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Posts Categorised: Mental Health Areas
This month Maria contributes to the Expat Living article entitled “We All Have Issues.. What helps and who can you talk to?”
Maria discusses Counselling for Expats:
As an expatriate, you may be more likely to need counselling than someone who stays put in their home town, surrounded by the support of long-time friends and family, confirms MARIA LUEDEKE of Aspire Counselling. She herself uses a collaborative approach, she says, to help her clients develop self-efficacy, resilience and self-empowerment through their innate strength and abilities.
“Expats are in a constant state of transition and adaptation as we are continually moving in and out of each other’s lives, changing social groups and establishing different norms,” she says. While this can be exciting, continuous change in the absence of traditional support structures can make expats more vulnerable to loneliness and isolation, creating distressful situations and triggering mental issues.
Some Danger Areas
- Worries about ageing parents are intensified when thousands of miles separate us from them; the same goes for our own adult children who may be going through difficult times.
- A sense of impermanence and instability can arise from the unpredictability of expat assignments. “Expecting to stay only for two or three years, they simply exist in their adopted home, instead of fully investing in it and creating meaningful connections,” explains Maria. Anxiety about the future can make us reluctant to engage with others, so we end up isolated and depressed.
- Pressure to perform can lead to excessive stress, especially for high-achieving expats whose companies have brought them here for their valuable skills. As a result, they sometimes neglect themselves and their families, or turn to problematic coping mechanisms such as drinking, drugs or unhealthy relationships. “People may act in ways they would never consider acting in their home country, as they feel a sense of anonymity and entitlement.”
- Family structures can be strained by school changes, work changes, social changes and extended separations between parents and children and spouses, be they for work or leisure. Be aware, too, of the possible consequence of replacing parental supervision with that of domestic helpers.
- Marital issues can develop or worsen as you adapt to new environments, new roles and different cultural expectations. Long hours, excessive travel, the frustrations inherent in setting up life in a new country, and perhaps the loss of a former career, can lead to loneliness, to temptation, to anger and to resentment.
It’s commonplace for expats to ask one another for referrals to dentists, hairdressers, tutors and such – “but there is still a degree of taboo when it comes to asking for the name of a good mental health practitioner,” says Maria.
“Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health and share information and knowledge,” she urges, and don’t suffer in silence. “Reaching out for help – be it face-to-face counselling or video-conference-based online counselling – can make all the difference in successfully navigating the challenges of expat life.”
Working with Aspire Counselling
If something in the above article resonates with you and you or someone you know needs support at this time then Maria Luedeke at Aspire Counselling is ideally placed to help. As a seasoned expat, mother and highly trained Psychotherapist Maria will be able to relate to what you are feeling and help you understand the next steps you should take. You can instantly book an appointment with Maria online today using our booking page or by contacting Maria via our contact page.
You can read the full article from Expat Living Singapore at:
The photo and words used in this post are reproduced from the content of the article that appeared originally in Expat Living Singapore
Giving birth is a miraculous thing. Expectations are high, and everyone is excited. Its a time of great change in the lives of everyone involved.
With the transition of welcoming a new baby into the world, there is often stress coupled with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. Sometimes these feelings occur postpartum and sometimes they appear before the birth.
A time of great change
Experiencing perinatal mood-swings and elevated emotional levels is not at all unusual, and not something anyone should feel guilty about. After all, just imagine what is happening within your body, there are great physical changes taking place and hormone levels are changing rapidly. There is absolutely no correlation between how you are feeling at this time of great change and wether you are a good mother or not.
You likely know that at this time you should take good care of your physical health, but do you take the same care of your mental health. It is equally important to both you and your baby, as well as those around you. Good Nutrition, Exercise and sleep are vital to both physical and mental well-being.
Your mood and feelings
If you are affected by any of the following, you would likely benefit from talking about how you are feeling.
* Overwhelmed or feeling you can’t cope
* Struggling to adapt to the changes in your life
* Mood swings
* Thoughts of harming yourself or others
Talk about how you are feeling
If you are pregnant, or have recently given birth and you affected by any of the above, you might want to talk to a professional counsellor about it. With the right help, the symptoms that you are experiencing will be temporary and treatable.
Where can you find help?
Aspire Counselling can help , we understand that talking about how you feel, or about your fears isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. We do however know from experience, that talking helps.
Maria Luedeke of Aspire Counselling is a highly qualified counsellor and mother who has lived and worked in America, Europe and Asia. Maria has extensive experience providing counselling to both locals and expats in Singapore and overseas. These days Maria conducts much of her work online and as such has become highly experienced in using online video counselling.
Life was never intended to be an incomplete difficult jigsaw.
Although it sometimes feels just like that. A little extra help can be useful when you are needing to find direction in your life or to put the pieces of a puzzle together.
By talking about what you are experiencing to an experienced Psychotherapist you can often find the clarity you need and find your own way forward. At Aspire Counselling we focus on helping you realise your goals and living an empowered, fulfilled life.
In 1948 the World Health Organisation(WHO) was founded. Of its principles, the first is:
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Yet, even today, many people struggle to achieve balanced health. For those lucky enough to have physical and even social health, mental health is often lacking. Despite mental health issues affecting 1 in 4 people (25% of the population of the world), it remains a taboo and stigmatized subject in society. 350 million people in the world suffer from depression. These people are not odd “crazy” strangers, they are often amongst your closest family members, colleagues, and friends. So common are mental health challenges, that there’s absolutely no reason why it is not viewed as a normal, regular, yet managable condition.
Whilst some of these affected will need the help of specialists in order to function and maintain their mental health, we can all take basic steps to look after ourselves. Just as we invest in a healthy diet, gym memberships etc to maintain our physique and physical wellness, we can do similar things for our mental health. Both share exercise, diet and sleep in common.
When our physical health suffers we often feel the effect quite quickly in the form of tiredness, or even pain. With mental health, the signs can often be rather more subtle. For that reason, it is important that we frequently “check in with ourselves“. Daily self-monitoring and reaction to the changes we observe can be beneficial and helps with the identification of changes to our mental health. When changes are detected, or even before, we can learn numerous coping techniques to assist with the most common challenges such as depression and anxiety.
When we notice changes in our mental health that can’t simply be addressed by refocusing our thoughts or implementing healthy coping techniques then there is an abundance of help available in the form of psychotherapists, counsellors, peer support groups or even talking to family, colleagues, and friends.
Aspire Counselling is here to help when you need to talk or learn how to understand how you feel. Psychotherapist and Counsellor Maria Luedeke specializes in empowering individuals, families, couples and teams in the corporate workplaces to achieve their goals and live fulfilled lives.
You can find out more or book an appointment with Maria at Aspire Counselling by visiting https://aspirecounselling.net or by going directly to our online appointment booking page.
Exercise, Sleep, Nutrition – tackling depression
On world health day 7th April, Maria shared with website Patients Engage 3 lifestyle habits that can support those affected by depression.
According to the World Health Organization, there are over 350 million people globally who suffer from depression. Sadly, it is one of the most prevalent of mental health issues in the world. Maria Luedeke, Counsellor & Psychotherapist, CTRTC, stresses the urgent need to engage in a discussion of individually empowered self-management strategies.
Depression has a cyclical effect. Those with chronic illness are more susceptible to it and those with depression have a higher risk of other medical issues. This can become a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape from. Prioritizing physical self-care such as sleep, nutrition, exercise and medical conditions are imperative in breaking and prevention of this cycle.
Exercising can be a powerful anti-depressant. Research has shown that consistency is more important than quantity in improving mood disorders, so it is more beneficial to walk daily for 10-15 minutes than to do a 3-hour workout once a week. Choosing an exercise that is enjoyable and fits well into daily life is also essential to maximize the likelihood of adherence. Ideally, exercise should be done first thing in the morning or at least 3 hours before trying to sleep.
Sleep is an area that is often cited by depressed individuals as problematic. Many feel constantly fatigued, have disrupted sleep cycles or are unable to sleep/wake at typical times which interferes with their ability to function normally in daily life. Sleep hygiene is an important skill to learn in general for good wellness and becomes integral when managing depression. Establish regular sleep and wake times and be consistent with those throughout the week. Avoid electronics 1-2 hours before bed, this includes phones, iPads, computers and TVs as the blue light emitted from these devices stimulates brain activity at precisely the time we are trying to induce relaxation. Reading on a Kindle or iPad can be done by adjusting the backlight to a softer setting but online reading should be avoided as it is too tempting to flip back and forth between websites and “surf” which is another brain stimulating activity that should be avoided at bedtime. Those who have difficulty falling asleep can try progressive relaxation exercises or deep breathing exercise; both of which induce relaxation and calm.
There are numerous studies about the link between nutrition and mood. One such study by Harvard School of Public Health found that women were 41% more likely to suffer from depression when they regularly ate processed grains, sugary sodas, and red meats. Improving the quality of food eaten eliminates blood sugar spikes and dips that are linked to mood spikes and dips, can increase energy and brain clarity. The Indian Journal of Psychiatry states that patients with depression generally have inadequate nutritional intake, particularly foods high in essential vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Ensuring good nutrition, avoiding skipping meals and reducing high sugar foods can support mood stability.
Practicing healthy physical habits is one piece of managing depression. Paired with Intellectual, emotional and spiritual self-care this is a power approach of depression treatment. Psychosocial therapy and medication are integral components and should not be dismissed but empowering individuals with proactive self-care practices dramatically improves the positive outcomes of depression and mood disorders.
Maria Luedeke is Director of Aspire Counselling Pte Ltd, Singapore. Maria is a highly qualified Counsellor and Psychotherapist with educational qualifications from U.S. and Australian institutions and possesses a Certificate of Clearance from the Singapore Government authorizing her to work with children and adolescents in all settings.
If you are affected by depression and would like to know more, or want to book an appointment with Maria you can go to https://aspirecounselling.net or click here to go directly to our appointment bookings page.
We are excited to reveal that Maria has been named an Expatpreneur by The Finder Magazine in their 2017 awards.
Read about what makes Maria an Empathetic Counsellor in The Finder
The following is an extract from Finder Magazine:
This month, we’re celebrating the successes of savvy expatriates and Singaporeans, as well as the setbacks they overcame, to make life better in Singapore in our Expatpreneur Awards 2017.
Having lived all over the world since childhood, you can trust that expat Maria Luedeke, Owner and Counsellor of Aspire Counselling, can empathize with her patients regarding not only expat stresses but also the myriad other issues in life.
Maria is a member of several professional organisations such as the American Counselling Association, the William Glasser Institute and the American Psychotherapy Association.
She opened Aspire Counselling in 2016, and works with all ages and genders, couples and families and even corporate clients.
Columbian by birth, adopted at five weeks and a naturalised U.S. citizen, Maria resided in cities such as Rome, Tokyo and Hong Kong during her childhood.
“I grew up as an expat kid,” she says. “I moved about every four years!”
Perhaps that’s what makes her so empathetic and effective as owner of Aspire Counselling.
Maria credits her husband for helping her make the leap to business ownership.
“Don’t let fear hold you back from what you really want. My husband challenged me by asking, ‘What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail again?” she shares. “That has helped to spur me on when I begin to have any doubts.”
“The level of expectation of services provided is very high and pushes me to strive higher and work harder,” says Maria about Singapore.
However, she feels that Singapore supports women entrepreneurs, in particular. “Everyone from my bank to the office landlord, to my contractor bent over backwards to help me when they heard it was my first start-up.”
“As a therapist, there are times when I am emotionally drained or unsettled by certain cases,” she confesses. “I use exercise, yoga and my friends and husband to ensure I am practising good self-care.”
The signs of depression and what to do next
The symptoms of depression can vary depending upon the individual, age and gender. Even if you can spot the symptoms in yourself, they may be difficult to spot in others, particular when the individual becomes adept at “putting on a brave face” and pretending to the world (and sometimes themselves) that everything is ok.
In men there may be feelings of persistent anger, short-temperedness or frustration. Women may feel sadness, emptiness and loneliness. Children and teens experiencing depression may feel anxiety, fatigue, anger and withdrawal.
There are a number of general signs counsellors and therapists look out for to make a diagnosis.
• Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping
• Irritability and restlessness
• Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once pleasurable, including sex
• Overeating or loss of appetite Persistent aches, pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment
• Persistent sadness, anxiousness or feelings of emptiness
• Thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering details or making decisions
• Fatigue and decreased energy
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
• Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
Getting help is important, because depression tends to worsen over time, and research has shown that the sooner people seek help, the better the long-term outcome.
If you’ve experienced any of the above symptoms continually for two to four weeks, or if they’re impacting your daily routines or relationships, it’s time to check in with a qualified medical practitioner or mental health professional.
What can you do if you are affected by the symptoms of depression
The first step to managing mental health is likely to be a visit to your GP. A full medical history can first be taken, in order to rule out and treat any physical disease or disorder that can cause symptoms of depression.
A full personal and mental health history of yourself and your family will also be done, including alcohol and drug usage habits. Your doctor will then ask about your symptoms, their duration and severity. “If you’ve experienced these symptoms in the past, the practitioner will want to know how they were treated”.
Treatment for depression
There are three main ways that depression is treated: by antidepressant medication, psychotherapy or by a combination of both. In Singapore, medication can only be prescribed by a qualified medical doctor or psychiatrist. Psychotherapy is carried out by qualified counsellors, psychologists or social workers, and by some psychiatrists.
When it comes to depression, your doctor or mental health professional will make a treatment recommendation; ultimately, though, you may choose the treatment plan that best fits your needs. There are exceptions to this, however.
If the patient is a child, his or her parents would decide the treatment plan. Another exception is where the individual is a danger to themselves and shown by the attending psychiatrist to be mentally unable to make decisions.
In Singapore, under the Mental Disorders & Treatment Act (MDTA), police are empowered to bring mentally ill persons to the Institute of Mental Health for assessment if they are found or believed to be acting in a manner that is dangerous to themselves or to others.
Seeking help should never be seen as a sign of weakness or incompetence; it is a sign of intelligence, strength and honesty.
If you can identify with the symptoms of depression, you may need to seek the support of a qualified mental health professional. Maria Luedeke of Aspire Counselling is a highly qualified counsellor who will be able to advise you not he right course of action.
Aspire Counselling can be contacted, or you can make a booking for an online or face to face appointment on http://aspirecounselling.net or alternatively by emailing Maria Luedeke at email@example.com
A version of this article which includes the specialist input of Maria Luedeke of Aspire Counselling first appeared in the January 2017 edition of Expat Living, Singapore.
Life as an expat, trailing spouse in Singapore isn’t what you expected?
Many of us have heard the terms expat wife and trailing spouse. But what are the unique challenges faced these people. And when difficulties arise, what can you do about it?
Trailing spouse is a term coined to describe the spouse or partner of someone who relocates for work away from their home base. Sometimes a couple or a whole family move overseas. The trailing spouse can be a wife or female partner, or even a man.
Relocation brings with it a change of culture, distance from friends and family, and new beginnings. New friends, new food, new opportunities, but often also new stresses and challenges.
Many have been through this process, and many have had an amazing successful journey. But, many have found it challenging. How people deal with the challenges faced can define whether the posting overseas is a successful or negative one.
A new expat life full of hope
When starting the relocation journey, there is usually hope and optimism. There may be reservations, but the exotic location, career benefits, high salary etc. win over. Moving tends to go well at first as employers cater for our every need. First or Business class flights for the family, hotels and service apartments all help to keep us distracted whilst settling. The luxury of the new surroundings and exploring the new location, it can seem idyllic at first. New places to eat and drink, or even the distraction of helping the kids settle in their new home and school. Reality can take a while to sink in.
Dealing with the change associated with expat life
For some, the move may take place without any real consideration as to how the change will affect their own and children’s lives. For a while, you might not even notice or understand how it is affecting you. Expats can be surprised when things settle down and the excitement of the move is replaced by normality. Normality that may be accompanied by disappointment and emotions that weren’t expected.
Spouses may at times just follow their partner, taking a passive role and becoming increasingly dependent in the process. For others, the new surroundings can be intimidating, leading to them cutting themselves off, preferring instead to hide away and stay at home. There can also be challenges establishing one’s own identity in the new place. In too many cases, infidelity can rear its head, leading to disappointment, distance and even separation. When infidelity occurs, trailing spouses can be left debating the pros and cons of putting up with it, or returning home. Never an easy choice. Worse still if children are part of the expat scenario.
And for many, there comes a sense of grief. Even if one enjoys the new life, there can be a very real sense of loss associated with the move. Leaving behind family, friends, familiar situations etc. can be difficult.
Learning how to manage the changes in your life
Despite the challenges of life as a trailing or expat spouse, it is very possible to have a fulfilling and successful life. Achieving your goals and dreams should not be put on hold whilst you live overseas.
Self-care, keeping occupied in a fulfiling way, finding work, making friends, exercising regularly, eating well, moderating alcohol intake, learning the local language(s), study etc. These are all techniques that can help with finding identity and fulfilment in the new home.
Sometimes the difference between success and failure will come down to how you manage the change. It can also depend upon how you maintain your own identity. You may find that this is something you can’t do alone. You should not be afraid to discuss this and ask for help when necessary. You’ll find that you are not alone, and many have, or have had similar feelings and learnt how to manage them.
You are not alone – finding help
If you recognise yourself, then you may benefit from talking to someone who is professionally trained and experienced at handling such scenarios.
With professional support for you and/or your partner achieving your goals is a real possibility. Professional support can also help you find your own identity. It can help you decide for yourself what decisions you should make and discover what changes in your life will help you get what you need. Professional support can also teach you techniques to help you cope and manage how you feel.
If you are in need of help as an individual, couple or family, and wish to discuss this further then you may wish to book an appointment with Maria Luedeke at Aspire Counselling.
Maria Luedeke is a highly qualified counsellor who has lived and worked in America, Europe and Asia. Maria has extensive experience providing counselling to trailing spouses and expats in Singapore, as well as working with relationship and marital issues.
#expat #expatlife #trailingspouse #depression #relationships #relationshipissues #aspirecounselling #singapore
Featured in Expat Living – January 2017
Aspire Counselling is featured in Expat Living Singapore, published 11th January 2017, read Maria’s thoughts on Cultural identify crisis and marital issues affecting expats
Read the full article at http://www.expatliving.sg/counselling-singapore-issues-exp…/
The following is an excerpt from the article:
Cultural identity crisis
Moving into an unknown culture can be a confusing, stressful and frustrating experience for both adults and children as they are suddenly made to adapt to a new way of life or set of values. Being far away from home and without family support can also create stresses of their own. Culture shock can cause symptoms like extreme homesickness, an abnormal change in appetite and depression.
You can attend individual, couple or family therapy where counsellors can help you develop coping strategies for cultural adjustment issues. They can also assist you with any other underlying or coexisting issues such as marital strain or mood disorders.
Issues in a marriage can develop or become more pronounced during cultural adjustment periods. Both partners are experiencing high levels of stress as they get accustomed to the new environment, roles, cultural expectations and jobs. Excessive travel, loss of former careers and long work hours can add to daily frustrations of beginning a new life, creating temptation, loneliness, resentment and sparking arguments between spouses.
You can go for individual or couple counselling sessions where counsellors can provide a framework for you to work through difficulties.
1 Tanglin Road, Orchard Parade Hotel, #03-03
6570 2781 | aspirecounselling.net
Find out more about how Aspire Counselling can help under these circumstances at http://aspirecounselling.net or by calling 6570 2781
“Most parents have an instantaneous desire to protect their children. We tend to our children’s needs: If an unexplained rash appears, we see the doctor. If a fever spikes, we see the doctor. If a bone seems injured, we see the doctor.
Visible wounds are relatively easy to recognize. It’s different when a child begins having problems at school or with friends, or if he or she becomes uncooperative and has inexplicable outbursts. Such occurrences often leave parents feeling confused and unsure about what to do.”
To read more of this article and discover some of the signs, click the link below:
If you feel that you may need help with regards to your children’s behaviour, or issues affecting them, you might like to check out Aspire Counselling’s services for Children. We specialize in:
- Third Culture Kid adjustment and identity
- Worry and Stress Management
- Relationship Counselling
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
- Anxiety and Panic Disorders
- Depression and low mood
- Anger Management
You can also visit our website to book an online or face to face session with us at http://aspirecounselling.net
Contact Maria Luedeke at Aspire Counselling at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 6570 2781 to find out more about our services for men, women, adolescents, couples, families and corporates.
Image source Source: Giideon/Shutterstock