Category: <span>Stress</span>

A stressed man leaning against a wall with forehead on his fists

Understanding Acute Stress Disorder Criteria

The criteria for acute stress disorder (ASD) can include any stress reaction occurring in the initial month after exposure to a traumatic event. Acute stress disorder is an unpleasant reaction that starts shortly after an overwhelming traumatic event and usually lasts less than one month. If the symptoms persist longer than one month, it is then deemed to be more chronic, and the diagnosis changes to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Differences Between ASD and PTSD

Person looking worried and stressed in a window sill

Both ASD and PTSD are reactions to traumatic events, but there are a few differences with acute stress disorder vs. PTSD.  An acute stress reaction occurs initially, with the chance of its manifesting into post-traumatic post disorder after. That being said, sometimes you may develop post-traumatic disorder symptoms that last more than a month without having had that initial acute stress reaction.

PTSD symptoms start slower than ASD symptoms but can last longer up to several years if not treated. Another disorder that also has similarities to ASD is adjustment disorder, but like PTSD, there are subtle differences.

Differences Between ASD and Adjustment Disorder

An adjustment disorder is similar to acute stress disorders in that it is an emotional or behavioral response to a stressful event in a person’s life. With acute stress disorder vs. adjustment disorder, the criteria for adjustment disorders involve an unhealthy and potentially excessive reaction within three months of the stressful event. 

Adjustment disorders are also caused by more broadly stressful events such as job loss, a marriage, or the birth of a child. In contrast, acute stress disorder criteria include more extreme causes of trauma.

Causes of Acute Stress Disorder

The causes of ASD can include a wide range of issues, including:

  • The death of a loved one
  • The threat of death or severe injury
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • A physical attack, mugging, rape, or other sexual violence
  • Natural disasters

Risk Factors for Acute Stress Disorder

Many factors may contribute to a person’s risk of developing ASD, and a few include the following:

The symptoms that may develop also vary depending on the type of manifestation that occurs. 

Multiple-Type Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder criteria include many symptoms that can occur during the traumatic event and manifest further through physical, psychological, dissociative, intrusion and avoidance-type symptoms. 

Physical Symptoms

  • Heart palpitations or thumping heart 
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Headache

Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability and difficulty concentrating
  • Emotional ups and downs

Dissociative Symptoms

  • Feeling disconnected from one’s body
  • Emotionally unresponsive
  • Feeling dazed and confused 

Intrusive Symptoms

Another very significant symptom of acute stress disorder is the overwhelming feeling of intrusion where the traumatic event plays back repeatedly through flashbacks and recurring dreams. When these intrusive thoughts take over, they can feel incredibly overwhelming and restricting, adding to the feelings of stress.

Avoidance Symptoms

Avoidance is another signifier in acute stress disorder criteria, signaling someone is avoiding potential triggers from the originating distressing event. These symptoms should present themselves at a severe level to be considered ASD, at which time proper treatment should be given.

Treatment for Acute Stress Disorder

Person sitting on a wood table thinking

One successful treatment for ASD is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT works by changing the thoughts or the patterns of beliefs surrounding the traumatic event and making them a more positive influence rather than harmful. CBT also works to change the behaviors that cause anxiety and stressful feelings that may occur. 

Another treatment option is hypnotherapy which can help address what constitutes acute stress disorder criteria since hypnotherapy can be extraordinarily effective for dealing with trauma.

Seeking therapy is highly recommended to navigate PTSD. There are many different therapy forms, so finding what therapy is best for you or someone you love is an essential first step.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer a wide range of treatments, including CBT, hypnotherapy, and many others. Our tailor-made treatments are often blended to form an integrative type of mental health healing designed to work for your individual needs. We will work with you to determine if what you are experiencing falls under acute stress disorder criteria, and offer help to process what you’re going through in a safe, supportive space.

Learn how to let go of unwanted fears that are holding you back from living the joyful life you were meant to have. Transform your life, and book your appointment today!.

A happy teen girl holding a sunflower

5 Tips for Helping Teens Manage Stress

Teenhood can be an incredibly stressful and confusing time in a teen’s life.  Teen stress levels rise more and more every single year. Bullying, depression, peer pressure, social media, and academic pressures are just a few of the social issues that teens are faced with. Parents, guardians, and friends may wonder what they can do to guide teens in a safe and healthy direction. Finding the right kind of teen stress management can make a tremendous difference in the life of not only a teen but the entire household. 

Getting More Sleep

We know that getting more sleep can be easier said than done. A lot of teens have loads of homework, extracurricular activities, and social lives. But, getting more sleep is essential to avoiding teen stress. Experts recommend that teens get 8-10 hours of sleep within 24 hours. 

Some practices that you can use in your healthy bedtime routine are;

  • Avoiding large meals
  • Being consistent
  • Limiting screen time

Yes, you read that correctly – limiting screen time. Think about being at a party and there are tons of flashing lights. It would be near impossible to just lay down and go to sleep. Providing the brain with time to leave the party, come home, and snuggle up under the covers makes a big difference in your bedtime routine. 

Another way that teens can get more sleep is by taking naps. The world seems to scream the word “naps” at babies and toddlers. But, if a teen has additional teen stressors like exams or a strenuous project that is due soon, a nap can contribute to getting in those 8-10 hours of sleep.

 

Spending More Time Outdoors

A teen girl hiking outdoors

Spending time outdoors has been proven to significantly reduce stress and anxiety. We know that a lot of teens are involved with sports and other activities that require them to be outside. But, spending time outside without instruction or a specific goal provides natural stimulation and motivates exploration. Not to mention, physical movement is a healthy and easily accessible way to handle teen stress

 

Decrease Negative Self Talk

Transforming negative thoughts into positive thoughts does not only change the way you see yourself. Instead of saying, “I can’t do it. I will never be able to succeed at this”, say, “I can do this. I just have to think of a method that will work for me and try again”. Your classmate may study by only reading over their notes once and get an ‘A’ on every single test. You may need to use flashcards or repeat your notes out loud the night before the test. Using what works for you doesn’t make you any less of a person or less smart. 

Practice saying positive affirmations to yourself every morning and night. It may feel silly at first, but it will help you to feel better over time. Tell yourself that you are smart, courageous, and successful – every single day.

Take a Break

A major key to managing teen stress is recognizing when you’re about to “burn out”. To burnout is to be in a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion due to being under high stress for a long period of time. This is an awful feeling and it’s important to take a break before you reach the point of burnout. Breaks can be a 30-45 minute nap, closing your study book for 10 minutes, grabbing a quick snack, or even going for a brisk walk. 

Working hard is great and admirable but you can not enjoy the results of hard work if you are exhausted. Learning how to navigate what works best for your mental and physical health while simultaneously accomplishing your goals is essential to conquering teen stress management

Talk to Someone

Two teens talking about teen stressors with warm beverages

Feelings are always “better out than in”. Talking to positive and like-minded friends about teen stressors can be relatable and helpful for some teens. Just like adults, teens can find comfort in speaking to people who can relate to them. 

Teen stress can also be healthily managed by talking to a trusted adult. Some issues that teens deal with are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Family changes
  • Academic pressures 
  • Trauma and more

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy we understand that growing up can feel like you’re stuck in a whirlwind and that’s why we offer an innovative approach in our teen therapy practices. We believe that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a highly effective method for managing teen stress. Life transformation starts with taking the first step. Take the first step and we’ll walk you through the rest. Contact us today.

Young person shaking head fast with hair across her face

5 Symptoms of An Acute Stress Reaction

We all know what stress feels like, regardless of how minor or major the stressor was. How we respond to those stressors, though, is what matters. Some can experience an external event and process their stress response effectively. Others may not have the same mechanism in place, which is where what was an acute stress reaction could develop into something deeper.

Causes of an Acute Stress Reaction

An acute stress reaction is an initial response to a major event that triggers the body’s natural stress response. In response to a traumatic experience, this may lead to a long-term response known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unlike ongoing PTSD, an acute stress reaction typically lasts 3 to 30 days following the event.

Approximately 5 to 20 % exposed to a traumatic event will develop an acute stress reaction. When a traumatic event occurs, the body has a built-in stress response that kicks into either a fight, flight, or freeze mode, and traumatic events can be caused by many things.

A few traumatic events that can cause an acute stress reaction include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • The threat of severe injury or death to oneself or a loved one
  • A motor vehicle accident
  • Sexual assault, rape, or domestic abuse

Trauma of any sort can affect a person differently depending on how they handle the stress emotionally, physically, and mentally, and the symptoms can also range in severity. So, what are the five symptoms of acute stress?

Psychological and Physical Symptoms of An Acute Stress Reaction

The psychological symptoms of an acute stress reaction can vary in intensity from person-to-person, and include the following five main categories:

  1. Intrusion Symptoms – These symptoms occur when a person cannot stop thinking about the traumatic event through flashbacks, memories, and dreams.
  2. Dissociative Symptoms – These symptoms include an altered sense of reality and feeling numb and detached without a clear recollection of the event.
  3. Arousal Symptoms – These anxiety-like symptoms can involve sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, easily startled, agitated, and extremely tense.
  4. Depressed Mood Symptoms – These symptoms may encompass negative emotions such as feeling worthless, broken, sad, depressed, and potentially suicidal thoughts.
  5. Avoidance Symptoms – These acute stress reaction symptoms include purposely avoiding anything that reminds that person of the traumatic event, such as thoughts, feelings, people, or places.

Physical Symptoms of An Acute Stress Reaction

When stress occurs, the body has a physical response by releasing adrenaline (epinephrine) as well as putting the nervous system into overdrive, causing the following:

  • Heart palpitations and or a pounding heart
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

These physical symptoms tend to develop within minutes to hours and may last for weeks. In some cases, symptoms can be even more severe, especially if a person has any risk factors present.

Some people are at a higher risk of developing an acute stress reaction.

  • Any prior confrontation, experience, or witnessing of a traumatic event
  • A personal history of having acute stress reactions or PTSD
  • Being under 40 years of age
  • A history of other mental health disorders

Acute Stress Reaction Versus PTSD

Besides the timeline of acute stress reaction taking place sooner and PTSD occurring later, for PTSD to be diagnosed, the person’s symptoms must persist for more than 30 days or first appear more than one month after the traumatic event occurred.

Managing Acute Stress Reactions for Balanced Coping Strategies

Woman stretching and holding the back of her neck at a coffee table

Regardless of the severity of an acute stress reaction’s symptoms, there is hope! The treatment plan should include ways to reduce the symptoms, improve coping mechanisms and prevent PTSD from occurring.

One of the best forms of treatment for an acute stress reaction is trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which effectively develops solid coping skills. CBT also helps the person affected identify and challenge irrational and unwanted thought patterns.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer a wide variety of therapies, including CBT. We create individualized treatment plans because we know each person has unique needs in their quest for wellness. We may also incorporate other forms of therapy, such as hypnotherapy which can help clients attain treatment goals faster.

The benefits of therapy can be an extraordinarily life-altering experience. Not only can you learn how to cope with debilitating fears, but you will also acquire the ability to have a better handle on future events that may cause an acute stress reaction. Find help for reframing whatever life throws at you with a more neutral and balanced approach, and rediscover joy!

Take that first step in living a more joyful and stress-free life, and book your appointment today so you can conquer anything tomorrow!

Someone holding their hands to their face with eyes closed dealing with stress.

How Stress Impacts Bipolar Disorder

Most of us are aware that stress can be harmful to our mental wellbeing. While some stress is an essential incentive pushing us to do better and succeed, prolonged periods of stress can aggravate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other preexisting mental health conditions. Individuals with bipolar disorder who are stressed in particular are at a high risk of relapsing into either a manic or depressive episode when exposed to high levels of stress.

If you or a loved one lives with bipolar disorder, read our article below to learn more about how bipolar disorder and stress tolerance are connected. Contact our team at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy today to find out what we can do to help you manage those highs and lows.

The Definition of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition characterized by extreme highs and lows in mood and ways of thinking. At its peak, individuals with bipolar disorder will experience a manic episode, which can result in impulsive and sometimes destructive behavior and restlessness. At its low, individuals with bipolar disorder endure depressive episodes that can cause feelings of hopelessness, lethargy, and even suicidal contemplation.

Bipolar disorder is often diagnosed in your young adult years. The combination of bipolar disorder and the stressful conditions surrounding adolescence can often leave the person undiagnosed and untreated, which only worsens the condition.

Some symptoms of this disorder can appear similar to stress and include:

Mania

  • High energy
  • Rapid speech
  • Reckless behaviors
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Unrealistic grandiose thoughts

Depression

  • Low energy
  • Lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Suicidal thoughts

Rapid mood swings can also occur, as well as episodes that blend symptoms of both mania and depression. However, with the proper treatment and the support of loved ones, people with bipolar disorder can live long and fulfilling lives.

Does Bipolar Disorder Get Worse with Stress?

People with bipolar disorder handle stress differently. Similar to other mental health conditions that one’s ability to function, bipolar disorder often results in lower stress tolerance.

Most of us have experienced situations where stress and bad news just seems to keep piling up. To top it off, individuals in our community with mental illness already have to adapt to environments that rarely cater to their needs. What may seem like an easy task for the average person comes with a new set of challenges for people with bipolar disorder. Living with a mental illness is already difficult, but when you add that additional stress that may result from illness, relationships, or financial troubles, this can leave anyone depressed or erratic. Since individuals with bipolar disorder already live with these tendencies, they are more prone to depressive and manic episodes because of it.

Bipolar disorder and stress can also affect how you interpret things around you. What may seem like no big deal to one person can be detrimental to people with bipolar disorder. This can worsen the symptoms of a depressive episode and contribute to feelings of worthlessness. Even worse, due to the stigma that people with mental illnesses face, getting help to cope with stress may be triggering on its own. Being too anxious to seek help rarely results in the person getting the assistance they need.

How Stress Can Trigger a Bipolar Episode

Bipolar disorder and stress share a very symbiotic relationship. While everyone reacts differently, most of us who are stressed have experienced things like sleep loss, self-neglect, accidental isolation, and even illness.

A person pouring coffee into a precariously perched mug.

Lack of sleep lowers your natural mental and physical defenses and leaves you more susceptible to disease and depression. When someone with bipolar disorder and a low stress tolerance doesn’t get the rest they need, this can result in a relapse. Self-care is also essential and includes proper hygiene, eating well, exercising, and being kind to yourself. If you’re stressed, you may think that you don’t have time for these things and may leave yourself running ragged and feeling poorly. People with bipolar disorder and other mental conditions may also feel like they don’t deserve good things like an hour to unwind or a relaxing bath because the stress is somehow linked to their own inability to act.

Times of turmoil can also cause people who are bipolar and stressed to self-isolate. Dealing with life’s stressors is difficult, and doing so while thinking you’re alone can be even more traumatizing.

Reaching out for support through friends and medical professionals is vital because of the fact bipolar disorder gets worse with stress. Your support network can help keep you grounded and prevent you from spiraling into a relapse. Stress also takes a physical toll on the body that can leave you prone to illness. Medical bills, time taken off of work, and a disruption in your schedule might be all that’s needed for the stress to cause a bipolar relapse.

Managing Stress and Relapses with Miami Hypnosis and Therapy

Life comes with its many highs and lows, but for people living with bipolar disorder, these ups and downs are even more disruptive. Luckily, Miami Hypnosis and Therapy is here to help.

Through the guidance of our lead mental health professional, Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M., we can help you navigate your triggers and develop new coping strategies when it comes to bipolar disorder and stress. We employ a blended approach consisting of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), hypnotherapy, and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) that can benefit people with bipolar disorder and low stress tolerance.

Let us help you find balance in your life. Contact Miami Hypnosis and Therapy today to schedule your first consultation.

How Mental Health Counseling Aids Grief and Loss

Single candle lit in a dark room.Grief is an emotion all humans have to come to terms with during their lifetime. It can be all-encompassing or leave you feeling like your world is going to collapse. Shutting down one way or another can leave you stuck in your grief, unable to live your life freely.

Whether you’re dealing with old hurt or something recent, therapy for grief and loss can help when things become too much. Grief counseling through Miami Hypnosis and Therapy can help you see there is life past your grief. Learn healthy ways to cope and express your feelings with guidance from a licensed mental health practitioner. Approaches like trauma and grief component therapy can aid individuals who need help on their bereavement journey. You may not be able to see the other side right now, but it is there. Discover how mental health counseling aids those undergoing grief and loss. When you’re ready to take the next step, schedule your first appointment with Miami Hypnosis and Therapy today.

Introduction to Grief Counseling

Everyone mourns loss differently, and not all of us can handle it on our own. Guilt, anger, and depression can all be byproducts of grief and leave the person stagnant. Therapy for grief and loss can help individuals living with heightened or complicated pain where emotions or preexisting conditions like PTSD are involved alongside sadness. Common goals during grief counseling at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy include learning how to acknowledge these emotions and rebuild relationships with family and friends through productive behaviors and thought processes.

Trauma and grief component therapy works with those dealing with recent loss and old trauma. Trauma from years ago can affect how you navigate and see the world, leaving you with side effects such as:

  • Addictive behaviors
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Unwanted thoughts
  • Willingness to act on harmful impulses and thoughts

Sadness and depression are perfectly normal during this time, and occasional sadness is expected years after the loss, but persistent symptoms like intrusive thoughts and harmful impulses can be destructive without therapy for grief and loss.

Talking It Out

A distressed woman sitting with her arms covering her face.We often find that discussing problems helps us work through them. Speaking with friends and family members about a frustrating coworker or bad day at work can help you relieve negative feelings, but not everyone has a network that’s equipped to support you emotionally during times of bereavement. Trauma and grief component therapy provides you with a space to express that pain, frustration, anger, and guilt before it builds up into something long-term.

Pain after the passing of a loved one can have everything to do with the loss, but it can also be the result of the complicated relationship between you and that loved one. Talking it out and saying what you didn’t get the chance to say during therapy for grief and loss can be a huge relief.

Finding Ways to Cope

Learning how to cope is an important skill in the midst of grief. Everyone’s mental landscape and ability to respond to stimuli vastly differentiates, which is why someone who is formally educated in multiple forms of therapy like trauma and grief component therapy can create better care plans than therapists who only specialize in one approach. Therapy treatments for grief and loss like hypnotherapy lessen the effect of painful memories and triggers by allowing you to revisit them in a healthy, objective way. Paired with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), clients can discover vital coping mechanisms needed to navigate the world after a significant loss. CBT works to control destructive thoughts and harmful impulses while NLP can create positive new ways of thinking that can help you redirect negative trains of thought while you work on healing.

Remember: coping doesn’t mean forgetting your loved one. Despite common misconceptions, hypnosis is not capable of such a feat. Forgetting or pushing down the issue isn’t what therapy for grief and loss is about. Issues cannot be ignored forever, and only after you’ve seen the extent of your pain through trauma and grief component therapy can you start the healing process.

Building Your Life Back Up Again

Two pairs of hands clasping each other in support.Not everyone in your close circle of friends understands what you’re going through. Therapy is important, but so is reaching out to others and realizing you’re not suffering alone. If you’re seeking grief counseling in Miami, another method you and your loved ones should consider is group therapy. Gaining insight into what others are going through and understanding how they’re handling the loss of someone close to both of you can clear the air and allow you to reconnect. Therapy for grief and loss encourages open discussions in a safe environment moderated by a therapist who can help rebuild important interpersonal relationships. Learning how to communicate, along with better control over negative emotions and how they may trigger us to lash out, are important in any relationship and are especially essential during stressful periods like bereavement.

Grief Counseling at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy

Techniques like trauma and grief component therapy form the bridges many of us need when moving forward after pain and devastating loss. The space your loved one filled and left behind is not one to cement over so you can move past. The point of therapy for grief and loss with a licensed professional is it allows you to revisit your grief without getting lost in it.

Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M., is the primary practitioner for grief counseling through Miami Hypnosis and Therapy. She earned an undergraduate degree at NYU and two master’s degrees from Columbia University before becoming a certified hypnotist through Florida State’s Department of Education. Her years studying under world-renown psychotherapists, accompanied by her own professional experience, have led to Anna Marchenko’s innovative technique of CBT, NLP, and hypnotherapy.

Miami Hypnosis and Therapy has helped countless others accept the loss of loved ones and come to terms with what’s next. Don’t get stuck in your grief: book an appointment with Anna Marchenko today and start moving forward with therapy for grief and loss.

Featured Blogs

A stressed man leaning against a wall with forehead on his fists

Understanding Acute Stress Disorder Criteria

The criteria for acute stress disorder (ASD) can include any stress reaction occurring in the initial month after exposure …

A happy teen girl holding a sunflower

5 Tips for Helping Teens Manage Stress

Teenhood can be an incredibly stressful and confusing time in a teen’s life.  Teen stress levels rise more and more every …

Young man in a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Session

The Cognitive Psychology Approach in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a psychosocial intervention that concentrates on improving mental health. Hand in hand with …