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Depression and Anxiety in Teens – Questions to Think About

3.31.17

The high numbers regarding anxiety and depression in teens are alarming. Experts keep trying to figure out why the numbers continue to rise. Research confirms what many mental health providers have known for years about this amazing, yet troubled population. When you think about your adolescent, consider the following questions: Are your teens learning healthy coping skills to deal with stressors, anxiety, and depression? Who are their role models and are they learning healthy coping skills from them? When they experience emotional pain, have your kids learned how to deal with it? Do they have the appropriate support from you and professionals if needed? Do you know if your adolescent is involved in self-harming behaviors? If so, is h

Do I Have OCD?

3.22.17

When you worry frequently about things that are outside of your control, or you must have everything in your life organized perfectly, you may start to wonder if you need to see an OCD specialist. While anxiety does not mean that you have OCD, there are signs of OCD that are very difficult to ignore. What is important to remember is that OCD signs and symptoms are on a spectrum. While you may exhibit some signs, it is the degree of prevalence in your life that matters most. For those experiencing primarily mental obsessions, it is difficult to dismiss a random weird thought as non-sufferers do. Individuals with mental obsessions and compulsions will try to pick apart their thoughts in order to figure them out and resist them. They will also

4 Essentials To Help You Enjoy the Holidays

11.28.16

View original article published in Psych Central– The holidays give us great opportunities to continue existing traditions or establish new ones. We reconnect with friends and family. It is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. However, for some it can become a stressful and overwhelming season, and for others, one of the loneliest times. Whether you have big plans or no plans, consider these four critical points to help you enjoy your holidays:   1. Make sure to take care of yourself first! That is selfish some may exclaim, but is it really? A great metaphor for self-care is the specific instructions we receive from flight attendants when we travel by plane. They inform us that if the airplane were to lose cabin pressure

OCD: “The Bow that You Have to Keep on Tying”

10.11.16

View original article published in Psych Central– “It just doesn’t feel right. I have to fix it until it is just so!” “I need to figure it out, and once I do, I’ll feel free to move on!” “I have to check all the windows, then I’ll be able to sleep peacefully.” “I have to repeat my prayers until I know God has really heard them.” “Not knowing whether I may hurt my child makes me anxious. I waste too many hours reviewing my behavior to ensure I haven’t harmed her.” What do those statements have in common? When individuals experience OCD, accepting uncertainty seems to be the greatest challenge. They have extreme difficulty moving on with their day unless they feel 100% sure the answers to their doubts have been resolved. Whether it is doing s

Two Ways to Put the Brakes on Your Anxiety

9.23.16

View original article published in Psych Central– Our human instinct is to react and push back when we feel pain and discomfort. When we struggle with anxiety, those feelings are magnified. Our inherent response is to try and get rid of unpleasant feelings and sensations immediately, but does it really work? This is an important question, and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) teaches that fighting the discomfort can actually make the situation worse. Mental health providers practicing ACT often use the quicksand metaphor, and the reaction we naturally would have if we were ever caught in it. Even though we know it makes matters worse when we panic and try to get out quickly, our survival mechanisms tell us differently. Trying to

The Before and After… by Nancy Larsen, MSW, CSW

9.21.16

In therapy, I often use art as a tool to help clients externalize their experience with OCD. This technique assists the client in expressing how OCD affects their life by using color; giving their OCD a name, a shape and a face. When I first mention to clients that they will be finger painting in session, they often have a surprised look on their face. Most of their comments go something like this, “Finger painting. Seriously? I haven’t finger painted since I was in…kindergarten.”  Although some are hesitant when they first start their painting, I find it is not long before they begin to get into their work and create what I call a masterpiece. Below you will find artwork done by a few of my clients. Each client was

Mindfulness and OCD

5.22.16

View original article published in Psych Central here] Vincent was a young man experiencing intrusive thoughts. All he wanted in life was to get rid of those tormenting images and thoughts once and for all. One day, after coming back from a camping trip he told his therapist, “I was so busy and focused on what I was doing that I didn’t have time to analyze my thoughts and obsess. I was mainly focused in the present moment. If only I could go on camping adventures every day!” Vincent’s OCD symptoms had begun when he was 12 years old. He had created thinking patterns that weren’t helpful. In the past, he had tried different “distracting strategies” but their effectiveness was short-lived. He also had discovered that fighting his internal expe

Social Anxiety: The Pervasive Creature in your Mind

1.19.16

View original article published in Psych Central here. When Tina took her first job out of college, she thought she could circumvent most of the social events it required. They were not part of her main responsibilities. But three months into it, her company experienced major restructuring, and she was assigned new responsibilities that involved more interaction with people. Her worries increased. She knew that her social anxiety could get in the way of her career. Ever since she was a child, Tina had developed extreme fear that others would judge her words and actions whenever she was in social situations. She had two close childhood friends. One had gotten married, and the other had moved away. She felt lonely and had not been able to de

Every man dies. Not every man lives.

10.16.15

What are your values? What are your dreams? What is something you wish you could be doing instead of focusing on your OCD? OCD is still there, and you don’t have to put your life on hold until it’s “gone.” You can instead look at your values, what you stand for, and what your passions are or could be. You can start today. Make what matters the most the center of your life. We will all die at one point or another, but while we live, let’s make our lives more meaningful!

Talking To Your Child About OCD

10.15.15

Sometimes parents hesitate telling their children that they have OCD. Their reasons may vary, but the most common reasons are the following: They worry about the stigma that surrounds OCD, and the possible negative effects on their child. They don’t want their child to be labeled, treated, or looked at differently. They wish to avoid hurt feelings for their child. They worry their child may feel broken or that something is wrong with them. They don’t want their child’s confidence to suffer. On the other hand, consider why talking about it may be a better option: When children don’t understand what is happening to them, they figure out their own solution. The danger is that their solution may not be correct. When you talk about OCD for w

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