop you and ask about how you’re feeling, you might start to cry or be overcome by feelings of sadness.  Sometimes you might switch back and forth between sadness and irritability or frustration with others. 

The things you used to love to do don’t seem fun anymore.

Do you find yourself thinking, “I just don’t care anymore”?  Oftentimes, the things that used to make you happy or bring you a sense of peace or joy lose that power.  It can feel like there’s nothing you really want to do, or it takes too much energy to do things you used to love.  You might notice yourself spending less time with people and avoiding social situations.

You’ve noticed your weight fluctuating significantly.

It may be that you feel as though you’ve lost your appetite, and you have a hard time feeling any desire to eat, which causes you to lose weight.  Or, on the other side of the coin, you could be eating more and having more cravings for carbs or sweet foods, which may cause you to gain weight.

You’re sleeping a ton, you feel lethargic, and you’re tired all of the time.

Another common symptom of depression is sleeping longer than normal, taking a lot of naps during the day, or having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.  You might feel lazy or tired all of the time.  You may have lethargic movements and speech, in a way that is noticeable to others as well.  Has anyone pointed these things out to you? You could also notice fatigue without any apparent cause.  You might find normal daily tasks, like getting up, showering, or cooking a meal, to be too exhausting to complete. 

Insomnia feels like a familiar friend.

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, waking up early without being able to fall back to sleep, or having trouble falling asleep at night, depression could potentially be the culprit. 

Others tell you that you seem jumpy, and you feel restless.

Your restlessness could show up as fidgeting, pacing, or being unable to stand still.  Likely, people around you may have noticed some of these things and mentioned something to you before.  

A core belief you hold about yourself is that you’re worthless, or you’re consumed by feelings of guilt.

You might notice constant feelings that you have no worth or value, which can feel true even if they aren’t based in any facts.  Guilt over past mistakes or wrongs could be haunting your day-to-day thoughts.

You have a hard time focusing, remembering things, or making decisions.

You might walk into a room and forget what you’re looking for.  Or you can’t read a book or keep your mind on a task for more than 5 minutes at a time.  A simple decision, like what to make for dinner, can sometimes send you into such a tizzy that you feel unable to do anything. 

You have thoughts about death, and sometimes even suicidal thoughts.

There can be a wide range of suicidal thoughts: it can start with wishing not to not be alive any longer and worsen to seriously considering or planning a suicide attempt.   If you are experiencing thoughts or plans of suicide, please call 911 immediately or drive to your nearest ER facility.

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you?  If four or five of them sound true, it may be time for you to consider seeing your primary care physician or a therapist to help you decide if you’re experiencing clinical depression.  Your healthcare provider can support you and help you make decisions to take care of yourself.  You are worth receiving care and relief from your pain.

 

At Restored Hope, I know the pain and loneliness that come from experiencing depression.  I want to be with you, support you, and give you the help you need to overcome your depression.  Restored Hope is an Ann Arbor counseling office where I provide therapy to help you overcome the pain you’re experiencing.  Give me a call at 734.656.8191 or fill out my form here to hear how I can help.