Below is information describing common and important concerns that are often misunderstood. If present, the following conditions/symptoms usually fall on a continuum, ranging from mild to severe:

What it is:  A medical condition that needs to be treated, often related to a chemical imbalance or deficiency of neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine) in the brain. These chemicals regulate mood, cognitive functioning, executive functioning, motivation and physical/emotional responses to distress. Clinical depression involves significant and persistent/chronic symptoms that impair daily functioning. Symptoms can include social isolation, sleep disturbance, changes in appetite/weight, thoughts of dying/suicidal ideation, low mood, feelings of emptiness, hopelessness/helplessness, low self worth, feelings of guilt, irritability, low energy/ motivation and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities (anhedonia).

What it is NOT:  A weakness or a personality flaw, or the appropriate sadness that comes with a 'normal' life event (i.e. if you are experiencing a significant loss, you will grieve and be sad! This is to be expected, and does not mean you are depressed).

What it is: Also a medical condition. It involves the central nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic) and chemical imbalances in the brain. It can be related to the release of too many stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, etc.) when exposed to chronic stress (triggering a sense of fear or a 'fight or flight' response when exposed to real or perceived 'danger'). Symptoms can include shortness of breath, undue fear or panic, racing thoughts, heart palpitations, flushing of the skin, excessive perspiration, excessive worry or rumination, sleep disturbance, restlessness, excessive nervousness in specific situations (i.e. in social settings), upset stomach, muscle tension, light-headedness, problems with digestion, chest pain or any number of other kinds of physical discomfort. The etiology of high and impairing levels of anxiety is often rooted in physical or emotional trauma (past or present) that has not been adequately addressed.
What it is NOT:  A weakness or a personality flaw. It is not the kind of stress that is part of a 'normal and healthy' response to a specific stressful circumstance. Feeling anxious can be a good source of information, helping to recognize when there is a real danger and to get out of that situation. Sometimes people are motivated to make desired changes, when they have 'healthy/normal' levels of anxiety about something in their environment.

What it is NOT:  A weakness, an intentional choice or a personality flaw... it is in no way a 'moral' issue.

A hallmark of addiction is the continuing use of drugs/alcohol or participation in a behavior (i.e. gambling, over-eating, over-exercising, excessive spending, excessive internet use, risky sexual behavior, etc.), in spite of experiencing a pattern of negative consequences (over time) related to the substance use or the behavior. 'Negative consequences' can include legal problems, health problems, relationship problems, emotional problems, career problems, financial problems, etc. For example, a person continues to drink heavily, despite being arrested for multiple DUII's, having serious health issues related to alcohol consumption, losing a job or an important relationship(s) related to alcohol consumption, etc.

In addition to experiencing negative consequences, other symptoms of addiction include developing a tolerance (more and more amounts of the substance or increasing levels of engagement in a behavior are needed, to continue to reach the same desired effect), physiological dependence & withdrawal (i.e. cravings), inability to control the behavior/substance use, and/or repeated and unsuccessful efforts to reduce/stop the behavior/substance use.
Addiction is part of a medical condition that is progressive, and ranges on a continuum from mild to severe. It typically creates negative consequences in all areas of life, and needs to be addressed medically/biologically, psychologically and behaviorally.

Complex PTSD:    
LINK to PDF with CPTSD Info 

Adult ADHD: 
~  LINK to Copeland Symptom Checklist

When to seek help for any of the above concerns:
  •  When you are not able to manage symptoms/behaviors on your own
  •  When symptoms/behaviors are impairing your daily functioning
  •  When family or friends express concern about you
  •  When symptoms/behaviors are persistent and enduring and/or becoming more frequent/intense
  •  When you are just generally feeling poorly and/or functioning below your potential

A few options for help & relief:
  • Consult with a professional (i.e. a physician, therapist and/or other healthcare provider)
  • Increase support from family and friends who are stable, healthy and invested in your well-being
  • Identify and become more involved in positive/productive activities & behaviors you find enjoyable
  • Fresh air & physical movement (this doesn't have to be anything extreme... A short walk or sitting outdoors can do wonders)
  • Identify and become involved in creative outlets
  • Breathe deeply into your belly when distressed, at least 10 breaths (this sounds elementary, but breathing is often the first thing that stops under duress... deep breaths can slow down the body's physiological response to stress, which then can reduce the psychological response). 
BFHL Admin Account,
Sep 9, 2017, 10:37 PM
Tirzah Jacob, LPC, CADC-I,
May 1, 2020, 3:27 PM
BFHL Admin Account,
Nov 12, 2019, 7:38 PM
BFHL Admin Account,
Nov 11, 2019, 3:47 PM