The Gift of Rest.

Modern society is familiar with depression.

Many of us have experienced it at different times in our lives, while others have struggled with it their entire lives. From those who feel depressed from time to time, to those who suffer from clinical depression—depression is abound in our society.

Something that is perhaps lesser known and often not validated by society at large: adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue is a group of symptoms that result when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. Adrenal fatigue stems most commonly from intense and prolonged levels of stress, as well as accompanying other longer-term illnesses.

As the name suggests, the biggest symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep. You may look and act relatively normal with adrenal fatigue and may not have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet you live with a general sense of unwellness, tiredness or “gray” feelings.

In the more serious cases, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that you may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day.

The other thing about adrenal fatigue is that it may mimic the symptoms of depression, and may even be caused by depression. Alternatively, adrenal fatigue may make a person feel depressed.

Regardless of cause, adrenal fatigue is no fun.

Although it affects millions of people in the U.S. and around the world, conventional medicine does not yet recognize it as a distinct syndrome, which make it even more of a challenge for the sufferer than it already is.

Adrenal fatigue is likely more rampant than we as a society may realize, as nowadays, everything and everyone is moving so fast. There is more and more pressure to go, go, go and pressure to achieve. With advances in modern technology, people are trying to be everywhere at once, communicate with as many people as possible, and there is little time or space for downtime, solitude, and rest.

And, the culture of our society is not to rest, but instead, to do whatever it takes to “keep up”, and rather than taking time to rest and recover, we make our stress and fatigue even worse. If you weren’t depressed to start with, you may start to move in that direction as you find your energy dropping even more over time. Rest is a very important and necessary thing that we tend not to give ourselves on a regular basis, or—ever.

Of all of the psychological mood disorders, depression is the most commonly talked about, well-known—and while not always well understood by those who haven’t experienced it first hand—depression is somewhat accepted in the fabric of our culture. Adrenal fatigue not so much.

It is hopeful that over time we as a culture can come to validate and recognize this modern day syndrome so that people can get the help that they need to recover and take care of themselves.

Whether you are experiencing depression, adrenal fatigue, or a combination of the two, contact South Denver Psychology today to find out how we can help you. We offer depression counseling for men, counseling services for women, and offer overall supportive psychotherapy for Colorado residents in Denver and surrounding area.

South Denver Psychology has counselors that you can trust who can help you get the support you need.

Self-Criticism and You: Unhealthy Expectations

Self reflection is a good thing. Introspection can yield important personal revelations, and can lead to great personal growth. But what happens if internal criticism goes too far?

According to a new book by Professor Golan Shahar (Erosion: The Psychopathology of Self-Criticism) too much self-criticism may set you up for failure. To quote the author, “Self-criticism is a personality trait characterized as the tendency to set unrealistically high standards for one’s self and an expression of hostility and derogation when these high standards are, inevitably, not met.” Which is to say, assuming that one should seek to achieve an impossible standard can lead to harmful self-punishment when the standard simply cannot be met.

This sort of mental enforcement happens frequently in modern society. From body-image issues to one’s self-imposed societal expectations, our world is full of messaging telling us that certain standards are expected of us when they’re simply based on an impossible set of criteria. Not only this, but there are many scenarios in which we are expected to self-enforce; to begin to criticize ourselves in order to achieve some nebulous state of idealized criteria.

While the idea of setting standards for oneself can be healthy and self-fulfilling, fixating on unattainable goals can lead to depression and anxiety. The dissonance between our current states and the idealized states we’ve internalized often cannot be reconciled, leading us to see fault in ourselves. This perception of fault can feed on itself, causing us to fall further and further into harmful patterns.

None of this is to say that we should not create standards for ourselves. Being able to set goals and work towards achieving them can be rewarding and provide stability and satisfaction. However, there must be a delineation between the goals you set for yourself and goals you believe you should pursue based on outside influence. Often times, what society expects from us is not–frankly speaking–in our best interests.

If you have any questions about reconciling your goals and expectations with the expectations placed on you by society, contact South Denver Psychotherapy today. For more information on Professor Shahar’s book, take a look at this article or check out the book on

Give Your Brain a Break: Silence and Brain Health

How many times a day do you check your phone?

We’re not saying it’s bad. Too many outlets demonize technology without taking into account the benefits provided by social contact and connectivity. However, recent studies have begun to establish the connection between too much noise and too little recovery time, leading to more fatigue, and higher rates of stress and discomfort.

According to recent studies, there is such thing as too much stimulation. With all of the modern conveniences at our fingertips, the temptation to always move on to the next thing can start to override our physiological tendencies. If you’ve stayed up too late watching episodes of your favorite show on Netflix more often than you’d like, you’ll know what we’re talking about: the craving for the stimulus that starts to seem more important than things like, say, sleep. Or food. It doesn’t have to be quite as blatant, either, with more subtle manifestations like the need to constantly check your phone, or the feeling that you’ll receive an important work email the moment you close your browser.

Whatever it starts to look like, the end result is–functionally speaking–fairly simple: your brain just doesn’t have enough down-time. In layman’s terms, the inability to separate ourselves from stimuli is similar to listening to a leaky faucet, except on a constant basis. Time and time again, your body is forced to react on a subconscious level to a noise or light, keeping your body in a heightened state of awareness. On a chemical level, this includes the release of the stress hormone Cortisol, as well as physiological responses like higher blood pressure.

Always having something to react to starts to wear on an individual. This includes exposure to what would otherwise be considered “ambient” noise, including so-called “relaxing” music; a 2006 study found indications that silence was more physiologically relaxing than exposure to quiet, relaxing music. Theoretically, the only time your body will enter an authentic “relaxation” mode is in the absence of stimuli, not in the presence of so-called “relaxing” stimuli.

Though we here at South Denver Psychotherapy understand the many benefits that modern living provides, there is a lot to be said for looking to strike a balance. Giving yourself some time to not react to anything can have a host of benefits, both physical and psychological. If you’re stressed, fatigued, or feeling overwhelmed, it’s possible that one of the things you may need is a whole lot of nothing.

If you have any questions about methods to reduce stress and increase mindfulness, please don’t hesitate to contact South Denver Psychotherapy. Our counselors can help you achieve a healthy balance that lets you take advantage of the modern world, without having it take advantage of you.

It’s Not About the Big Gestures: A Valentine’s Day Guide

Valentine’s Day represents a gigantic source of societal pressure. From what to get your significant other, to where you’d like to go, what you’d like to do, and so on and so forth, Valentine’s Day can put a lot of stress into a relationship.

But what if we told you it didn’t have to?

The thing about Valentine’s Day—according to—is that, though having a day of the year set aside for the celebration of the people you love is great, there are a large number of conflicting expectations that hang over February 14th. And, in addition to the cloud of societal and cultural pressures that Valentine’s Day represents, it always seems that no two people have the same expectations as to how they’re supposed to express their love.

Clashing expectations lead to a lot of tension in a relationship. But according to our own Dr. Pam Kennel, a healthy relationship shouldn’t have to rely on one day of expectations, regardless of how they’re met. Instead, a relationship should be about showing love every day.

Relationships are at their healthiest when each member of the relationship shows a constant level of consideration for the other. This doesn’t mean taking your significant other on a series of ever more elaborate and romantic dates—for one, that can put a serioaus amount of strain on your finances—but rather, it’s about truly considering how your actions can affect the person you love. If they tell you something they don’t like, for example, pay attention and make an effort to fix the problem. Tell them that something they’ve done for you is appreciated; even if you feel appreciative, it might be hard for your significant other to see unless that feeling is expressed verbally.

The key to every successful relationship is communication. That doesn’t just mean expressing yourself; instead, it means making sure that your significant other knows they’re being heard. Likewise, it’s rare to find a couple where one single gesture on one day out of the year covers every facet of the relationship.

Every relationship is made out of people, and people can’t be summed up in one big gesture. Instead, find a way to show your significant other how you love them every day, from emptying the dishwasher, to listening to their concerns, to telling them how much they mean to you.

If you have any questions about relationship counseling, please don’t hesitate—contact South Denver Psychotherapy today. Our staff can help you express the love you feel for your significant other every day of the year.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Just Get Out the Door: Connecting Exercise and Mood

When you think exercise, what comes to mind? Physical fitness? Hard work? Silly shorts? Exercise can be all of these things and more. But what if we told you that exercise might also mean a healthier mind?

According to a number of scientific studies, your New Year’s Resolution might be worth sticking to. Exercise doesn’t just mean sweat—according to these studies, it has been linked to an improvement of symptoms of depression and anxiety. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a run or just doing some yoga: both aerobic and anaerobic exercise seem to help address symptoms.

Theories abound on why exercise and mental health are linked, from the psychological to the neurochemical. Several beneficial psychological and sociological elements fit under the physical fitness umbrella, such as distracting oneself from negative stimuli—leaving work- or relationship-related stress behind, for example—and the feeling of accomplishment and efficacy that comes from reaching your fitness goals. Likewise, often times there is a social structure of support and camaraderie that comes from exercise: if you have a workout group or buddy, you’re more likely to receive support that you might not otherwise get.

These boosts to self-esteem that come from the psychological benefits of exercise often address a great range of symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, there seem to be physiological benefits, too: according to some hypotheses, exercise can affect the release of helpful neurochemicals. For example, according to one study, exercise can “increase the synaptic transmission of monomines.” While this may sound like a chapter in a psychology textbook, that information is exciting news: it turns out, that is the same function found in a range of antidepressant medications. In a similar vein, exercise has been observed to release endorphins, and while the connection between endorphins and exercise requires more study, there is a promising body of evidence to suggest that working out can give you the neurochemical dump you need to counteract some symptoms of depression and anxiety.

It is important to note that there are studies indicating that exercising may not be a catch-all solution to your mental health symptoms. Experimentally speaking, many gaps remain in the data that has been thus far collected—as with many other psychological and medical issues, modern technology has opened a huge range of options for exploration on these subjects.

On the other hand, however, exercise affects many different parts of your life. Several elements of physical activity seem to have complimentary effects, including distracting yourself from fixating on issues, and feeling better about your physical well-being. So, next time you’re feeling stuck, getting depressed, or feeling anxious, maybe it’s time to take a walk or do some push-ups. After all, mental health concerns your whole body, not just your mind.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call South Denver Psychotherapy at 303-730-1144, or visit our website for more information on how we can help you rediscover your authentic self.