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Archive for the ‘mental health’ Category

Searching for Happiness?

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Could the pursuit for happiness be a major factor in the feelings of sadness and depression? This may sound like a strange question for a therapist to ask, but I like to get people thinking of things they may not be inclined to consider.

Let me say one thing: If you are experiencing depression or sadness, which are different, I have been there. This is in no way a commentary on your personal experience.

A Google search for “happiness” will give you, within a half a second, 327 million results.happiness-img

If happiness was something to be found, we could find it easily with that much information available. Yet here we are in the 21st century, and judging by titles in the self-help section, happiness continues to be elusive. According to the World Health Organization and other studies, as many as 9.5 percent of adults experience symptoms of major depression in any given year. These studies also identify depression as the leading cause of disability in the United States. Fifty years ago, the average age of onset was 29. Today it is fourteen. How can this be?

Parents are focusing more on giving their children everything they want to “make them happy” and “build their self-esteem.” We read the latest books promising a road to happiness for our self and our children. We purchase all the material items a commercial tells us will make us happy. Like changing shoes, men and women change families with the discomfort of their “happiness” being threatened.

Back to the question.

Could the search for happiness be a major factor in the increasing rate of depression? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Over 50 years ago, people were less focused on being happy and more focused on doing the right thing based on their values. Happiness was not mentioned as a primary motivator.
  2. When we search for happiness, it’s a thing to be found. A thing found can also be lost or stolen, which implies that it is outside of ourselves and out of our control. It’s why we look for it in other people, drugs, alcohol, religion (I mean the rules, not the relationship with God), or any other myriad of addictions.
  3. Those people who seek to become healthy – physically, relationally, mentally, spiritually – usually report higher levels of life satisfaction than those who seek to find “happiness.” People who look strive for health find happiness. People who strive for happiness find neither happiness nor health.

Focusing on happiness to get you “out” may be like searching for a home by looking exclusively at the paint color in the closet. If you are experiencing sadness, grief, or a Major Depressive Disorder, please understand that you can overcome.

Take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Surround yourself with safe people that will challenge you to grow in those areas and who will accept your challenges as well.

Just remember, “happiness” is a byproduct not a thing to be found or the end goal.

If you find yourself wondering why you can’t seem to find happiness or satisfaction or a relationship that is not as fulfilling as you hoped, come see us. We can help.

Chris R. Giles, MS, LMFT


Heart for Mental Health Radio Announcement

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

KXOJ radio station logoHeart for Mental Health flyerCFI Logo-innovated media

Look mom, we’re on the radio!

Click here to listen to the KXOJ radio spot for the upcoming Heart for Mental Health event.


If you have not already done so, register your attendance at

Click here for more info.

Heart for Mental Health Event

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Speaking Event

Christian Family Institute is honored to take part in the Heart for Mental Health event Friday, March 10, 2017.

Come support efforts to educate, raise awareness, learn about resources, and experience training in mental health.

Register your attendance with Dr. Roddy of Advanced Eye Care, Inc. 

Participating partners:

Southern Hills Baptist Church – Celebrate Recovery

Bright Tomorrows

Hope is Alive Mentoring Homes

Teen Challenge

Heart for Mental Health flyer

Too Busy Not to Sleep

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

sleeping-1159279_1920In our society today, it seems that busyness is seen as a badge of honor. One of the things that is sacrificed most often in our run about life is sleep. If we need to do “one more thing” we often add it to the end of the day, or at least extend the end of the day to make that “one more thing” happen. However, the benefit vs. the cost of that “one more thing” may not add up.

It is a common belief that sleep disruption is a major symptom of many mental health concerns such as Depression and Anxiety. However, research has shown that a lack of consistent sleep could actually be a contributor to the development of these issues.

In an article from Harvard Medical School, the authors report that 50-90% of clients in psychiatric care (any type of counseling, both inpatient and outpatient) experience some form of chronic sleep problem. This is compared to only 10 – 18% of the general population. While many clinicians focus on sleep problems as a symptom of mental health disorders, some research shows that in many cases the onset of chronic sleep problems (insomnia, sleep apnea, etc) actually preceded the onset of the mental health concerns. In fact researchers have found that in both adults and children, people experiencing chronic sleep disruption are four times more likely to develop some form of Depression. So the assumption is that treating the sleep issues may help alleviate symptoms of the mental health problem. Getting a regular, sufficient amount of sleep may also help prevent future mental health concerns.

We know that good sleep habits and different stages of the sleep cycle aid in things like energy level, memory function and emotion regulation. All of which play major roles in many other mental health concerns.

Tips For Healthy Sleep:

1. Sleep Hygiene. No need to worry about putting on deodorant before bed. Sleep hygiene is all about routine. Most parents will find that a better structured bedtime routine leads to better sleeping children. It is no different when we grow up. We adults tend to neglect the importance of bedtime routine as we grow up.

Many researchers believe that insomnia is learned. Sleep hygiene includes maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping (or sex), and keeping the bedroom dark and free of distractions like the computer or television. Cooler room temperature and comfy clothes also help. New research suggests keeping your cell phone out of the bedroom as well.

Much of what we experience as Depression and Anxiety is linked to a feeling of chaos or a sense of being out of control in our life. The area of sleep hygiene (think “routine”) may be one of the simplest starting points in regaining that control.

2.Physical activity. Regular aerobic activity helps people fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night. Regular, not necessarily intense activity. Don’t be afraid to start with a brisk 20 minute walk a few times a week.

3. Avoid CATS. Before all of you feline lovers out there stop reading, I am not talking about your furry lap napping pet. Actually, Caffeine, Alcohol, Tobacco and Sugar are all major contributors to sleep problems and should be avoided as much as possible, particularly near bedtime.

4. Relaxation Techniques. Get your body ready for rest with some deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation which you can read about or learn from your friendly mental health professional.

5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Because people with insomnia tend to become preoccupied with not falling asleep, cognitive behavioral techniques help them to change negative expectations and try to build more confidence that they can have a good night’s sleep. These techniques can also help to change the “blame game” of attributing every personal problem during the day on lack of sleep.

So, challenge yourself to make sleep a priority. The dishes and tomorrow’s duties can wait. The better you sleep, the more able you will be to complete those tasks and feel energetic and in control to boot.

Call us at (918) 745-0095 if you are struggling with sleep or any other issue. We would be glad to help or get you to someone who can.

written by Chris Giles, M.S.

Non-Medication Ways to Treat Biological Issues In Mental Health

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

stamp-895383_1920The treatment of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns, typically involves a multilevel plan of intervention. We typically address social, psychological, spiritual, and biological areas. The area of biological intervention is the focus of this particular article.

Typically when we think about biological intervention, the assumption is that we are discussing medication. Yes, medication is a biological intervention, and in some situations, is an important part of the treatment plan. However, psychotropic medications are not the only biological treatments available. How we eat, our activity level, and even how much we get outside and get enough light exposure can affect our moods.

carrot-1085063_1920A healthy diet, can be a very helpful tool in impacting mental health concerns. We all know the circumstances where we’ve had a heavy meal or have indulged in poor choices of food, and as a result we don’t feel well for the short team. For the long term, healthy nutrition also plays a part in how our brain works. Having appropriate balances of macro nutrients, and micro nutrients is very important. One particular area that has shown some promise in improving mental health concerns is omega-3 fatty acids. There is a lot of research that suggests that these particular nutrients may have a mental health benefit. An increase in omega-3 rich foods may be helpful. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as fish oil capsules, might also be of benefit. However, do not begin any kind of significant dietary supplementation, without consulting your physician.

It has been well known for some time that exercise is beneficial for your mental health. Some well established research, has even suggested that exercise can be as beneficial as medication for the treatment of depression. We are not talking about training for a marathon, or becoming an Olympian. Going for a brisk walk several times a week is enough to create significant benefit for most individuals. Even increasing activity level by choosing to take the stairs as opposed to an elevator or walking more by parking further out in a parking lot, may be helpful. Again, exercise routines should not be implemented without consulting with your physician.

running-573762_1280Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a depression related diagnoses that is heavily influenced by the amount of light exposure a person receives. It is typically treated with exposure to bright light. This is a powerful and effective therapy for those who live in low light environments, such as wintertime in more northern areas. Recent research has suggested that the same light therapy may be useful for depression in general. So making sure that someone gets outside and receives an hour, or more, of exposure to bright light is a good idea. Most of the time it is suggested that this light exposure take place earlier in the morning. If someone cannot get outside, there are therapeutic light devices that facilitates getting enough light exposure to improve mood. The latest research has suggested that blue spectrum light is the source of the greatest benefit for this kind of treatment. In order to acquire one of these therapeutic blue spectrum lights, there may be a need to receive a prescription from your physician. Any decision to pursue such a line of treatment should be made in consultation with your physician.

I am not saying that these treatments by themselves will be a complete cure for depression or other concerns. However, in the context of a multi modal treatment plan, that includes therapy, possible medical intervention, and accessing social and spiritual resources, these interventions can be quite useful.

By Eric Clements


Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

criticism-440219_1280You are a powerful influence over your mood and self-esteem. How you think about yourself and the words you say (your self-talk) matter. Through self-talk, you provide opinions and evaluations on what you’re doing as you are doing it. When it’s upbeat and self-validating, the results can boost your confidence and motivation. When the messages are critical and harsh, however, the effects can be emotionally harmful. People with clinical levels of depression may have frequent and relentless forms of destructive self-talk. The more you talk yourself down and second guess yourself, the less free you are to creatively find solutions to daily problems.

More than likely, you aren’t aware of how frequent negative self-talk is occurring throughout your day. This destructive style may cause you to question yourself to the point of becoming paralyzed with self-doubt and uncertainty. Examples of these messages may include:

1) I am not interesting
2) I have no talent
3) People don’t like me

On the other hand, with constructive self-talk, you cheer yourself on, focus on the positive aspects of a situation and allow yourself to feel good. Positive self-talk has stress management benefits, productivity benefits and even health benefits. A few suggestions to try during stressful situations include:

1) This too shall pass and my life will be better
2) Look at how well I handled that situation
3) One step at a time
4) I am doing the best I can

Being aware of what you are saying to yourself is the first step. Changing the negative statements to more positive ones is the second. Other ideas on where to begin include:

1) Limiting negative influences in your life
2) Reading aloud positive affirmations
3) Identifying and confronting your fears
4) Focusing on the enjoyable moments in life

Implementing these changes a little at a time can bring satisfying results. If you need help, give us a call; the counselors at CFI are trained to assist you.

by Lois Trost, M.S.W.

(more articles on self talk)

How Does God Treat Depression?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

depressionDepression affects one in ten Americans at some point in their lives. Oklahoma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has one of the percentages of adults that meet the criteria for depression in the nation.

In my practice treating depression, I often see the pain of depression compounded by my client’s having some or all of the following beliefs. “I’m a Christian, I shouldn’t feel this way.” “If my faith was stronger, I’d feel better.” “I’m so blessed, how can I be depressed?” “I need to spend more time in the word.” “Pray more.” “God is not happy with me.”

So, if you or someone you love is struggling with depression, and self condemnation, let me share with you the way God treats depression. We’ll be looking at Elijah, who James describes as “a man with a nature like ours.” (James 5:17)

1Kings 17-19:18 tells us of Elijah, a man who was hated by King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. He prayed that it would not rain until he said, and it didn’t rain for three years. He made provisions for one meal to last for three years. He raised a dead boy to life. In between some of these events, he went into hiding where God sent ravens to feed him. Perhaps the most famous event was when he called ?re down from heaven. After the prophets of Baal had been praying to their gods all day long to no avail, Elijah dug trenches around the altar and ?lled them with water. He then soaked the offering and altar with water three times, and prayed. God sent ?re that consumed the sacri?ce. Elijah then gave the people the order to destroy the prophets of Baal.

God does not remind Elijah of the reasons that he should not feel this way–not even one! He doesn’t tell him to “suck it up,” “have more faith,” “count your blessings,” or “pray harder.” Instead, God sends an angel who touches Elijah, and says to him, “Get up and eat.”

I tell you all this so that you can realize that this man with a nature like us was a man of great faith and was used by God in a mighty way. He was a solid believer.

After all this, the next thing we see in Scripture is Elijah hiding from Jezebel’s death threats. But more than just running away, he’s in the desert praying to die, crying out to God that he had had enough–he couldn’t do it any more.

So, we have this great man of God, fearful and depressed, praying to die. God’s response is the part of the story I want you to pay attention to. God does not remind Elijah of the reasons that he should not feel this way–not even one! He doesn’t tell him to “suck it up,” “have more faith,” “count your blessings,” or “pray harder.” Instead, God sends an angel who touches Elijah, and says to him, “Get up and eat.” Elijah looked beside him and there was food and water. After a time of rest, the “angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him” and told him to rise and eat. God then spoke to Elijah softly and reassured him of God’s plans and Elijah’s future success.

God responded to Elijah’s depression by sending support, the angel touched him and fed him. He allowed Elijah to rest and sleep. God took care of Elijah’s basic needs and required nothing of him.

So, I think we can safely say that God would not have us beat ourselves up or feel shame in being depressed. There is no shame in needing help!
The end of Elijah’s story is spectacular–check out 2 Kings 2.

Salley Sutmiller, M.S.

For more articles on depression, click here.

A Good Nights Sleep

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

sleeping childQuality sleep may be one of the most important things to maintaining our health. Regarding to mental health, sleep has all kinds of significance, both diagnostic and interventional. Often times, mental health issues will affect someone’s ability to sleep. This can ultimately create a negative cycle in which the lack of sleep makes the mental health concern more significant and then the mental health concern can further disturb sleep. Doing some things to improve sleep quality and quantity, can be very helpful in alleviating these concerns.

A common concept, foundational to helping improve sleep is Sleep Hygiene. These are a set of suggestions that are designed to set the stage for healthy sleep to occur. If someone is dealing with a serious sleep disorder these may not be enough to overcome that problem, however, they are still important in achieving a solution. If you are struggling with any kind of difficulty sleeping, you may want to implement some of the following ideas.

Eliminate anything from the bedroom (especially the bed itself) that has is not conducive to sleep. This would include a television, computers, even radios and reading material. The idea is that the bedroom, and the bed specifically, is for sleeping and that should be its lone focus. OK, those who are married might find another use for the bed.

Be careful what you eat and drink. Avoid foods and drinks that are going to upset your stomach and caused distress. Minimizing fatty and spicy food, anything that might upset the stomach or cause distress should be avoided for understandable reasons.

Avoiding caffeine, especially at least six hours before bedtime, is very helpful. Even those people who think they’ve developed some resistance to caffeine, should eliminate it during the evening hours. There’s a reason over-the-counter medications designed to help people stay awake are essentially caffeine tablets.

Avoid thinking of alcohol as a sleep aid. The problem with alcohol, while it may induce some drowsiness or sleepiness, is that it actually decreases the quality of sleep.

Develop a calm down routine before bed. For about an hour and a half before you go to sleep, it is a good idea to do something soothing and relaxing, preferably with the lights dimmed. This could include reading, prayer time, personal Bible study, even a soothing bath or shower. It would be best to avoid anything like roughhousing with the kids or watching something that is likely to rile you up.

Regular exercise is an important part of sleep hygiene. Just be sure it is done several hours before going to bed. Exercise does have a stimulating affect for the few hours immediately after the activity. So sleeping right after exercise should be avoided. When you are exercising, intensity is a lot less important than simply being active. Brisk walks several times a week should do the job. Of course consult a physician before beginning a new exercise program.

The environment of the bedroom is important. A cool room has proven to be more conducive to healthy sleep. Also, a dark room is very important for fostering a healthy sleep environment. Light exposure is an important part of waking up, thus eliminating light is an important part of getting to sleep.

Maintain a regular schedule. It is a really good idea to go to bed and get out of bed at the same time every day. Developing a sleep/wake routine, can be very helpful in setting your circadian rhythm, also known as your sleep cycle.

While this is not an exhaustive list of sleep hygiene suggestions, it is good place to start. If you are having significant sleep issues and would like some help regarding them, please contact us at Christian Family Institute. We can help you determine exactly what your sleep issues may be and help you in overcoming those concerns.

by Eric Clements, M.S.

(more articles on managing stress)

7 Tips on Dealing with Depression

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015


Depression causes negative thinking, withdrawal, and inactivity. These symptoms, in turn, make you feel more depressed. The more depressed you feel, the more you think negatively, withdraw, and reduce activity. It’s a self-feeding cycle.

1. Get Real. You cannot prevent stressful things from happening in your life. However, learning to maintain balance and recover quickly when shaken puts you in control of a situation rather than a situation being in control of you. The following are a few suggestions on steps to take to refocus.

2. Get Involved. Volunteer work with a library, church or civic group. Go out with friends, or join a club (book club, knitting club, car club). Being around others rather than isolating yourself is a helpful way to resist depression.

3. Get Physical. Exercise plays an important role in your well-being and self-esteem. Join a gym or go for a walk (alone, with a friend or take the dog). Get on a bike and ride the trails. Tulsa Metro Area has over 80 miles of bicycle/pedestrian trails to keep you safely off the streets while enjoying fresh air. There are 75 free bikes to check out and use thanks to Saint Francis Health System. These are located along Riverside at 21st, 41st and 96th Streets.

4. Get Active. Learn a new skill, such as photography, cooking, gardening or woodworking. Learning raises self-esteem and makes you a more interesting person.

5. Get Relaxed. Listen to music and let your mood be uplifted. Learn yoga or Pilates from a book or DVD (stretching is relaxing!) or simply take the time to breathe slowly and deeply for several minutes.

6. Get Personal. Be aware of what you are doing and thinking that keeps depression around. Your mood is dependent on how you think, not on what happens to you, and the messages you tell yourself (your self-talk) influence your mood. Get in the habit of thinking about what you are thinking. Try changing negative thoughts into encouraging ones. Non-negative thinking is more powerful in terms of reducing depression than just thinking positive thoughts. This exercise can be difficult, however, because it is hard to concentrate when you are depressed. Your ability to minimize the negativity in situations allows you to take control away from depression and helps you feel empowered.

7. Get Help. The tips listed above are suggestions for you to try on your own. If you are unable to overcome a depressed mood on your own, call a qualified therapist to assist. There are many factors that cause depression and a therapist is equipped to help you find avenues to successfully overcome it.

Lois Trost, M.S.W.

(Click here for more articles on depression.)

Insights into Depression

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

BIBLICAL INSIGHTShead-196541_640

Christians sometimes have the mistaken notion that they are immune from depression, and that depression is a result of failure in their Christian walk. This may not be the true as there are many causes of depression as we have indicated above.

The Bible records many examples of depression in God’s people. David repeatedly experienced depression (Psalms 43, 69, 88, and 102). Job, Moses, and Jonah of the Old Testament all experienced depression. Elijah, following the greatest victory recorded in the scripture on Mt. Carmel, sat under a broom tree and prayed to die (I Kings 19:4).

Scripture indicates “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, . . . (Gal. 5:22).” It is God’s desire that we experience peace and joy, the opposite of depression. Phillipians 4:8 gives us a prescription for our negative thoughts. We are told to think on the things that are true, honest, lovely, excellent, virtuous and worthy of praise.

Comfort may be found in the scripture as clients are helped to realize that depression affects even the greatest of God’s heroes of faith. Faith and hope produce the opposite of hopelessness and contribute to recovery.

For clients experiencing separation from God, unforgiveness, or unrepentant sin, submission to Christ’s Lordship may produce healing and restore joy. For clients who have distorted notions of who God is, or what the Bible teaches, instruction and correction of faulty notions may increase a sense of hopefulness and healthy self esteem.


Psychological theories and research also give us insight into depression. We know that changes in brain chemistry take place in the person who is depressed. For some patients, those changes occur in response to medical disorders. In other cases, brain chemistry may be altered by stress, and thoughts of hopelessness, helplessness, and self-depreciation.

For the person whose depression is primarily caused by negative thoughts, cognitive therapy has been proven to be effective. Cognitive therapy is the application of behavioral and self management techniques to assist clients to change their thought-life which in turn affects emotions. The theory behind cognitive psychology is that emotions result from thoughts. As one changes their thoughts in conformity with a positive Biblical perspective, depression often disappears.

When depression is related to family and marital problems, marriage and family therapy may produce relief. This therapy may be directed at improving conflict resolution and communication skills, and may facilitate negotiation between family members. Some patients have unresolved conflicts going back to their family upbringing. Helping people look at the origins of their depression, bitterness, and anger may lead to forgiveness and reconciliation.

For those experiencing reactive depression due to loss, life stress, or change, emotional support and encouragement may speed recovery. “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone (1 Thes. 5:14).

– Dale Doty, Ph.D.

(Additional articles on depression.)