Are you at risk for Postpartum or Peripartum Depression?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Mother with child

Postpartum depression.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.

7 risk factors for Postpartum Depression.

What factors might put you at risk of Peripartum Depression?

Sad Doll

Sad Doll
Photo courtesy of Flickr (Elena Gatti)

When it comes to mental health, why one person gets a disorder and another person does not, is just not all that clear. A life event, something we call a stressor, could push one person into depression and a similar event could leave another person unscathed. Risk factors do not equal getting the disorder. But if you have these factors in your life then you are at more risk of Peripartum Depression than most.

For those not familiar with the term Peripartum depression, it is like Postpartum Depression only it allows for depression that starts in pregnancy rather than restricting the concept to those who become depressed after the birth of a child.

Here are 7 factors that put you at risk.

1. Past Episodes of Depression.

Women who have had episodes of depression in the past are at increased risk to develop Peripartum Depression. The more times someone has been depressed and the longer those episodes, presumably the higher that risk.

If you have had depression and received treatment, think back to what was helpful to you in reducing or controlling that episode of depression and do more of that. If you did not get help for those past episodes of depression or sadness, now is the time.

2. Stress in your life adds risk.

The more stress the woman is under the more the risk. What is stressful to one woman may not be to another. It is far more complicated than just financial stress.

Look for ways to reduce the stress. Learn stress reduction and stress management techniques. Also, work on relaxing and being patient. Give your life the time to develop rather than pushing to have everything be done right now.

3. Poor relationship with your partner.

New couples need some time to adjust to each other. Some couples were never meant to be despite getting together and making that baby. Many other couples get off to a rocky start but with work, they develop a good long-term relationship.

Having a second person to share the duties, joys and trials of child rearing can be a beneficial thing for all involved. If there are problems in the relationship the sooner you work through those problems the better.

4. Having little social support increases your risks.

One person, your partner, no matter how supportive that person is, will probably not be enough support for the tasks of creating a family and raising children. Being a parent is hard work. Some people make parenting and relationships look easy but for most of us, it takes work.

You partner will be going thorough things also. Sometimes you feel and think things your partner is not up to hearing. Work on strengthening your support system to reduce this risk of Peripartum Depression.

There are posts elsewhere on this blog about support systems and how to develop one. Some of those posts can be found here:

How supportive is your support system?

Can one person be a support system?

How do you develop a support system?

5. Your mother’s depression puts you at risk.

A family history of depression, any depression, increases the risk of you developing Depression. Having a mother had Peripartum or postpartum depression adds to the risk that a woman will have an episode of depression during pregnancy and the first year after the delivery of the child.

As with so many other “risk factors,great-grand-mother” a risk factor does not mean that absolutely positively this woman will be depressed, it just means it is one other thing to think about.

We have also seen research that suggests that the life experiences of great-grandmother and beyond may be affecting your emotions. See the post – Pick your grandmas wisely – their life affects your feelings. 

6. Being poor – low SES.

Along with all the other burdens that come with being poor, living in bad neighborhoods or being of low socioeconomic status there is the extra risk of developing postpartum depression.

Absolutely there are poor families that are happy and where there is little or no depression. Having money does not deter depression. But all things being equal having some money, at least enough to get by on sure relieves a lot of the stress of being a new parent.

Couples who are able to delay that first child until they have a job or career path do better. It helps if you have stable housing and something saved up. Many young parents have to rely on family, friends or government programs to make ends meet.

Not having the money to get by on can strip the joy of a new child right out of your grasp.

7. Having a difficult infant.

There are those babies who from day one just are crankier than others. That child may have an illness or just an irritating disposition. Hard to care for children make their parent’s life more difficult. This is an extra burden on young or inexperienced parents.

These are the most commonly recognized risk factors for Postpartum or Peripartum Depression. I suspect there are other factors that up this risk, especially personal life experience factors. When you have come through difficult times or are still going through them, life’s challenges can be more difficult to manage.

If you or someone you know has a lot of these risk factors, look for ways to manage the stress of going through the pregnancy or being a new parent. Support systems can help so can professionals. And if you are feeling overwhelmed just now consider a help hot-line or reaching out for professional help.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

17 Ways to de-stress

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Stressed

Feeling stressed out?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you manage stress?

Stress can overwhelm you at any time or anywhere – Here are some suggested ways to turn down the stress volume.

1. Breath.

Under stress, most of us forget to breathe. The result is fewer shorter breathes and the overwhelming sense of panic that can follow a lack of air in your lungs.

Slow your breathing down. Take deep breaths from the diaphragm. You should feel your stomach moving in and out. Short fast breaths from high up in your chest can increase the feelings of stress.

Breathe slowly and deeply, pause between breaths. Watch your stress move out each time you breathe out and pause before taking in that next deep breath.

2. Make friends with silence.

There is noise everywhere. We have our radios and our televisions, our iPad’s and other electronics all screaming away at once. Add on people talking at you all day long and a few people screaming for whatever reason and you are bound to feel the stress meter rise.

Think back to that last time you felt really relaxed and distressed. Maybe a vacation in the mountains or at the beach. One thing you are likely to remember about that time is how quiet it was.

Those voices in your head can get awfully loud some days. Learn to quiet your mind down and embrace the silence. I keep a set of headphones at my desk to minimize the noise. Soft nature sounds help, sometimes no sound at all helps even more to reduce my stress.

3. Say a positive affirmation.

Affirmations are those little saying you tell yourself that help you to cope. Don’t lie to yourself or the whole affirmation will backfire. Tell yourself that this may be stressful but you can handle it. This too shall pass or whatever other saying works for you to put this current stress in perspective.

4. Make a list of the good things in your life.

If you keep thinking about all the problems your life story gets soaked through with problems. Most of us have lots of positive things going on. Take those little sparkling moments and hold on to them.

Writing out a list of things that are good, things you are grateful for, can put the rest of your life in perspective. This list, sometimes called a gratitude list, can be a reference guide when things get tough.

The very act of writing down positive things in your life reinforces those things. Thinking saves the thought briefly in one part of the brain. Writing stores these blessings in a second part of the brain. Sharing them out loud with a friend, stores them in a third part of the brain. The more of your brain that is full of happiness the less room there is for stress.

5. Stand more.

Stand and get the body moving. Stretch and relax those tense muscles. Tight muscles can be a result of stress but they can also be the cause of your body thinking that the stress is worse than it really is.

People who stand burn more calories than those who sit. Standing is a quick easy way to relax and reduce the stress of the moment.

6. Walk more.

Walking can be very effective in reducing depression. When the body shares the load the mind can get a rest. A quick walk to the end of the hall, the water cooler or the bathroom can refocus the mind and move the stress off the front burner.

7. Make prioritized lists.

The human brain has a limit on the number of things you can keep in conscious memory at any one time. The more you try to keep in the front of the mind the less space is available to work on the current task.

Writing down a “to-do list” can free up space in your brain to get this task done. It also reduces the anxiety you may be feeling that you might forget something.

Once the list is down on paper, prioritize those things. Do one big hard thing first and leave the long list of quick things for later when you may only have a few minutes left.

Check those items off your list as you do them and by the end of the day you may find that you are far more productive and less stressed than when you were spending all that time trying to remember all those things you needed to get done today.

8. Feel what you’re feeling.

Feelings are not the enemy. They can convey needed information. Feelings like human friends are not always right. Because something scares you does not mean it is dangerous. Listen to the feelings but then make informed decisions on how you will handle those feelings.

See the post Making Friends with Feelings

9. Look at things that make you happy.

If you run from place to place with no time to take in the joys of life you will only accumulate more stress. Slow down sometimes and notice the pleasant things. Take an extra second or two and taste the thing you are eating. Pause to notice those flowers growing outside your office.

Accumulating those brief doses of pleasure can make the rest of the day less stressful.

Ever stop to really look at the pictures your workplace put up in the hall?

10. Carry a worry stone

A worry stone, religious symbol or other personal object carried in your pocket can absorb a lot of that stress you are holding onto.

11. Make time for family and friends.

When you don’t have friends and family around you, then you are all alone. Seek out positive people for a role in your stress reduction plan.

12. A pet can help you reduce stress.

When no one else listens, when you feel all alone, that pet, a dog or cat, is waiting at the door when you come home. A pet is a great example of unconditional love.

13. Be an indoor explorer – look for new experiences.

Check out a new deli or other places to eat. Visit a new store or library. Keep an eye peeled for things you might try that you have never done. A local adult education or college class may offer all kinds of opportunities for new experiences.

There are lots of resources on the internet these days to allow you to take a class at a far off university or learn about something that interests you.

14. Develop a skill.

Is there a new skill you might develop? Something you always wanted to do but never got around to? Take the time to develop that skill and see where it takes you. Those breaks while you practice that skill reduce stress and challenge you to keep working on your self-improvement.

15. Do self-care.

The more stressed-out people get the less time they take for self-care. Do something nice for yourself. Look for ways to treat yourself well.

16. Practice your spirituality.

If you have a faith practice it. Religion or spirituality are comforting when times are tough. If you have a belief make sure that your actions are consistent with that belief. Pray, meditate or engage in other spiritual practices. Those moments of faith can get that stress volume down to a realistic size.

17. Express Yourself.

Write not because you have to but because you chose to. Draw if that interests you. Do this for yourself, not for the approval of others. Dance, pantomime or practice any other expressive skill.

There are my suggestions of 17 ways to reduce stress. Do you have other ways you have found to help you manage your stress?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Reduce Stress by saying NO!

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Just say no.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ways to say no and cut down on your stress.

There will always be more to do that there will be time to do it. The ability to say no and keep the stress in your life to a minimum is an important component of good mental health. Other people, of course, want you to do the things they want and so they take your yes for a given. Not telling people no can become the same as saying yes. Learning to be more assertive and to tell people no can help you keep your emotional life in balance.

Saying yes too much steals time from the things you really want to do. We would all like to make others happy. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable to say no to others. Every time you say yes or more importantly fail to say no you give up a little bit of you.

You get 168 hours of time each week. Spend them wisely. There will always be competing requests for your time. Your boss wants some, so does your spouse or partner. If you have kids they want all of your time they can get, at least until they become teens.

Your friends and family will also want some of your time. So do these people who call you on the phone or pound on your door wanting to sell you something.

Each time you let them have some time because you do not want to be rude or curt, you risk giving away some of the time you had planned to spend on something else.

When your life is over-full there is no room for new people or new activities.

If you let casual acquaintances take up your time, you spend that precious resource on them. If those people in your life ask you for money, whether you have it or not, remember that most of us have to give up some of our time to get that money. The more they ask of you the less there is for yourself or others.

If you have people in your life that take up your time and do not add value to your life, they are taking the place that could belong to someone else. Until you end a bad relationship there is no time or room in your life for a new one.

You can’t start something new till you end something you are doing now.

Any new activity will take time. Going back to school, starting a hobby, doing some traveling, they all require time.

You will not get any younger

Doing things you do not want to do spends your time. You will run out of that time reserve eventually.

Saying yes comes at a cost.

Saying yes creates an obligation, to yourself and others. The more the obligations the less the resources you have for you and the things that really matter. No not create obligations and then develop resentments because those other people are taking up your time.

Saying no does not make you a bad person.

If you feel that saying no is selfish or makes you a bad person think again. There are lots of good reasons to tell others no. Having good boundaries protects you and it protects others. Your children need to learn the word no and who but you is better qualified to teach them the power of no?

Giving reasons for your no sounds like you want to be talked into it.

If you have decided that the answer to this request should be no, state that answer and leave it at that. Offering reasons why you would like to do something but can’t just open the door for the other person to offer ways you can do what they requested.

Ever tell a salesman you do not have the money for something right now? And did they suggest using a credit card or time payments? See how your no’s may sound more like “talk me into it’s?”

Offer choices if you might want to do something another time or way.

In getting out of things, offering alternative choices can be a close cousin to saying no. The answer may be more like “I can’t do what you are asking but I can do —.” Consider this option if you do have something you would like to do with or for the person making the request but the original request is something you chose to not do.

Give yourself time to think it over.

You do not have to give everyone an answer the moment they ask the question. Many people have one of two default responses. They either say no to everything and regret it or they say yes to everything and regret a lot of those yes’s.

You can answer that you need time to think it over and then make that decision at your leisure.

Talk or write the decision out.

If you find it hard to make a decision and then stick to it consider writing out the request, the possible options and then what will happen if you say yes, no or yes with some changes and qualifications.

Writing things out can often bring the correct responses into focus. Talking things out with a trusted friend or adviser can help clarify both the right decision and why it may be difficult for you to tell this other person the “No!” you are really feeling.

Do you have difficulty telling people no? How might your life be different if you practiced the “saying no” skill?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

What is Postpartum or Peripartum Depression?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Is this postpartum depression or just the baby blues?

Postpartum depression.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

The idea that a woman can get sad, blue, even depressed as a result of giving birth has been around for a long time. Professionals have struggled with what this is and how to be helpful and we continue to struggle with those issues.

We knew that depression around the time of delivery causes a lot of suffering for the mother. Sometimes it becomes a problem for the father and other family members. And yes, we now know that having a depressed mother, immediately after birth, or later in childhood, can affect the child, possible for the rest of that child’s life.

There has been a reluctance to keep creating new disorders for each and every cause of depression. One way out of this dilemma has been to keep the same set of symptoms for depression regardless of what has caused the depression.

For depression, there is a list of specifiers for types. Most of those specifiers have to do with the way the symptoms present. Some people eat more and some eat less and so on.

Only two causes have gotten their own specifiers, seasonal pattern as in seasonal affective disorder and Postpartum Depression. Postpartum Depression is now called Peripartum Depression to also include depression that sets in before the birth of the child.

Symptoms of Peripartum Depression.

Symptoms of Peripartum depression are very similar to the symptoms of other forms of depression. Sleep disturbance, if it is over and above that caused by having a newborn who cries when it has needs, is one symptom. Changes in appetite and loss of interest in things that used to make you happy are other common signs this is depression and not just the normal getting used to being a parent.

Feeling hopeless or like a bad mother are serious symptoms of a depression. Some women will become much more irritable or anxious than before the pregnancy. You may also feel numbed out or disconnected from life and from those around you. Worrying, excessively about the child’s safety can also be a symptom of a mental health issue.

The new DSM (DSM-5) reports the frequency of Peripartum Depression at 3% to 6% of all women. The sheer fact that it gets its own separate specifiers suggests to me that the rate of women with depression during and after the birth of a child is higher than any 6%.

Some studies have followed women for the first year after the birth of the first child and they find significant stress and higher rates of depression over that year time period.

Research studies have reported that rates of “Baby Blues” those brief episodes of sadness that occur during and after pregnancy can run as high as 80% in some populations.

One reason for the discrepancy in the numbers is that we used to talk about mood disorders and treat Depression and Bipolar as part of the same mood disorder family. These two conditions have gotten a divorce and are now living in separate chapters in the new DSM-5. While Postpartum or Peripartum depression may only get 6% the new Peripartum Bipolar Disorder should also have some numbers. So far I have not seen any statistics on the number of women who develop Peripartum Bipolar Disorder but the new DSM-5 clearly allows for this possibility.

Some of these cases in which a woman develops symptoms during and after pregnancy also reach the point of having delusional or psychotic features. In these cases, the mother may believe there is something wrong with the child, that the child is evil or a similar delusion. Women who develop psychosis after the birth of one child have a risk (from 30% to 50%) of having psychotic symptoms during each pregnancy thereafter.

Another reason the rates of Peripartum Depression may be understated is that some women do not develop symptoms quickly enough to get the diagnoses in the first 4 to 6 weeks. After that, the diagnoses will probably be Major Depression and the Peripartum specific will get left off.

Those milder cases of sadness that happen during pregnancy and after delivery, the things that are popularly called baby blues, they most likely will not get a diagnosis at all. For a while there was a study of something called Minor Depression, there was even a set of proposed symptoms for minor depression in the older DSM-4. That has now been dropped.

While some cases of baby blues may not get the official nod of a diagnosis of “with Peripartum onset,” they need treatment. If you have been sad or depressed during pregnancy or afterward, consider getting professional help. Let the professional worry about what the correct diagnosis code should be.

If you have ever thought that your child was cursed or evil, get help fast before you harm that child and yourself.

What causes a woman to be at high risk for Peripartum or Postpartum Depression? There are at least 7 factors that put you at risk for postpartum depression. More on those factors in a coming blog post.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. Or peripartum or

How to cure low self-esteem – 19 ways to higher self esteem

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Believe in you.

Self-Esteem.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ways to boost your self-esteem.

Don’t feel good about yourself? Here are some ways to solve the low self-esteem problem.

1. Stop putting yourself down – negative self-talk causes low self-esteem

If you tell yourself you can’t then you won’t. Telling yourself negative things will keep you stuck. Putting yourself down will not protect you from failure it will protect you from success.

Continued self-criticism is the surest way to lower your self-esteem. Don’t do that to you and don’t put up with others doing it either. Don’t repeat the negative things you have been told to yourself.

2. Do something.

High self-esteem is based on what you accomplish. The more you try, the more you learn how to do things. The more you do the more you will accomplish and the more you have to make you feel good about your life. Make sure you tally up the successes, not just the errors.

3. Stop rating yourself.

Accept yourself as you are. The process of rating yourself points out where you are less than perfect. No one is perfect. There is always room for growth and improvement.

Remember that half-empty glass. Concentrate on doing, not measuring, and you will find that you will have less need of boosts to your self-esteem.

4. Stop discounting the positive.

Learn to give yourself credit for the things you do well. Practice accepting praise and compliments from others. If you do not count your successes then the tally will be only failure.

5. Write out a gratitude list.

Knowing the things that make your life good, paying attention to those things can help you to feel better about yourself.

6. Don’t listen to the haters.

There are plenty of haters in the world who need to pull you down to feel good about themselves. There are those evil trolls under every bridge. Do not listen to them. Do not believe them. Do not waste time on them.

Arguing with haters brings you nothing but pain. Sinking to their level can only destroy your self-confidence.

7. What would your best friend say about you?

Don’t dismiss the things your real friends and loving family might say about you. They know your good and your bad and they like you anyway. What are the good things they see in you? Not sure? Ask them what they see as your skills and abilities. You may be surprised to find how much others think of you while you have been thinking you are coming up short.

Don’t have family or friends that would see the good in you? Work on developing a positive support system.

8. Watch who you are comparing yourself to – looking over your shoulder.

Focus on what you are doing. Constantly comparing yourself to others will cause you to become discouraged. No one wins all the time. Do not compare your everyday life to someone else’s lifetime achievement.

9. Start over each day – past successes and failures do not count today.

Stop beating yourself up for the mistake of yesterday. Each day you start out fresh. Do your best to make today better than the day before.

10. Pick friends that support you.

Surround yourself with people who like you the way you are and will support you. Being surrounded by people who like you is a great way to boost your confidence.

11. Look for the evidence – are you really stupid?

Do not discount all the evidence that you are a worthwhile person. If you only count up the negatives you miss all the evidence that you are a person of value. Not enough evidence that you are accomplishing things? Do more, not less, and you are likely to do some worthwhile things.

12. Avoid emotional reasoning.

If you are sad that does not mean things are going poorly. Just because you feel down right now does not make you a failure. We can all have times when we are discouraged. Being discouraged means you need to take another look at what you are doing. It does not mean that you are not a worthwhile person.

13. Compliment others.

Get in the habit of noticing the good in others. Tell them what you like about them. Cultivate a positive good-seeing vision and you will be more able to see the good in yourself.

14. Accept compliments.

Do not dismiss compliments. You know when people are sincere and when they are buttering you up. Being able to accept compliments and say thank you helps you to feel good about yourself. Stop chasing the positive away from your door.

15. Tell yourself you can – positive affirmations.

Start out each day by saying good things, positive affirmations, and your brain will work on making them come true.

Restart your day at any time by telling yourself that this is a good day. You are a worthwhile person and you do not need to do or say anything to be acceptable.

16. Have a successes resume.

It is easy to remember failures and harder to remember successes. Make up a list of the things you do well. Write them down. Review that list periodically and add to it. You will be surprised how many things should be on that list that you may forget otherwise.

17. Do things.

The more you do the better you will feel about yourself. Do things for the sake of doing not for the success points. The more you do the better you will feel.

18. Play your own game, not the old family role.

Families have roles. You may have been handed the “stupid” hat or the “black sheep” hat when you were born. You can change that role. Stop living down to the things others tell you and the names you may have been called. Stop saying you are stupid or bad and try on a new role. You just might like the “OK person” role.

19. Stop keeping score all the time.

Life only happens for so long and then it is over. A hundred years from now no one will remember your mistakes. Life is about having the experience, not the score. Enjoy the trip.

Really your worth as a person does not depend on your algebra test score or your golf score.

There are my suggestions – 19 ways to cure low self-esteem. Most involving putting away the tape measure and accepting yourself the way you are. Do you have any other suggestions? What has helped you to feel good about yourself and the things you do?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Surviving sadness – avoiding depression

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Sad child

Sad.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you cope with sadness when your life goes on?

Sadness is a normal part of life. You feel sad sometimes and then the sadness passes and you move on. Sometimes we feel sadness and we get stuck there. The longer you stay stuck the more likely you are to slip down into the quicksand of depression.

So what should you do when that sadness feeling comes lurking around?

1. Let yourself feel what you feel.

It is OK to feel what you feel. Some things are sad. Sometimes we feel sad just because we do. We hear of someone else’s misfortune and it makes us sad. We see something and we feel this feeling. This is called empathy, the ability to understand and experience what others feel. Put yourself in another’s shoes and you will understand some part of their sadness.

Do not try to stop the feeling the second it comes on. It is OK to experience it. Just do not stay there and wallow in the feeling. Understand that this feeling like all other feelings can pass if you permit it.

2. Share with someone else.

In times of trouble, we need to share our sadness with others. We talk about our pain and grief with friends or family. If you have religious faith or a spiritual tradition you will want to seek out those with like beliefs.

When there is no one that you feel comfortable turning to, when there is no one there or when you do not feel comfortable putting your sadness on those close to you there are professionals that can help. Seek them out.

3. Share with yourself – write it out.

Sadness that continues to rattle around in the head magnifies itself. A first step in getting loose from the sadness is to get it out.

Some people find that journaling, writing about their sadness or depression, helps discharge it. Others use drawing or dance to express these sentiments.

4. Turn sadness into motivation.

A sad event in your life can be the tipping point that turns your life around. Lose someone to a drug overdose and you may be motivated to become a counselor.

How might your sadness, pain, and suffering become tools to help you find your purpose in life?

5. Treat yourself to things you like.

Learn those things that make you happy and make it a point to allow yourself those items on the list that are positive.

6. Budget extra sleep time

Not getting enough rest, being over tired, is a way to let sadness and depression overcome you. Get plenty of rest. Make bedtime a regularly scheduled event.

One type of depression (atypical features) results in people who start to stay in bed all the time. They eat more than normal, like a bear ready for winter and then sleep day and night. If you find that you are tired all the time and just do not have the energy to get out of bed and do things, try setting a time for bed and one for getting up. If that still is a problem consider an evaluation by a professional for possible depression.

7. Eat regular meals.

Failure to eat on time, lack of energy can result in sad, tired feelings also. This makes it hard to get back into life after a life event that creates sadness. Take care of yourself and that especially means eating in a healthy way if you want to reduce the impact of sadness on your life and mental health.

8. Invest in laughter.

Laughing can be a powerful antidote for sadness. Watch a sitcom, visit a comedy club, tell jokes, and your sadness fades. Not able to laugh when the rest of the crowd does? That is a sign that your feeling has moved beyond sadness to major depression. Laughter is a great medicine, take some daily if possible,

9. Hang out with positive people.

You become like the people you spend time with. You friends are your future. Hang with the winners if you want to win. Hanging out with downers will pull you down.

10. Take frequent short breaks.

When you are down and sad, things can be overwhelming. Do what you can. Do not give up. Do a little and then take a break. Repeat as needed. Be kind to yourself when times are tough.

11. Exercise.

A little movement can brighten your mood. Walk around the block if that is all you are up to. Exercise is a good prescription for depression and a little can be a preventative when it comes to the progression from sadness to depression.

Try to include some exercise in your regular routine to improve both psychical health and mental health.

12. Change the scenery.

Get out of the house. Take your lunch break away from the office. Do something new on your time off. A change of scenery can create a new perspective on life and on your troubles.

13. Learn to say no.

When sad we tend to give in and go along. This can create feelings of resentment. Learn to set boundaries. Do not let yourself be taken advantage of. Saying no to requests that are beyond your current abilities can reduce your stress and keep your sadness from drowning you.

14. Avoid negative people.

Misery may love company, but it loves miserable company. If you want to get out of the sadness trap seek out positive people. Limit your exposure to naysayers and Negative Nellie’s.

15. Plan for time to yourself.

When you are down, too much commotion and too many people can be overwhelming. Include in your schedule quiet time for yourself.

16. Reconnect with supportive people.

Make sure those people you do contact are supportive. Call an old friend. Attend a self-help meeting even if you do not feel like it. Being around supportive people is good for your recovery and for your future mental health.

What other positive coping skills have you discovered that keeps your sadness from becoming a serious depressive episode?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Are you wasting your life chasing mirages?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Chasing a mirage.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.

Stop chasing these mirages and you will finally get somewhere.

Life is full of illusions. People chase after all sorts of mirages and forget to enjoy the view from where they are. Here are some of the more common mirages you may have set your sights on.

1. Making everyone like you.

Not possible. Some people do not like themselves so they have no capacity to like you. If you bend yourself to try to please everyone you will please no one. In the process of trying to get everyone to like you, you will need to do things that undermine your values and self-worth.

Please enough people, and you forget who you were when you started out.

Make your priority to do things that are consistent with your values and your goals. First and foremost please you and those who like you and want the best for you will be pleased.

2. Being the best at everything.

No one is the best at everything. You will never be the best at everything. You may become good at a few things. With incredible luck and effort, you might be the best at one thing. Pick the areas that you try to perfect carefully. Do not set yourself up for disappointment when you are not number one in everything.

3. Trying to be perfect.

Like being the best at everything, trying to be perfect at something is an impossible to reach mirage. We spend our lives working toward that goal of perfecting something but there is always the possibility that you or someone will take that skill to another level. If you look close enough at anything you can find flaws.

4. Putting things off until someday.

Someday never comes. Every day is today. Most of life’s regrets are about things left undone. Do not let fear and hesitation keep you from doing things today rather than putting them off to that mythical someday.

5. Expecting others to make you a success.

If someone can make you they can unmake you. Having teachers and mentors along the way that help you perfect your skills is a wonderful blessing. Do not think that your successes are a thing someone can give you. Do not also stare at the mirage of believing your failures are the creation of someone else.

6. Finding the person who will complete you.

Two half people do not make a whole person. There is not one person that completes you. Find that person that truly brings out the best in you and together you will grow into the two separate people you were meant to be.

The best combination is two people who are each working on becoming the best they can be.

7. Not needing others or their help.

You successes do not depend on others but no one really goes it alone. We need the support and encouragement of others. The team accomplishes more than the one. What you make of life stands on the shoulders of others who came before you.

8. Trying not to change.

You will change. Time will change you. Life experiences will change you. Standing still is a recipe for failure. Take who you are with you through the process of change that is sure to come and you will become the person you envisioned.

9. Living through others (children.)

Trying to live to make others happy is a terrible burden. You children cannot make up for your failures. You cannot make someone else the successes you wanted to be. What good teachers know is a that they can pass on the lessons of their life to the next generation but what those prodigies do with those skills is up to them.

Trying to live your life through others is a formula for resentments, yours and theirs.

10. There is something out there that will make you what you want to be.

The idea that drugs, alcohol or some other thing out there will suddenly make you more than you are is a common illusion.  Superman’s cape only worked in the comics and the movies.

Thinking that there is a drug, especially alcohol, that will make you who you want to be will lead you off into the sands of the chemical desert.

Are you chasing after any of these mirages? Are there other things you pursue that are not real? Find your way back to the real world and do the work of recovery and things will begin to happen for you.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.