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We Offer a Host of Adult Mental Health Services in Park Ridge, IL


Adult Assessment and Psychotherapy

Individual Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can help individuals with moods, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Problems may be situational or long-term in nature, and may include feelings of loss, sadness, depression, anxiety, or adjustment issues.


Life Transitions

Individual psychotherapy can help navigate many life transitions such as a developmental age transition, marriage, divorce, loss of a loved one, birth of a child, chronic illness, job loss or transition, moving, etc. Exploration of personal and/or work relationships may be included.


Men’s Issues/Women’s Issues

Together with your psychologist, you will define goals of treatment and develop strategies to meet those goals.


Relationships

Family Psychotherapy

Family therapy helps change individuals and their supporting environment, making change more likely and sustainable. The therapist will help explore communication skills and adaptive vs. non-adaptive styles of interaction.

Couples Counseling

This is useful in helping couples communicate their frustrations, needs, etc. It may include relationship issues, family challenges of parenting, finances, co-parenting, family conflict, divorce, etc.

Having a baby plays a significant toll on the parents’ relationship. New roles, sleep deprivation, distribution of duties, time demands, finances, work-related responsibilities, stress, hormonal changes, and a lack of communication between couples all contribute to the rapid deterioration of the relationship, according to the Relationship Research Institute. Couples counseling can offer a time and place to communicate feelings and frustrations, and explore ways to re-gain intimacy in your lives.


Stress Management

Stress can be a reaction to a short-lived situation or one over an extended period. Research has shown that stress can damage your physical health by contributing to your hypertension, high cholesterol, headaches and stomach aches, etc.

Stress management training is a proven method of reducing the negative effects of stress in the home and workplace.

For more information about stress management, click here.


The Wellness Model

Wellness is about healthy choices and the prevention of illness. The focus of the wellness model is to explore one’s choices in life proactively. By exploring and developing one’s critical thinking skills we learn about resilience, or the ability to “bounce back” from adversity. This skill set prepares us to make it through any type of situation. People who are resilient are optimistic, happy, contented people.


FYI Understanding Anxiety Disorders and Effective Treatment

Everyone feels anxious from time to time. Stressful situations such as meeting tight deadlines or important social obligations often make us nervous or fearful.

Experiencing mild anxiety may help a person become more alert and focused on facing challenging or threatening circumstances. But individuals who experience extreme fear and worry that does not subside may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. The frequency and intensity of anxiety can be overwhelming and interfere with daily functioning. Fortunately, the majority of people with an anxiety disorder improve considerably by getting effective psychological treatment.

What are the major kinds of anxiety disorders?

There are several major types of anxiety disorders, each with its own characteristics.

People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder have recurring fears or worries, such as about health or finances, and they often have a persistent sense that something bad is just about to happen. The reason for the intense feelings of anxiety may be difficult to identify. But the fears and worries are very real and often keep individuals from concentrating on daily tasks.

Panic Disorder involves sudden, intense, and unprovoked feelings of terror and dread. People who suffer from this disorder generally develop strong fears about when and where their next panic attack will occur, and they often restrict their activities as a result.

A related disorder involves phobias, or intense fears, about certain objects or situations. Specific phobias may involve things such as encountering certain animals or flying in airplanes, while social phobias involve fear of social settings or public places.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is characterized by persistent, uncontrollable, and unwanted feelings or thoughts (obsessions) and routines or rituals (compulsions) in which individuals engage to try to prevent or rid themselves of these thoughts. Examples of common compulsions include washing hands or cleaning house excessively for fear of germs or checking work repeatedly for errors.

Someone who suffers severe physical or emotional trauma such as from a natural disaster or serious accident or crime may experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns become seriously affected by reminders of the event, sometimes months or even years after the traumatic experience. Symptoms such as extreme fear, shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, insomnia, nausea, trembling, and dizziness are common in these anxiety disorders.

Although they may begin at any time, anxiety disorders often surface in adolescence or early adulthood. There is some evidence that anxiety disorders run in families; genes as well as early learning experiences within families seem to make some people more likely than others to experience these disorders.

Why is it important to seek treatment for these disorders?

If left untreated, anxiety disorders can have severe consequences. For example, some people who suffer from recurring panic attacks avoid any situation that they fear may trigger an attack. Such avoidance behavior may create problems by conflicting with job requirements, family obligations, or other basic activities of daily living.

People who suffer from an untreated anxiety disorder often also suffer from other psychological disorders, such as depression, and they have a greater tendency to abuse alcohol and other drugs. Their relationships with family members, friends, and co-workers may become very strained. And their job performance may decline.

Are there effective treatments available for anxiety disorders?

Absolutely. Most cases of anxiety disorder can be treated successfully by appropriately trained mental health professionals such as licensed psychologists. Research has demonstrated that a form of psychotherapy known as “cognitive-behavioral therapy” (CBT) can be highly effective in treating anxiety disorders. Psychologists use CBT to help people identify and learn to manage the factors that contribute to their anxiety.

Behavioral therapy involves using techniques to reduce or stop the undesired behaviors associated with these disorders. For example, one approach involves training patients in relaxation and deep breathing techniques to counteract the agitation and rapid, shallow breathing that accompany certain anxiety disorders. Through cognitive therapy, patients learn to understand how their thoughts contribute to the symptoms of anxiety disorders and how to change those thought patterns to reduce the likelihood of occurrence and the intensity of reaction. The patient’s increased cognitive awareness is often combined with behavioral techniques to help the individual gradually confront and tolerate fearful situations in a controlled, safe environment. Along with psychotherapy, appropriate medications may have a role in treatment. In cases where medications are used, the patient’s care may be managed collaboratively by more than one provider of treatment. It is important for patients to realize that there are side effects to any drugs, which must be monitored closely by the provider who prescribed the medication.

How can licensed psychologists help someone suffering from an anxiety disorder?

Licensed psychologists are highly trained and qualified to diagnose and treat people with anxiety disorders using techniques based on best available research.

Psychologists’ extensive training includes understanding and using a variety of psychotherapies, including CBT. Psychologists sometimes use other approaches to effective treatment in addition to individual psychotherapy. Group psychotherapy, typically involving unrelated individuals who all have anxiety disorders, can be an effective approach to delivering treatment and providing support. Further, family psychotherapy can help family members better understand their loved one’s anxiety and learn new ways of interacting that do not reinforce the anxiety and associated dysfunctional behaviors. Individuals suffering from anxiety disorders may also want to consider mental health clinics or other specialized treatment programs dealing with specific anxiety disorders such as panic or phobias that may be available in their local area.

How long does psychological treatment take?

The large majority of people who suffer from an anxiety disorder are able to reduce or eliminate their anxiety symptoms and return to normal functioning after several months of appropriate psychotherapy. Indeed, many people notice improvement in symptoms and functioning within a few treatment sessions. The patient should be comfortable from the outset with the psychotherapist. Together the patient and psychotherapist should develop an appropriate treatment plan. The patient’s cooperation is crucial, and there must be a strong sense that the patient and therapist are collaborating well as a team to treat the anxiety disorder.

No one plan works well for all patients. Treatment needs to be tailored to the needs of the patient and to the type of disorder, or disorders, from which the individual suffers. The psychotherapist and patient should work together to assess whether a treatment plan seems to be on track. Patients respond differently to treatment, and adjustments to the plan sometimes are necessary.

Anxiety disorders can severely impair a person’s functioning in work, family, and social environments. But the prospects for long-term recovery are good for most individuals who seek appropriate professional treatment. People who suffer from anxiety disorders can work with a qualified and experienced mental health professional such as a licensed psychologist to help them regain control of their feelings and thoughts—and their lives.

Updated June 2010. This document may be reprinted in its entirety without modification. AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION. Visit the Psychology Help Center at www.apa.org/helpcenter for additional information and to find psychologists in your area. 750 First Street NE Washington, DC 20002-4242. A Publication of the American Psychological Association.


FYI Understanding Depression and Effective Treatment

Everyone experiences sadness from time to time. But depression lasts longer, interferes with daily life, and can cause physical pain. Fortunately, depression is highly treatable, and getting effective treatment is crucial. This question-and-answer guide explains depression and how it can be treated successfully.

How does depression differ from occasional sadness?

While everyone occasionally feels sad or “blue,” these feelings tend to pass rather quickly. By contrast, someone with depression experiences extreme sadness or despair that lasts for at least two weeks or longer. Depressed individuals tend to feel helpless and hopeless and to blame themselves for having these feelings. Depression interferes with activities of daily living—such as working or concentrating on tasks, or even eating and sleeping. Other possible symptoms of depression include chronic pain, headaches, or stomachaches. Some people may feel angry or restless for long periods. People who are depressed may become overwhelmed and exhausted and stop participating in certain everyday activities altogether. They may withdraw from family and friends. Some depressed individuals may have thoughts of death or suicide.

What causes depression?

A combination of genetic, chemical, biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors likely contributes to the disorder. Depression is often a signal that certain mental, emotional, and physical aspects of a person’s life are out of balance. Chronic and serious illness such as heart disease or cancer may be accompanied by depression. Significant transitions and major life stressors such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job can help bring about depression. Other more subtle factors that lead to a loss of self-identity or self-esteem may also contribute. The causes of depression are not always immediately apparent, so the disorder requires careful evaluation and diagnosis by a trained mental health care professional.

Sometimes the circumstances involved in depression are ones over which an individual has little or no control. At other times, however, depression occurs when people are unable to see that they actually have choices and can bring about change in their lives.

Can depression be treated successfully?

Absolutely. Depression is highly treatable when an individual receives competent care. Licensed psychologists are highly trained mental health professionals with years of experience studying depression and helping patients recover from it. There is still some stigma or reluctance associated with seeking help for emotional and mental health problems, including depression. Unfortunately, feelings of depression often are viewed as a sign of weakness rather than as a signal that something is out of balance. The fact is that people with depression cannot simply “snap out of it” and feel better spontaneously. Persons with depression who do not seek help suffer needlessly. Unexpressed feelings and concerns accompanied by a sense of isolation can worsen a depression. Getting quality treatment is crucial. If depression goes untreated, it can last for a long time and worsen other illnesses. Even people with severe depression benefit from treatment.

What evidence supports the use of psychotherapy for treatment?

Many research studies have demonstrated that psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is effective for treating depression and relieving symptoms experienced by individuals who suffer from depression. Psychological treatments may prevent a person with milder depression from becoming more severely depressed. And although a past history of depression increases the risk of future episodes, there is evidence that ongoing psychotherapy may lessen the chance of recurrence.

How does psychotherapy help people recover?

There are several approaches to psychotherapy—including cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, and other kinds of talk therapy—that help individuals recover from depression. Psychotherapy helps people identify the factors that contribute to their depression and deal effectively with the psychological, behavioral, interpersonal, and situational contributors. Skilled health and mental health professionals such as licensed psychologists can work with individuals who are depressed to do the following:

  • Pinpoint the life problems that contribute to their depression, and help them understand which aspects of those problems they may be able to solve or improve. A licensed psychologist can help depressed patients identify options for the future and set realistic goals that enable them to enhance their mental and emotional well-being. Psychotherapy also can assist individuals who have been depressed in the past with identifying how they have successfully dealt with similar feelings.
  • Identify negative or distorted thought patterns that contribute to feelings of hopelessness & helplessness that accompany depression.
  • Develop skills to relieve suffering and prevent later bouts of depression. Skills may include developing or strengthening social networks, creating new ways to cope with challenges and crafting a personal self-care plan that includes positive lifestyle changes.

In what other ways do psychologists help individuals suffering from depression and also help their loved ones?

Living with a depressed person can be very difficult and stressful on family members and friends. The pain of watching a loved one suffer from depression can bring about feelings of helplessness and loss.

Family or couples therapy may be beneficial in bringing together all the individuals affected by depression and helping them learn effective ways to cope together. This type of psychotherapy can also provide a good opportunity for individuals who have never experienced depression themselves to learn more about it and to identify constructive ways to support a loved one who is suffering from depression. The support and involvement of family and friends can play a crucial role in aiding someone who is depressed. Individuals in the “support system” can encourage a depressed loved one to stick with treatment and practice the coping techniques and problem-solving skills he or she is learning through psychotherapy.

Are medications useful for treating depression?

Medications are helpful for reducing symptoms of depression in some people, particularly when their depression is severe. Some health care professionals treating depression may favor using a combination of psychotherapy and medications. Given the side effects, any use of medication requires close monitoring. Psychotherapy is often recommended as a first line of treatment for children and adolescents, especially those with mild to moderate depression. Further, some adults with depression may prefer psychotherapy to the use of medications if their depression is not severe. By conducting a thorough assessment, a licensed and trained mental health professional can help make recommendations about an effective course of treatment for an individual’s depression. Depression can seriously impair a person’s ability to function in everyday situations. But the prospects for recovery are good for individuals with depression who receive appropriate professional care.

Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

  • Depressed or irritable mood for a large part of the day
  • Diminished interest/motivation in daily activities
  • Decrease or increase in appetite
  • Decrease or increase in sleep
  • Quick to anger
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness and helplessness
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or hurting self/others
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Shy, withdrawn, isolative behavior
  • Worry, rumination on a daily basis
  • Panic
  • Irrational fears

The American Psychological Association Practice Directorate gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Daniel J. Abrahamson, PhD; Lynne M. Hornyak, PhD; and Lynn P. Rehm, PhD, in developing the original version of this fact sheet on depression. Updated July 2010 This document may be reproduced in its entirety without modifications. 750 First Street NE Washington, DC 20002-4242


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not only experienced by children and adolescents. In fact, oftentimes it can continue into adulthood.

Adults sometimes don’t know they have it until their child is diagnosed. The ramifications of the disorder in adults can include lack of productivity, difficulty in relationships, job losses/changes, and higher incidences of substance abuse.

Diagnosis can be difficult. It is understood, however, that the presentation began in grade school and continued into adulthood. A proper diagnosis should include “ruling out” or evaluating for other comorbid factors such as anxiety, depression, or learning disabilities, etc., which could mimic the symptoms.

The doctors at Michael J. Athans, Ph.D. and Associates can help diagnose and treat adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Our treatment methods are evidence-based. Cognitive-behavior therapy will help the patient with the executive-function skills of planning and organization as well as how to manage distractibility. Similarly, cognitive restructuring will help with negative cognitions, including those of low self-esteem.

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