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Are You Experiencing Depression as a Teenager?

Are You Experiencing Depression as a Teenager?

Written by: Ashlee Cantrell

Being a young person is tough. You’ve got the responsibilities of school, potential academic struggles, social and family expectations, physical and emotional changes along with the increasing pressure of “getting your life together” to figure out what you want to do with your future. What happened to just being a teenager? Unfortunately, sometimes too much pressure or stress can lead to feeling “down in the dumps” or depression. Having teen depression can cause many issues, which is why we need to discuss signs to look for and how to reach out for help. So, what does depression even look like and how do you manage it? Let’s get some answers for you.

What Does it Look Like?

First things first; what is depression? Depression is a mental health concern that causes people to feel consistently sad, unhappy, and sometimes hopeless. Depression in teenagers is often expressed in a similar way to adult depression however, the intensity of the emotions and behaviors tend to differ. So, what does teenage depression look like? When a teen’s mood is disrupted by their ability to function on a daily basis, this can be a key sign that they might be depressed. Mental health may also affect physical health. When a person is feeling depressed, their body may feel tired, run-down, and uninterested in their day-to-day life. Is this something that you can relate to? Let’s look at some general physical symptoms that may occur:

  • Low energy
  • Loss of interest in regular activities
  • Loss of interest in social interaction
  • Changes in sleeping/eating patterns
  • Physical changes (posture, lack of eye contact, keeping head down, etc)
  • Difficulty concentrating, or paying attention

What Does it Feel Like?

Although depression may be easier to spot if you are experiencing it on the outside of your body, it is important to know what it feels like on the inside of your body. This will help us to catch it and ask for help sooner. It may be difficult to understand what you may be feeling if you are depressed but don’t worry. You are not alone. Let’s talk about it.

  • Confusion. Having depression is very confusing. One minute you’re a regular teenager going to school and feeling all right, and the next you might be feeling a rush of intense sadness that feels like it could last forever. Other times, you may feel nothing at all. Your moods may be unpredictable and who knows what caused it or what to do about it.
  • Anger. This is a big one. Anger is a lot different than sadness as it might be the only other mood that you can recognize right now because everything and everyone is getting on your nerves. You may be feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive right now because it may feel like no one seems to understand what you’re going through, and they may be criticizing you too. Why won’t they just leave you alone?
  • Worthlessness. With depression often comes a sense of low self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness. “I do not deserve to be here.” “I do not want to be here anymore.” Have thoughts such as these or similar popped into your head recently? If so, you may know what I’m talking about.
  • Hopelessness. If you look around you, you might see other teenagers having fun, getting ready for their futures, and just enjoying life. Does it make you feel less motivated? Less excited for the future? Someone with depression often has difficulty with motivation for the future and struggles when seeing others doing well.

One of the most crucial parts of this section is that if you find yourself feeling any of these symptoms, it is important that you are willing to discuss how you’re feeling with someone that you trust. It does not have to be a parent, but it must be someone that you trust to support you and get you the help that you need.

How Do I Manage It?

As a teenager, developing a sense of acceptance, safety, and belonging is super important. When adding a depressive mood to the mix, it can cause harm to that development. Now that we have discussed what depression is, what it looks like, and how it feels, let’s talk about how to manage it!

  • Making new friends. This is easier said than done, especially when you’re not feeling your best. Try making new social connections in class, or a mutual group at school!
  • Participate in sports, and social hobbies, or get a job. Staying busy helps to keep the mind active and occupied with positive activities.
  • Self-care. Self-care is important to make sure that your body is getting what it needs on a daily basis. This may include exercising for 30 minutes 3-4 times per week, keeping a healthy balanced food plan, and aiming for eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Talk therapy is a great way to talk through how you’re feeling and learn appropriate coping skills that fit you. Therapy provides a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental environment that will guide you toward the appropriate treatment to help you.

There are many “rites of passage” to growing up, like going to your first football game, getting your first job, or getting your first kiss! However, experiencing depression is not one of them. Depression is not something to be taken lightly. If you find yourself relating to any of the information above or feel afraid that you might be experiencing depression and don’t know where to turn, Upstate Restorative Counseling is here to help you. You deserve to be here, and we are here for you. Please reach out.



Are the Changing of the Seasons Affecting Me?

Are the Changing of the Seasons Affecting Me?

Written By: Ashlee Cantrell

At times it feels like the fall-time is everyone’s favorite season. Everyone is raving about pumpkin spice, sweater weather, cinnamon donuts, and the upcoming holidays. But, if you often find yourself not feeling the hype, you’ve come to the right place. The truth is that for many people, the fall is a tough time, and the winter can be even tougher, physically, and mentally. You’re not alone. Let’s discuss why these seasons are so difficult and find some ways to make them easier for you.

Leaves Are Changing and So Am I

Throughout the fall season, the air gets colder, and the leaves change color—from deep greens and browns to bright oranges, yellows, and reds. It is quite a transitional time during the year. It can also be a significant time for a change in your mental health. Let’s discuss a few.

  • Daylight Savings Time. During the fall season, we find ourselves “falling back” in daylight savings time. This means that we are getting an extra hour in the darkness and losing an hour of sunlight. Sunlight is super important for helping the body gain access to Vitamin D throughout the day. Vitamin D is a key resource for allowing the body to process effectively and an insufficient amount of Vitamin D is known to be linked to a depressive mood.
  • Cold Weather. On top of the inadequate access to light, cold weather can increase the risk of a depressed mood, specifically by increasing a person’s risk of feeling more tired and altering their food intake.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder. Each year, about five percent of people are significantly affected by the changing of the seasons due to a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD, or seasonal depression, is often thought to be exactly that, depression during certain seasons. For example, some people experience SAD during the fall months and the winter months. However, it can improve during the spring and summer months. Rarely does it cause depression during the spring and summer, but each person with SAD has a different experience. During this time, symptoms of depression may include a lack of motivation, lack of focus, negative thought patterns, and avoidance of social and personal relationships and experiences.

Holiday Stress

With pumpkins in the past, we are moving towards the wintertime. Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, and you know what that means! Food, family, and stress. Although this can be a positive time for some, it may also be a time of family feuds, and grief. This can be difficult to manage on your own. Let’s talk about it.

  • Family Feuds. Happy Thanksgiving! You’re getting ready to go home to the big family get-together as you do every year, except there is one thing you can’t get off your mind. “I really hope _________ isn’t going to be there!” In reality, most people have disagreements with their family members. However, the holiday season is the time that people go home to see their abusive parents, or un-friendly in-laws. This is not something that we look forward to.
  • If a family member has passed away, family traditions can bring up memories of past holiday seasons, triggering many emotions including grief, guilt, and other painful emotions or memories. For some, this may cause the person to not want to celebrate the holiday season in the same way or to rid the family of the same traditions. For others, it may cause personal isolation during the holiday time. Overall, experiencing grief causes stress in many ways.

So, What Can I Do?

There are so many reasons why the changing of the seasons may affect a person negatively. Managing the physical and mental effects of the seasonal changes and managing holiday stress is a lot to handle. So, how do we do it all without falling apart? First, you must be able to recognize when the seasonal change begins to affect your mental health. For example, is it right after the leaves begin to change, as soon as the air gets colder, or when daylight savings time occurs? This will be able to tell you when to start implementing these skills effectively. Here are a few tips and tricks to help manage stress as the seasons change:

  • Get access to as much natural light as possible by spending extra time outside
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week
  • Eat a regular, healthy diet (save some room for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner!)
  • Start your own family traditions
  • Do the things you really enjoy and forget about the rest (hayrides, pumpkin carving, apple picking, Halloween parties, baking cookies, putting up the Christmas tree, elf on the shelf, and SO MUCH MORE!)

We Are Here to Help

For those who feel overwhelmed by the seasons changing and the holiday time, you are not alone. Being faced with seasonal affective disorder, grief, stress, or family conflict is no small task. Therapy can be a powerful tool and we are here to help. If you find yourself feeling down this season and need help picking yourself back up, reach out to URC at 864-664-2710. You can contact Ashlee today.

Is This Depression or Burnout?

Is This Depression or Burnout?

Today we will talk about a topic that is on the rise. People are experiencing more feelings of tiredness or being overwhelmed. They are voicing that the hobbies that used to be fun and interesting to them, they no longer enjoy. Small things are causing them to blow up emotionally. The fuse seems to be burning at both ends. Can you relate to these feelings? There are common symptoms between depression and burnout but today we will try to distinguish some characteristics that could help identify the differences. Are you thinking that you are hopeful there is help? Keep reading, you are not alone.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is typically correlated to people and their jobs. It is easy to push ourselves to accomplish targets and promotions or to appease our boss. But at what cost? Our minds and bodies are not designed to perform and think and solve at such compact, fast rates. The human mind is powerful and amazing, but it has its needs. Like our bodies, our minds need some quiet and some rest.  Without those we can enter in burnout. It often feels like our brains are short-circuiting. Like it cannot process and perform all the tasks that are required. This spills over into our lives outside of work in different ways. Below are a few examples that could affect our lives when we are experiencing burnout.

  • Reduced productivity
  • Increased mistakes or forgetting
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of compassion
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Things that interest you aren’t fun
  • Thoughts spiral through tasks
  • Symptoms improve when you are away from what’s burning you out

While some of these will be similar to the below symptoms of depression, there are key differences. Burnout symptoms will often come and go. You may feel a dread on your way to work or a spike of excitement to leave. Depression is different and we will talk about that below.

Is This Depression?

Depression can have some similar symptoms but there are key differences. Fatigue is a symptom that most with depression will report. Unlike other things that can take a toll on our bodies, depression symptoms don’t seem to ease up. This can lead to deep feelings of hopelessness or sadness. Depression can truly affect the quality of life the person has as well as relationships. Depression can last for months with no real break and make it hard for a person to carry on the needed tasks to live. Below are few examples of how depression could look in our lives.

  • There is no joy in life or interests
  • Deep feelings of hopelessness
  • Energy is often very low or non-existent
  • Trouble thinking or remembering
  • Issues sleeping
  • It is hard to eat, even the things you enjoy
  • Craving for things we use to cope such as food, alcohol, drugs or pornography

Symptoms of depression can be serious, and this blog post cannot diagnose or fully help you. Whether your symptoms are from burnout or depression, when they affect your lives and the ability to thrive, you may need to seek help. If you find yourself quietly quitting and need help getting back on track, we are here to help.

What Can Help Burnout?

Each of us will go through times where life seems too busy or overwhelming. At those times, it is important to recognize our needs for some down time, or fun. Incorporating ways to refresh our minds and restore some balance is necessary for us to maintain our health. Regardless of what brings us to the place of feeling burnout or depressed, the things below could help. Do you need to take a step to incorporate something different into your life? Something that can help restore some mental balance?

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Balance time with people you enjoy vs. alone time
  • Have physical activity each day
  • Eat more nutritious foods and stay hydrated
  • Take a mental health day and do something enjoyable
  • Be gentle with yourself, we can’t go full force all the time
  • Journal
  • Set boundaries to protect your needed down time
  • Add quite time with deep breathing in your car rides
  • Do something that makes you happy

Seasons where it is hard for us to carry on, is hard. If you find yourself in this season and you have tried to incorporate things to improve your health, but you are struggling, we are here to help. You are not alone.


Is This Winter Blues?

Is This Winter Blues?

With fall just around the corner, it may be worth exploring how some seasons can affect our mood and wellbeing. While there are different causes of mood changes in the fall and winter months, today we are going to talk about the fact that some people are affected by winter blues. During the spring and summer there are longer periods of light and our bodies react positively to this. In the fall and winter, however, the days get shorter and the sunlight is less. This affects us. Some people report increased feelings of increased depression during the fall and winter. Let’s take a closer look.

How Does Daylight Help Us?

During the spring and summer, the actual amount of daylight increases. The sun is a powerful source of Vitamin D and light and our bodies use vitamin D to maintain itself in multiple ways. Have you noticed during the day we have, on average, more energy. Then comes night, our bodies start to feel more relaxed and not as alert. There are always exceptions to this, but for many, they fall into this description. In large part, it is because of the sun and our bodies responding to the light and creating energy we need to function. Below we take a look at the different ways the sun benefits our bodies.

  • Supports bone health
  • Prevents disease
  • Production of vitamin D for our bodies
  • Improved mental health
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Immune function

These are just to name a few, but even so, it is easy to see that the sun and its light are important to us. But what happens when there isn’t as much sunlight in the day? We will discuss that next.

What are the Effects of Less Sunlight?

When the active amount of sunlight is decreased our bodies respond in sometimes negative ways. The decreased light can decrease the amount of serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin levels can affect our moods and even lead to feelings of depression in some people. Melatonin is also affected by a change in the sunlight. When our bodies drop in melatonin, it can sometimes disrupt our sleep. Less sleep than needed can then lead to other cognitive challenges or health issues. Some people find it more difficult to function once their body systems react to the change of season or daylight hours. Other things that could be affected by the chain reaction within our bodies are listed below. Have you experienced changes in your mood or abilities during the fall or winter months?

  • Issues at school or working
  • Social withdrawal
  • More anxiety
  • Increased substance or alcohol use
  • Greater feelings of depression
  • Less energy

If you can relate to increased occurrences of the above, you may be affected by the changing of the seasons. There are steps we can take to improve our health during the fall and winter months. Keep reading to see if any of these may work for you.

How Can I Help my Mood in Winter?

We can’t stop the seasons from changing, but we can work on decreasing the affects that has on us physically and mentally. Below are some common recommendations for steps you can take that may help you overcome the blues in winter.

  • Start now incorporating things that boost your mood – walks, creativity, group activities
  • There are lights specific to ease the symptoms of winter blues
  • Be social, get out with friends and do stuff
  • Aromatherapy could help
  • Establish a consistent schedule, that helps melatonin production
  • Exercise
  • Open the blinds
  • Avoid alcohol or other suppressants
  • Keep a journal to express how you feel, getting it out helps
  • Visit with a doctor if your symptoms affect your life

Sometimes just preparing yourself mentally for what may come can help. If you have taken some of these steps to try and help improve your winter mood and have struggled to get through winter, reach out for help. You are not alone. It is not always within our control to manage the symptoms that keep our bodies and systems down. There is help. Upstate Restorative Counseling has a team of therapist to help you with feelings of anxiety or depression.







Can I Really Stop Being a People Pleaser?

Can I Really Stop Being a People Pleaser?

On one hand, it can be good to have to have some of the traits of a people pleaser. Afterall, people pleasers put others first and they often can see when others are hurting. They are seen as kind and helpful. This makes them a good friend or companion. But what happens when that trait is more dominate than other traits? When people pleasing is greater than self-care? We can create harm for ourselves and our physical bodies as well as mental health are affected. Today we will take a look at the people pleasing personality and talk about the long term affects it can have on us. Am I a people pleaser? Below will be some steps that can help shift your mindset to help you create better balance. Do you find yourself in a place of wishing you could change these aspects about yourself? I encourage you to choose a small step forward.

Am I A People Pleaser?

People pleasers can be easy to recognize. However, often times, they don’t see the issue within themselves. They are carrying out what they have learned. They are responding and dealing with life as they learned to do. We often “learn” these qualities for self-protection to prevent a response we have come to know a negative and unwanted. Below are some qualities that can be seen in someone or ourselves if they people please. If you have read this far and feel you may struggle, take these slow and really process each one. There is help. You are not alone.

  • It is hard to say no to requests
  • Setting and/or keeping boundaries is often unsuccessful
  • You take personal responsibility for others feelings
  • You experience anxiety when someone is mad at you
  • You are a perfectionist
  • You have an urge to fix other people’s problems
  • You avoid conflict at all cost
  • You need to be seen as successful
  • Disagreeing with someone makes you very uncomfortable

Each of us can experience one of these from time to time. However, if you can relate to many of these qualities, you may be a people pleaser. If you are ready to explore changes, there is hope.

Why Am I a People Pleaser?

While there are attributes that can be positive in people pleasing, it is important to understand why we do it. Often times we learn to be a people pleaser because of a person(s) who had authority over us. If they were dominant and strict or held constant high expectations of you, you have adapted to that. When we fear their response, we are more likely to do what ever it takes to not experience their outburst. Did you know that people pleasing can be a trauma response? It can. Trauma needs to be processed and healed in order for us to live healthy balanced lives. Understanding that can improve our quality of life and increase our self-worth. Below are a few characteristics that may be present if you have experienced trauma that led to becoming a people pleaser.

  • Experiencing violence in your home
  • Having a caretaker with narcissistic tendencies
  • A parent who was emotionally absent
  • A home with turbulent conflict
  • A home that avoided conflict
  • Living with family with mental or physical issues

Can you recognize these as describing your home environment? If so, people pleasing may be a defense mechanism for you. There is help, keep reading.


How Can I Change?

Distancing yourself from people pleasing characteristics can be hard. Often people experience guilt in trying to step away and do something different. They may have negative thoughts about themselves when trying to set boundaries between themselves and others. It’s ok. Feel what you do and take a step anyway. Fight for yourself! Have you decided that you are ready to take a step to gain back yourself? Do it! It’s for your good. Here are some suggestions that could be a starting point.

  • Learn to say no when you don’t have time or capacity
  • Set healthy boundaries with those who high expectations of your time
  • Stop making excuses for why you can’t, speak truth and be ok with it
  • Be assertive and take a stand for yourself
  • You can not and will not please everyone, ever
  • Accept yourself for who you are
  • Ask for help if needed
  • Don’t dwell on your past
  • Make time for YOU

Whether you are a people pleaser from trauma or from a learned environment, it can be unhealthy to continually place others before your own needs. It is ok to want some change. It is beautiful to take some steps for you and your health. We understand that sometimes that is hard. We are here to help. Upstate Restorative Counseling have therapists who will listen and help you establish steps you can take to take back your life.

How Can Free Time Help Me?

How Can Free Time Help Me?

With the average minimum workday being 8.5 hours per day with a high end being 10 hours per day, it is easy to see why so many of us struggle with anxiety and depression or mental health issues in general. Utilizing the time we have each day is important as our free time greatly establishes other mental health factors. How do you spend your time each day? How many minutes do you spend in mindless activities such as scrolling social media or binge watching a show? Today, we are going to talk about other suggestions for effectively using your free time. Ready to get started?

Why Is Free Time Important?

Humans are complex and just like our bodies are designed to detox what is not needed or used, our minds need to be able to do the same. It is easy to want to stay busy and not have to think about something, but does that truly help you overcome the situation? Or does that temporarily provide a time of just not thinking about it? We need free time to process our feelings, our lives, our circumstances and upcoming events. When we don’t take that time, our feelings don’t just vanish, they accumulate. Practicing this, over time, can take great negative tolls on our mental health. Below are some reasons to consider utilizing what free time you have differently.

  • Our minds need space to dream, create and analyzeDream
  • We need time to think and shed some thoughts from our heads
  • We all have upcoming events that we need to mentally prepare for
  • It is important to practice gratitude for the good and positive things in our lives
  • Free time helps us be more productive
  • Our mental health depends on it

How Should I Spend Free Time?

There are so many options when it comes to filling our time. I encourage you to evaluate your time spent, be honest with yourself and write out the activities you are currently choosing to fill your time. Be honest with the details, they matter here. For example, if you wake up and have 1.5 hours until you leave for work, write out what you do in those 1.5 hours. If your commute to work is 30 minutes, write out what you do in those 30 minutes. If your small children take hour long naps, write out how you spend that hour. Throughout our lives, how much free time we have will change. Not everyone will have a large amount of free time right now to alter, but each of us have at least some minutes we give back to our minds. Once you have an idea of how you are currently spending your free time, take a look at the below list and decide if you want to incorporate a change. Does your mental health need a change?

  • Listen to a podcast or teaching during your car rides
  • Learn a new skill
  • Read something of interest to you
  • Journal
  • Do something creative like draw, paint or write
  • Learn a new hobby or interest – start small
  • Take a walk – process something on your heart
  • Organize an area of your home
  • Enjoy some sun

Utilizing free time may not come natural for you. If this is the case, you can schedule your free time. Making it as important as the activities you currently keep can help assure you will prioritize it. Sometimes our mental health depends on it.

There are many reasons why we choose to avoid filling our free time with something healthy and beneficial. If you desire to create a better place for yourself mentally but struggle with keeping yourself accountable to it, you are not alone. Upstate Restorative Counseling is here to listen. Our team of therapists can help you establish steps toward your goals.