Categories
Uncategorized

How to get psychological help online

Yes, you can definitely get REAL psychological help online.

Right off the bat, I would like to pat you on the back (figuratively) for taking the first step towards getting the help you need. I also have to say: no, you are not crazy or abnormal and it is certainly not all in your head.

With fast and affordable internet becoming the norm, there is very little that cannot be accomplished online, including online counselling. However, it is natural that you have questions like– do I really need online counselling, can online counselling work and the cost of online counselling.

So let’s jump right into answering these questions!

Do I need therapy? 

Before you spend your time and money on a psychologist, it is very important to ask yourself this question– do you really need therapy? 

Well, the very fact that you are taking the time to read this article means that you know that something is not right. So that makes the real question– can you deal with it alone? 

Needing somebody’s help does not make you weak, it makes you mature. Mature people identify their problems and then the solutions. They go through with these solutions even if it requires someone else’s help.

Nevertheless, there are a few signs that you should talk to a psychologist:

  1. Your problem is affecting your work life or your occupational life: your problems keep you from working or concentrating on your work, your productivity at work has declined or you are feeling extremely anxious or dreading work.
  2. Your problem is affecting your social life: you do not talk to your closest friends enough, you feel like an outsider in your friend circle, you don’t feel like there is anyone who has your back.
  3. Your problem is affecting your personal life: your moods and diet have been inconsistent, your sleeping pattern is disturbed, you are not interested in things that you used to like doing, you have regular energy slumps.

Online versus face-to-face counselling

Right now I’m writing this as the COVID-19 pandemic is still going on, so the safest (and possibly only) option is online counselling. However, in a perfect world, you would have two options:

  1. Face-to-face Counseling
  2. Online Counseling

Each type of counselling has its own pros and cons. At the end of the day, it is always about what suits your lifestyle. But to help you with your decision, I have made a list of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of counselling.

Face-to-Face Counselling vs Online Counselling

Face-to-face counsellingOnline counselling
✅ It feels more real due to physical proximity.✅ It is much more convenient and flexible.
✅ You may feel more comfortable talking to a person face-to-face rather than on a screen.✅ It saves time (no commuting time) and money (saves fuel).
✅ It will be easier to trust a person when you meet them physically rather than e-meet them.✅ You have no geographical constraints so you can connect with your therapist wherever you go.
❌ You cannot always talk to your therapist. For example, if you were on a work trip or travelling.❌ You may have a problem opening up to the psychologist online
❌ You may want the separation of your therapy and real life. Online counselling helps you do that while remaining completely anonymous.❌ Your internet connection may be poor.
❌ You can’t just send a long text or email venting to your therapist at any time that you really need help.❌ You may not be familiar or comfortable with electronic gadgets.

Getting psychological help online usually involves choosing from one of the methods below:

1.     Webcam counselling

2.     Instant message counselling

3.     Email counselling

However, I would personally recommend web-cam counselling because you will feel like you are talking to a real person. Additionally, your therapist will be able to study your body language as well, which can help him/her evaluate your personality, mentality and problems better.

What is online therapy?

Although the name is pretty self-explanatory, there is more to online counseling than chatting away to your therapist on Skype (or worse– Zoom). A common misconception is that counseling only includes talking about your problems. In reality, counseling has many components like psychometric tests, different types of therapy, activities, evaluations, and some homework even.

In general, however, you will follow this course of action:

Of course, this is an extremely simplified version of the counselling process. Now that you know the general outline of the therapy, let’s get down to the burning question that you no doubt have– can online counselling really work?

Can online counselling work?

A doctor is only as good as his patient. Have you heard that one before?

It is important to keep in mind that your counsellor is much like a doctor. They will provide you with the hypothetical ‘prescription’ which includes certain activities and thought processes. After that, it is up to you whether you will take the ‘medication’ regularly and get well.

Remember that no one can force you to get well. You have to want to get well in order to be able to actually do so. And yes, that will require some effort on your part.

That being said, there are loads of researches that talk about the merits of online psychological help. Studies show that for many people, especially young adults and teenagers prefer online counselling over face-to-face counselling. Other studies show that online counselling has actually helped people more than face-to-face counselling! It also showed that it made people more likely to seek the help they need due the obvious anonymity of the internet.

In conclusion, although it could be a highly individual decision, online counselling is being accepted more widely and has produced excellent results. Therefore, you should most definitely give it a shot.

Where can I find help?

Today there are hundreds of thousands of options on the internet. And as with any other service or product, not all of them are legitimate. Contrary to popular belief, it is not everyone who can provide therapy. Becoming a certified psychologist takes a minimum of seven years of study, quite similar to a medical degree. Therefore, there are only a handful of people with the knowledge and means to help you.

Good counseling always comes at a price. However, to help you (and your bank account) out, Psychologist has a number of extremely affordable psychometric tests like:

You will receive a full individual evaluation of the results of these psychometric tests conducted by a certified psychologist in TWO business days. After this, you can decide whether to proceed with the counselling sessions or not.

If you do decide to proceed, PsychOWLogist has a team of accredited psychologists who have had extensive experience in counseling and psychotherapy. Along with a long and varied client list, they are also one of the friendliest and warmest people you will meet. 

Ethics like confidentiality, privacy and professionalism are taken extremely seriously by every member of the PsychOWLogist team. So you can rest assured that you and your mental health are in safe hands.

Main problems we help with:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety/ Stress
  3. Addiction
  4. Parents and family
  5. Psychological disabilities
  6. And much much more

Hopefully, by now you have a good idea of how you can get psychological help online. Online counselling is available in numerous shapes and forms today. It is an easy, convenient and flexible way to get the help you need without cutting a hole in your pocket. 

Remember Dumbledore’s wise words– “Help will always be given to those who ask for it”. SO what are you waiting for? Type in ‘online counselling India’ (or wherever you live) in your search bar or simply contact PsyOWLogist today!

Categories
Uncategorized

I NEED HELP! How to know you need to talk to someone

” I need help” is a tricky phrase.

Everyone has their demons that they have to get up to in the morning and fight for the rest of the day. It is hard. Sometimes you win, other times you lose.

But there is a point where you just can’t fight it alone any longer. And that is when you put your hand up and say “I need help”.

Just saying “I need psychological help” does not make you weak. It does not mean that you are crazy. In fact, it simply means that you are a normal human being who cares about their own mental health.

In this article, I am going to tell you:

  1. It is not all in your head– mental health problems are REAL
  2. How your mental health affects your life and the importance of treating mental health disorders
  3. How to know when you need help
  4. What to do when you need help
  5. How we can help!

So, without further ado, let’s begin!

It is NOT all in your head– mental health problems are REAL

Have you ever been ashamed of going for a general health check-up? In most cases, the answer would be no. 

I can tell you that your mental health is as important as your physical health and that going to see a psychologist or a counsellor is no different from visiting a doctor. But if we are being honest, you would still feel uncomfortable telling your friends and family that you are seeking psychological help.

So instead, I’m going to tell you that you don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t want to. As long as you know that your mental health is important and that you are doing everything in your power to take care of it.

Anxiety, depression and OCD are serious problems that when unacknowledged have the potential to really ruin your life. The same goes for other lesser known mental health issues. 

What most people do not recognise is that things that may seem common– fighting with a spouse, arguing with your children, feeling unhappy at work, etc are symptoms of a bigger issue. This could be something that you grew up with, something that you are not aware of. For example, frequent fights with your family could reflect that you have a narcissistic personality due to which you need to be right all the time.

Would you be able to diagnose this on your own? No. 

Does that make you a bad person? Of course not. It is like the colour of your skin. It is simply something you are born with. However, getting professional help from a psychologist could help you work around your problem and therefore, have a better relationship with your family.

At the end of the day it is important to recognise that such professionals have knowledge that you do not have. They have studied the human psyche in detail for years. They are not studying pseudo-science or fiction. Mental health problems are very very real and if left unchecked can destroy lives the same way physical illnesses do.

Effects of mental health on your life– importance of treating mental disorders

Your mental health can have a major impact on your physical health as well. 

  • Some of the main symptoms of mental health issues like depression are either extreme loss of weight or weight gain. 
  • Similarly, it affects your social, occupational and personal life as well. The short term effects of mental health issues can be self- isolation leading to various negative feelings and emotions. 
  • Some mental health disorders can lead to more disorders. For example, social anxiety can lead to eating disorders due to undesired physical traits.
  • The use of drugs to treat these issues can also have various side effects affecting your lifestyle.
  • It can affect your daily functioning as well. Some mental disorders can lead to lack of concentration.

It is important to treat these mental health disorders as it can have a negative impact on their lives and an early diagnosis of mental health issues will help them lead a healthier life.

How to know when you need help

As a rule, psychologists diagnose you with a mental issue or disorder on the three bases:

  1. Your problem is affecting your work life or your occupational life: your problems keep you from working or concentrating on your work, your productivity at work has declined or you are feeling extremely anxious or dreading work.
  2. Your problem is affecting your social life: you do not talk to your closest friends enough, you feel like an outsider in your friend circle, you don’t feel like there is anyone who has your back.
  3. Your problem is affecting your personal life: your moods and diet have been inconsistent, your sleeping pattern is disturbed, you are not interested in things that you used to like doing, you have regular energy slumps.

However, these are very broad criteria. The best way to decide whether or not you need therapy is simply to follow your gut. If you have been feeling down, or you feel like talking to someone, or you feel like you have any symptoms of a particular disease– go see a therapist. 

On that thought, I would also like to request you to not self-diagnose. Firstly because you are not a qualified person to do so. Secondly because you might overestimate or underestimate your problem. Thirdly, you could miss the real problem altogether.

Think of it as a common cold. If you have been sneezing and coughing for a few days, you might book a consultation with a doctor. It might turn out to be a common cold, or it could be something worse. Whatever it is, you leave the diagnosis and prescription to the doctor.

Either way, the doctor is going to try and cure you. However, if you hadn’t gone to the doctor (and taken his advice) you may have a really serious problem right now.

When you start thinking of mental problems the same way you think of physical ones, the decision becomes quite simple really.

What to do when you need help

The logical step after the diagnosis is of course taking the medication for the prescribed course. We have an entire article dedicated to this section called ‘How to get psychological help’ which you can read here.

Meanwhile, I will give you a little rundown of how you can get the help you need. There are two roads you can go down at this point:

  1. Face-to-face counselling: this is the traditional way. You search up ‘psychologists near me’ on Google, pick one that you like, book an appointment and talk to them face-to-face.
  2. Online counselling: if you are short on time (or are stuck in quarantine), this is perfect for you. It is not only extremely convenient (like talk to your therapist in your pajamas convenient) but you can talk to your therapist anytime you want. There are a variety of options under online counselling– via video calls, text messages, emails, etc. 

In the article I mentioned earlier, I give a table of pros and cons. You can check that out if you cannot make up your mind right now.

The main thing is to take the first step and book an appointment. After that, you can leave everything in the very capable hands of your therapist.

Of course if you don’t want to jump the gun and dip your toe in the water first. You can try psychometric tests. These tests (when conducted by certified psychologist) give you a detailed individual evaluation of your personality, problems and potential areas where you might have issues. Think of it as a general wellness check up.

How we can help!

PsychOWLogist offers many such tests for different issues of concern. These are an extremely affordable way of figuring out if you are ready to spend a few dollars on counselling. Some of these test are:

You will receive a full individual evaluation of the results of these psychometric tests conducted by a certified psychologist. After this you can decide whether to proceed with the counselling sessions or not.

Speaking of counselling, you don’t have to go too far to find therapists either. In fact, PsychOWLogist has a team of accredited psychologists who have had extensive experience in counselling and psychotherapy. Along with a long and varied client list, they are also one of the friendliest and warmest people you will meet. 

Ethics like confidentiality, privacy and professionalism are taken extremely seriously by every member of the PsychOWLogist team. So you can be rest assured that you and your mental health are in safe hands.

Whatever path you decide on, just don’t ignore your problems. You know the old-fashioned saying– the only real way to ward off your demons is to face them, is quite true. If you think you are ready to talk to someone, or take a test, don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be very happy to help you out.

Categories
Uncategorized

Is anxiety a disorder?

Around 35.7% of Indians living in urban areas suffer from anxiety disorders according to research. With such a large percentage of the population suffering from anxiety disorders, it is very important to know the difference between the general anxiety we feel in our day-to-day lives and a full-blown anxiety disorder. 

In this article, I will explain what anxiety means, what the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorders is and what exactly are the symptoms, causes and consequences of it.

A word of warning before we proceed: anxiety is not something you can self-diagnose. To get diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you have to undergo a lot of tests conducted by a professional psychologist or psychiatrist. If you feel like you have any of the symptoms I talk about in this article, please contact a PsychOWLogist.

Table of contents:

  1. Anxiety meaning
  2. Anxiety disorder 
  3. Anxiety symptoms
  4. Anxiety causes
  5. Untreated anxiety

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion we experience almost every day. Whether you are worried about your test score, watching an India vs Pakistan match, or finally asking the guy/ girl out, you feel anxious. 

It is a completely normal emotion to feel. Fear, worry and apprehension are a part of the spectrum of emotions that humans feel. 

It evolved from the early days when we were hunters and gatherers. At that time, We needed a quick flight or fight response to nearly all situations. In that way, anxiety gave us a survival advantage.

American Psychiatric Association says that even today, anxiety for an exam or a deadline can actually help you work harder and therefore, get better results! In other situations, for example– if you are walking alone in a dark alley, feeling anxious will keep you alert to your surroundings and any potential danger.

So when does this emotion turn into a disorder?

What is an anxiety disorder?

Anything in moderation is usually a-okay! However, anything in excess is (nine times out of ten) harmful. It is the same case with anxiety.

When you are feeling anxious for the most part of the day and that feeling is keeping you from doing things that you would like to, then it is NOT okay. You might be suffering from or be on the brink of an anxiety disorder. 

There are three main characteristics of the kind of anxiety that leads to anxiety disorders are:

  1. Persistent
  2. Instense
  3. Excessive 

If this sort of anxiety continues for a long time, you will have a serious problem on your hands.

Anxiety disorder is defined by psychologists as a medical condition where the patient experiences extreme fear, nervousness and worry frequently over a period of time. It is an umbrella term for many other disorders like phobias, social anxiety, panic disorders and generalised anxiety disorders.

In your everyday life, this could mean avoiding certain situations that make you uncomfortable. You may not be able to go to a fair or concert because it is too crowded, you may not be able to get into an elevator for the same reason. Job interviews or confrontations with friends may just become impossible to do.

As a rule, if the feeling of anxiety is affecting any of the following areas of your life, you should visit a psychologist:

  • Your work life: your anxiety is not allowing you to do your best at work. You are unable to carry out some tasks and you actually end up hating/ dreading going to work.
  • Your social life: you don’t feel like you have any friends or you don’t talk enough to those that you already have. You cannot participate in the activities that they participate in due to your anxiety.
  • Your personal life: your sleeping and eating habits are being affected by anxiety. You are feeling frustrated, helpless and sad in the face of anxiety.

These are the rough parameters psychologists use to determine whether or not someone has a disorder.

As you can see, anxiety disorders affect every part of your life. With an anxiety disorder, it becomes hard to live your life the way you want to. It will result in lost opportunities– both personal and professional. 

What are the symptoms of anxiety disorder?

Since anxiety disorders are so varied, there is no concrete list of symptoms to tick off. Every person experiences anxiety differently. For some, large crowds could trigger feelings of extreme anxiety. Others could be going about their lives avoiding certain situations because it elicits an intensely negative reaction from them.

However, there are a few signs that you might have a generalised anxiety disorder:

  1. Feeling anxious (nervous, tense and restless): A certain degree of this is normal but feeling like this constantly or very intensely in certain situations is a danger sign.
  2. Physical reactions to anxiety: This includes sweating and trembling when exposed to the cause of the anxiety. Other signs are when your heart rate increases at this time or if you start hyperventilating. You feel tired and weak.
  3. The anxiety affects your mental state: You have trouble concentrating on anything else; the cause of your anxiety is all you can think about. You feel mentally exhausted and drained.
  4. Sleeping and eating problems: If you are either oversleeping (hypersomnia) or not getting enough sleep (insomnia), you might want to talk to a psychologist. Gastrointestinal or digestive problems are also indicators of anxiety disorders.
  5. Avoiding the cause of anxiety: When something affects us in an intense and negative way, as humans our first instinct is to avoid it. If you are with consciously or subconsciously avoiding a certain action or situation or task (like entering an elevator or crowded places), you might be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

The first thing to do if you suspect that you might have an anxiety disorder is to go to a doctor and get a full physical examination. This is to make sure that there are no biological or medical conditions that give rise to these symptoms and it is, in fact, your mental health that is the concern.

Why anxiety occurs

In psychology, there are two broad reasons everything (including anxiety) occurs: nature or nurture. The nature argument states that your anxiety disorder stems from biological and genetic causes. The nurture argument says that it is the negative elements in your environment that would have resulted in an anxiety disorder. Both are true. 

The degree to which they are true, however, depends heavily on the person. As I said earlier, anxiety comes in different forms to different people. No two people experience the same type of anxiety. This is because each person’s circumstances are wildly different from the other. 

For example, Two people– Sonya and Rahul have anxiety disorders. Sonya’s parents also suffer with anxiety and so did her grandma. However, Sonya is exposed to a lot of pressure at work and often suffers from anxiety attacks at night.  Rahul, on the other hand, has no family history of anxiety but suffers from social anxiety. He cannot stand crowds and is often left out of his friend group.

As you can see, two people can have completely different causes, symptoms and experiences while suffering from an anxiety disorder. This variety also makes it more important than ever to visit a psychologist. You will not have the knowledge or tools that they do to diagnose and treat your anxiety.

What happens if anxiety is left untreated?

Or as I like to think of it: do I really need to pay for therapy? 

If anxiety is left untreated, your symptoms will escalate (as with any condition). There are two ways untreated anxiety can ruin your life– mentally and physically. Let’s start with physically:

  1. You will start having anxiety attacks 
  2. You will be more prone to heart attacks
  3. You will put on a lot of weight
  4. Your immunity system will start malfunctioning
  5. Your sleeping and eating schedule will get messed up (read insomnia and digestive problems).

As for the mental repercussions of not treating your anxiety disorder, they are way scarier. Anxiety, you see, is a chronic disease. There is no definite cure for it. Treatment is the only way you can reduce the symptoms. Many people have seen tremendous improvements to their mental health after just the first few sessions of therapy. 

Untreated anxiety will result in your symptoms getting worse and worse until you cannot function like a normal person. You can start feeling depressed, suicidal and even start abusing alcohol and other drugs. You will not be able to perform at work and your social life will start deteriorating. 

You know what’s worse? Your family, friends and loved ones will be on the receiving end.Your mood swings, episodes and other symptoms of untreated anxiety can leave a lasting mental scar on them. This is especially true if you have children who are going to exposed to such an environment.

Good therapy does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. With the right psychologist, just a few hours a week over video call would be enough. PsychoLogist provides affordable online counselling with an experienced and certified clinical psychologist. You can learn more about them here.

They will help you through psychotherapy to overcome your symptoms and reduce the effect that your disorder has on your life. If you want to know about exactly how therapy helps, check out our article– How to get psychological help online.

Categories
Uncategorized

Why am I feeling depressed? Why am I sad all the time? We have answers.

Depression is almost never taken that seriously by Indians. People think it’s just sadness or mood swings and sometimes the ‘uncles and aunties’ (you know who I’m talking about) call it “acting”.

Depression is neither a mood nor is it a feeling or someone “asking for attention” is a serious mental disorder that should never be taken lightly. DEPRESSION IS REAL.

There are people suffering from it all over India and the globe. People’s relationships, careers, health, and everything else that makes life worth living is snatched away by this illness. Depression is certainly no joke.

If you are feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness that has been continuing for a really long time, you are long overdue for a mental health check-up.

But before you pick up the phone to call up your nearest Psychologist, let’s go over what exactly depression is.

Table of contents:

  1. What depression is
  2. Depression vs sadness
  3. Why depression occurs (causes of depression)
  4. What depression feels like (symptoms of depression)
  5. Can depression be cured and how?

Depression is often defined as a mental condition where patients feel intensely sad, helpless, unmotivated, guilty, frustrated, and irritable. They feel like this for extended periods of time like weeks, months, and sometimes even years.

Depression is also the most common mental health problem in India according to research. For something that is affecting so many lives, it is definitely not given the attention it needs.

At the same time, it is important to differentiate between depression, general sadness and mood swings. They all are very different from one another and cannot be used interchangeably. 

Depression vs sadness

We all experience sadness in our everyday lives. Whether it is watching Nairobi die in Money Heist, fighting with a friend, or even realizing that the restaurant ran out of paranthas; something always goes wrong and makes us sad. 

The main differences in this normal sadness everyone feels and depression are intensity and duration. 

Depression occurs when general sadness multiplies tenfold. You feel grief so intensely that the pain is almost physical. It is absolutely incomparable to sadness.

 Another thing that creates a major difference is the duration of your sadness. Feeling sad for a few hours or days is not a sign of full-fledged depression. In fact, you are only officially diagnosed with depression if you have been feeling intense sadness for six months.

So you cannot say “Man, I am so depressed” when you arrive at your favourite restaurant and it’s closed. You are disappointed and a little sad, yes. But not depressed. That would be a whole another ball game.

On a more serious note, if symptoms of depression (see below for more information) persist for more than a month, you should consider going to a psychologist. You could even take a psychometric assessment to determine whether or not you need clinical help. And no, I am not talking about those silly ‘which McDonald’s burger are you?’ quizzes online.

I am talking about psychometric assessments which are evaluated by an actual therapist and completely individualised results which will help in diagnosing any potential mental health problems. Sadly, these assessments cost a lot of money; money that you might want to use for something else.

The good news is that PsychOWLogist offers these psychometric tests online for an unheard of price. We want to make sure that you take care of your mental health without burning a hole in your pocket. Some tests that we have available are:

If you really don’t want to pay 1500 rupees to talk to a psychologist for an hour, you can just pay 29 rupees to get a psychometric assessment done. Besides, if you do ever feel like talking to someone, PsychOWLogists charge a very reasonable per hour rate, as part of our mission to enable everyone to access affordable mental health care from home!

Why depression occurs (causes of depression)

Depression, like many other mental health issues, has very subjective causes and symptoms. What affects you can be vastly different from what makes someone else sad. Similarly, your reaction to the same event can be worlds apart. People may not understand why you are taking moving to another city so hard while your twin sister is happily looking forward to making new friends. 

But that is the beauty of being human– every single person is so unique, as are their problems. Therefore, there are a million reasons why you feel sad all the time or depressed. However, I can give you a list of the most common causes of depression:

  1. Personal reasons: You could have undergone a certain personal event (loss of a loved one, a costly mistake, or severe illness). Sometimes personality traits like being a perfectionist, pessimism, having low self-esteem, or being too critical can cause depression too.
  2. Biological reasons: Did you know depression runs in the family? This doesn’t mean that if a family member is suffering/ suffered from depression that you have to too. Another thing that can cause depression is abnormal brain chemicals. This can be aggravated by alcohol or drug abuse.
  3. Environmental reasons: This is related to everything around you and the impact it has on you. For example, if your family life isn’t ideal, your marriage isn’t fulfilling or you are getting bullied at work/school, you are more likely to be depressed.

What depression feels like (symptoms of depression)

While every person experiences depression in a different manner, there are some common issues faced by all patients:

  1. You feel intensely sad for more than a few weeks continuously: This one is a no brainer. If you are having a persistent cough for more than a few weeks, wouldn’t you go see a doctor? The same theory applies here.
  2. Your sleeping or eating patterns have changed drastically: If your daily schedule has become irregular, that is an immediate red flag. Eating too much, eating too little, sleeping too much, or sleeping too little are all signs that you are going through something (that might be depression).
  3. You feel low on energy all the time: Pretty self-explanatory– coping with depression doesn’t leave you with a whole lot of energy.
  4. You stop doing activities that you used to care about: Things that once used to make you happy don’t do that anymore. People don’t suddenly stop doing things that they love for no reason. The reason is usually depression or something similar.
  5. You feel guilty and start hating yourself:  You criticize every mistake you have made and break down your own self-esteem. You keep overanalyzing what you could have done better so that you wouldn’t be in the situation that you are in now.
  6. You have problems concentrating on anything: This leads to an obvious decrease in productivity which can impact your performance in school, college, or work. Depression has the potential to ruin your career, and make you blame yourself very harshly for it.

Can depression be cured and how?

To give you the shortest possible answer to this question– yes, depression can be cured. There are, however, certain problems, procedures, and conditions to curing it like any other disease.

Think of depression as cancer. The sooner you find out that you have a tumour, the easier it will be to cure the disease. This is why you should constantly monitor your mental health the same way you monitor your physical health.

If you have a sore throat, you make an appointment with your doctor. If you have feeling sad and not been feeling like eating much for a week or so, you make an appointment with your psychologist. This goes without saying. Never think that your mental health is any less important than your physical health.

There are some strategies you can use to cope with depression by yourself. Think of these as your mental health first aid kit:

  1. Physical exercise– get that serotonin coursing through your veins
  2. Going out in the sun– boosts your happy hormones!
  3. Hanging out with your friends– isolation feeds depression
  4. Talking about it with a trusted person– pent up sadness only festers and rots inside 

However, when dealing with full-fledged depression, a first aid kit is not enough. You need a medical professional AKA a psychologist/ psychiatrist.

I understand that therapy may require a lot of money that you may not have right now. But don’t worry, we have you covered!

A psychologist has made it its mission to help people with mental issues by giving them access to affordable health care. Our Psychologists are trained, certified, and experienced as well as super-friendly and understanding. You can have a look at our team here.

We give safe online counselling to anyone who needs it. We have an entire article detailing exactly how you can access online therapy.

Right now, we are also giving out a free 15 minute consult with a certified PsychOWLogist. Hope this helps you with anything you are going through right now. Remember, you are never alone!

Keywords:

Depression

Depression symptoms

Depression causes

Categories
Uncategorized

Your Complete Guide to Stress– Stress symptoms, stress causes, stress management

‘This assignment has got me so stressed!’

‘I am literally so stressed right now, I can’t think!’

‘My boss is always giving me so much stress!’

I am sure at some point in your day (usually in the evening when the coffee wears off) you hear someone or the other complaining about how stressed they are. The reasons can be anything from stress at work to stressing out about your family. Heck, you have probably said that you are so stressed at some point too!

Have you ever stopped and wondered– why. Why do we have to go through this horrible emotion/ feeling/ mental state that is stress? Why can’t we all just be chilling and cruising through our lives?

This article is designed to answer that very question. But first, we should start with the most basic question– ‘What is stress?’

What exactly is stress?

Stress is defined as your automatic response to danger. Your body kicks into an alert mode and you start processing everything in a flight or fight manner. Your senses heighten and stress hormones like cortisol, adrenalin and CRH start coursing through your veins.

This sort of response to any stressors has existed in humans since several millennia. From the time we were primates without the high thinking capacity we have right now, It is absolutely normal and has saved the lives of our ancestors more than once in the past.

In the present, however, when there are no huge animals in our home or workplace that can eat us (or have to be hunted down) stress can have a negative effect on us. 

You see, the human brain cannot differentiate between physical and mental stressors. It reacts to both of them in the same way. For example: If you are worried about not being able to submit an assignment in time, your body will react in the same way as if you were going to be attacked by a tiger. Your heart would start beating faster, your muscles would tense up and your breathing would get quicker. All the stress hormones would be coursing through you at this point making you feel nervous, panicked and anxious. 

So at the end of this, you may be crying and having a mental breakdown in the corner of your room instead of trying to finish up the assignment. Not exactly the most productive way to spend the last few hours before your deadline. 

This is an extreme reaction. Most times, your stress hormone levels will rise up just enough for you to be worried enough to stay up at night and finish up the assignment. And when that happens, it is actually making things easier for you by helping you stay up and motivated.

So what is the problem with stress? 

What can stress cause? Is it really that bad?

A healthy human experiences stress almost every single day of his or her life. In some cases, it acts as that extra push or boost we need to get things done.

But that is not what we are concerned about. It is what happens when you cross the threshold of ‘normal stress’ and step into the ‘too stressed zone to function zone’ AKA  having a mental breakdown in the corner of your room.

On a more serious note, when the stress element in your life becomes constant, you have a big fat problem on your hands. Constant stress means your body is perceiving everything from deadlines, snide remarks, workload, to family arguments as a life or death situations. Of course, it reacts in the same way.

But what’s worse is that the more often this happens, the more easily such a reaction is triggered. So soon you will start getting extremely stressed out at the smallest of things (like the usual Indian traffic or your relatives joking about your weight). 

This is not good for your mental health (or job/studies or reputation or self-esteem). You will feel overwhelmed and flustered all the time which will lead to moodiness, irritability and even anger. This may result in you pushing away all your friends and eventually loneliness and possible depression. The end result of this whole process could also be substance abuse and addiction. 

As you can see, stress leads to a vicious cycle of mental illnesses.

Wait, wait, wait! We are not done here. It gets worse. Stress also makes your body react in horrible ways.

How does stress affect you physically?

It is a common concept that when the mind is healthy, the body usually follows. In the same way, chronic stress not only turns your mental health upside down (and with it your life) but also messes with your physical body.

We are talking about insomnia, obesity, digestive problems and even cardiac issues. Such is the gravity of our situation, sadly.

Here, I’ll give you a rundown of the most prominent issues you could face due to stress:

  1. Unwanted weight gain: When you are constantly in the flight or fight mode AKA stressed, your body starts preparing itself for the worst. That includes preparing for any unforeseen event where you will not have food to eat (like drought or famine). So, it starts storing fat reserves in your body “just in case”. This translates to unwanted weight gain which can take a hit on your self-esteem.
  2. Digestive issues: Have you ever had acid reflux, stomach ulcers or heartburn? While not lethal, these issues can still cause you to have one unpleasant day after another. And this is all caused by (you guessed it!) stress.
  3. Immunity problems: Research has linked psychological stress to severe immune dysfunction. In layman terms, this means that your immune system slowly weakens, leaving you vulnerable to a plethora of diseases and illnesses you would not have had otherwise.
  4. Aches and pains: During times of stress, blood rushes into your muscles. This keeps your muscles in a constant state of tension. This causes the ‘tight muscles’ in your back that your massage lady is always talking about. These tensed muscles can lead to headaches, backaches and shoulder pain.
  5. Sexual inhibition: Need I say any more? You will not want to have intercourse with your partner (making them frustrated over time and affecting your relationship), This is because sex is not something that is ‘essential’ for you to live and your body focussing on those essential aspects right now.
  6. Heart problems: This is the most obvious one. When you are stressed, your heart pumps faster and your blood vessels contract. When the stress is constant, your heart is working much harder than it usually does and your blood pressure remains high. The rest, as they say, is history (or more specifically the history of heart disease).

What are the common symptoms of stress?

There are many signs that differentiate normal everyday stress from the constant concerning kind. Some common symptoms of stress are:

  1. Mental symptoms: Being very pessimistic, unable to concentrate and constantly worrying or being anxious.
  2. Physical symptoms: Headaches, body pains and aches. Facing digestive or cardiac issues. Getting ill frequently and feeling nauseous/ dizzy.
  3. Emotional symptoms: Feeling unhappy and sad, being very moody and annoyed. Feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.
  4. Behavioural symptoms: Clenching your teeth in your sleep, Not having a regular eating or sleeping schedule. Pulling away from friends and family. Nail-biting, fidgeting and other nervous behaviours.

What causes stress?

The next important question is what causes this ungodly reaction in your body? 

Well, we discussed this. It’s danger. Or more accurately, it is when your body perceives danger. 

As you now know, your body cannot differentiate between physical and mental stressors. So anything that triggers a sense of danger or doom will invariably result in stress. These triggers are called stressors.

Stressors don’t necessarily have to be positive or negative. Even a positive event like marriage, pregnancy, going to university or getting a better job can be super stressful. Stressors are very individualistic and subjective. 

There are two main types of stressors:

  1. Internal stressors
  2. External stressors

Internal stressors are things that we do, think or feel that cause our body to respond with stress. This includes being a perfectionist and being too hard on yourself. It can also stem from a lack of flexibility and not being able to accept one’s mistakes.

External stressors are things that happen in our environment that stress us out. These usually are major life changes like a close friend or family member passing away, moving to a new city, illness, divorce, or losing your job. 

How can I stop feeling stressed?

As with everything in life, this will take a little effort on your part. The first step to recovery is to recognise that you are actually suffering. With mental illnesses, it is really easy to dismiss that you are in fact suffering because there are no evident physical signs of it that you can see.

This does NOT in any way make mental illness any less dangerous than physical ones.

Of course doing things like yoga, meditation, organising your day and setting up a daily routine can and will help. However, it is important to figure out at which point you need to move up from DIY anti-stressors to professional help.

If you want to know about where and how to get affordable help online in India, you can read our guide about it here.

Keywords:

Stress and anxiety

Stress symptoms

Stress