People have different ways of responding to sudden life changes. It is important to know which response style you typically use when you find yourself in crisis. A therapist can help you use your response style to your advantage and work on finding alternate ways of coping.

Here are the responses that most people have, and some people use more than one of these types of responses:

– People in depression tend to isolate themselves. They may notice changes in their sleep patterns and their appetite. They have trouble in finding pleasure in the activities they used to enjoy. They feel tired and find it difficult to complete ordinary daily activities. They may obsess about their life troubles, going over the same thoughts again and again. Their thinking tends to be negative and sometimes self-destructive. They may lose interest in caring for their appearance and taking care of their living space. People in depression may (but not always) become tearful frequently and cry uncontrollably.

– People who use rage when they are confronted with a life crisis may snap at others or even explode when they feel irritated. They are on a short fuse. They may struggle to hold back taking physical action against others. They feel a need to respond to irritants, and they may hurt themselves or others. They have the feeling that everyone is failing them. They often harbor revenge fantasies.

– The person who reacts to crisis with anxiety has a need to be reassured by others. They may have trouble falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night and their eating patterns may change during the crisis. They are forgetful and feel that they always have to take action. Their actions are often impulsive and ineffective. They may repeat themselves.

– Those who use denial during a crisis go to great lengths to pretend that the crisis does not exist. Denial is a useful way of coping with crisis at first, but if the denial continues for a long time, the positive changes that crisis can generate will never occur. Those who deny bring out their very best qualities on the job or at home, as if they are functioning at their peak. They resist people who offer them concern or sympathy, and avoid friends who see things differently. Their emotions are kept in check (no crying, no yelling). They never let thoughts about the crisis into their consciousness and never appear vulnerable.

Baya Mebarek, Psy.D., LMFT

San Diego Couples and Family Therapy serves the surrounding areas of Sorrento Valley Road as La Jolla, UTC San Diego, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Poway, University City and Escondido.