woman sitting in a car looking out the windshield

What Is Bipolar Depression?

When discussing or possibly addressing depression, understanding the distinctions is crucial. Everyone gets sad or feels down at times. This is normal and inevitable. Depression, on the other hand, is a diagnosable issue that requires treatment. So, that’s one huge distinction. Something else to keep in mind is that depression is often part of a separate condition called Bipolar Disorder (BP) — formerly known as Manic-Depressive Disorder.

Generally speaking, someone is diagnosed with BP if they experience a manic episode that lasts at least one week. In most cases, that same person will also struggle with depressive episodes. In this post, we’ll focus on Bipolar Depression.

About Those Manic Episodes

For the sake of context and contrast, I’ll start by sharing some of the many symptoms of a BP manic episode:

  • Thoughts are racing
  • Talking rapidly and non-stop
  • Displaying extreme excitement and happiness
  • Restlessness
  • Behaving impulsively in ways that can be self-harming, e.g. risky sex, quitting your job, and substance abuse
  • Feeling so energized that you do not sleep
  • Formulating unattainable plans with unrealistic goals
  • Seeing yourself as important or famous
  • In extreme instances, a BP manic episode can produce hallucinations and delusions

Contrast That With Signs of a BP Depressive Episode

In order to be considered a BP depressive episode, the person in question must experience a depressed mood virtually every day over (at least) a two-week time period. In particular, during these two weeks (or more), the person must display a marked loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed. For example, someone may love riding their bicycle but suddenly now never leaves the house.

Other symptoms of a BP Depressive episode may include:

  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness, guilt, hopelessness, worthlessness, or shame
  • Lacking energy and motivation
  • Irritability with occasional angry outbursts
  • Sleep disturbances ranging from too much to insomnia
  • Appetite swings from more to less and back — with subsequent weight gain or loss
  • Unable to concentrate or make decisions
  • Sorrow that causes unpredictable and uncontrollable crying spells
  • Self-harm
  • Thoughts of death, dying, or suicide

woman sitting in a car looking out the windshieldSigns like this, in conjunction with manic episodes, make it advisable to seek advice from a medical professional. One of the first things to find out is if there are factors that would rule out BP as a likely diagnosis. For example, substance abuse, a legal medication, or side effects of an existing medical condition could each be playing a role.

Can You Have a Mixed Episode?

Unfortunately, yes, you can. A mixed episode would see a person juggling depressive and manic symptoms simultaneously. Imagine, for example, feeling super high energy while experiencing a spiral of negative thoughts.

Other Things to Know About Bipolar Disorder

  • As many as 3 percent of Americans (close to 6 million) have BP
  • It impacts people of all ages but the average onset age is 25
  • Men and women are diagnosed at roughly equal rates
  • Women with BP tend to endure more depressive episodes than men
  • BP is diagnosed via physical exam, medical history, and blood tests aiming to rule out other conditions

The exact cause of BP is not yet known. Genetic factors are highly suspected to play a big role. In addition, stressful events have been seen to trigger either manic or depressive episodes.

Getting Treatment for Bipolar Depression

There is currently no cure for BP but treatment can ease symptoms dramatically. In some cases, medication is prescribed (mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants). But talk therapy combined with self-management steps has a solid track record of effective relief. If you or someone you know may be struggling with Bipolar Disorder, I invite you to reach out soon. Let’s get you set up with a free and confidential consultation for depression treatment.

road covered in snow

How To Help Seasonal Depression

When someone talks about enjoying a “nice day,” the safe assumption is that they are not referring to the dead of winter. The days are shorter and the weather practically dares you to go outside. Most people would not list winter as their favorite season. For some folks, however, it goes deeper than that. They suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a form of depression that is triggered by changes in season. It can impact people in the summer but it is primarily a disorder of the dark, cold winter. It could relate to our body’s circadian rhythm and/or hormones. Whatever the cause, SAD should be taken seriously.

Common Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

The symptoms will mimic Major Depressive Disorder except that they relate specifically to a time of year. SAD can make you feel sad — every day for most of the day. Other common signs may include but not be limited to:

  • A chronic sense of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and guilt
  • No longer wanting to partake in activities you once really enjoyed
  • Loss of libido
  • Appetite changes and possible weight gain
  • Sleeping too much but still feeling fatigued and low energy
  • Restlessness
  • Inability to concentrate, focus, or make decisions
  • Thoughts of self-harm, death, dying, or suicide

It’s believed that about five percent of Americans struggle with SAD but that number could be as high as 20 percent. Again, with those numbers and those symptoms, SAD should be taken seriously.

road covered in snowHow to Help Seasonal Depression

For starters, you will want to consciously make positive choices. Find activities that make you feel hopeful; choose options that will lead to laughter and smiles. For example:

  • Keep a gratitude journal and refer to it often
  • Seek out funny videos
  • Take regular screen breaks (TV, phone, desktop, etc.)
  • Get yourself a pen pal
  • Make friends with your neighbors
  • Help others (humans and non-humans in need)

A Few More Steps You Can Take to Address SAD

  • Actively maintain social connections: Don’t postpone a phone call or visit. Go out of your way to connect with others beyond the realm of texts and social media.
  • Basic self-care: You will want to stay physically active, maintain regular sleep patterns, and make healthy eating choices. This daily commitment will sustain you more than you may realize. Ideally, even if it’s cold, spend some time outside — especially if the sun is out. Combine your physical activity with your outdoor time.
  • Be creative: Cultivate new hobbies and interests. As often as you can, find ways to express yourself creatively in the process. This could be music, art, writing, painting, or anything else that calls to you and lift your spirits.
  • Set up routines: Add some structure to your life. You’ll get more done and this will make you feel more satisfied and optimistic.
  • Develop relaxation techniques: What relaxes you? It could be a warm bath, a good book, a mellow song, etc. Make a list and be kind to yourself often! Perhaps most importantly, practice mindfulness. Stay as present as possible without dwelling on everything you hate about the winter.

Coping With Depression is Not a Solo Act

Depression of any kind is a diagnosable disorder. Therefore, it requires the support of a skilled professional. Meeting regularly with a therapist is a proven path toward managing Seasonal Affective Disorder. You will:

  • Learn all about the condition
  • Explore its underlying causes
  • Identify triggers
  • Develop new approaches for dealing with the winter

And this is just the start. If SAD has you feeling sad, we should talk soon. Let’s connect for a free consultation and get you on the path toward healing through depression treatment.

Coping With Depression as a Person of Color (POC)

Everyone feels sad at times. Life has its ups and downs and this can result in us getting the proverbial “blues.” As uncomfortable as this reality may be, it is normal and inevitable. However, for some folks, that depressed feeling just keeps returning. And it stays longer and longer each time.

For people of color (POC), this is a particularly common trend. For example, Black Americans make up less than 13 percent of the U.S. population. Meanwhile, they also comprise 20 percent of those struggling with depression. It’s time we take a closer look.

Depression and POC

People of any ethnic background or nationality can be at risk for depression if, for example:

  • There’s a history of mental illness in their family
  • They deal with chronic stress
  • They do not practice healthy habits when it comes to nutrition, sleep, and exercise

For POC, you can add to that list by including trauma — both current and generational. The POC community has a long history of unresolved grief, discrimination, and loss. This can be a daily reality. In addition, it is believed that the impact of long-term racism can be passed down via DNA.

Being judged solely on the color of your skin sets a person (and a community) up for the draining daily process of navigating a hostile environment. People of color have to protect themselves, advocate for themselves, and soothe themselves.

Needless to say, this day-to-day effort takes a heavy toll on POC of all ages. It can and has been shown to contribute to a higher incidence of major depressive disorder.

Common Depression Symptoms


  • Dramatic changes in appetite
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Unexplained aches, pains, and muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Digestive issues
  • Fatigue


  • Feeling hopeless, empty, shameful, and guilty
  • Persistent sadness
  • Inability to focus, concentrate, or make decisions
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed (including sex)
  • Thoughts of death, dying, and suicide

Coping With Depression as a Person of Color

Do Not Accept the Myths

Just because POC have historically overcome incredible hardship, it does not mean you can’t struggle today. One has literally nothing to do with the other. In your current situation — and with the likelihood of generational trauma — you do not have to explain or justify your pain to anyone. Depression is not a “weakness.” It’s a diagnosable disorder that requires professional help — just like any medical condition.

Do Not Accept the Guilt Trips

Also, there has long been a stigma within the church about mental health care. If you are a person who follows a certain religion, you may be hesitant to do so. Seeking treatment for something like depression is seen as a lack of faith. Remember:

  • Getting mental health treatment is not a rejection of your faith
  • No one can just “snap out of it”
  • Again, depression is not a sign of weakness
  • True strength lies in asking for help

That said, there is absolutely no reason that you can’t take parallel approaches. Reach out to a therapist and to someone in your church who understand mental health.

Connect Within Your Community

Increasingly, people of color are recognizing the realities of depression. It’s never been easier to connect — in person or online — with folks who get it. They get the mental struggle of depression and the daily struggle of systemic racism. In such a community, you can find solace, solidarity, and validation.

Let’s Connect and Talk Soon

There are so many moving parts in this conversation. Each of them — e.g. mental health, generational trauma, chronic discrimination, cultural norms, and more — can and must be addressed. I urge you to reach out. Let’s schedule you for a free consultation and get you on the road to recovery with depression therapy.


4 Lesser-Known Indicators of Depression

“I feel depressed.”  For many of us, this is not a rare phrase to hear (or say). However, in a clinical sense, being “depressed” refers to a diagnosable mental health issue. Clinical depression is a common disorder and it means much more than feeling sad or blue. It presents some very obvious symptoms — and some lesser-known indicators, too.

Not many people associate depression with, say, reckless driving or risky sexual behavior. But these are just some of the possible signs. Therefore, one of the most important steps to take in dealing with depression is becoming familiar with its less obvious symptoms.

4 Lesser-Known Indicators of Depression

1. Substance Abuse

First and foremost, let’s be clear. Substance use disorders can be conditions and of themselves. However, abusing drugs or alcohol can be a dysfunctional way to self-medicate one’s depression. This is true even when a person doesn’t even realize they are depressed.

This is just one way that depression can go unrecognized. Also obscuring the connection is the reality that women are more prone to depression but men are more likely to self-medicate. In the end, while it temporarily numbs the emotions, eventually, substance abuse makes things feel worse.

2. Brain Fog

Across the board, studies show that depression has the potential to cause any or all of the following:

  • Memory issues, both working memory, and long-term
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Impaired decision-making skills
  • Forgetfulness
  • Slower than usual reaction times

There are many possible causes for such issues. Depression is one of them.

3. Weight Fluctuations

We typically assign weight changes to something physical. That’s partly why this sign flies under the radar in terms of depression. Another reason is that the symptoms can vary widely. Depression affects appetite. How it affects appetites is not easy to predict or identify. You could eat less and lose weight; eat more and lose weight; eat more and gain weight; or eat less and gain weight. What matters most is that two shifts are obvious: how much you eat and how much you weigh.

4. Anger

The general perception of someone with depression is of a lethargic, low-energy person. Meanwhile, different manifestations of anger are hallmarks of the disorder. It could range from impatience to irritability to aggression to rage. People may comment that the outburst was sudden or “out of nowhere” or “not like you.” This could be caused by depression feeling out of control. You grow ashamed of how you feel. Depression inspires guilt and fear. All these emotions need release somewhere.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I more easily irritated?
  • Do I get defensive when people ask me about myself?
  • Are people tiptoeing around me and avoiding me if possible?
  • Am I driving people away at the time I need help the most?


All of the above can be symptoms of many other conditions. As mentioned, substance abuse is a disorder. So, step one is to avoid jumping to conclusions or hitting the panic button. Yes, it’s disturbing to experience angry outbursts, unexplained weight loss, or loss of memory. Such occurrences cannot be ignored but almost certainly can be explained. A good starting point for improved awareness and understanding? Contact a mental health professional to talk about depression.

Depression is Treatable

We have worked with many people who were dealing with depression but didn’t realize it. If you think this might be happening to you, we can help.

The best way to start feeling better — whatever the cause — is to ask for help. With that in mind, we invite you to reach out and connect. Let’s schedule you for a safe and confidential consultation. We can talk about what you’re feeling. We can also begin a conversation about depression treatment and possible underlying causes. We’re here to help you live the life you want and deserve.



6 Typical and Uncommon Causes of Depression

It cannot be overstated. Clinical depression is much more than a brief interlude of feeling sad or down. Deeper than “the blues” depression is a diagnosable mental health disorder that is growing in prevalence. It is very serious but fortunately, also very treatable. Being aware of the causes of depression is a strong step in understanding and addressing this common disease.

6 Typical Causes of Depression

1. Biology and Genetics

While all the specific mechanisms remain under debate, there is no denying the role of these two factors. Research studies have found changes in the brains of people with depression. In addition, depression does seem to run in families.

2. Trauma, Abuse, and Grief

Certain events (like physical and emotional abuse) can result in both trauma and grief. These two factors, in turn, dramatically increase the likelihood of a person experiencing a major depressive disorder.

3. Age

The older we get, the higher our risk of depression. For the elderly, therefore, the risk is highest — perhaps due to isolation and failing health.

4. Gender

In a male-dominated culture, it may come as no surprise that women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. As #3 explains, this incidence increases with age.

5. Chronic Medical Conditions

There are some chronic illnesses that cannot be controlled via lifestyle choices like exercise and diet. Dealing with such a frustrating condition has predictably been found to cause depression in some patients.

6. Major Life Events

Unlike like #2 above, these events may actually be positive (relocation, promotion, the birth of a child, etc.). The key is that they are major and thus, capable of overwhelming us.

6  Causes of Depression You Might Not Recognize

1. Weather

Perhaps you are already familiar with something called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Most people associate this condition with a cold, dark winter. However, a small percentage of SAD sufferers are reacting to the unbearable heat of summer.

2. Location

Many variations exist in this category, but the most common is the daily stress of urban life. Dwelling in a city carries with it a 39 percent higher risk of mood disorders than living in rural regions.

3. Sleep Deprivation

This one is on the rise and will soon be moved to the “common causes of depression” list. Lack of sleep negatively impacts brain function. In turn, this puts you at risk for depression.

4. Thyroid Issues

If your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, you may be diagnosed with hypothyroidism. A side effect of this condition is depression.

5. Social Media

Especially for teens and pre-teens, this factor is on the rise. Social media overload can create self-esteem problems and hamper real-life interactions. Over time, this may result in depression.

6. Binge-Watching

When anything good comes to an end, we can feel bad. These days, the concept of binge-watching TV shows has taken this to a dangerous new level. When our favorite shows end after we watch all 10 episodes in a row, it leaves us empty and lost — and susceptible to depression.

Getting Help

The catch-22 of depression is that it puts us in an emotional state from which it is difficult to find hope. We might shrug off symptoms and sink deeper into them. We may not accept the many, many causes of depression. However, anyone who finds that a depressive episode is seriously impacting their life should seek help. This might mean a negative impact on:

  • Family life
  • Career/Finance
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Social and Leisure Time
  • Basic Daily Functioning

Resist the urge to downplay this situation for yourself or others in your life. Reaching out to an experienced health professional is a necessary step for complete recovery. In some cases, it can be a life-saving step. Please read more about depression treatment and contact us soon for a consultation.

depression treatment

Toxic Positivity: What It Is & How It Can Fuel Depression

Encouraging someone to stay positive can often be what they need to hear. Sometimes, though, it can be the exact opposite. Everything in moderation applies to positivity, too. If we’re too focused on positivity, we can find ourselves smothering emotions we need to process.

Positivity can become especially toxic if it’s offered as a cover-up or if it’s used to make someone be quiet. This is rarely done with malice. Most of the time, it’s an attempt by that person to avoid the discomfort of being around someone who’s experiencing negative emotions. It’s important for us to acknowledge all of our emotions, though, even the negative ones.

Toxic Positivity: What Is It?

The definition of toxic positivity reads as “an overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state that results in the denial, minimization, or invalidation of authentic human emotional experiences.” To put it simply, toxic positivity is denying the existence of negative emotions and their validity. A few signs of toxic positivity include:

  1. Masking how you really feel
  2. Telling yourself or others to “get on with it”
  3. Dismissing emotions as irrelevant
  4. Minimizing someone’s experience with “feel good” statements
  5. Shaming someone for their emotions, including yourself
  6. Chastising someone for expressing a negative emotion
  7. Refusing to acknowledge that something is bothering you or someone else
  8. Giving someone your unrequested perspective like, “At least it’s not as bad as…” or, “It could be so much worse!”

Why Toxic Positivity is Harmfuldepression treatment

Understanding why toxic positivity is harmful can help you better understand how to deal with it. This insight can also help you better acknowledge negative emotions. Some reasons that toxic positivity is detrimental include the following:

Shaming What’s Natural

Negative emotions aren’t bad emotions. They’re very normal and they’re necessary. Shame can be damaging to the spirit. It’s one of the most uncomfortable emotions we can feel. Judging someone for feeling negative emotions can shame them into silence. We force them into secrecy and invalidate their experience.

Emotional Suppression

Shaming can also cause emotional suppression. This means someone may hide or deny feelings to others and themselves. As a result, stress is stored in the body. It can actually increase how difficult it is to cope with distressing feelings.

Also, shame encourages sufferers to present themselves in inauthentic ways. We call this “masking.” It is much healthier to practice acceptance. Then feelings are actually processed, not stuffed or buried not lock them away. That’s how they can become a ticking emotional time bomb.


Being told constantly to cheer up or look on the bright side causes us to feel unseen. Fewer things are more devastating to a human than isolation. We are naturally social creatures. Our minds need genuine connection and socialization to function at their best. Living with the sense that they need to be perpetually happy to be around others is exhausting. Eventually, this may cause some people to withdraw.

How Toxic Positivity Fuels Depression

Minimizing someone’s feelings when they’re battling depression is not supportive or encouraging. They’re already struggling with dark moods, low self-esteem, and the strain their depression puts on their relationships. Invalidating that experience just makes things that much more difficult. Even if we say things with the best intentions, it can still cause significant harm.

It’s important to help someone with depression feel like they aren’t alone. But platitudes like “Keep your head up,” make it sound like their experience is a passing phase. It very likely is not. Instead, be an active listener and an authentic shoulder to lean on. It’s more helpful to encourage them to find care.


We’re here to help. Please reach out and connect. Let’s schedule you for a safe and confidential consultation. We can talk about what you’re feeling. We can also begin a conversation about depression treatment and possible avenues for support.

Terria McGee, MSW, LICSW

Terria McGee, MSW, LICSW terria@affinitypsych.com

Terria is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. She works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and families. She is all about “meeting you where you’re at” to build a relationship and explore life’s difficulties. She is committed to be there with you on your journey towards healing, strength, and hope for the future.


Why You Might Need More Than Self-Help to Deal with Depression

Everyone gets down at times. It’s a normal part of living. You may even use the word “depressed” to describe your state of mind. Depression — with a capital D — is a common diagnosable mental health disorder that requires professional intervention. It’s treatable and such treatment can be supplemented with self-help steps.

Someone who is feeling blue might be able to rely on self-help to alter their mood. A person diagnosed with a depressive disorder needs much more. With all this as a preface, let’s examine some effective self-help options before digging into a psychological approach called psychodynamic therapy.

Common Self-help Suggestions for Depression

  • Acceptance: Understanding where you are and how common this disorder is
  • Set Realistic Goals: Work with your depression instead of against it
  • Talk Back to Your Inner Voice: Depression loves to tell sad tales but you can create counter-narratives
  • Let Others Know How You Feel: Do not struggle alone
  • Create Routines: Structure is Your friend
  • Help Others: Studies show that acts of kindness are effective at balancing out the depression
  • Practice Self-Care: Safeguard your daily habits, e.g. eating, sleeping, and physical activity

All of the above (and more), can be useful in complementing a treatment like psychodynamic therapy.

What is Psychodynamic Therapy?

There are three main types of therapies for depression:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
  • Psychodynamic Therapy

The first two focus on certain behaviors and thought patterns. They are short-term approaches that aim to develop new patterns. Conversely, Ppsychodynamic therapy seeks to find out why your dysfunctional patterns exist in the first place. It’s open-ended and very much influenced by Freudian psychoanalysis. Psychodynamic therapy may involve more than one session per week.

How Does Psychodynamic Therapy Work For Depression?

The process centers on a freewheeling conversation with your therapist. Nothing is off-limits and the therapist learns about the client from their growing relationship. For example, with a depressed client, the psychodynamic therapist will then learn firsthand how the symptoms of depression create interpersonal dynamics and issues.

During the open-ended discussions, several areas of focus will be explored, e.g.

Recognizing Defense Mechanisms

To dig down the root causes of the problems, it is necessary to work past the client’s defense mechanisms. These are methods by which the client avoids dealing with subjects they deem to be difficult or uncomfortable.

Acknowledge the Range of Emotions

Depression involves a wide range of feelings — from sadness to anger to dissociation to grief and beyond. These emotions must be explored and understood. Almost certainly, the client will become aware of feelings they hadn’t previously been aware of. This process empowers the client to start doing the same on their own. They begin to better comprehend the connections between current feelings and past experiences.

Identifying and Addressing Patterns

All of us have habits and behaviors that seem invisible but very much impact our lives. Psychodynamic therapy helps drag these patterns out into the light. Talking with the therapist is about where and how the patterns are revealed to both participants. Naturally, this helps return the focus to past events that may have contributed to the behaviors currently holding the client back.

Another pattern to consider involves fantasy life. What does the client dream about? What does the client daydream about? How does a fantasy life play a role in daily life?

Self-Help + Psychodynamic Therapy

The parallel tracks of self-care and therapy combine to expedite the recovery process. This healing journey commences with you learning more about depression therapy and reaching out to learn more about how it all works. Let’s connect and work together to free you from the confines of depression.

Art Therapy for Adults and Children

Growing up, many of us remember coloring with crayons, playing with Play-Doh, or building with brightly colored blocks. We crafted worlds, constructed make-believe scenarios and proudly displayed our creations on fridges, walls, and in frames.

Today, while some of us continue to create art, many of us do not. Life just seems to get in the way. And while art and creating may not be a staple in our lives, what if we told you it could be a catalyst to healing and growing? What if art could again give you that rush of joy? That ability to let go, to embrace emotions, raise self-awareness and cope with what life throws at you? What if we told you that a healing power lies in art therapy?

What is Art Therapy?

Don’t worry, art therapy isn’t just coloring in coloring books (although we enjoy coloring too!)

Art therapy is the use of artistic, creative methods to enrich the lives of individuals, families and communities and treat psychological distress and improve mental health. Art therapy is conducted by a Master’s level art therapist, whose goal is to help individuals and groups gain a deeper understanding of difficult situations and our behaviors and reactions surrounding these situations.

At Affinity, our art therapists will help guide you, either through creating your own art or viewing others’ art.

Through techniques like drawing, painting, collage, and sculpting, you will be encouraged to reflect on what you create, how it was made, and the meaning behind it.

Together you will search for common themes that may be influencing your thoughts and actions. Through exploration like this, an art therapist can help you to better understand your emotions and provide tools to help you cope with future stress.

Will Art Therapy Work for Me or My Child?

Art therapy has been proven to be beneficial for all ages and for a wide array of mental health concerns. Used as an alternative therapy or in conjunction with other psychotherapies, art therapy can be used to help treat such issues as:

  • Stress/Anxiety
  • Behavioral Problems
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
  • Depression
  • Aging
  • PTSD
  • Relationship Issues
  • Eating Disorders
  • Chronic Pain

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and if you have any questions about art therapy and what it may help treat, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Art therapy has helped everyone from war veterans to children with special needs get a better grasp of the world around them. Art therapy has been shown to help reduce pain and stress in cancer patientsreduce anxiety in children, and depression and PTSD in those who have suffered great traumas.

The benefits of expressive arts therapy seem to be boundless.

At its core, art therapy is about making meaning through making art.

Here at Affinity, we take pride in finding out how art therapy can help even more people thrive!

Art Therapy for Children

Expressive arts therapy for children may look like play, but it’s actually a highly beneficial therapy approach. Children do not have the refined verbal skills that adults do. Through art-making, children are actually able to communicate more and better than they can communicate with words alone. Art therapy is especially beneficial for children who may be non-verbal or sensory-based, or who may have suffered from trauma. An art therapist will encourage children to visually express and record their experiences, emotions, and perceptions.

Common art therapy activities for children include:

  • Collage making
  • Tactile activities
  • Fort building
  • Drawing

Art Therapy for Adults

Art therapy for adults, may not look too different from art therapy for children, but is just as beneficial. The goal is to “delve deep,” focusing inward and expressing yourself with creative materials. Art therapy for adults  involves a lot of talk therapy, or psychotherapy, as well. However, unlike expressing yourself with only words, the physical form of art therapy also allows you to “do something” in the moment with your thoughts and feelings – rip them up, turn them over, bury them, or change the image to what you want to have happen.  An art therapist will help you reflect on your art, ask questions, learn about yourself, and develop strategies to work through similar issues that may arise in the future.

Common art therapy activities for adults include:

  • Self-portraits
  • Creative journaling
  • Mandalas
  • Word collages

Do I Have to Be Good at Art for Art Therapy?

Not at all! Remember, art therapy is designed to help you explore your feelings, perceptions and reactions to the world around you, not your artistic techniques. When creating art, our art therapists want you to create art that is an expression of you and your feelings, not necessarily an expression of the outside world. Art therapy is for you and you alone. No artistic flare needed.

Art therapy is about the process, not the final product.

How Do I Get Started With Art Therapy?

We can’t wait to help you in your journey towards empowerment and change. You are more than welcome to read more about our art therapist here and get to know the rest of the team here. To schedule an art therapy session, you can either schedule online or contact us by clicking here. We’ll walk you through the next steps from there.

You’ve made the first step towards healing. We can’t wait to meet you!

Prenatal and Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Most people have heard of postpartum depression. It’s an all-too-common condition that new mothers experience. However, it’s not the only challenge facing women around the time of childbirth. Many women experience mood disorders during pregnancy as well as after the child’s birth. Our culture doesn’t always talk about how hard this can be. Therapy is there to support you during this time.

Therapy for New & Expecting Mothers

Many expectant mothers don’t even think about getting therapy during pregnancy. It’s supposed to be a joyous time. Why would you need help for it? The truth is, even if you mostly feel joyous, there are also a lot of other emotions that naturally emerge during pregnancy. You may have many different thoughts, feelings, concerns, and fears. Therapy can provide you with a safe space to discuss all of those things so that you feel more grounded in your pregnancy experience.

Anxiety is one of the most common issues that expectant mothers face.

First-time mothers in particular may have a lot of fears and doubts. You’re bringing a new life into the world. It’s your responsibility to raise that baby for the next eighteen or more years. No matter how excited you are to have this child, that’s a scary prospect. It’s okay to be scared. Therapy can be a place where you can be honest about that fear and figure out how to navigate it effectively so that you can be the kind of parent you dream of being.

It’s also okay if you don’t feel excited about this pregnancy. Women are often shamed in our society if they admit that. As therapists, we understand. Pregnancy can cause many complicated feelings. You may feel like you’re losing your identity as an individual and just going to be stuck being a “mom,” and that can bring up all sorts of mental challenges. It’s okay to have doubts. It’s okay to not know if this is what you really want. We will never judge you as you bring forth these feelings to work through in therapy.

What is Postpartum Depression

Although you might have heard the term, you may not know exactly what postpartum depression is. It is a specific type of depression that can happen to women after childbirth.

It’s important to understand that many women experience “baby blues”. Your body and hormones are changing a lot after the birth of your child. Add to that all of the natural anxiety that arises in parenthood, plus the fact that you’re not sleeping normally, and of course you’re going to have moments of low mood.

However, the so-called “baby blues” are temporary. They are interspersed with positive feelings. In contrast, postpartum depression is depression. It is thick, heavy, and doesn’t go away. It starts sometime within the first year after the baby’s birth. Postpartum depression is characterized by:

  • Sadness, hopelessness, feelings of despair, and/or crying a lot
  • Lack of interest in activities and people including no interest in sex or food
  • Feeling like you can’t bond with your baby
  • Low self-esteem particularly as it relates to being a mother
  • Inability to concentrate, focus, or remember things
  • Feeling like you can’t get out of bed, take care of yourself, or meet your baby’s needs

Postpartum depression affects many women. It’s not because of anything that you did wrong. While it’s more likely among people with a history of depression, it can happen to any woman. Getting therapy after pregnancy can help.

In fact, we’re increasingly becoming aware that men can also experience a form of postpartum depression. It typically happens later after the child’s birth than a mother’s form does. Either way, it is a type of depression directly related to the stressors of having a new child.

Pregnancy & Mood Disorders

Postpartum depression is just one type of mood disorder that can impact families after pregnancy. Anxiety is also frequently experienced by expectant and new parents. If you have a history of mood disorders, they may get worse during and after pregnancy. Or the symptoms might change. It’s important to address the challenges right away rather than waiting. Reach out for help today so you can get back to the joy of parenthood instead of staying mired in the hard part.