colleen hurll counselling

Benefits of Individuals Doing Relationship Counselling

Individual CounsellingRelationship counselling is a way for couples to work out conflicts and issues that are threatening their relationship.

If you’re enthusiastic about getting couple counselling, hopefully, your partner feels the same – but that’s not always the case. Your partner may not feel the same need or desire to talk to a counsellor. If that’s the case, should you hold off or go it alone?

The Benefits of Individual Therapy for Relationship Problems

Just because your partner is averse to counselling doesn’t mean you and your relationship can’t benefit from the expertise a relationship counsellor offers.

Not only is it talking to a counsellor beneficial from a psychological standpoint, it gives you a chance to talk about conflicts in your relationship with a trained professional who’s probably already seen or heard it all.

Professional counsellors are trained to listen to your problems, help address conflicts and work with you to find workable solutions to personal and relationship issues. With the help of a counsellor, you may see problems in your relationship in a new way and find more effective ways to deal with them.

Just as importantly, a counsellor can help you change how you think about and react to conflicts in your marriage. This can positively impact your relationship even if your partner isn’t directly involved in the counselling process. Plus, simply talking to someone who is objective and supportive helps ease some of the anxiety and stress most people experience from unresolved relationship issues. That’s important since unaddressed stress and anger can lead to health problems.

Plus, counselling can help you uncover solutions you may not have considered on your own. You’ll see issues affecting your relationship from a new perspective. Talking to a counsellor will also help you recognise and express your feelings about your relationship in a safe and caring environment. That’s therapeutic for everyone involved!

Other Benefits of Individual Counselling

There’s another aspect of individual counselling that can be beneficial to your relationship. It can help you feel better about yourself.

Counselling can boost your self-esteem, help you feel more comfortable with yourself, reassess how you relate to your partner and help you handle all aspects of your life better – including your relationship.

When you feel good about yourself, you’ll approach people and your relationship differently. That can have benefits for you, your partner and your relationship as a whole.

How Effective Is Individual Relationship Counseling?

Not sure whether individual relationship counselling works? A professor of psychology at the University of Denver put it to the test. He asked 300 couples to undergo relationship counselling either as a couple or individually. The results? The couples that were seen individually saw as many positive changes in their relationship than those that were seen as a couple. Individual counselling is a viable option if your partner is unwilling to seek counselling with you.

The Bottom Line

Is individual therapy for you? Relationship counselling is about making relationships better and, ideally, it should be a shared experience.

On the other hand, one-on-one relationship counselling has benefits too. It can change how you approach conflict, help you gain new insights into yourself and your relationship, relieve stress and boost your self-esteem.

This can have benefits for you as an individual and for your relationship as a whole. Even if your partner is reluctant to get counselling, individual counselling can help you AND your partner enjoy a healthier relationship.

If you feel like you and your partner will benefit from individual counselling, please contact me on 0413 181 320 for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation on how I can help you.

A Guide for Dealing with Separation and Divorce

Dealing with Separation and DivorceRelationships are intensely emotional connections. When a relationship comes to an end, you are going to experience physical and emotional pain. For those who are married and facing separation or divorce, you are probably wondering how to cope with everything that is happening. Divorce and separation are difficult because these acts not only represent the loss of emotional and physical love, but also have an impact on other areas of your life.

As you go through the process of separation or divorce, you’ll find yourself worrying about a number of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to, financial concerns, how family will react, who your friends will side with, and (if applicable) the impact on children. When all of this is taken into consideration, separation and divorce seem overwhelming.

Coping with the loss of a relationship doesn’t have to be an emotionally draining and devastating process. There are a number of important things you should keep in mind, and tactics you should employ, as you go through this period of change that will prepare you to cope with the day-to-day flood of emotions.

Allow Yourself to Grieve

In many ways, the loss of a relationship is emotionally consistent with losing a family member to death. Grief is a natural reaction to any loss, including a marriage or long-term relationship. When a marriage comes to an end, it is possible that you will feel a number of different emotions. These include:

  • Loss of companionship: For the duration of your relationship, you had that one person you could count on; that one person you shared many of your life experiences with.
  • Loss of support: Financial, intellectual, social, spiritual, emotional, etc.
  • Loss of hopes: The plans and dreams you made as a couple for the future are now gone

As you take your first steps down the road to recovery, your greatest coping mechanism will be acceptance. Allow yourself time to grieve the losses mentioned above, and any other losses you feel in your life. You need to recognise the fact that it is OK to have varied feelings about these losses. You may feel sad, angry, frustrated, confused, and/or exhausted. These feelings will vary in intensity, but you need to recognize and deal with them. Accept the fact that you are dealing with these emotions and know that the intensity of each emotion will lessen with time.

Additionally, give yourself a break. It is important not to beat yourself up for feeling the emotions mentioned above. Allow yourself to experience those emotions, accept that you may function at a lesser capacity as you cope, and take time to heal. You are not superman (or superwoman), but you will eventually regroup and rebuild.

Care for Yourself

The emotional and physical loss experienced during separation or divorce will, at times, take a heavy toll on your body. The strain and stress of the experience can leave you feeling emotionally vulnerable and physically exhausted. At this point, it is critical that you set aside time to care for yourself.

A healthy way to approach this period of coping is to act as though you are getting over the flue. You should get lots of rest, reduce your workload (at home and at work, if possible), and try your best to minimise other stressors in your life.

How you employ this coping mechanism varies based upon the individual. The following tips can help guide your self-care routine and provide a good starting point:

  • Nurture joy in your life: What activities and adventures bring joy to your life? Perhaps you enjoy the outdoors, love music, are easily immersed in reading, or simply enjoy a hot bubble bath. Whatever it is that brings you joy, you should work to nurture that joy. Set aside time to pursue these activities and adventures.
  • Develop a routine: Separation and divorce throw your world out of sorts. The range of emotions you feel during the day, and your reaction to them, is going to be amplified as you begin to cope. As you start off down this path, try to develop a routine (or return to a previous one) as soon as possible. The sense of normalcy and structure will help you focus and regroup.
  • Take a break: While you are coping with your loss, there are things you should avoid as well. In your heightened emotional state, it is not a good idea to make any major decisions. Avoid making a career change or moving to a new city until you have had time to begin coping and allow your emotions to balance out. Try to avoid excessive alcohol consumption, drugs, and binge eating as well as these factors will only add to the chaos.

A helpful tip when it comes to self-care: consider exploring new interests. One of the toughest facets of divorce is the loss of shared experiences and memories. As you being to cope, consider exploring different interests. These could be interests that your ex blocked in the past, or simply brand-new interests that did not exist previously. Pursuing these new interests will create new memories for you that help refocus your mind on the here-and-now, rather than allowing it to become occupied by thoughts of the past.

Reach Out for Support

Finally, it is important that you realise you do not have to do this alone. You might feel as though you are alone in the world after losing your relationship, but you are never alone. Support from other people in your live is critical as you being to heal. The natural reaction of many is to seek isolation and try to cope alone. Instead, seek out trusted friends and family members for support. You neither have to, nor should, go through a separation or divorce alone. Follow these helpful tips for support:

  • Spend time with supportive people: Try to spend time with the friends and family members that you feel most comfortable around. You should feel free to be open and honest with them about the process (and your coping), and not worry about being judged or criticized.
  • Cultivate new friendships: Navigating the social network you had as a couple can become choppy waters following a divorce. Ideally, those individuals won’t take sides and will remain open to both parties. However, you shouldn’t expect that. Take this opportunity to cultivate friendships with new people. Become active in your church or community, volunteer at your children’s school (if applicable). This allows you to meet people that have no idea what you’re going through and gives you the chance to just be you.

Last, but certainly not least, seek professional guidance. Far too many people view counselling as a sign of weakness. The reasons for this vary, but there are those who believe counselling is an admission of failure; a sign that they cannot solve their own problems. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Spending time with a counsellor can provide you with a neutral, outside view on the emotional trauma you are experiencing as you cope with separation or divorce. Counsellors are trained to help people identify emotional struggles and develop a game plan for facing those issues. A counsellor can help you by offering tips and guidance on coping that you may not have identified (or succeeded in identifying) on your own. Counsellors can offer the following assistance with grieving:

  • An outlet for feelings: If it is difficult to speak about your separation or divorce with friends and family, a counsellor offers a safe environment in which you can discuss your feelings. Just knowing that someone else is aware of your feelings can lessen your pain and provide a sense of support.
  • Identify emotions: It is common for people to fight their emotions during a breakup. Your counsellor can help you identify the various conflicting emotions you feel. Acknowledging and coping with those feelings helps hasten your coping period.
  • Guidance on the path to acceptance: Many people successfully identify their emotions and develop proper coping methods, but allow themselves to become sidetracked along the way to a healthy future. Counsellors serve as a trail guide of sorts, helping you express and confront your emotions without dwelling on them. Your counselor can help refocus your energy on the end goal, moving on with life.

Whether your marriage or relationship has ended by your choice or the choice of your partner, there are going to be emotions to identify and confront. Both parties should follow the advice covered in this article to ensure that they move on in a healthy manner with the rest of their lives. From grieving to coping, and seeking help from others, the path to healing will vary for everyone. The important thing to remember is that there will be a tomorrow. What you do with that tomorrow is up to you.

If you’re going through divorce or separation and would like to talk to someone, please contact me on 0413 181 320 for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation on how I can help you.

7 Things Pre-Marriage Counselling Can Do for You

Pre-Marital CounsellingThough most people go into it knowing that marriage is work, it is hard to really understand the emotional drain, loss of identity, and mental stress that can quickly enter the picture, for better or for worse.

Ideally, you as a couple will get through these challenges and be better for them as you uncover new strengths in each other, but it will be a lot easier if you already have a way to work through all the misunderstandings, outside pressures, and mistakes. Also if you know how you’re going to manage your finances. This is the genius of pre-marriage counselling.

Here’s what it can do for you:

1) Bring life plans to light:

You may have talked about your future lives together a zillion times, but there is still something to be said for formalising your plans in front of an impartial observer. Maybe you thought you were aligned on taking care of your aging parents, but then you find your partner had other plans for the money you thought was set aside. Maybe your partner assumed your kids would be cared for solely by you, but you had planned on daycare. These things may not be dealbreakers, but there is a lot of comfort in not feeling blindsided by unexpected disagreements.

2) Instill good communication habits:

If you are used to discussing problems and feelings, it will be easier to continue the tradition the first time you get really upset when your partner assumes you are taking out the rubbish bins and you both forget. Then later when you both feel that you aren’t being respected for all your hard work, you can remember and recreate the lists you once made about what you admire about each other. And maybe when one of you makes one seriously stupid mistake, the other one can open the discussion in a respectful manner, rather than with lots of screaming or the silent treatment.

3) Give you a format for discussing arguments:

You know you won’t agree all the time, but do you have a plan for what to do when things get really personal? Do you walk away? Do you push aside your feelings and soldier on? In pre-marriage counselling you may have already practiced how to argue without rejecting each other.  If you can understand and appreciate each other’s point of view, even when you disagree, you can each feel as though you are always heard. And when it becomes obvious that you are different people with different ideas, you can decide how and where to work together, rather than admitting defeat or building a wall of resentment.

4) Help you understand how each of you deal with various stressors and how you can work together to get through them:

Of course people have different feelings about finances, in-laws, problems at work, and any number of things, but when marriage partners react completely differently to stress, it is easy to feel disconnected. For example, some people want to talk about the things that stress them out and some people want to be alone with their thoughts. Knowing which type your partner is helps you better manage the stress. If you want to talk and they don’t, you can try first giving them some time and then scheduling a sit-down, so you are both served in your preferences.

5) Help you learn how to make financial goals together:

Simple things like how much money do you feel okay spending without consulting each other, more complicated things like what is your budgeting style, and high-level value things like what are your savings goals are important to know about your future spouse. People that do not see eye-to-eye or are not willing to compromise and stick to it on finances are going to have a hard time navigating their lives together.

6) Help you take seriously marriage, love, and commitment and make them a priority:

You are in love and see this person as your life-partner. Maybe you can not imagine life without your partner. But, some day things will change. Romance wears off. People keep growing up. Maybe you’ll decide you hate your job and your whole life. Maybe your kids will accidentally burn down the house and you’ll feel like throwing in the towel. Cute quirks will definitely become nails-on-a-chalkboard. Eventually, commitment becomes a daily decision and love becomes much more an act of selflessness than a feeling. Respect for each other above all close family members and friends becomes essential to having a true lifelong joining together in marriage. If you can talk about this and make the commitment now, then all you have to do is keep renewing it.

7) Prepare you to make adjustments:

The process of pre-marriage counselling asks you to really think about who you two are as people and how your lives are going to mesh. It won’t be long before you realize you might need to adjust some of your expectations. Adjustments are part of the journey of marriage and might be necessary at every new stage. Think you know how to co-parent theoretical kids? Just wait. How about handling a layoff? Or an unexpected illness? The best-laid plans are made to be amended. And since you will have already spent some time with an impartial professional, you can be prepared to use counseling again if needed sometime down the line.

Believe it or not, pre-marriage counselling can be a romantic and affirming experience for you and your future spouse. Sure, it helps you go into marriage with your eyes wide open, your expectations reasonable, and your relationship skills honed, but it will also remind you why you are getting married in the first place. It will give you a firm foundation, hope, and a positive outlook for a loving and long-lasting marriage.

If you’re getting married and would like to organise pre-marriage counselling, please contact me on 0413 181 320 for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation on how I can help you.

How to Bridge The Couple Communication Gap

Bridging the couple communication gapWe hardly hear of a couple who did not have a few bumps in their life. All relationship problems stem from the fact that relationships involve two different individuals. They contribute two different sets of emotions, experiences, beliefs, point of views and expectations. When these two worlds collide, a relationship conflict sprouts.

Most couple’s inability to sort out these issues can be traced back to one thing: lack of effective communication. The two individuals bring along their personal level of communication skills.

Most couples weigh talking and communicating in the same scale. By simply asking your spouse about his day or about the kids does not mean you are communicating important things. Communication involves a more open and worthwhile talk with your partner.

But better communication is a skill that can be learnt and perfected.

So if you are a victim of constant conflicts with your spouse the following helpful tips might be able to steer you out of your relationship troubles

1. Pause To Listen

How many times have you been so caught up in a conversation with your significant other that you forgot to stop and listen to his/her point of view? Especially when you are in the moment, it is even more difficult to remember this tactic.

It is naturally difficult for us to pull aside out our opinion when you are trying to prove yourself right. This is because when placing an argument, we are so afraid of not being heard that we choose to keep talking. Ironically, this is the behaviour which makes us unlikely to be heard.

A healthy conversation should involve a two way communication. It should always be intercepted with pauses to make place for your spouse’s opinion. So next time you want to complete your side of the argument, simply stop and try to listen for a change. Maybe the feedback is the solution you both are looking for.

2. Force Yourself To Hear It Out

You might have been involved in countless conversations where you may have stopped talking but your mind is still spinning around ideas that “you” have to impose in a conversation. So you are unable to concentrate on what is being said. You may not be able to focus your attention.

But there is a proven method that you can use to force yourself to listen. “Reflection” is a method implemented by therapists in their sessions. You are just required to rephrase what your partner says in your own words to avoid being distracted. This will ensure that you are wholly attentive instead of wandering off on one of your tangents while thinking of a good rebuttal. But make sure you use the right tone while rephrasing because sounding sarcastic won’t be able to help the situation you are in at all!

3. Honesty is the Key

The secret behind a successful relationship is to be honest about yourself. Most people might not enjoy being very open about their lives and their personal feelings. But when two individuals begin sharing a life, it becomes essential to be more open about yourself. Hiding behind lies, concealing your true emotions or giving the silent treatment are a few of the major barriers towards a healthy relationship.

When sharing with your special someone, you are expected to reveal and discuss stuff that you have never talked about with another individual. Some people like to keep secrets. But secrets that start eating away at the root of your relationship should be discouraged. Being open with your partner does not mean discussing trivial details about your day. It simply means being completely vulnerable and honest unabashedly.

You might fear that it will open you to hurt and resentment as well. Thus you allow yourself and your spouse to explore the full potential of your relationship.

4. Notice The Non-Verbal Signs

Much can be understood by just observing the body language of the person you are talking to keenly. Body language is an essential component of an effective communication. So keep a lookout for folded arms, eye contact, facial expressions or even a loud tone. These subtle hints might help improve the way you contribute in a conversation.

Reading these non-verbal signs takes time and patience but once you develop a habit you will be more attuned to what they mean. Also make sure your body language does not give any negative signs that can be damaging for your partner.

5. Choose the Right Time to Talk

Very frequently you may find your discussions morph into arguments just because you touched a topic at an inappropriate time. It is not necessary that you need to be heard the minute you have an idea or a feeling. Using your experience with your spouse, you may be able to time important conversations when keeping certain factors in mind.

Bothering a spouse who had a bad day at work will only escalate his irritability and it will result in unhealthy results. Having important conversations before bedtime is usually not a good idea.

6. Watch Your Tone

The manner in which you communicate an idea may have an impact on how it is heard. Getting too emotional during big decision making conversations will usually lead nowhere. Similarly keeping a lid on your anger will help cultivate more open grounds for a discussion.

In your desire to “win” an argument, you might get irrationally rude and imposing. You should know when to back off and keep your calm. You might have to compromise on some of your opinions. When questioning bowing down, convince yourself how unhealthy it is to prioritise being right over your partner’s happiness.

Nobody wants to be in a unhappy relationship where they are always “right”. So be careful of the way you project your opinions and avoid unnecessary hurt. Sometimes humour and playfulness can add the element that creates a friendly atmosphere. It helps lighten frustrations and is tackles the situation more gently.

Nobody can master the art of perfect communicator. But better communication starts with one partner trying to improve and it may serve as a motivation for your significant other to contribute to your efforts.

If you’re wanting help with  your relationship communication, please contact me on 0413 181 320 for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation on how I can help you.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk

Tips for Overcoming a Panic Attack

Tips for overcoming anxietyA panic attack can present in many forms. It may be the impending sense of doom that you feel. The breathlessness or the racing heart beat that makes you rush to the nearest hospital. It may even present as uncomfortable muscle spasms or nausea that may result in late night phone calls to your doctor.

The only way to fight a panic attack is to educate yourself. Once you are aware, you begin to regain control over the situation.

Let me guide you through the process of dealing with a panic attack

Be Aware, Be Prepared

It is important that you familiarise yourself with the symptoms of a panic attack so that you are more controlled when it happens. The symptoms of a panic attack normally peak in ten minutes. They can last from between five minutes to around half an hour. Although the symptoms differ from person to person a few of the common ones are:

  • Racing or irregular heart beat
  • Breathlessness or feeling short of air
  • Dizziness/ light-headedness
  • Choking sensations/nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Hot flashes/ sudden chills
  • Tingling sensation
  • Fear of death or being seriously ill
  • Fear of going crazy


Professor Paul Salkovskis, a psychologist at King’s College London said, “Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening. It’s important not to restrict your movements and daily activities.”

The first step on the path to recovery should be acceptance. Once you learn to acknowledge and accept the true nature of your anxiety, you will not have to live in the constant fear of a panic attack.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor and get a full physical exam performed. This will help you focus on the certainty that your fears of death and doom can be attributed to this condition. Moreover, it will help you accept your condition and this will alleviate anxiety.

For example once you are sure that your breathlessness and chest pain is due to a panic attack and not because of an allergic reaction, heart attack or some serious ailment, you will automatically feel at ease.

Understand your body

A panic attack is usually an irrational reaction to conscious or unconscious fear. What you experience physically is also a result of this fear. The catalysts may be one of the following:

  • Anticipatory anxiety: This is a result of stressful events in the past. Photographs, conversations or anything that triggers a bad memory can serve as a catalyst
  • Self-defeating visualisation: Here not only will you picture yourself in a similar traumatising event but you will also fear losing control in the circumstances. This might be because as you perceive the situation as potentially dangerous, your body pumps adrenaline to combat it resulting in a panic attack.

Once you seem to understand how your body and mind works during such episodes, you can develop a healthy response to combat them.

Relax Your Body

Simple breathing exercises can do wonders when trying to relax your muscles and relieve breathlessness. When you are anticipating an attack there exercises can help you feel more in control. Or simply practising them twice for ten minutes may even reduce the frequency of your panic attacks.

Here are the steps that you may follow:

  • Put one hand over the upper chest and the other hand over the diaphragm.
  •  Take slow deep breaths through your nose and count to five
  • Release your breath slowly through the nose while counting to five again
  • Sit comfortably and relax your muscles
  • Close your eyes and concentrate on different parts of your body. Squeeze your toes first and count to five with the breaths. Then contract foot muscles and move on to different muscle groups like calves, thighs, buttocks, chest, shoulder, neck, arms, hands and fingers.

Indulge in Exercise

Although a panic attack may seem to tire you, use a few simple exercises to refresh your body. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise may help reduce stress levels, rejuvenate your body, improve mood and boost confidence.

A few healthy exercises that may help include:

  • Walking
  • Yoga/stretching
  • Use peripheral vision. Breathe deeply and let your jaw muscles relax

Face Your Fear

Salkovskis says don’t look for distractions.”Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, don’t leave the situation until the anxiety has subsided.”

“Confront your fear. If you don’t run away from it you’re giving yourself a chance to discover that nothing’s going to happen.”

While awareness may help build up enough strength in you to prepare for a fear, eventually you will have to face it inevitably. Writing a journal before and after a panic attack may help. When you feel better, reading it will help you come to terms with your fear and make you more equipped for the next attack. This may help trigger a similar panic attack but this time you will be ready to fight back.

Ask For Help

Talking to a friend, loved one, therapist or a support group may help considerably in alleviating the anxiety due to a panic attack. As a part of a support group, knowing that you are not alone in this problem can be reassuring.

Antidepressant and cognitive behaviour therapy are two recommended treatment modalities for panic disorders. CBT aims to identify and modify the negative thought patterns that might be fuelling your panic attack.

So if you cannot deal with panic attack by yourself, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

If you’re wanting help with anxiety or panic attacks, please contact me on 0413 181 320 for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation on how I can help you.


Depression: Symptoms and Types

Overcoming depressionHave you ever felt a lack of interest or pleasure in activities that you previously enjoyed? Are you having sudden bursts of anger that you can’t justify? Sleeping too much or a lack of appetite may be some of the other clues that might be hinting at the possibility of depression.

Depression has been defined as a mental disorder with a state of mind of sustained low mood, sleep problems, appetite disturbances and having feelings of guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness.


These symptoms may help you recognise whether you or your loved ones are a victim of depression.

  • Low/irritable mood
  • Loss of pleasure in enjoyable activities
  • Sleeping problems
  • Major appetite changes
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Slow or fast movements
  • Inactivity or trying to avoid usual activities
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Repeated thoughts of death or suicide
  • Low self esteem

Dysthymic Disorder/ Mild depression

Mild to moderate depression is also known as dysthymic disorder. According to DSM-IV it is marked by prolonged and protracted symptoms which are milder than major depression. It can however last for years if not treated. To be considered dysthymia the first 2 years of depressed mood can not include any episodes of major depression.

The diagnostic criteria for this type of depression is depressed mood most of the day for more days than not, for a period of at least 2 years.  It also includes the presence of two or more of the following symptoms that cause clinically significant impairment in social, work, or other important areas of functioning:

  1. Major decrease or increase in appetite
  2. Sleeping problem whether insomnia or sleeping too much
  3. Low energy or fatigue.
  4. Low self-esteem.
  5. Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions.
  6. Feelings of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness

Major Depressive disorder

It is very important to determine whether clinical depression falls in the category of Major Depressive Disorder. This kind of depression can last up to six months. DSM-IV defines major depressive disorder as:

Depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least 2 weeks and at least five of the following symptoms that cause clinically significant impairment in social, work, or other important areas of functioning almost every day:

  1. Depressed mood.
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities.
  3. Signifcant (>5% body weight) weight loss or gain, or increase or decrease in appetite.
  4. Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation.
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy.
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt.
  8. Diminished concentration or indecisiveness.
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

Minor Depression

Minor depression is said to be same as major depression but it only presents with two or four of the symptoms listed by DSM IV for Major depression.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depressive illness and it is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts between a state of mania and depression as the name suggests. These shifts may occur in mood, energy or activity levels.

To be classified as a bipolar disorder there must be more than one bipolar episode.

There are three main types of bipolar disorders:

  1. Bipolar 1 Disorder: The primary symptom presentation is mania. It may also present with rapid cycling episodes of mania and depression on a daily basis.
  2. Bipolar 2 Disorder:  The primary symptom is recurrent depression accompanied by some hypomanic episodes. Hypomania can be described as a milder state of mania in which the symptoms are not severe enough to markedly impair social function or require hospitalization, but are sufficient to be observed by those around you.
  3. Cyclothymic Disorder: A chronic state of cycling between episodes of hypomania and depression. This disorder does not reach a diagnostic standard for bipolar disorder.

The episodes of mania in a bipolar disorder are characterised by:

  1. A characteristic period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting for a period of at least 1 week
  2. During this period of mood disturbance, any three (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted throughout (4 if the mood is only irritable) and also present to a significant degree:
  • Increased self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Reduced need for sleep (e.g., feels sufficiently rested after only 3 hours of sleep)
  • More talkative than usual or urge to keep talking
  • Has flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
  • Easily distracted
  • Increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments).

If you’re wanting help with  overcoming depression, please contact me on 0413 181 320 for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation on how I can help you.
photo credit: Jessica.Tam

Colleen Hurll, Counsellor and Psychotherapist

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