Normal Responses to Trauma: When to Seek Help

 In light of the severe weather that came through the Northern Illinois area last evening, please review BGC’s posts, regarding dealing with trauma.

It is important to remember that everyone reacts differently to trauma and each person has their
own tolerance level for difficult feelings. To cope with these emotions, there are some things
you can do for yourself and others. Experts say that remaining engaged in our world, staying
connected with people, and being optimistic about the challenges ahead are key to riding through
otherwise traumatic times. In fact, in times of turmoil, people can make changes that improve their lives and life satisfaction

Signs to Seek Help
However, when feelings do not go away or are so intense that they impair your ability to function
in daily life, you may have a diagnosable disorder that requires mental healthcare. There are
signs that can help you determine whether you are having a normal reaction to our nation’s crisis
or if you’re experiencing a mental health problem. These signs include:
• Nightmares and reoccurring thoughts about the event
• Being unable to stop thinking about what happened
• Avoiding thoughts, feelings or conversations that remind you of the event
• Avoiding places or people that remind you of the event
• Having a sense of a foreshortened future
• Continued difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
• Feeling jumpy or easily startled
• Being overly concerned about safety
• Feeling guilty, worthless or hopeless
• Not taking pleasure in activities once enjoyed
• Having thoughts of death or suicide

If you are experiencing these symptoms, talking with a mental health professional or taking a
mental health screening test can help you understand how well you are coping with the recent
events. Take that step and get help.

For more Information Call:
Ben Gordon Center …………….815 756-4875

24 hour crisis hotline: 1-866-BGC-0111


We all may need additional help from time to time…..

 The severe weather events that took place last evening have caused lots of damage, pain, and suffering, both mental and physical.  We all understand that our community is looking for solutions, coping skills and information on understanding others’ reactions as well as our own.

As a valued member of our community, Ben Gordon Center’s programs and services we realize that the recent events have raised these issues in your business, in your families and with you personally.  If we can be of additional service to you on the days, weeks and months ahead please do not hesitate to talk with your counselor or provider. 

Should you find yourself in need of additional services we also offer walk-in services and a toll free number where you can and talk with one of our caring professionals at any time day or night please call.

Call the Ben Gordon Center at 815-756-4875

Or visit our website at
24 hour Crisis Hotline: 1-866-BGC-0111

October is National Depression Awareness Month

Sad? Angry? Hopeless?

 When asked to describe the typical symptoms of depression, most people lean towards the emotional aspects, such as hopelessness, persistent sadness or irritability. Many times, however, depression can present itself in a series of physical symptoms.

 Headaches, back pain, muscle aches, chest pains, digestive system issues, extreme fatigue and sleep disorders can be a few of the physical symptoms of depression, a treatable condition that affects nearly 10 million Americans each year. Since many of these symptoms are also symptoms of other illnesses, it is easy to misdiagnose depression.

Ben Gordon Center ] invites you to take advantage of free, anonymous online mental health self-assessments for alcohol problems, depression, and anxiety disorders. Please visit The Ben Gordon Center Screening Tool to complete a simple online questionnaire. 

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Mood

September 15-21 marks National Wellness Week. Approximately 20 million adults in the U.S. have a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety. While mood disorders should always be evaluated by a mental health professional, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to ease symptoms or keep them from reoccurring.

Healthy Diet

While you’ve heard that eating a healthy, balanced diet is good for your physical health, it can also benefit your mental health. Researchers in Australia studied the link between diet and mental health and found lower rates of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder among those who consumed a traditional diet of meat and vegetables than among people who followed a modern Western diet heavy with processed and fast foods or even a health-food diet of tofu and salads. In addition to cutting back on processed foods and junk food, certain foods provide mental health benefits including:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3 fatty acids play an important role in brain function. When consumed, serotonin is released in the brain and helps to reduce mood swings and depression symptoms. They can be found in seafood, such as salmon, as well as flaxseed and walnuts.
  • Tryptophan: Tryptophan produces serotonin which is often low in those with depression. Tryptophan can be found in red meat, dairy products, soy, and turkey.
  • Vitamin B6: Individuals with depression often have low levels of Vitamin B6, which can be found in grains such as cereals, brown rice, and breads. Chicken, corn, eggs, legumes, nuts, peas, and sunflower seeds are also rich in B vitamins.
  • Green Tea: Green Tea is an incredibly rich source of antioxidants and contains an amino acid, theanine, that has been shown to provide an anti-stress relaxation benefit.

exerciseRegular Exercise
Physical activity is increasingly recognized as an effective tool to treat depression and anxiety, according to a recent study by the University of Toronto. Moderate exercise can prevent episodes of depression in the long term and also keep anxiety and depression from reoccurring. Thirty minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week can significantly improve depression and anxiety symptoms. But psychologists studying how exercise relieves depression and anxiety suggest that exercising for as little as 10 minutes can deliver several hours of relief. Benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Stress Reduction: Exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones.
  • Self Esteem Boost: Doing something good for yourself, like exercise, makes you feel better about yourself.
  • Improved Sleep: Daily exercise can improve sleep quality and exercising consistently can provide improvements in sleep over time.

Just as exercise can improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, so can sleep. Evidence suggests that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared to those that sleep well. Depressed individuals may suffer from a range of insomnia symptoms including difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and daytime sleepiness. Here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep.

  • Set a regular bedtime. Go to bed at the same time every night. Choose a time when you normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn. Try not to break this routine on weekends when it may be tempting to stay up late.
  • Wake up at the same time every day. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock to wake up on time, you may need to set an earlier bedtime. As with your bedtime, try to maintain your regular wake-time even on weekends.
  • Create a comfortable atmosphere. You want to make sure your room is conducive to sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Consider using shades, ear plugs or a noise machine to help you sleep. Also, research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime can interrupt sleep.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety often occur during times of stress. Taking steps to reduce stress in your life and maintain a healthy lifestyle can improve your symptoms and keep them from reoccurring. It’s also important to remember that depression and mood disorders are not the same for everyone. Understanding how to make small adjustments in your life to positively impact your depression can help you cope. Talk with your doctor or therapist about how nutrition, exercise, and sleep fit in with your treatment plan.


Exercise for Mood and Anxiety, Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being, by Michael W. Otto, PhD, and Jasper A.J. Smits, PhD (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Taking Positive Actions Changes Your Life

Having a positive influence on those around you will change the way you feel

Published on January 7, 2014 by Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. in Emotional Fitness
I am a big believer in positive thinking. I use it, I train clients to use it, and I have written about its benefits for over a decade. Positive thinking can help you make changes that will benefit you in many ways. I really can’t say enough good things about it.

Over the years, however, I have become aware that even positive thinking may not be enough to help some people make the changes they desire. The trick here is to get out of your head and start taking positive action.

Rather than just keeping the positivity to yourself, you need to share it. Having a positive influence on those around you will change the way you feel inside. Just doing this can make you a happier person, even if you are dealing with very difficult issues.

Taking action means doing things that are good for you and never doing anything that could possibly harm you. That means, if you have been ill and not strong enough to take a run or even a walk, you need to wait until you are well before you start exercising. What you can do, in the meantime, is work with a physical therapist to help you get stronger in a gradual and healthy way.

The same principle holds true if you want to lose weight (which many think about as the new year rolls around). We all know that crash diets don’t work. You have to approach your goal gradually and give yourself the time your body needs to react to your new healthy and balanced diet.

If you suffer from depression or anxiety, getting out of the house, even to the mall, will help you deal with these conditions. Not only do you get exercise by walking around, you get to see people and things that will at least for a time, distract you from your mood. One of the most difficult parts of dealing with anxious or depressive moods is our tendency to ruminate, letting the same negative thoughts keep spinning around in our brains. Getting rid of the negative thoughts by doing something fun can help to break this cycle.

Taking action also means doing what you can to keep your family and social connections strong. When you’re struggling, outside observers can give you direction that will help you deal with whatever you’re confronting. Often the people around us see things that we don’t, especially when we are unhappy. Remember it is always wise to take some time to consider the potential outcomes of any advice before taking action.

Doing new things creates positive chemicals in your brain, which makes you feel better about life and closer to your loved ones. Follow a dream, go on an adventure – even for just a day. If you have never taken a drive to look at the sights in your neighborhood, this would be a good time to give it a try. By opening your psyche to new experiences you not only broaden your horizions, you give yourself an emotional lift in the process.

Taking positive action makes things and people better. It’s that simple, and all you have to do is take the first step.

Holidays getting you down, Take a FREE online screening

imagesIf you’re feeling sad or depressed while everyone else around you seems to be singing along to Christmas carols, excitedly buying presents or planning for the holiday party at work, you aren’t alone. It’s not unusual to feel this way during the holiday season. Holidays, anniversaries and other special occasions can trigger an episode of the blues, feelings of loneliness, depression and melancholy. Don’t give up hope—below are some tips to help you cope with these difficult feelings:

  • It’s okay to cry
  • Don’t try to be all things for all people. Set realistic limits for yourself.
  • Pay close attention to your own needs. If possible, do something self-indulgent, such as getting a massage, watching your favorite movie or even just taking a bubble bath.
  • Keep your body happy with consistent sleeping and exercise habits.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. It’s easy to turn to alcohol to try to boost your mood, but it’s a depressant and inevitably it will most likely end up making you feel worse.
  • Write a thank you message to an influential person in your life. Psychologists have scientifically proven that one of the greatest contributing factors to overall happiness in your life is expressing gratitude.

If you think that you may be suffering from something more serious than the holiday blues, consider taking the anonymous depression online screening here on our website. It’s a quick and easy way to determine whether you would benefit from a consultation with a mental health professional.  

If you have any questions or need to speak to someone sooner, please call 815-756-4875.

Depression Affects All Walks of Life

What do Angelina Jolie, Jon Hamm, J.K. Rowling, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Princess Diana all have in common? If you guessed they all have suffered depression, you’re correct. Countless celebrities have struggled with depression at some point in life.


Depression is more than sadness; depressed individuals tend to feel helpless and hopeless. People who are depressed may become overwhelmed, exhausted and may stop participating in their routine activities. They may withdraw from family and friends. Some may even have thoughts of death or suicide.

  • Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond positively to treatment and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms.
  • An estimated 121 million people worldwide are currently living with some form of depression. Of these individuals, fewer than 25% have access to adequate treatment.

Women vs. Men

  • Nearly twice as many women (12.0 percent) as men (6.6 percent) are affected by a depressive disorder each year. These figures translate to 12.4 million women and 6.4 million men in the U.S.
  • Women were significantly more likely than men to report major depression (4.0 percent versus 2.7 percent).

Adult Depression

  • In 2010, 6.8 percent of adults aged 18 or older (15.5 million people) had at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year (Figure 2.5). The percentage of adults who had past year MDE was similar between 2005 (6.6 percent) and 2010 (6.8 percent). However, the number of adults who had past year MDE significantly increased from 14.2 million in 2005 to 15.5 million in 2010.
  • Among the 15.5 million adults aged 18 or older who had MDE in the past year, 10.6 million (68.2 percent) received treatment (i.e., saw or talked to a medical doctor or other professional or used prescription medication) for depression in the same time period.

Take our online screening or call 815-756-4875 today for more help and information.

Are you or someone you know struggling with grief? Join us at the Grief Group this evening.

Grief Group which meets Monday evenings 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm. at Ben Gordon Center at 12 Health Services Drive.


This is a group for any individual that has experienced the loss of a loved one, family member, or friend, no matter the how long ago the loss was, as long as they are still actively in the grieving process or having issues with grief. This group is also available to individuals who are struggling with immanent loss such as being close to someone diagnosed with a terminal illness or the failing health of a loved one. It is for any-one ages 18 and up.  For more information, please call 815-756-4875 and ask for Danessa.

How Gratitude Combats Depression

Count your gains instead of your losses.

Published on November 26, 2012 by Deborah Serani, Psy.D. in Two Takes on Depression

It’s holiday time. When many of us will gather with friends and family. Where gratitude and appreciation take up residence in our hearts.
Stopping to give seasonal thanks is a wonderful thing, but what’s even better is practicing gratitude year round. In fact, studies show that consistent positive interactions, particularly ones that involve gratitude, increase happiness and decrease levels of depression.

So, what are the gratitude techniques research says help alleviate depression? Here are 7 that will not only deck your halls, but offer you an antidote to depressive symptoms all year long.

1) Gratitude visit – Deliver a letter of gratitude in writing or email to a person you are grateful to, but have not thanked appropriately.

2) Three good things – Write down three things that had gone well for you this week and an explanation why those things happened.

3) Using signature strengths in a new way – Use one of your best strengths in a new way every week.

4) Three funny things – Write down three funny things you experienced or did this week – and an explanation why those things happened.

5) Counting kindness – Count and report the acts of kindness you offer every day. Or the ones you receive every day.

6) Gift of time – Offer at least three ‘‘gifts of time’’ by contacting/meeting three persons about whom you care about each week.

7) One door closes, another door opens – Write about a moment in your life this week when a negative event led to unforeseen positive consequences.

So, why do these gratitude experiences boost happiness and alleviate depression? Scientists say that these techniques shift our thinking from negative outcomes to positive ones, elicit a surge of feel good hormones like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, and build enduring personal connections.

The insight and reflection of counting these moments is what makes the practice of gratitude so powerful. But the key to combating depression is making these positive experiences part of the fabric of your life.

You don’t have to do all of these techniques. Do some. Or one. Just get out there and be grateful.

And don’t forget to keep score.