April 23-29 is Sleep Awareness Week

The National Sleep Foundation has announced April 23-29 as its annual Sleep Awareness Week. The focus of the event is on understanding the important role sleep plays in our physical, mental and emotional health and learning how to ensure we get enough sleep. Insomnia, or the inability to sleep, can be caused by several different factors, such as anxiety, and Community Reach Center knows that falling and staying asleep isn’t always as easy as we’d like it to be.

Why Do We Sleep?

When considering the state we call “sleep,” the first question might be “Why do we do it? Why is there such a thing as sleep?” Interestingly, while research has taught us a lot about the benefits of sleep, experts still can’t always agree on why the state exists. There are several possible reasons, including:

  • Inactivity theory. Maintaining a “low profile” at night is an adaptive behavior that keeps us safe from predators.
  • Energy conservation theory. We partake in some downtime to conserve energy for when it’s most needed — during the day.
  • Restorative theory. Sleep helps our body repair damage done to it throughout the day.
  • Brain plasticity theory. Sleeps gives our brains time to reshape in response to the stimuli we’ve encountered during our waking hours.

Health Benefits of Sleep

Combatting insomnia and getting plenty of deep, uninterrupted sleep provides a whole host of health benefits, including many that you might not have been aware of. They include:

  • Reduced inflammation. Getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep helps decrease the level of inflammatory proteins in the blood.
  • Better weight maintenance. Sleep and body metabolism are controlled by the same area of the brain. When you are feeling sleepy during the day, hormones are put into your bloodstream that increase appetite.
  • Better mood. Insomnia can contribute to depression and anxiety. And unfortunately, trying to “catch up” on sleep after days of being deficient doesn’t really work.
  • Improved memory. While you sleep, your brain is busy making sense of everything you’ve learned during the day.
  • Longer life. There are studies that seem to indicate that getting the right amount of sleep (not too little, not too much) can actually help you live longer.

When it comes to “activities” that can improve your health, the inactivity of sleep is at the top of the list!

Stress and Sleep

Stress and anxiety are some of the most common causes of difficulty falling or staying asleep. Here are some of the tips we share at Community Reach Center for decreasing your stress level so you can get better, more restorative sleep:

  • Get healthy. When your body is functioning optimally, your mind is better able to resist stress.
  • Live in the moment. It can be hard to focus on what you’re doing right now rather than the challenges life is throwing at you. But the more you work at it, the better you’ll get.
  • Give yourself a pep talk. You can be your own best cheerleader. Practice encouraging yourself at every opportunity.
  • Learning to still your thoughts and calm your mind is one of the best ways to reduce your stress and battle insomnia.

Wishing You Deep and Restful Sleep

At Community Reach Center, we have programs for dealing with stress and anxiety disorders that can cause sleeplessness and insomnia. To learn more, contact Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is Observed in April

While sexual assault can be a difficult subject for victims, their families and the community in general to discuss, it is critical that we recognize and address what is a shockingly prevalent crime in our country and around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in five women in the U.S. is raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime.1 At our Denver mental health center, we provide assistance and support to survivors of sexual assault.

First observed in 2001 and building on sexual violence awareness efforts that began in the late 1970s in England, April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Events throughout the month seek to raise awareness of what sexual assault is, its prevalence and what can be done to prevent it.

Sexual Assault and Mental Health

Few crimes have greater potential to lead to long-term mental and emotional health issues than sexual assault. Survivors may deal with a whole host of thoughts and emotions that can plague them for an extended period, often for life. These include:

  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Distrust

In many cases, sexual assault can lead to clinical conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders. For example, girls who are raped are approximately three times more likely to suffer from psychological disorders and over four times more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol abuse in adulthood.2  As many as 50-75 percent of women in substance abuse treatment programs are survivors of sexual violence.3

The process of healing from an assault and addressing these conditions is a difficult one, but with the love and support of family members, and the assistance of trained and compassionate mental health counselors like those at our Denver mental health center, it can be successful.

Sexual Assault Survivors: Much Stronger than They Know

While loved ones and mental health professionals can provide much-needed assistance to a victim of sexual assault, a survivor’s own inner strength is the most powerful healing force. Many aren’t even aware they have this strength, but they often discover and begin drawing on it to drive their recovery.

If you have been sexually assaulted, here are some things you can do to help yourself heal:

  • Never lose sight of the fact that only your attacker alone is to blame for the assault.
  • Continually remind yourself that any negative feelings you have about yourself are the result of the trauma you’ve suffered. They are not reality.
  • Be persistent in countering feelings of helplessness and isolation with the knowledge that you have the power to move on and resources available to help you.
  • Develop healthy strategies for dealing with flashbacks and distressing memories.
  • Take time to reconnect to your body and your feelings.
  • Focus on healthy eating and exercise, which will help heal your nervous system.
  • Never hesitate to ask for support when you need it.

Here to Provide Help and Support to Sexual Assault Survivors

At our Denver mental health center, we encourage sexual assault survivors to get the support they need to restore their mental and emotional health by contacting Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area, including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

  1. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/sv-datasheet-a.pdf
  2. Kendler, Kenneth S., et al. Archives of General Psychiatry. Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University, 2000.
  3. S. Public Health Service Office on Women’s Health.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol and drug use by young people in the U.S. and around the world is a serious problem. Not only is it dangerous, it puts those around them at risk. At Community Reach Center, we remind people that substance abuse can result in a wide variety of negative consequences, including:

  • Traffic accidents that cause property damage, injuries and fatalities
  • Violent behavior
  • Alcohol overdose
  • Work and school struggles
  • Relationship issues
  • Unsafe sexual behavior
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Dangerous risk taking

The physical, mental, emotional and financial toll of these consequences can be devastating.

About Alcohol Awareness Month

In 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) first sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month. Every year since then, the organization has dedicated April to increasing public awareness of alcohol-related issues and reducing the stigma associated with seeking help for alcoholism. The Council encourages individuals and communities to devote time, effort and resources to looking for answers to these challenging problems.

This year’s theme is “Connecting the Dots: Opportunities for Recovery.” Local, state and national events and activities will be held to educate people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism. In particular, the issue of alcohol use among young people will be in the spotlight. Parents will be encouraged to recognize the powerful impact their influence can have on whether their children choose to use alcohol.


Talking with Young People about Alcohol

Parents with teens face a difficult challenge when it comes alcohol abuse. Adolescents are under a great deal of social pressure to experiment with alcohol and drugs. They are also in a stage of life characterized by increased risk taking and desire to “figure things out for themselves.” However, they are still listening. Children who learn from their parents about the many negative consequences of alcohol and drug abuse are much less likely to use these substances.

What we tell people at our community mental health center is that the hardest part about talking with children is simply starting the conversation. After a few awkward moments, it can quickly turn into a very open and informative interaction that leaves both parent and child feeling glad they had the discussion.

Alcohol-Free Weekend

Alcohol Awareness Month is kicked off the weekend leading into April with Alcohol-Free Weekend. That event is designed to draw attention to the issues around alcohol abuse and how it can have a negative impact on individuals, families and communities. NCADD encourages people to spend 72 hours alcohol free and to contact local NCADD affiliates to learn more about alcoholism, especially its early symptoms.

Helping Individuals and Families Fight Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

At our community mental health center, we have programs and information that help young people and their families — or anyone affected by alcohol abuse or addiction — better understand these conditions and take steps to break free from them.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, contact Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the north side Denver metro area of Adams County, including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Self-Injury Awareness Month: Learn the Signs and How to Help

Community Mental Health CenterSelf-injury, sometimes referred to as self-harm, is intentional, non-lethal behavior that causes physical injury to your body. March 1 of each year is Self-Injury Awareness Day, which leads into Self-Injury Awareness Month. The day and month serve to draw attention to the struggles of those affected by this condition. We, Community Reach Center, your Denver mental health center, wanted to bring some educational information on Self-Injury.

What Drives a Person to Self-Injure?

Self-harm is an attempt to relieve intense emotional pain that has become overwhelming. While the action may distract the sufferer from that pain briefly, it doesn't actually resolve the emotions or address their underlying causes. As we explain at our community mental health center, it is an unhealthy coping mechanism that may calm a people by giving them a sense of control and the ability to see a connection between the physical pain and what is causing it, as opposed to emotional pain, which can be harder to pinpoint.

The most common forms of self-injury include:

  • Cutting
  • Burning or branding
  • Bone-breaking
  • Excessive body piercing or tattooing
  • Picking at skin or preventing wound healing
  • Head-banging
  • Beating/bruising
  • Hair-pulling
  • Consuming dangerous substances

Self-injury is a behavior that is not limited to any particular demographic — age, race, socioeconomic level, religion or education level. However, according to WebMD1, it is more common among:

  • Adolescent females
  • People who have a history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • People who have co-existing problems of substance abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder or eating disorders
  • Individuals who were often raised in families that discouraged expression of anger
  • Individuals who lack skills to express their emotions and lack a good social support network

Self-harm tends to be a solitary behavior and one that sufferers generally attempt to conceal. While it is not suicidal in nature, the risk of suicide exists if the underlying emotional stress becomes too great or if an attempt to self-injure goes too far.

Identifying Self-Harm and How to Talk to Someone Who is Self-Injuring

If you 1) see a friend or loved one self-injuring, 2) notice signs of unexplained injury, or 3) detect attempts to hide injuries, the most important thing to know is that self-injury isn’t a “phase” or an “attention-seeking” behavior. It is a symptom of an emotional problem that must be treated.

If you suspect a loved one is self-harming, you should:

  • Talk with them about it as calmly as possible. Appearing alarmed or angry may cause them to withdraw.
  • Be nonjudgmental and supportive.
  • Be available to discuss the problem or problems that are causing the emotional pain that leads to self-injury if/when they are ready to talk about it.
  • Explain that there are treatments available at your community mental health center. Offer to help with making an appointment and attending with them if appropriate.
  • If the person’s behavior worsens and you believe they are contemplating suicide, seek emergency medical attention/intervention immediately.

Getting to the Heart of Self-Injury

At the Community Reach Center, your Denver mental health center, we help people who are self-injuring understand and address the issues that are causing them emotional pain and leading to the behavior. If you or someone you know needs to talk with someone about self-harm, contact the Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

1 - Source: http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/self-injuring-hurting

A 5-Point Plan for Facing Your Fears

Anxiety in a group of people

At the Community Reach Center, your Denver mental health center, we help clients treat anxiety in many ways, including counseling and medication. There are also steps you can take on your own to lessen the impact that anxiety has on your life — things like breath control and muscle relaxation. One of the most effective practices is learning to face your fears, however, it is also one of the most challenging. When you gradually confront the source of your anxiety (a process referred to as “exposure”) following a well-defined plan, you will be happy to discover that anxiety begins to have less power over you.

Experimenting with Exposure

If you have anxiety, you may have a long history of feelings of dread toward certain people, places, situations or objects.  The effects often deepen over a long period of time and repeated interactions. Consequently, it will take time and repeated exposure to reverse the effects.

Here are five steps you can take to gradually decrease the stress that your triggers create in you:

  • List the things that make you anxious. As you do, be sure to include all aspects of that fea For example, if crossing bridges gives you anxiety, you might have things on your list like “looking at pictures of bridges,” “looking at a bridge from a distance,” “walking past (but not on) a bridge,” “standing briefly on a bridge” and “walking or driving across a bridge.” Similarly if interacting with people makes you nervous, you might jot down “making eye contact,” “saying hello,” “speaking with someone for more than a few seconds,” “having a long conversation” and “shaking hands or hugging.”
  • Prioritize your list. For each type of anxiety-inducing scenario, order the list from most upsetting to least.
  • Intentionally put yourself into a challenging situation. Begin exposing yourself to the least upsetting stimuli on your list, repeating the exposure until the person/place/object no longer creates much of a reaction and you feel you can cross it off. Then move to the next stimuli and perform the process again, working your way down the list. It helps to make notes about your progress.
  • Repeat. Even after you’ve succeeded in crossing all the stimuli of a certain type off your list (everything related to bridges, for example), it’s important that you keep exposing yourself to them so that the anxiety doesn’t return.
  • Reward yourself. Facing deep-seated fears takes courage and commitment. As you make progress and hit milestones, give yourself a pat on the back. Buy yourself a gift (a book, some clothes, whatever you enjoy) or plan a special activity (hiking your favorite trail, trying that new restaurant) to celebrate your accomplishments. 

Helping You Eliminate Anxiety by Facing Your Fears

At Community Reach Center, your Denver mental health center, we provide services that help people who are struggling with anxiety take steps to reduce or even eliminate it. If you would like to talk with someone about your anxiety challenges or make an appointment, contact the Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

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5 Steps for Developing Healthy Realistic Thinking

Mental Habits from Community Reach Center your Denver Mental Health Center

Even the most positive people have negative thoughts at times. It’s part of being human. But when negative thoughts about ourselves, our situation or the world around us start to become the norm, it is not healthy. These thoughts can drain your energy, leave you unwilling to face challenges and even cause your body to dump damaging stress hormones into your bloodstream. For those struggling with anxiety, depression, alcohol abuse or drug abuse it is easy to slip into negative thought patterns. If you do, it’s important to reach out to the Community Reach Center, your Denver mental health center.

There are also steps you can take on your own to change your negative thoughts. However, the goal isn’t to achieve a state of perpetual positive thinking. Constantly trying to put a positive spin on everything that occurs in your life isn’t healthy either. What you want to cultivate is realistic thinking. Seeing yourself, your relationships and world events as they really are (positive, negative or neutral) is the best way to live a genuine, grounded and emotionally healthy life.

How to Foster a More Rational Worldview

When alcohol abuse, drug abuse, depression or anxiety are central to your life it can feel like you have no control over your thoughts and emotions. They simply “happen.” But the truth is, you can be in control of them. As counselors at your community health center will tell you, the key is to have a process you can use regularly to reaffirm that you are in charge. Here are steps you can take:

  1. Monitor your self-talk.
    We all have an ongoing dialogue that runs in our head. Often it involves evaluating the world around us. That dialogue affects how we view our life, but because it’s constantly running, we tend to forget it’s there. The first step in promoting realistic thinking is simply to listen to that inner voice. For example, you might “hear” it say, “That person was rude to me the last time I saw them. I don’t like them.” Being aware of those types of comments starts to put you more in control of them.
  2. Identify thoughts that aren’t helpful.
    Not every negative thought is “bad.” For example, “I feel stressed and frustrated about my job because there are so many new things I am learning, but overtime I will learn and it will get easier” has a negative aspect, but it promotes a positive action. On the other hand, “I hate my job and don’t ever want to go back there” doesn’t really provide any benefit. It’s important to make the distinction between thoughts that are helpful and those that are not.
  3. Challenge your unhelpful thoughts.
    The next step in learning to be more realistic in your thinking is to question whether your thoughts are valid. Using an example from above, do you really hate your job or are you anxious about the new project that you’ve been assigned? Or do you have an issue with a coworker that needs to be resolved?
  4. Substitute realistic thoughts.
    Once you’ve identified a thought that isn’t helpful, you can replace it with one that is. Continuing with the work example, a more rational thought might be, “Once I get started on the new project I’m sure I’ll do fine. It’s just the anticipation I don’t like.” In addition to this type of coping statement, it can be beneficial to add some positive self-talk, like “I’m smart and capable, and I’ve done good work on projects like this in the past.
  5. Repeat.
    Realistic thinking doesn’t come easy, especially when you are also working on managing anxiety, depression, drug abuse or alcohol abuse. You need to continually return to it even when it feels natural to dwell on the negative.

Seeing the World in a Fair, Balanced Way

In our work with people at the Community Reach Center, your Denver mental health center, we stress the importance of being realistic in how you view the world. Freeing yourself from negative thought patterns is essential. If you’ve got questions about how to do that, or questions about mental health in general, contact the Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

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Beware of Depression and Anxiety After Heart Surgery

February Heart Month Heart Attack

 

When someone has heart surgery or has suffered a cardiac event (like a heart attack or stroke), the first priority is stabilizing their physical health. However, at the Community Reach Center, your Denver mental health center, we counsel people who have had heart surgery, and their families, to be aware of the potential mental health impact.

Not surprisingly, people who have been affected by heart disease are prone to developing depression and anxiety. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, while depression is reported in roughly 1 in 10 Americans ages 18 and older, the number can be as high as 33 percent in heart attack patients.

Signs of Depression and Anxiety after Heart Surgery

The positive news about depression and anxiety is that they are treatable conditions. Cardiac patients do not have to simply endure them. The key is being aware of the relationship between cardiac events and mental health, and keeping an eye out for the signs that normal sadness and fear are progressing into an illness.

With depression, the most common symptoms are:

  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Lack of energy
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Change in appetite
  • A focus on potential negative outcomes

If a cardiac patient is developing anxiety, symptoms can include:

  • Nervousness, restlessness or being tense
  • Feelings of danger, dread or panic
  • Irritability
  • Muscle twitching or trembling
  • Difficulty thinking clearly or focusing

What You Can Do

In many cases, it can be challenging to determine whether symptoms are the result of physical health challenges or a mental health condition, since there is significant overlap. For example, a cardiac event can leave the patient with less energy due to damage to the heart, but decreased energy can also be a sign of depression.

If you suspect you may be experiencing depression or anxiety, you should talk with your primary care physician. These conditions are very common, so your doctor likely has experience with them. A short screening test you can take is highly accurate in identifying depression and anxiety. You can also contact your Denver mental health counselor for the same type of assessment. Either way, it can be a relief to know there is a cause for how you are feeling and treatments that can help bring your emotions back into balance.

Treating Depression and Anxiety

Treatments for depression and anxiety include “talk therapy” and medication. A counselor might also recommend stress reduction techniques like meditation or breathing exercises. In many cases, a treatment plan will include all of the above.

Not only is it important to treat depression and anxiety to provide relief from their symptoms, these conditions can have a negative impact on physical health as well. They cause stress hormones to circulate through the body and also can increase the likelihood that a cardiac patient will fail to follow their physical rehabilitation plan. Avoiding necessary exercises and disregarding a medication regimen are common in those with depression and anxiety.  

Here to Help with the Mental Health Aspects of Heart Surgery Recovery.

At the Community Reach Center, your Denver mental health center, we can provide the counseling and medication needed to bring depression and anxiety under control after heart surgery. Contact the Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Anxiety and Heart Health: Understanding the Connection

February Heart Month Dealing with Anxiety image

It’s safe to say that nobody enjoys feeling stressed. However, our “fight or flight” response does serve a purpose. When we find ourselves in a situation that requires us to be extra alert and vigilant, and ready to take action, the change in our mental and physical state brought on by the response is just what we need. According to Wikipedia, some of the many physiological changes that take place as a cascade of hormones races through our body include:

  • Acceleration of heart and lung action
  • Inhibition of stomach and upper-intestinal action to the point where digestion slows down or stops
  • Constriction of blood vessels in many parts of the body
  • Dilation of blood vessels in the muscles
  • Liberation of metabolic energy sources (particularly fat and glycogen) for muscular action
  • Dilation of pupil (mydriasis)

You can see how these reactions would help our ancestors survive when faced with a threat. However, our fight or flight response is meant to be temporary and based on actual threats. It becomes a problem when a person with anxiety experiences these physiological changes on a regular or continuous basis due to what they perceive as potential threats. In that case, the surging or sustained “readiness” in the body’s system can actually cause damage to them.

February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, and a great time to learn about the relationship between anxiety and heart health. According to Johns Hopkins, the correlation is not as well-defined as that between depression and heart health, but it is believed there is a direct connection.

Heart Attacks and Anxiety

It’s easy to understand how anxiety can impact the heart as described above. The flip side of that relationship is fairly straightforward as well, especially for anyone who has had a heart attack or who has a loved one who has. The shock of a life-threatening event can cause you to:

  • Worry about your health and the fact that another cardiac event could occur
  • Worry about your family and how the outcome of your health challenges will affect them
  • Lose sleep and experience the many consequences of not being rested
  • Frequently relive the event, especially when at the location or participating in the activity related to it
  • Have a very negative outlook regarding your future

In short, you can find yourself in a perpetual state of anxiety. And, unfortunately, that state is not helpful as your body tries to recover from the heart attack.

Take Action

So, what can you do to avoid the vicious circle of heart disease and anxiety? Your doctor can work with you to reduce your risk of a heart attack. This will include minimizing or eliminating risk factors such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • SmokingDiabetes
  • Diabetes
  • Being physically inactive
  • Being overweight/obese


As for anxiety, if you feel you have an ongoing problem with stress,  working with a therapist at a Denver mental health center for a few sessions can definitely help. There are also a number of stress-reducing steps you can take, including:

  • Pause and take some deep breaths
  • Take a walk to remove yourself from the stressful situation
  • Perform a regular stress-reducing activity like meditation or yoga
  • Practice positive self-talk (“I’ve got this.” “This stress is temporary.” “Things will work out.”)
  • Work on being “in the moment” meaning you are totally focused on what’s happening right now
  • Get regular exercise

A Ready Resource for Helping Alleviate Anxiety

Whether it’s anxiety that might lead to a heart attack or anxiety that develops after a heart attack, Community Reach Center is your Denver mental health center here to help you manage it. Contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Six Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Long-Term Relationship

long term relationship mental health center of Denver

While we like for our romantic books and movies to end with the couple living “happily ever after,” anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship knows that that state is very difficult to achieve in real life. At Community Reach Center, we believe that maintaining a healthy long-term relationship requires a great deal of time and effort. But if the commitment is there, it absolutely can be done.

In it for the Long Haul

If you and your partner are truly focused on going the distance, here are some strategies you can use to help ensure you do:

  1. Compromise. Early in relationships, things tend to be more of a 50/50 split. Their wants and needs and yours are honored equally. But over time, it’s not uncommon for us to grow a little selfish and develop stronger preferences for the things we want to see or do or eat, the people we want to spend time with and the like. In order to maintain a healthy relationship, it’s important to recognize that shift and resist it.
  2. Be open and honest about your feelings. Effective communication is critical to successful long-term relationships. Sometimes we begin to keep things inside because we don’t want to “bother” our partner. In other cases, we may want to hang on to certain emotions because we feel it puts us in a position of power. Whatever the reason, it’s important to avoid building walls or coloring the truth when it comes to how we’re feeling. You put your partner at an unfair disadvantage if you are withholding information on your emotional state.
  3. Know that nobody ever “wins” an argument. When the focus of an argument becomes more about “winning” than resolving the issue, both of you lose. It’s much more conducive to a positive outcome to say early and often in a disagreement that the goal is to find a mutually acceptable solution to the problem. That can be difficult, but when it is, refer to item No. 1 above!
  4. Understand how your partner expresses love. Even for couples who have been together for many years, it’s easy to forget how their partner tends to demonstrate love. Taking time to recognize and appreciate those expressions is the best way to keep them coming. 
  5. Refuse to use the silent treatment. While we may try to tell ourselves that it’s better to remain silent than to say something hurtful, the truth is that receiving the silent treatment can be just as painful, and it can be just as damaging to a relationship. What’s more, there are more than two options in that scenario. A third would be speaking your mind but refraining from using angry, emotion-laden language. Carefully chosen words can go a long way toward resolving a conflict.
  6. Give them space. For some people it almost feels unnatural to be apart. But the truth is, we all need our space, even if that need doesn’t ever or often make it to the level of consciousness. And, absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.

Long-term Relationships and Mental Health

Healthy long-term relationships can have a powerfully positive influence on mental and emotional health. If you’re looking for a mental health center in the Denver area, you can contact us at Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Depression and Heart Disease: Learn More About the Link During American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month

Depression and heart disease are two of the most common disabling diseases in the U.S., and they often occur simultaneously. While research is ongoing as to the exact relationship, experts believe the two conditions influence one another.

February is American Heart Month, and as people pay special attention to their heart health, it’s also a great time to learn more about the link to depression. Your community mental health center is an excellent source of information.

How are Depression and Heart Disease Related?

Studies show that a significant number of people who have not been diagnosed with depression become depressed after suffering a heart attack. In fact, the American Heart Association says that depression is reported in one in 10 Americans age 18 and over, but for heart attack patients, the number is as high as one in three.

Similarly, people with depression who have no history of heart disease tend to develop heart disease more frequently than the population as a whole. For example, as reported by webmd.com, a study of 63,000 people in Norway over a span of 11 years found that compared to people with no symptoms of depression, those with mild depression were 5 percent more likely to develop heart failure, and those with moderate to severe depression had a 40 percent increased risk.

The relationship between the two conditions is complicated, but may include:

  • People who are depressed often do not take care of their physical health
  • Depression increases the presence of stress hormones that are damaging to the heart
  • People who have suffered a heart attack may feel embarrassed about their decreased physical capacity and concerned about their future, which can lead to depression
  • People with depression may have unusually sticky platelets, leading to hardening of the arteries

What You Can Do

Given the strong correlation between them, it’s important to take action to improve both your mental and physical health so that each contributes positively to the other. When it comes to depression, the first step is to recognize the symptoms, which can include any of these lasting for more than two weeks:

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest in activities you enjoy
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Feelings of self-hate, guilt or worthlessness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Change in appetite

If you feel you are suffering from depression, you should contact your doctor, counselor or community mental health center. There are successful evidence-based treatments for depression that can include talk therapy (also referred to as cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT) and antidepressant medications.

Regarding your heart health, the risk factors include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight/obese
  • Smoking
  • Being physically inactive
  • Having a family history of heart disease


The best way to prevent heart disease is to see your doctor regularly and work to decrease or eliminate as many of the risk factors as you can.

Better Heart Health, Better Mental Health

The good news is that there are ways to decrease your risk of heart disease and to treat depression. If you want more information, your community mental health center is here for you. Contact Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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