On Being Overwhelmed: How Much Is Too Much to Cope With?

We live in an era of a national opioid crisis, common suicides, and mental illness, which seems to spread like wildfire. Given these concerns and the undoubtedly stressful world we live in, it’s reasonable to ask if most of us know when we are emotionally overwhelmed. The answer, I believe, is sad no.

Over my many years in psychiatric practice, it’s become clear to me that we do not have a commonsense way of gauging when any one of us would likely be overwhelmed. So, I’ve devised a simple system for people to use as a way to examine their lives to see if it falls in the overwhelmed range.

This has nothing to do with mental illness. The system is for everyday life.

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On Being Overwhelmed How Much Is Too Much to Cope With?

What Does It Mean To Be Overwhelmed?

Let’s begin with a definition. What exactly is being overwhelmed? It is when the things you must cope with exceed your abilities to cope. This is very straightforward on the surface but digging down can get more complicated. Simple or complicated, there are clearly times when we go over a threshold and have trouble coping. The part I have broken down is what leads to feeling overwhelmed.

Being overwhelmed may be a warning sign of a bigger problem, but is also a problem in itself. When overwhelmed we do not think as clearly, tend to be more emotional and of course, do not feel well.

Often, many of us do not realize we are overwhelmed until after we have bitten someone’s head off or have had great difficulty getting through some life demand. Other people may withdraw and stay in their room away from others.

The specifics do not matter. What matters is that someone is very emotional in a negative way and feel they can not deal with whatever is at hand for them.

The first things we usually examine when someone is having emotional difficulties are the signs and symptoms of mental illness. But I think we should begin a step earlier; namely, knowing what may have happened to overwhelm a person before these signs and symptoms appeared.

Or, put differently, can we tell beforehand when someone is likely to feel overwhelmed by her circumstances? 

We all know examples of this, such as the loss of a loved one or a frightening event. But there are many times when we find ourselves emotionally inundated and do not quite know what got us there.

Can We Predict When We Might Become Overwhelmed?

For years I have used a metaphor to convey to my patients why they suddenly find themselves feeling so unsettled. I define four essential constituents of mental well-being and compare them to the poles of a tent. The four are:

1) Health

This need not be perfect but allows you to function without pain, significant disability, or the imminent threat of either. A severe or terminal illness is usually the problem, but the chronic disease is a common cause that is often overlooked.

2) People

These are folks who care about you and share parts of your life. Friends, family or whoever fits the bill. 

3) A home

A place that is safe, comfortable and you have at least in part, a claim to. Your room may be enough. Home is a launching pad for building a life. It is a basecamp and a refuge for which there is no substitute no matter how physically adequate. 

4) A way to survive

In our culture this means money. We do not hunt and gather, nor sow and reap. We get money to buy what we need.

If any one of these is suddenly absent or disturbed, you will of course be stressed. The important point is this: if more than one is absent or disturbed, you will be overwhelmed. To think of the tent; one pole suddenly not working causes problems. Two poles mean you no longer have a tent. Now you are exposed to the elements and no longer protected.

To bring home the point, imagine yourself with any two of these four compromised in your own life. Perhaps you are having marital problems and your work hours are suddenly cut. Or you are trying to cope with an illness, and you discover your insurance has not covered an expensive piece of your care. Or perhaps you are in between jobs and you will miss yet another rent/mortgage payment. Or lastly, you have been quite sick and now, a few weeks into the problem, the flow of visitors dries up.

These problems and countless others are exhaustingly common and occur right under our noses, even if you are the person in question. The reason they are missed is that most of the issues are considered normal life problems and people are thought to generally plod through them.

But our psyches need a sense that life is still basically under some control and we will not end up powerless and alone. This is why we need the need these four poles.

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How to Cope with Overwhelming Emotions: 3-Minute Therapy. Courtesy, Dr. Christina Hibbert.

More of the Four Poles

We all have more sophisticated psychological needs than suggested by the four poles. Things such as close relationships and a sense of meaning in life are the two most important. The four poles do not replace these. Rather, they are the foundation upon which such things are built. They are the basis of our inner sense of stability and safety in an unpredictable world. The use of this metaphor has helped me communicate to my patients the excessive weight of stress they are carrying.

Rather than severe trauma, it is often common life events that pull the poles out from our safe tents. Divorce, illness and unemployment are unfortunately common and clear examples. Anyone who has been through these knows how easily one dimension such as money or health, reaches out and wrenches away friends, funds or even our homes.

Final Thoughts

If we incorporated the tent metaphor into our thinking a few things would be suddenly obvious.

For example, all cancer patients need—at least the offer of—psychological care as part of their treatment. In addition, homelessness is not just another social problem. It undermines the psychological health needed to solve the homelessness itself, so is self-perpetuating.

Lastly, some people may need more attention, even if just from family and friends, than they usually receive. These include women who have had recent miscarriages, people without advanced training who lose their jobs, and anyone caring for a chronically sick relative.

The ability to predict when things are just too much is just as important in our psychological lives as in our physical ones. We know how far is too far to run, how much is too much to lift. It is time we know how much is too much to cope with


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Melancholic Depression: What Is It, Its Features & How To Overcome Melancholia


Melancholic Depression

There are many moments in our life where we feel a deep sense of sadness or gloom for absolutely no particular reason at all – also known as melancholia.

Feeling melancholic is nothing new. People have been experiencing this feeling for centuries if not decades but when this feeling of extreme sadness begins to take over our happy moments, that’s when we should not ignore it.

A subtype or a form of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), melancholic depression can be described as a condition where a person loses all interest and pleasure in day-to-day activities. In the DSM-5, melancholia is a criterion for diagnosing MDD. Therefore, an individual can be diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with Melancholic Features.

What Is Melancholia?

Well, when we talk about psychology, melancholia – the term – was first introduced in the 5th century BC by Hippocrates. The Greeks translate melancholia as “black bile”. The symptoms Hippocrates used to describe melancholia are similar to symptoms of depression we use now – fear, changes in appetite, restlessness, insomnia, and sadness.

Features & Symptoms Of Melancholia

Melancholic features when it comes to MDD are specific and used to diagnose melancholic depression.

Melancholia symptoms can be:

  • Depressed mood especially experiencing despair or emptiness
  • Feeling extremely depressed in the mornings
  • Agitation or slow motor functions
  • Experiencing changes in weight
  • Feeling extreme guilt or shame
  • Experiencing sleep disruptions
  • Having difficulty maintaining focus for long periods
  • Memory loss
  • Contemplating self-harm or suicide
  • Loss of pleasure in activities
  • Loss of reaction to positive events or news

These melancholic features are more likely to occur in individuals who experience or are diagnosed with MDD.

What May Cause Melancholia?

Melancholia episodes are not triggered by a specific event or a situation, rather it is a gradual process. A person may experience loss of interest, pleasure, or happiness even when something good happens in their life.

Individuals who experience MDD with psychotic features are more likely to develop melancholic depression.

While there are no exact reasons that contribute to a person developing melancholia, it is speculated that genetics, past traumatic experiences, chemical imbalances, or a history of depression in the family can be major contributors.

During the diagnosis, the doctor may ask several questions that may include learning more about one’s symptoms. A formal diagnosis is needed to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms such as:

Are There Treatments Available For Melancholic Depression?

For the better part of the treatment of melancholic depression, medications are prescribed as it is suspected that melancholia is not triggered by external factors but is caused by certain chemical imbalances in the brain.

Medications or antidepressants that can be prescribed by a professional psychiatrist can be:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Norepinephrine Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors (NDRIs)
  • Atypical Antidepressants: usually prescribed to improve mood.
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

According to a research study by the APA (American Psychiatric Association), tricyclic antidepressants work much better than other antidepressants, psychotherapy, or interventions when it comes to treating melancholy or melancholic depression.

How To Overcome Melancholic Depression?

Not all people are comfortable using prescribed drugs and medications to treat their melancholia symptoms. Since melancholic depression includes experiencing feelings of extreme sadness, loss of enjoyment, loss of interest in day-to-day activities, and fatigue, it can interfere with one’s daily functioning.

First, if you’re experiencing melancholia symptoms, it is recommended that you immediately contact a professional for a formal diagnosis and treatment plan. However, there are some self-help ways you can try (along with medications and treatment) to help reduce the symptoms of melancholic depression:

  • Getting regular physical exercise to increase endorphins and dopamine naturally
  • Spending time with people you love
  • Maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Practicing meditation
  • Maintaining a proper sleep schedule (try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night)

Please note that melancholia may make doing the above activities a little difficult but you must keep in mind that incorporating these lifestyle changes into your daily routine will help you in the long run.

You can also reach out to your support system or other online depression support groups. You can also connect with trained and licensed therapists and counselors here.

Melancholia or MDD with melancholic features can make navigating through daily life challenging. However, with a proper diagnosis and treatment, it can become easier to take the necessary steps towards recovery and coping.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, you can reach out to these helpline numbers:

Remember, help is available and you are not alone!

Coping with depression isn’t easy and it is a journey that is full of struggles and challenges but with the right help, it can be manageable.


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Are you a cynic

A Cynic is a person who believes that people always have a selfish motive behind everything they do. A cynic is overly skeptical about everything. If you are a cynic, you’ll always have a doubt about things being a success.

Basically, if you are cynical about a particular thing, it’s hard for you to believe that it can be successful. You will always think that the other is not honest about their intentions.

All of us are cynical about a few things that happen around us once in a while. I, somehow, am always cynical about a politician’s motives!

But a Cynic, almost all the time, disbelieves the integrity of everything. Cynics believe that there is no such thing as altruism, people always want something in return.

For example, X donated some amount to an organization, a cynic will always believe that it’s not just a simple act of charity. The cynic will come up with reasons like

* X probably wants some favors from the organization,

* X wants to impress the owner of the organization,

*X wants to look like a giver in front of the public eye, etc.

What Makes a Person Cynical?

Cynicism basically means being critical about things. Cynicism is not as bad as it seems provided it is in a limit. Anything in excess is bad! Being careful and cautious is good. Cynicism might have some root cause in some people.

You have to understand where cynicism is coming from. It can be a past experience!

ALSO READ: 11 Ways To Let Go Of The Past & Move Freely In Future

I recently dealt with fraud. Someone tricked me into taking my money as a form of purchase, online. Since then I’ve been very, very cynical about online shopping. Even if I am using an official portal of a legit website, I instantly click on pay on delivery!

Comment and tell me if you have experienced something that made you cynical about it.

It’s good to question things before you get involved. It clears concerns and also helps in getting a deeper understanding of things. This kind of cynicism is acceptable, it’s normal. What’s away from normal is having zero trusts in anything, whatever!

Cynics never give the benefit of the doubt to anything or anyone.

Characteristics of a Cynical Person:

Cynics have a different way of processing and analyzing situations. Nothing, for them, is as simple as it looks. They keep looking for a motive that can support their disbelief.

Do you sometimes feel like everything’s negative in life? Let’s look at some of the characteristics of a cynic:

  • Sarcasm is their first language
  • Loath plain positivity
  • Can’t take a compliment. They think compliments are fake!
  • Question anything and everything
  • Always concerned about other want from them
  • Don’t give a damn about being politically correct
  • Do not romanticize life
  • Always prepared for the worst.
  • They always sound smart

A pinch of salt makes your dessert even yummy. Imagine having a spoonful of salt in that piece of cake you’re about to eat!

If a cashier wishes you a good day it’s because he/she is being polite. They do not want anything from you! Even the thought of it makes me want to throw up!

It’s good to acknowledge the chances but not so much that it turns you into a big-time pessimist. Be cautious but also indulge in carefree moments, keep a little joy in life.

skepticism vs cynicism

How Does Cynicism Affect our Mental Health?

Well, cynicism has been linked with depression many times. There are various studies that state too much cynicism can lead to depression.

Researchers say that there is a 5 times higher chance of a cynical person having depression.

1. Depression and cynicism are actually intertwined. A cynic has a high chance of getting depressed, while a depressed person has an equal chance of developing a cynical mindset.

2. Cynicism may begin to bud in an individual when they give their all in achieving a goal, yet fail. This failure crushes their hopes and dreams, which in turn makes them bitter.

3. There is a disconnect between expectation and reality for a cynic. This leaves them feeling hopeless and helpless.

4. They often feel like no one does anything that actually matters. Nothing excites them because they doubt the sincerity of everything. This is a typical cynical personality trait.

5. Cynics ruminate on their pessimistic thoughts which aids depression

6. The distrust cynic have in every realm of life, turns their general grumpiness into a diagnosable disorder.

7. A cynic is always looking for evidence that leads to other people’s motives. This induces stress which can later take the form of anxiety

8. The core belief in a cynic is doubt. A strong doubt about everything in life. This doubt brings in the feeling of helplessness, anger, frustration, loss of interest in things, etc.

9. Cynics tend to indulge in self-destructive behavior.

10. Types of research state that cynics often choose to smoke and drink and have a high chance of committing suicide

11. Cynical people show reduced emotional attachment.

effect of cynicism

They start to think that everything is just a show and nothing really matters. All these attributes can push someone into depression or other psychological disorders.

How to Escape from a Cynical Mindset?

opposite of cynicism

Now we all know how being severely cynical about everything is not healthy. Give yourself a break! Not digging into every possible thing in life is as important as being cautious. If you notice the traits of a cynic in your life, escaping such a mindset is the best way out. Let’s find out how:

  • Recognize the cynical mindset
  • Challenge your cynicism
  • Tell your friends and family to check you when you’re being cynical
  • Draw a line between being critical and being cynical
  • Appreciate people in your life
  • Embrace positivity
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Express gratitude
  • Relax your thoughts, try yoga
  • Engage in recreational activities
  • Find the positive things in people

Little cynicism causes no harm but does not let it exceed the limit. Creating a balance is really important.


Thinking that everyone around you is lying, in return for some gain is not fair. We should all learn to trust our friends and family.

Altruism is not just a mere concept. We must all appreciate the act of kindness that demands nothing in return.

Being cynical may be your way of protecting yourself from being wrong. However, if being cynical is affecting your health, you should start working towards striking a balance.

Let’s all appreciate the little things in life, be a little less cynical!




Behavioral Addiction, What Is It? | Types, Signs, Consequences,Treatment


Behavioral Addiction, What Is It

When you hear the word addiction the few words that come to mind, I’m sure, are alcohol, drugs, and nicotine. Am I right?

Most people seem to understand alcohol addiction, drug addiction, or dependence on other addictive substances but when it comes to understanding behavioral addiction, most people are left scratching their heads.

You must be wondering what is behavioral addiction and how is it different from substance addiction? Don’t fret, in this article, I’ll explain the meaning, types, and signs of behavioral addiction along with the potential consequences of addictive behaviors.

Let’s begin by understanding addictive behaviors, shall we?

What Is Behavioral Addiction?

What Is Behavioral Addiction

Maybe you like to shop or play video games in your downtime. Everybody needs an activity to pass the time, after all, right? But when those activities have a strong grip on your mind and won’t let you focus on your daily tasks, then it can be considered as addictive behavior.

Addictive behaviors are best defined as activities that people can get addicted to are normal day-to-day activities yet they can make everyday life a challenge and a struggle.

Addictive behavior makes people seek out opportunities wherever they can to engage in the behavior. The struggle and desire to find and experience the “high” is so strong that it can disrupt a person’s daily life.

Behavioral addiction, while not officially recognized as a “real” addiction, can lead a person to experience withdrawal symptoms.

In fact, the only behavioral addiction officially recognized by the DSM-5 is Gambling Addiction. Other behavioral addictions include sex addiction, shopping addiction, addiction to self-injury, or addiction to plastic surgeries.

Behavioral Addiction vs Substance Addiction

Behavioral addictions, also known as process addictions are somewhat similar to substance addictions as they both can leave a long-lasting negative impact on a person’s different aspects of life and wellness.

In relationships, behavioral addictions, and substance addictions the effects are similar. In the search for the “high”, relationships are often neglected and leave the pressure of covering up for the problems caused due to the addiction on the partner and family members.

With the help of a psychiatrist, who specializes in treating behavioral addictions, you can change your patterns, improve your relationships with others, and cope using healthy practices.

Signs Of Behavioral Addiction

Dealing with addictive behaviors is not easy as it is one of the most misunderstood types of addictions. However, understanding the signs and symptoms of behavioral addiction can help get the right professional help.

Signs of behavioral addiction can be:

  • Thinking about spending or spending more time engaging in a certain activity
  • Having dependence on the behavior to cope with emotions
  • Continuing with the behavior despite mental, emotional, or physical harm
  • Facing difficulty in cutting back on the behavior or stop engagement
  • Ignoring or inability to focus on work, schoolwork, or with family and friends
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as irritability or anxiety
  • Hiding the problem or extent of it from others

Types Of Behavioral Addictions

Types Of Behavioral Addictions

Although many of the addictions are not officially recognized or acknowledged by the DSM-5, there are still many types of behavioral addictions that can be harmful to your overall health and wellness.

List of addictive behaviors:

Consequences Of Behavioral Addiction

Consequences Of Behavioral Addiction

Despite it not being recognized as a real addiction, behavioral addictions can still cause severe problems and disruptions in a person’s daily life, routine, and relationships. This addiction can cause psychological distress and can be hard to move on from.

Many a time, people struggling with addictive behaviors may realize the toll their activities are taking on the people near to them, their work, home life, and their relationships. They may also realize that the losses they incur because of their addictive behaviors are too large.

The activity that once seemed fulfilling might eventually become a burden and one that is difficult to move on from.

Note: If your behaviors and activities are disrupting your work life, home life, relationships, or your overall health and wellness, immediately consult a mental health professional.

Treatment & Coping With Behavioral Addictions

Treatment & Coping With Behavioral Addictions

For people struggling with behavioral addictions, treatments are available. Treatment options developed to treat substance addictions, fortunately, work with behavioral addictions as well. With the help of a psychologist or a psychiatrist, you can overcome your addiction and move forward in your life.

Treatment options might include:

Coping with behavioral addiction can be a little challenging. Many people struggling with this addiction try to minimize their addiction and, in any case, not many people take behavioral addiction as seriously as substance addiction.

The first step you can take in coping with behavioral addiction is to acknowledge the problem. Understand that your addictive behavior is causing disruptions in your daily life.

Steps to help you in coping if you don’t feel the need to seek help at this point can be:

  1. Identify the trigger. People, places, situations, etc, that might trigger your compulsion to engage in your addictive behavior.
  2. Try to come up with solutions or coping strategies to help your mind distract you from the urge to engage, avoid the triggers, or eliminate them, if necessary.
  3. Creating a solid support system to help you distract yourself when the urge to engage in addictive behavior strikes.

The majority of people struggle with behavioral addiction and while they can disrupt a person’s day-to-day life, it is also possible to recover from them.

Help is available! No matter what your addiction is!


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What to expect from CBT for anxiety

A pounding heart, sleepless nights, and worrying thoughts. For those who live with anxiety, these symptoms will be all too familiar. Some find that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective way to help manage anxious thoughts and feelings, but the idea of your first session might be a cause for even more worry.

CBT is a talking therapy that addresses cycles of negative thoughts and feelings. Commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, therapy sessions focus on interrogating patterns of unhelpful thinking and behavior in order to develop practical coping skills.

If you’re considering starting CBT, or have already been booked in for your first session, knowing what to expect can help to ease any concerns. We spoke to counseling psychologist Dr Danielle Sampaio to find out more.

Know the basics

“CBT is a here-and-now therapy that offers a way to understand your current thought processes, and how they are contributing to the problems that you are having,” says Dr. Sampaio. “It offers a way to restructure your thoughts so that you can develop more helpful and balanced ways of thinking and behave in relation to specific issues and circumstances.”

Over the course of your treatment, you’ll build a toolkit to understand your anxiety and develop ways to address troubling thoughts. Sessions can take place in a group setting or one-on-one, and each session is about 50 minutes long.

“The goal of CBT is to equip you with the tools you need to manage your anxiety once the sessions are over”

Assessing the problem

Your therapist might be interested to know what is driving you to seek treatment, any past therapy that you’ve already had, and your hopes for these sessions. This will also be your opportunity to tell your therapist about the development of your anxiety, and what specific issues you’re experiencing.

“You might be asked to complete a questionnaire to measure the extent and type of anxiety and any other issues that your therapist should know about,” says Dr. Sampaio. “You don’t need to prepare anything, but if it helps you could write some notes beforehand, or things that you want to say or explain.”

Building a collaborative relationship

Seeking mental health support can sometimes feel exposing. But in order to effectively treat your condition, you need to be vulnerable and open about what is troubling you, and being able to create a relationship based on trust and honesty is key to getting the care you need.

“Your therapist will want to get to know your story, strengths, and struggles,” she says. “This helps them to piece together how your experiences may be affecting you.”

Although it can be challenging, be prepared to approach CBT with an open mind, and a willingness to share. Your therapist will be experienced in guiding and supporting you through the process.


Doing your homework

CBT doesn’t just take place within therapy sessions – most therapists will assign exercises to complete in your own time. This could be something like keeping a diary or examining your thinking style each time you have a particularly pervasive worry.

“The therapy will encourage you to practice what you are learning in between sessions, to consolidate progress,” Dr. Sampaio says. “This will help the therapist to understand what happens in a real-life example. Some clients worry about this part, but it’s not like school homework – you won’t be told off if you don’t do it!”

Learning therapeutic tools

The goal of CBT is to equip you with the tools you need to manage your anxiety once the sessions are over. You can expect to learn practical techniques to help keep worries in check and to function through periods of poor mental health.

“This could be things like breathing exercises to help with panic, mindfulness, or compassionate exercises that build tools to help you to calm down,” Dr. Sampaio says. “Some of these you will practice with your therapist, and others you will do in your own time. You’ll also have regular review sessions to consider how the work is going, and how these tools are helping.”

These tools are there for you to call upon as you take the next steps, beyond therapy – like a first aid kit in your backpack, they’ll help you help yourself through.



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