Do you have questions for a psychologist? Are you afraid or embarrassed to see one? Well, we may have the answers you need!
I have come to finally realize that I have anger management problems. Any advice you can give to help with that?
It’s wonderful that you have finally come to realize your difficulties with managing anger as continuing to have anger management problems can lead to significant physical and mental health problems. It can impact your family and interpersonal relationships, as you may offend and scar the people that you love. It can also impact your career as it stops you from working well with others and makes you unable to take constructive criticism.
Anger management starts with leading a healthy lifestyle which includes time management, effective communication, regular exercise, and a determination to continuously work on oneself.
In addition, given that you have mentioned that you have struggled with anger management for a while, it is wise to first start with a daily or weekly evaluation of yourself, whereby you make a list of all of the situations that frustrated or angered you. You will then begin noticing a pattern whereby you are able to identify your anger triggers, or matters that have violated your expectations or interfered with achieving your goals. Some common triggers of anger include problem solving difficulties, past experiences, individuals that attack your ideas or threaten your basic needs, etc. Once the triggers are identified, then you need to learn your body’s reactions to such triggers. Your body usually gives you warning signs, such as a headache, difficulty concentrating, knots in your stomach, tension in your neck and shoulder, etc. Now, you have to listen to those warning signals and engage in an intervention so that you don’t have an outburst or become angered. This intervention is unique to each individual and it will involve research on your part, in terms of what helps calm you down. Some individuals enjoy a weekly massage, others benefit from breathing exercises, while others like looking at pictures of loved ones to disconnect.
If you need additional assistance with identifying your anger triggers, processing past experiences that may be impacting your anger management, and identifying healthy coping mechanisms, you can contact a psychologist.
I am worried about my sister who gave birth 5 months ago. She is always tired, depressed, and lacks in motivation. What I’m worried about most is that she has isolated herself and does not connect with any of her family and friends. She also seems very distant and non interactive with her baby. Is she going through post partum depression? How can I help?
You seem to be genuinely worried about your sister and rightfully so. Generally, many new mothers experience a mixture of emotions following childbirth. Such emotions can range from excitement to anxiety. Most new mothers also experience mood swings, crying spells, and irritability, which is quite normal. However, some new mothers experience more severe symptoms, such as intense anger, loss of pleasure, severe mood swings, withdrawal from family and friends, difficulty bonding with the newborn, etc. From what you have described about your sister, she seems to be experiencing severe symptoms, which, as psychologists, we label as post partum depression. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines Post Postpartum Depression (PPD) as a “serious mental health problem characterized by a prolonged period of emotional disturbance, occurring at a time of major life change and increased responsibilities in the care of a newborn infant.” There is no definitive cause for PPD, but research has suggested various causes including physical and environmental ones. When a woman gives birth, various physiological changes occur, including the significant decrease of the hormones progesterone and estrogen, along with other physical changes in the blood, metabolism, etc. Such changes lead to symptoms of fatigue and lack of energy. In addition, we should not forget that new mothers are undergoing lifestyle changes, including changes of sleep patterns, body image concerns, other familial obligations, etc. Such physical and emotional factors, in addition to possible genetic predispositions to depression, can lead new mothers to experience PPD symptoms. It is very important that your sister receive treatment for her PPD as it may leave her at risk for Major Depression and it may impact the child’s behavioral and emotional development. Research has shown that infants, who do not bond emotionally with their mothers and form healthy and secure attachments, are at future risk of behavioral symptoms, hyperactivity, and even developmental delays. We advise that your sister speak with her gynecologist who can recommend treatment and refer her to a psychologist.
I would like some tips on some things I can do with my 7 year old son, over the summer, as I don’t want him to lose the structure he gained during the school year.
Summer can be a wonderful time for children yet very stressful for parents. This is partly due to the fact that a big chunk of time that is usually spent in school now needs to be replaced by other activities. In addition, the structure provided by school is no longer available during the summer vacation. However, as a parent you can engage your child in certain activities so as to minimize your stress and ensure his continued adherence to structure. Enrolling your child in summer activities or summer camp is always a great idea to keep him active and entertained. In addition, planning a summer vacation as a family is also a great idea, whereby you can involve your child in the planning of the vacation, and enrich their learning experience by introducing them to new places, cities, countries, etc. One thing we advise that you be careful of during the summer vacation is excessive indoor time where the child is overly involved with computer games, television, etc. Encourage them to be active and explore rather than be dormant and lazy. Finally, remember that just because it’s a vacation from school it doesn’t mean that it’s a vacation from rules and good behavior!
I’m a 27 year old female and I have noticed that during times when I do not take care of my eating habits, I tend to become a little more irritable, anxious, and sad. Is that possible? Are there really certain kinds of food that can impact your mood?
The interaction between the mind and body is a well documented and researched fact. The key, however, is to understand whether we eat unhealthy food because we are anxious or depressed or whether eating certain food contributes to our likelihood of experiencing anxiety and depression.
Many studies have documented the link between consuming certain food and the increased chance of developing depression and anxiety. The biological explanation for this is a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin, also known as the happy hormone. The level of serotonin, in the brain, is responsible for how satisfied and happy we feel. If the level of serotonin is low then we are more likely to experience fatigue, sadness, and even depression. Certain dairy products, fast food, processed food high in sodium, and food that is low in carbohydrates may increase the likelihood of experiencing depression as such food decreases the levels of serotonin. In addition, a dietary regiment that is high in protein but low in sugar, fat, and cholesterol can also decrease serotonin levels. Finally, the consumption of excess caffeine and alcohol can also increase the likelihood of anxiety and depression.
Other studies have suggested that individuals who are already experiencing anxiety and depressive symptoms resort to unhealthy food and beverage selection. This is mainly due to the availability and ease of consumption of such food and beverages, in addition to the emotional eating/drinking behavior associated with such food and beverages.
If you realize that your mood is becoming unstable and you are having a difficult time maintaining a good diet, it is important to seek professional help to avoid any long term mood instability.
For psychological advice, send your questions to [email protected]. Please note that not all questions can be published. Dr. Juliet and Dr. Nisrine are bilingual and bicultural expert psychologists on various personal and social issues.