Reasons Families Might Find Therapy Useful

Family relationships are not perfect. There will be moments where members of the unit find it hard to communicate with each other. They may argue over small things that can turn into a big conflict. Sometimes, even if everyone is open to discussing possible solutions to family relationship issues, there will be times that not everybody cooperates. And that can be a big problem, especially when members of the unit deal with mental and emotional stress. Improving the relationship might be close to impossible. Thus, it is vital to know and understand the importance of therapy in addressing family issues.

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Difficulty Communicating Or Expressing Emotions

Therapy might not be the best solution to all family problems, but it surely guarantees every member of the unit a fresh perspective of everything. Family therapy helps with the difficulty of communication and supports the truthful expression of feelings and thoughts. It allows them to recognize difficulties in talking about their own emotions and respond to others. But of course, factors affecting miscommunication can be a lot complicated. Therefore, family members should not rely only on the therapy but also try to develop the best alternative to secure a strong bond between family relationships.

Conflicts Between Siblings

Conflicts between siblings are normal, and sometimes, family members do not entirely need therapy for some insignificant matters. However, in some unfortunate circumstances, when the siblings are dealing with many negative thoughts towards each other, that can be problematic. Because sometimes, even if they try to pretend that things are okay, there will be some negative vibes that might push them to do things that might mentally and emotionally hurt others. Thus, therapy is needed when siblings can’t seem to find the core of their relationship. It can make the kids listen to each other, respect a non-negotiable rule, cast sibling harmony, and positively handle arguments.

Inconsistent Parenting

This inconsistent parenting matter is broad and requires lots of understanding, considerations, patience, and adjustments. It is common for families to deal with inconsistent parenting, especially when handling their kids through different approaches is too overwhelming. Inconsistent parenting may lead to over or under-involvement, which is not helpful in the kids’ development. It hinders parents from coming up with suitable parenting styles. When this matter arises, it is best to immediately seek therapy so that the licensed professional can assist parents in choosing the parenting strategies that work best with both parents and the children to avoid developing aggression and hostility.

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Marital Problems

Therapy is not only capable of addressing issues related to mental health and others alike. It can also assist in marital problems concerning various reasons such as lack of sexual intimacy, miscommunication, financial matters, stress, anxiety, and social pressure. It helps by providing an opportunity to the couples to increase shared support to one another. Therapy helps discover the root causes of points of conflict, improves communication between partners, and restores their physical and emotional intimacy. It encourages better individual acceptance, restores lost trust, decreases avoidance, and provides a secure environment for overall healing. Therapy ensures couples accept the past, humor in current situations, and motivation for the future.

Developing A Healthy And Functional Relationship Following A Divorce

Divorce is one of the worse dilemmas for most families as it holds a lot of emotional baggage. It holds every member of the unit victim of the situation. And usually, the divorced couples contribute to the rest of the families’ mental and emotional damage. Fortunately, therapy is beneficial as it helps develop a functional and healthy relationship for everyone following a divorce. Therapy secures connection ties with responsibilities to create a hassle and drama-free environment for everyone in the family. Though therapy might not cater to the specific needs of the divorced parents, it will still help the couples deal with their issues concerning their better relationship with the kids.

Adapting To A Major Change

Not all families understand change, and not everyone accepts that. There are unit members who often expect things to stay because they are more comfortable doing things the usual ways. So when an instance comes that everyone needs to adjust, not all of them are capable of doing so. In that sense, some unit members begin to experience negative emotions, from severe sadness, loneliness, anger, and frustrations. Fortunately, therapy helps them deal with that. It allows family members to understand the cause of emotional restrain for change. From there, therapy assists in focus on values instead of fears.

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Improving Family Dynamics And Relationships

Therapy is one of the best solutions for improving family relationships and dynamics. Yes, it might not be that perfect, but it provides strength and coping tools for each unit member. It addresses dysfunctional interactions that might cause disrespectful behaviors. Therapy assists in the family’s problem-solving abilities, address dysfunctional interactions, improves healthy boundaries, and defines each role within the family.

 

How To Know If Your Loved Ones Need Therapy

Depression can be an unbearable thing to handle. Thus, when your loved ones suffer from it, it can be a tough journey to handle not only for them but also for you. You might experience different problems associated with their depressive symptoms, which can cause additional damage to the relationship. With all the complications that mental health issue brings in the relationship, you would want to secure therapeutic assistance to help everyone out. But before trying to encourage your loved ones to go to therapy, you need first to understand when is the right time to convince them to seek professional help. You need to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms your loved ones are facing so you can logically talk to them about all the topics and benefits of therapy.

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Isolation And Complete Withdrawal From Social Activities

One thing that can tell you that your loved ones need therapy or professional help is when they succumb to isolation. It may be situational, though. But usually, a sudden withdrawal from social activities means that their depressive symptoms are becoming too impossible to handle. With that, be mindful not to scare or force your loved ones to socialize just because you noticed the sudden detachment. Not only will this make them feel more anxious, but it might force them to shut down from everyone entirely. It would be best to allow your loved ones to feel and understand their emotions before jumping into ways to remove them from the misery. Let them know about your presence and ensure them that help is just a call away.

Changes In Mood (Irritability, Sadness, Anger, And Anxiety)

When your loved ones are depressed, it is easy to identify the condition based on their mood. Though at some point, mood swings can be a cause of something else such as pregnancy, hormonal imbalance, lack of sleep, stress, etc. However, you will know that it is a symptom of depression when your loved ones suffer from long-term sadness, irritability, anxiety, and extreme anger for no apparent reason. When these negative emotions are noticeable, it would be best to approach them to seek therapy calmly. But it would be best if you were careful in choosing your words. Make sure that your loved ones won’t think about your approach as an insulting or offensive move.

Significant Behavioral Changes

Most of the time, depression may be hard to identify. But for some instances, some signs can easily tell if your loved ones are struggling from a mental health condition, which is through their significant behavioral changes. You must pay close attention to some of their sudden change in their habits. If your notice your loved ones became uninterested in the things they used to love, consider that as something that builds up their depression. Also, when your loved ones suddenly felt uncomfortable around things or people and became too sensitive, it would be nice to encourage them to go for therapy.

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Disturbed Sleeping Patterns (Insomniac)

Signs and symptoms of depression can also show physical manifestations. And the one thing that might get taken for granted is the disturbed sleeping pattern. Unfortunately, there are lots of reasons for disturbed sleeping patterns. There is stress, deadlines, fatigue, social media addiction, and other emotional issues. But you will know when it is time for therapy encouragement when the health of your loved ones deteriorates due to lack of sleep. Insomnia can be a common medical disorder that is not related to psychological health. But for the most part, it associates with a chemical imbalance in the brain caused by mild or severe mental conditions.

Declining Performance In Everyday Activities

Another obvious sign of depression is the decline in performance. Though there are instances that perhaps the physical attribute is exposed to too much work, it may require a good amount of rest. But for the most part, where depression is present, the body also suffers. So when you noticed your loved one becoming more unaware of their surroundings and becoming unable to pump up their abilities, you might want to approach them to seek professional advice immediately. Yes, a decline in performance can cause more complicated problems as your loved ones might be suffering from cognitive issues as well.

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Keeps On Talking About Harming Themselves

Depression is a complicated mental health problem because there are times that you might not be able to identify it. But if your loved ones keep talking about harming themselves or suddenly became interested in suicide-related things, you need to find ways to encourage them to seek therapy positively. Having thoughts of suicide or self-harm is a strong manifestation of psychological health problems, and it is a specific indication that you should not ignore. The constant thought of the act can push your loved ones to commit to it, especially when they feel that no one is around to listen and be there for them.

 

Dysfunctional Family – The Need For Counseling

Family relationship is entirely different from what the television usually portrays. It is not perfect, always loving and considerate. Family relationships in real life are more likely toxic and dysfunctional. But to be fair, there are those family relationships that can still manage to create a healthy environment for each other even if they do not connect with the unit.

Although most families are not overly destructive, their problems are not simple and can be resolved within a thirty-minute discussion. Sometimes, it requires an exhausting process to overcome difficulties in the relationship. Some factors need consideration all the time. These include each family member’s preference, individual feelings, the difference of opinion, and emotional issues. These things are often the reason why families become dysfunctional.

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What Is A Dysfunctional Family?

A dysfunctional family is characterized by members of the unit happily accepting negative treatment. Members find it normal to criticize, judge, and hurt each others’ feelings. There is always conflict, misbehavior, and abuse inside the unit. Usually, there is no open space for expression. Thus, feelings and opinions do not matter even if they are indeed the source of the issue.

Signs Of A Dysfunctional Family

There are recognizable signs that can determine whether a family is dysfunctional or not. However, it is better to acknowledge that people share and deal with their respective family issues differently despite the given warning. These signs are just part of something that can indicate bigger problems.

Abuse  All kinds of abuse are present inside a family unit. Usually, one or two reasons can point toward active harm like physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual. Abuse is an entirely problematic cause of family dysfunction as it can get caught in a phase that eventually accepts and normalizes family members’ negative behavior. One inflicting sad result of abuse is kids exhibiting the same behavior, causing a loop once they reached adulthood.

Addiction – One cause of unhealthy family relationships is addiction. It is usually the start of all misunderstandings that can occur in a particular event. Addiction varies, but usually, these are more likely specific to alcoholism, gambling, and drug abuse in a family unit. The effects of addiction are always unbearable due to the damage to all the family members’ emotional and mental health.

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Poor Communication – A dysfunctional family often has issues with proper communication. People constantly yell and shout at each other only to prove their point. They have this mentality that when they do not turn in rage or shout, no one hears or listens to them. Also, in some instances, they normalize active silent treatment to avoid talking with their family members.

Perfectionism – Dysfunctional family often relies on perfectionism. Family members use it as a standard of what they should achieve and become based on expectations from the rest of the family. Thus, when expectations did not meet reality, people inside the unit snap. It results in emotional and mental health issues that can develop into certain psychological conditions. Perfectionism creates an entire bigger problem for family members as it puts a lot of pressure on everyone involved.

Fear Of Trust – When a family is dysfunctional, they often have trust issues. Usually, all members find it hard to establish a trusting relationship with everyone in the house due to the anticipation of possible disappointment and conflict. It results in everyone putting a barrier to keep other members of the family to reach them emotionally. As a result, everybody avoids getting close to each other.

Lack Of Boundaries – It can be easy to identify the main reason why family members tend to hate each other. One of them is the lack of boundaries that usually pinpoints to controlling parents. When parents are intimidating, children find it extremely toxic to handle and disrespect their autonomy. The continued life of the children with a lack of boundaries often results in unhealthy, codependent relationships later in their adult life.

Lack Of Intimacy – Each family unit can have its distinctive ways of showing its members their love and care for each other. Sometimes, their signs of closeness can be different from the rest. However, in a dysfunctional family relationship, the connection is superficial. It results in fantasizing about a different physical and emotional availability.

Conditional Love – It is quite hard to deal with family issues, especially when members simply show affection when they want something. Conditional love is a sign of a dysfunctional family relationship that destroys everyone’s mental and emotional stability. It develops manipulative actions towards each member of the unit. It makes people feel obliged to please everyone in the family.

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Takeaway

Again, these factors are only some of the reasons why families tend to have dysfunctional relationships. If some of these indications are present, it would be best to consult a professional to assist with family counseling.

 

How Effective Is Counseling In Family Issues?

There is no perfect family relationship. All people deal with everyday stress, troubles, and conflicts inside their home. And once these problematic issues get bigger, it becomes irresolvable. Fortunately, there are still ways to handle it, and one of them is family counseling. But note that counseling will only work best if all family members exert effort in finding solutions and share the same mindset of moving forward. It is essential that everybody in the unit understands the essence of counseling.

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What Is Family Counseling?

Family counseling is a distinctive form of therapy that focuses on helping each member address their needs, particularly on the mental, emotional, and behavioral factors. A counselor or therapist administers the counseling that utilizes all available options, such as traditional, local, and online assistance. Counseling is ideal in helping families understand each other’s role systematically in the unit to allow peace and maintain a healthy relationship.

Benefits Of Family Counseling

Develops Healthy Boundaries

People deal with their stressors in a way they want, and sometimes not a single family member can understand that. That explains why most parents insist on what they want on their children, and children are becoming rebellious about it. There is a conflict between what one wants and what the other’s wants for them. But family counseling can address those issues. It can allow everyone to have a healthy boundary, especially on things they feel comfortable doing. Counseling can assist parents in proper parenting and help children manage their decisions in life. Because even though people inside their homes are blood-related, they are still different individuals. They have different opinions that each member should realize, consider, and respect.

Improves Communication 

Usually, the common problem in the family is communication. Often, all people inside the unit want to be heard, but they do not intend to listen to others. That causes everyone to misunderstand each other’s ideas and suggestions. Fortunately, counseling can help everyone in the family improve their communication skills. It helps with their relationships by providing them strategies to be less anxious, angry, stressed, and depressed overall. Family counseling can encourage members of the unit to open up to each other about their feelings and thoughts, regardless of stress and negativity.

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Defines Each Members’ Roles In The Family

An ongoing issue that most families can’t seem to handle is their roles in the unit. Usually, parents and children struggle to find their right place. That is because sometimes parents can go overboard and disregard their children’s feelings. Children, on the other hand, often fail to realize the message of their parents’ actions. With counseling, both parents and children can become more aware of their roles to each other. Counseling can make them acknowledge the need for one another’s support, understanding, and unconditional love through difficult times. It can reduce arguments and unnecessary conflict that only causes emotional and mental strain.

Addresses Dysfunctional Interactions

Each family handles its members differently. With that, people can expect dysfunctional interactions. These can include family relationships with little to no intimacy, power struggles, poor and ineffective communication, excessive and vulgar criticism, all types of abuses, and member’s endless comparison. Counseling can help address those issues. It can pinpoint the origin of the dysfunction. From there, counseling can administer strategies that help ends the destructive patterns and help everyone gain a transitional character. Counseling can provide the family a guideline to proper self-awareness and self-empowerment. It can improve their relationships and ensure each member a better emotional, mental, and behavioral development.

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Improves Coping Abilities

Family members are different in all aspects of coping mechanisms. Sometimes, the one that seems to be a strong and independent family member can be the one that needs emotional support the most. Thus, there is always a thin line between knowing and understanding what is happening inside the unit. Counseling can help by providing strength and coping tools for family members. That is especially when one or more of them are dealing with trauma, stress, anxiousness, depression, and other types of mental illnesses affecting the relationship. Counseling can be a great option to build members’ self-esteem, strengthen interpersonal relationships, and improve social and community function.

Supports And Addresses Emotional Issues

Sometimes, family members deal with things that they often do not want to share or discuss within the unit. Sometimes, it is not because they are selfish or do not want some help, but because they intend to protect their loved ones from emotional torture. It creates a gap between members as both sides become distant from each other. Counseling can restore the dynamics of the relationship by teaching members the importance of emotional resilience. Whether it is from a stressful divorce, dealing with chronic disease, or the death of a family member, counseling can provide proper care and health advice.

Coping Techniques For Anxiety: Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

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Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that interferes with one’s daily life. It makes it hard for you to deal with school or work responsibilities, focus, perform everyday tasks and build and keep up with your personal relationships. It might even be hard for you to get out of your house – or even your bed. This is one of the most common mental illnesses seen among people with ALS.

The anxiety that is left untreated can heighten your risk of severe, grave conditions. Some of these conditions are listed below:

  • This often accompanies anxiety disorder. Both of these conditions have the same symptoms and can be difficult to distinguish from each other. These two also cause insomnia, distress, the inability to focus, and having anxious feelings.
  • Physical Illness. Anxiety disorder heightens the risk of evolving specific conditions. Chronic stress, which may be connected with anxiety, can affect your immune system. This results in you being more susceptible to infections and viruses, including flu and colds and bacterial diseases.
  • Substance Abuse. Addiction to several substances is another thing you are vulnerable to developing if you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Examples of these substances are nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs. In addition, the risk also increases if you have both depression and anxiety disorders.

Typically, individuals with anxiety consume alcohol and other dangerous substances to alleviate their symptoms. There is no proof that alcohol may actually reduce anxiety, but the thought that it does could definitely provide them with some relief. Others claim brief alleviation from anxiety while they are intoxicated or using various drugs. But long-term use of alcohol can result in biological changes that inevitably lead to anxiety.

People with panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or social anxiety are particularly inclined to develop drug or alcohol abuse. Substance abuse and smoking are common in patients with PTSD. PTSD in adolescents also has a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with an eating disorder.

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that over 90% of individuals who die by suicide have a mental health disorder, including anxiety. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also states that almost 5% of adults in America have graves ideations about suicide every year. These numbers apparently are higher in those who are also suffering from depression.

On the other hand, if you have a social phobia or OCD, you have a higher likelihood of committing suicide. This threat is even greater if you an existing anxiety disorder accompanied by depression. It is recommended that you seek help instantly if you are thinking about committing suicide. If you live far from a hospital, you must contact the National Suicide Prevention, which has a trained staff available for you 24/7.

 

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What are some coping strategies for anxiety?

Some of the most effective coping strategies that can help with anxiety include:

  • Spend time for yourself
  • Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
  • Stay physically active
  • Don’t consume too much alcohol and caffeine, as these increase anxiety and induce panic attacks.
  • Get sufficient sleep daily.
  • Practice deep breathing and meditation techniques

What are the 5 types of coping strategies?  

According to Weiten, there are four major types of coping mechanisms. These are adaptive cognitive or appraisal-focused, adaptive behavioral or problem-focused, occupation-focused, and emotion-focused coping. Moos and Billings included one more coping mechanism, avoidance coping, which is one part of emotion-focused coping. 

What helps severe anxiety?

There are long-term strategies that can help manage severe anxiety. These include:

  • Identifying and learning to cope with your triggers
  • Embracing cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Consuming healthy supplements and changing your diet
  • Practicing daily mindfulness and meditation techniques
  • Staying active and keeping the mind and body healthy
  • Seeking help from a mental health professional.
  • Taking medications recommended by your doctor

How can I kill anxiety naturally?

If you want to get rid of your anxiety naturally right now, try these simple tips:

  • Close your eyes and take deep breaths.
  • Acknowledge your anxiety with the thought that your mind is trying to trick you.
  • Do not give in to your negative thoughts; instead, question them.
  • Do calm and relaxing visualizations without judgment.
  • Learn positive self-talk.
  • Concentrate on what happens and what you can do right now.

What are emotional coping skills?

Emotion-focused or emotional coping skills help an individual practice and navigate through his hurtful and unwanted feelings and reactions. This means that the approach will help him deal with his emotions instead of dealing with the outside circumstances.

What are unhealthy coping skills?

There are many unhealthy coping mechanisms that people can practice, but below are among the most common:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
  • Avoiding or turning away from the problem at hand
  • Running away from the problem.
  • Over-sleeping
  • Unrestrained behavior
  • Over-spending

What are 3 positive coping strategies to deal with stress?

A coping strategy is a typical way of dealing with a stressful circumstance and overcoming it effectively. The three primary positive coping strategies include emotion-oriented, avoidance-oriented, and task-oriented. The task-oriented style of coping involves efforts geared towards resolving the problem.

What are 4 strategies for managing stress?  

Mastering these four stress management strategies will help you cope with stress more effectively: avoid, alter, accept, and lastly, adapt. When you sense that the impact of stress is taking a toll on you and your life, you feel like you’re carrying heavy baggage that’s getting so much harder to carry by the minute. Indeed, too much stress makes your life more difficult to deal with.

What do you do when coping skills don’t work?  

If you think your coping skills are no longer working for you, try to evaluate them and yourself. Please keep track of your triggers and how you reacted to them emotionally. Accept that this will be difficult for you, but do not isolate yourself. Instead, reach out to your loved ones and stay connected with them. It’s okay if you don’t know everything that’s happening around you – try to be comfortable with that truth. Finally, try practicing your coping techniques when you are relaxed and calm. 

How do you develop coping skills?

You can begin developing good coping strategies by asking for help from a friend or a medical or mental health professional if you don’t know how to start. Work together to create a list of positive things that you can do daily. Get involved with problem-solving activities and create healthy restrictions with the people around you. For instance, you tell a friend that you won’t spend time with him if he ridicules or makes a joke out of you. Lastly, learn to walk away from a stressful situation.

What are 3 signs of stress?

The major indications of stress are seen in three areas of an individual – his body, his behavior, and his mood. The body responds to stress by manifesting headaches, fatigue, chest pain, and muscle pain, among others. Behaviors that are indications that a person is stressed include rage, outbursts, under or overeating, drug or alcohol abuse, and smoking. On the other hand, a person’s mood changes with stress through anxiety, lack of focus or determination, or restlessness, among others. 

How do you teach coping skills?

Some ways that you can teach your child coping strategies include:

  • Help the person identify his triggers and work together to find the most difficult situations for him to deal with.
  • Encourage him to express how he feels. Kids are often scared of strong emotions.
  • Understand him and be there for him.
  • Support him in the things that he loves to do.
  • Find professional help when necessary.

 

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Outlook 

There is nothing that can completely treat or get rid of an anxiety disorder. It is chronic, and it presents in several forms. The outlook will depend on the level of the condition. Most individuals with phobias, OCD, or panic disorder, tremendously improve in a few weeks or months of appropriate treatment. Many people with GAD and PTSD also experience a considerable degree of improvement. Some indications of anxiety may go away with age.

Finally, stress management will possibly be a continuing problem, and symptoms may worsen even when you experience acute stress. However, with psychotherapy and medication, most individuals with anxiety disorders can manage their symptoms and live a moderately normal and convenient life.

 

 

Mental Health Ramblings – Taking Care Of A Loved One With ALS Results To Emotional Exhaustion

This year has been a lot for my family and me. Between the pandemic, riots, political issues, hurricanes, wildfire, and earthquakes, perhaps there is nothing that surprises me anymore. I believe I am more than capable of handling unexpected things because 2020 already pushed my physical and mental health to the limits. I must say, I am happy I made it this far despite all the negative things that surround me and all the uncertainties I had to deal with. As always, I keep my promise to myself to always focus on the good things in life. I always try and support myself because I know it is me who can only care for my mental health the way I should.

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Unfortunately, these past few days, my emotional well-being is a bit uncooperative. I feel so emotionally exhausted and often overwhelmed with a lot of things. I easily get irritated and upset, even if for no significant reason. My head feels so heavy, and it is as if something is trying to rip off my brain from the insides of my skull. And for a while, I wondered if I was depressed because I can’t seem to find the correct explanation to convince myself that I am okay. All of these instant changes happened right after I took the responsibility of taking care of my brother after my parents passed away.

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It Is Not An Ordinary Task

I know I should not complain about things, and I know I should not say this, but taking care of my brother is the most exhausting task I have ever considered. It even became a worse feeling compared to my parents’ death. Do not get me wrong. I am saying this not because my brother and I are not good terms because we are, honestly. I say the whole experience of being with him ends up exhausting is due to his mental condition. My brother has ALS, and unfortunately, there are quite many things he can no longer do anymore. That said, it leaves me no choice but to take care of everything for him. Honestly, it is not that big of a deal. I am more than willing to be his companion. But with all the responsibilities I have to take in, things eventually pan out. I began to have racing thoughts about how I should live my life freely now that I have to stick with him all the time. Sometimes, I thought of leaving him all by himself and just forget about he even existed. But that’s not me. I may not be the nicest person out there, but I am not a vile individual who can do that to my brother.

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Emotionally Drained

A few days back then, I was so sure that I am experiencing depression because of some particular symptoms I have read online. But then, when I checked myself once more, I found out that I am not mentally ill but rather emotionally exhausted. The difference between the two things is quite uncanny. Perhaps that makes me conclude to having a psychological problem when, in fact, I don’t. Nevertheless, that is what I am feeling right now – emotional exhaustion.

I am emotionally exhausted, not because of the task that keeps on piling up. It is also not about the instant responsibility I have to deal with now that I am the sole caregiver of my mentally ill brother. Instead, it is about the lack of emotional support, especially when I needed it most. It has been hard for me to deal with these emotional dilemmas because, all the time, I had to lie about how I feel. I need to convince myself that I can manage and that I can always do better. I have to control my emotions and not let it get into me. That way, I won’t break down. At least, as I thought, I can find my way back to why I even bother living in this miserable life.

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Final Thought

Stuff around my life lately is uncomfortable. But the thing that agitates me is the way I respond to stressors. It is completely out of my character to give up and become unmotivated because I always knew what to do to save myself from emotional and mental struggles. But this time, I want to express how devastating this battle is for me. I know this is not who I am. Unfortunately, I can’t help myself from feeling down. Truly, it is a shitty time, and I don’t want to stop crying. I am a strong person, and I know that. But if in case things are still not clear here, please do understand the advice I would like to share. Not because a person seems so strong doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t need help.

What You Need To Understand When Someone In Your Family Has ALS

It is entirely difficult to assist family members with ALS. Not only the symptoms can sometimes be subtle, but the whole struggle is unbearable to handle. It becomes devastating to know that your loved ones are having difficulty grasping objects. There is a constant concern that they may severely damage their physical health due to continuous unexplained trips or falls. It pains you to see them struggle in controlling their arms and legs because you know it gets weaker and weaker.  And as the condition progresses, it hurts you the most to see them struggle with the difficulty of speaking, eating, moving, and even breathing. Understandably, there are things you want to do to help them. But be mindful that even though you may have a good intention, sometimes what you are trying to do can become too overwhelming for them.

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Do Not Think Of ALS As An Immediate Death

The thing that a lot of individuals fail to realize is the way how they look at ALS. A lot assume that since there is no cure to the condition, people who have it automatically dies. With that mindset, some are not putting an effort anymore in providing their loved ones with ALS the kind of life they deserve. That instead of cherishing memories with their families and friends, other people prefer to isolate or move them away from the world. Again, the intention might be good, and perhaps these people only want their loved ones with ALS to be safe all the time. However, taking away their chance to live life like normal individuals is much more devastating. Instead of picturing your loved ones leaving the world sooner or later, why not do your best to spend unforgettable memories with them?

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It Is Not Their Fault They Have ALS

Ideally, you understand that your loved ones will need twice as much as your attention as the disease progresses. The amount of assistance you will have to provide them can become too much to handle. It can cause you a lot of pressure, stress, and anxiety. With that, you can expect that everyone in the family will start to avoid obligations, and each member will soon skip on their responsibilities. Sooner or later, the whole commotion will create conflict. And in no time, everybody will point fingers and blame ALS as the root of all the family’s challenges and burdens. Sadly, that particular scenario is common to happen. To avoid that, you need to understand that your loved ones with ALS didn’t deserve the blame. It’s not their fault they are experiencing the condition. Thus, be mindful enough to handle stress maturely and avoid making your loved ones feel useless just because you thought of them as incapable individuals.

Their Brain Functions Differently

Maybe you thought that your loved ones’ mental state is no longer functioning and that they are now considered intellectually incapable because of ALS. But ALS rarely affects the intellectual aspect of a person. Therefore, your loved ones’ cognitive functions remained intact despite their inability to speak. Also, witnessing family members with ALS laugh and cry for no reason do not entirely mean they are crazy. The whole instantaneous change of disposition is known as the pseudobulbar effect. It is a sudden interruption of signals in the brain’s upper neurons connected to their mood. So next time you see your loved ones with ALS laugh or cry, it does not instantly mean they are happy or sad.

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They Are Still The Same Person

ALS is something that can change others and your perspective in life. It is a condition that can make you realize that there are so many uncertainties that you might encounter unexpectedly. And as it changed people’s body and slowly damaged its functions, one thing remains – their personality. Therefore, never assume that ALS is taking away the character of your loved ones. Their condition can never do that. They are still the same individuals who enjoy doing the same thing. They can even spend time doing recreational activities with family and friends. They are still people who laugh at something funny and cry at something painful. They are still individuals who know how to love and feel loved. They are still the exact persons you knew even before they suffer from the disease.

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Takeaway

Unfortunately, there is no cure for ALS. However, there are interventions to help family members with ALS to live longer. You can utilize supporting devices that can assist their mobility issues. You can encourage them to stay positive with life through healthy habits such as reading, writing, and listening to music. You can also take advantage of the care that others can offer. There’s the caregiver, physical therapists, psychologist, dietitian, and so on. As you can see, there are so many things you can do to help.

Activity Suggestions For ALS Patients During Quarantine

For people living with ALS, the quarantine measures are no different. While for most, staying at home is new to them, it was the “normal” that ALS patients knew. ALS is a progressive disease that targets the nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movements. Patients do stay home most of the time because it’s difficult for them to go out or move.

Since ALS is a terminal illness that only gets worse over time, then the coronavirus’s presence makes dealing with the disease twice as hard. It is hard enough that you cannot control your voluntary muscles, now you need extra precaution not to contract the virus.

Although staying at home has been typical for ALS patients, dealing with the pandemic is still as difficult for them as for everyone else. Some ALS patients used to get out occasionally for support group meetings, lunch or dinner out, and sometimes even trip to the grocery store. But because of the pandemic, even these limited activities are on hold. 

If you have friends or family members who are ALS patients, keep them entertained, and nurture their mental health by suggesting these activities for them to do.

Read

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Reading is not only a source of entertainment, but it also exercises the brain. Reading a book is always a new experience as it immerses the reader into an imaginary world.  There are lots of digital libraries that are accessible with gadgets—laptop, tablet, or phone. Ask them whether they are into fiction or non-fiction, into sci-fi or biographies, these digital libraries will surely have their specific preference. 

Yes, nothing beats the experience of reading on a physical book, but we are in an unusual time wherein almost everything is going virtual. Plus, borrowing an actual book is not ideal since we are trying to minimize physical contact.

Music Or Podcasts

There are a lot of online platforms for music libraries and podcasts like Spotify and Apple Music. Create a playlist for them for different moods and occasions. Make a playlist for them to listen to in the morning while they do their routine, or a playlist that will help uplift their spirit on not so good days. You can also make a playlist that will help them calm down. You can also find out their favorite songs make a playlist of them!

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Podcasts are stimulating for the brain. There are many different podcast topics like news, politics, lifestyle, motivational, and even comedy. Find out which theme fits their taste best and recommend it to them. Depending on the topic, podcasts can be both educational and entertaining.

Watch Movies

Watching a movie helps in getting the head off from worries. For an hour or two, the mind can relax from endless worrying and jump into a different world. If they are into feel-good movies, try suggesting  The Intern, Julia & Julie, or laugh with My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The internet offers endless choices of movies that are available for streaming.

Also, Netflix may be one of the most known streaming sites, but don’t be limited to what Netflix offers. Lots of other streaming services are available apart from Netlfix, like HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and Hulu. 

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Breathe Fresh Air

If they have access to a backyard inside their home, help them go out for a dose of fresh air. Breathing fresh air helps the lungs to be at its full capacity. If they are living in a building, try opening the windows for a period to allow fresh air to circulate inside the living space. 

When the brain has an optimum amount of oxygen, the mind feels and functions better. Aside from this, fresh air helps destress and improve overall well-being.

According to Melissa Burkley, Ph.D., “nature acts like a reboot for the overloaded brain. Modern life is constantly bombarding our mind with information and distractions. This makes it nearly impossible to hear the creative whispers of our inner mule over such mental noise. By removing these distractions, our mind is freed to wander, leading us on exciting new journeys across undiscovered paths.”

The pandemic is not an easy time, especially to those who have already been dealing with ALS. But with enough support and by doing the activities mentioned above, they will be able to power through this difficult time.

Ways To Potentially Prevent Getting Multiple Sclerosis

I went to the 2019 Multiple Sclerosis Event with my mother, expecting to learn more about her disease. You see, she had an MS diagnosis not too long ago, and no one in our family knew anything about the condition. All we knew was that it made breathing, seeing, walking, and even remembering for Mom, which was scary.

From what I understood in one day, multiple sclerosis is impossible to predict. It is not curable, either; the doctors can only offer short-term relief with their treatments. The only silver lining is that the specialists have mentioned some potential ways to prevent multiple sclerosis.

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Try Fasting

Fasting is an ancient practice that religious people do to exchange worldly habits with prayers. Even non-religious folks have adopted it to speed up their weight loss. Now, experts are looking at the probability of cell regeneration while fasting, which may help reduce the symptoms of autoimmune disorder.

Take Vitamin D 

People say that the easiest way to get your daily dose of vitamin D is by lounging under the sun. If there is not much sunlight in your area, or you don’t have time to do so, you can take supplements. Either way, studies suggest that the vitamin can shield you from multiple sclerosis by boosting your immunity.

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Drink Coffee 

Based on research, coffee is not only for the individuals who need to wake up in the morning or stay awake at night. It is supposed to be ideal for preventing MS development, too. But contrary to popular belief, caffeine is not the one to thank for it. The credit goes to coffee’s other compounds, so don’t think that exchanging the beverage with soda will do the same trick.

Final Thoughts

We can only help our loved ones with multiple sclerosis to stay healthy to keep their immune system from attacking their cells. If we also want to avoid acquiring this condition, there is no harm in trying the tips above.

Best Mental Health Apps To Help ALS Patients Cope During The Pandemic

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Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is also known as ALS, sometimes go hand in hand with anxiety and depression. This condition takes a toll on their mental health due to the challenges they face in their everyday lives. But it is especially tough now that there is a pandemic.

“The strong emotions evoked by receiving a serious diagnosis such as ALS may also lead to increased risk of mental illnesses, including depression. Multiple studies have shown that patients with ALS are more likely to develop depression than ALS-free individuals, although the reported prevalence of depression varies greatly,” Per M. Roos, M.D, Ph.D., and co-authors, discovered from their study entitled “Depression in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.”

According to research, some individuals are still not that comfortable seeking the help of mental health professionals. If you are one of these, these experts recommend trying mental health apps at this time of the pandemic. These will guide you through your emotions while battling ALS.

Headspace

Headspace is perfect for beginners who are just entering the art of meditation. If you are struggling in managing your fear during this pandemic, you can give this app a try. This program offers a series of meditation lectures that tackle various topics such as stress, anxiety, sleep, and physical exercise.

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One useful feature of this is the sleep casts feature dedicated to providing you a soothing audio experience that will help you drift into a slumber in just minutes. It also has 2 to 3 minutes of meditation to take care of your mental shift should your brain is still at its hyper mode.

Moodfit

The primary goal of Moodfit is to “shape up” your mood. During quarantine, it is equally challenging to keep the state of both mental and physical state at par without outside help. Compare it with apps that help you get into physical shape.   The same goes for this program, where it seeks to guide you to achieve the best mental shape possible.

What’s good about this app is that it tailor its approach depending on your current situation. It asks you to answer a questionnaire that will help you determine where your condition stands and its severity.

Moodfit serves as a platform for tracking your mood. With the data that you are recording in this app, you will gradually realize what things affect your emotion. You can use these insights to come up with strategies to feel better. Don’t worry. The app also gives its suggestions on how you can recover.

Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind aims to target both mindfulness and meditation. It provides you with several 10-minute activities that you should undergo daily to improve your mental health. Although Smiling Mind has guided meditations for adults, its program is mostly for children who are having a hard time coping with their conditions. Since going to medical facilities is strongly discouraged during this time, except for emergencies, this app is useful for parents.

MoodMission

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Mood Mission assists individuals who are dealing with depression, anxiety, and stress. This app gives out missions based on the user’s emotions, and these missions aim to improve both your skills and your mood. Some examples of these activities include the following:

  • Thought-based missions where they’ll teach you how to reframe negative emotions and thoughts;
  • Behavior-based missions where you’ll learn how to sew, crochet, or knit; 
  • Emotion-based missions where they’ll give you breathing exercises; and
  • Physical-based missions where you’ll have to undergo a series of physical exercises. 

Take note that MoodMission does not only let you do this for the sake of distracting you. Instead, it will explain to you how each activity can help you in your situation, what its objectives are, and how you can do it to make it useful.

Happier

The developers of Happier established this app to serve as a personal mindfulness coach. It is there to observe and regulate your feelings daily. It also teaches you how to maximize the positives in life, such as peace, joy, and happiness.

The app achieves this by offering meditation exercises, inspirational quotes, and courses on health well-being and happiness. It can also serve as your diary. There’s a feature where you can record the things that you are most grateful for and why you are feeling that way. You also have the opportunity to communicate with your fellow users so you can ask help just in case you are feeling down.