Complex trauma can be debilitating and affect a person's quality of life. According to the the Center for treatment of anxiety order and mood orders, complex trauma can occur in more than one form. Understanding what creates complex trauma can help us to identify when it’s present. When you know what your facing you can create a better plan for action.
Complex trauma is often referred to as PTSD. Oftentimes, people mistakenly believe that the only people who can be diagnosed are soldiers or witnesses of violent crimes. In reality, complex trauma or PTSD can present itself from a multitude of situations. This article will take a look at some of the incidents that could cultivate complex trauma as well as the symptoms associated. Being able to identify potential PTSD can empower you to help and take action.
Main Common Causes Of Complex Trauma
Complex trauma is created by repeated traumatic incidents. Dr. Courtois from Psychology today was able to summarize the events that can cause complex trauma. She wrote about her findings in an article called, “Understanding Complex Trauma, Complex Reactions, and Treatment Approaches” A lot of readers were surprised to learn that complex trauma can extend out to events that don’t involve physical abuse or violence. The research shows instead that prolonged exposure to harmful situations can be traumatic.
For a child, a harmful situation could be an emotionally abusive parent. Children are completely dependent upon responsible authority figures to survive. Trauma occurs when these authority figures cause the child to suffer neglect or maltreatment. As a result of the neglect feelings of negative feelings start to form. When the child is repeatedly exposed to traumatic events, complex trauma will start to form. The child will be living in an unsafe version of reality. This uncertain world presents the child with an intense level of fear, anxiety, and stress.
Complex trauma can occur in both children and in adults. For either one, the trauma would have to present itself as inescapable. For example being in an abusive relationship without any chance of escaping. With no foreseeable end, the individual will be subjected to an endless harmful environment. Perceiving yourself to be trapped in a bad situation for a long period of time can lead to PTSD.
Symptoms Associated With Complex Trauma
Emotional pain can start to form from immediately after the first traumatic event. Guilt is often associated with this emotional pain. A deep-rooted guilt that can stay with a child for a lifetime. According to,The Very Well Mind, guilt is formed when the individual thinks the trauma is their fault. This guilt can be a heavy burden for both children and adults.
Guilt is associated with complex trauma regardless of the triggering incident. An individual can experience guilt from sexual abuse, physical abuse, combat exposure and more. The guilt can start to turn inwards even deeper and evolve into shame. Shame for not preventing the trauma or shame for talking about it. Either way, the shame is serious and if untreated can lead to depression and suicidal tendencies. The national center for PTSD says that it is more common for victims of abuse to commit suicides.
Victims Of Complex Trauma Can Be Harmful To Themselves
Suicide isn’t the only risk presented to those who suffer from complex trauma. Having an intensely negative inner dialogue is another side effect. Psych Alive says that left unchecked this inner voice can take a major toll on self-confidence. Self-criticism and debilitating self-thoughts are just two signs of complex trauma. It’s worth noting that most people experience some form of an inner critic. However, for victims of complex trauma the negative inner voice is more destructive.
The very nature of complex trauma circulates around isolation. The individual has to feel like they can’t escape the situation they are in. This setup allows for the negative inner voice to be more prevalent. The isolation subjects the individual to an endlessly harsh thinking pattern. With a harmful thinking pattern in place, destructive lifestyle patterns usually surface. For example, a child who was emotionally abused may seek out an abusive adult relationship.
Take The Next Step To Healing Complex Trauma
Once you think you’ve identified complex trauma you can begin to take action. You do not have to be alone in your journey. The Oakville Wellness Center is staffed with experienced professionals who are dedicated to helping people heal.
The Oakville Wellness Center staff members are experienced with both diagnosing and treating complex trauma. Their onsite therapist staff includes a psychotherapist, life coach, occupational therapist and speech-language pathologist. All of their therapists have received a full thorough training and are registered. Many of the therapist services will be covered by insurance plans.
If you need to take action towards feeling better, they will welcome you with open arms.
No relationship is perfect, but sometimes what appears to be just a small communication issue might be hiding something deeper. Codependency and trauma are two issues that can wreak havoc in both romantic and familial relationships. People with codependent personality disorders and individuals who have experienced trauma can often have unhealthy coping mechanisms that may leave them feeling anxious, hopeless, or depressed.
If you’re in a relationship where you feel like you’re giving much more than receiving, fear conflict or rejection from your partner, or have difficulty expressing your feelings, wants, and needs, you could be traumatized or have a codependent personality disorder.
What is Codependency?
Codependency, simply put, is a type of dysfunctional relationship where one individual consistently puts the needs of others before their own. Codependent individuals tend to be passive “people pleasers,” and they will go to extreme measures to try to avoid conflict, abandonment, and rejection from others. Other symptoms of codependent personality disorder can include:
Those with codependent personality disorder can ignore their own needs for so long that they become chronically fatigued. Along with feeling exhausted, they may begin to feel hopeless, helpless, or even incompetent. They may try to “help” someone they care about in unhealthy ways, such as enabling. Enabling is a behavior that codependent people may use in an attempt to relieve potential tension in a relationship. Enabling includes making excuses for a person’s repeated actions, ignoring or belittling problematic behaviors, bailing someone out multiple times, or covering up a person’s illegal or dangerous activities.
What is Trauma?
Trauma is described as an emotional or psychological response to a stressful or disturbing event. Because trauma is subjective, it covers a broad range of different events. For example, a person could be traumatized from childhood emotional neglect, while someone else can experience trauma after escaping from natural disasters such as hurricanes. Due to the many types of traumatic experiences someone could have endured, psychologists have categorized trauma into three main categories in order to help victims:
Trauma can happen at any point in someone’s life, and each person reacts to a traumatic event differently. However, regardless of the type of trauma endured, trauma victims often share many of the same symptoms. These can include:
Differences Between Trauma and Codependency
Trauma and codependency share several of the same symptoms, but the reason behind the symptoms are entirely different. People who have experienced trauma may feel anxious or deeply depressed because they were hurt, witnessed a horrific event, or lost a loved one. On the other hand, those who struggle with codependency could feel anxious and depressed due to fear of being unliked or abandoned and constantly taking care of other people.
Pete Walker, M.A., discovered in his years of study that trauma victims and codependent individuals have different responses to the “four F’s,” which stand for fight, flight, freeze, and fawn. He notes that when confronted with stressful situations, trauma victims tend to “freeze,” or dissociate to distance themselves from the problem. Those with codependent personality disorder instead “fawns,” or tries to become as useful or helpful as possible in order to try and escape pain or punishment.
Coping with Trauma and Codependency
Candace Plattor, M.A., says the important first step is to start working towards a “healthy balance” of assertiveness. Saying “no” when you don’t want to do something and being ready to face potentially negative reactions from others can slowly ease you out of people-pleasing behaviors.
Coping with trauma and codependent behaviors can be difficult to handle on your own, but there is help and hope. At Oakville Wellness Center, there are trained therapists available to help you manage your symptoms and begin your recovery. Here, therapists are often covered by insurance, and there are evening and weekend appointments available. If you’re ready to take the next step towards healing from trauma or codependency, you can book your appointment online today.
Everyone you’re close to has likely disappointed you or hurt your feelings in some way at some point. Maybe your significant other forgot your birthday, or your friend accidentally said something hurtful. Occasional hurt feelings in close relationships are to be expected, and once your loved ones realize they’ve disappointed you, they will likely apologize and promise to be better in the future.
But what happens when your loved ones continue the same behavior after you’ve told them multiple times that it hurts you? It can be easier to continually say, “It’s OK” and forgive them, but it can cause bitterness and resentment to grow within you. On the other hand, standing up to the other person and explaining that their behavior is unacceptable can seem too harsh. Navigating this grey area between acceptance of your loved ones and expecting more from them can be a delicate process, but it is necessary to learn the difference between occasional human mistakes and toxic behaviors.
When to Set Boundaries
The difference between an occasional mistake and potentially toxic behavior will become apparent over time. For example, if a friend shows up late to meet you, and they profusely apologize while explaining what made them late, that’s a forgivable mistake. But if that same friend continues to show up late, week after week, it can start to impact your schedule when you spend time waiting for them to arrive. That’s a valid reason for you to assert yourself and ask your friend to respect your time by managing their own schedule better.
Another common example of toxic behavior can be found in the workplace. Your boss might routinely ignore your input in meetings, or you may struggle with passive-aggressive co-workers. In 2016, 62% of workers interviewed reported that they had been treated rudely at least once a month while at work.
Working in a toxic environment or navigating a troubled relationship can be exhausting, but the stress can be lessened by establishing healthy boundaries for yourself.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
The first step in setting boundaries is knowing your personal wants, needs and values. Boundaries should be set with your personal comfort level in mind. You might have both flexible and non-negotiable boundaries. For example, a flexible boundary could include your personal schedule; you may prefer to work until 5 p.m., but you can work until 5:30 if needed. A non-negotiable boundary relates to aspects of your life such as your personal health or your family’s needs. If someone in your life seems to be constantly infringing upon your boundaries, there are some steps to keep in mind.
Advice for Dealing with Difficult Relationships
When someone in your life continues to disrespect or hurt you, it can take a negative toll on your mental and emotional health. Beginning to start establishing boundaries for yourself can be a difficult process, whether you’re struggling with workplace tension or dealing with a negative friend. At Oakville Wellness Center, qualified therapists are available for individual and couples counseling to help you begin a better chapter in your life.
Some people believe that establishing boundaries means keeping people at a distance or pushing others away, but this isn’t the case. Dr. Dana Gionta says that establishing healthy boundaries means knowing your emotional, physical, and mental limits. When those limits are crossed, you may become uncomfortable or even resentful towards others.
Unhealthy boundaries can occur with anyone in your life, including your romantic partner, friends, and family members. Learning about the common signs of unhealthy boundaries can help you recognize relationships in your own life that may need healthy boundaries established.
Boundaries in Romantic Relationships
Boundaries can sometimes be hard to discern in romantic relationship because partners are inclined to share not only tangible items with each other, but also secrets, fears, and other personal emotions. Counselor Gary Gilles says that healthy boundaries should distinguish the responsibilities of both partners. He states that each person is responsible for:
Healthy boundaries foster better communication and responsibility for both you and your partner. But sometimes emotions can cloud your judgment and lead to unhealthy boundaries. Some common boundary infractions in relationships can include:
Boundaries in Friendships
Since each one of your friendships differ, your boundaries will likely vary as well. People will naturally let their closest friends know more about them, but be more guarded when it comes to new friends. Healthy boundaries between friends should include:
Have you ever had a friend who never showed up on time, or a friend that talked about you behind your back? These are common boundary violations that can occur in both old and new friendships. Other unhealthy boundaries can include:
Boundaries With Parents
As you grow older, boundaries between you and your parents are going to change. Whether you’re just about to move out of your parent’s house or if you’ve been living independently for years, stay tuned to signs of unhealthy boundaries such as:
How to Begin Establishing Healthy Boundaries
Standing up for yourself and talking to others about your limits is a challenging process. If talking about all of your boundaries sounds too overwhelming, that’s OK. Dr. Gionta recommends starting to practice being assertive in small ways first. You could begin by telling a friend “no” if you don’t want to do something. Below are some more steps you can take in establishing healthy boundaries.
It can also be helpful to seek support if you feel defeated by unhealthy boundaries. You can start by taking this relationship assessment created by Oakville Wellness Center to gauge your relationship health. If your results concern you, or if you just need support, Oakville Wellness Center has well-qualified therapists to help you develop the skills and confidence needed to start establishing healthy boundaries.
A selfless heart can heal a thousand wounds, but first it must heal itself. There are over 43 million adults in the United States outside of the healthcare industry who have taken it upon themselves to care for another. Whether it’s an ill parent or an injured spouse, the call to action is second nature to these caring individuals. But while watching over others, it is easy to forget to take time of oneself.
Take Time For Yourself
The largest population of home caregivers are known as the sandwich population. These are often adults with both young children and elderly parents to take care of. Between ensuring the kids are doing their best in school, caring for their parents, and working, often full time, these caregivers find little to no time for themselves. If you have found yourself squished into this spot, it is important to take a breath and step back.
Although it may seem like you need to take care of everyone, you are likely forgetting the most important person-- yourself. According to researchers, caregivers who take no time for themselves can become extremely stressed. This can lead to harmful habits including smoking and excessive drinking. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, caregivers who spend 9 hours or more a day caring for someone else have double the risk of heart disease, and are 63% more likely to die compared to non-caregivers of the same age.
Physical Signs of Caregiver Stress
Because caregivers seem so resilient, it can be hard to notice the signs of stress. Even the most exhausted people can fake a smile and say “everything is alright.” There are some physical signs of stress that are easy to pinpoint. The first is constant exhaustion. A caregiver may try to ignore this symptom, saying they are just tired because they work too much. While this may be true, severe exhaustion is a sign of depression. If the caregiver feel tired even after getting a full night’s sleep, or uses exhaustion as a reason not to get out of bed, it is time to seek help.
Another physical sign is weight gain or loss. If a caregiver is ignoring their physical appearance, it is a sign they are stressed or overworked. If they are losing weight, they could be skipping meals, which can cause low-blood sugar. Again, this is also a sign of depression. If it is not addressed quickly enough, depression can lead to thoughts of suicide.
Emotional Signs of Caregiver Stress
Not all signs of stress can be seen by the naked eye. If you are worried about a caregiver, even if they look fine on the outside, it is important to have a conversation with them. Sometimes all anyone needs is an ear willing to listen. Some of the most common signs of stress include headaches, feeling numb, and trouble focusing. When the stress has reached this level, professional help may be required.
When someone you love is sick, it can be difficult to allow someone else to help them. You do not need to give up the reigns entirely, but hiring respite care is a great first step. Respite care is planned, temporary caregiver for your loved one. Hiring someone you trust to help out one to two days a week can help you relieve stress and find time for yourself.
Instead of spending 24 hours a day by someone’s side, make sure you are scheduling breaks. If being a caregiver is essentially your full-time job, treat it that way. Make sure you step a way for 10 minute breaks, and ensure you are eating lunch. It may feel selfish at first, but in reality, it is usually a benefit to all parties involved. By taking time for yourself, you will come back refreshed, ready to take care of your loved one.
It is important to also take care of your mental health. By talking to a therapist, you can clear your mind of stress. You can also talk through any burdens you are feeling. This is especially important if you are showing signs of depression or have had thoughts of suicide. It is never too late to get help.
Alcoholism is a growing problem in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 15 million American adults suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder, but less than 3 percent are getting help. Researchers say one reason for the discrepancy, is those suffering from alcoholism may not realize the symptoms.
When reflecting on your alcohol use, the first question you may want to ask is, “how much am I drinking?” But the question “how often am I drinking” is also insightful. If the possibility of going a day (or multiple days) without drinking makes you feel stressed or anxious, it may be a sign of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Also, if it takes a large number of drinks for you to feel “buzzed,” that is also a sign of abuse. Alcohol tolerance builds up overtime. If it takes an entire 12 pack just to feel buzzed, you should seek help.
Daily drinking can cause you to feel “hungover,” even if you didn’t have a drink. Because our bodies develop a tolerance for alcohol, if you drink too much, your body will start to depend on alcohol to feel normal. By skipping a drink for just one day, your body can start to go through withdrawal. Withdrawal takes many forms, but some common symptoms include feeling like you’re hungover, mood swings, depression, and shakiness.
When abusing alcohol, one’s priorities can quickly change. Instead of going out with friends, an alcoholic may want to stay at home to hide their addiction. Alcohol changes your emotional state, so people who abuse alcohol are more likely to get angry or irrationally upset. When approached by family for friends about their abuse, alcoholics will likely get angry and yell. They may also hide away from loved ones simply to avoid the subject. If you find yourself telling lies to avoid your significant other or children, you should seek help. Not only is this a sign of alcoholism, but it can cause a long-term strain on important family relationships.
After isolating oneself from family and friends, alcohol abusers often find a new group of bad company. Alcoholics will seek other people with abuse issues, so there is no judgement. If you have a new group of friends, and your main activity is drinking at the bar, you should seek help. These “friends” are enabling your addiction, and vice versa. This can lead you to have crooked priorities. Instead of being home with your kids, or focusing on work, you may ditch your priorities to be at the bar with your new group. If this sounds like you, Oakville Wellness Center may be able to help you get your priorities back in line.
Emotional Warning Signs
Not all signs of alcohol abuse can be seen by the outside world. In many cases, only you can feel the emotional warning signs. The most common sign is denial. If all the examples above sound like they fit your life, but you are making excuses for each scenario, you are in denial. It’s hard to admit to a problem, but, as the cliche goes, the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem.
You may also feel shame because of your drinking. If you are drinking alone or actively hiding from loved ones, this is another sign of abuse. If you fall into this category, reach out to someone you trust and explain why you have been abusing. By reaching out, they can help you get back on the right path.
If any of the above scenarios relate to you, it is important to seek help right away. Over 88,000 people die from alcohol abuse every year, making it the third most preventable death in the United States. You do not have to be another statistic.
Once you have admitted you have a problem, the next step is seeking help. At Oakville, we multiple counsellors who are ready to listen to your story. Together, we can end the abusive cycle, so you can return to your life.
Motivation is the thing that gets us up in the morning and keeps us going all day. At least, that’s the idea. The truth is that motivation can often be fleeting, and it’s very common for people to have trouble finding that spark to seize the day. There’s no simple cure for a lack of motivation because it can arise for a multitude of reasons. Factors ranging from your social life and family issues to your personal health can all have a significant impact on how you function from day to day.
Thus, the path to finding more motivation in your daily life is a personal one. Whatever your own struggles may be, we encourage you to consider these suggestions to see if any of them work for you. Some may be more helpful than others, and some may not help much at all. That being said, you may find that the simple act of searching for more motivation will help by itself, opening you up to new ways of looking at yourself and your world.
Clean Your Room
This piece of advice may sound like a chore, but it actually comes from psychologist Ralph Ryback of Psychology Today -- and a number of other important psychologists and researchers agree. Disorganization can loom over you and feel like an impending task (or a past failure of cleanliness) which can lead to a defeated attitude on a subconscious level. Other studies have even shown that people who have cleaner houses tend to be healthier: a finding that supports the notion that making one positive change in your life (such as tidying up) can inspire you to make a succession of additional positive changes.
Sometimes, the cumulative stress of our daily lives just becomes too much. If you find yourself just wanting to get away from it all, consider including exercise into your daily or weekly routine. In John Ratey’s book, Spark, the psychiatrist delves into the various benefits that exercise has on the brain. By elevating your heart rate for thirty minutes just three times a week, studies have shown drastic improvements in overall energy, social skills and focus. Additionally, there is significant evidence that shows how exercise helps to fight depression and anxiety, conditions that are all too common these days.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an “exercise person”, it can be relatively easy to implement a more active lifestyle. For example, going for a walk each day may make a significant difference in your motivation. Just like with cleaning your room, getting a workout in before starting your day can give you a sense of accomplishment to build off of.
You may think that successful people are just naturally motivated. In fact, this is usually not the case. The difference is that many highly-motivated people have just learned how to best channel energy to their benefit. This is something that you too, with a little practice, can accomplish.
The biggest trick to staying motivated is not to rely on it. Motivation comes and goes just like happiness and sadness; it’s only natural. Accepting that fact is the first step to learning how to overcome it. Instead of relying on motivation, rely on discipline. By setting clear and attainable goals for yourself, you can fight a lack of motivation with sheer willpower and determination.
One way to do this is by using SMART goals. Originally invented as an ultra-effective way to set goals, it is now relied on by countless people in order to gauge aspirations and accomplish tasks. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By setting a goal while following these guidelines, you can ensure that you have the best chance at achieving it.
At Oakville Wellness Center, our expert therapists will always be there to help you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information or an appointment.
Giving compliments to others is a great way to build relationships and strengthen bonds between friends. People tend to enjoy receiving compliments because kind words and positive feedback are encouraging and motivating, and they boost self-esteem. In addition to making a person feel good about themselves, flattering words also have numerous health benefits for the recipient. People who receive positive words frequently are shown to higher levels of productivity and decreased levels of stress, and they experience the same emotional payoff as they would have if they received a tangible reward instead. Researcher Norihiro Sadata, one of the creators of a study about the benefits of receiving compliments, says that getting a compliment is “as much as a social reward as being rewarded money.” With the evidence of how money is a key motivator, it is no surprise that people who receive praise have high levels of performance.
Although the recipient of kind words seems to benefit the most from compliments, giving compliments can be equally rewarding. However, while everyone loves to receive accolades, praising others does not always come easily. Sometimes giving compliments can be intimidating because people are not sure how their words will be received, or they are afraid they will come off as disingenuous. It can also be difficult for someone who has social anxiety or someone who is nervous around others to approach someone and commend them. If you struggle with any of these insecurities, giving a compliment might be a challenge, but with practice, you can become skilled in this area and reap the benefits of boosting others up with kindness. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you work on becoming more confident when giving compliments.
Avoid giving compliments randomly or without meaning. Compliments come across better when they are sincere and the recipient knows you truly mean what you are saying. Always make sure that you are being moderate with your praise. You do not have to be over-the-top with your compliments to be genuine. Inflated praise will make your comments seem insincere and might make the recipient uncomfortable. Take the time to truly acknowledge someone’s strengths and approach them with genuine kind words. A genuine compliment will go a long way because it will be more significant to the recipient.
Make sure your motives for giving the compliment are pure so that you do not give backhanded compliments or seem like you are giving praise for your own benefit. Empty flattery and kissing-up are not helpful for you are the person you are complimenting. Make sure you are not offering your words in order to receive a compliment in return. When you offer words of admiration, you should be doing it solely for the benefit of the other person.
Regardless of how sincere your intention is, a general compliment will not be as significant as one that recognizes something specific. Instead of praising someone for doing good work, praise them for the specific action or project they completed that demonstrated their good work and include examples. Saying, “Your presentation was great” is not as meaningful as saying, “The information you shared in your presentation today was insightful and well-organized, and I learned some helpful new skills I will be sure to implement.” Try and focus on character traits and behaviors rather than physical attributes, and be as specific as possible when highlighting these characteristics.
There is nothing more sincerely flattering than knowing someone sees you and that they can specifically pinpoint something they appreciate about you. Take the time to pay attention to those around you so that you can notice their personal strengths. As you focus on others and their positive qualities, genuine compliments will come to you more naturally. Make it a priority to be present when you are spending time with others and actively look for opportunities to offer praise.
Many people are afraid to praise others because, in their mind, they see compliment giving as ambitious, grandiose gesture. Giving a compliment does not have to be complicated or overly formal. When you see an opportunity to offer someone a genuine compliment, simply walk over to them and casually give them your positive remarks. Notice and offer admiration for small actions. If someone has a new haircut that looks good on them, let them know. You do not have to wait for someone to do something major or for them to have some sort of big accomplishment in order to recognize them. It will be less intimidating to give compliments when you see them as quick, casual remarks rather than grand gestures.
Be Open to Receiving Compliments
If you are not able to receive compliments well, you might struggle to give them to others. Learn how to take a compliment in stride. When someone praises your work or offers you a positive remark, smile and say thank you. Resist the urge to diminish their compliment by denying or negating their kind words. Do not automatically return a compliment unless it is sincere. When you receive a compliment that is truly flattering, consider the way they gave their compliment to you and allow that experience to influence how you give compliments to others.
For help communicating and building positive relationships with others, contact Oakville Wellness Center and visit their blog.
Giving is an essential component of a positive relationship, and those who give to others regularly often feel more positive and have higher self-esteem (Weinstein & Ryan 2010) than those who do not give. When you are generous with your time, energy, or money, you not only benefit the person to whom you are giving, but you also experience benefits yourself. One major upside to giving is that your feelings toward and connection with the recipient of your gifts are often strengthened. Giving in a relationship can often be more satisfying and rewarding than receiving because it builds intimacy and provides advantages for both the giver and the taker.
While generosity is great, in order for a relationship to be successful there needs to be a balance of giving and taking. This is because receiving a gift can have negative feelings associated with it like a feeling of obligation (Goes & Boster, 2005). When a member of the relationship gives too much without receiving, or takes too much without offering anything in return, the relationship can fall apart. Although giving and taking often will not be an even, 50-50 split between two people, it should always feel mutual, and no one should feel like the other person is taking advantage of them. This article will explore ways you can give in your relationship without sacrificing yourself, and how you can set boundaries to make sure no one takes too much in a relationship.
One of the most important ways to make sure your relationship maintains a proper balance is to communicate with your partner. Communication is essential to healthy relationships, and without it you will find your partnership will begin to suffer. Have a conversation with your partner about what healthy giving and taking looks like. Explain what you want to see from the relationship and listen when to what your partner wants. Make sure there is adequate time and opportunity for both of you to speak, and come up with strategies that address both of your needs.
If your partner communicates that he or she is feeling like they are doing the brunt share of giving in your relationship, do not get defensive. Take the time to have a productive conversation where both of you are listening to one another and truly considering what the other has to say. When a relationship feels too one-sided, it is destined to fail. Prevent this from happening by having regular conversations to express feelings and solve issues regarding giving to one another.
If your partner is not using the strategies you developed together and you are beginning to feel like you are giving too much in the relationship, set boundaries. Setting boundaries is key to having a healthy relationship, but it can be tricky. In order to set effective boundaries, it is important for you to be self-aware and communicate clearly with your partner. Take a look at yourself, and make note of your thoughts and feelings and the actions that trigger them. It is okay to have problems with different aspects of your relationship and to convey your feelings to your partner.
Unhealthy taking occurs when a giver feels overwhelmed or pained by the amount of time or energy they are sharing, or they do not receive anything in return. When the give-take balance of your relationship shifts in a way that is uncomfortable for you, present your boundary in a loving, but direct way. Telling your partner, “I love spending time with you, but I cannot stay up until 3 a.m. talking to you when I have work in the morning. I would love to dedicate time in the evening instead” is a way to reassure them that you care for them while expressing a clear boundary. If you do not set boundaries in your relationship, you will find that instead of receiving joy from giving, you will feel resentment. Set boundaries to preserve the relationship and to prevent losing your sense of self and happiness.
Diversify Your Giving
There are many different ways in which you can give to your partner. If you make sure you are giving in a variety of ways, you will not only help your partner feel loved, but you will also keep yourself from being overwhelmed. Here are some of the ways you can give in your relationship:
When you are tempted to get angry or to judge your partner, pause and give them patience and love instead. This can help you to have more productive conversations and to address conflict in a positive manner.
Give Praise and Thanks
Noticing and speaking up about little things that your partner does that you love doesn't cost you anything, but can benefit your relationship. When you see them successfully complete a challenging task or activity, give them a compliment. When they go out of their way to do something for you, thank them.
Give Time and Attention
Show up for the events that matter to your partner. Dedicate time during your day to listen to how they are feeling. This is the lifeblood of a healthy relationship. Giving time and attention can exhausting if you give too much of it, so make sure that you are setting boundaries, too.
Sometimes each person in a relationship needs a little space to make sure they are able to re energize, practice introspection, and maintain their sense of self. Do not be afraid to give your partner a space when needed. They were their own person before you, and you do not want them to feel like they are losing themselves. Do not monopolize their time and prevent them from having their own life.
For more tips on understanding yourself, setting clear boundaries, and deepening your relationships through generosity, communication, and love, visit Oakville Wellness Center online today!
Goei, R., & Boster, F. J. (2005). The roles of obligation and gratitude in explaining the effect of favors on compliance. Communication Monographs, 72(3), 284-300.
Weinstein, N., & Ryan, R. (2010). When helping helps: Autonomous motivation for prosocial behavior and its influence on well-being for the helper and recipient. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(2), 222-244.
The act of giving birth is one of the most celebrated in human society. We all know parents who gush about this phenomenal experience and detail the elation they felt in the hours and days following. Popular culture and film are also awash with moving scenes of childhood as couples transition to parenthood against a backdrop of sentimental music and family joy.
What is less often depicted is that once the post-partum dust has settled, the early stages of parenthood can be truly difficult.
Whilst many women suffer the “baby blues” and may be anxious or tearful for short periods of time (usually around one to two weeks) following birth, this can sometimes develop into something more serious.
If symptoms last much longer, or start later into motherhood, postnatal depression is a possibility. Postnatal depression (sometimes also referred to as postpartum depression) is a mood disorder associated with childbirth. It is estimated that approximately 13% of women experience postnatal depression.
Symptoms that you or a loved one may be suffering from postnatal depression include:
What causes postnatal depression?
Unfortunately the answer to this isn’t entirely clear but it is believed to be caused by a combination of factors.
On a physiological level, pregnancy and birth bring with it a whole host of hormonal changes, which may lead to changes in mood. Hormones affect some women to a greater extent than others.
Parents who have suffered from depression prior to childbirth, are much more likely to develop postnatal depression. A family history of mental illness is also a risk factor.
That said, a history of depression does not automatically mean that you will go on to develop depression postpartum. It may be helpful to be aware that you are at risk, so that you can look out for the signs mentioned above.
Aside from this, there are factors relating to the birth process itself that may trigger postnatal depression. These include:
Your home-life may also be influential. Unsuitable housing or money issues may naturally make the transition to parenthood more stressful. Worries relating to work can also hamper your ability to relax and settle into the changes you face.
A strong support network and supportive partner may provide a protective effect against postnatal depression. It is not helpful to spend too much time alone without adult company so if you are feeling isolated it may be helpful to reach out to other parents in the community.
Can men experience postnatal depression?
Although men may not experience the hormonal storm of pregnancy, they may still be subject to its emotional effects. A recent study conducted in Sweden found that 28% of men demonstrated mild levels of depression. Women are routinely screened for postnatal depression while paternal mental health is often overlooked.
The research team added a series of questions to the most commonly used postnatal depression screen, in order to capture the unique symptoms that may be displayed by men. These included working longer hours, irritability and excessive alcohol consumption.
It is not entirely clear whether depression in fathers is a newer phenomenon, or just something which we have only recently begun to explore and detect. Many new fathers face challenges such as trying to balance their work life with their family life as well as decreased sleep and changes in their relationship.
Naturally, depression makes it harder for a new father to invest time in the newborn. Fathers experiencing difficulties should consider that they may have paternal postnatal depression.
How can postnatal depression be treated?
The first step is to speak to your general practitioner. With prevalence rates estimated to lie at about 13%, it is much more common than you think, and health services are trained to recognise the signs and give you the support that you need.
Self-care: It is also crucial at this stage to be kind to yourself. Take care of your primary needs such as getting enough sleep, eating well and doing things that you enjoy. It may feel like you do not have time for this with a young child on your hands, but don’t be afraid to ask others for help.
Talk therapy: As with many psychological difficulties and types of depression, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may be useful. Most experienced therapists will be able to provide a course of CBT and tailor it to the specific difficulties you may be having. Many new parents struggle to live up to the ideal of “perfect parent” and may not have anticipated the difficulties associated with parenthood. CBT can help new parents find a way to think about the difficulties they face and learn better coping mechanisms.
Antidepressants: Antidepressants may also be useful, particularly if the depression is more severe. Some women worry about taking antidepressants whilst breastfeeding but your doctor will be able to provide you with ones that are safe.
One of the worst things about postnatal depression can be feeling alone or unusual in the feelings you are having. This couldn’t be further from the truth and it can help to reach out to national organisations. These can not only provide information and advice but also networks of other parents to talk to.
Cox, J. L., Holden, J. M., & Sagovsky, R. (1987). Detection of postnatal depression. Development of the 10-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. The British journal of psychiatry, 150(6), 782-786.
NHS, Unknown. “Postnatal Depression.” NHS Choices, NHS, 11 Feb. 2016, www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-natal-depression/treatment/.
Psouni, E., Agebjörn, J., & Linder, H. (2017). Symptoms of depression in Swedish fathers in the postnatal period and development of a screening tool. Scandinavian journal of psychology.