All Posts Tagged: psychotherapy

Midlife Anxiety

When someone goes through dissatisfaction with their job or marriage and they are in their forties or fifties, the first thing everyone says is that they must be having a midlife crisis. We hear about this phase of life as people transition from young adult to middle age so often that it almost feels like a crisis is a “given”. And, on some level, it may be. As people go from being the young, carefree person of their twenties who is just getting established in a career or marriage, to the responsible person who is expected to have gotten their lives together by the time they reach their forties, it is inevitable that people will look back and second guess decisions or wonder “what if.” For many people, this emotional jolt can bring on midlife anxiety.

Midlife Crisis Symptoms

Unlike a medical condition, midlife anxiety doesn’t have specific symptoms. Instead, it’s a mixture of emotions, feelings, and body changes that lead to the strong sense that something needs to change.  Among other things, it can be triggered by factors such as an event that reminds you that you are aging, the death of a parent, children leaving home for college, or a health scare of your own.

Things that might be signs of midlife crisis are:

  • Unexplained annoyance or anger
  • The desire to get in shape or surgically modify your body
  • Coveting that shiny new sports car or wanting to try something daring, such as skydiving
  • Feeling trapped – whether it’s financially, career-wise, or in your relationships
  • Becoming preoccupied with death
  • Constantly wondering where your life is heading or regretting your life choices
  • Losing sleep or changing your eating habits
  • Dissatisfaction with the things that used to make you happy

Additionally, keep in mind that the feelings of helplessness or worry aren’t just confined to midlife anxiety. These emotions can come up anytime during a period in which you are transitioning to a new phase of life. Leaving the teen years and becoming a college student, a parent’s empty-nest syndrome, or an elderly person who moves from a beloved home into a senior-care apartment are all examples of situations that can bring on the same symptoms as those of midlife anxiety. Even being diagnosed with a medical illness or condition can make you feel vulnerable and may bring up these symptoms.

How to Cope if You’re Having a Midlife Crisis

When you’re faced with midlife anxiety, the urge to do something – anything – can be very powerful, so the first thing to do is: nothing. Despite how you feel, this really isn’t the time to make major changes in your life that you may find yourself regretting when your anxiety has diminished.

Instead:

  • Mourn your losses, but don’t dwell on them. Try to reframe the negatives by looking at them in a different way.
  • Take some space away from your daily routine to pause and think about the next phase of your life. What new ambitions do you have? What would you like to accomplish over the next few years? Ignore the little voice in your head that tells you that you are being selfish or should stop daydreaming.
  • Count your blessings. Recognize and write down the things in your life for which you are grateful, then reread your list when you are feeling regretful about something.
  • Do something that will refocus your thoughts – volunteer, take a class, or get involved with a mentoring program.
  • Let go of the things that aren’t serving you and embrace the positives. Challenge your negative thinking (for example, make a list of the trials and pitfalls you went through to get where you are today to remind yourself that the “good old days” weren’t always carefree and wonderful).
  • Be gentle with yourself. Don’t try to stuff your emotions or judge yourself for having them.
  • Talk to someone. Psychotherapy for phase of life anxiety can help lessen or alleviate the ongoing symptoms that come with a midlife crisis before they get out of hand. For some, group therapy is a great way to interact with others who are going through the same issues so you can see that they have the same concerns and problems as you. If therapy isn’t an option, reach out to supportive friends, read books on how to help a midlife crisis, or turn to your clergy for support.

Can Midlife Anxiety Actually Help You?

Remember that midlife anxiety doesn’t have to be something that leads to a crisis! You can channel your concerns into new opportunities and bring greater meaning to your life. This can be a time to:

  • Set new goals to replace your outdated or less relevant objectives. For example, if you’re no longer aiming to climb the corporate ladder, try mentoring a younger colleague.
  • Start that hobby you’ve been thinking about pursuing. After all – if not now, when?
  • Learn a new language or acquire a new skill.
  • Give back through volunteering or community work, such as coaching a team sport or helping out at a soup kitchen.
  • Renew or consider beginning a spiritual life to help you find strength outside yourself.
  • Begin stress management strategies. Take up yoga or learn meditation. Practice mindfulness. Keep a gratitude journal. Start an exercise program.

Professional Help for Midlife Anxiety

If you or a loved one is experiencing midlife anxiety, the mental health professionals at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida can help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Psychotherapy or Medication – Which Should You Choose?

In today’s world, if you turn on a television, play a game on an electronic device, read a magazine, or listen to the radio, the chances are high that you’ll see or hear an ad for psychotropic medications. Prescriptions for anxiety medication and depression medication are pitched to people so often that the majority of us have at least heard of this option for treating mental illnesses.

As a society, we all want an easy fix to our problems. Ads for psychotropic medications make them sound as if they are an effortless method for treating anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. After all, why spend time on psychotherapy when you can pop a pill and get relief instantly? However, like everything in life, there are compelling reasons to choose one or the other.

Benefits of Psychotherapy

For many people, treatment programs like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psycho-dynamic Psychotherapy, or In-vivo Therapy, have proven to have more lasting results than psychotropic medications. The reason is that these therapies teach you coping skills. They help you identify inaccurate or negative thinking and then give you the necessary tools to challenge and replace these beliefs.

When someone goes through psychotherapy, they learn what triggers their reactions to specific fears, places, or situations. Cognitive therapy and other “talk therapies” help people overcome these triggers so they can have a better quality of life. Moreover, these methods teach skills that are lifelong. This allows the person to not only feel better, but gives them something to fall back on if their stressors return at some point in the future.

Unlike with the potential of some psychotropic medications, psychotherapy is not addictive. Furthermore, some studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be more effective at relieving anxiety and depression than medication.

Benefits of Psychotropic Medications

Depression medications and anxiety medications are among the most prescribed drugs worldwide. Advertisements have taught us to recognize drug names and to request them from our medical professionals. These drugs are seen as a “magic bullet” for mental illnesses. Indeed, the benefit of psychotropic medications is that some people may see a quicker, short term improvement in their symptoms, especially if their case is severe. Medications are generally cheaper than psychotherapy and are often covered under insurance, while therapy is sometimes limited or may not be covered at all.

That being said, there are drawbacks to psychotropic medications. Some of these drugs have very adverse side effects – a fact many people ignore when they see the list of them scrolling rapidly through an advertisement. These medications are often prescribed on a trial-and-error basis, wherein the drugs are changed if the person is not getting the symptom relief they are hoping for. Also, many individuals fear taking anxiety medication or depression medication because of the worry over becoming addicted to them or the fear that their personality may be altered. Additionally, they are concerned that they will never be able to get off the medication in the future because their depression or anxiety will return if they do.

What About a Combination of Therapy and Medication?

Current research has shown that, in many cases, a combination of psychotropic medications and psychotherapy gives patients the best result. Medications can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety more quickly, thus giving the person a chance to improve their symptoms while undergoing psychotherapy at the same time.

Combining these treatments programs can provide improvement in symptoms, teach the skills that will allow you to cope with or change your symptoms, and help you feel better. Furthermore, psychotherapy gives you the tools to cope if symptoms arise again.

Do You Have Questions About Psychotherapy or Psychotropic Medications?

Questions about whether you’ll benefit the most from medication, therapy, or a combination of the two, are best answered by working with a mental health professional. The therapists at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are there to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

 

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