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Social Media, Depression, and Loneliness: How to Beat the Facebook Blues

It’s no secret that social media connects us like never before. In an instant, we can snap pictures and post our whereabouts (think that selfie from your backpacking trip in Europe) and also keep tabs on what our friends are up to. I love social media. It has been an integral part of my professional life and is a great way to keep in touch with my loved ones. But it is not without its problems.
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In the past few years, there has been public and medical concern about such topics as cyber-bullying and too much screen time (particularly for young people). As a psychotherapist, I’d like to address one more issue as it relates to mental health and social media: that of internet loneliness, depression, and feelings of low self-esteem.

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Are You a Guilt Tripper? Studio 5

When it comes to our relationships, we often spend time trying to figure out problems (how can we get a spouse to listen more, how can we get children to be more obedient, etc.). But what if you are the problem? Might be a bit of an uncomfortable idea, but the truth is that often times it’s easier to spot shortcomings in someone else than it is to see them in ourselves. I encourage you to look in the mirror as we explore the following topic: Are you a guilt tripper? This involves using guilt as a form of emotional manipulation to get someone to think or act a certain way. It’s something that we’ve all done at times.

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Is Social Media Dragging You Down?: Studio 5

The original purpose of social media is to connect us, and yet for many women, looking in on others’ lives can leave us feeling inferior, jealous, isolated, or dissatisfied. So how can we put all these posts and pictures in perspective when we seem to get discouraged by them? There’s been quite a bit of research done on how social media affects us psychologically and emotionally. Here are a few tips to help you if you find that it’s dragging you down:

Social media drags you down(1)

1. Be Intentional & Interact Directly

Studies have shown that always consuming, or simply binge reading and looking at picture after picture online can negatively impact you. I encourage you to instead intentionally research, seek out information, and connect with people in your life. Engage more and be purposeful; don’t just mindlessly scroll through your feed to fill time.
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Ask Julie: How Do I Open up Emotionally to my Therapist?

Q: How do I open up to my therapist? I am constantly worried that he might think I’m trying to get attention. I have an eating disorder, and I’m slightly overweight (according to my BMI). I’m just not able to be truly open and honest. He really is a great therapist, and I have a deeper connection with him than most others in my life. I have these feelings outside of therapy, but when I go in, I put on a face that everything is ok. How do I work on this to communicate better?

A: Great question! The emotional pattern of guarding your feelings is likely part of the reason you’re in therapy in the first place. I think the first step is to tell you’re therapist that you’re having a hard time opening up! Watch the video for complete answer.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

How to Beat the Winter Blues: Dealing with Seasonal Depression

The winter months can bring excitement and joy as we celebrate the holidays, decorate the tree, and spend time with our loves ones. However, it can be quite a different experience for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD). For these individuals, winter can be a time of gloom, despair, and hopelessness.

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Ask Julie: Is this Depression, Personality Disorder, or Bipolar?

Q: Well I’m 19, but I don’t feel 19. I have so many things going on in my life that it’s hard to keep up with everything. I’m a full time worker, a full time student and a part time gym rat. I’m also in a relationship. There is no time in the day for me to do anything and everything I do always feels rushed. Even though I’m interacting with my coworkers, friends, or girlfriend during the day, I feel empty and numb to it all, like everything is just an act. As far as feelings go, like I said, I’m numb. I feel as if my best friend or mother could die and I wouldn’t care, and I feel as though to a certain extent that I don’t care even for my girlfriend. But on the flip side, I don’t want to be alone. It scares me to think that me and my girlfriend would breakup. I laugh and joke but don’t know why I do.
I really want to know what’s wrong with me because I was never like this before. Or if I was, it was deep down and is now just surfacing and I can’t handle it. I WANT TO BE HAPPY AGAIN.

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Ask Julie: I’m So Lonely But I Should Be Happy

Q: Simply put, I’m very lonely.
 I should be happy.  I just graduated college and starting my masters’ degree.  I own my own home. I have a job. I’m very fit. I try to do things that are social, but most of the things I do are by myself because I don’t have friends. 
I’ve always had a boyfriend, and finally realized that they were a crutch, so I’ve been single for the past 2 years and concentrated on myself and my education. But being alone night after night and not having anyone to do things with is terrible. I’m considerate and friendly, but I just don’t know how to find friends. Seems like I’ve even lost my mojo in dating. I don’t feel like the person I used to be, and maybe I’m not anymore in a good way, but I can’t figure out why I don’t have any friends and am living a solitary life. It’s so lonely. What can I do?

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Ask Julie: Am I Depressed?

Q: So five months ago, I moved from Chicago to a new school. I thought it would be great to move to a new school, but I was wrong. It isn’t and I’m still not making any close friends. Everyone already has all their groups and best friends, so it’s really hard for me. I still haven’t found Read more

Ask Julie: I Feel Completely Empty Inside

Q: I do not feel anymore. My lack of empathy has reached its highest peak. I do not feel the need to socialize with anyone at all. As self – destructive as it may seem, a complete and constant escape from reality doesn’t look so bad after all. I just can’t help it. My heart is full of nothing but emptiness. How do I get my emotions back ?

A: The emptiness and numbness you’re describing sounds to me like it might be depression. I suggest that you get a mental health evaluation right away so you can get an accurate diagnosis and recommendations for treatment. Watch the video to hear the complete answer.

Take good care of yourself!