Archive for Depression

I recently visited the forests of southern Illinois, and enjoyed the beautiful sights, peaceful sounds, and fresh air of the Shawnee Forest.  It was nice to see some old familiar favorite places, and to explore and discover a couple new spots.

Taking walks in nature with my family are some of my favorite memories from when I was little, and I’ve been traipsing through the woods ever since.  When I was living in southern Illinois, the forest was 15 minutes away.  But now that I live near Chicago, it has become a special treat.

My trip reminded me once again of how good it feels to be out in nature.  Taking a walk is the perfect combination of relaxing and invigorating.  Watching a sunset over a lake is peaceful and soothing.  Taking photos is creatively stimulating and gratifying.  Time together with loved ones, sharing the experience and making memories, is emotionally intimate and meaningful.  Add to that perfect fall weather, and walla!  Just beautiful.

How rarely we get to experience this when living in a large metropolitan area!  It really makes me appreciate the people who have made it a point to set aside some metropolitan land for small parks and green areas. If you‘re one of those people, thank you.

People tend to underestimate the benefits of nature.

When predicting how time in nature will impact us, we expect less of a benefit than we actually get, according to a 2011 Carleton University study.  The study found that people…

felt more positive emotions after the natural walk than they did after the tunnel walk, but… underestimated the positive benefits of a natural walk and overestimated the positive benefits of the tunnel walk. The students in the natural walk condition also reported feeling more connected to nature, an association that was mediated by their more positive emotions.  (read entire article)

Benefits of spending time in nature

There are many benefits of spending time in nature.  A Scientific American article states,

Psychological research has shown that natural experiences help to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote an overall increase in physical and psychological well-being. There is even evidence that hospital patients with a view of nature recover faster than do hospital patients without such a view. This line of research provides clear evidence that people are drawn to nature with good reason. It has restorative properties.

This article goes on to discuss four studies at the University of Rochester which showed that exposure to nature can make people more caring, and more intrinsically motivated.

In short, we become less self-focused and more other-focused. Our value priorities shift from personal gain, to a broader focus on community and connection with others.

There are also cognitive (mental) benefits.  For example, exposure to nature can help you focus.  One way to think of this is as the type of focusing that you can do when you are in a more peaceful environment… clearing your mind, focusing on your senses, being mindful in the moment (while in nature). This experience is soothing, relaxing and grounding.

Furthermore, studies at the University of Illinois linked green views from one’s window with better ability to focus and concentrate, and better memory.  Also, research at the University of Michigan showed that attention improved after an hour in nature.  (see this article for more details)

It’s no wonder that organizations are offering therapeutic wilderness programs.  Here is one organization that offers a well-cited list of reasons why nature is therapeutic.

It’s not too late!

For those of us here in the Chicago area, we are already feeling the chill of autumn.  People are making physical preparations for winter, and are bracing themselves emotionally for what is being predicted as a very snowy season this year.

I would suggest that, as part of your emotional preparation, you make it a point to spend as much time as you can outdoors, while it’s still comfortable.  Even if there’s a slight chill, throw on that hat and sweater and go for a walk in a nearby park or forest area.  Or take another trip or two to one of the larger nature reserves within a few hours drive, like Starved Rock, Turkey Run, or Brown County.  I’m relatively new to this area, so I’m sure you may know of others that you would enjoy, that might be even closer… perhaps in northern Illinois or Michigan.

Remember that a couple of recommendations for mood are to get a half hour of sun each day and to exercise.  Add the therapeutic benefits of nature to this, and you’ve got a great three-in-one plan!

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.


Categories : Wellness
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Top 25 Free E-Books about Depression

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Educating yourself about your illness, issue or difficulty is very useful and very empowering.  One of the benefits of being human is that we have the ability to communicate ideas to each other through language.  Others have dealt with similar issues as you may be facing now, and still others have devoted years to studying those issues.  You don’t have to find out what they know through your own trial and error.  You can just read about it!  Even if their information doesn’t match your situation perfectly, it can help you to understand what you’re going through, and to cope more effectively.

Therefore, I’m glad to pass along a great resource.  Below is an excerpt from an article listing 25 free e-books about depression, with a link to the entire article:

While it is normal to occasionally feel sad, when a person has major depressive disorder, they experience a severely depressed mood that can remain for years at a time. This is often referred to as depression, which can interfere with daily functioning and cause distress for both the person with the disorder and their family. With an estimated 16 percent of adults suffering from depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, cases of depression are by no means isolated.

With everyone from doctors to therapists to herbal specialists chiming on the subject, reading more about depression can help both patients and caregivers make better decisions. If you are high in desire to learn but low on the wallet, there are options. To help out, we have gathered the below top 25 free and useful eBooks about depression. They are authored by everyone from licensed therapists to those who have suffered some type of depression.  (Click to read the entire article listing the Top 25 Free and Useful eBooks About Depression.)


Categories : Depression
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The Psychology of Pleasure by Nathaniel Branden – video

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I have been thinking a lot lately about happiness versus depression.  These two videos about the psychology of pleasure present some interesting food for thought, and help to clarify some of the dynamics that I often encounter in my work and in my life.  Very interesting.

Video 1:

(If you cannot see the video above, you can click this link to see it on YouTube.)

Video 2:

(If you cannot see the video above, you can click this link to see it on YouTube.)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

Categories : Mental Health
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Postpartum depression –

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DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staffThe birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect — depression.Many new moms experience the baby blues after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings and crying spells and fade quickly. But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression.

via Postpartum depression –

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

Categories : Depression
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As a therapist working with depression, I hear many descriptions of depression, and many stories of coping.  It plays out uniquely in each person’s life.  I’d like to share with you one writer’s description for a couple of reasons.

First, those with depression sometimes feel better knowing that there are others out there who can relate to what they’re going through, are encouraged to see a story of recovery, and can get ideas from each other on how to cope.  Second, family and friends of those with depression can get a glimpse of how difficult it can be, and thus be more empathetic.

And who better to describe this experience than a writer?  The following excerpt is from “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert:

…during the last few years of my life, there was no question that I was in grave trouble and that this trouble was not lifting quickly.  As my marriage dissolved and my drama with David evolved, I’d come to have all the symptoms of a major depression – loss of sleep, appetite and libido, uncontrollable weeping, chronic backaches and stomachaches, alienation and despair, trouble concentrating at work… it went on and on.

When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost.  For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wondered a few feet off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now.  Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises any more…

…I tried so hard to fight the endless sobbing.  I remember asking myself one night, while I was curled up in the same old corner of my same old couch in tears yet again over the same old repetition of sorrowful thoughts, “Is there anything about this scene you can change, Liz?“…

…The last thing I tried after about two years of fighting this sorrow, was medication… For me the decision to go the route of “Vitamin P” happened after a night when I’d sat on the floor of my bedroom for many hours, trying very hard to talk myself out of cutting into my arm with a kitchen knife.  I won the argument against the knife that night, but barely…

…And I will never forget Susan’s face when she rushed into my apartment about an hour after my emergency phone call and saw me in a heap on the couch.  The image of my pain mirrored back at me through her visible fear for my life is still one of the scariest memories for me out of all those scary years.  I huddled in a ball while Susan made the phone calls…

…When I went to see the psychiatrist that afternoon, he asked me what had taken me so long to get help… “If you had a kidney disease, you wouldn’t hesitate to take medication for it – why are you hesitating with this?“… He put me on a few different drugs… in less than a week, I could feel an extra inch of daylight opening in my mind.  Also, I could finally sleep…

…Still, I never relaxed into taking those drugs… I always felt conflicted about it.  Those drugs were part of my bridge to the other side, there’s no question about it, but I wanted to be off of them as soon as possible… Those pills might have saved my life, but they did so only in conjunction with about twenty other efforts I was making simultaneously during that same period to rescue myself, and I hope to never have to take such drugs again…

…But… here I am.  I am in Rome, and I am in trouble.  The goons of Depression and Loneliness have barged into my life again… I don’t know what to do, and I’m spiraling in a panic, like I always spiral when I don’t know what to do.  So what I do for tonight is reach for my most private notebook, which I keep next to my bed in case I’m ever in emergency trouble.  I open it up.  I find the first blank page.  I write:

I need your help.”  Then I wait.  After a little while, a response comes, in my own handwriting:

I’m right here.  What can I do for you?

And here recommences my strangest and most secret conversation.  Here, in this most private notebook, is where I talk to myself.  I talk to that same voice I met that night on my bathroom floor when I first prayed to God in tears for help, when something (or somebody) had said, “Go back to bed, Liz.”  In the years since the, I’ve found that voice again in times of code-orange distress, and have learned that the best way for me to reach it is written conversation.  I’ve been surprised to find that I can almost always access that voice, too, no matter how black my anguish may be.  Even during the worst suffering, that calm, compassionate, affectionate and infinitely wise voice (who is maybe me, or maybe not exactly me) is always available for a conversation on paper at any time of day or night…

…So tonight I reach for that voice again… What I write in my journal tonight is that I am weak and full of fear.  I explain that Depression and Loneliness have shown up, and I’m scared they will never leave.  I say that I don’t want to take the drugs any more, but I’m frightened I will have to.  I’m terrified that I will never really pull my life together.

In response, somewhere from within me, rises a now-familiar presence, offering me all the certainties I have always wished another person would say to me when I was troubled.  This is what I find myself writing to myself on the page:

“I’m here.  I love you.  I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you.  If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it – I will love you through that, as well.  If you don’t need the medication, I will love you too.  There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love.  I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you.  I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me…”

…I fall asleep holding my notebook pressed against my chest, open to this most recent assurance.

Ms. Gilbert has crafted a beautiful, often funny book in “Eat Pray Love,” and goes on to describe many other challenges as well as successes, joys, and unique experiences in her one year of travels that this book tells about.  She has a wonderful receptiveness and openness to the various people and cultures she encounters along the way, and an honesty about herself that is clearly informed by much self-reflection and contemplation.

As you can tell, the excerpts above leave a lot out.  Her book isn’t just about depression, but rather about her journey to recover after a particularly difficult transition in her life, and not just about traveling, but also about her spiritual journey and discoveries.  I for one enjoyed the book, and I hope that you find the above sections not only illustrative but heartening.

Categories : Depression
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Therapeutic Talk

When I ask people what they found helpful in therapy, they often say that just talking about things made a big difference for them.  Talking about the substantial things in life can help you to gain insight, learn about your difficulties, identify needed changes, have a sense of direction, and feel supported in your efforts.

Social Support

However, therapy is not the only place where you could talk about topics of substance.  I recommend that people think of their social support system as a foundation of a structure.  The smallest number of supports needed to have a stable structure is three, like a tripod.  Who can you talk to about your concerns, dreams, struggles and achievements?  Do you have at least three points of support?  Points of support could include friends, family, a spiritual community or pastor, a support group or therapy group, and/or a counselor.  You could also consider sources of information as points of support, if they help you to reflect on important topics.  So books and certain websites, especially interactive ones, could count too.

Happy People Talk More, and With More Substance

Of course talking about issues of substance need not be limited to your personal joys and challenges.  There are many philosophical, spiritual, social, political, scientific, and technological topics that are very meaningful.  Interestingly, recent research has found that happy people tend to spend more time talking about topics of substance.

Happy people tend to talk more than unhappy people, but when they do, it tends to be less small talk and more substance, a new study finds.

A group of psychologists from the University of Arizona and Washington University in St. Louis set out to find whether happy and unhappy people differ in the types of conversations they tend to have.

(Click to continue reading Happy People Talk More, and With More Substance)  By the way, if you follow this link, you will find several additional interesting links to more information about the science of happiness.

So next time you talk to someone, don’t limit yourself to just small talk.  Let them know what you’ve really been thinking about and why its meaningful to you.  And find out what’s really going on for them too.  Or, why not investigate a meaningful topic and share what you’ve learned?  Taking your conversations to a deeper level can help you not just to reflect on topics of substance, but also to connect with others in more meaningful ways.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

Categories : Relationships
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Fish Oil for Mental Health

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We often think of medication and therapy as the two main approaches to treating mental health symptoms, but I’m a strong believer in the wellness approach that also recognizes the influence of lifestyle factors such as diet, supplements, social support, spirituality and other factors.

I’ve happened across more information about the benefits of fish oil recently, this time not just about mood benefits, but also its effects of psychotic disorders.  It appears that Omega 3 Fatty Acids are important for neuron cell structure and are highly concentrated in the brain.  Here are a few of interesting articles on the topic.

Fish Oil to Treat Depression?

Omega-3’s may have an affect on serotonin levels.
WebMD Feature

Dave thinks a lot about fish these days. Study after study has suggested benefits for omega-3 fatty acids, which are plentiful in certain fish oils. But what intrigues Dave isn’t that omega-3’s might reduce his risk of heart attack, or ease the pain of arthritis. He’s hoping to lubricate his mind.

A handful of small studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids can help smooth out the mood swings of bipolar disorder. There are few effective treatments against the disease, so the news is a hot topic now at support groups for manic-depressives, like the Berkeley, CA, group in which Dave participates.

Continue reading on Web MD – Fish Oil to Treat Depression

Fish Oil for Psychotic Disorders

This report says that fish oil can help with psychotic disorders as well.

Taking a daily fish oil capsule can stave off mental illness in those at highest risk, trial findings suggest.  A three-month course of the supplement appeared to be as effective as drugs, cutting the rate of psychotic illness like schizophrenia by a quarter.The researchers believe it is the omega-3 in fish oil – already hailed for promoting healthy hearts – that has beneficial effects in the brain.  A “natural” remedy would be welcomed, Archives of General Psychiatry says.  “The finding that treatment with a natural substance may prevent, or at least delay, the onset of psychotic disorder gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotic drugs,” the study authors said.

Continue reading on BBC News – Fish oil supplements ‘beat psychotic mental illness’.

More Links

Here are a few more links you might like to check out to read more about the mental health benefits of fish oil.

Fish Oil Helps Treat Depression – ABC News

Fish Oil Depression — Omega-3 Fatty acids – Real Depression Help

Omega-3 Fatty Acids –

Why Not?

And all this is in addition to the multiple physical benefits of fish oil… heart health, skin, joints.  So why not take it?  I personally take and recommend Nature Made odorless liquid softgels (1200mg per day).

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Pain is one of the most common symptoms people with depression complain about, and people who are depressed experience more impairment from their pain than those who are not depressed. Often, the depression-pain scenario plays out in a vicious cycle, and to find relief from one, you must treat the other.

Although we like to think of ourselves as stoic, physical pain can wear down even the most robust of spirits and eventually lead to depression or anxiety. For those who have a family history of mood disorders or have had prior episodes, the stress of pain can trigger… (click to continue reading via Johns Hopkins: Healthy Living on pain, depression, anxiety connection.)

Categories : Depression
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Feeling Blue? Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Getting Those Chicago Winter Blues?

The Southtown Star interviewed me about Seasonal Affective Disorder. The article was published this last weekend.

There was however one paragraph in which Ms. Sharwarko paraphrased me that did not make sense.  I left a comment at the end of their article to clarify what I had actually meant.

Also, here are a couple links to resources for light therapy.  One is from Philips and the other from Northern Light Technologies.

Feeling Blue?  You’re Not Alone

January is a tough month for some people to tackle.

As they pack away holiday stress, the joy of the season fades too. Holiday shopping bills stack up. And people face the start of a new year, a time when they examine their lives, for better or worse.

All this, combined with the physical effects of a season without significant sun, creates a framework for people to find themselves depressed.

“There is a common experience of having finished the business and running around that the holidays require,” said Anda Jines, a licensed clinical professional counselor for Hoover and Associates in Tinley Park. “It can be an adjustment to switch gears back to the daily grind.” (Click to continue reading about Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

Categories : Depression
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Johns Hopkins: Depression|Anxiety on exercise|mood

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I have run across several such reports, which indicate that exercise is good for managing mood and anxiety.  I recently read another article that claimed that a 1/2 hour of aerobic exercise per day can have a similar effect as an antidepressant medication (I wish I could remember where I read that).

This article proposes several mechanisms for how exercise helps.  I believe they left out an important one with regards to anxiety.  Exercise can be cathartic and serve as a positive channel for excess tension and restlessness.

However, I do see one flaw in this article.  The study it cites appears to be a correlation study.  They administered questionnaires and saw that there is a correlation between exercise and improved mood and reduced anxiety.  They appear to make the classic mistake of reading causality into correlation.  I did not read the original research article, so I could be wrong, but this is a common mistake.  It is possible, for example, that it is easier to exercise when your mood is good (rather than vice versa).  Personally, I believe that the causation flows in both directions in this scenario.  Of course it is easier to exercise if you feel great… but you can also help yourself feel good by exercising.

Just 20 minutes a week of physical activity can make a difference in your mood. No one seems able to agree on how much exercise, or what type, is best for mental health. But a Scottish study, reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, has found that just 20 minutes of any physical activity, including housework, in a week is enough to boost mental health.

Almost 20,000 men and women participated in the study, which involved taking a quiz for the Scottish Health Survey about their state of mind and how much weekly physical activity they engaged in. Using a standard scale to measure distress levels, over 3,000 participants were classified as suffering from distress and anxiety.

After controlling for factors such as age, gender, and long-term health conditions, the findings revealed that… (click to read more Johns Hopkins: Depression|Anxiety on exercise|mood.)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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