6 Suggestions for Coping with Grief at Work

6 Suggestions for Coping with Grief at Work

Losing a loved one is one of the most painful tragedies that humans suffer. The impact of this loss is often crushing, and in the aftermath of loss, we often feel like we have no control over anything. Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s perfectly normal to detach yourself from your normal existence to grieve.

 

But what happens when grief persists when it’s time to return to work? Unfortunately, life responsibilities go on, no matter how sad you feel.

 

Returning to work while grieving is quite tough! You will need to figure out how to be productive, even as your thoughts are interrupted by waves of grief and remembrance. In addition to your own feelings, you may also need to deal with your colleagues who may start to act differently around you because they don’t know how to comfort you.

 

You may not be able to control every wave of emotion, or how everyone else acts, but you can make your return to work while grieving a little easier. From dealing with awkward conversations to accomplishing tasks, here are a few tips to help you navigate your work life while grieving.

 

COPING WITH GRIEF AT WORK

  1. Have an honest conversation with your employer- Be frank with your employer, and let them know your struggles. Explain that you might not operate at an optimal level for a while. Tell them exactly what you need, so they can help you. Ask for mental health days, work from home opportunities or anything else that you need while you grieve.

  2. Focus on doing- It might be tempting to shut down and do nothing, but trying to be productive and crossing tasks off your checklists can distract you and prevent you from being consumed by painful feelings.

  3. Ask for help- People generally want to help those who are grieving but don’t know exactly how to go about it. Don’t be ashamed to ask your colleagues for help. Instead of insisting that everything is great, tell them what you need. They’d be happy to pick up your workload, so you can focus more on healing.

  4. Create a sanctuary- Find a quiet place to retreat to when things get a little too much, and you just want to have a good cry. It could be your car, or a room where people don’t go into often.

  5. Carry tissues- You might find yourself crying a lot when you least expect it. Keep tissues handy, so you can clean your tears or runny nose when you’re done.

  6. If all else fails, request leave- If you have been at your job for over a year, and your employer has 50 or more employees, you may qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA is a federally mandated leave for those unable to work due to a debilitating health condition (yes, at times, the depression that comes with grief can be quite disabling). Medical certification is required to qualify for this unpaid leave–a conversation you’d need to have with your doctor.

 

Always remember that grief is an important step to healing, in the wake of a loved one’s death. When you get back to work, be honest about how you feel with yourself and others. Don’t try to rush the mourning process. Everyone experiences grief differently. If you’ve lost someone in your inner circle, feelings of grief may last a long time. Be patient with yourself and the feelings that come your way.

 

It can help to see a grief counselor or therapist if you feel like you need assistance coping with your emotions. It is a sign of strength to ask for support when you are hurting. If you’d like help processing grief or deciding about your return to work, a counselor with Star Meadow Counseling is available to help.

Q & A with TMS NW: Everything You’ve Wanted to Know about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Q & A with TMS NW: Everything You’ve Wanted to Know about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Have you tried (and tried) medication management for your depression or OCD but never received full results? We invited Piper Buersmeyer, Julia Swofford, and Brendan Roe from TMS NW to provide this Q & A about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a non-medication alternative for treating chronic depression and OCD. After reading the article, if you’d like more information about TMS, we encourage you to reach out to TMS NW, local in Vancouver, WA.

 

What is TMS?

TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Brainsway’s Deep TMS is a non-invasive treatment that uses an MRI strength magnet to either stimulate the part of the brain that causes depression or calm down the area of the brain that causes OCD.  TMS is a safe and evidence-based outpatient procedure that encourages rewiring and improved firing of neurons.

 

Who is eligible?

TMS is indicated by the FDA for the treatment of depressive episodes in adult patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from previous therapy and medication treatment. It is newly FDA cleared in 2018 for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder that has been resistant to treatment with therapy and medication.

TMS should NOT be used if you have metal implants in or around your head (except for standard amalgam dental fillings). These include but are not limited to a cochlear implant, implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), pacemaker, deep brain stimulator, vagus nerve stimulator, or metal aneurysm clips or coils, staples, or stents. TMS should not be used in patients with an active seizure disorder.

 

How does TMS work?

In each TMS therapy session, the patient is comfortably seated in a chair and a custom cloth cap is placed onto the head followed by a cushioned helmet. The helmet houses a coil that generates brief magnetic pulses, at a similar amplitude to that used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems. The rapid magnetic pulse that runs through the coil wire produces an electric field that passes unimpeded through the brain.

During the TMS session, patients hear a tapping sound and feel a tapping sensation in the head area. The patient wears earplugs during treatment. Patients can drive to and from sessions and can immediately resume their daily routines.

 

How frequent are sessions?

TMS requires daily sessions Monday through Friday over 6-9 weeks. Treatment sessions build on one another, so it is best to follow the recommended treatment course. Some clients also benefit from maintenance or repeated treatment.

 

What are the most common side effects?

The most common side effect is temporary, mild pain or discomfort at the area of the treatment site and occurs only during the TMS session. This typically happens only during the first week of TMS  treatment. Other side effects may include muscle twitching, headache and jaw pain, and also typically resolve after the first few days.

 

How does TMS compare to ECT?

TMS and ECT are very different from one another. Brainsway Deep TMS therapy does not require hospitalization or anesthesia, and does not entail risks for memory loss, systemic side effects or an indefinite drug regimen. In contrast to electroconvulsive therapy, TMS does not induce convulsions/seizures. Seizure risk is very low with TMS.

 

How is deep TMS different than traditional TMS?

Deep TMS offers effective results in almost half the time of other treatments (19 minutes per session compared to 37 with traditional TMS). Deep TMS penetrates more deeply and broad than traditional TMS and therefore is more robust and effective.

 

Is TMS effective?

Yes. Brainsway Deep TMS therapy has been tested in over 60 clinical trials. An extensive multi-center study for treating treatment-resistant depression, with Brainsway Deep TMS, enrolling 230 patients, Brainsway Deep TMS therapy significantly reduced depressive symptoms and generated improvement. Following this study, the FDA approved Brainsway Deep TMS therapy for major depressive disorder in patients who did not benefit from any number of previous medication treatments. Approximately one out of three patients treated with TMS therapy experience complete remission of symptoms at the end of six weeks. It is important to note that some clients may experience a partial response during the initial 36 treatments followed by a robust response in the weeks following the completion of treatment.

 

What else is TMS approved for?

In the U.S. FDA approved indications include depression and OCD. TMS is considered investigational as a treatment for all other indications, including but not limited to: smoking cessation, PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, bulimia nervosa, migraines, fibromyalgia, panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease, alcohol dependence, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, ADHD and Autism.

 

Will I be able to stop medication?

It is possible to achieve and sustain remission from depression following TMS treatment. This can mean medication doses can be lowered or tapered off completely.  This all depends on the client’s needs. Clients are stabilized on their regimen prior to treatment medications are continued during the treatment.

 

Will my health insurance cover TMS treatment?

Health insurance companies cover TMS for patients who meet that insurance’s specific requirements. Most insurances require a diagnosis of either depression or OCD, failure of at 3-5 antidepressants, sometimes from multiple families of medications, and a history of at least six weeks of outpatient psychotherapy. If you typically have a co-pay for office visits, you will also have this for each TMS treatment. Your insurance will not cover your copay, and payment of copays is due at time of service. If TMS NW is out of network for your insurance, you may be able to contact your insurance and ask for a single case agreement.  Otherwise, it will be considered out of network and coverage from your insurance is likely minimal to no coverage at all.

Insurance TMS NW Accepts

  • Aetna
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Bridgespan
  • First Choice
  • LIfewise
  • MODA
  • Pacific Source/Reliant
  • Premera BCBS
  • Regence BCBS
  • Molina

TMS NW is not affiliated with Star Meadow Counseling. To contact TMS NW directly, you can call them at 360-719-2449 or view their website: https://tms-nw.com/

Why Someone Suffering From Depression Can’t Just ‘Get Over It’

Why Someone Suffering From Depression Can’t Just ‘Get Over It’

When talking about depression, a lot of people forget that depression is an illness that requires proper attention and treatment. If you’re depressed, it can be incredibly frustrating to hear things like “Just get over it”, “You’re being really dramatic”, “You have to be strong”, “Learn to deal with it”, “Happiness is a choice”. You might start to think of things like ‘Why can’t I just get over it’? We can stop ourselves from doing destructive things like putting our hand in a fire, but when it comes to depression, it’s a bit difficult to just ‘stop’. There are a number of reasons why ‘get over it’ statements like this don’t help. Here are some of the best reasons why.

  1. It’s an illness– Depression is an illness, an illness that you have little control over, just like any other illness. Nobody tells people with broken bones to get over their pain. So why should depressed people be forced to ‘get over’ theirs? Always remember that your pain is valid, and as long as you’re getting help by speaking to a mental health professional, you’re on the path to healing.
  2. The brain is in control– Studies have shown that people experiencing depression have symptoms controlled by an unconscious emotional process that is usually beyond their control. Remember that depression is an incredibly complex disease caused by a combination of biological, psychological and sociological factors.
  3. The symptoms can be debilitating– Depressed people exhibit both physical and emotional symptoms. These symptoms include things like nausea, headaches, restlessness, fatigue and insomnia.
  4. You can’t wish it away– Nobody likes being depressed. Just because you want to feel better doesn’t mean you can wave a wand and get rid of it. You can desire to feel better, but until you work with a therapist, there is no magical route to getting better.
  5. You can’t always pretend– People always act like depressed people should plaster a huge smile on their face and pretend like everything is perfect. You can’t just shove your emotions down and pretend like they don’t exist. The mind keeps replaying them. This is its way of reminding you that you have an ongoing issue that needs to be handled by a professional.
  6. Depression isn’t ‘one size fits all’– People experience depression in different ways and exhibit different symptoms. Just because they can go about their daily activities efficiently doesn’t mean they’re not ill. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Depression changes everything and there’s no universal treatment. A therapist can help you find a treatment perfectly suited to you.

Depression is real and painful. Just because you can’t see or touch it doesn’t make it any less real. If you suffer from depression or know someone who does, working with a therapist is a good start to overcoming your depression. We have counselors available to help. Contact us to book a therapy session.

10 Awesome Mental Health Apps

10 Awesome Mental Health Apps

According to statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, each year about 1 out of every 5 Americans adults suffer from one form of mental illness or the other. Mathematically, that works out to 48.3 million of the total American adult population, and with a figure that high, it’s easy to see that you are not alone.

If you are presently living with any mental illness, there is hope. With the proliferation of tech (in the form of mental health apps), each and everyone living with depression, anxiety, or life stress can now access low cost support that can augment their work in individual counseling.

These apps strive to improve mental health by harnessing therapeutic processes and activities such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), meditation, relaxation, etc. They can be a great supplement to the work you are doing with your counselor!

There are countless types of these mental health apps that you can easily download from Google Play store or Apple Store, but being that variety also comes with the attendant issue of difficulty in making a choice, with this article, we have stepped in to take away the pain and confusion by helping you handpick the top 10 mental health apps from around the internet.

For each app listed below, we have gone ahead to explain the notable features and benefits, state the price (where applicable) and also provide you with download links.

Please note that the under listed apps are, in no way, purported to be replacements for professional treatment. They are meant to provide aid and support.

With that out of the way, here are our top 10 mental health apps for Android and iOS.

  1. Gottman Card Decks

 This app is specifically designed to soothe those going through relationship stress. Designed by the popular Gottman Institute, just as the name suggests, the app comes in the form of a deck of cards which contains questions you can ask your spouse concerning your relationship. The Gottman approach to couple’s counseling is world renowned and now you can have access to Gottman’s relationship and communication skills in app format!  This app also suggests fun things to do and say to keep the fire ever blazing in your relationship.

With a rating of 4.7 and 4.8 stars on Play Store and iTunes respectively and tens of thousands of downloads, you can’t go wrong with this app when it comes to easing relationship stress.

The app is free on both iTunes and Play Store. Download from iTunes here and download from Play Store here.

  1. Insight Timer

Insight Timer is a multiple award-winning app for meditation, anxiety, sleep, and mindfulness. If you are looking for a way to reduce anxiety, manage stress, calm the mind, sleep deeply and improve happiness, then this is the app for you.

With upwards of 10 new guided meditations added for free every day, coupled with awesome music tracks from renowned artists available on the app to use in your sessions, it will be an awesome experience joining millions of other users in trying out this app.

Presently, the app has been downloaded over 1 million times on Play Store, and it is free to download with in-app purchases as a means for the developers to make their income. You can download the app on Play Store here and on iTunes here

  1. SuperBetter

Looking to improve your motivation and drive? SuperBetter is an all-rounder app that aims to help users build strength and resilience to overcome tough obstacles and challenges in life. Are you going through a stressful relationship, wanting to beat depression, overcome anxiety, survive a divorce, or get a job? SuperBetter is a good motivator to try.

You can download SuperBetter for free on Play Store here and here for iOS.

  1. Headspace

Headspace is a nicely designed app that aims to help you with meditation and mindfulness.

Apart from teaching you how to sleep mindfully, breathe and meditate, it is also designed to help you increase your focus level. There are also exercises on anxiety relief, stress management, and happiness.

The app is free with in-app purchases. Download it for Android here and for iOS here.

  1. iChill

Do you notice how anxiety or stress impacts you in both mind and body? Just as the name suggests, the iChill app is designed to help with whole-body stress management. The app is built to cut across several demographics: children, teens, adults, veterans, and more. iChill is also teaches users skills from the Trauma Resiliency Model.

The app is totally free. Download for Android here and for iOS here.

  1. Stop, breathe & think

This is a meditation and mindfulness app that breathing exercises and guided meditation to help with calming anxiety and sleeping better. It is also described to manage depression, tame anxiety and strengthen focus.

Download it for free on Play Store here and here. The app is loaded with in-app purchases.

  1. Relaxio

Relaxio is an app development company that has a consortium of apps that are all centered on meditation, and sleep.

If your stress levels are high, then you might want to consider checking out one of their apps at relaxio.net. You can download any of the apps that meet your specific needs from the site.

  1. Youper

Tagged the world’s most beloved AI assistant, the app uses quick therapeutic conversations to help you monitor your general emotional health. This is a good app to consider if your goal is to tame stress, depression, and anxiety.

The app is loaded with a beautiful mood tracker and uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and other techniques to try to get you to maintain a calm mind. The app is free with in-app purchases. Get the Android version here and the iOS version here.

  1. Mindshift

Mindshift is a free app designed by Anxiety Canada Association using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a core technology to help you tackle anxiety. The app is also designed as a tool to aid you to relax more, be more mindful and aid you build more effective ways of thinking.

Download the Android version here and the iOS version here.

  1. Calm Harm

This is an app developed by a Clinical Psychologist that is geared towards helping prevent self-harm.

The password secured app has 4 major categories (Distract, Comfort, “Express Yourself” and Release) that are strategically placed to help you progressively get out of the self-harm mindset.

The app is totally free, and you can get the Android version here. You can as well download the iOS version here.

 

Interested in reading more from our blog? Check out one of these additional blog articles:

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Why I Think “Worthless” Isn’t a Feeling AND Why that Matters

Why I Think “Worthless” Isn’t a Feeling AND Why that Matters

Have you ever been so dejected or depressed that you began to question your worth as a person? What triggered that moment for you? Was it:

  • A rejection, break-up, or abandonment?
  • A harsh word or critique that hit like an arrow in the heart?
  • A failure to live up to your own expectations?
  • Feeling in over your head, burned out, or unable to perform?
  • Something else?

As counselors, we often hear clients describe their feeling during these moments as “worthless.” It’s as if some lack of performing, achieving, belonging, or approval could strip away a person’s value as a human, leaving them with a sense of emptiness.

Do you have a sense of self-worth that goes up and down? A conditional self-worth that is dependant on being liked or on your achievements? As you’ve perhaps experienced, having a conditional self-worth can be risky:

  • Perhaps you overwork, overachieve, and compulsively climb ladders trying to prove yourself. Do ever really reach the finish line or are you stuck on a hamster wheel constantly striving? Does that cost you time with your family or friends? If a setback occurs, do you name yourself “failure” and pay a cost with anxiety, depression, or a suicidal urge?
  • Perhaps you base self-worth on the condition of others’ approval (which can go up or down). Do you have a good or bad day depending on if someone else’s reactions to you? Does that ever lead you to over-committing or people-pleasing? Do you hold back, minimizing your voice in relationships? If a subtle rejection occurs, do you notice yourself having a big emotional response?

Perfectionism is the embodiment of achievement-oriented or approval-oriented self worth. Brene Brown describes perfectionism and its cost best:

“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfet, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.”

-Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

It’s time to change how we think about WORTH. What if you could experience a form of self-worth that did not ebb and flow with your achievement or approval? Would you step off of the “conditional self-worth” rollercoaster? Wouldn’t it be amazing to experience security in your self-worth despite successes or failures!

I want to suggest two key strategies for revolutionizing your experience of self-worth.

  1. Clarify what you really feel when you say you feel “WORTHLESS.”

I want to suggest that “WORTHLESS” is a judgment NOT a feeling. It’s a proclamation of subjective self-assessment. It is more thought than it is emotion. These judgments are similarly not feelings:

  • Bad
  • Failure
  • Fat
  • Ugly
  • Stupid
  • Crazy

But, you might argue, “I DO feel strongly when I have those thoughts!” YES! A distorted negative self-evaluation would certainly evoke a strong feeling! Let’s see if we can clarify what you are really feeling in those moments. Perhaps one of these feeling words would more accurately describe the emotion that goes with that thought:

  • Disappointment
  • Shame
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Guilt

This perspective shifting skill is essential: Instead of going along with the “I’m worthless” judgment, NAME WHAT YOU’RE FEELING and WHY.

For example: “I’m feeling ashamed because I yelled at my kids.” “I am feeling afraid because I lost my job.” “I am feeling sad because she broke up with me.”

2. REDEFINE WORTH.

The striking reality is that there is no standard measurement of WORTH. There is not a test you can take, a medal you can earn, or a status you must reach. The concept of what defines self-worth is unscientific, self-determined, and deeply personal. YOU HAVE THE POWER to change your self-assessment.

What if you were to intentionally choose to believe WORTH is a birthright, something inherent in your humanness? I think that’s what the founders of our country believed when they wrote these words in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

WORTH does not have to be conditional. You can found your self-worth on the powerful certainty that you have sustaining value that can not be earned nor lost.


HYPOCRICY CHECK: Do you apply unconditional worth to other people better than to yourself?  For example, if you’re a parent, your child might make choices that make you lose their trust, but could they ever lose worth in your eyes? Never! You might already believe in unconditional self-worth, as it applies to others. Are you applying the same concept to yourself? If not, now’s the time. Take the leap of faith. It’s worth it!

Now, if we combine the name-your-feelings skill with the concept of unconditional self-worth, you can see how it’s possible to make mistakes, have setbacks, and receive rejection without it meaning anything at all about your worth as a human.

If you’d like help building a secure sense of self-worth (or overcoming your achievement- or approval-oriented perfectionism), a therapist at Star Meadow Counseling is available to help.

Read more of our blogs on self-worth:

7 Top Mental Health Podcasts

7 Top Mental Health Podcasts

Are you looking for a podcast to help you take better care of yourself and your mental health? I love the convenience of a podcast— It’s self-care you can access in your car, while you wash the dishes, or take the dog for a walk. Self-care is critically important to a well-rounded and satisfying life!  Podcasts help with self-care in a way that only modern technology is able to do.

Let’s have a look at seven popular mental health podcasts that are waiting to show you the way:

1. The Hilarious World of Depression: Calling it out like it is, this podcast series is intended to bring the light to the often too-dark world of depression by combining it with humor.  If you’re looking for a education on mental health, specifically depression, and you want to enjoy it even on your darkest days, this free podcast is something to check out.  Find more information waiting for you at:https://www.facebook.com/thwod/

2. Headspace: Finding inner peace could be as simple as finding the right podcast to lead you down the path to relaxation.  Headspace is a popular due to its mobile app focus.  It offers guided meditation in both short and long sessions to fit every part of your life. It’s a favorite podcast for those struggling with stress and anxiety. Podcasts and blog posts can also be listened to and read, respectively, for free if looking for a more immersive experience.  Find more information at:https://www.headspace.com

3. Good Life Project: Listen to uplifting conversations with some of the biggest names in wellness– Brene Brown, Gretchen Rubin, Tim Ferriss, and more! The Good Life Project shares a new interview every week. When looking at something that is going to fit into your social media world and offer you a community to support you on your rough days, Good Life Project has got what you want.  They also offer a Facebook-based mental health group is a just that: a private community of people at all stages in mental health focus and you can belong to it and give and take within the group for free.  Offering a little bit of everything in focus, this is great for those that need to see the community they’re a part of. Learn more at: https://www.goodlifeproject.com/about/

4. Feeling Good: When you want a book to start you off on an adventure of podcasts centered on understanding mental health and depression in a positive and immersive way, look no further than the world of Feeling Good to offer it to you.  With many years of experience, Dr. Burns shares advice in his book,Feeling Good, and combines this with podcast material for free on his website.  Great for a dash of traditional meets modern.  Find more waiting for you at: https://feelinggood.com/about/

5. The Mental Illness Happy Hour: In hour-long sessions you’ll find helpful advice and uplifting messages focused on addiction, depression, and more.  You can listen to podcasts for free that are up to a year old and subscribe via Stitcher to listen to new ones for a monthly fee.  Take a look at it for yourself at: http://mentalpod.com

6. Food Psych: A first step to feeling good is fueling your body.  More and more people are stuck in chronic dieting, leading to weight cycling that is harmful to your physical and mental health.  Find relief from diet culture, fat shaming, and other disturbing societal norms.  Food psych takes firm hold on these concepts, using the latest research, helping each listener learn about having a healthy relationship with food that spills over into accepting and loving your body in a way that is healthy on all fronts. Have you been curious about the Health at Every Size movement or Intuitive Eating approach? Learn more here.  It’s waiting for you with a membership of $47 for access to two seasons of this innovative podcast and bonus content, or simply enjoy the free weekly interviews.  Find more at: https://christyharrison.com/foodpsych/

7. Body Kindness: What if loving yourself was as simple as learning to love yourself for all of your good and bad parts?  That’s exactly what Body Kindness offers.  From talking about food to relationships and everything in between, this podcast will help you on your way to a better understanding of yourself.  You’ll learn to love your body and practice respectful ways of caring and nourishing it.  Weekly podcasts are free to listening and you can also look for one-on-one consultation or invest in a $20 book on body kindness.  For more information, please look to: https://www.bodykindnessbook.com/podcast/

Before the internet-based world, mental health was something that you needed to struggle with on your own, but these seven option offer you seven ways to get in charge of yourself and your mental health in healthy and accessible ways.  Pick you favorite podcast and start transforming your life for the better today!

 

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