All Posts in Category: General Mental Health

Nonie L. Craige, LCSW – Consult The Expert On Communication And Relationships

In our second Consult The Expert interview for March, we spoke with Nonie L. Craige, LCSW, a psychotherapist at the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders.

Our conversation touched on elements of communication, including emotional blackmail, narcissistic abuse, and how to respond to them. We also explored different temperament traits and how parents can learn to adapt to their children’s innate natures to create a healthier parent/child relationship.

“These are my passion areas,” Ms. Craige said, “because they help build self-esteem. Self-esteem is at the foundation of everything!”

Relationship Issues And Communication

The first area we discussed was emotional blackmail. “Back in the ‘90s, Dr. Susan Forward wrote a book called, “Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You,”” Ms. Craige said. “This book examined a very common, hurtful problem that affects our daily living and how we communicate.

Most of us are unknowingly being emotionally blackmailed at one time or another by someone we know and depend on. It could be our spouse, our child, our boss, or our friend. Sometimes, we can be the blackmailer, as well.”

I asked Ms. Craige for an example of emotional blackmail. “Let’s say your mother surprises you with a special dinner – on a night you have other plans,” she responded. “Mom calls you up, very excited to share this delicious meal with you.

You say, “Mom, I can’t come over tonight. I have tickets for a show.” Instead of her saying, “Oh I didn’t know. I should have asked you first,” your mom makes you feel uncomfortable. She says, “But, I made this meal just for you. I cooked your favorites! I thought we were close. I thought you wanted to spend time with me.” This is emotional blackmail, because she is pushing you to change your plans to satisfy hers.”

Ms. Craige says that emotional blackmail is not a matter of miscommunication or different communication styles. “It is about the imbalance of power and control. There are different ways to manipulate, but basically Dr. Forward’s book says that the tools of emotional blackmail are fear, obligation, and guilt (FOG). No relationship or communication should ever include FOG. It is unacceptable.”

Although emotional blackmail implies planning and being devious, Ms. Craige says it really is an impulsive act that’s done because of feeling insecure. “People say things to make you feel uncomfortable and use manipulation if they feel rejected, because it gives them power. When we do this within the dynamics of a couples or parental relationship, we change from a loving spouse or parent to a manipulator in order to feel safe and secure for the moment. We ignore why the person can’t do something and focus on why they should do it for us.”

Emotional blackmail is ultimately a form of emotional abuse, however, and can cause damage to the person who is being victimized.

Narcissistic Abuse In Relationships

How does emotional abuse correspond to narcissism? “The new buzzword right now is “narcissistic abuse,” Ms. Craige said. “Emotional abuse can look like narcissism, but it isn’t a true personality disorder.”

She notes that only about five percent of the population may be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The disorder includes such traits as requiring excessive admiration, lacking empathy, and having no interest in how others feel or what they need.

“The mother who makes you dinner and then says something to make you feel guilty about not coming to eat with her isn’t being narcissistic,” Ms. Craige said. “If she’s usually a warm, loving mom who is giving and caring, then she’s not a narcissist. She’s manipulating you about this particular dinner because she’s feeling rejected.”

“Keep in mind that you are allowed to feel very strongly about something and express those feelings without it involving emotional blackmail,” she says. “If there is no pressure or threat to make the other person feel bad, it is not emotional blackmail. If, in this case, your mother had said she was disappointed that you weren’t coming to eat with her, she would be voicing her feelings. It became emotional blackmail when she made you feel guilty and uncomfortable for not giving up your own plans.”

An emotional blackmailer wants to win at all costs. “If the person who wants something won’t give up, it is abuse. This abuse doesn’t have to come from a person with NPD.”

How To Remedy Emotional Blackmail: Being Assertive

“Assertiveness skills tie into standing up for yourself, but not being angry,” according to Ms. Craige. “Let’s be crystal clear – assertiveness is not being nasty, angry, sarcastic, belittling or nagging. There is no attitude involved in being assertive.”

“Instead,” she continued, “being assertive is sharing how you feel right now. If you are yelling at someone, you are being loud, not assertive. Being assertive is finding the right balance between expressing how we feel, with tact and not being aggressive. It is developing and acknowledging yourself, honing your communication skills and confidence about your message, along with control of your delivery and getting your message across. Don’t distort your message with angry emotions.”

We all have responsibilities we have to take care of. “Many women want to say no when someone asks for help, but they say yes, despite their responsibilities. Once you say yes, you take away your downtime and add stress to your life.”

I asked Ms. Craige how someone can assertively say no in such a situation. “If it fits your schedule, it is okay to help out, but if you can’t do it, then offer to help another time,” she answered.

“If you aren’t comfortable saying no, then don’t say it. Instead, you can offer to help at a later, more convenient time. Say something like, I do want to help, but today won’t work. How about Tuesday instead? You don’t have to give a hard no, but notice that this response is not angry: it gives you a way to say that you want to help without being pushed. And, it conveys that you have other things on your plate, but are willing to help – on your schedule.”

Whether it is your friend, spouse or your boss, when you are asked to do something you feel uncomfortable with, “You can simply say, “I feel uncomfortable about doing that. Can I get back to you?” Ms. Craige replied.

Parent/Child Communication Challenges

Ms. Craige also talked about communication between parents and kids. “The way we interpret and interact with the world around us is called our temperament, she said. “We are all born with different temperaments. Knowing the differences between them is very important for raising children and having a less stressful home life.”

“There are nine main temperament traits,” according to Ms. Craige. “Learning about them will help you understand how you, your spouse, and your children interact and will make life easier.  A child’s temperament is not a matter of right or wrong or a result of bad parenting skills. Each of us responds to the world in our own unique way.”

“For example,” she continued, “a parent might be a laid-back type who enjoys relaxing when they have down time, but their child might have an active temperament and enjoy being busy all the time. This can result in irritation for both. An important part of parenting is to reduce friction and frustration by adjusting to the child’s unique needs. A “goodness of fit” must be developed between the parent and child.”

What Is Goodness Of Fit?

Goodness of fit “influences the parent/child relationship and should be monitored and adjusted to by the adult’s behavior, not the child’s,” Ms. Craige said. “This is the bedrock for all areas of development. The parent/child relationship that is influenced by a poor fit between parent and child can disrupt the flow of the household, create unnecessary stress, and places the child at risk for developing other issues.”

Although there are nine temperament traits, we discussed what she considers to be the five most important ones:

  • Activity – is the child in constant motion or calm and relaxed? An active child bounces, jumps, runs, and is always moving even when sleeping, eating, bathing, etc. A less active child will enjoy sitting and playing quietly with dolls or reading books or drawing for hours. Be sure to give an active child more time to get ready, get dressed, to finish homework, and so forth, because they will resist being rushed.
  • Regularity – some children are predictable: they want to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom at roughly the same time each day. They seem to have their own internal schedule. Children who are not predictable may not want to eat at a scheduled time or may go to sleep early one day and want to stay up on another.
  • Approach – some children accept every stranger with enthusiasm and are eager to try new things. Children who are more cautious will hold back and may fuss when asked to do something new, start a new school, and so on. Don’t criticize a cautious child, instead be encouraging and give them time to observe, think about, and adapt to new people or situations.
  • Adaptability – some kids take new situations and people in stride. Others have a harder time. For the child who struggles with being adaptable, set routines, avoid unexpected changes, and give them extra time when switching modes. 
  • Intensity – How does your child react to different situations? Some react strongly and cry or yell when frustrated. Others work through them calmly and with a smile. Try not to overreact to the intensity of a strong reactor. You are not doing anything wrong, this child’s temperament is simply intense.

“Remember that what can seem like a negative temperament trait in childhood can be a positive one in adulthood,” she noted. “You might be annoyed to have to adjust the time for your son who is very methodical and slow when getting ready to go somewhere, but you’ll definitely appreciate his caution when it comes time for him to start driving!”

She said it is important to understand that temperament allows the parent to not take their child’s behavior personally. “What can seem like them intentionally pushing your buttons is often just the child’s traits driving their behavior. It’s not a personal affront.”

Never pit one child against the other, either. “Creating the idea that one child’s response is wrong and their sibling’s is right can create some very disturbing outcomes,” Ms. Craige said. “When it comes to temperament, telling a child to be more like his brother or sister is out of place. The other kid may be doing something more the way you, yourself, would do it, so you feel comfortable with how they are doing it. But this child likely isn’t doing it better than the other child, it’s just that you are more comfortable with their behavior.”

She finished by saying that a child should not be criticized for how they respond. “It is not an issue of being good or bad,” she said. “Remember that the individual response is not inherently wrong, it is most often simply a matter of innate temperament.”

We Are Here For You

If you find yourself in a situation where someone is using emotional blackmail to control your behavior, you can learn to counter their manipulation very calmly and put an end to this unhealthy pattern of communication. Remember that you have a right to set boundaries and, by offering options to help, will eliminate the dreaded word “no” that you don’t want to say. Likewise, parents who may be challenged by their child’s behavior may need some extra support.

Our caring professionals are available to help you on your journey to a healthier, happier life. Contact us for more information or call us today at (561) 496-1094.

About Nonie L. Craige, LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Work Therapist

Nonie L. Craige, LCSW is a licensed Clinical Social Work Therapist who uses a collaborative interactional approach to create a safe supportive environment during a time of expressed concern and stress. Using several different approaches including Cognitive Behavioral and Dialectic Behavior Therapy, Ms. Craige focuses on enhancing self-esteem and core issues of anxiety and conflicts. Therapy includes enhancing assertiveness and healthy communication skills. Ms. Craige promotes this life changing journey with each patient as she helps you gain new insights and learn new tools with which to reduce or eliminate unhealthy anxiety.

Ms. Craige works successfully with adults who have experienced various forms of childhood and adult abuse. Whether it is emotional, physical, neglect or sexual abuse, patients will gain better awareness and control as well as freedom from self-defeating thoughts.

Ms. Craige received her degree from Adelphi University in New York. She also obtained training at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry and Psychology and conducted training workshops at FORDHAM University.

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Jerome Siegmeister, MD, MaED – Consult The Expert On How Virtual Schooling Is Affecting Children

The Center’s newest clinician, Dr. Jerome Siegmeister, MD, MaED, is an expert on the psychiatric concerns of children and adolescents. A former high school teacher, he has a unique perspective on how children learn and the societal skills they can only develop through social interaction with peers. Since the pandemic, what he has seen has left him genuinely concerned.

During these last two years, parents and kids have had to adapt to shut downs and periods of online learning. While some students do just fine with virtual classes, many more are struggling – not just with learning through an online format, but with the loss of the in-person connection with classmates. “Covid has really devastated these kids,” he says. “Though some children can do well in this environment, virtual learning causes an issue for most.”

“The virtual learning modality is basically a lecture modality,” he continues – and therein lies part of the problem. “What do you and I do when listening to a lecture? If we are honest, most of us listen to it in the background while doing other things, so we miss a lot of the information.”

“Children are no different,” he says. “From a developmental standpoint, it is clearly better for kids to attend in-person schooling, but the unfortunate reality is that we need to be worried about public health, as well. In many cases, virtual learning is all we have right now, but this isn’t workable for many kids.”

Loss of knowledge isn’t the only side effect the pandemic has had on the nation’s children. “Virtual classes have their place because kids need to be learning, one way or another, but it comes at a price,” he explains. “It is very obvious that our children’s socialization has been affected and will be for a long time to come.”

“At this point, we have lost at least eighteen months of socialization,” he says. “Society pushes the idea that we need others to validate us, so kids rely on social acceptance for much of their self-worth. Covid took away much of that.”

Even older teens are being challenged by this new world. “The pandemic has been very hard for kids who are transitioning to college,” he notes. “Life is drastically different for them, especially if they are having to do their first year of college virtually. They are missing out on the social aspects that help them adjust to college life.”

He is optimistic, though. For most kids who are struggling, “it isn’t too hard to stabilize them and they can do really well,” he says. “Counseling and working one on one with kids will make things better in the majority of cases.”

When working with children, Dr. Siegmeister believes in treating the whole person. Depending on the child’s individual needs, this may mean combining two or more treatment methods, such as using cognitive behavior therapy along with medical treatments if there is an underlying psychiatric concern. He also likes to take a team approach to treatment and frequently involves parents, teachers, or college faculty, so the child can achieve the quickest resolution of their symptoms.

As unlikely as it may sound, Dr. Siegmester says there is actually a silver lining to the pandemic. “Mental health is often swept under the rug,” he says, “but depression is now pretty pervasive in both children and adults and people recognize this. In fact, many so called “sick days” happen because the person is depressed and really needs to take a mental health day. The positive outcome from covid is that people are now much more aware of anxiety and depression because they’ve experienced it themselves. This means it has become much more acceptable to seek help.”

About Jerome Siegmesiter, MD, MaED. (Child And Adolescent Psychiatry / General Psychiatry)

Jerome Siegmeister, MD, MaED, is a South Florida Native. He has worked with clients of all ages, and believes that the whole person needs to be treated. Consequently, he evaluates all aspects of the situation, from medical to situational, to determine the best initial course. He has a background in both individual and group therapies, employing supportive, behavioral, and insight oriented approaches, as appropriate to best fit his client’s needs, as well as comfort with medical treatment of any underlying conditions that might manifest psychiatrically. He has significant experience in all forms of psychiatric issues, including mood symptoms, thought disorders, anxiety, phobias, attention deficits, behavioral issues, insomnia, compulsive disorders, emotional lability, substance abuse, and trauma.

Dr. Siegmeister graduated with his Bachelor’s from Florida International University, after which he spent a number of years teaching, and obtained a Masters from the University of South Florida in Career and Technical Education/Adult Education. Upon deciding to pursue medicine, he initially completed a Post Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Certificate program at the University of Miami, and then obtained his MD from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, staying there afterwards for his specialty training in Psychiatry, followed by a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, where he served as Chief Fellow, and was awarded with a Research Distinction. After training, he has worked providing Emergency care, with additional work in inpatient settings, both in mental health and as a consultant to medical units at multiple hospitals. He is currently Board Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in both general Psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and by the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons in Psychiatry.

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Marsha Glines, PHD

Marsha Glines, Ph.D – Consult The Expert On Overcoming Learning Challenges

Marsha Glines, Ph.D is the only person on the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorder’s team who is not a therapist or behaviorist – she is an educator who brings a diagnostic standpoint to the Center. Her role is best defined as that of an academic coach. “I believe very strongly that learning should be empowering and meaningful,” she says. “Everyone learns differently and not everyone can learn through traditional classroom methods.”

The frontal lobe of our brain synthesizes and organizes information. “We have more than 100,000 neurons in our brains, so we each receive information differently than anyone else,” Dr. Glines says. “This means we also process the information we receive differently from each other.”

These information reception and processing systems are called metacognitive skills. Figuring out someone’s metacognitive skills tells how the person thinks, which then can help determine their learning strengths.

When an individual has challenges with learning through traditional classroom methods, “My role is how to find the appropriate path to learning for this person. Part of that is really getting to understand the student. This involves analyzing how they look at a problem and adjusting my strategies to help them learn and understand.”

To better recognize how each client learns, she begins by observing the individual and asking questions to help figure out their learning process. In addition, Dr. Glines takes an informal “inventory” of the skills and methods the person has successfully used in the past. Putting this information together gives her a good indication of where the student is in terms of learning.

The process then turns to modifying and experimenting with this information to see what works for the student. “If they are struggling in algebra, for example, we need to figure out how to change up the way they study algebra to make it useful for everyday skills.”

“The goal of my work is to find meaningfulness and purposefulness in how we learn. I help individuals find what their strongest cognitive pathways to their brain are, how to understand these pathways, and how to learn with them,” she explains. Does the client do better by hearing a lecture? Are they a visual learner? Do symbols or colors combine with what they are hearing to help them learn? Uncovering these unique methods makes a huge difference in the person’s understanding and retention of information.

Once Dr. Glines knows these strengths, she creates personalized education plans for what would be helpful for this person’s learning method. To do this, she uses repetition, challenge, novelty, and movement. “Our brains are wired to respond to new things, so changing up our learning method helps us learn and retain information,” she says. “I might teach them how to use symbols to remember something. Tools like mind maps and graphic organizers work well for a visual learner, for example.”

Similar to mnemonics, using tools, such as color coding the papers that students take notes on, can help with processing and retention.

At one point, Dr. Glines worked with students in a Psychology class to help them remember the differences between the pioneers in the mental health field. “These historical figures can all blur together,” she says, “so we discussed what color they thought of when they learned about Freud. Let’s say it was red. They assigned the color red to everything about Freud, even down to taking lecture notes on red paper.”

“Maybe Jung was the color brown”, she continues. “So his information was keyed to everything brown. At test time, when they saw a question about Freud, they recalled that he was red, not brown.” This allowed the students to “see” their lecture notes section in their notebook, which jogged their memory and often allowed them to correctly come up with the answer to the test questions.

Along the same lines, spatial models, symbols, and even acting out the information can function like a mnemonic. “Instead of just thinking in language and words, this is a different way of processing information and memory. It taps into different pathways of the brain’s retrieval system.”

Dr. Glines might also incorporate technology into the student’s learning process. “There are devices like smart pens that can record a lecture as the student takes notes, then lets the student replay that lecture,” she says.

This can be especially helpful for individuals who have learning disabilities. The person may not be able to visualize a spoken word in a text form, for example, which makes taking notes extremely challenging.  A smart pen can record oral notes, however. Later, the student can replay the lecture and even transform it from oral form to written text with the touch of a button. “A student can even tap a word in those notes, which then comes up to show them the meaning of words they find challenging,” she says.

Before any of these non-traditional learning plans can help an individual, though, they need to take ownership of what they value and what is important to them.

“What have you achieved and what do you hope to achieve? These are things you value and every decision we make is based on what we value,” she says. “These answers are empowering. Many people don’t take their school knowledge and think of how to apply it in real life, yet this is what gives ownership to the information we learn. If you can give the topic or subject meaning, you can learn and recall it much better.”

About Marsha Glines, Ph.D. (Academic Coach / Learning Specialist)

Dr. Marsha Glines has a national reputation in teaching and learning theory, special education, non-traditional program design and higher education curriculum development. Prior to joining the Lynn University community in 1991, Dr. Glines was the founding president of Beacon College and in October 2021 she was awarded an Honorary Degree Of Humane Letters from Beacon. While at Lynn University, Dr. Glines created and provided oversight of many academic alternative, innovative programs including: an undergraduate human service degree, the Advancement Program, the Lynn Educational Alternative Program and the “nationally recognized” Institute for Achievement and Learning.

Among her many achievements, Dr. Glines has published several pieces on post-secondary learning opportunities for students with learning disabilities and her work has been discussed in several books. In addition, she has conducted numerous training workshops both nationally and internationally and is a frequent presenter at various conferences on learning and higher education. She continues to teach remotely in Regis College’s undergrad and graduate education departments.

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masked man with image of coronavirus in the background

Managing Pandemic Anger And Frustration

Earlier this year, we got a taste of our prepandemic lives when vaccines became available and Covid-19 cases decreased. People began to gather for social events again, we went back to our favorite restaurants, and travel resumed. Then the Delta variant emerged, and with it a lot of anger – mainly directed at those who are refusing vaccination.

As Delta continues to spread and there is news of the Delta-Plus and Lambda variants, we are facing the reimplementation of mask requirements and the possibility of closures and more interruptions to our lives. It’s no wonder people are angry and frustrated!

The Delta Variant And Pandemic Frustration (Why Do I Have So Much Anger All Of A Sudden?)

As we have transitioned through the pandemic, we’ve all had to quickly adapt to the almost-weekly changes the virus has laid at our feet. Many of us were already struggling with mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) or anxiety, before we ever heard of Covid-19. In the last year and a half, mental health concerns have continued to rise as we’ve gone through shut downs, job loss, illness in ourselves or loved ones, and more deaths than we thought possible in such a short time.

As a result, we now feel exceedingly unsafe   – both in our daily lives and as we look forward into the coming months. Will we be able to be with loved ones during the holidays? Will we be able to work? To travel? To go into a store without worrying about catching a variant?

Unfortunately, the news media and social media have stoked our insecurities by sensationalizing information. Misinformation, confusion, and conspiracy theories have overtaken logic and science.

We’ve had so much waffling from experts about the correct procedures to keep us safe that it’s no wonder many people have given up trusting news reports. For example, at first the CDC said we didn’t need to wear masks, then everyone from two years and up was required to wear one. This spring, the CDC announced that we could drop mask wearing if we got vaccinated, now everyone is being told to wear a mask despite their vaccine status.

This back-and-forth has added to our frustration. One recent study by Serafini, et al reports that, “the poor or inadequate information from public health authorities may be a significant stressor because it provides inappropriate guidelines concerning call for actions…”

Is Pandemic Anger A Recognized Condition Now?

While not necessarily an “official” condition, pandemic anger is being recognized by mental health professionals the world over. There is even an unofficial term for it, patterned after a candy bar commercial: pandemic + angry = “pangry.”

Being pangry is understandable. Recently, we had restrictions lifted and “normal” life dangled in front of us by the CDC’s dropping of mask requirements and the promise of the new vaccines. Thus, we dared to hope we could put the pandemic behind us, but now emerging virus variants are changing that once again.

Officials are increasingly laying blame for rising cases at the feet of the unvaccinated. For the vaccinated who “did their part” by taking the jabs, resentment is building against those whom they feel aren’t doing their part to stop the spread of the virus.

Conversely, some of the unvaccinated don’t see the need to get the vaccine because they have acquired natural antibodies through their own Covid illness. Others may not trust what they are being told about the safety of the new type of vaccine and its mRNA delivery.

While this mistrust and confusion is understandable, many vaccinated folks are making decisions to stop seeing friends or loved one who aren’t complying with vaccination pleas, while the unvaccinated feel their rights are being trampled upon.

Dr. Hans Steiger, Professor Emeritus of Stanford’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, states that, “The COVID situation does present us with unprecedented challenges which interfere unrelentingly with all our lives. Social isolation may be the best tool to keep the virus under control, but this clashes directly with the need for social interventions helping us resolve anger and rage when being at the mercy of injustice and uncertainty. In such conflicts we need to remind ourselves that diatribes, lies and accusations will not move us forward; compassion empathy and the reminder that we are all in this horrible situation together will inspire us. Because in the end all of us can contribute to finding solutions to the problem.”

What Can I Do To Feel Better If I’m Feeling Anxious And Scared About COVID-19?

There are several things you can do to help reduce your anger and fear about the ongoing pandemic:

  • Don’t let social media make your decisions for you. Social media comes to us filtered through the agenda of the person who posted it, so limit your exposure.
  • Don’t let politics or partisanship influence your emotions too much. They will counteract logic instead of helping us see our needs clearly.
  • Be kind in your judgments of others and their reasons for choosing to get vaccinated or not. You do not know their story. Perhaps they have a medical complication that precludes vaccination. Perhaps they saw or lost ill loved ones, making them adamantly pro-vaccines.
  • Eat nutritious foods and get the best quality sleep you can.
  • Begin or strengthen a meditation or mindfulness practice. These calming techniques help you become more resilient, which allows you to face your stressors more positively.
  • Focus on finding balance in your life, through such activities and getting outside in nature, getting regular exercise, indulging in a favorite hobby or starting a new one.
  • Maintain some social interaction either virtually or through safely distanced, masked in-person contact. Being with others is vitally important; isolation breeds depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

We Can Help

If you are experiencing emotional and mental health challenges during the pandemic or afterwards, our licensed therapists are available to help with your needs. We offer in-person sessions as well as video sessions. All conversations remain confidential under strict non-disclosure policies so that we can maintain absolute privacy while offering effective solutions.

For more information, contact the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email The Center today.

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woman wearing face mask

What We Have Learned From 2021

No one can deny that 2021 has been a momentous year. It has had a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly for sure. It has at times been frightening, confusing, comforting and educational. We have witnessed a very unusual presidential election, a subsequent denial by some of the validity of the election and an unheard of polarization of our peers and lawmakers. Most critically, we have endured a gift that keeps on giving; the novel coronavirus that has killed countless people world-wide and more fellow Americans than we would have ever anticipated. We have had to learn the meaning of the word epidemiology as it relates to health and wellness. Unfortunately, we now know explicitly what a spike protein is and looks like. More than ever before we have been influenced (for good and bad) by the internet and social media. Although we have been witness to conspiracy theories in the past, but this year has certainly been a boon time for them.

So it is important for us to sit back and take stock of the emotional and psychological impact of these events. A major fallout has been the confusion over what is fact and what is fiction. We have seen the major news networks disagreeing on many important issues. Who to believe? Proponents of networks that broadcast their unique take on the news may be diametrically opposite of the proponents of the “other” networks. To avoid getting into trouble I will leave the network names blank, but I am sure you know what I am talking about. There was a time in the 1950s and 1960s when veteran newscasters like Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, Douglas Edwards educated us nightly on national and world events. Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” conveyed the power and influence of the media. Somewhere during the subsequent decades all this has changed. It became apparent to television and radio that communicating news is basically a form of entertainment. Like most popular entertainment venues it becomes essential to be able to sell the programs to the masses. Media outlets have always been for profit businesses (exceptions being Public Radio and Public Television) but it seems that profitability became linked to the entertainment value of their shows. Newscasters and news commentators became the entertainers that we see today. Walter Cronkite would not succeed as a newscaster in 2021.

Along comes the world wide web and internet bringing to us the 24/7 experience of social media. Humanity has not been the same since. Due to the openness of social media to anyone with internet access, a huge amount of content has appeared on the screens and podcasts of this world. An interesting paradox has developed. Most social media participants should realize that what they see and hear reflects subjective information. However, at the same time, we are witnessing the tremendous influence of social media on the minds of attendees. It is as if misinformation has become the norm. Conspiracy theories have had a heyday. Part of the problem is that human beings have a strong tendency to be voyeurs. They like to be entertained. We are drawn to the unusual, fantastic and bizarre. Hence the success of reality TV no matter how strange or sensationalistic it can be. Consider the popularity of horror movies going back to the days of black and white silent films. It does appear that what we have been witnessing is the natural evolution of multimedia fueled by both the profit motive and the change in its audience. 

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woman wearing mask

Are You Struggling With Covid Stress Syndrome Or Covid PTSD?

Those with mental health concerns often feel like they can’t control the world around them. Sometimes they may feel like they, themselves, are spiraling out of control. Now that we’ve gone through the last year and the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic, I think most of us can relate to those feelings in some way.

For many people, going through this pandemic means that trauma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has now become a part of their life. This can be for a variety of reasons.

Maybe you’re a front line worker who is burned out and mentally exhausted. You may have had the personal experience of having had Covid-19. Or, perhaps you’ve had to face the illness and/or passing of someone close to you, due to the disease. Even going through lock downs, losing jobs, and being separated from friends and family for long periods can wreak havoc on our mental health.

No matter the reason, anyone who witnesses or goes through the events surrounding a traumatic, life-threatening illness like Covid-19 may find they have anxiety, depression, or post traumatic stress afterwards.

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virtual therapy

Will Teletherapy Continue After Covid?

Before the Covid 19 pandemic, the potential of telehealth and virtual therapy was just starting to be recognized as an option for the treatment of mental health disorders. Then, the world shut down and remote care exploded into universal acceptance.

In the months since, people (and insurance companies) have learned to navigate the ins and outs of virtual therapy. Once we are free to resume our normal lives, however, will this option go away?

What Is A Telepysch Appointment For Mental Health Care During The Covid-19 Pandemic?

In a nutshell, a telepsych appointment for mental health care is pretty similar to an in-person session – with a few convenient differences.

With telemedicine, the client talks to their licensed mental health professional from the comfort of their own couch, instead of going in to the office.

Clients can choose to see their therapist via an online platform like Skype or Zoom or they can take part in an online chat session via their phone or computer. They don’t have to worry about traffic or commuting to the office in bad weather – and don’t even have to change out of their pajamas!

Because there was often no other option during the pandemic shut downs, individuals who had been in therapy before covid-19 quickly adapted to virtual and online teletherapy. This allowed them to safely continue treatment at a time when stress levels were through the roof.

How Effective Is Teletherapy?

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Our Search for Meaningfulness

The human brain is a curious organ. It is programmed from birth to actively search the world around us. As we get older and mature this search gets fine tuned and focused. We pursue education, friendships, hobbies, sports. Our quest for life experience allows us to learn about the world around us and just as importantly develop a better sense of our own identity. We progress from a period of knowledge acquisition (“knowing”) that can last decades into a prolonged journey that requires that we utilize what we have learned and productively participate in life. This “doing” often includes pursuing gainful employment and careers, raising a family, involvement in spiritual endeavors, development of hobbies, political involvement and altruistic pursuits.

Is there a common thread throughout the stage of knowing and the stage of doing? Both stages involve the presence of meaningfulness. Knowledge, employment, raising a family, friendships all invest humans with a sense of value and worthiness. Curiosity without meaningfulness leads to emptiness. Curiosity requires the attainment of goals and real-time accomplishments. Otherwise curiosity ceases and is replaced with apathy and malaise.

All of us need day-to-day meaningfulness to replenish and sustain our souls. A healthy sense of self thrives on it. The covid 19 virus has created an overwhelming challenge to life’s meaningfulness. Our pandemic world has led to anxiety, an overarching sense of helplessness, and problematic hypervigilance as we worry about getting infected. Covid 19 imposed social isolation has led to depression, hopelessness, helplessness and family stress.

How to cope with a world that none of us have control over? It is natural to experience anxiety in this scenario. Besides day-to-day meaningfulness, human beings have a need to be in control. The pandemic has brutally interfered with our belief that we have control. Social media, news outlets and politicians have contributed to our sense of helplessness by providing confusing messages and advice as we have tried to navigate this new world.

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Pandemic Fatigue: How To Stay Mentally Healthy In The Covid Era

As 2020 draws to a close, many of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue. We’re all tired of wearing masks and social distancing. Most of us just want to go back to traveling, enjoying time with family and friends, and the normal world we used to know. This is the time when it is so important for our mental health that we keep a positive outlook and not allow boredom and pessimism to creep in.

Often, when we get closer to the end of a trying period in our lives, there is the temptation to give up. After all, going through long stretches of a challenge can make it seem as if we are not making progress. In the case of the pandemic, isolation from our friends and family coupled with fear of getting sick and concern for loved ones just adds to our anxiety and stress.

Signs Of Pandemic Fatigue

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Is It Okay To Take A Break From The News?

The further we go through 2020, the crazier the year seems to get! The coronavirus pandemic is ramping up (again) and there are worries about more potential layoffs and job losses amid the new surge. Top these concerns off with the back-and-forth sniping over the presidential election’s disputed results and many people have begun asking is it okay to take a break from the news?

You bet it is! In fact, we highly recommend it, particularly to those who have already been experiencing heightened stress and anxiety due to the pandemic.

Does Watching The News Cause Anxiety?

In a word, yes. While you may feel that tuning in to the latest headlines keeps you informed, in reality, doing so causes information overload. There’s even a term for it – headline stress disorder. Although not an actual medical term, the phrase was coined by psychologist Dr Steven Stosny to define the high emotional responses one has after viewing endless media reports.

You see, by checking in and reading (or watching) the gloom and doom headlines, we begin to feel as if the world is on a roller coaster we can’t escape from. One minute we hear there may be a vaccine forthcoming, the next we hear that it may not be as effective as we’d hoped. Or we hear that the election has been called by the media, then we hear that the results are suspect and a recount is happening.

This rise of hope, followed by having it taken away only increases our anxiety and the feeling that the world is out of control.

On top of that, for those who have obsessive compulsive disorder, this constant checking of headlines and news stories can become a new ritual. They feel better while scrutinizing the news, which can reduce their anxiety if nothing has changed over the course of the day. But, it also triggers a cycle of compulsive checking just to be sure there isn’t some new disaster lurking.

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