Sep 20th

Learning to Peacefully Co-Exist with Anxiety

By Tessa Gittleman, Mental Health Professional

Do you feel as if situations and people around you are growing more and more anxious? You are not alone. According to the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Study, anxiety has increased dramatically since the 1950’s . It has increased so much so, that the average high school student’s anxiety is equal to that of the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s.

Today, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health concern in the U.S., impacting over 40 million adults and 25% of children (ages 13-18) . According to that same study, while anxiety disorders are thought to be highly treatable, fewer than 40% of those suffering ever receive treatment. In children, untreated anxiety disorders are at higher risk to struggle in school, neglect important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. In adults, untreated anxiety has been linked to depression, lack of healthy relationships, and chronic physical illness .

So why don’t people get help? For many years stigma prevented those with anxiety from seeking help. Today, individuals struggle to find the healthcare coverage, time, or transportation to attend counseling. Besides, a psychological wound is easy to ignore. We can put it in a nice box in our mind, and store it away to address when we get the chance or are otherwise forced to. At least, we like to pretend that’s true.

Guy Winch, Ph. D. and author of Emotional First Aid has one idea on how we can take control back from the anxiety epidemic; what if we tended to our psychological wounds with the same importance as physical wounds? What if we became more aware of how our brain reacts to loneliness and failure? What if we could break the cycle?

In Dr. Winch’s TedTalk, he argues that:

By taking action when you’re lonely, by changing your responses to failure, by protecting your self-esteem, by battling negative thinking, you won’t just heal your psychological wounds, you will build emotional resilience, you will thrive. A hundred years ago, people began practicing personal hygiene, and life expectancy rates rose by over 50 percent in just a matter of decades. I believe our quality of life could rise just as dramatically if we all began practicing emotional hygiene .

This approach may sound easy, or even logical. However, in reality, practicing emotional first aid is hard. To simplify things, Dr. Winch offers seven techniques for managing your emotional well-being that you can start practicing today:

1. Pay attention to emotional pain — recognize it when it happens and work to treat it before it feels all-encompassing.
2. Redirect your gut reaction when you fail.
3. Monitor and protect your self-esteem. When you feel like putting yourself down, take a moment to be compassionate to yourself.
4. When negative thoughts are taking over, disrupt them with positive distraction.
5. Find meaning in loss.
6. Don’t let excessive guilt linger.
7. Learn what treatments for emotional wounds work for you.

To hear more of Dr. Winch’s TedTalk, click here.

While anxiety may be inevitable, and sometimes even helpful, it can also leave people unnecessarily paralyzed. If practicing emotional first aid in your own life feels overwhelming, impossible, or otherwise leaves you feeling helpless, it may be time to reach out for help. Even if therapy is not the right fit for you, there are many resources you can access from the comfort of your own home. Know that you are not alone in your anxiety, and that there are people fighting to end the anxiety epidemic.

Resources:

1. Twenge Ph. D., J. M. (2000, December 14). Studies show normal children today report more anxiety than child psychiatric patients in the 1950’s. Retrieved   September 06, 2017, from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2000/12/anxiety.aspx
2. Leahy Ph. D. , R. L. (2008, April 30). How big a problem is anxiety? Retrieved September 06, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anxiety-files/200804/how-big-problem-is-anxiety
3. Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved September 06, 2017, from Anxiety and Depression Association of America at: https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
4. Anxiety and Physical Illness. (2017, June 6). Retrieved September 6, 2017, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/anxiety_and_physical_illness
5. Winch, G. (2015, February). Guy Winch, Ph. D.: Why we all need to practice emotional first aid. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_emotional_hygiene

Sep 7th

Light a Candle

By Cathy Malmon, LMFT, LICSW

Calli-Institute-Light-a-Candle-Suicide-PreventionSeptember 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. The International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) asks us to:

 

Light a candle near a window at 8PM
To show your support for suicide prevention
To remember a lost loved one
And for the survivors of suicide.

 

There are no “survivors” of suicide. There are unanswered questions, complicated grief patterns, collateral damage to family friends and communities, along with a gaping hole in the fabric of a family’s life.

Kay Redfield Jamison is Professor of Psychiatry at the John Hopkins School of Medicine and one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive illness. She wrote An Unquiet Mind, which is a memoir about her own struggle with depression, as well as Night Falls Fast, which addresses suicide. Dr Jamison writes from a personal and professional understanding of depression and suicide. At twenty-eight years old, she attempted suicide.

The statistics can be easily found. Understanding suicide means understanding the mind behind the suicide. With understanding we can recognize and attempt to aid those at rise but also try to understand the profound effects on those left. Dr Jamison writes: “For some, suicide is a sudden act. For others, it is a long considered decision based on cumulative despair or dire circumstance. And for many, it is both: a brash moment of action taken during a span of settled and suicidal hopelessness. (Night Falls Fast, Jamison.) There is no clear way to predict a behavior that can be both deliberate and impulsive.

The biggest influence on suicidal behavior is psychiatric illness. Mental illness is not a predictor of suicide but it is a factor cited in the deaths. Other predisposing factors cited in Jamison’s work is acute intoxication from drugs or alcohol, personal or financial crisis.

“Drugs and mood disorders tend to bring out the worst in one another: alone they are dreadful, together they kill,” (Night Falls Fast, Jamison.)

What sets the grieving to suicide is initial sense of denial, including the denial to the actual cause of death. If the death includes a police or insurance investigation, the intrusiveness can prevent the family from being able to grieve. Losing a family member to suicide can be traumatic enough but reliving the method of death adds to the trauma.
Family members can experience a range of emotions including, guilt, sense of failure, disbelief, suffering, bewilderment as well as anger and rage. Spouses who lose their spouse to suicide can feel blamed or questioned, often by themselves and sometimes by community gossip or by other family members. Siblings can bear a sense of responsibility. Any and all emotions are expressed, sometimes in a dizzyingly short amount of time.

Augsburg College hosted a workshop on Forgiveness and The Family. I interviewed several people who had lost family members to suicide for my talk on Forgiveness and Suicide. These family members reported that there seemed to be avoidance of the topic. Several people said that they felt stigmatized. “I’m so sorry for your loss would have been the one thing I needed,” said one woman I interviewed.

How do people get through the impossible- rage, anger, guilt, and sorrow? How do they move through the well-intentioned gestures of sympathy, the unintentional absence of support and pick up their stride once more? Therapy, family and friend support, faith, passages of time are helpful. So is talking to others who have survived another’s suicide.

 

Light A Candle

 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention www.afsp.org
American Association of Suicidology www.suicidology.org 
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education www.save.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
Night Falls Fast Kay Redfield Jamison, 1999

Aug 22nd

Transitioning the Family From Summer to School

By Tessa Gittleman, Mental Health Professional

Calli-Institute-Transitioning-the-Family-from-Summer-to-School-Back-to-SchoolWhen school lets out for the summer, kids and parents alike tend to enter a stage of bliss. Home becomes a little sweeter, the weight from academics is lifted, and the only worry in the world is how to pack so much fun into so little time, right? When school lets out for the summer, kids and parents alike tend to enter a stage of bliss. Home becomes a little sweeter, the weight from academics is lifted, and the only worry in the world is how to pack so much fun into so little time, right?

Something starts to happen around the 4th of July. An anxiety starts to creep in as the realization summer is already halfway over. By the time the state fair hits, the whole family can feel the school season looming.

No matter how many times the family makes the leap between school and breaks, successfully transitioning the family’s norm is a HUGE feat. Things we hear about most in our office range from the child or parent’s feelings of anxiety or worry, to the entire family’s reactivity towards each other. Simply purchasing school supplies off a prescribed list can feel like you’re going into battle.

After hearing years and years of client stories, and having our own experiences with the “Back to School Blues,” we were able to compile a how-to guide for getting back into the groove of school.

1. Ease back into the routine
It generally takes 1-2 weeks before it feels “normal” to be back in school. You can expedite the transition by starting the school-time sleep regiment 1-2 weeks before school starts, allowing your body to adjust.

2. Take a moment to think about what you can look forward to
Are there friends that you miss? A teacher you can’t wait to see? Is this the year you get to dissect a frog, or did you get the better teacher in a specific subject?

3. Work smarter, not harder
Most schools have some sort of syllabi or course planner available online. Go over what the school year looks like ahead of time. Map it out with your child and work ahead when possible. Get into the habit of doing homework as assigned to prevent falling behind later in the year.  Think about picking clothes out the night before, packing your backpack before bed, and creating a meal planner to optimize your lunch and dinner choices.

4. Connect with the teacher ahead of time
Teachers are generally receptive to any advice or feedback you have in helping your child be successful in his or her class. Worried about the timing of a big project and a trip you have to take? The earlier you tell them, the more likely they are to accommodate your unique needs.

5. Start stretching your mental flexibility
No matter how structured you are, or how ingrained your routine is, things happen. Whether it’s work, the weather, a sports tournament, or a standardized test, life throws curve balls at the most inconvenient of times. Learning to adhere to your routine without letting it drive you is an important skill to have and model. Awarding the most deserving member of your family with the “Gold Medal in Mental Gymnastics” can also be work as an incentive for children who struggle with change.

Aug 8th

Calli Institute’s Crash Course in College

By Tessa Gittleman, Mental Health Professional

Calli-Institute_Crash-Course-in-College_college-students-moving-inIf you have an entire dorm room full  of stuff ordered from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, know which textbooks need to be picked up on campus, and have been diligently exploring your new college class’ group on Facebook, this post is dedicated to you.

Whether you are going to a school in your same city, or going as far away from your hometown as possible, some things about the college experience are universal. You’ve heard from friends or family about the nostalgia of their, “college years.” You’ve seen movies depicting stereotypical experiences, such as “Pledging vs. Academics,” or the rigors of being a college athlete. You’ve also probably done your own research on what to expect, hidden gems around the campus, or what clubs you want to join, and are praying that your roommate isn’t absolutely insufferable.

Some things about the college experience aren’t as well known, even if they are still universal. For example, you should never wear open-toed shoes to a party (glass breaks, beverage spills make the floor sticky… you get it). Another example is how weird re-entry home can be over breaks. While you’ve had incredibly trans-formative experiences at school, your home has gone on without you. Returning home for that first break can be frustrating for both you and your parents; do you have a curfew?, can you come and go as you do in college? It is an adjustment for both you and your parents, so take it slow and keep the lines of communication open.

So what happens to your mental health when challenged by all the new stressors?
According to a survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institution (HERI) of 2016’s freshmen*:

 

  • 84% felt anxious
  • 51% felt depressed
  • Get moving with at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
  • 41% felt frequently overwhelmed
  • And – 47% Anticipated seeking personal counseling

(* Source: https://www.heri.ucla.edu/infographics/TFS-2016-Infographic.pdf)
No matter how many Snaps, Facebook Posts, or Instagram moments people post about the good times, be mindful that those filters don’t actually change the fact that: learning to “adult” is seriously hard sometimes. Don’t be afraid to talk about the bad times if you’re having them. Ask if you see someone else struggling. Go find your RA if you need help in the moment, or visit the college counselors office if you need more regular assistance. And at the very least, remember that, “C’s get degrees,” and there’s always next semester.

Jul 25th

Minnesota’s Crisis Connection

By Cathy Malmon, LMFT, LICSW

Two separate headlines in the Star Tribune within 3 days of each other pointed out the mental health crisis here in Minnesota. It echoes the larger issue of the mental illness crisis currently in our country. Two separate headlines in the Star Tribune within 3 days of each other pointed out the mental health crisis here in Minnesota. It echoes the larger issue of the mental illness crisis currently in our country.

The July 10th issue of the Star Tribune had an article:  “Minnesota mental health crisis hot line closing Friday.” The July 14th  edition of the paper reversed the news. “Crisis Connection hotline rescued, at least temporarily.”

Why is this news important and why should we care? You will and should, if you or anyone you know has ever struggled with mental illness, this is very disturbing. Mental illness can include those brief moments where it seems that there is no solution except despair and hopelessness. A human voice can mean the difference between despair and hope.

Crisis Connection provided that human element for almost 50 years. The phone lines were manned by trained volunteers who answered the phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They provided immediate short-term counseling, referrals to clinics and helped callers develop a plan to get them to a better physical and emotional place of safety. There were approximately 20,000 calls handled annually. (Minnesota mental health crisis hot line closing Friday, Star Tribune, Chris Serres, July 10,2017)

It is a single mental health line that covered the entire state of Minnesota. Each county is obligated to provide mental health crisis lines but access can be confusing to someone in crisis. The Crisis Connection phone number is a constant after-hours resource listed on clinic and therapist’s answering machines as well as website crisis resources.

The issue was and continues to be funding. Canvas Health who offers other critical services in Minnesota including a range of adult programs, services to children and families, housing, transportation, chemical health and other psychological services was being drained by the financial output for Crisis Connection. The calls were too many and the funding sources were too little.

The temporary safety net is coming from a federal grant for suicide prevention. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH will provide $139,000 which will keep Crisis Connection operating through September. (Crisis Connection hotline rescued, at least temporarily, Matt Sepic, July 14, 2017) An announcement on the Canvas Health website on July 14 said that other funds had been secured which will allow Canvas Health to remain open through the spring of 2018 (www.canvashealth.org). The crisis of Crisis Connection is now averted—for now.

Crisis Connection will now continue operating. Our collective attention would be well served to be aware of the mental health situation in Minnesota. I think of the possibility of knowing even one of those 20,000 callers.

“We are incredibly grateful to MDH and its leadership, as well as other funders, for recognizing the importance of this critical public service to the people of Minnesota,” said Matt Eastwood, Canvas Health CEO. “Because of their willingness to step forward to help keep these crisis lines open, lives will be saved.”

Please keep remembering the importance of this public service resource.

• 24-hour Crisis Connection (612) 379-6363
www.canvashealth.org

Jul 11th

Purposeful Parenting

By Jennifer Tagg, MA, LMFT

Calli Institute Blog-Mom exercising with baby in stroller“Beware the Sleep Deprived Mom” A friend gave me a mug with this inscription on it after the birth of my first child. Foreshadowing?? Yes. The other day as I was feeling particularly ornery and not bringing my best self to the table, my children suggested I should be drinking out of this mug. Touche.

I share this vignette as I write this blog in the hopes of coming from a place of authenticity and vulnerability–vulnerability, not defined as weakness, but as a place of courage which transforms our relationships (Daring Greatly, 2012). Perhaps this also becomes an excellent approach toward parenting: coming from a place of authenticity and vulnerability. As parents, we are connected on some level by the truth that the endeavor of raising children is humbling, exhausting, and utterly . . . joyful. And we are likely seeking not only survival of this process but also the experience of creating someone/ something meaningful all the same. I think that as parents, we can create greater value in our experience and in our children’s experiences by approaching our interactions with intention and mindfulness. This awareness transcends beyond our engagements with our children and also encompasses our sense of self. These strike me as fundamental starting points to approach the idea of purposeful parenting.

Let’s talk about the value of self care in the role of purposeful parenting. My “intention” is to start with this as a building block around how we parent (and so it doesn’t get skipped toward the end). Now, for anyone challenging this notion with the idea that you don’t have time for self care, consider the following:

Self care creates a ripple effect of positive energy. As we take care of ourselves, we create, renew, and restore our own energy reserves. As a result we have more to give to our children, families, and relationships. Think of the analogy of the instructions given by the flight attendant to first place your oxygen mask on before assisting those around you. Same rules apply here.

Self care allows us to model healthy practices for our children. Self care shows our children how we work to regulate our emotions. We validate how easy it is to become overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, etc. and that we are capable of managing our behaviors and feelings. In addition, we give our children tools and show them how to use those tools responsibly. One of the best gifts we can give our children is the awareness that we are not perfect. We don’t set them up to think they need to be perfect and we teach them how to be resilient in those learning moments.

Self care need not be limited to the self. Let me expand on this idea. I encourage the idea of self care to include those areas that bring a sense of wellness to the self. This could include things done alone, but may very well include time spent with others or time doing those things that will leave you feeling rejuvenated. In other words, self care could involve time with your children if that is what is needed to fill you up at that moment.

As you increase awareness of self, you increase the ability to be aware of what may be driving your child. This awareness lends itself to being purposeful in our parenting. Consider these ideas:

All behavior has a purpose even if it’s unknown to the individual. Being purposeful in our parenting involves our ability to be curious and consider factors that may be influencing dynamics taking place for our kids. It gives you an edge as a parent to consider the bio/ psycho/ social dynamics and engage from a mindful place. For example, looking at what may be driving a behavior (Is my child hungry, stressed, or trying to establish independence?) will impact our intervention in that moment.

The way we engage with our children has impact on the outcome of that interaction. If you want your child to feel loved and secure, you engage in a way that is nurturing. If you want your child to be responsible, you give them responsibilities to practice. The list goes on. If we consider what we want the outcome to be, we shape our own intervention in that moment. We probably wouldn’t intentionally seek an outcome that leaves our children feeling ridiculed or shamed; if we approach our interactions with an awareness of what we want to happen, we naturally move toward that desired outcome. The main idea here is that when you bring your intention and purpose to the parenting arena, you increase the likelihood of successful outcomes.

Even the best intentions won’t lead to the perfect outcome. Give yourself grace as a parent. Remember, this role is not about achieving perfection. It may be about catching ourselves in those “sleep deprived mom” moments and pausing to consider a redo on a situation that is going haywire. If we can create value and act with intention in the most trying of moments, we can know that our vulnerability will have paid off and our parenting has achieved its purpose.

Happy Parenting.

Jul 3rd

Happy Fourth of July!

By The Calli Institute

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July from The Calli Institute!

Happy Fourth of July

Jun 27th

School’s Out for the Summer!

By Tessa Gittleman, Mental Health Professional

Calli_Blog-Image_School's-Out_6.22.17

If you’re a parent, summer break is likely to stir up two oppositional feelings for you. On one hand, there’s the nostalgia of summer vacation; memories of barbecues, pool parties, summer camps, or even iconic movie scenes from Grease or Stand by Me, leave us feeling excited. We can remember what it feels like to have the final bell of the school year ring.

On the other hand, there’s the reality of summer vacation. There are never enough vacation days to spend as a family, or enough time to get all the projects done we swore we would get to this summer, or enough money to do all the things we want.

The discrepancy between how we recall summer and how we experience summer is totally normal. Yet, year after year, we are surprised when we grow more anxious than relaxed over the course of the break. Here are some helpful tips our team has put together to help any family manage the good and the bad that summer has to offer:


  1. Maintain—or create—some kind of structure.

Families are like any other system: they need structure. Plan ahead, not just with camps and trips, but also for the projects you know you need to get done. Schedule time to do self-care, spend one-on-one time with each of your children, and your partner. You will never be able to be all things to all people, so do the best you can to be exactly what you need.


  1. Give yourself, and your child, some time to adjust.

No one likes change. Especially when that change goes from something structured, such as the school year, to something dynamic. We all need gradual exposure to create and sustain a new normal. Be patient with yourself, and your children, until the new routine is simply the new normal.


  1. Work with your children.

Each child has unique interests, wants, and needs. Find ways to leverage their interests to create a plan. Have someone that loves cars? Take them to a Hastings for a Cruise-In, let them detail your car, or help them start a detailing service in your neighborhood. Have a child that loves art? Take them to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, or an art fair, or see if they want to start selling their jewelry designs on Etsy. Here are some other budget-friendly resources:

  1. Franklin Arts Center, Brainerd
  2. Spam Museum, Austin
  3. Movies and Music in the parks around the Twin Cities
  4. Check out your local library for free arts and culture events
  5. Go to Rush ticketing at your local theater for more affordable rates on the same great shows (ex: Guthrie, Children’s Theater)



Other great resources for you to explore:

  1. Family Fun Twin Cities
  2. CityPages’ Freeloader Friday
  3. ExploreMN
  4. Twin Cities Frugal Mom
  5. CBS Local Guides


  1. Have a backup plan.

Have you ever heard of Murphy’s Law? Well, it seems to apply disproportionally to the summertime. To manage the uncertainty, before summer even starts, have your kids write down a few “rainy day” ideas, and throw them into a jar. Rotate which of your children get to pull a suggestion out of the jar, and go with the idea that gets picked.


  1. Find support!

Summer might be notorious for meltdowns, but this break doesn’t have to lead to a breakdown. Find other parents to coordinate and connect with. Ask family and friends to help with the kids so you can recharge your batteries before burning out. At the very least, find someone to talk to who can help you manage and normalize the summertime struggle.

And don’t wait too long… before you know it, the new school year will be here!

Jun 13th

Don’t Call It What It Is – Men and Depression

By Cathy Malmon, LMFT, LICSW

Men-and-Depression_Calli-Institute

I received my first tutorial about men and depression when I was living in the Pittsburgh area and working as a therapist. This was early 1990’s. I had a male client who had presented for “stress” and problems with colleagues and family members. He was mid 40’s and working in the banking industry. I don’t remember which session it was but I can still hear the bellowed response when I suggested to him that he might be depressed.

I’m not DEPRESSED……I am STRESSED”.

I didn’t challenge him but suggested to him that he consult his primary care doctor for something to help “relieve” his stress. A week later he proudly comes back and tells me that he has been given something for stress. What was it? An antidepressant. I started to observe the ways men talked about their moods, feelings and mental health.

Working in the Pittsburgh area meant that football and the Pittsburgh Steelers were a huge part of everyday life. When I saw an article about Terry Bradshaw and his admission that he had been treated for depression, I ran off copy after copy. If Terry Bradshaw, pro football Hall of Famer, winner of 4 Super Bowls could talk about his depression I believed that other men could also. Sometimes they can.

Two men in the field of psychology have written about the myth of male depression through their own acknowledged experience with depression: their own and that of their fathers. Terrence Real wrote I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, which came out in paperback in 1998.

Dr. Archibald D Hart, clinical psychologist and Dean Emeritus at Fuller Theological Seminary wrote Unmasking Male Depression: Recognizing the Root Cause to Many Problem Behaviors Such as Anger, Resentment, Abusiveness, Silence, Addictions and Sexual Compulsiveness which was published in 2001.

Do men get depressed? Yes they do. It doesn’t appear in many of the same ways that depression is reported or experienced by females. It is more likely to surface with complaints about sleep difficulties, loss of interest in things like work, family, or sex. Men will report fatigue, stomach pain, or headaches, difficulties with concentration and overeating or under eating. They are more likely to demonstrate irritability, rage, and volatility in relationships and work situations.

While women internalize their pain and blame themselves, men externalize their own inner pain by blaming others or by engaging in more high-risk adrenaline type behaviors including an increase in alcohol, sexual compulsivity, working out, excessive work behaviors etc. Being busy, removed or distant can be a mask that hides depression.

Men will have thoughts about suicide or suicide attempts. According to a 2015 report published by the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and based on statistics taken from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Males are 4 times more likely to die by suicide than females
  • White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2015
  • The rate of suicide is highest in middle age-white men in particular

Men are “supposed” to shoulder things and not show vulnerability. Admitting to depression is exposing your flank to the enemy or “being a wimp”. There is a tremendous amount of shame for men to talk about their inner despair. Beliefs about masculinity perpetuate the myth that men are not supposed to express vulnerability. Those myths can kill, and they do.

Depression can be beaten if men are brave enough to seek help. Being a man doesn’t have to just mean being physically strong, impervious to pain and a rock. Sometimes strength is like being a willow tree, strong enough to bend.

Resources:
NIMH www.menanddepression.nimh.nih.gov

I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression by Terrence Real

Unmasking Male Depression:Recognizing the Root Cause to Many Problem Behaviors Such as Anger,Resentment, Abusiveness,Silence,Addictions and Sexual Compulsiveness by Dr. Archibald D Hart

May 30th

Postpartum Depression

By Tessa Gittleman, Mental Health Professional

Calli-Institute-Blog-post-Mother-and-childWith Mother’s Day now behind us, and National Mental Health Awareness Month coming to an end, we thought these two nationally observed events intersected at a critical junction. Postpartum depression (also known as: PPD, postnatal depression), impacts an average of 1 in 7 women. Celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and Hayden Panettiere have been reducing the stigma surrounding PPD by refusing to keep their stories silenced. With increasing awareness of the issue happening in the main stream, we’d thought we’d shed some light on the most common myths we see in our office.

Common Misconceptions About Postpartum Depression

1. Women with PPD cry all the time
a. Yes, some new mothers cry a lot, but there is no “one way” to experience the symptoms of PPD. Other, lesser known symptoms include (but are not limited to): irritability, guilt/shame, lack of interest in your baby or partner, avoidance, changes to sleep or eating, trouble concentrating, severe mood swings, rumination, obsessions, and thoughts of hopelessness. In some rare cases, postpartum psychosis occurs. The psychosis is like a bout of mania, and is very serious. If you start to feel like you’re hallucinating or having delusions, paranoia, refuse to eat, can’t think clearly, or have thoughts of hurting someone, please call 9-1-1 immediately.

2. PPD occurs in the first few months after giving birth
a. The onset of PPD can occur anywhere from two weeks to a year after giving birth. If symptoms last for more than two weeks, there is a good chance you’re suffering from more than just the “Baby Blues.”

3. Women with PPD are bad moms
a. News reports and Lifetime movies like to feature the “Bad Moms.” PPD gets lumped-in with other biological, psychological, or contextual problems because it makes for an entertaining story. Yes, PPD can have a lasting impact on the individual and their relationships. However, many survivors say it actually made them a better parent. Not only did they learn to overcome and communicate, they also found strength in recognizing there was even a problem to begin with.
b. You can be a great parent without being a great infant parent. Just as others wish to fast-forward through the adolescent stage of development, some can’t wait to hear what their little bundle of joy thinks, wants, and needs. Some people enjoy the maternity leave, diaper changes, and midnight feeds. Others are bored and unhappy without their work or outside connections. Just because you don’t love every minute of the infancy stage doesn’t mean you won’t grow into your uniquely perfect parent-child relationship.

4. PPD only impacts moms
a. For dad’s, Paternal Postnatal Depression (PPND) is very real. According to Kim & Swain (2007), the prevalence of PPND ranges from 1.2-11.9% globally. These rates have a sharp increase (24-50%) when compounded by a partner’s PPD.
b. Any kind of disorder, even when resolved quickly, can impact our relationships with partners, parents, children, and even friends. When someone can’t get their basic needs met, it can be hard to meet the needs of others.

5. PPD will go away on its own
a. After childbirth, women experience a dramatic drop in estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid functioning. Research shows that seeking help early on facilitates recovery. Common interventions include (but are not limited to): individual therapy, group therapy, and prescription medication.

It is easy to get caught up in what we think being a new parent “should be.” Unfortunately, that can result in an isolating reality. If think you, or someone you know, might be suffering from PPD, please know you are not alone. Whether it’s a friend or family member, clergy or clinician, partner or professional, please reach out.

Kim, P., & Swain, J. E. (2007). Sad Dads: Paternal Postpartum Depression. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 4(2), 35–47.

_______________________________________________________________

Tessa Gittleman, M.A. of Marriage and Family Therapy, swore growing up that she would never, ever be a therapist. Having been a consumer of bad therapy, Tessa didn’t see the point in going to talk to anyone who inevitably held his or her own opinion, or her parent’s opinion, higher than her own. She hated the feeling of being talked down to, or of someone else’s truth being forced upon her.

Instead, she graduated from Boston University with a promising career in food media. Having held an internship with Andrew Zimmern, and working in kitchens across the Twin Cities, Tessa learned how to make food a therapeutic experience. That was, of course, until food tried to kill her. If you’ve ever seen Will Smith in the movie Hitch, you’ll understand.

Tessa was forced to take time off to complete her “Tour de Mayo,” traveling from Rochester to Scottsdale to meet with different doctors. Eventually, the medical team was able to identify a rare set of medical conditions that better explained what her therapists had mislabeled all those years ago. Once she got a handle on her health, and found out what good therapy could feel like, Tessa shifted her focus to helping others avoid the terrible experiences she had growing up.

Tessa’s professional experiences with mental health have been vast over the last five years. From group homes for severe mental illness to working with incarcerated populations, Tessa found she was most passionate about her work with adolescents. Tessa spent the 2016-2017 school year at Edison High School, where she provided individual, family, and group therapy to students of North Minneapolis.

Tessa is excited to join the team just in time for the new school year! She describes her style as: funny, transparent, and collaborative. When Tessa is not at work, you might find her cooking (the new foods she can safely consume), walking her puppy, Teddy Bear, or hanging out with her chosen family.

 

11334 86th Ave North Maple Grove, MN 55369

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