What is Anxiety?

What Is AnxietyAnxiety is complex, overwhelming, and sometimes debilitating. Often we can find ourselves trapped in a vicious cycle of fear, anticipation, and doubt that begins from one simple thought. Our minds have the ability to do amazing things from creating our own creative worlds to solving difficult problems. However, when we are anxious, our minds can take us to scary places. In this blog, we are going to take a look at what anxiety is.

Two Types Of Anxiety Experiences

Neuroscientist and professor David Pittman, Ph. D., describes two types of anxiety experiences: a cortex experience and an amygdala experience. His point is that anxiety can manifest itself as thoughts, which is a cortex experience, or as physiological sensations, which is an amygdala experience. When we hear “anxiety,” we often think of thoughts about bad things happening or worrying about what others think of us. Something important to remember is anxiety can present as a small scale worry, such as an upcoming test, or a large scale worry, such as pain or loss.

How To Know If You Are Experiencing Anxiety

Have you found yourself experiencing any of the following:

  • Practicing Problem Situations: Thinking About What Could Go Wrong and What You Would Do
  • Reflecting On Past Problems and How You Could Have Done Things Differently
  • Having Constant Thoughts That Prevent Sleep
  • Imagining Social Situations In Which Others Judge You
  • Thinking About The Worst Happening
  • Feeling Overwhelmed or Inadequate When Problems Arise
  • Taking Comments Too Personally

These thoughts are common in people who are experiencing anxiety and feel stuck in their thoughts.

It is easy to get caught in this cycle of “what if” and “should have” thinking, but there is hope! Counseling can help you put these thoughts in perspective and find ways to challenge and reframe them. At Garrett Counseling in Huntsville, AL, our counselors have extensive experience working with individuals experiencing anxiety. Contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or online to schedule an appointment.


Emily Tester, a mental health counselor at Garrett Counseling in Huntsville, AL, wrote this blog. She was inspired by a training she attended by Dr. David Pittman, Ph.D. Learn more about Emily by clicking here, and learn more about Dr. Pittman by clicking here.

What Are Symptoms Of Depression In Children and Teens?

What Are Symptoms Of Depression In Children and TeensDepression is sometimes referred to in different ways, such as “the blues” or “being in a funk.” Everyone experiences “down” days, but how do you know if what your child is experiencing is depression? In this blog, we will take a look at symptoms of depression in children and teens.

How Are Children Affected By Depression?

The CDC estimates that 1.9 million children aged 3-17 have diagnosed depression. Depression in children and teens can be caused by different factors, including biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

Common symptoms of depression in children and teens can include depressed or irritable mood and loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities, among other clinical signs. We know that these behaviors can be difficult to identify, especially in children who can’t yet communicate how they are feeling and in teens experiencing normal teenage behavior. If you are noticing changes in behavior that last for at least two or more weeks or extreme changes in behavior, we recommend working with a professional counselor to help your child through what they are experiencing.

Seeking Help For Children and Teens Experiencing Depression

Treating depression in children and teens can include a variety of methods such as medication, emotional management, behavioral management, lifestyle changes, and more. At Garrett Counseling, our goal is to provide your child with the tools they need to become regulated and process their feelings in a healthy way.

One of the therapy methods we use often with children is play therapy. Play therapy allows children to communicate through a fun, safe, and healthy way that indirectly teaches them how to manage their feelings and build the skills they need to overcome adversities.

Our counselors at Garrett Counseling in Huntsville, AL and our other locations are experienced in working with children and teens who are experiencing depression. If you would like to speak with us about working with you and your child, contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or online by clicking here.

What Are Symptoms of Depression In Adults?

What Are Symptoms Of Depression In AdultsDepression is sometimes referred to in different ways, such as “the blues” or “being in a funk.” Everyone experiences “down” days, but how do you know if what you are experiencing is depression? In this blog, we will take a look at symptoms of depression in adults.

Common Symptoms of Depression in Adults

  • Crying Spells
  • Ruminative Negative Thoughts
  • Feelings of Sadness
  • Feelings of Worthlessness
  • Irritability
  • Sleep Disturbance (i.g., sleeping too much or too little)
  • Muscle Tension
  • Appetite Disturbance
  • Potential Alcohol or Drug Abuse (as a means of coping)
  • Self-Imposed, Over Isolation
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Suicidal Thoughts or Thoughts of Self-Harm

Understanding When Symptoms May Indicate Depression

Depression is measured by severity of symptoms, including:

  • How the symptoms affect a person’s daily functioning
  • How long the person has been experiencing the symptoms

For example, consider the difference between someone who has experienced depressive symptoms for two days and is fully functioning, versus a person who has experienced it for 2 months and is in jeopardy of losing their job due to excessive absences from work. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, try asking yourself, “How long have you been feeling this way?”.

Seeking Help For Depression

While there are several, varying types of depression (e.g., clinical depression, seasonal effect depression, etc.), no form of depression will necessarily go away on its own. In fact, most forms of depression require treatment in some form.

Many people spend far too much time and energy on hiding their problematic, depressive symptoms, and far too few seek treatment. There are ways to embrace, better understand, and ultimately tame your depressive symptoms. For some people this can look like reaching out to others, seeing a mental health professional, and/or increasing healthy movement and nutrition.

If you have been experiencing any of the feelings mentioned above for 2 weeks or more, or experiencing thoughts of suicide or self- harm, we encourage you to reach out for help. Garrett Counseling has a team of counselors in Huntsville, AL and our other locations that are experienced in working with adults who are experiencing depression. Contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or by clicking here.

What Triggers Anxiety In Children and Teens?

What Triggers Anxiety In Children and TeensMany people experience clinical anxiety that affects them on a day-to-day basis. In fact, the Anxiety & Depression Association of America estimates that anxiety affects 25.1% of children between 13 and 18 years old. Symptoms of anxiety include worry, fear, tension, feeling restless, racing thoughts, irritability, and feeling distracted. You may have heard the word “trigger” used when talking about anxiety. In this blog, we are going to take a look at what triggers anxiety in children and teens.

What Does “Trigger” Mean?

When talking about anxiety, the word “trigger” refers to situations, thoughts, or memories that activate your child’s anxiety and often leads to an increase in symptoms. While each child is different, triggers could lead to panic attacks, difficulty accomplishing tasks, or relapses in a former negative behavior.

Verywellmind says there are two types of triggers: internal and external. Internal triggers refer to triggers that occur inside your child. This could be a physical sensation, memory, thought, or emotion. An example of an internal trigger could be the child thinking of making a mistake or something going wrong. In this example, the thought would be intrusive and unwanted, and it would lead to an anxious response. External triggers refer to triggers that happen outside of your child’s body, such as people or specific situations. An example of an external trigger could be when a child who is anxious around large groups of people walks into a busy, crowded classroom. In this example, walking into the crowded classroom would lead to an anxious response.

What Are Common Anxiety Triggers In Children and Teens?

Now that we understand what a “trigger” is, we can take a look at some of the common triggers of anxiety in children and teens.

Common Anxiety Triggers In Children:

  • Separation From Caregivers
  • New People
  • Family Conflict
  • Sibling Conflict
  • New Environments
  • Uncertain Situations
  • Changes in Schedule
  • Dark

Common Anxiety Triggers In Teens:

  • Academic Performance
  • Social Stress
  • Making Friends
  • Preparing for High School Graduation
  • College Preparation
  • World Events
  • Relationships
  • Transitions
  • Family Conflict
  • Peer Pressure

What Can Help Children and Teens Regulate When Anxiety Is Triggered?

Counselor Miriam created this video to share three techniques to help children and teens regulate their anxiety. The three techniques she covers are:

  • Procrastination Recognition
  • Keep A Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts
  • Post-It Reminder

If your child is experiencing anxiety and you are looking to help them identify what their triggers are, it is important to work with a professional counselor who can help them examine situations or feelings that activate their anxiety response. Our counselors at Garrett Counseling in Huntsville, AL and our other locations are experienced in working with children and teens experiencing anxiety. Contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or by clicking here to schedule an appointment!


This article was written by Miriam Comer, a mental health counselor at Garrett Counseling in Huntsville, AL. Learn more about Miriam here.

What Triggers Anxiety In Adults?

What Triggers Anxiety In AdultsMany people experience clinical anxiety that affects them on a day-to-day basis. In fact, the Anxiety & Depression Association of America estimates that about 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety include worry, fear, tension, feeling restless, racing thoughts, irritability, and feeling distracted. You may have heard the word “trigger” used when talking about anxiety. In this blog, we are going to take a look at what triggers anxiety in adults.

What Does “Trigger” Mean?

When talking about anxiety, the word “trigger” refers to situations, thoughts, or memories that activate one’s anxiety and often leads to an increase in symptoms. While each person is different, triggers could lead to panic attacks, difficulty accomplishing tasks, or relapses in a former negative behavior.

Verywellmind says there are two types of triggers: internal and external. Internal triggers refer to triggers that occur inside you, such as a physical sensation, memory, thought, or emotion. An example of an internal trigger could be the thought of making a mistake or something going wrong. In this example, the thought would be intrusive and unwanted, and it would lead to an anxious response. External triggers refer to triggers that happen outside of the body, such as people or specific situations. An example of an external trigger could be when someone who is anxious around large groups of people walks into a busy, crowded store. In this example, walking into the crowded store would lead to an anxious response.

What Are Common Anxiety Triggers In Adults?

Now that we understand what a “trigger” is, we can take a look at some of the common triggers of anxiety in adults:

  • Health Issues
  • Financial Issues
  • Hectic Work Schedule
  • Family Conflict
  • Loneliness
  • Thoughts of Failure
  • Thoughts of Making a Mistake
  • Public Events
  • Stressful Situations

What Can Help Adults Regulate When Anxiety Is Triggered?

Counselor Miriam created this video to share three techniques to help adults regulate their anxiety. The three techniques she covers are:

  • Procrastination Recognition
  • Keep A Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts
  • Post-It Reminder

If you are experiencing anxiety and are looking to identify what your triggers are, it is important to work with a professional counselor who can help you examine situations or feelings that activate your anxiety response. Our counselors at Garrett Counseling in Huntsville, AL and our other locations are experienced in working with adults experiencing anxiety. Contact us today at (256) 239=5662 or by clicking here to schedule an appointment!


This article was written by Miriam Comer, a mental health counselor at Garrett Counseling in Huntsville, AL. Learn more about Miriam here.

Bookshelf: “My Money Bunnies: Fun Money Management For Kids”

My Money Bunnies: Fun Money Management For KidsMy Money Bunnies: Fun Money Management For Kids is written by Mike Michalowicz. The story follows a character named Sophie as she learns how to both save money for her “big dream” and have money for her daily expenses.

Zoe Garrett recently read this book and wrote a review to share with you:

“The book My Money Bunnies is the most clever way to teach kids how to manage their money. The strategies that Mr. Mike outlines are simple, but the way the author expresses it makes it so memorable. That said, the book actually has a lot in common with another book called Profit First by the same author. It has some of the same strategies in even more detail, but the fundamentals are the same, how to save money. Both of these books do a great job communicating how to save money. Grade A.” – Zoe Garrett


Zoe Garrett is 11 years old. She works part-time in the family business helping with office tasks, cleaning, and helping those older than her understand kid culture. She enjoys reading, playing Minecraft, and cooking. She does not enjoy cleaning out her lunch box, cleaning her room, or getting up early! Zoe is also the proud parent of Yam, her baby hedgehog.

How Can Law Enforcement Officers Fight The Effects Of Stress?

How Can Law Enforcement Officers Fight The Effects Of StressAt Garrett Counseling, we know that law enforcement officers endure a great deal of stress due to their jobs. Often, the public only hears a small portion of what these officers and their families endure. We wrote a series of blogs to both help the public understand the stress law enforcement officers face and to help those in law enforcement with the effects of stress. In blog three, our goal is to focus on how law enforcement officers can fight the effects of stress. (Check out blog one on what causes stress in law enforcement here and blog two on the consequences of stress and fatigue in law enforcement here.)

How Can Law Enforcement Officers Fight The Effects Of Stress?

One of the most effective ways for an officer to combat job-related stress is by engaging in self care. While an officer may have little or no control over the administrative stressors (e.g., equipment problems, poor supervisors, etc.), there are many things they can control that have been shown to reduce stress and allow them to be healthier and happier.

A few ideas for taking care of oneself include:

  • Physical Activity: Exercise releases endorphins that can contribute to increased happiness levels and reduce the effects of stress. Consider lifting weights, running, walking or participating in some sort of martial arts.
  • Take A Vacation: Use your leave time to get away from work occasionally throughout the year. A vacation does not have to be expensive; it can simply be staying home and doing something you enjoy, such as painting, gardening, etc. The important part is to disconnect from work-related discussions and activities and engage in self care.
  • Have Friends Outside Of Work: Having friends that are not in law enforcement can help you disconnect from the stresses of being a police officer. When you do hang out with your co-workers while off-duty, avoid work-related discussions. Talk about music, movies, your family…anything but work!
  • Maintain A Balanced Diet: Try to make a meal plan for each week and avoid frequent fast food. A balanced diet can help combat many health problems that law enforcement officers are prone to experience.
  • Learn Mindfulness: Mindfulness has been proven to help reduce stress. Several smartphone apps can help you learn mindfulness and track your health. If you prefer, some books and websites offer information on mindfulness.
  • Get A Yearly Physical: This is a vital step in staying healthy as physicals can catch hypertension, sleep problems, depression, and other health conditions before they become a serious problem. *If at any point you find yourself combating sleep problems, anxiety, irritability, stomach pain, or any other conditions that impact your daily life – don’t wait for your yearly physical, seek help immediately.
  • Remember Your Mental Health: When looking for a counselor or therapist, consider someone knowledgeable in the area of public safety mental health. In some cases, departments offer an employee assistance program designed specifically to assist your officers during turbulent times. However, if you do not feel comfortable activating your departmental EAP, find a provider that you can trust to support you.

We know that our law enforcement officers face a great deal of stress. If our mental health counselors counselors in Jacksonville, Boaz, or Huntsville can support you as you combat stress, contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or by clicking here.


This blog was written by Kristin Hurst, a mental health counselor at Garrett Counseling in Jacksonville, AL. Learn more about Kristin here.

Sources:

What Are The Consequences of Stress and Fatigue in Law Enforcement?

What Are The Consequences of Stress & Fatigue in Law EnforcementAt Garrett Counseling, we know that law enforcement officers endure a great deal of stress due to their jobs. Often, the public only hears a small portion of what these officers and their families endure. We wrote a series of blogs to both help the public understand the stress law enforcement officers face and to help those in law enforcement with the effects of stress. In blog two, our goal is to focus on the consequences of stress and fatigue in law enforcement. (Check out blog one about what causes stress in law enforcement here.)

What Are The Consequences of Stress in Law Enforcement?

The consequences of stress can be very significant. Some common side effects of stress in law enforcement include:

  • Cynicism and/or Suspiciousness
  • Emotional Detachment From Various Aspects Of Life (Including family, friends, & self)
  • Reduced Efficiency
  • Absenteeism
  • Early Retirement
  • Excessive Aggressiveness (Sometimes leading to citizen complaints)
  • Alcoholism or Other Substance Use Problems
  • Marital/Family Problems (Examples include extramarital affairs, divorce, or domestic abuse)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Physical Conditions (Examples include heart attacks, ulcers, or weight gain)
  • Suicide

What Are The Consequences of Fatigue in Law Enforcement?

Sleep, or lack thereof, has a major effect on everyone, but especially law enforcement. The following consequences may occur:

  • Increased Mood Swings, Depression, Anxiety, and Hypervigilance
  • Decrease In Judgment and Hand-Eye Coordination
  • Lack of Routine Sleep (Could lead to sleep disorders, slow reaction time, and other health concerns)

At Garrett Counseling, our mental health counselors in Huntsville, AL and our other locations have experience working with those in law enforcement. If we can help you with the consequences of stress and fatigue in law enforcement, contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or online.


This blog was written by Kristin Hurst, a mental health counselor at Garrett Counseling in Jacksonville, AL. Learn more about Kristin here.

Sources:

What Causes Stress in Law Enforcement?

What Causes Stress In Law EnforcementAt Garrett Counseling, we know that law enforcement officers endure a great deal of stress due to their jobs. Often, the public only hears a small portion of what these officers and their families endure. We wrote a series of blogs to both help the public understand the stress law enforcement officers face and to help those in law enforcement with the effects of stress. In blog one, our goal is to focus on what causes stress in law enforcement.

What Causes Stress in Law Enforcement?

The National Institute of Justice says that the most common causes of stress in law enforcement officers include:

  • Poor Management
  • Inadequate or Broken Equipment (Often due to a lack of funds)
  • Excessive Overtime (Both voluntary and involuntary)
  • Frequent Rotating Shifts (Often due to low staffing)
  • Regular Changes in Duties (Example: Spending time on a call pertaining to animal cruelty and the next intervening in a violent domestic dispute)

Other stressors for these officers may include:

  • Low Pay (Depending on the area; this can lead to the need for voluntary overtime)
  • Perceived Lack Of Support and/or Negative Attitudes Towards Law Enforcement
  • Threats To The Officer’s Health and Safety
  • Boredom (Possibly from working in an agency with limited options outside of patrol)
  • Need For Sudden Alertness and Mobilized Energy
  • Responsibility For The Lives Of Others
  • Continual Exposure To People In Distress/Pain
  • Controlling Emotions, Especially When Provoked

Los Angeles Police Department’s Behavioral Science Services division, the oldest and largest agency run, in-house mental health provider, states that the average police officer will be exposed to around 800 traumatic incidents during their career. By comparison, the average citizen might be exposed to three or fewer incidents. In addition to repeated exposure to trauma, officers often encounter victims of violent crimes, serious injury or death, child abuse, and neglect.

Garrett Counseling’s Clinical Director Ginger Caudell, LPC, says “I recommend that people slow down and be mindful of the complicated daily work and home life of law enforcement officers. While we, as a society, have all suffered greatly from the pandemic, our police and military members have the double stress of how their own families are in danger plus how all the many people they serve are in harm’s way, often by an unseen enemy. Slow down and be both thoughtful and intentional in your words and actions toward others. We are all in a confusing time in history so let cool heads prevail.”

Our mental health counselors in Huntsville, AL and our other locations have experience working with those in law enforcement. Contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or online.


This blog was written by Kristin Hurst, a mental health counselor at Garrett Counseling in Jacksonville, AL. Learn more about Kristin here.

Sources:

How Can I Take Care Of My Mental Health During Pregnancy?

How Can I Take Care Of My Mental Health During PregnancyPregnancy is an exciting time, but we know pregnancy also has its struggles. Often, mothers experience mental health concerns as their baby grows. In fact, a 2018 study by MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health found that up to 20% of women suffer mood and anxiety disorders during pregnancy. At Garrett Counseling we want to give you resources to help you throughout your pregnancy. Below, you will find a few tips on how to take care of your mental health during pregnancy from the moms on our team!

  • Stay Physically Active: As with any time in life, staying active is important to your mental health! Regular exercise releases endorphins that help elevate your mood. Additionally, an active routine can give you the self-confidence that you are doing something healthy for both you and the baby. This article from KidsHealth shares more detailed information about exercise in pregnancy.
  • Have A Self-Care Plan: Things are always easier with a plan. Know what you need to take care of yourself, and do it regularly. This will include mental needs, like mindfulness and deep breathing, but also physical needs like bathing and proper nutrition. If you have a plan already, it will make the hard times a little easier, and potentially reduce the anxiety and depression related to the pregnancy
  • Find A Support Person: This support person could potentially be your partner. No matter who your support person is, it is essential to have someone who has your back. This person should be able to make those late night runs to town for you and help you get whatever you or your baby may need. Not having to worry about the little things will ease your anxiety considerably.
  • Listen To Your Body: Nobody knows you like your body. It will tell you when it needs something, much like the child you are awaiting. If your body says rest, rest. If your body says eat, eat (with proper nutrition). Your body will send you the messages it needs, but you have to be willing to listen.
  • Keep Hydrated: Most counselors will tell you that this is a basic biological need that always needs tending to, but it goes double during pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association lists the following potential issues of dehydration in pregnancy: neural tube defects, low amniotic fluid, inadequate breast milk production, and even premature labor. To maintain the baby’s health, but also your own peace of mind, it is suggested that you drink 8-12 glasses of water daily.
  • Create A Plan: Garrett Counseling’s Jessica Mentzer says, “Having a baby is life changing and at times overwhelming and scary. Having a plan for doctor visits and your child’s birth, a list of wants and needs, and rules that you want family and friends to follow could help in reducing stress and anxiety throughout your pregnancy.”
  • Be Kind To Yourself: “You are going to receive many thoughts, suggestions, opinions and sometimes demands on how you should be as a parent raising your child. Receiving all this information can be overwhelming and make you start doubting your capability to be a parent. Be mindful of what you believe and tell yourself,” says Garrett Counseling’s Megan Campbell, LPCS, NCC.

Stress on your mental health during pregnancy translates to stress for the growing baby. We hope that these tips help you take care of your mental health during pregnancy. Our counselors in Huntsville, AL and our other locations have experience supporting moms during their pregnancy. If we can help you, contact us today online or at (256) 239-5662.


This article was written by Ben Lighter, a mental health counselor at Garrett Counseling in Jacksonville, AL. Learn more about Ben here.

How Do You Treat Children with PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder)?

Treating PTSD in ChildrenPosttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common mental health condition that can affect people of all ages, including children. Our counselors at Garrett Counseling are experienced in working with children who are experiencing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. We hope this blog helps you gain a better understanding of the different approaches we may use in treating children with PTSD.

When helping children who are facing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) the #1 goal is always safety. Safety needs to be achieved both in the client’s environment and in the therapeutic relationship. When children are able to identify people, places, and things that make them feel comfortable and safe, they often experience a reduction of stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Once the goal of safety has been met, our counselors may use one of the following approaches to treat PTSD in children.

Therapy Methods Used in Treating PTSD in Children

  • Trauma Focused – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT): This type of therapy focuses on providing information and support to both the child and their parents or caregivers. Children and their caregivers will learn parenting skills, relaxation and stress management skills, affect expression and regulation skills, cognitive coping and processing, trauma narration, present time mastery and trigger recognition. TF-CBT will include joint parent/caregiver and child sessions.
  • Play Therapy: Play Therapy uses play to help children express their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors triggered by their experiences in a safe and non judgemental space. Parent or caregiver involvement in play therapy is highly beneficial to increase connection, communication, and understanding between child and parent.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This therapy focuses on four areas including distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness to address the intense emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that can become immense after trauma has taken place. DBT provides children with the confidence to overcome and regain control of their emotions.
  • Bibliotherapy: Bibliotherapy uses books to educate and help children gain a sense of normalization (not being alone) in their experiences. Books used will include stories that involve specific experiences the children have encountered and/or help in the identification and expression of feelings and emotions.
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: This type of therapy focuses on emotional conflicts that are a result of the traumatic event. Psychodynamic Psychotherapy utilizes retelling of traumatic experiences to increase self esteem, develop effective coping strategies. This therapy helps with regulation of emotions through unconditional positive regard, empathetic understanding, and genuine means.

Additional Resources

If you are looking for a counselor to support you and your child in your child’s experience with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Garrett Counseling has counselors in Huntsville, AL and our other locations who are experienced in treating children with PTSD. Contact us today online or at (256) 239-5662.