Presenting Problems

What is a Presenting Problem?

It’s a symptom of emotional distress. These can manifest in a variety of different ways. Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Self Harming, Eating Disorders, Self Sabotaging behaviors and even Suicidal idealisation. Most people can tolerate a certain amount of physical or emotional discomfort before they seek help for a problem, and tolerance levels vary from person to person.

ANXIETY – Anxiety can mean nervousness, worry, or self-doubt. Sometimes, the cause of anxiety is easy to spot, while other times it may not be. Everyone feels some level of anxiety once in a while. But overwhelming, recurring, or “out of nowhere” dread can deeply impact people. When anxiety interferes like this, talking to a therapist can help. 

Anxiety can cause intrusive or obsessive thoughts. A person with anxiety may feel confused or find it hard to concentrate. Feeling restless or frustrated can also be a sign of anxiety. Other people with anxiety may feel depressed.

Symptoms of anxiety can also be physical. Anxiety can cause overly tense muscles or high blood pressure. Trembling, sweating, a racing heartbeat, dizziness, and insomnia can also come from anxiety. Anxiety may even cause headaches, digestive problems, difficulty breathing, and nausea.

If physical symptoms of anxiety are severe and sudden, it may be a panic attack.

WHAT DOES ANXIETY LOOK LIKE?   People can show signs of anxiety in many ways. Some may become more talkative, while others withdraw or self-isolate. Even people who seem outgoing, friendly, or fearless can have anxiety. Since anxiety has many symptoms, how it looks for one person is not how it appears for another.

People who have anxiety may be withdrawn, but this is not the case for everyone with anxiety. Sometimes, anxiety may trigger a “fight” rather than “flight” response, in which case a person might appear confrontational. Stumbling over words, trembling, and nervous tics are often associated with anxiety. While they can appear in people with anxiety, they are not always present, and some people who do not have anxiety also show these signs.

STRESS is often defined as a bodily response to the demands of life. But there are also emotional and mental aspects of stress. It is experienced as thoughts and feelings as well as in the body. Another way to define stress could be as an internal and conditioned response to external pressures.

WHAT IS STRESS?  In many cases, the stress experienced today is a response to psychological threats. Some of these threats might be losing a job or looking for employment, the death of a loved one, or relationship issues. Any of these can occur more than once in the course of a life.

Stress evolved in the form of a fight or flight response. This response was a reaction to physical threats on one’s life. The fight or flight response causes the physical aspects of stress, which appear when adrenaline and cortisol are released into the bloodstream. These hormones cause increased blood flow, clotting, and elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. The stress response is immediate and uncontrollable. Someone with high stress levels may experience these physical aspects several times throughout the day. Consistently high levels of stress can cause people to develop conditions such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes, chronic pain, and heart attacks.

SYMPTOMS OF STRESS   Stress can have physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. Stress affects people on different levels. It can help to identify which parts of ourselves are being affected by stress. Stress can affect people on one level, such as only mentally, or on multiple levels, such as both physically and emotionally.

Physical symptoms of stress include: Headaches  Insomnia  Fatigue  Stomach aches  Body pain Acne or breakouts  Digestive issues.

Depression is a serious, but common, condition. It often causes people to feel sad or empty for long periods of time. It can also affect one’s thinking patterns and physical health. In some cases, depression can lead people to consider suicide.

WHAT IS DEPRESSION?

Depression is the most common cause of disability, most people have their first bout of depression in their late teens or early twenties. Depression’s symptoms can vary from person to person. Someone’s gender, culture, or age may change how they experience depression. Yet most forms of depression include these common symptoms:

Frequent crying and bouts of sadness. Feeling hopeless or worthless. Getting too much or too little sleep. Anxiety. Anger. Difficulty enjoying activities one used to like. Unexplained physical ailments such as headaches or muscle pain. Difficulty concentrating. Changes in weight or eating habits. Thoughts of suicide.

A person with depression likely has trouble dealing with daily stresses. Sometimes the simplest activities—getting out of bed, bathing, and dressing—can feel impossible. Such struggles might make people feel helpless or alone. Even when something good happens, depression can cast a cloud of negativity over the experience.

People with depression often feel anger, shame, and irritation. Sometimes these emotions can show up in the body as aches or nausea. These feelings can also lead to weepiness.

Other times, depression causes people to feel emotionally “numb.” It is common for people to feel as if they never have energy. In severe cases, a person may not care if they live or die.

WHAT DEPRESSION IS NOT

There are many myths surrounding therapy. Though it is important to know what depression is, it can be equally important to know what depression is not.

Depression is not simple sadness. Most people get upset when life doesn’t go their way. But someone with depression can feel so bad they struggle to do everyday activities like eat or bathe. To count as depression, the sadness must be a constant, long-lasting feeling.

Depression is not a sign of weakness. Although depression can sap one’s energy or motivation, having the condition does not meant one is lazy. In fact, many people with depression put forth double the effort to simply get through their day. 

Depression is not forever. People with depression can feel hopeless about recovery, especially if they’ve had the condition for a long time. Yet most forms of depression are very treatable. There are many therapies used to treat depressive symptoms.

WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION

Depression can be caused by one’s body or one’s circumstances. Sometimes it can be caused by a mixture of both.

Most mental health experts agree brain chemistry plays a major role in depression. The brain has chemicals called dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals affect our ability to feel pleasure and well-being. If the brain does not make enough of these chemicals, or if it doesn’t process them right, depression can result.

But no person is an island. Just as brain chemistry can affect life, life can cause changes in the brain. Any stressful or traumatic event can contribute to depression. Common triggers include divorce, financial instability, chronic illness, social isolation, bullying, and domestic violence.

Depression is not to be confused for the typical mourning process. Grief after loss is normal, and it usually fades over time. One’s sadness or guilt is often limited to thoughts of the deceased. But depression’s symptoms tend to be persistent and less tied to any specific thought.

Grief and Bereavement  Most people will experience loss at some point in their lives. Grief is a reaction to any form of loss. Bereavement is a type of grief involving the death of a loved one.

Bereavement and grief encompass a range of feelings from deep sadness to anger. The process of adapting to a significant loss can vary dramatically from one person to another. It often depends on a person’s background, beliefs, and relationship to what was lost.

GRIEVING THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIORS

Grief is not limited to feelings of sadness. It can also involve guilt, yearning, anger, and regret. Emotions are often surprising in their strength or mildness. They can also be confusing. One person may find themselves grieving a painful relationship. Another may mourn a loved one who died from cancer and yet feel relief that the person is no longer suffering.

People in grief can bounce between different thoughts as they make sense of their loss. Thoughts can range from soothing (“She had a good life.”) to troubling (“It wasn’t her time.”). People may assign themselves varying levels of responsibility, from “There was nothing I could have done,” to “It’s all my fault.”

Grieving behaviors also have a wide range. Some people find comfort in sharing their feelings among company. Other people may prefer to be alone with their feelings, engaging in silent activities like exercising or writing.

The different feelings, thoughts, and behaviors people express during grief can be categorized into two main styles: instrumental and intuitive. Most people display a blend of these two styles of grieving:

Instrumental grieving has a focus primarily on problem-solving tasks. This style involves controlling or minimizing emotional expression.

Intuitive grieving is based on a heightened emotional experience. This style involves sharing feelings, exploring the lost relationship, and considering mortality.

No one way of grieving is better than any other. Some people are more emotional and dive into their feelings. Others are stoic and may seek distraction from dwelling on an unchangeable fact of living. Every individual has unique needs when coping with loss.

MODELS OF GRIEF

Grief can vary between individuals. However, there are still global trends in how people cope with loss. Psychologists and researchers have outlined various models of grief. Some of the most familiar models include the five stages of grief, the four tasks of mourning, and the dual process model.

Five Stages of Grief

In 1969, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five linear stages of grief:

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance

Kubler-Ross originally developed this model to illustrate the process of bereavement. Yet she eventually adapted the model to account for any type of grief. Kubler-Ross noted that everyone experiences at least two of the five stages of grief. She acknowledged that some people may revisit certain stages over many years or throughout life.