Employee Assistance Newsletter Spring 2008
Coping With Anxiety

J.Sorenen, MA, RPC, CCBT, CCBSC

Depression: The Black Hole

Bob Kitcher, M.A.

Caregiver Stress

Andrew Bucknall, M.S.W., R.S.W.

Welcome to this year’s first newsletter from your Employee Assistance Program. We want to wish all of you a very healthy and happy 2008. Happiness depends to a large extent on your emotional and physical health and the choices you make. This newsletter focuses on taking care of yourself, with articles providing information on how to cope with anxiety, understanding depression and caregiver’s stress. We are also pleased to announce two group programs planned for spring 2008: Assertion Group For Women and Caregiver Group.

Virginia Palmer, Editor

Coping with Anxiety

J.Sorenen, MA, RPC, CCBT, CCBSC

Coping With Anxiety

If you suffer from Anxiety, you will know that it can be a debilitating and frightening experience. Learning to cope with it when it rears its ugly head is a skill that can take many years to accomplish but learning tips and strategies to ward off anxiety is a key component to managing it.

Often anxiety can be triggered by the smallest of events, perhaps it is chronic as in social anxiety or general anxiety but it is also often an unidentified precursor to anger. Anger is the emotion you experience directly but like a spark that fuels a fire, it is really the fear based thought that hides behind anger and fuels it into rage. Your job is to get behind the anger to the fear and discover what it is that is acting as that spark.

There are many skills you can cultivate: One is learn how to firstly identify your fearful thoughts, and then to flip it to weigh the evidence on how accurate it really is, and finally to create and proliferate an alternative or balanced thinking style.

Learning to recognize the ways your thinking styles may be working against you is another method to combat anxiety. To soothe or decrease your nervousness you may try distracting yourself through exercise, gardening, self relaxation skills, meditation, mindfulness, singing, playing an instrument, or participating in creative recreational activities. Creating a relaxing and peaceful environment is also a strategy to reduce anxiety. Some people like to listen to nature, the sound of water, a fountain, or whatever you personally prefer.

Your Mother’s tried and true advice is still good – drink chamomile or passionflower tea while the complimentary therapies such as massage, acupuncture, aromatherapy have all been demonstrated to reduce anxiety and stress. Learning to manage your anxiety may need practicing a variety of techniques until you discover which ones work for you through trial and error. If you would like to discover alternative ways of coping and help to harness your thoughts, contact Julia for a consultation. Julia Sorensen is studying towards a Doctorate in Psychology and holds specialist certificates in Cognitive Therapy. Julia is the author of “Helping Children Transform Loss, An Expressive Workbook” to be released in 2007 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Depression: The Black Hole

Bob Kitcher, M.A.

Depression

Depression is the fastest growing diagnosis in the country according to Statistics Canada and a condition that is one of the most difficult to deal with on your own. Depression can range from a feeling of being down for a day or a week or two because of some unpleasant life event to a chronic state of profound despair and thoughts of suicide.

Depression is one of the prime health reasons for employees staying home from work, although usually they don’t admit it, and come up with some other health excuse that is more socially acceptable, like a cold or the flu.

Depression is characterized by a feeling of low energy, helplessness, and hopelessness. Often you don’t want to do anything or see anyone. Just hide away hoping the feeling will pass.

Clinical depression is when the state lasts for a few weeks and is often accompanied by a change in appetite and sleep patterns, loss of interest in usual daily activities, social withdrawal, lack of sexual desire, and self criticism. Depression can also lead to alcohol and drug abuse, and overeating as coping mechanisms.

Mild episodes of clinical depression can last for three to four months with severe cases lasting for a year or more. Some people who don’t seek help really never recover and live with persistent clinical depression. Some people are diagnosed with bipolar disorder where the mood swings from low to high – from depression to mania. About 15% of people with severe depression commit suicide. Severe cases of depression almost always require medication.

And while a depressed person may first of all have difficulty recognizing that they have a problem, and then difficulty looking for help with the problem, getting professional help will tend to reduce the period of depression and the impact of the depression on the person’s life.

COUNSELLORS AVAILABLE THROUGH YOUR EAP:
  • Anita Chard, M.S.W.,R.S.W.
  • Rev. Dr. Kent Clayton
  • Treena Cook, M.S.W.,R.S.W.
  • Dr. Greg Kerr, M.Sc.
  • John Lunman, M.S.W., R.S.W
  • Eva Mourelatos, M.A.
  • Ginny Palmer, B.A.
  • Julia Sorensen, M.A., CCBT
  • Alice Olson, M.S.W.,R.S.W.
  • Andrew Bucknall, M.S.W.,R.S.W.

Unfortunately only about one third of people with depression seek professional help, often because they are hiding their symptoms from their family and friends who would normally prompt them to go for help to a counsellor or physician. Often this is because some people see depression as a weakness rather than the profound physical and mental health problem that it is really.

The first step for someone with depression can be a call to your Employee Assistance Program to see a professional counsellor, either by the person themselves or a family member. The counsellor can help you figure out how serious the depression is and the best way of dealing with it. For milder cases of depression based on recent life events psychotherapy with the counsellor may be sufficient. More severe cases may be referred to a psychologist where sometimes 10 to 12 sessions or more are needed to address the depression. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the most common treatment in helping the person face the depression in their life and rid themselves of the negative thought patterns underlying the depression. If it appears that medication is needed along with the psychotherapy the person will be referred to the family physician.

signs of depression

If you recognize the symptoms of depression in someone else prompt them to seek help. Too often we don’t take that helping step when we should, only to find out much later that the condition was being hidden and much more serious than realized. A depressed person often needs and wants some assistance from a family member or friend to prompt them to seek professional help.

If someone appears very depressed or suicidal help them to get assistance immediately by calling Open Line Open Mind 613-310-OPEN or taking them to the Emergency Room of the nearest hospital.

Assertion Group for Women

8 Weekly sessions starting in April 2008

Learn about assertion and assertion behaviours. Practice using those behaviours in social situations.

Group Leader: Eva Mourelatos M.A. Contact QCS at 613-966-4262 for more information

Caregiver Stress

Andrew Bucknall, M.S.W., R.S.W.

Caregivers are people who take care of other adults or children who are ill or disabled. Most often caregivers are parents, spouses or children of aging parents. Many families with their own children are also providing care to aging parents, known as the “sandwich generation”. According to the 2002 General Social Survey (GSS), almost 3 out of 10 Canadians between the ages of 45 and 64 are in “http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/11-008XIE/2005001/articles/7033.pdf” the sandwich generation (i.e. have children under 25 living with them and eldercare responsibilities). Of these families 83% also have employment responsibilities. The loved ones being taken care of usually need help with basic daily tasks. Caregivers find themselves performing many activities for their loved ones including cooking, cleaning, bathing, banking, shopping, enforcing rules, ensuring safety, managing medical appointments, managing medications, providing supportive counselling, etc.

Caregiver stress is the emotional strain of caregiving. Caregivers typically put their own needs aside and report difficulty in looking after their own health in terms of exercise, nutrition, and doctor’s visits. The result is that caregivers often end up feeling angry, anxious, isolated, and sad. Common symptoms include problems sleeping, changes in eating habits, feeling tired and fatigued most of the time, being easily angered, irritated or saddened, frequent headaches, stomach aches, or other health problems, and feelings of guilt from the conflict of caring for the loved one and needing time for yourself.

Taking care of yourself is easier said than done. However, the benefits of relearning to care for yourself will have positive impacts on your health (physical and emotional), your relationships, your work, and your ability to become a better caregiver. Some tips for decreasing caregiver stress include relaxation/stress management techniques, making special efforts to get proper sleep, eating healthier foods, exercising, establishing a daily routine, staying in touch with friends and family, asking for and accepting help, joining a support group, nurturing your spirituality, and taking one day at a time.

Caregiver Stress

Andrew Bucknall offers individual, couple, family and group counselling. He is a registered social worker who completed his Master of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University. This year he will be offering a group for caregivers. This 9 session course can be covered by most EAP’s. Please call if you are interested in attending.
Caregiver Group Beginning: April, 2008

Caregivers are those who are caring for loved ones affected by physical or mental illness, and/or aging. Many families are also caring for their children and aging parents, known as the “sandwich generation”.

The impact of stress can significantly affect one’s emotional health, physical health, performance at work, and interpersonal relationships. It is common for caregivers to have an increase in colds, flus, sick days, fatigue, anger outbursts, tearful moments, and feelings of being overwhelmed. Enhancing coping strategies is important for managing the significant stress of caring for loved ones with health needs.

An essential component of the group is the mutual support obtained from sharing your experiences in a safe and accepting environment. You are not alone.

Group Leader: Andrew Bucknall, M.S.W., R.S.W. Andrew Bucknall obtained his M.S.W. from Wilfrid Laurier University. He also received a B.S.W. and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Western Ontario. Andrew is experienced in working with individuals and families affected by serious illnesses.

Caregiver Group
Beginning: April, 2008

Caregivers are those who are caring for loved ones affected by physical or mental illness, and/or aging. Many families are also caring for their children and aging parents, known as the “sandwich generation”.

The impact of stress can significantly affect one’s emotional health, physical health, performance at work, and interpersonal relationships. It is common for caregivers to have an increase in colds, flus, sick days, fatigue, anger, outbursts, tearful moments, and feelings of being overwhelmed. Enhancing coping strategies is important for managing the significant stress of caring for loved ones with health needs.

An essential component of the group is the mutual support obtained from sharing your experiences in a safe and accepting environment. You are not alone.

Group Leader: Andrew Bucknall, M.S.W., R.S.W.

Andrew Bucknall obtained his M.S.W. from Wilfrid Laurier University. He also received a B.S.W. and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Western Ontario. Andrew is experienced in working with individuals and families affected by serious illnesses.

Quinte Counselling Services Inc.

208 John Street
Belleville, Ontario, K8N 3G1
Tel: 613-966-4262
Fax: 613-966-4265
Toll Free: 1-800-527-7793
qcs@qxplore.com www.qxplore.com

QUINTE COUNSELLING SERVICES INC.

Qxplore employee assistance program

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Serving clients in Central and Eastern Ontario with a focus on Napanee, Belleville, Trenton, Quinte West, Prince Edward County, Hastings County, Lennox and Addington County and Northumberland County.