How Can I Treat My Mood Disorder?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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Mood disorder

Recognizing and getting treatment for your mood disorder

Mood disorders – characterized by irritability, empty moods, shifts in appetite or sleep and/or periods of heightened happiness or sadness – can easily take a toll on the body and the mind. While it’s very normal for someone’s mood to change throughout the day, mood disorders are verified mental health issues that present more extreme reactions, with or without triggering life events.

Perhaps you’ve noticed a change in your productivity, or sense of self-worth or self-confidence. Perhaps you’ve identified a palpable shift in your mood that has lasted for weeks or longer. If you’ve found that one or more of the above symptoms has compromised your daily routine for more than two weeks, it’s likely time to seek the help from medical professionals ready to help.

What is a mood disorder?

Before we dive into the best treatment types for mood disorders, let’s establish what they are (and what they are not).

Mood disorders are verified mental health issues – not passing emotions. In order to qualify as a mood disorder, your set of symptoms must be experienced consistently for at least two weeks. In addition, symptoms must be severe enough to warrant medical help.

There are many types of mood disorders, each with similar yet distinct symptoms, unique treatments and outlooks. We’ve outlined 3 of the most popular mood disorders below:

  • Depression – a mental disorder where moods are consistently depressed; individuals with depression report loss of passion for their favorite activities and foods, trouble sleeping, heightened anxiety and increased feelings of worthlessness or shame
  • Bipolar disorders – this disorder alternates the individual between heights of happiness and depressive depths, with wild shifts in energy levels, self-confidence, self-worth and mental capacity
  • Dysthymia – a more mild form of consistent depression, only diagnosed after the patient experiences depressed interest in favorite activities, low energy and appetite, and changes in sleep patterns for more than two years

Caused by a multitude of different factors, likely including genetic elements and imbalances in pivotal brain chemicals, mood disorders can affect anyone. Typically, adolescents and adults with mood disorders are at heightened risk to develop their own mood disorders, though life’s normal challenges can also contribute to a mood disorder’s development.

Am I experiencing a mood disorder?

It’s a question that only a licensed health professional can help you diagnose; if you’re wondering if you have a mood disorder, make sure you consult the appropriate help from licensed therapists qualified to deal with exactly what you’re experiencing.

Some symptoms are shared by most common mood disorders, and could help you better understand the scope of what you’re going through. In general, all of the following symptoms are shared by most mood disorders, with few exceptions:

  • Extended periods of sadness or empty moods
  • Sustained low sense of self-worth
  • Feelings of guilt or shame, especially feelings of worthlessness without reason
  • Shifts in appetite or weight control
  • Muted energy or excitement levels about your favorite activities

Anyone experiencing a combination of these symptoms for 14 days or more, especially if those symptoms are compounded with thoughts of suicide, should get the help they need immediately. Don’t be afraid to speak with your healthcare provider about mood disorders, to get the help that you know you need.

How can I treat my mood disorder?

Mood disorders cannot be cured, but many individuals have found personal freedom through effective treatment modalities. Successful treatment methods, prescribed under the watch of your medical professional, typically include:

  • Individual, group or family therapy
  • Online or in-person counseling
  • Monitored, FDA-approved medications

Through behavioral therapy methods like psychotherapy, often applied in tandem with medication, psychiatrists and therapists have successfully helped thousands of individuals take back their lives. While researchers still cannot determine the source of mood disorders, they can agree that getting appropriate help can help to minimize their effects on your day-to-day life.

Start treating your mood disorder today

Today is a great day to reinforce your fight against mood disorders with the appropriate medical help that can help you take back a healthy, happy lifestyle. Pyramid Online Counseling provides virtual counseling services that can help you receive the treatment you need in the comfort of your own home. Through an encrypted online platform, you can connect with the right therapist after browsing profiles to find the right advocate in your struggles.

Schedule your first counseling session through Pyramid Online Counseling today, to turn the tide in your fight against your mood disorder today and achieve a brighter tomorrow.

Do I Need Help for My Anxiety?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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Anxiety

How do I know if I need help with my anxiety?

Anxiety is not always a bad thing. In appropriate situations, anxiety is simply a natural response to life’s events, and can help inform correct decisions. Whether because of an impending job interview, difficult conversation, first date or whatever the case may be, anxiety is a natural response to events that cause stress.

However, when that anxiety lingers after the situation has subsided, it can quickly do more harm than good. When the amount of anxiety we experience doesn’t equate to the gravity of the situation, or when anxiety is experienced for no reason at all, it might be time to talk with a medical professional about what you’re experiencing.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine whether the anxiety you’re experiencing is worthy of attention, or whether you’re simply encountering a natural response to your life’s events. That’s why we’ve outlined a few simple checks you can perform on yourself, to help determine whether you need help coping with your anxiety.

1. Check your body’s physical response to your anxiety.

The first step toward determining the extent to which anxiety has been affecting your body, take a moment to gauge how your anxiety has affected you physically. Over time, anxiety can take a toll on the body, but you can begin to feel the physical effects of anxiety after even a few minutes of the emotion. Here are a few symptoms of anxiety that you’re likely to experience physically:

  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Hyperventilation (rapid, uncontrolled breathing)
  • Feeling out of breath without a valid reason

If you’re experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, you very well might be encountering the body’s physical response to anxiety. However, it’s not simply the symptoms of anxiety that warrant a visit with a licensed health professional; rather, you also want to determine the length and the severity of the symptoms themselves. Have these symptoms only surfaced sporadically, perhaps during a particularly difficult moment or day? Or have you experienced more sustained anxiety symptoms over a longer period of time?

You’ll want to consider both the symptoms you’re feeling and the severity and duration of those symptoms, when considering whether to consult a health professional regarding your anxiety.

2. Try focusing on anything else.

We’re not suggesting you try to bury your emotions by any means – that’s never a healthy coping mechanism. Here’s what we are suggesting: make a conscious effort to focus your mind on anything else in your life. Even better, perform some sort of physical activity to help expedite that process.

If you can successfully place your mind on something else, especially if you can consistently overcome your anxiety with this coping mechanism, it likely means that your anxiety is caused by life events.

However, if you find that your mind consistently returns to the same anxiety, especially if you find yourself overthinking the situation or constantly worrying about the rest of your day, it’s likely a sign that your anxiety will be better handled by a certified medical professional.

3. Determine how your symptoms have progressed over time.

We’ve already addressed above that symptoms of anxiety themselves do not warrant a visit with a health professional. However, if you’ve found that your symptoms have not improved with time, or especially if they have worsened, it might be time to consult a therapist for help handling your anxiety.

Take a moment to ascertain how your symptoms have evolved over time. You likely began to take notice of your symptoms after a specific life event, or despite the lack of any trigger. How have those same symptoms progressed over time? Have they remained steady? Have they worsened, or even improved? Have you noticed new symptoms of anxiety surface over time, especially after your anxiety began to appear more frequently?

The answers to these questions, and other questions about the nature and the length of your anxiety symptoms, can help inform your decision to get help in managing the anxiety you’re experiencing.

4. Gauge how many aspects of your life are causing you anxiety.

If you can, take a few moments and try to identify the events or triggers in your life that are responsible for your anxiety. Try to gauge how many aspects of your life are tied to your feelings of anxiety – this is one great way to answer the question “How do I know if I need help with my anxiety?”

If you determine that your anxiety is tied to one or two isolated factors – perhaps an upcoming event or a certain cause – you likely don’t need to consult the help of a counselor unless those feelings of anxiety are sustained over the coming days and weeks. However, if you find that many aspects of your life – social experiences, anticipation of upcoming events, etc. – are responsible for prolonged anxiety, then you will likely benefit from the help that a licensed medical professional can provide.

Don’t be afraid to get help for your anxiety

There are definitely instances where anxiety is strictly caused by passing life events. However, when you find that anxiety is compromising your productivity or your sense of self-confidence, it’s time to find the help you need from certified medical professionals. At Pyramid Online Counseling, we’ve made a habit of helping patients with their behavioral and mental health issues. Whether you’re experiencing anxiety, depression or co-occurring disorders, Pyramid Online Counseling is ready to offer proven treatment modalities from licensed therapists.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and source the help you need. Admitting you need help is the first step toward returning to a happier, healthier version of yourself. If you need help managing your anxiety, resources like Pyramid Online Counseling can help you pursue freedom from life’s most difficult challenges. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

How to Evaluate an Online Counseling Program

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center, Treatment & Therapy  
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woman speaking with counselor on laptop

5 things to look for in an online counseling program

Especially in the wake of a pandemic, online counseling is quickly becoming the preferred method for many patients to receive the therapy they need, from the comfort of their own home.

In the same way that high school students spend time evaluating a university before choosing to attend, anyone considering an online counseling program should take the time to look into specifics. And much in the same way that different universities offer different features, you’ll want to make sure that the online counseling program you trust offers the right combination of elements to help provide you with the support you need.

Here are 5 things to look for when considering online counseling platforms, to make sure you find a provider that suits your needs.

1. Easy process to get started

Look for an online counselor program that makes signing up for your tenth counseling session as easy as your first. The sign-up process will look to gather basic information about you and the issues you’re experiencing, before connecting you with counselor profiles that can best help address your respective challenges.

Admitting you need help handling life’s difficulties is the most difficult step toward receiving the help you need. So many individuals will never reach the point where they can admit that their challenges are more than they can handle. As a result, it should be as easy as possible to sign up, browse counselor profiles and seek the help you need with minimal turnaround time. Look for an easy sign-up process that prioritizes your health and well-being.

2. Licensed online counselors

This is an absolute must: your online counseling program must include licensed online counselors. Many counseling programs online offer reputable counseling help from therapists who have completed required licensing. However, many online counseling options offer communication with individuals who are not properly accredited.

When you’re looking for online counseling, you need someone who has registered extensive work helping people just like you, people who have experienced and overcome the challenges you’re facing. Licensed online counselors can provide you with the help, the therapy and the medication you need, because they’re certified to help you deal with your specific issues.

3. Guaranteed response times

Especially if your need for licensed counseling is more urgent, it’s important that you receive the help you need, when you need it. Online counseling programs with guaranteed response times help you address specific issues with little wait time, whether you’re receiving help through a video call, messaging portal or voice communication.

Guaranteed response times also say a lot about the quality of the online counseling program in general. Especially if the counselors are fully licensed, they will understand that fulfilling counseling requests in a time-sensitive manner can have a huge impact on how well the patient receives the services. Oftentimes, the faster a counseling request is fulfilled, the better the result of the counseling session will be.

4. Live, secure online appointments

Most online counseling programs will offer live online appointments. We’d like to add another qualification here: make sure that the online counseling provider you’re considering offers the same live video connections through an encrypted platform. It’s not enough to host video communication between counselors and patients; given the often sensitive nature of the counseling itself, make sure your preferred online counseling provider offers a HIPAA-compliant, encrypted online connection to prevent any data breaches.

Much like the guaranteed response times benchmark above, the security of the counseling connection will tell you a lot about the quality of the online counseling program you’re considering. Counseling providers who take the time to establish and maintain an encrypted online platform, despite the added costs, are telling you that they prioritize your security above cost-cutting measures. And that’s what you want: an online counseling provider that cares more about you than your wallet.

5. Online counselor profiles to filter

Oftentimes, even among the more qualified online counseling providers, you’ll simply fill out a profile and be automatically matched with a counselor who has experience dealing with the issues you’re facing. However, certain online counseling providers take provider matching a step further, giving you the ability to filter through online counselor profiles to decide for yourself the counselor you’d prefer to work with.

The connection between patient and counselor is so important for an online counseling session, especially since virtual counseling doesn’t allow for in-person meetings or face-to-face communication. In addition, body language is more difficult to read, making that online connection between therapists and clients arguably more important than ever before. As a result, online counseling providers who allow you to filter through, and select, the counselor you’d like to work with are really working to set themselves apart. They put the power to initiate the relationship between counselor and client into your hands.

Finding an online counseling program with all the tools you’ll need

It’s important that you find an online counseling provider that checks all of your boxes, from licensed online counselors to a live, securely encrypted connection. Pyramid Online Counseling understands how important those benchmarks are, because we’re already accustomed to maintaining those same standards. Take the first step toward a healthier, happier daily outlook and schedule your online counseling appointment today through Pyramid Online Counseling.

How to Handle Co-Occurring Disorders

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health, Treatment & Therapy  
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family walking on sidewalk

Co-occurring disorders refer to any circumstances where an individual deals with two disorders at once, of similar or differing severity. You could be dealing with co-occurring substance use and mental or behavioral health disorders, or any combination of disorders that you’re experiencing at the same time.

Working through the challenges that a single disorder can impose on your life is hard enough; it’s oftentimes even more difficult to manage two disorders you’re experiencing at the same time, especially since you might require individual therapies or medications for each. In addition, specific treatment modalities can negatively affect one disorder over another, limiting how individuals can receive treatment for one of their disorders in light of the others.

Here’s the good news: you can do more than simply survive if you’re someone who is experiencing co-occurring disorders. With the right approach to co-occurring disorders, you can learn to manage life’s challenges, achieving the same goals and living the full life you’re hoping to live.

Here are 3 tips to handling your co-occurring disorder:

1. Don’t wait to seek and receive treatment.

The most difficult step in seeking help for any co-occurring disorder is simply admitting that we can’t handle everything on our own. Far too many individuals have not received the treatment they need for a single or a co-occurring disorder, simply because they haven’t admitted to a healthcare provider that they need help.

Don’t wait to receive the treatment you need for a co-occurring disorder; rather, reach out to a licensed medical professional today for help managing your co-occurring disorder. Professional counselors can help you identify triggers, minimize symptoms and pursue the life you want to live, and it all starts when you take the first step toward therapy.

2. Pursue a healthy diet and sleep pattern.

So much in our lives is affected by the food we consume and the amount of sleep we register each night. To give your body a fighting chance against co-occurring disorders, especially if you’re taking medication to limit symptoms, it’s important that you steer clear of potentially damaging ingredients. Even small amounts of artificial sugars can make a big difference, and can negatively affect how easy your co-occurring disorders are to manage.

It’s also important that you take the time to get sufficient sleep every night. Because of how accessible technology is in our lives, we often find ourselves surfing the internet, flipping between television channels or browsing through items on our phones, instead of heading off to bed. We find it often helps to set parameters for your end-of-day activities, that include turning off all technology in anticipation of winding down for the evening.

3. Celebrate the victories.

Take time during your day to celebrate the small victories. Especially when you’re battling co-occurring disorders, the small victories can make all the difference. Maybe you have successfully managed to avoid substances for a certain period of time. Maybe you’ve found a new way to manage symptoms, or you’ve noticed medication begin to take effect. No matter the good news, large or small, take time out of your day to appreciate your own resolve, and don’t be afraid to celebrate in your own unique (healthy) way.

4. Understand that you’re not alone.

This step is so critically important to your long-term success while battling co-occurring disorders: understand that you’re not alone. Especially when disorders can prevent us from feeling the happiness or the fulfillment we want to feel on a daily basis, it’s easy to get discouraged, or to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. We suggest that no matter what this looks like in your own life, take the time to get connected with other individuals who are experiencing many of the same struggles that you are.

If that means connecting with an online community, do it. If that means taking time to attend an in-person group therapy session, where you can share your thoughts, struggles and celebrations in a judgement-free zone, it’s important that you make the time for it. Ultimately, anything you can do to foster community not only for you, but also for anyone else who may be struggling with some of the same challenges you face, will go a long way toward making co-occurring disorders more manageable – and even inspiring – on a day-to-day basis.

Get the help you need to manage your co-occurring disorders

Learning how to manage co-occurring disorders isn’t a practice you learn overnight. Rather, you’ll slowly learn productive habits to minimize symptoms and promote healthy, happy living, often with the help of licensed medical professionals.

At Pyramid Online Counseling, we’re well familiar with treatment modalities specifically for individuals with co-occurring disorders. In fact, our licensed therapists are well-versed in administering treatment virtually, so that you can get the help you need to manage your co-occurring disorders without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. Schedule your first appointment today with Pyramid Online Counseling, to discover how online counseling through a secure, encrypted online platform can help you fulfill the life you know you deserve to live.

What is Mindfulness Therapy?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center, Treatment & Therapy  
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woman sitting on rick on edge of cliff

How can mindfulness therapy help me reassess my negative thinking?

Mindfulness therapy is predicated on one truth: thoughts precede moods. Negative thoughts can quickly contribute to compromised quality of life, reduced productivity and a depressed sense of self. In tandem, positive thoughts can help you over time take back the life you’re looking to live, restoring self-confidence along the way.

Mindfulness therapy, then, aims to help you control the same thoughts that so heavily influence moods. Specifically, mindfulness therapy deploys strategies like meditation, which draws conscious attention to clients’ thoughts and feelings. In fact, mindfulness builds on the foundation that cognitive therapy lays, helping patients avoid depression, its triggers and the moods and actions that follow, in helping you reassess train of thought.

What can I expect from a mindfulness therapy session?

Mindfulness therapy builds on itself, as patients become more and more accustomed to its taught modes of thinking. Weekly therapy can help you refocus your own mindfulness, through practices that include concentrated meditation, breathing techniques and the creation of a non-judgmental frame of mind.

Other pillars of mindfulness therapy include:

  • Reflections on your states of mind throughout the week, and how those thoughts directly and indirectly contributed to your actions.
  • A deliberate focus on how your breathing can affect your state of mind
  • Taught breathing techniques that help you control heart rate
  • Various types of meditation
  • Various integrations of meditation with other cognitive behavioral techniques

Ultimately, you can expect a variety of treatment modalities that help you focus on controlling your thoughts, with a focus on breathing and meditation that help deliver you increased control on your mood and on your actions.

What skills can I expect to learn from mindfulness therapy?

Just like no one experiences end-stage benefits from therapy on the first day, it takes time to experience major benefits from mindfulness therapy. However, over time you can expect to yield concrete, lasting benefits from sustained mindfulness therapy, including all of the following skills:

  • Learning to commit to decisions, rather than allowing indecision to affect productivity
  • Learning to focus on the moment, rather than allowing potential future situations and decisions to affect current decisions
  • Learning to assess a situation without overtly judging all individuals involved, including yourself
  • Learning to assess situations rationally
  • Learning to pay attention to both internal and external influences on your health and mind

These simple, concrete skills can benefit daily life in so many ways. Maybe you’re experiencing judgmental or destructive thoughts during life’s simple tasks. Maybe you’re having difficulty keeping negative thoughts from overtly corrupting your mood. Maybe daily routines like morning preparation or meal-making have become massive mental exercises. If you’re finding that there’s no barrier between your negative thoughts and the negative moods that develop as a result, mindfulness therapy is available to help.

How can I introduce mindfulness into different types of therapy?

Here’s another benefit to mindfulness therapy: you can learn to integrate its strategies and techniques into other therapy methods you’re practicing. At its core, mindfulness simply means learning how to be more aware of your thoughts and your mental state, and how those thoughts contribute to the moods you experience and the actions you take as a result.

Here are 3 mindfulness techniques you’ll learn in mindfulness therapy that can easily be carried over into other therapy modalities.

1 – Basic mindfulness meditation

Mindful meditation entails being mentally present in the moment. Sometimes, it means taking the time away from your busy day to simply sit and comprehend your own thoughts. Sometimes, it means turning off technology and other external distractions, while paying particular notice to feelings, passing thoughts or physical influences during this time.

Here’s one important note: during a period of mindfulness meditation, your goal is to take inventory of those thoughts, moods or feelings. Your goal is not to dwell on any single influence. Rather, you’re taking notes on what you’re feeling and how you’re taking those feelings in, before letting them go and continuing to focus on the present moment. Only after your period of mindfulness meditation concludes do you revisit what you identified and experienced previously.

2 – Controlled breathing

You’ll be amazed at how much you can control your thoughts, moods and actions simply by controlling your breathing. Take the time to consciously inhale and exhale during the extent of your controlled breathing exercises, rather than leaving breathing on autopilot.

Controlled breathing can also be a big help in maximizing the benefit of mindfulness meditation. Breathing exercises that include controlled, regulated inhaling and exhaling can yield big dividends for your mindfulness therapy, especially with regard to monitoring the thoughts that directly contribute to moods and actions. You’ll oftentimes find that controlled breathing helps you enhance mental clarity, relax the mind and help organize thoughts in general.

3 – Deliberate physical movement

Often performed in tandem with meditation or even controlled breathing, deliberate physical movement like walking, jogging or yoga help you concentrate and fully realize all aspects of the present moment. No matter the physical movement you elect to integrate into your mindfulness therapy, make sure it’s relaxed enough that you’re more focused on taking in all aspects of your surroundings, and less focused on overall stamina. Remember, you’re not looking to run a marathon or set weightlifting records here; the goal of deliberate physical movement is only to maximize mindfulness, to notice all of the aspects of each new moment.

Get the help you need through mindfulness therapy today

Mindfulness therapy helps you maximize your understanding of your own mind, and how individual thoughts and feelings contribute to actions. If you’re interested in leveraging mindfulness therapy to improve your health and happiness, understand that licensed therapists from Pyramid Online Counseling are standing by, ready to help. Schedule your appointment with a licensed online counselor today, after browsing therapist profiles to find the right individual to help you manage and overcome whatever behavioral health challenge you’re facing.

Self-improvement starts when we become increasingly mindful of our thoughts, positive or negative, and how those thoughts contribute to our actions. Mindfulness therapy helps you assess those thoughts in a non-judgmental way. Ultimately, mindfulness therapy goes a long way toward helping you transform positive thoughts into positive actions, while at the same time stopping negative thoughts in their tracks before they have the chance to manifest into actions you’ll regret.