On Your Mind: How to deal with the holiday blues

onyourmindIs it weird that I don’t feel like it’s “the most wonderful time of the year”? During this time of year, it’s a real struggle for me to feel happy and festive. I usually just feel stressed or a little “down.” I get angry at myself for not being able to snap out of it and enjoy all the holiday parties and activities. I find myself “faking it” for the kids and my husband. Is this common? What could be behind this holiday gloom and doom?

Dear “Down around Christmas time,”

There are many reasons that someone might feel down during the holidays. It could be that the holidays are associated with a painful childhood experience or family issues, a lost loved one whom you typically see around the holidays, spending holidays away from people you love, or a variety of other factors that could contribute. If you feel your “doom and gloom” is persistent and feels excessive, please seek professional help to explore what could be triggering these feelings.

It’s also possible that, during the holidays, your expectations might clash with reality. You want the perfect party, perfect gifts, and the perfect family to get along all the time — happy and celebrating. However, things often don’t go as planned. A good place to start is to look at your expectations and determine if they’re unrealistic or adding to your stress.

Remember that there might be disappointments during the holidays, but there can still be some enjoyment even if all of those expectations aren’t met. Besides, the holidays will be over before you know it. Attempt to create realistic expectations for the holidays such as knowing that the entire family may not be able to get together at one time, or you might not be able to find that perfect gift you’re looking for. Focus on the times and activities you DO enjoy.

not most wonderful time of yearBelow are strategies to help you deal with the Christmas blues:

  • Try to get away over the holidays or change your routine.
  • Spend time with friends and family that care about you.
  • Create new traditions.
  • Volunteer to help others.
  • Develop short term, realistic goals you would like to accomplish during this time.
  • Engage in relaxing activities – yoga, massages, etc.

I hope some of these strategies help you feel better this holiday season. And if you decide that professional guidance would be helpful right now, don’t hesitate to contact one of the counselors on staff here at Ozark Guidance. We’d love to help.

Stanfill, Abby1214Abby Stanfill is a licensed professional counselor with Ozark Guidance, a local non-profit mental health center. Since 1970, Ozark Guidance has helped tens of thousands of children, adults, and families in Washington, Benton, Madison, and Carroll Counties live better lives by providing high quality, affordable mental healthcare services.

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.

ADHD Specialty Clinic in Northwest Arkansas

As moms, most of us either have direct experience with a child who struggles with ADHD or we know another parent who does. What you may not know, however, is that our community now has a specialty clinic devoted to the proper diagnosis and treatment of this disorder that impacts so many families.

Ozark Guidance opened an ADHD clinic in Bentonville earlier this year, and the clinic’s sole focus is on ADHD. The laser focus on this one area makes it the perfect resource for families trying to get the right diagnosis and care. Here’s what you need to know about the new clinic.

  • All diagnostic interviews are done by a licensed professional.
  • Ozark Guidance_Horizontal_Banner_Color_1970 (2)Evaluations and assessments are done using the Connor’s and Achenback Child Behavioral checklists.
  • When indicated, comprehensive psychological testing is offered.
  • Clinicians will coordinate with school officials on diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
  • They offer IEP participation when parent requests it.
  • Clinic offers individual therapy and skills training.
  • Full evaluation by medical doctor is provided.
  • Clinic staff helps to manage medication.
  • Clinic offers family services including psychoeducation, family therapy and more.
  • Clinic staff is headed by Dr. Randy Staley, MD and Psychiatrist and includes Behavioral Health Nurses, Licensed Clinical Social Workers and a Licensed Psychological Examiner.

For more info on this new clinic and ADHD resource, call the clinic at 479-273-9088. The office is located at 2508 SE 20th St. in Bentonville. Click HERE to visit the clinic’s website. 

On Your Mind: Do I have an anxiety disorder?

on your mindI’ve noticed at work a few times that I start to feel really anxious and need to go into the bathroom to settle down. I’m having a few problems with my boss and I wonder if it’s related to stress or if it could be a different health issue. How can I tell if this is just “normal” stress or possibly an anxiety disorder?

Dear Mom,

Some anxiety can be a part of normal life and usually isn’t a problem. So how do we know when it’s excessive or whether to ask for help?

As part of normal life or just our shared experience as humans, anxiety serves a purpose. It can help us prepare for or avoid difficulties in the future. Generally speaking, anxiety is what we experience when we’re thinking about something that may happen in the future that may be negative. Anxiety is on a continuum, with fear and panic being responses to something more immediate, either real or imagined. Fear, like anxiety has served a purpose as it has helped us have the physical activation for “fight or flight” and to ultimately survive danger.

So, clearly anxiety serves an adaptive purpose, and to that end there is a very physical component to the emotion. The muscle tension, restlessness, and increased heartbeat are usually early indicators. In children that can manifest as crying, clinging, or failing to speak. If this progresses to panic, these symptoms become amplified, and sweating, trembling, and even shortness of breath can occur.

Along with the physical symptoms, there are changes in thinking. With anxiety comes worry. In panic you can have thoughts that you are losing control or are going to die. And…you can have all of that without having a mental illness.

Anxiety and panic become a problem that may need treatment if these symptoms are excessive, don’t go away, and cause you to make changes in your life that may not be in your best interest. For many people who have a significant problem with anxiety, it can cause them to avoid their friends and make it very difficult to form new relationships. Often people miss social or work opportunities. It can make simple things like going to work, or class, or shopping a huge undertaking or seemingly impossible.

There are a variety of disorders that have anxiety as a component: Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and PTSD being a few. There are also specific anxiety disorders such as Separation Anxiety (both children and adults), Selective Mutism, Social Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobias, and Panic Disorder.

The good news is that there are very successful treatments for anxiety. The front line of these treatments is really to learn to recognize the physical symptoms and use simple interventions to slow the physical response and prevent progression to panic. This can be as easy as learning techniques to control your breathing. Learning to identify and examine your thinking is also key. It’s not uncommon for someone with anxiety to have really negative self-talk that goes something like this: “I have a toothache. What if it’s a brain tumor? or “If I go to this party I’ll probably lose it, and it will be an epic fail,” or for children  “What if my mom dies while I’m at school?”

Those thoughts can be devastating and if not challenged create excessive worry, anxiety, and panic. The good news is that talk therapy can be very effective at slowing or stopping the physical response to anxiety and also effective at changing the negative thinking patterns that create the anxiety.

In some cases it may be necessary to consult a physician to determine whether medications may be indicated, especially if there is another disorder, such as Biploar that is contributing to anxiety. Whatever the situation, and whether it is you or a friend or loved one who may be struggling with this issue, relief from the pain and isolation caused by anxiety is absolutely within reach.

I wish you the very best as you work through this problem, and please know that we’re here to help if you need us.

Jared's Pic for MHCAJared Sparks, LCSW, PhD is the Clinical Director of Ozark Guidance. He completed his PhD in Social Work from Tulane University and has a MSW and BA in Psychology from the University of Alabama. Jared is active in the local mental health community and serves on the NW Arkansas Suicide Prevention Coalition.

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.

On Your Mind: An angry husband

on your mindNOTE: The question below reached us through our “online hotline” button which lets anyone send a question to a local counselor at Ozark Guidance —  in a completely anonymous way. The email comes in with no email address and no identifying information. We set it up this way so women would feel free to write about anything on their mind.

My husband gets angry and raises his voice often. He often calls me a “worthless piece of sh-t” when he gets mad. He has pushed me and slapped my hand several times in the past 10 years. He says it’s my fault for getting him mad because I nag him or ask so many questions.

He also said, which really concerns me, that he can see how those football players punched their girlfriends/wife. He doesn’t think it’s right but he can see how the woman’s nagging could have made them that mad.

We are both in our 60s and it’s a second marriage for both of us. I know he cheated on his ex but I don’t know about physical abuse. He also tried to cheat on me but was caught. He is a womanizer.

What do you think?

Dear Wife,

What I think doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you know to be true. So here’s some truth: Physical violence, putting someone domestic violence letterdown, rationalizing violence and blaming another person for your actions are ALL signs of domestic violence. What you’re dealing with right now IS domestic violence.

You were absolutely right to reach out for help by writing this letter. It means that you’re starting to really see the signs of abuse and violence in your relationship. I hope that you’ll not only see the signs but also find the strength to follow your instincts. And the good news is that our community has a lot of people standing by who are ready to help you and want to help you.

Please write down this information because you need to know about the Peace at Home Shelter, which is located right here in Northwest Arkansas. The people there are trained to help women going through domestic violence. They can help you learn more about this issue so that it doesn’t continue to escalate. And they are open all the time. If you call this number (877-442-9811), someone will be there to answer it 24-hours a day. You can also get information from the shelter’s website by clicking HERE.

Please reach out to them or to the mental health professionals here at Ozark Guidance. Don’t wait until your story becomes a news headline before you get the help you deserve. We’ll be thinking about you and wishing you the very best.

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.

On Your Mind: Could this be ADHD?

on your mindMy sister-in-law thinks my son may have ADHD based on conversations I’ve had with her about some of my son’s difficulties in school. What are some red flags that would indicate he needs to be tested and how would I get the process started? It feels so overwhelming.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) currently affects up to 12 percent of our children, and these numbers seem to just continue to climb. Often times, parents start to feel overwhelmed when others question if their child may have ADHD. Many parents feel like they’ve done something wrong, when in reality they have done everything right.

They’ve been to the school, talked with their kids and provided every resource imaginable. But sometimes, the typical things parents do to help their children just aren’t enough. That’s when it’s time to seek help from a professional, like a behavioral health therapist or doctor. There may be an underlying problem that requires both medical and behavioral support.

How do you know when it’s time to seek out that extra help? Look for some of these difficulties in your child’s behavior:

  • trouble paying attention
  • inattention to details and makes careless mistakes
  • adhd letterseasily distracted
  • loses school supplies, forgets to turn in homework
  • trouble finishing classwork and homework
  • trouble listening
  • trouble following multiple adult commands
  • blurts out answers
  • impatience
  • fidgets or squirms
  • leaves seat and runs about or climbs excessively
  • seems “on the go”
  • talks too much and has difficulty playing quietly
  • interrupts or intrudes on others

Any child may show some or all of these behaviors at times, but the child with ADHD shows these behaviors more frequently and severely than other children of the same age. One suggestion would be to watch your child when they are around a group of same age friends. Do they show any of the listed behaviors much more frequently than their peers? If so, it may be time to seek that extra help.

Selecting the right mental health professional for this comprehensive assessment and treatment is the key to a good outcome. Parents should ask their pediatrician or family physician to refer them to a child and adolescent psychiatrist, who can diagnose and treat this medical condition. In addition, Ozark Guidance Center has a group of Board Certified Child and Adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed clinical professionals trained and experienced in providing you confidence in the knowing whether or not your child may have ADHD. (Our protocol includes complete assessments and appropriate treatment for your child and family.)

Treatment for ADHD can vary greatly depending on the professional you seek assistance from, but treatment can include behavioral plans, parent training, self-regulation skills and medications. These strategies can help improve a child’s behavior and performance in school and at home.

I wish you the very best as you pursue answers about your son’s challenges at school. If we can help, call Ozark Guidance at 479-750-2020 to get more information or to schedule an appointment.

Sincerely,

Dr. Randy Staley

Staley, Randy MDDr. Randy Staley is a native Arkansan. He completed medical school at the University of Arkansas Medical School and a five-year combination psychiatry, child psychiatry, and general pediatrics residency at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Staley is the Chief Medical Officer for Ozark Guidance and has been serving clients within therapeutic day treatment, therapeutic foster care, and outpatient children’s services. His background, professional and personal interest lends a unique perspective on the condition, diagnosis, and treatment options for children and adolescents with ADHD. 

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback. 

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.

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