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Mental Health Information

Anxiety Disorders

Feeling anxious is a normal response of the human body, and can help keep people be aware of their surroundings and safe in many situations. Sometimes, however, anxiety can be so strong and overwhelming that it begins to have a controlling influence in a person’s life, potentially keeping them from engaging in the daily activities that they once enjoyed. Those who are concerned that they should seek counseling for anxiety can learn more about the condition and ways to manage their symptoms.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal response to the regular stressors that affect individuals in their daily lives. They often experience worry, unease or nervousness regarding an upcoming event or something with an outcome that they cannot easily predict. People often experience normal anxious feelings when meeting new people, competing, taking an important exam, or prior to a job interview.

A disorder occur when individuals begin reacting strongly to stressful situations. Some forms of the condition are severe enough that people become anxious over non-stressful situation as well, which can have a negative impact in almost every area of their lives. Mental health professionals have identified a wide variety of related disorders, including the following:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety?

Normal anxiety only occurs briefly and is relatively mild. When the anxious feelings remain for six months or more, it is generally considered to be a disorder. Although every form of the various disorders has different symptoms, individuals with the condition usually experience irrational, excessive fear and dread. These feelings are not always associated with a stressor and many individuals feel anxious all of the time without understanding why.

A person who has an upcoming appointment with their doctor, for example, may be nervous about discussing sensitive issues and potential problems, which is a normal reaction. Those with a disorder often experience weeks of worry before their appointment, and the symptoms often increase directly prior to and during their appointment.

How Does Anxiety Manifest?

Those with a disorder may become disproportionately anxious to the stressor that causes the problem to begin with. Due to the changing stressors of daily life, once one stressor passes, another often takes its place, causing anxious feelings to remain steady for weeks and months at a time.

Physical symptoms often occur in those with an anxiety disorder. Dizziness, sweating, light-headedness, trembling, pounding heart, nausea and headaches are all common symptoms. Many individuals also report an inability to breathe or speak and being disconnected from reality. These symptoms may surface due to normal stressors or in severe cases, on a day-to-day basis. Alcohol or drug abuse may mask or increase these common symptoms.

People of all ages can have a disorder manifest in this way. However, children who are unable to express themselves may experience irritability, tantrums, insomnia, and an inability to be away from loved ones.

Who Is At Risk for Developing an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. It affects around 40 million adults every year. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with one of the disorders by 60 percent. Hispanics are 30 percent less likely to experience symptoms of a disorder than non-Hispanic whites, and Non-Hispanic blacks are 20 percent less likely. Nationally, it is estimated that 8 percent of teens have one or more kinds of these disorders.

When to Seek Treatment

Those who commonly experience some of the symptoms of anxiety disorder should seek counseling for anxiety as soon as possible. While individuals who suffer from these disorders often feel alone and misunderstood, there are many professionals ready and waiting to help them receive the treatment that they need in order to regain their lives.


According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 10 percent of Americans suffer from some form of depression or major depressive disorder. In certain groups, major depressive disorder is either underreported or goes unnoticed. However, the severity of depression does not depend on race, gender, or age. In fact, childhood depression is one of the most frequently overlooked forms of depression in the United States.

The good news is that major depressive disorder is treatable. Counseling and medications are both effective options for people that need a little extra help. Most counseling plans require a handful of visits, and people can return to happy and healthy lives. Studies consistently show that children and adults with major depressive disorder get the best results with treatment plans that combine talk therapy and medication.

What Are the Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder in Adults and Children?

Contrary to popular belief, symptoms do not necessarily include feelings of sadness. Some of the most severe forms of major depressive disorder are characterized by extreme hopelessness. Other symptoms are difficult to miss in children. They include:

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Lack of appetite or eating too much
  • Loss of interest in activities that the person used to enjoy
  • Feeling guilty or worthless for no reason
  • Unexplainable sadness

*It is important to note that symptoms do not always apply to people who have recently suffered a death-loss and are in the grieving process.

Unrelenting sadness, crying, and suicidal ideation are symptoms of major depressive disorder that are commonly associated with the illness. Additionally, loved ones might notice symptoms in others, as it is common for people who suffer from major depressive disorder to overlook what is really going on.

Does Depression Look Different in Children?

Children almost always display different symptoms than adults, and the symptoms look different as well. Young children typically lack the abilities to understand that feeling depressed frequently is not typical nor is not wanting to eat lunch. Adolescents also show different symptoms such as withdrawal from friends, lack of enthusiasm, and difficulty concentrating, among others. One of the best things parents can do to help their children is contact a mental health professional. It can be tricky to determine what typical teen grumpiness looks like and what illness looks like. Additionally, children and young adolescents often show symptoms for a few days instead of weeks.

A few things parents can do to help keep an eye out for their children include:

  • Take things children say seriously.
  • Do not automatically believe that a child wants attention or is “acting out.”
  • Do not assume that a child or teen will simply “get over it” or “snap out of it” in a few weeks.

In fact, younger people tend to only show symptoms for a few days at a time. The on-and-off nature of childhood and adolescent depression can be tricky to figure out. Reach out for help from a professional, and get real answers.

Possible Signs of Depression in Adolescents

Self-destructive behaviors such as cutting or mild substance abuse may or may not indicate clinical depression. It takes a strong understanding of child and adolescent development to pinpoint an accurate diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan. Children and adolescents often respond especially well to different therapeutic techniques, and trained counselors can quickly identify warning signs. Parents will have a chance to speak with counselors about confidentiality in therapy sessions with children. Parental involvement is an important part of the healing and treatment processes.

How Can You Get Help for Yourself or a Loved One?

Currently, there is no cure for major depressive disorder. However, there are numerous treatments that are highly effective, and it is important to find professional help as soon as possible. Professional counseling services are one of the best ways to properly diagnose major depressive disorder in adults and children. Professional counselors will help develop a plan to help people of all ages and backgrounds return to happy, healthy lives.

Grief & Divorce

Dealing with the grief and loss that comes with losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult situations a person can face. It is an unfortunate reality that most people will have to deal with at least once in their lifetime. Losses of all kinds may leave a person grief-stricken and unsure of how to move on. This can often be difficult for people to overcome, but given proper grief and loss counseling, it is possible to recover and move on.

What Are the Types of Grief?

People can experience grief following any type of loss. It is a natural reaction to losing something that is near and dear to the heart, and can severely affect many people. Individuals can require help for their grief and loss following any type of separating event, including the following:

  • Loss of a Loved One – Whether from separation or death, losing a loved one in a permanent way can be a crippling, grief-inducing event that can result in years of potential problems.
  • Divorce – Losing someone we love because of their personal choice can be even more devastating than losing a loved one to death, and many individuals struggle with this type of event for years.
  • Loss of a Pet – Whether a pet dies or is physically lost, grief from losing such a close companion can be severe for animal lovers.
  • Job Loss – A job loss can bring up many types of grief, including feelings of inadequacy and lost friendships.
  • Loss of a Friendship – When a friend passes away or long-time friends part ways, it can trigger hopelessness in the same way that occurs following the death of a family member.

What Are the Stages of Grief?

Grief and loss causes individuals to cycle through many different feelings and emotions, a process which has long been known as the stages of grief. This process allows individuals to properly deal with and heal from a tragic loss when completed fully. The stages of grief include the following:

  • Denial – This stage also includes numbness and shock. It is when the mind puts up a protective barrier to help a person cope with the intensity of the loss. This stage can be helpful in the first days following a loss when difficult decisions must be made regarding funerals and the future. As a personal slowly accepts their new reality, the denial will diminish.
  • Bargaining – When individuals are in this stage of the grieving process, they may have persistent thoughts regarding how their grief and loss could have been prevented. They may also develop a preoccupation with how their lives could have been better had their loss never actually occurred. If an individual stays in this stage too long, it can significantly inhibit the healing process.
  • Depression – Once individuals come to terms with the reality of their loss, they can experience depression. Sometimes individuals can overcome this stage in a matter of days or weeks while for others, it lasts for months or longer. Signs of depression include appetite and sleep disturbances, poor concentration, low energy, and poor control over emotions. IN this stage, people often feel loneliness, isolation, emptiness and self-pity.
  • Anger – In a reaction to the powerlessness many people feel in the depression stage of grief, individuals often become angry. Additional sources of anger include abandonment, anger at a higher power, or toward life in general.
  • Acceptance – The final stage of grief occurs when an individual is finally able to come to terms with their loss. Once acceptance occurs, individuals can truly begin to heal and rebuild their lives and put their loss in the past.

Is Grief Always Experienced the Same for Everyone?

Despite these common stages, grief and loss can be different for everyone. Each individual is unique in how they handle these emotions and situations. No matter how short or long the grieving process lasts, with the help of grief and loss counseling, those who have endured a loss can find a new normal and learn to look again to the future with hope.

Impulse Control & ADHD

Impulse Control Issues in Children and Adults

Everyone experiences a little impulsivity now and again. Individuals from every area of life can get caught up on the heat of a moment and decide to throw caution to the wind and have a bit of adventure. Most people learn to control their impulsive behaviors throughout childhood. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult for people to gain control of their impulses. This is especially true for those with impulse control issues commonly seen in those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a common condition that affects children and teens and may also play a role in the behavior of some adults. Mental health researchers believe that 3 to 10 percent of children have the condition.

Children with ADHD often have difficulty concentrating or paying attention in class. They may show an inability to follow directions and become easily frustrated when given tasks to accomplish. These children usually have difficulty keeping still and constantly need to move their bodies. They may also have impulse control problems and often fail to think before they act.

When looking at the condition, symptoms are often grouped together into 3 different areas, Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Additional symptoms in all three areas include the following:


  • Easily distracted
  • Does not finish tasks
  • Forgetful about daily activities
  • Tendency to daydream
  • Appears to be ignoring those who are speaking
  • Cannot easily organize daily tasks


  • Squirms and fidgets when sitting
  • Inability to play quietly
  • Fails to stay seated even when socially necessary or expected
  • Talks excessively


  • Shows difficulty in waiting for their turn
  • Often interrupts others
  • Blurts out answers before a question is completed

What are signs of impulse control issues in children?

As with ADHD, children with impulse control issues often have difficulty waiting for things. They may jump into a game without knowing if they are welcome, they often interrupt, and they have difficulty understanding why they have to take turns. Some children may exhibit a tendency to steal as well. These children often need help from parents to stay on schedule and learn how to maintain and organize their everyday items, such as backpacks, clothing, school supplies and homework.

As children become adolescents, unless they have taken steps to learn how to handle their impulses, their impulse control issues often remain similar to those they had as a child. However, the possibilities for it to negatively affect their lives increases significantly. The condition can lead to alcohol and drug abuse, driving while intoxicated, and other risky behaviors like unprotected sex. They often seem out of control, and parents may feel like the child does not care about anything but having fun.

How does impulse control affect adults?

Adults with impulse control issues often face many of the same challenges as children with the condition. However, their impulsivity can have a much larger impact on their ability to function in a daily capacity. Individuals with severely impulsive behaviors may be unable to hold a job, end up in jail for multiple DUIs or theft, or experience health problems from years of overindulgence and substance abuse. People with more mild issues still struggle with impulsivity, but they may have a greater hold on themselves, or may not feel the impulses as strongly as those with a more severe problem.

When both children and adults with ADHD and other impulse control problems begin to foster good habits, their situations may change and they can retake control of their lives. Substituting a healthier option as an immediate reward for the less desirable treat that is being craved can help individuals fight temptation. This includes actions as well as actual edible treats. If an person can retrain their bodies and brains to overcome their impulses, they can regain their ability to make informed, healthy decisions and bring their lives back where they want them to be.

Trauma & Abuse

Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster (American Psychological Association). Everyone experiences trauma differently but one thing trauma victims have in common is that they endured a distressing or disturbing experience. Trauma is a normal reaction to a horrible event but the aftermath can interfere with an individual’s ability to continue living a normal life.

What Are the Different Types of Trauma and Abuse?

Abuse is defined as the violent, cruel treatment of another person. The purpose of all forms of abuse is to maintain power and control over another individual. Physical abuse, which is the type that most often comes to minds when the word is mentioned, occurs when a person in a position of power causes another individual physical harm by hitting, kicking, pushing, shaking, choking, slapping, or otherwise causing them physical pain. Abuse can take many others forms. Emotional abuse occurs when the abuser uses their words to cause harm. This can manifest when an abuser makes degrading comments, engages in name calling, and humiliates another person. Verbal abuse includes yelling, shouting, arguing, and using threatening language to maintain control of an individual. Sexual abuse is also a prevalent problem. While rape is a well-known aspect of sexual abuse, it takes other forms as well. Any time another person makes choices that impact another individual’s ability to control their sexual activity or lack thereof, they become sexually abusive. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes can happen suddenly and be overwhelming.

How Common is Abuse?

Statistics show that every year nearly 238,000 people are sexually assaulted every year. Twenty percent of girls and five percent of boys are victimized sexually every year as well. Domestic violence is also a prevalent problem. Over 25 percent of women experience domestic violence within their lifetime, and women ages 20 to 24 are most likely to be victimized. When men are physically abusive toward a spouse, they have a 95 percent greater chance of being psychologically abusive as well.

Anyone can be the victim of abuse. Young children are often abused because they are small and unable to defend themselves. The elderly are particularly susceptible to abuse as well. However, many individuals, male and female of all ages, can endure trauma and abuse at the hands of another person.

Abusers come in all forms and from all walks of life. Strangers on the street, close friends, and acquaintances often become abusers. Family members are among the most common abusers, no matter what type of abuse they employ. Those who become abusive may begin because of early childhood experiences and influences. Many abusers were once abused themselves and have a need to regain power over another person in an abusive way to prove that they are no longer a victim.

How Can I keep My Child Safe?

Preventing any kind of trauma and abuse begins with open communication. Let your child know that they will not be punished for saying that they feel unsafe in any situation, especially those brought about by family members. Also ensure that your child knows that they can tell you anything that makes them uncomfortable. Clearly explain personal space and boundaries, that some areas of the body are private, and encourage them to inform you of anyone who tries to go past those boundaries. Additionally, let your child know that they do not have to do everything an adult tells them to do and make hugs and kisses for loved ones optional to allow them to truly feel in control of their bodies.

Those who have been in abusive situations can find help and healing through counseling. Through it, victims can find support and healing necessary for real healing to occur.

Reach out to us for support.

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Child therapy session with Rachel Stewart

Why Choose Thrive Therapy?

At Thrive Therapy, we're committed to creating a safe space for individuals of all ages to explore and understand their feelings. Our specialization in EMDR and play therapy, along with a range of other therapeutic techniques, ensures that we can meet the unique needs of children, teens, and adults alike. Our therapists are dedicated to fostering emotional growth and resilience, helping you and your loved ones thrive.

Connect With Us

If you or someone you love could benefit from counseling, we invite you to reach out for a free phone consultation. Our team in Fort Myers, Naples, and The Woodlands is ready to support you on your journey toward healing and growth. Contact your nearest office today and take the first step toward a brighter tomorrow.

t What happens at your first appointment?

You've taken the first step by making the call and scheduling your appointment. Here's a glimpse of what you can expect when you come in for your first session:

As you enter our office, you'll be warmly greeted by our team, creating a welcoming atmosphere from the moment you arrive. We understand that starting therapy can feel daunting, so our goal is to make you feel comfortable and at ease.

Your first appointment will begin with the intake assessment. This is a conversation where we'll explore various aspects of your life, such as your personal history, current challenges, and what you're looking to work on in therapy. It's a chance for you to share what's brought you to therapy and what you hope to achieve.

Following the assessment, we'll engage in collaborative planning. Together, we'll create a personalized plan that outlines the frequency and type of sessions that would be most beneficial for you. We'll also take time to clarify any questions or concerns you may have about the therapy process, ensuring that you feel informed and empowered moving forward.

Ultimately, your first appointment is about building a foundation of trust and understanding. We're here to listen, support, and guide you on your journey towards healing and growth. If there's anything specific you'd like to discuss or any preferences you have, please don't hesitate to let us know—we're here to make your experience positive and beneficial.