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Category Archives: Mental Disorder

IMG_0882 (2)This  guest post is written by a beautiful, courageous, intelligent, witty and wise-beyond-her-years girl named Natalie.  In her words, she is a “Catholic home-schooled 16-year-old who loves St. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, Jane Austen, books, good coffee, Batman, a good laugh, and pranking her friends!”

 

photo-1429277158984-614d155e0017As a teen girl growing up in a body-obsessed culture, I can say in all honesty that I have really felt the effects of it. Airbrushed models, celebrities with “perfect bodies,” and weight loss commercials are constantly blared at me from TV, store ads, and billboards. As a young girl viewing this twisted idea of beauty, I now realize, as I reflect, that it has had a great impression on me, and consequently the life of everyone around me. Continue reading »

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photo by Clemson CC

photo by Clemson CC

Deciding to seek help is often the hardest part of actually beginning therapy.  In my last post, I addressed the mistaken stigma of seeking the help of a therapist, and doubts Catholics in particular might have about seeking therapy. Overcoming our own doubts, hesitations and preconceptions is hard enough.  After that, finding a therapist should be easy – just open the phone book, call someone and go.  Unfortunately, it is rarely that simple.  One aspect that often makes choosing a therapist more complicated is the intimacy of the work.  Going in, you know you are trusting someone to understand you, even the parts of yourself that you don’t usually share with others.  That can involve plenty of doubt and uncertainty.  Will the therapist really understand me?  Really get what is going on with me?  Really be able to help me?  For these reasons, those seeking help are often evaluating more than just credentials – they want to know if the therapist as a person is a good fit with them.

Because of my background, I am often asked to suggest a therapist or help in the process of finding one.  As often as not, the person who asks me is not the person going to therapy, but is someone who wants information to smooth the process for a friend or relative.   Regardless of who is asking, what I describe below is how I would approach the process.  There is no “right way” to choose a therapist, so my intent is to provide some information to help you ponder rather than laying out a perfect series of steps. Continue reading »

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depressed-hands-on-faceBy our nature as humans, we need others.  Giving and receiving help is as human as breathing.  God looked at Adam and said (essentially): “You’re gonna need some help.”  So He provided Adam with a helpmate.  Across our lifespan, we turn to others for help:  to our parents for nurturing, our teachers for education, our doctors for all our physical ills.  We turn to spouses and best friends to soothe us during the bruises of life, and we turn to our church community to revive our weary, broken, wayward souls.  We do not think twice about seeking help from these people, but there is one person from whom many people still hesitate to seek help:  a therapist (a.k.a psychologist, psychotherapist, or counselor). Continue reading »

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Why read a post about mental illness?

  • Demographics. Nearly a quarter of the U.S. population will meet criteria for some mental illness this year.  Mental illness touches everyone’s life.
  • Friendships. Maybe you want to support friends who are suffering.  Or you know that increased understanding means a decreased chance of hurting someone you care about.
  • Personal Impact. You want to reduce your own chances of experiencing mental illness or cope better with the situation you are in.
  • Charity.  Perhaps you are someone who wants to “Speak the truth in love.”  The more you know, the better you can reach and relate to someone who struggles with mental health.

Whatever your reason, here are five points that might shift your views on mental illness:

1. Mental illnesses are part of the spectrum of common human experience.

I can’t speak for you, but I know I experience anxiety quite often.  I remember anxiety over speaking in high school or asking someone on a first date.  Now I feel anxiety when others evaluate my work, or when I have to confront someone I care about. I am sure you have worried about some aspect of your life: “Will we have enough to retire?”  “Will the principal judge me if my daughter wears mismatched socks and shoes to school?”  “Is there something wrong with me if I see the dress as white and gold?”   Anxiety and worry are human experiences, but for some they are debilitatingly intense or pervasive. Continue reading »

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clasped_handsYou know someone with a mental disorder.  Even if you don’t know it yet.  Whether family, co-workers or acquaintances, we’ll call them “your friend.”  Since you are reading this, I know you are a caring and compassionate person who would like to understand and support your friend.

Mental illness makes many things very difficult, especially relationships with others.  I bet you have felt that with your friend.  Maybe they have been labeled with major depression, and find it hard to respond to your invitations or enjoy activities with you.  Maybe they have issues with anxiety and their worry is so intense that you find it difficult to relax with them.  Maybe they carry the label of bipolar disorder, and their manic energy and obsessive enthusiasm occasionally leaves you in the dust and overwhelmed.  Maybe they sometimes seem to lose touch with the ordinary world, and meaningful communication appears impossible.  But whatever the problem, you can feel their suffering, and you do not want to give up or walk away.

So how can you help someone with a mental illness?   Continue reading »

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downloadIn my last post I discussed some considerations that one might take into account as they discern whether they are ready to take psychotropic medication.  As a follow-up to that post I want to explore some practical, non-medication related suggestions for coping with anxiety and depression, as well as discuss 10 common thought errors/distortions that cause many of us difficulty. In order to do this, however, It is necessary to provide some background on the various ways psychological disturbances are conceptualized.

Continue reading »

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