1. On Trust, Fear, and Borderline Personality Disorder

    August 7, 2013

    Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

    From BPD patient diary:

    I have a massive issue when it comes to trust which is a major hurdle that I need to overcome if I ever want a clear shot at recovery. The mere thought of putting my well being into the hands of others sends shivers down my spine. This is something that did not appear when my breakdown occurred but probably started sometime in early childhood and is a main factor in the development of what later became Borderline Personality Disorder.

     

    Right off the bat the first people you are suppose to trust is your parents as they are responsible for damn near everything right off the bat but when certain circumstances happen this is put into jeopardy creating a sort of movement that is going to take a long time to get past. I could never figure out why the people who were suppose to love me and keep me safe would repeatedly put me into situations that caused me harm. My father who could go from fun loving dad to pissed off at the world in a heartbeat created an environment that was a long way from being safe for a child. I never knew what mood he was going to be in so it kept my anxiety level sky high and helped mold my BPD false self in order to eliminate as many factors as possible that would set him off. You cannot trust someone you fear.

     

    Both of my parents like many around the world worked full time so my primary care giver was someone outside of the home. It was my parents responsibility to make sure that all of the proper steps were taken in order to ensure my safety and well being needless to say this did not happen. I went through a number of different sitters and I would imagine some were wonderful people but the others should have picked a different occupation. Again my view of trust was distorted for how can I trust someone who is suppose to ensure my wellbeing but continues to cause harm on a way to regular basis. Too many days were spent wondering if I was going to get my ass beat at home or at the sitters or both.

     

    Depending on the year teachers were the closest thing I had to a responsible adult in my life but like everything else there were exceptions to the rule. Finally gathered the nerve to tell the teacher about the abuse I was taking outside of school to only be told if I was a better behaved child it would never happen. Basically the same situation repeated a year later and I learned a lesson that I would hang on to for years to come “The only person who I can trust with my wellbeing and safety is me for no one else cares what happens”.

     

    Doctors are a difficult group of people to trust as a whole. The first appointment they basically promise the world in terms of recovery then over the next period of time repeatedly fail to come through. I would imagine part of this is my expectations are off base but it seems every time I try to combat these negative thoughts with logic the only thing that comes to mind is examples from the past which are far from positive..

     

    Therapists and I do not have the best relationships. In a therapy setting you need to be completely open in order for the best possible result but I have found out the hard way that there is something known as too much information. After my first psych stay I was set up with a therapist who has a wonderful reputation of helping those with historical abuse issues. Everything was going well for the first couple of visits until I made a mistake in the third. She asked the typical question on any progress or setbacks since the last appointment and I admitted that I hit a rough patch where I turned to self harm. Almost instantaneously this therapist decided that I was not in a stable enough place mentally to go through therapy and that was the last time I ever saw her. She was followed by two more therapists who basically came to the same conclusion after myself harm issues came out into the open. Since then I have tried to contact a dozen more therapists but once I mention that I do have the Borderline Personality Disorder all communication is cut off and this is before any of them actually took the time to meet me in person to judge for themselves how well I may respond to treatment. I have come to the conclusion in order for me to obtain treatment in a therapeutic setting in this community I am going to have to fail to mention that I am BPD and I have a lengthy self harm history. Not sure how I am going to be able to be open with someone when I believe I need to lie from the onset in order to get proper care.

     

    Nurses. Well if you have read yesterdays post you will have a fair idea of where the relationship stands with that specific group of people. This area tends to be more separated then others as I try to figure out pretty quickly early on which are in it for the money and which are in there to help. My communication with the two groups is totally different and it has to do with trust. Very difficult to trust someone that does not look at you as a person but what is written down in a file and on paper I past the crazy line a long time ago plus that damn word untreatable is probably in capital letters.

     

    I do try to give everyone I meet a chance to show me what kind of person they are in and more than once my original assumption was proven wrong. The problem is when the little warning flags start to appear and with the way my brain works situations from the past are quickly linked which ends up putting up the walls to keep me safe. Like I said earlier this is an area I am going to have to figure out how to get around but I am basically clueless on how to do so. Take care.

     

    by Andrew R.

    Image Credit: Stefano Mortellaro

     

     


  2. Ten Benefits of Sadness

    August 5, 2013

    benefits of sadness

    by Derek Whitney

    Now more than ever before, there seems to be a multitude of things to make people sad. The economy, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, terrorism and war are just a few of the things that have the ability to bring people down on a daily basis. Thanks to the Internet, tablets, smartphones and many 24-hour news channels, these tragic events are brought to us immediately in living color.

    Of course, this is not counting the personal tragedies that people have to deal with. The death of a friend or relative, the loss of a job, the death of a pet, bankruptcy, foreclosure and car accidents are much more painful than tragedies that you watch on the news. This is because you are directly affected by them.

    However, sadness is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can have many benefits. While this may be surprising to most people, the fact is that humans need sadness in their lives. It is part of what truly makes people human. Here are some of the benefits of sadness:

    1. Better memory

    People that are in bad moods have a tendency to have improved memories. According to one study, people that were feeling sad remembered more than people in a good mood about the interior details of a shop. It is also more difficult to trick sad people with misleading questions. While scientists are not sure why these things occur, the results of the tests are intriguing.

    2. Less gullible

    Sad people tend to be less gullible. Studies show that they can detect when someone is trying to deceive them better than happy people. They are also less likely to believe urban legends.

    3. Improved judgment

    Sadness makes people have judgment that is more accurate. For many years, social scientists have documented the judgmental biases of people in different moods. Researchers are now indicating that sad people do not fall prey to those biases as easily as people that are in good moods.

    4. Increased motivation

    Sadness has also been shown to have motivational benefits. For example, studies indicate that sad people are able to persevere longer at tasks that most people would give up on after a short time. Scientists believe that the human brain, in an effort to block out all of the negativity and sadness, will focus on a particular task like a laser, no matter how difficult it is. People who were sad at the start of the task become so engaged in the activity that accomplishing their goal becomes their driving ambition.

    5. Lack of stereotyping

    Negative stereotyping is a behavior that is not commonly seen from sad people. They are also less likely to act on any negative stereotypical judgments. Researchers believe that this has something to do with sadness affecting the part of the brain that makes people more civil and understanding.

    6. Ability to appreciate their blessings in life

    Sadness can make people more appreciative of what they have. An example would be parents who have three children. If one of those children were to tragically die in a car accident, the immediate reaction would be sorrow and grief. However, the parents would eventually begin to appreciate their two remaining children more than they did before the accident. This would in turn lead to a stronger family bond.

    7. Analytical reasoning

    Analytical reasoning is enhanced by sadness. Complex problems are more easily broken down into more manageable parts by this type of intense thinking.

    8. Improved manners

    Manners have been shown to be improved when people are going through a difficult time. These people tend to ask for things in a more polite way than people who are at their best.

    9. Improved persuasiveness

    Sad people tend to focus their energy into getting what they want. Therefore, it is common for sad people to be more persuasive. They are generally very good at coming up with effective and believable arguments.

    10. Fairness is increased

    Research has also shown that sad people are generally more fair. For example, if people that are feeling down and depressed are allowed to allocate a particular resource any way they want, they will most likely distribute the resource more fairly than happy people.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian


  3. Extra Tools to Help Effectively Manage Bipolar Disorder

    August 3, 2013

    bipolar disorder

    by Tricia Chilcott

    Bipolar disorder is a serious psychiatric disease. I know because I live with it. Every day. I know from firsthand experience how much it sucks. I understand the major negative impact it can have on all areas of your life, including things like personal relationships, job performance, and your finances. If you’ve been recently diagnosed, or are having medication management problems, the debilitating effects can throw you into a deep depression which you feel like you’ll never get out of. I’ve been there myself, and I can assure you, the right combination of meds is out there, don’t despair!

    But besides medications, what else can you do to effectively manage your disorder? There are a multitude of tools that you can add to your arsenal to help combat this illness. These are things that have been proven to help by numerous research studies. One of those tools you can use is seeing a therapist regularly, even if you don’t think you need one. A therapist can help you identify what you triggers are, and teach you effective, and healthy coping skills to deal with those events.

    Another thing that can help is practicing good sleep hygiene. I don’t think I can emphasize this one enough. Just a personal example, but I have a 3 day window for poor sleep habits before they trigger an episode in me. I know if I got more than 3 days without sleep, I’ll start cycling into a manic episode, and I contact my doctor. On the flip side, if I go a week or more being unable to get out of bed and sleeping 18 hours a day, it’s time to call my doctor as well. Healthy sleep habits is one of the most effective tools a person can use in stabilizing their disorder. This means going to bed at a reasonable hour, and getting up in the morning at the same time every day. I know some of you are shaking your head at this because insomnia can seem impossible to overcome without medications, but just trying these things can’t hurt,, and I get it where you’re coming from. I take a sleeping pill to get me to sleep every night. But doing what you can to try and establish healthy sleeping habits can potentially have positive effects. This includes things like turning off the TV and computer at least an hour before bed, not drinking caffeine after 6 PM, and not exercising right before bed. Also, keep your bedroom as tranquil as possible and keep electronics out of it. Use your bedroom for sleeping only.

    Of course, exercising regularly can help keep your disorder in check, there are numerous studies that have empirically proven the benefits of exercise in regards to mental illnesses such as major depression and bipolar disorder. In addition to keeping your body healthy, it is recommended that people with bipolar disorder abstain from drinking alcohol, as this tends to exacerbate their symptoms. As much as I hate getting out, I force myself to zumba twice a week, and although I dread going every time, I leave feeling reinvigorated and glad I went. So even if you don’t feel like getting up and moving around, do it anyway! I promise it’ll make you feel better.

    One thing that has proven helpful to many bipolar patients is keeping a mood journal. This is a very useful tool that you use to track your mood everyday, and to also add in what activities you did that day that might have impacted your mood. You can also add how much sleep you got the night before, if you napped or not during the day, if you worked out, and how your eating habits were. There are several apps that you can download to help you keep track of these, or you can find an example online and print it off. This is also a very helpful thing to show your doctor when you meet with them.

    The last suggestion I have is for you to adopt a routine and stick to it. Have a list of things you need to accomplish each day, and work towards accomplishing them. Not only does this give you a sense of purpose, but it also helps you build your self esteem as you are able to cross off activities you’ve accomplished each day. These don’t have to be huge projects your taking on, they can be as simple as taking a short walk outside, watering your garden, doing the dishes, getting one load of laundry done, or even showering and getting dressed for the day.

    These might seem like mundane activities, and unlikely to help you manage your disorder better to boot. I can assure you that by making these small changes to your life, you will feel more in control of your disorder, and happier and healthier overall. I know this for a fact because many of the things I’ve touched on are things I do myself to manage my disorder. It’s true I’m on an effective drug cocktail, but medications can only take you so far. At some point, you have to start putting more effort in as well. I promise if you do, you’ll be amazed at the benefits you will reap from it. I hope you’ve found this an informative read, good luck in managing your disorder, and God bless!

    Image Credit: Giulia Bartra


  4. Natural Ways to Overcome Anxiety and Depression

    July 30, 2013

    Anxiety and depression

    Anxiety and depression are often a result of situations that are out of control: things like injuries, illness, job loss, relationship changes and moving. However, most anxiety and depression can be dealt with naturally instead of through drugs. In fact, natural ways to cope will typically provide faster relief from your distress than medications will. Especially for situational anxiety and depression, embrace these ways to help feel better that go beyond the standard advice of eating healthy, getting adequate sleep and exercising.

    Go Against Your Instincts

    Feelings of anxiety and depression often cause individuals to retreat from others and from social situations. However, that is the worst thing you can do and will often exacerbate symptoms. Instead, force yourself to get out of the house and spend time with people you usually enjoy. The adage “laughter is the best medicine” really is true when it comes to anxiety and depression. Time spent with friends and favorite family members will likely help you turn the corner and feel much better.

    Make and Achieve Goals

    A feeling of worthlessness is often a hallmark of depression and anxiety. You can curtail these feelings and help make yourself feel better by simply doing. Take the time to set small achievable, measurable goals. Working on meeting these goals can help take your mind off negative thoughts. The feeling of accomplishment you get with each goal you meet is a step on the ladder to feeling better.

    Do Onto Others

    When you are down or anxious, one of the best bets to improve your mood is to help others. Find a place to volunteer, cook a meal for someone else, help an expectant or new mother or even just knit, sew or build something for someone else. The action of helping another person provides a rewarding sense of contentment that is unmatched. The increased self-worth you will feel will help you move out of the gloom much more quickly.

    Rely on Your Higher Power

    Regardless of the religion or belief system, most people have a higher power that they look to. Often, focusing on your spiritual life will bring you a kind of contentment and relief from anxiety and depression that cannot be found in other places. Spend time praying or meditating to refocus your thoughts.

    Try a Little Avoidance

    Depression and anxiety often mean you are wrapped up in your own thoughts. Getting a break from the course of your own thinking will greatly help you. An easy solution is to settle in with a favorite TV show, preferably one that is upbeat and will keep you from thinking about the issues that are contributing to your depression and anxiety. This mental health break will usually provide you with the space needed to start to feel better.

    Try Some Big Picture Thinking

    Putting your present situation into perspective can greatly help when it comes to feeling better. That means considering the situation you are in and how its duration compares to your life. In the grand scheme of things, is it worth it affecting you this way? What will you learn from this situation and how will it help you in the long run? Is it worth the angst you are living with?

    Reach Out for Support

    There is nothing like the empathy you get from someone in the same place or someone who has recently moved past the same kinds of feelings of depression and anxiety. Get the support you need from established support groups for people fighting these issues. You can often find local groups online, but will also find an abundance of virtual support groups that can be even more helpful. Online support groups for depression and anxiety are there for you 24/7, and you can access them from your own home by simply going on the Internet. Get the peace of mind that comes from knowing someone else is in the same place as you.

    In addition to all these natural ways to beat anxiety and depression, focus on healthy daily routines, including getting enough sleep every night, exercising regularly and eating healthily, especially foods known to improve mood such as milk, eggs, salmon, chocolate and those containing vitamin C. By combining a variety of these techniques, you are sure to find the relief you are seeking.

    Image Credit: Helga Weber


  5. How to Manage Stress Based on Your Personality Type

    July 25, 2013

    stressed out

    by Jeff Hirz

    Today’s Western society, somehow, someway, for some reason, is more stressed than it has ever been. Combine long working days with a sense of entitlement, increased incidence of immediate gratification, and the marketing delusion called American (Consumerist’s) Dream, and you’ve got yourself the richest countries in the world that are also the unhappiest and the most stressed.

    So begs the question – what can we do to improve ourselves?

    Starting at the Individual Level

    I am a lowly, burgeoning writer, and thus my talents have what one might call a “fat chance” of impacting the zeitgeist of the age. Therefore my attentions have turned to the individual rather than society as a whole. “Start small,” mama always said . . .

    So how can we, as individuals, improve ourselves? Much of it comes down to simply managing stress. Lower stress levels mean increased dopamine levels (i.e. happiness levels) mean everybody wins, so let’s turn to the wonderful folks at Harvard University to give us some answers. We can qualify and categorize ourselves, which helps many people help themselves, by using the DISC Theory Personality Traits, developed by scientists at Harvard.

    DISC Theory divides human behavior into four categories (or personality types): driver, compliance, influence and steadiness. But how do we incorporate these on an individual level to assist us in effectively managing stress?

    How Driver Personality Types Can Manage Stress

    With much of a driver’s value system centering on control, drive personality types will likely have the hardest time managing stress of all the DISC personalities. A drive personality type, however, is an innovator and problem-solver, having little fear associated with risk-taking – this is a distinct advantage in the area of stress management. They know they have to do something, that they have to take some action, to de-stress. At a surface level, this can be extremely beneficial.

    Driver personality types desire results, and so a step-by-step program with achievable goals along the way is a great starting point. If you can introduce stress management as a challenge to be overcome, a driver will be that much more motivated to effectively manage their stress – likely with a direct correlation with their odds of success.

    How Compliance Personality Types Can Manage Stress

    Compliance personality types are your list-makers, your fact-finders, and your quality control managers. If you find yourself in this category, you’re likely much more likely to bury stress and let it build up, not wanting to cause a fuss or blur any existing boundaries.

    For compliance personality types to effectively manage stress, it’s important that you lay out clear advantages in logical order with plenty of detail – make a detailed list of what it is you want to achieve and map it out for yourself. A strength of compliance personality types is that they are clear and logical thinkers who normally don’t let emotion get in the way of a task, so practicality and preparation is key when discovering why reducing stress levels is important. Clear out the clutter so you can focus in and direct your attention to a singular, clear-cut task.

    How Influence Personality Types Can Manage Stress

    Your influence personality type tends to be the more sensitive one of the group, so consideration of esteem, emotional balance and social acceptance will go a long way. Difficulties that influence personalities will encounter may stem from the fact that they appreciate a little more sensationalism and excitement, so they may be unintentionally welcoming stress into their lives. If you’re not sure you fit this mold, ask yourself this question: “Do I watch Real Housewives of [insert city here]?” If the answer is yes, you may be an influence personality type.

    But there’s still hope! Associate your stress with that same level of excitement and need for a bit of drama and treat it as a problem to be solved – influence personality types are notoriously creative and thrifty problem solvers whose general personality trends toward the positive. View your stress level from a top-down approach with little detail and plenty of freedom for interpretation – the typical influence personality will put more stock in the ride than any type of end-goal or destination.

    How Steadiness Personality Types Can Manage Stress

    Steadiness personalities are, well, steady. They’re the patient ones, the understanding ones, and everybody’s friend. Stress builds up in steadiness personality types due to an inability to juggle multiple tasks, to adapt quickly to change, or to properly establish priorities.

    A good way for the steadiness personality type to manage stress is to take baby steps: lay out a plan where activities are able to be started and finished. Steadiness personality types take great pleasure in the small successes, and so having baby steps along the path to No-Stress Land is a great motivator to pull yourself out of that stressful mindset.

    Keep in mind: most people are a combination of several of these different personality types, so when using the DISC personality types to evaluate how to alleviate your own stress, take into account that you likely don’t fall neatly into any singular category. Take techniques for multiple personality types and combine them to form your own unique method of managing your stress.

    But just knowing your personality type is a good first step. Just remember to keep walking.

    Image Credit: Giulia Bartra


  6. 4 Ways Technology can Improve Mental Health for the Elderly

    July 23, 2013

    by Chris Wensink

    As the population of baby boomers continues to climb the demand for quality health care facilities also continues to grow.  According to the numbers, an estimated 78 million baby boomers will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030.  With Alzheimer and Dementia on the rise, this will triple the demand for health care workers, and put an increased strain on the approximate one million workers that are involved in direct care of the elderly.  In order to relieve that burden and increase patient satisfaction, modern technologies are being used to reconnect families and loved ones.  Here are four ways technology can improve mental health for the elderly.

    Video Chat brings daily conversations

    One of the easiest ways for the elderly to stay in good health is to stay in contact with younger family members.  If you can’t be together in person, then Video Chat may be a great option.  Devices such as webcams, with Skype, and FaceTime have made it easier than ever to start a video conversation, where you can see your family members from miles away.  When I start a Skype session with my grandparents, nothing brightens their faces more than seeing the great grand kids and how they are growing and talking and learning more every day.

    If you have an elderly parent or grandparent living in an assisted living facility or nursing home, check if the facility has wireless internet access available for residents.  If it is, a tablet PC would be an easy way to make conversations like this possible.

    Online games opens community

    For years my grandfather always said “I’ll never get into that computer stuff, I don’t need any of that, who would want to sit at the computer for hours and hours at a time and do that stuff.”  Despite this resistance, about ten years ago My cousin and I built a desktop PC for my grandfather, and taught him how to get on the Internet and how to play Sheepshead on Yahoo games.  My grandfather loves playing cards, especially Sheepshead.  After a few weeks of getting used to getting on the Internet he got into Yahoo Games.

    After a few months of gaming, we had to get my grandparents a new phone line because my grandfather would be dialed up to the internet for hours at a time playing games.  Eventually we got them a broadband connection, and now that he’s living in an assisted living facility, he continues to enjoy playing card games on a laptop, with 20,000 sheepshead games played on yahoo games.

    Online gaming communities can be a fun and engaging place for the elderly to connect with new people and enjoy an activity they already love in a whole new way.

    Wii Bowling Leagues strike a note

    In 2006 Nintendo, a Japanese based video game manufacturer introduced the Nintendo Wii, a whole new Nintendo that with a motion sensitive remote, along with several fun sports games including Wii Bowling.  Since that time thousands of seniors have recognized the fun and enjoyment of bowling on the wii.  Wii bowling is easier than traditional bowling because it doesn’t require the physical movement or the strength to hold a heavy bowling ball, making it a perfect game for seniors in skilled nursing facilities.  Today the sport has grown to form the National Senior League, a national organized League of Wii Bowlers with 280 teams, and over 1500 players registered to compete in the 2013 National Senior League Championships with players participating from 31 different states and 110 communities.

    Wii Bowling is a great way to enjoy a great American Sport even as an older adult.

    Social Networks Re-connect loved ones

    Social Networks like Facebook are a great way for loved ones to enjoy pictures and details of different family member’s lives.  While this is not as personal as a face to face visit, social networks can still provide some opportunities to connect by sharing funny stories of pets, and fun things that family members have enjoyed together in the past.

    Facebook also has an integrated instant messenger built in, allowing for real time conversations to take place between loved ones.

    No matter what ways you choose to engage with your loved ones, be sure to share that you love them, and that you wish the best for them at the end of their lives.

    Image Credit: Nwardez


  7. Taking it to Heart: the Connection between Mental Illness and Heart Disease

    July 21, 2013

    Mental Illness and Heart Disease

    by Carolyn Heintz

    For years, researchers have deliberated the symbiotic connection between mental illness and heart disease. Not only do those living with mental illness have a propensity for developing heart disease, but individuals diagnosed with heart disease are often likely to develop mental health problems. This reciprocal relationship is a complex one that requires vigilance in both (1) actively working to improve heart health and (2) maintaining positive and open communication with your doctors.

     

    Preventing Heart Disease when You Have Preexisting Mental Health Issues

     

    Unfortunately, those living with mental illness are likely to engage in unhealthy heart behaviors like smoking and a poor diet. Additionally, these individuals often suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which only increase their chances of developing heart disease. The key is to promote heart health by making some necessary lifestyle changes.

    First of all, physical activity is absolutely crucial; even adding a short walk after meals can make a substantial difference. For those living with mental illness, it can be difficult to find the motivation for fitness. The key is to find activities that you truly find enjoyable, preferably with a friend or partner who will hold you accountable to routine exercise. Sign up for a salsa dance class, go on regular hikes, whatever you find gratifying—just be sure to do something to get your heart rate up.

    Second, adopt a more balanced diet. Remember: moderation is the name of the game. An occasional treat is perfectly acceptable (go for that cupcake!) but don’t overdo it. Operate by the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time make responsible diet choices and leave 20% for treats. Also, make a conscious effort to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet and reduce your sodium (salt) intake. Look for choices that are high in fiber and avoid foods that contain bad fats (like saturated and trans-fats). Portion control is also advisable: pay attention to deceptive serving sizes on the “Nutrition Facts” table.

    Third, consider adding supplements to your routine. Both fish oil and flaxseed are said to have a beneficial impact on your heart health; but make sure you follow the recommended dosage. In line with this preventative thinking, consider adding preventative screenings to your yearly routine. These health screenings give you a greater awareness of your body and your health and can help avoid health problems later on in life.

     

    Maintaining Mental Health after Heart Disease Diagnosis

     

                It’s a two-way street; a heart disease diagnosis can also spur mental health problems. According to Harvard Mental Health Letter’s “Depression and Heart Disease: Mind and mood affect the heart,” nearly half of all hospitalized heart patients experience some sort of symptoms of depression and up to 20% of said patients will actually develop depression.

    Receiving a heart disease diagnosis is a terrifying experience, but it is vital to maintain positive communication with your cardiologist. Ask questions, ask for advice, and don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk to your doctor about any mental health issues you may experience. Be open about what you are feeling and be receptive to your cardiologist’s advice; you will not shock them with any negative feelings—they’ve seen it all before and can offer valuable guidance over the course of your treatment. Most importantly, remember that half of heart disease patients are feeling the same thing you are and you are not alone.

    Mind over Matter

     

                The link between the body and mind is powerful and undeniable. As many of you know, mental illness affects your entire body and the heart is no exception. I know it can be difficult, but it is absolutely crucial to maintain a healthy heart in order to live a full, healthy life. Whether you live with mental illness or heart disease, don’t underestimate the link between the two and make whatever necessary changes to keep both in check.

     

     

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Love_heart.jpg


  8. What is Social Anxiety and How to Beat It

    July 13, 2013

    anxious and crying

    It is quite common for people to feel tense or awkward during social interactions. If this happens to you often or if you feel stressed before meeting other people, you might suffer from social anxiety. Do the following situations make you anxious?

    • Large crowds of people
    • Meetings
    • Social settings
    • Public speaking
    • Parties
    • Getting to know new people
    • Working in groups
    • People that praise or acknowledge you
    • Receiving attention from other people

    Varying degrees of social anxiety

    If one or more of these things make you nervous it doesn’t necessary mean you suffer from social anxiety. There is a bit of ambiguity here but you need to keep in mind that many people feel a bit nervous in one or more of these situations. There are varying degrees of social anxiety too. A good way to diagnose yourself is by answering the question: ‘Do I actively try to steer clear of social occasions?’ If your answer to this question is ‘yes’, you probably do suffer from social anxiety. If you really want to find out if you have social anxiety, the best way is to see a professional who can diagnose you properly. If you feel avoiding social situations is a daily disruption, it might be time to admit you suffer from a mental problem. The first step to solving a problem is to admit that you have a problem.

    Mental problem

    When you fear judgement by others, you may suffer from a social phobia. When you suffer from this, you fear you will be embarrassed or lose control in a social setting. The fear of embarrassment can cause people to actively try to avoid social situations. A social phobia will get worse when people find themselves in a social situation they don’t want to be in, which will cause them to act in an irrational way. After this happens they’ll try to avoid a social occasion even more. In certain settings, a lot of people will be nervous. Especially talking in front of groups of people is something not all of us are comfortable with. Many of us will feel self-conscious under these circumstances but still have the strength to push through. People with a mental problem have such a strong reaction to this that they physically will not be able to stand up and talk. They experience stressful days, weeks or even months before the event will take place.

    Control your inner voice

    Everyone has an inner voice that can give you positive messages or negative messages. You can say to yourself ‘I’m not successful with other people and in social situations.’ The more often you say this to yourself, the more you will begin to believe your own story. You’ve got the opportunity to have a positive life story or a negative one. You can treat social anxiety with visualization techniques and imagery. You can get rid of a negative belief by opposing it yourself. For instance, if you believe you aren’t good at meeting new people, try to think back of a time where you were successful on such an occasion. Meditate on it and write it down: every time you read this you’ll think back of something positive where you handled the situation well. This will challenge the negative belief you have about yourself and make you feel more confident.

    Do you really have a mental problem?

    You need to be absolutely positive you have social anxiety. It is dangerous to think that something is wrong with you when you’re perfectly normal. Unfortunately, some doctors are quite willing to prescribe drugs to you even when you don’t have a mental problem. You need to keep in mind that there is a difference between being a little stressed when you meet someone new versus having a mental illness. Therefore, if you’re often stressed in social occasions don’t run to the doctor immediately but rather try to control your inner voice through meditation and doing things that make you feel more confident.

    Image Credit: Anaïs Nannini


  9. How Can We Improve ADHD Treatment?

    July 7, 2013

    Girl with ADHD

    by Robert Locke

     

    All too often, ADHD is overdiagnosed and treated incorrectly.  Here are five facts to bear in mind when we look at how we can help to get a better and more accurate diagnosis as well as more efficient ADHD treatment options. But before we do that, let us reflect on a famous person’s experience with ADHD, just to set the scene, so to speak.

    Channing Tatum’s experience.

    Channing Tatum hit the headlines this week again by revealing that he had ADHD as a child. He also spoke about the problems he had with ADHD treatment by conventional medications saying that they left him feeling like a zombie.

    This is not an uncommon story. In fact many children who never become famous talk about the same reaction. But Channing also mentioned the fact that in his experience, the drugs became less and less effective over time.

    In addition, he had learning difficulties such as dyslexia which have left their mark today in that he is an extremely slow reader. That means that it takes him five times longer than a normal actor to get to grips with a script.

    Watch the media hype on this one

    It will be fascinating to watch the media hype on Channing Tatum’s latest statement. This will be construed as being against ADHD meds. It will be distorted and hyped up to an extraordinary degree. The fact is that the actor just merely recounted how ADHD drugs were not the right medicine for him and that he would not give them to his baby girl if she ever had a problem like ADHD or a learning disability.

    1st Fact

    We all know that medication is useful but there are limits.  There are also considerations such as the right meds and the correct dosage. Often, by adjusting these to suit the individual child, medication can be effective in the short term and can be a valuable asset in any treatment regime.

    Far too often though, medication is expected to perform miracles.   Doctors, teachers and parents are all convinced that there is little else to be done. How wrong they are!

    As if that was not bad enough, their concept of meds working is to adjust the dosage and this is often increased.  There is far too much superficiality as Dr. Charles Parker points out in his new book ‘New ADHD Medication Rules’.

    2nd Fact

    In various conventional treatment scenarios the individual and his reaction to the medicine is rarely taken into consideration. The patient should be number one on the list so that his metabolism, diet, allergies and the way he is able to absorb the drug are carefully monitored- very often though, these things are swept under the carpet.  Again, instead of increasing the dosage almost automatically, there should be a much more careful analysis of how the patient is reacting.

     

    3rd Fact

    In France, ADHD is much less common than in the USA.  The American figures are climbing all the time and the latest CDC estimate puts it at 11% of the school going population. Why?  Surely French life and parenting styles cannot be that different? In any case, ADHD is a neurobiological disorder but the criteria for diagnosing it are key.

    In France, psychosocial factors such as the home environment and school setting are first looked at and family relationships are examined thoroughly. In the USA, biomedical standards are applied almost universally and guidelines and checklists are used in a haphazard fashion.  The social, cultural and other factors are barely considered.

    This fact should alert us to the possibility that there is a tendency to seek a biological cause and a medical solution. In addition, there are over fifty other childhood conditions which can mimic ADHD in their symptoms and these are often ignored. Sleep disturbances, food allergies, vision problems and thyroid deficiencies are often just not considered as possibilities.

    4th Fact

    There is no cure for ADHD. Medication can help the child to overcome common obstacles in learning at school but rarely help with behavioral problems although the child may be initially calmer and less restless.

    Helping a child cope with everyday tasks, social skills, learning tasks and so on are all key in helping the child to manage their ADHD. That is why there are parenting classes to help parents home in on behavior problems, organizing their home to make it more ADHD friendly and so on. The drug companies have never really advocated this but the most prestigious medical bodies in the USA have. It is a pity that the doctors, parents and teachers all too often take shortcuts and never even bother to try.

    5th Fact

    One fact that is often not mentioned is that homeopathic remedies can form an equally useful and valid alternative to the conventional meds. Before you disregard this one, think outside the box and reflect on the fact that there are no side effects or health risks at all! This is a fact which has been proved time and time again. This fact will never be true for the psychostimulant drugs and every parent should consider the alternatives such as homeopathy. Just imagine no worries about depression, sleep, appetite or stunted growth!

    Keeping on track

    ADHD is just a difference. We should reflect on how we are actively and supportively helping our kids to overcome this difference. Positive thinking is not enough as we will have to make organizational changes to our homes, just for starters.  Our society demands high standards and we should be giving our children all the help we can.

     

     

    Author Bio: Robert Locke, MBE is an award winning author and has written extensively on ADHD, child health problems and mental disorders. You can visit this page on ADHD natural treatment  to find out more

     Image Credit: Corie Howell

     

     


  10. The Single Most Important Factor for your Mental Health

    July 5, 2013

    sleep and mental health

    by Mark Kislich

    What is it? Good, healthy, deep sleep. If you’re looking for a magic solution to improve your life…well: this is it!

    Sleep is grossly underestimated in it’s importance for a productive, happy life and for a sound, balanced mind.

    The statement “You can sleep when you’re dead.” is typical, and complete nonsense. It’s more like “If you don’t sleep properly, you’ll not live properly.”

    Think I exaggerate? Look at a small child. What happens when they’re tired? They get cranky, they cry. Well, the same goes for adults. They might not cry (or they might), but given a lack of sleep, even the most positive people will eventually get sour. A tired person is a frustrated person, then -if the sleep deprivation continues- depression can set in.

    This is not just an opinion: serotonin is an important neurotransmitter tied to sleep and mood. So it looks like good sleep and good mood are intimately related. Well what’s new.

    “When you’re tired, you get wired” Sleep problems often result in a nervous, jittery kind of behavior, especially when the tiredness is temporarily offset by caffeine.

    People who can’t stop talking and pacing around are likely very tired and running on coffee. This is also the time when anxiety sets in. “Why did they look at me like that?”, or: “They didn’t have to say it like THAT!”…

    If you ever found yourself feeling like this -overly sensitive to others and your surroundings, taking everything very personally- you’ve probably been sleep deprived.

    As if all the above was not bad enough, clumsiness and reduced reflexes increase the risk for accidents and injury.

    Positive thinking and motivation are seriously hampered by lack of quality sleep.

    OK enough of the bad stuff, here’s the good news: you can do a whole lot to fix this and ensure a perfect slumber every time. Following are a few tried and proven tips that will help you do just that.

    Always Wake Up at the Same Time
    Regularity is important: even when you had a late night (which should be avoided wherever possible), try and get up when the bell rings anyway. In the long run this is better than over sleeping and ruining your circadian rhythm for it.

    In that Vein: Go to Bed at the Same Time

    After a while your internal clock will be so fine tuned, you fall asleep on cue and wake up without an alarm clock.

    Try to avoid Daylight and Artificial Light during Sleeping Hours

    In Scandinavia, the midnight sun can cause problems. Other places, the TV and electric lights do about the same: Your body’s sleeping patterns get disturbed by it, melatonin production is reduced (an important hormone related to sleep).

    Keep It Quiet

    There should be no noise at all whatsoever, total silence is what you want. If that’s not an option, a good pair of ear plugs can come to the rescue.

    Wind Down towards the Evenings

    Exercising too close to bed time can jack up cortisol and ruin your night. Do something relaxing instead: a nice walk in the evening, some Yoga, a massage, a hot bath.

    Here’s some herbals that can help you relax:  Fever few, Reishi, Wild Lettuce.

    Get into Physical Training

    Having said that you shouldn’t train too close to bed, doing some exercise during the day can sure help get rid of steam, get in shape and you’ll be nice and tired at the end of the day.

    Take some Magnesium

    Magnesium is an important mineral that many are deficient in. It’s involved hundreds of biological functions and also helps muscles -and you- to relax. Best taken in the evening.

    Meditate

    Like I said above, it helps to wind down at nights. Meditation can calm your mind, so that brain won’t keep you thinking and worrying through those valuable sleeping hours.

    Don’t Drink Coffee too Late in the Day

    Coffee can stay in the blood for around 12 hours, so that’s a good time frame to shoot for: if you go to bed at midnight, have the last cup of coffee at lunch.

    Remember the last time you woke up in the morning, all by your self -no need for an alarm clock- and you were totally refreshed and recuperated, ready to take on a new day?

    The world looks a better place when we’re well rested. A positive mindset and a positive outlook on life – require one thing, more than anything else: good, deep, beautiful sleep. Don’t let anybody ever tell you otherwise!

    P.S.

    This is not about being selfish, and most definitely not about being lazy. If you’re cranky, you and those around you only suffer. That’s a lose-lose.

    So do yourself and your family and friends and coworkers a great, huge, great big favor…and sleep well.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian