Frequently Asked Questions About Geriatric Depression Scale

Understanding depression is not a thing I intend to put effort into. I don’t like the idea that I struggle with a mental health condition, but I don’t like to know more about it either. I don’t like the thought of knowing a lot about it as it will only make me feel worried and fearful about my current situation. That is because, as of now, aside from being depressed, I am also emotionally unstable. Thus, learning more about my condition will only make my life miserable as I know the truth can somehow put me in a lot of emotional and mental agony.

Source: pixabay.com

But honestly, I am not closing doors in learning. Perhaps my decision to disregard important information only comes from disbelief that I have to suffer from this God-knows-how-long mental health issue. Also, it is not that I don’t want to listen or seek professional advice; I just do not feel the need at the moment. I may sound too cocky, but I perfectly understand how things are despite my emotional and mental instability.

But for some reference of the symptoms I am dealing with, I rely more upon my sources to GDS or Geriatric Depression Scale. If you don’t know what it is, here are the answered frequently asked questions about it.

What does the Geriatric Depression Scale measure?

GDS or the Geriatric Depression Scale is a screening tool that measures symptoms of depression, mostly in older adults. Participants of GDS respond in a Yes or No format to a 30-item instrument. But it is essential to realize that GDS does not guarantee a hundred percent assessment, nor should it provide concrete medical diagnoses. It only serves as an effective tool to screen or determine moderate to severe depression that will require a referral to a mental health specialist or psychologist.

 What is the Geriatric Depression Scale Short Form?

The GDS or Geriatric Depression Scale’s short-form holds a 15-question screening mechanism suitable for measuring depression symptoms in older adults. Usually, the process takes a few minutes, five to almost seven. It gets administered by a professional health care provider with minimal training in its use, provided to be filled out by the patient.

 Is the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) a reliable screening tool?

The research demonstrated that the GDS-30 is strongly a reliable screening tool that follows a ‘gold standard’ in determining moderate to severe depressive symptoms. It is fast and more convenient to administer and score. But of course, it requires a referral to a licensed mental health expert or a psychologist by the physical therapist or clinician.

 When using the Geriatric Depression Scale Short Form, which does a score of 1 to 5 indicates?

When a patient scores less than 5 points, it means he or she is suggestive of depression and should warrant a comprehensive follow-up assessment. A score that is less than equal to 10 points is often almost symptomatic of depression.

 Who created the Geriatric Depression Scale?

The Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) is a 30-item self-report instrument that measures depression symptoms in older adults. It processes through the use of a “Yes/No” format, answered by the patient experiencing a mental health problem. It is a screening test originally produced in 1982 by J.A. Yesavage and his collaborators.

 How do you score the Zung depression scale?

Each item of the Zung depression scale is scored on a Likert scale that ranges from 1 to 4. A total score is concluded by adding the individual item scores, ranging from 20 to 80 from the questionnaire. From there, people with a score between 50 and 69 indicate having mild depression, while a score of 70 and above designates severe depression.

 How do you score the Zung Self Rating Anxiety Scale?

The Zung Self-Rating that a potential range score scales anxiety. The normal range is 20-44, mild to moderate anxiety levels are at 45-59, the severe anxiety levels rest at 60-74, and extreme anxiety levels go with a score of 75 and above.

 How do you score the Beck Anxiety Inventory?

To score Beck Anxiety Inventory, each item’s values should get a sum of yielding a total score for all 21 symptoms. These should range between 0 and 63 points. From there, a total score of 0 – 7 can be interpreted as the least level of anxiety, while the 8 – 15 holds a mild implication. The 16 – 25 designates to a moderate state, and the 26 – 63 scores represent a severe mental health state.

 Who can use the Beck Depression Inventory?

The current version of the BDI-II is designed for people aged 13 and over. Typically, the Beck Depression Inventory is composed of items relating to symptoms of depression, including irritability, hopelessness, anger, and loneliness. It also scales cognitions such as guilt or overwhelming feelings. It also scales physical symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, and lack of interest in physical activities.

Source: pixabay.com

 Is there an anxiety scale?

Yes. In fact, the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale or HAM-A is one of the first rating scales that is widely used today in both clinical and research settings, developed to measure the severity of anxiety symptoms. It is STAI that briefly administer and does not require an expensive cost to measure general anxiety.

 What is the highest level of anxiety?

Usually, the level of distress and impairment typically classify Anxiety levels. It gets experienced into common categories such as mild, moderate, and severe. However, aside from severe cases, there is still the highest form, which is the panic level of anxiety. Panic attacks are intense, often uncontrollable, and overwhelming feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, choking sensation, hyperventilation, shivering, hot flashes or chills, headache, and fatigue.

 What happens if anxiety is left untreated?

Untreated anxiety often leads to a lot of complications in the physical, emotional, and mental aspects. In some cases, it even causes other mental disorders, such as substance abuse or depression. Individuals with untreated anxiety often tend to have a higher risk of self-isolation, suicide, or self-harm behaviors.

 Can you get rid of anxiety forever?

Unfortunately, there is no chance you can stop or get rid of anxiety forever. That is because it doesn’t vanish since it is more like any other feeling you have, such as frustration, anger, sadness, happiness, love, and so on. It is an emotion that you cannot eliminate from your brain because it serves a purpose in your life.

 At what age does anxiety peak?

It is vital to realize that each person’s anxiety levels are different. Thus, their experience and coping strategies differ, as well. However, the mental health condition usually peaks in adults whose ages are 30 to 44. That is approximately 23% of people in the particular age group. Perhaps …

Frequently Asked Questions in Psychotherapy in PTSD

It is not fully clear how humans developed emotions, but we already understand its significance for forging connections and communicating with others. Fear, in particular, has been keeping us safe from harm. It is also a normal feeling after encountering a traumatic event or loss. However, some may find it difficult to move on from the trauma even after some time, which is a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Source: pexels.com

Post-traumatic stress disorder is mental health disorder affecting people who had experienced or witness terrifying events like death, accidents, and violence. Some people may start showing symptoms a month after the trigger; others may not display any signs until years after the trauma. These may come and go and vary in intensity, depending on what triggered the memories or fear.

The common symptoms of PTSD are intrusive memories, isolation, emotional numbness, and anxiety. This condition also affects concentration and sleeping, which significantly impacts people’s quality of life with this problem. It also has effects on relationships and work and thus needs proper care and treatment.

Fortunately, several methods can help individuals deal with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Medications can help improve its symptoms. Some drugs for PTSD are antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines, and prazosin.

Source: pexels.com

Sometimes, medication alone is not enough, and you may need to undergo therapy. Psychotherapy or talk therapy is constructive for people with PTSD. It can help them understand their condition and what they can do to control its symptoms and deal with its triggers.

There are several types of talk therapy, and your doctor will help determine what type will work best for you. Cognitive processing therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and exposure therapy are the most common methods used for people with PTSD.

Here are some frequently asked questions about different talk therapy methods for people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

How effective is cognitive processing therapy?

Cognitive processing therapy effectively reduces total post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) checklist scores. CPT is useful in treating the trauma by challenging the negative thoughts. This type of treatment allows for a better perspective on things that the trauma tends to cloud.

Is cognitive processing therapy evidence-based?

Yes, CPT is an evidence-based therapy. Rigorous scientific studies conducted by professionals and experts in the field have proven CPT to be effective.

Who developed cognitive processing therapy?
Dr. Patricia Resick developed cognitive processing therapy with the help of other psychologists and experts. The treatment goal is to manage PTSD for those who experienced sexual assault.

What is the best medication for PTSD?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are the recommended medications for those who have PTSD. The most effective SSRI/SNRI medications for those who have PTSD are

  • sertraline (Zoloft),
  • venlafaxine (Effexor),
  • fluoxetine (Prozac), and
  • paroxetine (Paxil).

How long is cognitive processing therapy?

Generally, CPT is done in 12 sessions, ideally in three months. This duration aims to help patients understand how to challenge and reform the unhelpful beliefs related to their trauma. The goal is for the patient to understand and have a new perspective of the traumatic event to reduce its adverse effects on the patient’s day-to-day life.

What therapy is best for trauma?

There are a lot of therapies available to overcome trauma, but the standard treatments are:

  • Pharmacotherapy: use of medications to manage the disruptive reactions caused by the trauma
  • Behavior Therapy: also known as exposure therapy, wherein you will face the same situation that caused the trauma, minus the feared consequences that arose from it.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: it is a type of therapy wherein the patient is taught to correct and change their thoughts and increase their knowledge and skills. An example of this is breathing exercises.
  • Group Therapy: therapy wherein there is a specific support group for the type of trauma encountered. It can be a peer group or a group that has a therapist leading the group.

What are stuck points?

Some thoughts obstruct us from recovering, and they are called stuck points. They are negative thoughts composed of blaming oneself for the trauma encountered, and these points are usually concise and direct.

Who needs cognitive behavioral therapy?

CBT is a beneficial therapy that treats mental health disorders, like depression, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CBT isn’t only confined to those who suffer from mental health problems. It can also be a useful tool to help those who want to learn how to manage stressful life situations in a much better way.

How do I get certified in cognitive processing therapy?

To be a certified provider in cognitive processing therapy, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Must have a professional licensure/registration as a mental health professional, with psychotherapy in the scope of practice
  2. Must have completed the CPT web, with an attached certificate of completion
  3. Must participate in a live CPT training that was held by either a treatment developer or a registered CPT Trainer
  4. Must have total participation of 20 hours in an authorized group Cognitive Processing Therapy consultation, including a discussion of own clients on the call. Or a minimum of 12 hours of supervision in an individual Cognitive Processing Therapy.
  5. Must complete preliminaries of at least four individual CPT cases or two group CPT or a combination. Must also complete (including early client success outcomes) two individual CPT treatment cases, two group CPT, or one CPT group, and one individual case.
  6. Must use at least one regulated means to evaluate the weekly progress of the PTSD symptoms with each of the above cases.
  7. Submission of case notes, PCL scores, and worksheet samples or stuck point logs are requested for evaluation.

How effective are PTSD treatments?

PTSD treatments, like CBT, are found to be highly effective, especially for patients who suffered from traumatic events. While it does not permanently cure the symptoms of PTSD, it dramatically helps with their day to day life. Studies show that people who go through treatment improve the skills to help individuals deal with the said condition.

Is Prolonged exposure therapy evidence-based?

Prolonged exposure is beneficial for people living with PTSD. It is the first-line treatment for those who have PTSD. It helps the person efficiently deal with memories, situations, and feelings related to trauma.

What is an impact statement in cognitive processing therapy?

Impact statements are essays written by CPT clients at the onset of treatment and are written again before the last therapy session. The clients describe how the traumatic event happened, what it meant to them, and how it affected how they viewed themselves, the people around them, and the world.

What are stuck points in cognitive processing therapy?

Sometimes, we have statements about ourselves, others, or the world that are extreme, exaggerated, and often harmful. These thoughts and ideas focus on the five themes covered in Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) treatment: trust, safety, esteem, …

Top Ways To Take Care Of Your Child’s Mental Health

As a parent, you should always keep in mind that a child’s mental health is also as vital as their emotional and physical health. Believe it or not, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that one out of five children undergoes mental health issues per year. Therefore, it is your role as a parent to keep your kid mentally healthy all the time. Here are some ways to do so. 

Practice Self-Care

The first step into taking care of your child’s mental health is to keep yours healthy as well. If you don’t, it would be difficult for you to assist your child with this process. Not only will they copy your bad habits, but it will also establish an environment that is not safe for your kid.

The best way to go about this is to set a positive habit every day. Keep in mind that your kid is always watching you. They copy whatever you do. Therefore, make sure that you show them the right attitude when dealing with stressful situations. 

Studies also show that if parents have mental health issues themselves, this will also trickle down to their kids. They’ll probably feel the negative energy from your problems. Therefore, make sure to seek assistance from healthcare professionals once you experience such issues. 

Encourage Playing

For children, playing is just playing, and playing is for fun. However, are you aware that their playtime also weighs the same with food and physical care? These activities are opportunities for your child to learn self-control, creativity, and problem-solving skills. It boosts how their minds work, which is an excellent strategy to keep both their physical and mental health as healthy as possible.

Introduce The Language Of Feelings

One of the reasons why children spiral down is that they don’t know how emotions work. As a parent, it is your responsibility to introduce the concept of feelings. You should teach them how to recognize their feelings and translate these by expressing them in words. Assist them with the perfect terms to use to mirror what they’re feeling.

At the same time, make sure that they do not keep their real emotions hidden. It happens most of the time because they see unhappy feelings as something shameful and damaging. However, it is also healthy to explore these emotions, given that it is normal to experience this. Knowing these negative emotions will help them deal with it in the long run. It is also your duty as a parent to advise on how they can cope with these. 

Establish Trust

Your relationship with your child will be the foundation of everything. You won’t be able to guide them without building trust. You can do this by creating an environment full of security and safety. So, where do you start?

You can do this by trying your best to meet your child’s needs. Make sure to take care of them when they’re thirsty, hungry, not feeling well, anxious, scared, etc. With this, your child will get the message that he or she can trust you fully. 

Avoid Negative Reinforcement

Keep in mind that negative reinforcement will never be the answer. If your child does something terrible, do not result in nagging, bribes, and threats, for these are seldom effective. The best strategy for this is to explain calmly and provide the reason why you are disciplining them. Discuss with them the possible consequences should they continue with these actions.

Keep in mind that negative reinforcements only affect their mental health. There is a large possibility that this will only hinder them from opening up to you. As mentioned, it is essential to understand their emotions and allow them to show this. However, if you push for negative reinforcement, they’ll most likely be afraid to consult with you since they’re scared to be “punished.”

Teach Stress Management

Stress will always be present, no matter whether you’re an adult or a child. It’s a part of life; therefore, your child must deal with it naturally and healthily. It will help him take control of his life in the future.

Always keep in mind that there is no single stress management strategy to address this. There are various ways to combat its adverse effects on your body, but it has to be personal. What takes away the stress of one child might not be as successful with another one. 

For instance, your child may opt to call a friend whenever they’re feeling down. However, talking to a friend might only bring additional anxiousness to another person when having problems. Writing in a journal may be more effective with him or her. 

Taking care of your child’s mental health is not an easy task. If you feel that your child’s mental health is spiraling out of control, then maybe it is time for you to look for professional advice. Remember that there is no such thing as too early to get the assistance of a mental health provider. It will certainly help both you and your child. 

When Family Members Don’t Believe In Mental Health

For all the developments we’ve witnessed in mental health care, there remains a considerable population of non-believers, marked by their dismissive and apathetic remarks. Sadly, some of them exist inside our very homes and are the first people we’d expect to support us from the onset. Although this seems to blur our path towards mental and emotional well-being, there are several ways to navigate such situations. 

Understanding Is A Two-Way Street

Believe that, ultimately, your family wants what’s best for you. There could be generational and environmental circumstances that have placed all of you in an uncommon ground. Perhaps, they may have been raised with no privilege to acknowledge and prioritize mental illness. Unlike us, most of our parents grew up in an era where mental health was relatively taboo.

A 2015 survey conducted by Matters of the Mind revealed that millennials have better access to mental health resources, making it easier for them to address related issues. 

On the one hand, empathy does not come easy for everyone. Others may lack the capacity to understand a situation they have never experienced. There is a cognitive barrier that hinders them from comprehending and having compassion for causes, not affecting them directly. It may be difficult not to take personally as this may make us feel inadequate and undeserving of concern from our loved ones. 

Family members could also be fighting their own battles. Choosing to prioritize themselves doesn’t automatically mean they don’t care. They are just unable to extend emotional resources to other people at the moment.

Knowledge Is Power

Some family members may have false notions of mental health, which proper education can hopefully address. Openly discussing your unique struggles makes the concept of mental health more personal, rather than being another abstract and complex idea they may intentionally avoid. 

Nicholas J. Westers, Psy.D. ABPP, Associate Professor at UT Southwestern and Children’s Health clinical psychologist, pointed out that “Having great mental health is actually about developing, encouraging and practicing daily healthy habits – like sharing and accepting feelings, correcting unpleasant and unhealthy thinking, showing empathy and building resiliency.”

It does take a lot of strength to be vulnerable, most especially with the people closest to you. The scariest part of speaking your truth is the uncertainty of your family’s response, which could take many forms and evolve over multiple discussions. 

If you have mustered up enough courage, it will help to come prepared by planning the conversation and setting expectations. Find a communication method that makes you feel comfortable, whether it be a face-to-face conversation, a phone call, or a letter.

You don’t have to disclose everything. You may decide beforehand which experiences you are willing to talk about. You may also convey your trust in them by emphasizing to keep sensitive information to themselves. Doing these will reinforce your control over the discussion. 

Try to be as clear and direct as possible. Your family won’t be able to guess what’s on your mind. Rather than merely stating your feelings, provide concrete examples of how your mental condition has manifested in your daily life and the coping mechanisms you have developed to address them. After all, every case of mental illness is different, and there is no single way to approach it.

Encourage your family to learn about your condition. You may suggest relevant reading materials, support groups, and professional counseling to determine the best and healthiest way to help you. It may also protect your loved ones from wrongfully blaming themselves for your mental struggles.

You Are In Control

Despite doing your best in reaching out, there will be people with negative viewpoints so deeply rooted in them that changing their minds seems impossible. Remember, it is not your responsibility to convince them. Their behavior has nothing to do with you as a person.

Someone’s denial of your situation does not make it any less real. Take it as a sign for you to redirect energy spent in getting through them to practicing self-compassion instead. Although you can’t choose your family, you can always control how they affect you.

Perhaps taking a step back and removing yourself from the situation will be the most useful thing. While you don’t want to distance yourself from people you love, you also don’t want to slow your healing. 

An essential aspect of recovery is assuming control over your life. Find out what gets you to a better or worse headspace. Prioritize yourself, not other people’s approval.

Existing dysfunctions in your household may impede your road to healing. After all, being able to offer emotional support does not come naturally to everybody. Try shifting your focus to those who can willingly give it to you. It may be in the form of seeking professional help, joining support groups, or connecting with close friends. Take advantage of other outlets that can help you grow and heal.

 

 …

How Will Your Business Survive During A Pandemic?

Businesses are among the helpless victims of the coronavirus outbreak. They cannot technically get infected with the disease, but their source of life—the customers—are not safe from it. Thus, most entrepreneurs had no choice but to either operate remotely or shut down momentarily when the government ordered a lockdown and sealed the borders.

Luck is on the side of supermarket and pharmacy owners, given that their businesses are thriving despite the pandemic. The same cannot be said, however, for restaurants, factories, and various companies that offer “non-essential products and services.” Some have had to let go of a significant number of employees to reduce their expenses. Others have gone closer to bankruptcy than ever. And even when the lockdown order has been lifted partially to let some businesses reopen and help the economy, it does not mean that everything will return to normal. 

Considering you want your business to survive this pandemic, you have a few tasks in your hands.

Stay Active Online

Does your company have an Instagram and Facebook pages? If the answer is no, stop reading for a minute and come back when you already have social media accounts. But if you maintain pages on these channels, I advise you to start posting business-related content often.

You see, your customers need to know that your business still exists, that you cannot wait to come back and serve them again. It is impossible to go out there to do that, but you can stay active on social media and build your online presence. That’s how you ensure that no one will forget you.

Offer Home Delivery

Having a website that will inform people about your business’s history does not suffice these days. You must update it with your latest products and find a way to turn it into a marketplace. Then, you should hire individuals who can deliver the items right at every customer’s doorsteps.

Home delivery is not a new concept at all; many have been doing it for years. Despite that, if you have never done it before, now is the best time to offer this service to keep the money flowing.

Put Stocks On Sale

Although most businesses have been immobilized in at least two months, manufacturers may have new products that are ready to launch soon. The latter is inevitable, but it can be problematic for retailers, especially if they still have not-so-old stocks. 

The only solution for this is to put your products on sale. Say, offer buy-1-take-1 deals or sell items at discounted prices. While you may not earn much, you can get rid of everything and restock with brand-new goods.

Make Your Store Safe For Everyone

In case your business is exempted from the lockdown, try not to see it as a sign that the coronavirus will never enter your doors and affect you and your clients. Instead, it would help if you take extra precautionary measures, given that you cannot ask everyone about their travel history or the people they have met before coming to your store.

One of the most effective techniques is adding a partition between your counters and the customers. Invest in face shields, masks, and even vitamins for the employees to protect them from the virus. Furthermore, the guards should be armed with a thermal scanner so that no one with high body temperature can come in without medical clearance. 

Final Thoughts

The pandemic is not only awful for humans but also for the businesses that cannot survive without the latter. If you do not want to file for bankruptcy in no time, try the tips mentioned above.

Survivors’ Guilt Among Frontliners

My favorite aunt in the world is a doctor at a large hospital here in the United States. I feel nothing but pride for her, especially now that so many people count on professionals like her as they deal with the lethal coronavirus. I called my aunt one day, thinking of celebrating her work. After all the pleasantries exchanged, I expressed how happy I was that the virus did not affect her at all. She said something that I did not expect to hear at all, though. “I know I should be happy, too, but I feel very guilty about it. Some of my colleagues have not been so lucky.”

A realization hit me at that time: my aunt was dealing with survivors’ guilt. She could not feel joy for being healthy and accomplished because her friends did not survive COVID-19 unscathed. Some of them are still at the hospital now, trying to fight the illness. Others have already passed on because the virus has overpowered their bodies.

I could not precisely tell my aunt, “No, you should not think about that at all. Just focus on being glad that you are alive and helping patients get better.” I knew that that would be too insensitive of me, given that she had undoubtedly seen her colleagues’ battle with COVID-19. Still, I could not help but remind my precious aunt about a few things that might ease her guilt as a frontliner who dodged coronavirus.

Surviving Is Nobody’s Fault

The #1 fact that survivors like my aunt may have forgotten is that no one can tell who can or cannot win against coronavirus. I am pretty sure that some doctors may still say, “I should have treated my patients better,” but you can only do so much. The pharmaceutical experts are merely testing potential cures for the virus at the time of writing this blog, and it’s thoughtless to feel guilty about living.

Fate Can Be Brutal Like That Sometimes

A person’s ability to survive during a pandemic depends on how robust their immune system can be. If you have a pre-existing condition, it is naturally weak, and you may not be able to strengthen it after a few days of taking vitamins. In case you do not always catch other viruses, you are highly likely to avoid or fight coronavirus.

Many people frown upon the idea that it is survival of the fittest, but what can be more accurate than that? Though it feels sad to think of friends dying because of COVID-19, that’s practically how fate works. Sometimes, it is kind to you; other times, it makes you say goodbye to folks you love.

Honor The Dead By Remembering Them Throughout This Lifetime

During my last conversation with my aunt, she was still feeling down due to her colleagues’ death. I listened in silence the first time I heard about it because I knew that she needed to grieve. When she talked about it again, though, and mentioned what better things they could have done in life, I had to stop her. I said, “Instead of regretting the loss, why don’t we honor their accomplishments before dying?”

It’s the truth—those medical professionals died while doing their job. They were no different from soldiers who passed away on duty. That turns them into heroes who need to be celebrated in my book.

Final Thoughts

The ideas mentioned above apply for all frontliners who may be experiencing survivors’ guilt right now. We know that life has not been very kind to the entire planet; the coronavirus may have even taken the lives of your friends. Despite that, keep in mind that you cannot feel remorseful forever because of something that’s out of your hands.…

I Love Being A Counselor

Being a school counselor, it is mandatory to attend seminars and workshops for continuing education, and one of those that I attended was the 2018 Online Counselors Workshop. Psychologists Specialists of Maine initiated the workshop. The workshop was very engaging, and I never felt bored during the whole event. It got me thinking, though.…

Leaving Stress Untreated Is Dangerous

 

Screaming kids, stupid bosses, insane in-laws, frozen traffic, dying laptop batteries: everybody has a few sources of stress in their life. The problem is that our brains and minds are just not very good at distinguishing, emotionally, between seeing a sabre-toothed tiger on the horizon and receiving a high phone bill. One is a threat to our family’s safety, the other is really just an unpleasant surprise, but they can both produce the same kinds of physical, fight or flight responses in our bodies – hormones are released, breathing becomes shallower, muscles tense up, heart rate and blood pressure rise.

A single experience of this type is not the end of the world – it is nearly impossible to die from fright. Some people even enjoy the sensation and go skydiving or see horror movies just for the thrill. When simple fear becomes chronic stress, though – when these experiences occur on a daily basis for an extended period of time – the mental and physical consequences can become severe. Everybody should know what the symptoms of unhealthy stress levels are, and recognize them early enough to pursue treatment in the form of medication, talk therapy or other options. Such therapy is becoming a popular option.

 

Stress and the Individual

It is obvious enough not to need mentioning that not everyone experiences stress and stressful situations in the same way. Someone who will cheerfully step into a boxing ring might be terrified of public speaking. Personalities also differ in how well they cope with stress. Some individuals seem capable of compartmentalizing the different parts of their life so that they can be highly stressed at one moment but totally relaxed the next. Others are able to breeze through life’s rough patches without missing a beat when most of us will want to give up or at least take a step back.

In fact, stress isn’t always bad. In small enough doses, it can heighten a person’s powers of concentration, boost creativity and provide motivation. It only becomes a problem when it produces anxiety or interferes with a person’s daily tasks, which usually happens when it persists over the long term.

 

Managing the Sources of Stress

The first step to managing the sources of a person’s stress is to identify which “triggers” affect them most, a task which requires a little introspection and self-honesty. Where these stressors can’t be entirely avoided, it is usually at least possible to control their frequency or intensity, or schedule them at times when they are easier to face.

If trying to bulldoze through rush hour is frequently leaving you out of breath by the time you arrive at work, it might be possible to change your schedule. If a family member is constantly laying their burdens on you, it might be time to discuss some boundaries with them. Of course, making such changes will usually require some effort or sacrifice, and you will occasionally have to say “no” for the sake of your own health.

In many cases, a person’s stress triggers will be internal, either in the form of a mental habit that leads to a state of anxiety, or an association with some traumatic event belonging to the past. In this case, managing stress might best be done by consulting a therapist in order to address these root causes.

What Chronic Stress May Bring with It

Long-term stress, such as that caused by conflicts in the family or a persistently unpleasant work situation, is unpleasant enough in and of itself. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, loss of focus and concentration, and insomnia.

Stress is not just a mental phenomenon but places a strain on the whole body, which means that a person’s immune system will become compromised. At work, the first sign that someone is suffering from excessive stress is often them taking an abnormal number of sick days for seemingly unrelated conditions, such as the flu and stomach upsets. If the problem is not addressed, a loss of judgment, avoidance of responsibility and eventual burnout are likely results.

At home, chronic stress may manifest as increased irritability, drawing away from family members and little to no sex drive. Such a person may have little energy and yet have difficulty sleeping or relaxing. It may also be very difficult for them to explain why they are acting the way they do.

If chronic stress is not managed or treated even after the above symptoms have become apparent, things become truly scary. Further mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders may develop, as well as any of a large variety of cardiovascular problems. Skin problems such as eczema may appear in persons who have never suffered from them before, and the digestive system also starts to break down.

Chronic stress can literally kill. If it is not recognized in its early stages, it becomes progressively more difficult to address as time goes on. When a person is beginning to feel overwhelmed, whether at work, at home or in any other context, something as simple as going for a quick run can work miracles.…

Psychology For Managers How To Prevent Valuable Employees From Leaving

After profitability and debt to equity ratios, employee churn is probably the best indication of any company’s fundamental health. Every time someone hits the road, all their training, experience and knowledge leave with them. If that person was in a key position, it can take months to rebuild their internal and external relationships, familiarity with the industry and basic competence in that role.

 

Reducing staff turnover by offering higher salaries is a very poor solution. In the first place, this obviously costs the company money. Secondly, there are certain things people simply won’t do for a wage, with the possible exception of lawyers. Instead, organizing work so that employees don’t end up feeling unappreciated, overburdened or unnecessarily stressed can increase their job satisfaction, company loyalty, and productivity without having to spend a cent.  A pat on the back or words of appreciation or acknowledgment can do wonders, and conversely, can seriously affect employee motivation if otherwise.

 

Provide Clear Direction

Why do employees at start-up firms cheerfully work insanely long hours for a paltry salary and little job security? Aside from things like stock options, part of what motivates them is the feeling that they are contributing to building something worthwhile; that they are somehow making the world a better place.

 

Certain leaders are reverently called “visionary”, but merely having a vision is not sufficient by itself. Visionary leaders are those who manage to clearly communicate their objectives and have the ability to do them and teach them to their subordinates. If this is not done, each worker will feel like they are just another cog in the machine instead of a member of a team, unappreciated and easily replaceable.

 

On a day to day level, it is extremely important that each individual understands what his tasks are, what resources are available to him and what result is expected. This principle is simple to state but is often neglected in practice. It is very dangerous to assume that everyone is always on the same page as far as operational issues are concerned.

 

Don’t Play Favorites

Every company has more or less valuable employees, but how easy is it to tell the difference? Some people have a talent for putting themselves forward and highlighting their achievements, but the impression this creates is not always directly related to their real productivity.

 

This issue is magnified in a context where it is difficult to measure performance accurately. Where this is the case, however, a situation often arises where the only reward an employee can expect for good work is more demanding tasks. If a stellar performer realizes that he is doing far more than his colleagues, but receives the same compensation, he will most likely start looking for greener pastures where his contribution will be appreciated.

 

To avoid the appearance of favoritism, rewards such as promotions and bonuses have to be issued based on a transparent framework. A manager should aim to spend a roughly equal amount of time with each of their subordinates in order to avoid creating a yes-men culture. Where rules regarding dress, timeliness and administrative procedures exist, they should apply equally to every employee with no exceptions.

 

Pay Attention to the Little Things

An off-hand comment such as “we pay you too much for this” will often cause a highly skilled specialist to walk out, with no notice given and no intention of returning. However many dollars and plastic trophies a person receives, if they feel like they and their work are not appreciated, their dedication will be lost even if they choose to stay a little longer.

 

Although it’s not required to socialize outside of work or become friends, a good manager will get to know their subordinates as individuals. Building a basic level of rapport and beginning to understand a person’s values and way of thinking is crucial to efficient two-way communication.

 

Simply knowing how to talk to people is a management skill that’s more valuable than is commonly realized. Asking people for their input on a decision that’s already been taken, failing to practice active listening, and waiting for a formal review before providing feedback on workers’ performances are all frequent yet avoidable mistakes.

 

Trust Your Employees

When someone is hired, it is implicitly assumed that they will be able to perform the tasks set out in their job description. Constantly looking over their shoulders, asking for updates at every single step and reprimanding them for trivial mistakes are all indications that the employee is not trusted, which will quickly leave them feeling demotivated.

 

An employee who does feel like he’s being depended on, by contrast, will be that much more likely to seek help or guidance when needed and be more willing to share suggestions and opinions. Occasional mistakes are a part of innovation and improvement, and if workers are afraid to fail, they will be too afraid to work towards progress and efficiency.

 

Respect the Work/Life Balance

Naturally, at times work will be urgent and overtime required. If this happens occasionally, it is not a problem. If it is a constant occurrence, chances are that a team is understaffed or workflow not being properly managed. Should an employee be forced to choose between his job and his relationship with his family, the family is likely to win out.

 

In a different world, management might be about maximizing some attributes or metrics. In the one we live in, though, the correct word is optimized. A manager needs to be assertive but not over-controlling, approachable while still maintaining some distance from subordinates, and make employees feel empowered but not rudderless.

 

This constant balancing act is not easy to accomplish, but the clearest indication that something is not being done right is frequent resignations. Remember: people rarely leave jobs or companies, they leave managers.

 …