n. One Who Navigates


undefined Psychology Today recently published an online blog post titled, “6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Still Be Friends,” which was about whether or not couples who had gone through a breakup should remain friends. Although the end to a relationship can be mutual, many times it isn’t. I think probably more so than not, after a breakup, couples don’t tend to become friends once an intimate relationship had been established. However, although small, there are those who do continue a friendship post breakup. In the Psychology Today blog post, it was noted that individuals shouldn’t continue the friendship route when there wasn’t a solid foundation of a friendship to begin with. I’d agree that for a friendship to continue post breakup, there must be a solid foundation which a friendship had been built upon. I also believe that there must be clear boundaries, ideally discussed with your ex, on what exactly does this friendship look like and how does it proceed. Although some healing may need to occur before progressing to friendship, these two points are crucial. I think discussing and drawing these boundaries is very important because poor communication = poor boundaries. But more importantly, the parties involved could experience rejection once again, especially if the end to the intimate relationship wasn’t mutual; I mean who wants to go through rejection over and over. Nonetheless, I guess we have to ask ourselves, “What was it about this person/relationship that motivates me to continue a friendship?” I know sometimes couples say, “You know, it seems like we’re better friends than partners.” I believe that on some occasions intimate relationships that end can move to friendship status when there wasn’t anything in particular that happened in the relationship that was terrible, devastating, or down right unforgiveable. It's true that sometimes couples are just better friends than partners.  But, I think we also have to ask ourselves when this happens, “What was it about this person or relationship that motivated me to create something deeper or more meaningful?” “Why was I drawn to him or her in the first place?” I believe to the core of my being, that whomever we end up with, there’s always something we’re trying to work out with that person. Basically meaning, there’s some sort of unfinished business that we have with our parent(s), and thus, we’re trying to work that out in our relationship that which we didn’t work out in our childhood. I know fascinating, huh?! I wonder if there’s something that you’re trying to work out in your relationship. If so, what might it be? For example, perhaps you're wanting your father's approval and you just can't seem to get it from your partner. If you’re having difficulty becoming aware of what it is you're trying to work out in your relationship, think about some of the relationships that you’ve had in your life. Here, you can think of both friendships and intimate relationships. Are there any patterns that you see occurring over and over and that unsettle you? If so, ding ding ding…you hit the jockpot! Now that you found a pattern, begin to explore what that might be about. Relationships are complex, so if you believe you’re struggling in your relationship or would like to become more aware of who you are in your relationship, feel free to contact me or any psychotherapist and begin to understand your internal and interpersonal self!


undefined One thing that happens in my practice frequently is the talk about psychotropic medications. Psychotropic medications are just another name for medications that are also called antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. These categories of psychotropic medications are the ones most talked about in my practice because I typically work with individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. It’s not unusual that I will have a talk with most every patient at some point during treatment regarding medication as a treatment option. This isn’t because I think medication is the answer, but I believe it’s an option offered from a variety of treatment options. Part of my role as a psychologist and healthcare provider is to talk about treatment options. What I experience when having this discussion with patients is that it can be very uncomfortable, mostly because the fear many have in taking psychotropic medications. Some of these fears include the stigma of taking medication and what people think it says about them, the fear of becoming addicted and using the medication as a crutch to cope in life, the fear of making them feel “weird” or “not myself,” and the fear of being labeled sick or ill. These fears are absolutely valid of course, but most importantly, exploring and processing what these fears entail should take precedence. I personally like to explore what the pill(s) means to the person…what does it represent or symbolize to him/her. Are there negative and/or positive associations with taking medication? It’s important to explore these fears especially when deciding whether psychotropic medications are a treatment option. The reason for this is because medication should be taken consistently and as prescribed by your medical provider; if there are resistances and hesitancies regarding taking medication these should be addressed. If there are side effects, discuss those with your medical provider and your psychotherapist who is in your care. Anytime a patient that I’m working with is prescribed medication, the patient can expect a discussion about how the medication is going, if there are any side effects such as erratic or unusual behavior or increased suicidal ideation, and also a dialogue on how the patient feels about taking the medication. Usually, these details are important so that I can discuss them with the patient's prescriber. This approach really helps to maintain my patients’ continuity of treatment. These are some of the expectations patients can have when they see me, but with this said, it might good to know what to also expect from a psychiatrist. Take a glance at the following article from the American Psychiatric Association. I often get asked, "Do you prescribe medication?" This is one of the differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist, at least in most states. In Indiana, licensed psychologists do not have prescription privileges. If you have fears regarding taking psychotropic medications, explore these fears with your therapist and/or medical provider because it can make a world of difference in your treatment. And if you decide that psychotropic medication is a favorable treatment option, then taking medication likely becomes easier to swallow.

*Image courtesy of mensatic


undefinedundefinedundefined Dr. Seuss said, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out.”  As you can see, I think my socks speak for themselves or do they? If my socks could talk what would they say? How might they describe themselves? Do my sock choices have anything to do with my personality and/or mood? This leads me to wonder about the connection between mood and fashion.  Professionally, I can see how mood and fashion are connected. For example, during a depressive episode, hygiene and appearance might become neglected, but  when symptoms remit, grooming and image are improved. Personally, I know when I look good, I feel good and vice versa.

It was found through a reader’s poll via Health.com (2004) that our clothes can impact how we see things and that how we feel can determine what we wear. So, when you’re feeling down, one way to feel better is to put on something that makes you feel and look good. Even if you lack the desire to get out of those drabby sweat outfits, I would encourage you to dress in something that you like and that makes you feel good. Even if you don’t have any place to go, dressing in something that you like and that makes you feel good can have a positive impact on your mood. Not only can this boost your mood, but also the color choice in what you wear can make a difference. For example, blue is calming, red can make us feel sexy, green is restorative, and bright colors like hot pink, canary yellow and yellow orange, are considered happy colors (Natural Health, 2004).  

Nolan, Dai, and Stanley (1995) found that those with depression were more drawn to black and brown colors, which may help explain why many people who are depressed are more drawn to these colors. Some of this can be explained by the change in seasons. During the colder months, what colors do you see most? Typically, we often see black, brown, and grey colors. Have I told you I really dislike the winter months; wearing these colors for months on end would make anyone feel down.  However, last season, retail had changed this up by mixing in a lot of color because color can improve our mood and when we’re feeling happier we shop more. On the flip side, being down and depressed can also be a catalyst for shopping.                

Retailers and many others say, when in doubt go shopping! I can identify with this saying and I’m sure you can too. You may have also heard of the words, “retail therapy.” Ah, now I got your attention! Essentially, retail therapy is a behavior of purchasing gifts for oneself or others with the goal of improving ones mood. Ataly & Maloy (2011) found that retail therapy has a positive impact on mood. That is the good news; however, if you’re finding yourself participating in retail therapy often, and your bank account and your partner are very unhappy, it may be beneficial to consult with a licensed mental health practitioner to understand what is driving this behavior. Your bank account and your relationship may thank you later. 

Recently, I read a few articles that made me think about the relationship between mood and fashion. According to Health Magazine, in February 2013, Indiana was ranked #2 as one of the top 10 most depressing states. Then, in April 2013, the IndyStar.com, reported that Indiana was ranked as the tenth worst-dressed city in the nation. Although we can’t say here that one thing causes another, we can say that it’s obvious that the connection between psychology of mood and fashion exists (Funtes & Quiroga, 2009)

So, what does this all mean? This means that we need to be aware of how we’re feeling, especially if we’re feeling depressed. When we feel depressed, we care less how we look. So, when you’re feeling down, wear something that makes you look and feel good! If you can add some color, particularly brighter color to your outfit of the day even better; we know that this can help improve one’s mood. If you’re skeptical, give it a whirl the next time that you’re feeling down and knock someone’s socks off!

Disclaimer: Depression is a serious condition and if you’re experiencing a depressed mood and/or a loss of interest for two weeks or longer, consult a licensed mental health practitioner.

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NorthStar Psychological + Consultation Services, LLC
429 E. Vermont Street
Suite 307
Indianapolis, IN 46202
317-572-7847 (ST4R)
Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Closed all other days.