All posts by James DelGenio

Individual, Family, and Couples Counselor with over forty years of experience as therapist, author, and continuing education provider.

Why do Premarital Counseling?

James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC

Premarital counseling is really a good idea!

Premarital counseling can help ensure that you and your partner have a strong, healthy relationship. This will give you a better chance for a stable and satisfying marriage. Premarital counseling can also help you identify weaknesses that may become larger problems during marriage. Good marriages don’t happen by accident. Many issues can be resolved prior to marriage with the help of a therapist. Common issues addressed may include: mental health issues, work, finances, drug and alcohol use, lifestyle, spending habits, credit card balances, student loans, savings, retirement planning, roles and responsibilities, children, parenting, in-laws, and leisure and fun. Marriage requires an understanding of yourself, your future spouse, and the tools and skills you need to make it work.

Finances: Current debt, student loans, savings goals, retirement, pension, pool money or keep separate?
Family: Family relationships and issues, do you get along with in-laws, how often will you see them?
Religion: What are your religious views, what religion will you use to raise the children, will you attend services regularly?
Children: Do you want children, how many, thoughts on education, do you have similar values, parenting styles? What if you can’t have children?
Leisure and fun: What do you like to do in your spare time, common interests, vacation styles?
Spending: What is discretionary spending, how much is ok without consulting the other. Do you gamble?
Work and school: Will you be going to school? Will you both work; would you be willing to relocate for your spouses job? Are your work schedules compatible?
Roles: Parenting, paying bills, chores, traditional roles: women as homemaker, man as bread winner?
Lifestyles: What lifestyle are you aiming for? Where do you want to live?
Alcohol & drug use: Are there issues now that need to be addressed? Are you willing to seek help?
Holidays: What is your respective family traditions around the holidays? Will there be conflicting family expectations? How will you handle it? Will you really want the children to open gifts and then rush to get in the car to go visit family? It might help to think of you and your spouse as your own family unit, most especially, once you have children. Definitely worth the conversation especially if it has not come up already.

Not in the Chicago Area! Now I can work via face time with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.

For those in the metropolitan Chicago area, I have offices in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, and near 22nd St and Wolf Road in Westchester. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com
http://takenotelessons.com  Effective on line, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype and much more.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

The Family Institute at Northwestern University

James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University
The Family Institute at Northwestern University is a unique not-for-profit organization that is leading the way in all facets to strengthen and heal families from all walks of life through clinical service, education and research. No other institution brings together such a concentration of knowledge, expertise and academic credentials to help improve the lives of people in the Chicago area and around the globe.
The services include: Individual and Family Counseling, Child services, Marital and premarital counseling, mental health counseling, psychotherapy, psychological testing and more…

Locations: Evanston, Millennium Park (Chicago), Northbrook, Westchester and Naperville, IL

As a practicing, Psychotherapist for over 40 years, I employ a variety of clinical approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in the treatment of couples, families, and individuals.
• Individual Practice: Assessment and Treatment of anxiety, stress, panic, trauma, anger, grief, depression, mood disorders, mental illness, and alcohol/substance abuse.
• Marriage and Family Practice: Lack of intimacy, infidelity, poor communication, conflict over finances, lack of trust, parenting and behavior issues, premarital and divorce issues.
• Specialization: Treatment of couples, depression and its impact on relationships and the family.
As a senior staff clinician, I work out of two locations: 8 S Michigan Ave. 12th floor in Millennium Park and One Westbrook Corporate Center, Tower One, Suite 300, Westchester, IL.

Zoom!
Now I can work via Zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it is currently covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.

For those in the metropolitan Chicago area, I have offices in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, and near 22nd St and Wolf Road in Westchester. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com
http://takenotelessons.com    Effective on line, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype and much more.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

How to cope with depression, panic and anxiety?

James E. DelGenio LCPC

How to distract yourself from your depression and anxiety?

Socialization, Exercise, Hobbies, and Chores!

Socialization is an important coping skill. It is good to have fun. Have fun! People with mood disorders often become engrossed in the past, their illness, and problems. They tend to isolate and withdraw. That is just not healthy and is a common symptom of depression. You should have at least 3-4 social events each month.

Exercise (especially walking) is good for depression and anxiety and is a great distraction when one is experiencing symptoms. Research suggests that a brisk walk for 4o minutes (with your doctor’s approval) will lift your mood and reduce anxiety. Don’t wait to feel motivated. Lack of motivation is often a direct result of a mood disorder. If you wait to feel motivated, it may never happen. Walk or do cardio work at least 4 times per week. Pick your days and let the day of the week make the decision for you. This will help to avoid, “I don’t feel like it today; I’ll do it tomorrow.” Unfortunately, tomorrow never comes. Any physical activity is likely to be helpful.

Hobbies can also be an important coping skill. A hobby can serve as a distraction when you are feeling low or anxious. Go to a hobby shop and pick something. I have had a lot of people choose paint by number sets. It’s the perfect hobby. You can pick up a paint brush and distract yourself and put it down and walk away when you need to. I had one man become a very good artist after starting with just a paint by number set. So, go to the hobby shop and pick something!

Chores can also be a great distraction. Many people with depression are overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning their entire living space. Again, use the pick a day method and choose one or two chores per day. Do your chores and exercise on the days you have picked to do them. Try to have at least one social activity per week. Plan to have fun. Adding structure to your life addresses many common symptoms of a mood disorder but especially lack of motivation.

Not in the Chicago Area! Now I can work via face time with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative.

For those in the metropolitan Chicago area, I have offices in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, and near 22nd St and Wolf Road in Westchester. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://jamesdelgenio.com
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com
http://takenotelessons.com   Highly effective on line, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

How to improve communication in the family?

James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC

Family meetings for better communication

Once upon a time, families ate dinner together. There was no eating in front of the TV; no texting or answering the phone and no internet. This was a time when families discussed what was going on in the household i.e. news, upcoming events, behavior issues and general discussions. Dinner used to be the natural time for families to discuss their lives, upcoming events and issues of importance.

Today, I find that families rarely eat together, missing the opportunity for family discussion. Child activities including little league, football, soccer, music lessons, dance lessons, and all kinds of after school activities have come to interfere in this essential family event. Families have become ships in the night passing one another as they head out the door. The idea of after school activity is potentially a good one: keep the kids busy and you will keep them out of trouble. However, what has been lost is the sense of family and the opportunity for imparting values and good communication.

When I was a child, dinner time was always between 5 and 5:30pm. I had a lot of freedom but I also knew what was expected of me. In this case, it was “be home by 5pm” for dinner.

We would hear stories, news and discuss family issues. Today parents have become dependent on dual incomes in order to maintain the lifestyle they want to give their family. Both parents feel the need but also the desire to work to maintain a certain lifestyle. However, they often have to work late and have conflicting schedules. This creates a disaster for the their relationship. They too, are ships passing in the night.

Many couples today report they feel disconnected, their communication has suffered and, in turn, so has the level of intimacy they share. This will ultimately lead to bickering, conflict, infidelity and possibly divorce. How sad that an important family event has disappeared without realizing the major negative impact on the family. Even when couples do realize the problem, there is little that can be done since they are trying to stay afloat financially.

Family Meetings: One way to reclaim some of that lost family communication and emotional connection are family meetings. Some families prefer to call them team meetings. Regardless, I encourage families to gather at least once per week to discuss four areas. Ideally, this should be done at the same day and time each week.

There should also be a pre-family meeting for mom and dad to discuss:

1. Issues and connection to one another, such as, affection, gratitude, compliments, and non sexual touch. “Meet and Greet” as it is often referred to, is a hug and kiss when one enters or leaves the home. It is on both to find each other not just the one coming home. This will frequently turn into a family hug, even the dog will want in. This goes a long way in helping maintain emotional connections. In addition, discuss issues with disproportionate work time, me time, family time, and couple time. These will never be proportionate but each should be part of your discussion each week/month.

2. Discuss finances such as bills, budgets, disposable income, spending limits and use of credit cards Assets, savings and retirement should also be discussed periodically.

3. Each plan a date night. Each person plans one date night per month with approval of the other in the pre-family meeting. As far as couples are concerned, I always suggest selecting date nights and putting them on the calendar. You both are expected to plan one date night per month. You select the activity, get it approved by the other and you get the tickets and babysitter. By the way, you each get one veto. In other words, my wife is never going to Chicago Bear game. She hates to be cold; she is just not interested. That’s ok because I’m never going to the opera. Planning is key and date night can’t always fall on the wife to take care of all the details. That takes all the enjoyment away for her.

4. Plan a vacation.

5. Get on the same page for the meeting with the children to ensure parenting as a team.

When the children are included you, of course, want to be a unified front. So, get on the same page with your relationship, parenting, and rules and consequences for the children. How will you handle the morning routine issues in the future. What will consequences be for being uncooperative or breaking the rules.

The general family topics are: News, Compliments, Issues and Feedback. Here are some examples:
1. News: This is a chance to keep everyone up to date of all the family events coming up. The more informed everyone is, the more opportunities to share the scheduled load and the less stress for last minute- must do projects. “We are going to grandma’s house next weekend or Joey has a science project due and he will need craft paper

2. Compliments: Search for things your child is doing well, no matter how small and acknowledge it. It will increase their sense of confidence and self-esteem. Show that you are excited and proud of them. “You did much better getting ready for school on time this week. Let’s keep it up.”

3. Issues: We live in an increasingly complex world that challenges us every day with a wide range of disturbing issues. By initiating conversations with your children you will create an open environment and be able to address the tougher topics i.e. homework, curfew issues, chaotic morning or bedtime routine, alcohol and drug abuse. For example, discuss “the morning routine with Joey outside of the moment because in the moment never works. In the family meeting we say, ‘we all want a more cooperative, peaceful morning to start the day. Let’s try and make that happen.’ This creates a built in reward system even if their is only slight improvement. So you continue that goal until you feel it is consistent enough to move on to something else.

4. Feedback: Listen to your children and allow them the chance to express their concerns, complaints and express their feelings. You will learn more about your child if you open your ears and close your mouth. Try to have some one on one time periodically with each child. Go to McDonalds, and shut your mouth, and open your ears. You will be surprised what a difference it makes in so many ways. It creates a good emotional connection.

I have found that both parents and children love this opportunity. The only concern is that as much as everyone in the house likes this, parents themselves have a difficult time being consistent. They often report that they were consistent initially but the process hasn’t been repeated in weeks. Be consistent! Family meetings are just one way to address poor communication and help nurture relationships within the family.

Zoom Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.

In the Chicago area. I have offices in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, and near 22nd St and Wolf Road in Westchester. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com
http://takenotelessons.com   Highly effective on line, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

What are the most common relationship issues and conflicts?

James E. Delgenio MS, LCPC

How to deal with conflict in your relationship?

For a vast majority of the individuals, families and couples there are common conflict themes. These include: mood disorders, lack of civility and respect, resentment, poor communication, lack of intimacy, infidelity, alcohol and substance abuse, financial and parenting issues. One thing is certain, there is no guarantee of “happily ever after” especially in this day and age when so many things can get in the way of your relationship. Relationships take work and attention to ensure a good marriage. Life has a way of interfering in our relationships. Couples can get lost in the day to day grind of life. We have to make time for one another to keep our connection strong. Many of the common issues listed here are addressed in the following case studies.

Case Scenario – Depression
Dan and Wendy have been married for 14 years. They dated for three years prior to marriage. They have three children ages 6, 9 and 12. Dan’s mother has a history of mood disorder though it was never formally diagnosed. She lives in the past having never gotten over the infidelity of her husband, their subsequent divorce and his marriage to the other women. His Dad is a recovering alcoholic. Dad has been sober for ten years but he is difficult to get along with as his second marriage is also an unhappy one.

Dan is currently unemployed because he can’t get along with co-workers. He has no friends; all have abandoned him because of his temper. Dan tends to hold grudges and he writes people off if he perceives that they have wronged him. He has few interests and spends his time surfing the internet or playing video games. Dan lacks motivation and drive and his concentration is poor. He stays up until four or five in the morning. Wendy is scared because he is unmotivated to look for work and they are now in financial trouble. They bicker over his alcohol use and his inability to share his feelings.

My assessment indicates that Dan has many of the classic signs for clinical depression, his symptoms include lack of motivation and no friends. He isolates himself and his sleep wake cycle is reversed. He is up most of the night and sleeps most of the day which is a way of avoiding people and responsibility. He has been drinking more than usual. Wendy made the appointment and Dan was reluctant to join her but he did. I asked that Wendy come in even if Dan says that he won’t come. Invariably the husband will ask about the appointment. I suggest when asked, “If you want to know you’ll come with me next time.”

I gave Dan the list of depressive symptoms and asked him to put a check next to those that applied to him. He checked 8 of the symptoms listed. I encouraged him to have a psychiatric evaluation for medication to address his depression and use of alcohol to self-medicate. The doctor put him on the appropriate medication. I worked closely with the doctor to ensure a unified treatment approach. Goals were set for him and for them as a couple.

First part of his education was learning about his depression. I pointed out that it was not his fault. More than likely he inherited this from either one of his parents. To start him on his path to recovery, I encouraged him to have more structure in his day. That meant getting up at 8pm and going to bed no later than eleven thirty. He was also to take a walk at least 4 times per week for forty minutes since they could not afford a gym membership at this time. Part of creating his plan was to pick the days that he was to walk each week. He was also encouraged to reconnect with his friends and to avoid the use of alcohol.

After a few weeks on the medication he began to feel better. In the meantime, I continued to educate both he and Wendy about his depression. Once Dan was feeling better, we began to address the marital issues created by his depression. He was encouraged to make “I feel statements”. These type of statements help address emotional withdrawal by allowing the partner to understand what their loved one is thinking and feeling, ultimately helping them feel more connected. Saying “I feel,” is also a signal to alert Wendy that Dan is trying to communicate effectively. Hopefully this signal will help both Dan and Wendy to be less defensive in their communication.

I also encouraged a date night at least twice per month and advised that these dates do not have to cost a lot of money. Just getting out together, walking or going for coffee or ice cream was fine. The idea is to spend some quality one-on-one time.

Mood disorders are a chemical imbalance in the brain but also include environmental issues and personality traits. About one in seven individuals will at some point in their life experience it. Situational depression is created by marital conflict, job loss, grief and ongoing health issues. These will surely affect your relationship.

Many disconnects in a relationship begin when with mood disorder, alcohol or substance abuse and situational depression. If these issues are not addressed, it is unlikely that progress will be made in couples counseling.

Studies show that there is usually a history of mood disorder or alcoholism on one or both sides of the family. It is imperative that the therapist be direct with their clients about the assessment, and encourage a psychiatric evaluation to determine if medication is appropriate. Once this is addressed, it is very possible to resolve many of the couple issues.

Not in the Chicago Area! Now I can work via face time with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.

For those in the metropolitan Chicago area, I have offices in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, and near 22nd St and Wolf Road in Westchester. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com
http://takenotelessons.com    Highly effective on line, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material with your doctor and therapist.

How to nurture your relationship?

James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC

Nurture your relationship.
It is a hectic world we live in. Everything seems to take precedence over our relationships. Health issues, kids’ activities, work issues all take precedence. The next thing you know when you look back is that you haven’t had time for just the two of you in months!
All-in-all life just gets in the way so it’s easy to lose your connection to your significant other. The way to deal with this is to plan your quality time. Trade who gets to pick what you will do. Gentlemen don’t let her do all the planning; it takes the joy away for her. When you do get out that is not the time to talk about the kids or your issues with one another. Some couples even plan for intimacy which I have also seen work. The goal here is to reconnect but if it’s going to happen planning will be necessary. Put it on the calendar and have fun. It’s good to have fun. Have fun together! I’ll bet your level intimacy will improve also.

Not in the Chicago Area! Now I can work via face time with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS carrier for details.

For those in the metropolitan Chicago area, I have offices in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, and near 22nd St and Wolf Road in Westchester. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com
http://takenotelessons.com   Effective on line, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

What are essential elements of managing depression?

By James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC

Essential elements in managing your mood!
While a severe mood disorder and/or addiction may not be curable, their results need not be chronic dysfunction. You need not be a helpless victim of a debilitating illness. The frustrating pattern of wellness followed by relapse can be disrupted with proper psychiatric support, therapy and an array of supportive services which ultimately teaches the person about their disability and how to choose to be well.
The fundamental operating principle is that each person has the capacity and responsibility to maintain a state of recovery. Gladstone, DelGenio, Taussig, et al. (1984) have identified interrelated elements which will reduce relapse and bring the person to a higher level of functioning.
These components are:

Structure addresses the importance of your daily routine the management of symptoms including: medication management and compliance and the use of free time, physical activity, exercise, social activity and hobbies. Planning your day/week is key to management.

Psycho-education refers to the guided experiential learning that takes place in individual, couple or family therapy.

Ongoing treatment and support via the level of service necessary to maintain a state of wellness. This is a step-down approach which gradually reduces the frequency of individual therapy from weekly to as needed.
These are further defined below:

Structure
First, you must recognize the need for structure in combating your disorder. Initially, structure means securing an array of supports including an individual/family therapist and a psychiatrist. Add Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Smart Recovery meetings and professionally led alcohol and addiction groups for dependence or dual diagnosis. Most service providers are willing to collaborate with one another once written permission is obtained from the client. The collaborative support of the treatment team will create a common treatment plan. This will aid all providers to work in the same direction with common goals.
Once the treatment team is in order, the client learns the skills to combat the lack of structure in their daily life. This includes their medication management, i.e. taking the medication at the same time each day which will help ensure compliance. It also includes management of the sleep issues that mood disorders create. This means maintaining consistent sleep/wake habits. It is important to get up and get to bed at the same time each day.
In addition, many people are overwhelmed with common daily tasks such as grocery shopping, chores and laundry. These too can be structured by the day of the week and can become routine. I recommend that you spread out these tasks by picking various days of the week for each task. If it is Tuesday for instance, and that is the day you have picked to clean the kitchen, the day of the week makes the decision for you. This will help to address the lack of motivation which is so common among various mood disorders. The structure provided by this approach will hopefully be the foundation for success, permitting the person to achieve his or her individual capacity for stability and consistency.

Psycho-education aka Experiential Learning

In the early 1990s, my father-in-law had a heart attack. Fortunately, there was little damage to his heart. What was discovered, however, was that his blood sugar was elevated. He was diabetic. When he moved out of intensive care, they began to teach him how to cope with his newly discovered disability. He learned how to measure his blood sugar and how to give himself insulin injections. He was taught what he could eat and what he could not. He even learned what to do if he had a reaction to a particular food or his medication. When he was discharged from the hospital, a nurse visited him at home several times a week for several weeks just to make sure that what he had learned in the hospital, he continued at home. Through education and experiential learning, my father-in-law learned how to manage his diabetes. He learned to manage his disorder so well that eventually he was able to take oral medication and discontinue insulin injections.
In psychotherapy, psycho-education refers to teaching the person how to be well. The therapist will explore relationship issues, provide education about the disorder, symptoms, medication, relapse warning signs, and teach the coping skills necessary to maintain healthy functioning. I say, “This is not as obvious as if you are sitting in a wheelchair, but you do have a disability. You will need to learn how to manage it.”
Clearly, you will need a licensed therapist to assess and identify your disorder. The therapist will guide you through the experience and teach you how to cope with your symptoms. The goal of psycho-education is to help you maintain consistency in the management of your disorder. Without consistency in management of your moods, life will be a rollercoaster and much harder than it needs to be.
You may also be referred to a psychiatrist to confirm your diagnosis and possibly prescribe medication for you. Medication education is very much a part of psycho-education. Initially, if necessary, the doctor will discuss the reasons for and purpose of the use of medication. In the case of mild or situational depression, a psychiatrist may help you determine if medication may be appropriate for a limited time. Typically, the psychiatrist will give you the option of taking medication and encourage continued psychotherapy for daily management. Additional services and supports may be necessary if alcohol/substance abuse and dependence are related issues.

Ongoing treatment
Ongoing treatment refers to the lifelong nature of many mood disorders. Some call it recovery, but to me that implies cured. I prefer to call it maintenance and stability. It takes about a year, sometimes two to learn all that one needs to know and experience to master the symptoms of a mood disorder. As time goes on and stability is achieved, the focus of treatment becomes about consistency in managing the symptoms. Unfortunately, there are those who say, “I feel good; maybe I don’t need treatment or medication anymore.” As much as I try to warn against this, even predict that this day will come, there are those who have to see for themselves. I guess some people just have to learn the hard way. I hope you hear what I am saying and take the less difficult route.
If you do want to try discontinuing medication, please do it with your doctor’s guidance. Typically, you discontinue these medications the way you began them, i.e. gradually. Though antidepressants and mood stabilizers are not addictive medications, an abrupt discontinuation will create uncomfortable side effects and may even be dangerous. Many people refer to the symptoms of abrupt withdrawal from medication as flu like symptoms.
Major depression disorders and bipolar disorders have become more commonly accepted by society in general thanks in part to high profile actors and professional athletes who have disclosed their disorders to the public. Clinical depression and bipolar mood disorders are biological/genetic problems that you most likely inherited and are considered no different than the diagnosis of other medical conditions such as epilepsy. Other mood disorders may be just as debilitating if left untreated. Most will require psycho-education, medication, and ongoing treatment. These disorders are usually manifested in the teens and as late as mid-30s. Real changes come from within. With structure, psycho-education, and ongoing treatment, you can control your disorder.
The most effective way to achieve stability and consistency is through ongoing therapeutic support. Initially this means weekly visits to the therapist and monthly visits to the psychiatrist. As time goes on and the client gains mastery over his or her disorder, the time between visits is extended. You will know because there will be less to discuss. I have clients who I now see monthly or even quarterly. I have found the best long-term results are achieved with ongoing therapeutic support. Practically, this means that we gradually step down the frequency of therapy after you stabilize and begin to master your disorder. Sessions are gradually reduced from weekly to as needed. This is just to check in and remind people that because they don’t have active symptoms does not mean that they are cured. The goal is stability and consistency.
Recovery means management of an intermittent lifelong disorder with only minor interference in one’s life and relationships.

Not in the Chicago Area!

Now I can work via face time with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative.

For those in the metropolitan Chicago area, I have offices in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, and near 22nd St and Wolf Road in Westchester. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com
http://takenotelessons.com  Effective on line, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

Symptoms of Bipolar Mood Disorders and how to cope.

Symptoms of Bipolar mood disorders by James E. DelGenio LCPC

Negative rumination i.e. negative thoughts on repeat often cause conflict in relationships.  Physical distraction of any kind will help some, i.e. cardio work, chores, walking, hobbies. If these don’t help you will need to consider medication.

Overwhelmed with anxiety, panic, depression. This causes lack of motivation and loss of interest.  Need for medication is a must.

Changes in the sleep wake cycle esp. little or no sleep.  Could be heading for a manic episode. Often caused by non-compliance with the medication or alcohol use and abuse.

Isolation and withdrawal from friends and family.  We all need social contacts for good mental health. Look at the pandemic!

Alcohol use or abuse. Either way alcohol and mood disorders do not mix. Alcohol is a depressant and it will increase your anxiety. Don’t drink; you will feel better!

Little or no impulse control; Risky behavior, such as sex, reckless driving.

Uncontrolled spending w/o regard for ability to pay.

Racing thoughts and speech, grandiosity, invincibility.

Verbally abusive to others.  Conflictual relationships. Never permit physical abuse; report it. Get out!  Go to a shelter but get out.

Denial, No need for help or medication! Can’t trust your own thoughts. Need reality testing with friends and family to get past denial.

Hopelessness, thoughts of suicide.

Medication is as necessary as insulin is to a diabetic.  It’s just genetics with faulty chemistry.

Weekly Family Meetings address many common child behavioral issues.

James E. DelGenio LCPC Senior Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Address common child behavior issues and improve your relationship at the same time!
Once upon a time, families ate dinner together. There was no eating in front of the TV; no texting or answering the phone and no internet. This was a time when families discussed what was going on in the household i.e. news, upcoming events, behavior issues and general discussions. Dinner used to be the natural time for families to discuss their lives, upcoming events and issues of importance.
Today, I find that families rarely eat together, missing the opportunity for family discussion. Child activities including little league, football, soccer, music lessons, dance lessons, and all kinds of after school activities have come to interfere in this essential family event. Families have become ships in the night passing one another as they head out the door. The idea of after school activity is potentially a good one: keep the kids busy and you will keep them out of trouble. However, what has been lost is the sense of family and the opportunity for good communication.
When I was a child, dinner time was always between 5 and 5:30pm. I had a lot of freedom but I also knew what was expected of me. In this case, it was “be home by 5pm” for dinner.
We would hear stories, news and discuss family issues. Today parents have become dependent on dual incomes in order to maintain the lifestyle they want to give their family. Now that the world economy has become more difficult and we have high unemployment and home foreclosures are rampant, parents are working two jobs just to make ends meet. They work late or have different schedules and their relationship suffers. They too, are ships passing in the night. Many couples today report they feel disconnected, their communication has suffered and, in turn, so has the level of intimacy they share. This will ultimately lead to bickering, conflict, infidelity and possibly divorce. How sad that an important family event has disappeared without realizing the major negative impact on the family. Even when couples do realize the problem, there is little that can be done since they are trying to stay afloat financially.
One way to reclaim some of that lost family communication time are family meetings, though some of my clients prefer to call them team meetings. I encourage families to gather at least once per week to discuss four areas. Ideally, this should be done at the same day and time each week. There should also be a pre-family meeting for mom and dad to discuss there issues and get on the same page for the meeting with the kids to ensure you are parenting as a team.
The general topics to discuss are Compliments, News, Issues and Feedback. Here are some examples:

  1. News: This is a chance to keep everyone up to date of all the family events coming up. The more informed everyone is, the more opportunities to share the scheduled load and the less stress for last minute- must do projects. “We are going to grandma’s house next weekend or Joey has a science project due and he will need craft paper”
  2. Compliments: Search for things your child is doing well, no matter how small and acknowledge it. It will increase their sense of confidence and self-esteem. Show that you are excited and proud of them. “You did a nice job getting ready for school on time.”
  3. Issues: We live in an increasingly complex world that challenges us every day with a wide range of disturbing issues. By initiating conversations with your children you will create an open environment and be able to address the tougher topics i.e. homework, curfew issues, chaotic morning or bedtime routine, alcohol and drug abuse.
  4. Feedback: Listen to your children and allow them the chance to express their concerns, complaints and express their feelings. You will learn more about your child if you open your ears and close your mouth.
    I have found that both parents and children love this opportunity. The only concern is that as much as everyone in the house likes this, parents themselves have a difficult time being consistent. They often report that they were consistent initially but the process hasn’t been repeated in weeks. Be consistent! Family meetings are just one way to address the potentially poor communication within the family.
  5. Planning is key
    It is a hectic world we live in. Everything seems to take precedence over our relationships. Health issues, kids’ activities after school, work issues all take precedence. The next thing you know when you look back is we haven’t had time for just the two of us in months! All-in-all life just gets in the way so it’s easy to lose your connection to your significant other. The way to deal with this is to plan your quality time. Trade who gets to pick what you will do. Gentlemen don’t let her do all the planning; it takes the joy away for her. When you do get out that is not the time to talk about the kids or your issues with one another. Some couples even plan for intimacy which I have seen work also. The goal here is to reconnect but if it’s going to happen planning is the key. Put it on the calendar and have fun. It’s good to have fun. Have fun together! I’ll bet your level intimacy will improve also.

Not in the Chicago Area! Now I can work via face time with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative.

For those in the metropolitan Chicago area, I have offices in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, and near 22nd St and Wolf Road in Westchester. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://jamesdelgenio.com
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com
http://takenotelessons.com   Effective on line, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.


How to recover from depression?

James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC

How to be well when you have depression!
Coping with a mood disorders is no easy task! It takes professional support, medication, in some cases, psycho-education and experience to manage the debilitating symptoms. With the necessary supports and monitoring, persons with mood disorders can learn to have long-term stability and consistency.
I have also found that it takes an average of about one year to reach those goals. In addition, many people will need some level of support on and off for their entire lives. The bottom line is you can’t do it alone. Initially, you need a psychiatrist to manage your medication, if necessary. Once you are on the right medication at the right dose you can get your prescription from your family doctor. The therapist will provide guidance for symptom management and relationship issues.

Ten Steps to Wellness
1. Take the medication as prescribed by your doctor.
• “I don’t miss often; maybe once per week.”
The number one cause of relapse to symptoms is medication non-compliance. This is definitely a tough one. In order for psychiatric medication to be effective, it must be taken daily as prescribed. I consider compliance to be missing no more than 5 pills per year! Many people don’t like to take medication, especially if it means daily for life. Let’s take one step at a time and see what it’s like to function to your capacity for a year or two before you make decisions about the rest of your life.
But remember, clinical depression is a lifelong illness and it’s all about a chemical imbalance. It is a biological problem first and foremost. It’s like being a diabetic: you must take the medication as prescribed in order to be well.
2. No caffeine, substance abuse, or alcohol.
• “It’s not the caffeine. I like coffee. It doesn’t affect me. I’ve always drank coffee.”
Whether it’s coffee, power drink, soda or tea, caffeine can interfere with sleep and create anxiety. It is the most obvious reason for poor sleep. With your doctor’s supervision to avoid anxiety and headaches, gradually reduce your daily caffeine use. Eventually, when you are caffeine free, I believe, you will feel and sleep better.
I would certainly recommend gradually reducing caffeine use before asking the doctor for a sleep aid. Caffeine may interfere with your sleep/wake cycle. As far as your mental health, I recommend keeping caffeine to a minimum and before noon.
I also don’t recommend working the night shift i.e., midnight to 8 AM. It is difficult for your body to adjust. For a person with a mood disorder, this is not recommended. The back and forth between day and night shifts and the social isolation are risky to one’s mental health. It also wreaks night havoc with the sleep/wake cycle. Lack of sleep for a client with a bipolar disorder may bring about rapid mood fluctuations and jeopardize stability. Tell your doctor or your therapist if you are not sleeping. Wouldn’t it be better to reduce the caffeine rather than take a habit-forming sleeping pill?
• “What? I can’t have a glass of wine with dinner? I don’t do it often. It’s just one glass. It’s not like I’m an alcoholic.”
The second leading cause of relapse to symptoms is alcohol and substance use. Some doctors and even therapists say that it is alright to have one or two drinks if you have no alcohol abuse or dependence issues. I still question this because alcohol and pot are depressants. Why would you take a depressant when you are depressed or taking an antidepressant under any circumstance?
Alcohol may affect your mood for days. At least track your mood on the calendar after you have been drinking to see if it has made your symptoms worse. As far as alcohol and substance use, it is as simple as it is hard. If it interferes with your life, your daily functioning or your relationships, don’t do it!
There is a definitely a negative correlation between the use of alcohol or drugs and a mood disorder. The increased chance of dependence and risk of relapse to the symptoms of your mood disorder are just not worth it. Connect the dots! The bottom line is that for many people USE IS THE SAME AS ABUSE!
I recommend you discuss this with your doctor. If you already know you have a problem, get into Rehab. It’s never too late to turn your life around. Get professional help and go to your Alcohol or Narcotics Anonymous meetings as often as it is necessary to maintain sobriety. Even if you are not dependent, alcohol or pot may not be a healthy choice for you. Don’t deny the obvious. So remember, the healthy use of alcohol for one person, may not be a healthy for you. Make healthy choices!
3. Take care of your physical health.
Be sure to have annual dental and physical exams. Some medications require regular blood testing. Some physical ailments can cause depression. See your doctor regularly.
4. Exercise (cardio)
People with mood disorders tend to be sedentary. They need to walk and get exercise as much or more than any of us. You don’t have to join a gym; all you need to do is take a brisk walk. You don’t have to run but you do have to hustle a little bit. Studies going back thirty years or more say that cardiovascular exercise lifts one’s mood and reduces anxiety. The more recent studies show that those old studies are true but the walk needs to be at least 40 minutes to get the full benefit toward lifting your mood and reducing anxiety.
Walk at least 4 times per week. I also recommend that you pick your days, otherwise you will say, “I don’t feel like it today; I’ll do it tomorrow.” Tomorrow comes and the same thing happens. If you make a schedule and stick to it (say, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday), the day of the week makes the decision for you. “Oh darn, today is Monday. I have to walk.” Remember, depression affects one’s motivation; if you wait until you feel like doing it, it may never happen.
Note: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
5. Plan to have fun
It’s good to have fun; have fun! When my son was about four years old, I remember distinctly, it was a beautiful summer day. Our front door was open and he stood there and saw children outside playing. He said, “Dad, there are kids out there! Can I go out and play?”
My point is that when you are a child, all it takes is something as simple as finding other kids and the party is on! As an adult, it takes planning, especially if you have a mood disorder. You need to take time to plan to have fun. Join a bowling league, take a pottery class or cooking class, take ballroom dancing, or take a photography class at the local park district. Take an adult education class at your local community college or park district. It’s not about the grade so you can also skip the tests and homework if you want. Check out meetup.com or adventsandadventures.com These may also help provide some structured socialization. These are inexpensive and fun and a great way to meet your socialization goals!
• Do it to be more social.
• Don’t do it for a grade.
• Do it because you are interested in it.
• Do it to help manage your symptoms and your free time.
6. Make time to nurture your relationship.
Line up sitters so you can have time alone with your spouse or significant other. Planning is key! This may feel awkward at first, but keep it up anyway. Gentlemen, don’t let the wife be responsible for all the social and vacation planning. Do your share. Plan a date night. Take turns choosing what you will do. When you go to dinner, discuss your next date night, event, or do vacation planning. Don’t use the date night to discuss difficult issues. This is should be a fun time and a way to nurture your relationship. If you are going to have fun, you are going to have to plan ahead!
7. Be social
A common symptom of a mood disorder is social dysfunction or social isolation. Human beings are by nature social creatures, but unfortunately, a common symptom of mood disorders includes social isolation and/or withdrawal. Call a friend and make a lunch date. Have people over to play cards or watch a sporting event. If you don’t have a large social network, use the park district or local community college to meet people. Taking a class or joining the volleyball league at least gives you an opportunity to be with people and make a friend. While meeting strangers may seem intimidating, think of it this way: if you don’t know them to begin with, then you really have nothing to lose if things don’t work out. On the other hand, you never know when a stranger can turn into your new best friend, business partner, or love interest!
8. Hobbies
Try woodworking, sewing, knitting, crossword puzzles, gardening, toy trains, arts and crafts, or whatever you choose! Go to a hobby shop and look around but pick something and stick to it. Work on your hobby several times per week or when you are feeling low, negative, or worrisome. It is quite possible you will enjoy the activity so much that you will forget about your symptoms for a while. Hobbies are a great way to distract yourself from troubling thoughts when one else is around.
9. Chores
Most any physical activity is a good distraction from your negative thoughts and symptoms. Chores are another way to distract yourself and give you a clean environment. When you have depression, the idea of cleaning the entire house or apartment can be overwhelming. Break your chores down into one or two chores each day. For example:
• Monday is vacuuming
• Tuesday is bathroom cleaning
• Wednesday is washing the floor
• Thursday is cleaning the kitchen
• Friday is changing the sheets and towels day
• Saturday is laundry day
• Sunday is a free day. It is your reward for doing your chores all week long.
Chores are a great way to distract yourself from your symptoms. Most any physical activity will help. Make a schedule and stick to it. Try to come up with your own list of distraction activities. The more things you try, the less likely you will be a victim of your disorder.
10. Make healthy choices
This is my generic one. This one may very well be different from person to person. A healthy choice for one person may not be healthy for you. If you have a mood disorder, poor sleep, too much caffeine, alcohol or drug use, and social isolation are mental health issues. Remember! You manage it or it will manage you!

Not in the Chicago Area! Now I can work via face time with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative.

For those in the metropolitan Chicago area, I have offices in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, and near 22nd St and Wolf Road in Westchester. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com
http://takenotelessons.com   Effective on line, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.