Category Archives: Anxiety Panic Grief Depression

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.

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.

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.

The Family Institute at Northwestern University

James E. DelGenio LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist                                                    

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 and adolescent services, marital and premarital counseling, mental health counseling, 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.

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 and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

How to cope with a mood disorder!

James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC

Structure is needed when you have a mood disorders.

This form helps create structure around ones weekly activities and goals. People with mood disorders need structure to help manage their symptoms. You can also track your marital/relationship goals if you choose. This tool helps track progress toward any goal by adding structure to your week. Make multiple copies. Modify as needed; feel free to add or delete goals. Rate your mood 1 through 10. Ten is best.  Place copy on your refrigerator or someplace where you can check it daily. Mark the goals each day so that you can see the week in review.  Note your alcohol/drug use and your mood rating in the 3 days after use.  If your mood dips; connect the dotes. Being consistent in your goals makes a huge difference in managing your mood. Try it!

Week of _________________

Mon     Tues     Wed     Thurs     Fri      Sat      Sun


Meds compliance


Cardio/walking


Social activity


Hobbies


Chores


Date night


Civility and respect


Sleep # of hours


 Drug, alcohol use


 Time out called


 Time out respected


Mood 1 – 10  best


Family meetings


Psychiatric apt.


This chart helps track progress toward goals and a structured week. Make multiple copies. Feel free to add or delete goals. Place it on your refrigerator or someplace where you can check it daily. You may find it useful; try it.

Note: Always consult with your Doctor before starting any exercise program.

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.

The Family Institute at Northwestern University

James DelGenio LCPC is a senior staff therapist who offers teletherapy and accepts BCBS PPO Insurance.  Teletherapy is HIPPA approved via Zoom.com 

His services include: Individual and family counseling, marital and premarital counseling, and treatment of mood disorders and dependence.

Locations include Millennium Park (Michigan Avenue), and WestchesterTeletherapy anywhere via zoom.  HIPPA approved and accepted by BCBS PPO Insurance.

TFI 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.

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.

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 and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

How to Cope with a mood disorder without Medication?

James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC

How to cope with a mood disorder.

It is good to have fun. Have fun! People with mood disorders often become engrossed in the past, consumed with depression and anxiety. They tend to have negative thoughts that just repeat over and over again. Learning to cope takes experiential learning with a CBT therapist.

Recreation and exercise

Recreation and exercise play a key role in management of symptoms. Especially cardio exercise such as walking is good maintenance of depression, anxiety and panic symptoms.  These are a great distraction when one is experiencing symptoms. Any physical activity is likely to be therapeutic.  Join a park district team, like softball or volley ball.  It’s a good social activity too!

Social activity

Regular social activity is important and healthy; get out with people at least 3 times per month. Consider joining the Park district, volunteering, church groups and activities, or working a shelter.  Find something!  Avoid alcohol.

Hobbies

Get a hobby!  Hobbies to consider? Try paint by number. It’s easy but it takes concentration.  Helps deal with negative thoughts and repeat that often accompany depression. You can also walk away easily by simply rinsing out the brush.  Plan 1/2 half hour per day.

Chores

Even chores can also help with distraction. Make a schedule of chores, and stick to it.  Monday is vacuming, Tuesday is laundry, etc.. This also helps keep your living environment healthy.

Distraction from symptoms is an important coping skill. The tendency to isolate and withdraw also need to be overcome. The Internet, video games, TV or reading, generally do not qualify as distraction for most individuals.

Planning is key because mood disorders require structure. If you are going to have a good weekend, you will need to plan ahead to meet your exercise and social goals.

Unfortunately, sometimes these are just not enough, therefore medication will need to be considered.

When to consider medication?

I am sorry to have to say this but moderate to severe mood disorders require medication to control the symptoms. It’s all about chemistry. If you are diabetic, you would take insulin; you wouldn’t like it but you would do it.  This is no different.  It is just a chemical imbalance.

When coping skills don’t work, you will need to reconsider seeing a doctor and getting on medication. Even with medication, however, you will still need to practice coping skills.  Medication does 6o% and coping skills do the rest.  In these instances, the medication becomes the foundation and will help the coping skills work effectively.

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 847- 733-4300 Ext 638.

James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC

http://jimdelgenio.com
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com

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

What are the symptoms of Severe Mental illness?

James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC

What are the symptoms of mental illness?

1. Positive Symptoms: (characterized by their presence)
a. Impaired contact with reality.
b. Hallucinations, delusions (often paranoid).
c. Thought disorders.
d. Thoughts of suicide, homicide

2. Negative Symptoms: (characterized by their absence)
a. Lack of pleasure, loss of interest and energy
b. Lack of goal-directed behavior.
c. Blunted affect.
d. Lack of insight.
e. Poverty of speech.
f.  Poor judgment.
g. Poor self care including hygiene.
h. lack of motivation.
i. Inability to structure time, poor concentration,

3. Interpersonal Relations
a. Asocial behavior, bizarre and inappropriate.
b. Withdrawal, isolation.
c. Lack of close personal ties.
d. Difficulty in getting along with people, irritable, angry.

4. Family Conflict
a. Crisis prone, police involvement.
b. Over involvement, overly intrusive family in trying to help.

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 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://jamesdelgenio.com
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com
http://takenotelessons.com

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 be well when you have a mood disorder?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

How to be well when you have a mood disorder?
Coping with a mood disorders is no easy task!  It takes professional support, medication when necessary, 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. You need a psychiatrist to manage your medication, if necessary and a therapist to provide ongoing support.

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 consuming two cups per day, 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 under any circumstance?
Alcohol may affect your mood for days, even weeks. 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 is 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
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 plus years 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. These are inexpensive and fun and a great way to meet your socialization goals!
● Don’t do it for a grade
● Do it because you are interested in it
● Do it to help manage (structure) your symptoms and your free time
● Do it to be more social

6) Make time to nurture your relationship.

Line up sitters so you can have time alone with your spouse or significant other. 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. 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.

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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
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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.