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  1. Earlier
  2. The triple whammy syndrome: Perfectionism – demanding things be done flawlessly Obsessiveness – holding on to thoughts way too long Rigidity – being inflexible, unyielding, uncompromising Heavy stuff! Calls for a bit of levity, don’t you think? What’s the difference between a Rottweiler and an overly controlling person? A Rottweiler eventually lets go. As you might imagine, the triple whammy syndrome is not funny. It makes living and loving extremely difficult. So, if your need for control is out of control, listen up so that you can loosen up. Get Back to Basics The most basic thing in life is the rhythm of breathing. Take a few moments to do nothing except focus on taking deep breaths — inhaling slowing, exhaling slowing. Feel your body and mind relaxing. Tell yourself that it’s okay to let go of your concerns and responsibilities – at least for a few minutes. If you did this exercise, you’re already feeling more relaxed. Doesn’t that feel good? Accept What Is Western philosophy emphasizes the importance of being in control while Eastern philosophy emphasizes surrendering control, accepting “what is.” There’s a time and a place for each of these belief systems. Many of us need to be reminded that not everything is in our control. We need to accept what is and stop berating ourselves (and others) for what has happened. Delegate Control If you have a strong need for control, you probably feel overburdened, overstressed. Yet, you hesitate to let someone else take over because that person won’t do it “the right way.” Yet, many things don’t have to be done only one way. Just like there are “50 ways to leave your lover,” there are many ways to do laundry, prepare a meal, respond to a request. Focus on What’s Realistic, Not Idealistic While perfectionism in the abstract may seem like a virtue, in real life it’s often a curse. If your need for control is strong, lots of times you’ll be upset with yourself and others. So try to seek accomplishment, not perfection. With some tasks you may want to put in mega effort to make it a first-class accomplishment. Others, however, just have to get done and out of the way. No gold star necessary. And still others, if you really think about it, don’t have to get done at all. Accept Yourself — with All of Your Flaws Quick — think of five things that are “right” about you. Now, think of five things that are “wrong” about you. Which of these questions was easier for you to answer? If you’re more aware of your vices than your virtues, do yourself (and others) a favor by reversing that pattern. Not only will you ease up on yourself but, since we tend to treat others as we treat ourselves, you’ll ease up on what you expect from others. Do Something Differently Prove to yourself that you can do things differently by deliberately changing how and when you do a task. Take a new route! Respond to a request in a different way! Say “yes” to something you’d typically say “no” to! When you’re always in control, life is predictable, safe — and boring. So try surrendering the control. You’ll find that most things will turn out just fine. And in the rare situation when it does not, trust that you’ll be able to meet the challenge, becoming stronger and wiser as a result of the experience. Okay, you’ve read the article. Now how many of these ideas will you put into practice? I know, it’s hard to do. Or maybe you don’t believe doing any of them will make a difference. Who knows, maybe it won’t. But I have observed that, if you practice these behaviors over a period of time, you’ll begin to relish your relationships, take pleasure in your work, and love your life’s journey. What could be better than that? ©2018 View the full article
  3. The end of summer brings about an assortment of mixed feelings. For families with school aged children one of those feelings is often anxiety. Both parents and children alike may be worried about the new school year, and for many those worries can be tough to handle. A little nervousness as the school year begins is normal. Both parents and kids will have concerns about the new expectations, academic challenges, social environment and managing the new, likely hectic, schedule. But when does school anxiety become more than a little nervousness and what do you need to do when it does? Kids of all ages can experience anxiety when going back to school. For most it is the fear of the unknown and concern that they will somehow fail at their assigned tasks. These worries may not always be expressed verbally, but rather through actions, behaviors, or physical symptoms. Children may suddenly develop a variety of ailments like stomach aches, headaches, or restless sleep. Or they may act out, becoming angry, oppositional or withdrawn. It is easy to want talk to them about why they are acting the way they are and try to get them to communicate about it, but generally kids do not want to open up. And at young ages many won’t be able to pinpoint the reasons. Instead try giving them opportunities to express their feelings in a physical way, such as game play or a creative activity like art. It can also help to do what you can to make their environment and circumstances more comfortable. If your child is struggling with anxiety related to school, try some of the following: Talk in positive terms. Children listen to everything you say and the way you say it (even if you don’t think so). Make sure you talk about school in the most positive manner. Highlight the cool new things that the year will bring and perhaps relate it to your own personal enjoyment of school. Watch out for talking in terms like, “math is so hard this year,” “social studies bored me to tears,” or “P.E was the worst.” Hearing you talk like this will give them unspoken permission to see things the same way and not give school a chance. Point out the fun. Each year brings new opportunities. Get excited for and with your child over these things. New field trips, new subjects, and new projects can all be made fun. Your enthusiasm will be noticed and remembered. Help them find friends. Social anxiety is a big issue for many kids, especially if they are naturally shy. Encourage new friendships by setting up play dates, after school activities, or enrolling your child in new activities. If you have a chance, you might even pay attention to the kids in the classroom or playground that look like they would be a good fit as a friend. Suggesting that your son or daughter might have things in common and would enjoy them might give them some direction. Be careful about being too overbearing about this though. Trying to choose your child’s friends can backfire. Talk to the teacher. A conversation with the teacher about your child’s anxiety can help as well. Teachers generally like to know when a child is having difficulties. Most teachers will work with you and your son or daughter to ensure the environment feels comfortable and safe for them. Anxiety symptoms will likely go away within the first week or so, but for some anxiety can be more serious. Social pressures, fear of bullying, and even the many news stories regarding school safety can affect children deeply and cause problems that go on for some time. If nothing you have tried works and you are still dealing with debilitating anxiety in your child, you may need to seek help from your family physician or a counselor. Anxiety issues in children are on the rise and while most will get through things with family support, some will need more. As parents we want the best and happiest experiences for our kids. Childhood is supposed to be fun, formative and educational. When dealing with an anxious or constantly worried child and your efforts to alleviate the problems aren’t working, it can be difficult to know what to do. Don’t discount the experience of those people who work with your child on a regular basis. Teachers and principals are good resources. They may not be able to solve the problems, but it is likely that they can help point you in the right direction for assistance if you need it. Whether it is kindergarten or college, anxiety at the start of a new school year is normal. You may not remember (or maybe you remember all too well), but you probably experienced it as well. No matter if it is short-lived or more serious your child will need you to be patient and supportive as they work through things. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone and that it will likely to get better as their comfort level with the new environment grows. View the full article
  4. Phobiasupportforum

    The Hardest Part About Living with Depression

    Depression is different for different people. Writer and author Therese Borchard once told me it feels like “being encased in a glass table in the middle of your living room, able to see what is going on, but claustrophobic and suffocating, wanting so desperately to get out, but being locked inside.” Author Graeme Cowan described depression as “terminal numbness.” For some people, depression is draining and exhausting. They feel their sadness on a cellular level. For others, like Cowan, they feel nothing, not a neutral nothing, but a lack of feeling that terrifies them. For still others, it’s none of these things. But whatever the specific symptoms, and like any chronic illness, depression is difficult to live with. We asked individuals to share how they navigate the hardest parts about living with depression—and how you might, too. Not Feeling Like Yourself For Theodora Blanchfield, a health and fitness writer and blogger, the hardest part is not feeling like herself. Which manifests in many different ways: She feels foggy and acts detached. She doesn’t have the same amount of energy for her workouts, and she can’t work as much as she usually does. When this happens, what helps is being gentle with herself. “I always remember something my therapist told me: Treat yourself like you’d treat a four-year-old. You won’t berate a four-year-old for having a hard time getting through work. You’d be patient with them. (I also usually interpret this as I need a cookie, too.)” The Loss of Hope Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist who specializes in mood disorders, finds that the hardest part of her depression is the hopelessness and despair. Depression has a way of making you feel like things will never get better, that you’ll stay inside the darkness forever. “Time has shown me that I always, always, feel better, but when those really tough moments hit, it can be a real struggle.” Sometimes, Serani knows what’s exacerbating her depression—a loss, stress, seasonal changes—and other times there’s no recognizable reason. “It just is what it is, and I have to deal with it.” She relies on several skills she learned years ago in her own therapy, skills she also teaches to her patients today. For instance, she uses supportive self-talk, such as: “Don’t let a bad day make you feel like it’s a bad life.” “Baby steps get the job done.” “I will feel better soon.” “This is part of my illness, it’s not the whole of who I am.” “Shower. Dress. Go.” She supports her body by taking a bath or a nap, sitting outside, and if she’s not sidelined by fatigue, taking a walk. “I also tell my loved ones that I’m having a bad day or two, and ask for their help, sometimes to check in on me or give me some added TLC,” said Serani, also author of three books on depression. The last component focuses on soul-care. Serani feeds her senses with music, comedies, uplifting stories, aromatherapy and comfort food. “[O]ne of my go-to’s is watching videos of babies or animals on the internet. I know it sounds a bit goofy, but it gets me laughing, and it really helps shift my mood. A good cuteness-overload does wonders for me.” The Allure of Isolation “I think the hardest part for me is the constant desire to isolate myself, not talk to anyone, stay in bed, sort of shut everyone and everything out of my life,” said Caroline Kaufman, author of the poetry collection Light Filters In. Initially, she thinks closing the blinds and being alone will help her to feel better. But it usually does the opposite, sparking a toxic cycle: “The more I stay in bed or isolate from my friends, the worse I feel, and then the stronger the desire gets to continue doing it. And then the next thing I know, it’s been three days and I’ve barely eaten or left my room.” This is why she tries to make plans to do something or go somewhere with a friend, like a lunch date. Knowing that someone is waiting for her motivates her to get up. “And then after, even if we only talked for half an hour, I’m already out of bed and in the world, already out of that cycle and I will feel so, so much better for the rest of the day.” The Unpredictability Fiona Thomas, a writer who shares her honest account of living with depression and anxiety, said that the unpredictable nature of the illness is especially difficult for her. “Even though I’ve become quite good at recognizing my triggers and symptoms, it doesn’t make it any easier when it pops up out of nowhere.” It’s even worse when she feels depressed during a “happy” occasion such as Christmas or a beach vacation. “It can make you feel like you’re a party pooper and ruining it for everyone else, or that you have no right to be feeling sad when you’re doing something so lovely,” said Thomas, author of the forthcoming book Depression in a Digital Age: The Highs and Lows of Perfectionism. A real comfort for Thomas is being around people who truly understand her and understand her depression. She schedules some alone time, too, to recharge. She also reduces her stress, and tries to get more sleep. She takes walks and practices yoga. Handling the Everyday Candace Ganger, a writer and author of the YA novel The Inevitable Collison of Birdie & Bash, has lived with depression her entire life. For her, the hardest part is getting through everything she needs to do each day. “As a working mother of two, I don’t have the luxury of sinking into a dark hole.” When Ganger feels overwhelmed, she asks for help. “The biggest realization I’ve had is knowing I can’t get through these periods alone. No matter how difficult, I have to find a way to reach out or it’ll only worsen the symptoms.” Talking to anyone about how she’s feeling is hugely beneficial. Sometimes, she’ll tell her husband she isn’t feeling like herself—and he knows this is a cry for help. When she’s in a full-blown depression and can’t tell anyone else, she tries to find a person online who truly understands. “Even if it’s a simple Tweet or email, a blog post or article from someone who’s been through it, I find a way to stay connected.” She also finds it helpful to take a day or two off to decompress. You Are Not Alone “Depression likes to make us feel like we are isolated and that no one else could possibly feel the same way we do, but it’s exactly the opposite,” Kaufman said. Ganger agrees. “It sounds cliché, but you’re not alone. A lot of people live with depression in a high-functioning way—like myself—so you may never know what’s going on beneath the mask.” Stigma keeps many silent. As Kaufman said, it’s easy to believe that no one else struggles with depression, because no one talks about it. “On the outside, you can still be high-performing and smiling but in so much pain on the inside,” added Blanchfield, who said she shares her mental health struggles openly in hopes of beginning to chip away at that stigma. Ganger encouraged readers to share how you’re feeling, even if it’s in an email. “Depression is lie-based. It wants you to believe you’re all alone and no one cares. It’s wrong.” Serani also encouraged readers to reach out, so others can “help you move from the dark to the light again.” And she stressed the importance of learning the when and why of your depression: “Is it situational? Is it related to family? Work? School? Is there an anniversary event on the calendar that is particularly painful? Are you taking your medication regularly? Are you skipping or missing doses? Are you eating well? How’s your sleep?” This helps you to tailor treatment and techniques to your specific symptoms and triggers. Sometimes, you can answer these questions on your own, and sometimes you need therapy, she said. If you’re feeling frustrated and having a tough time, Blanchfield wants you to know there’s always hope. There’s always “another medication, a different kind of therapy, a differently lifestyle change you hadn’t thought of. You won’t always feel the same dire way you do now.” “Every time you relapse and recover, you need to remember that this is proof you’ll continue to do so as time goes on,” Thomas said. View the full article
  5. Phobiasupportforum

    5 Enlightened Ways to Think About Mental Health

    It’s time to eradicate stigmas. Life is hard even under the best of circumstances. Without physical and mental health, it’s difficult to enjoy life and to thrive. It makes good sense to take care of ourselves and that includes getting help when we suffer physically or psychologically. When we feel sick we get ourselves to the doctor. And, when we feel so bad that we think about hurting ourselves or others, or when we cannot engage positively in work or in relationships, or we cannot accomplish what we want, we should seek help to feel better. It’s what all of us deserve! Mental health shouldn’t be a dirty word. Still damaging stigmas prevail allowing ignorance to end lives. Judging others or ourselves for our suffering is just plain harsh, not to mention counterproductive. When was the last time telling a depressed person to “get over it” worked? Try never! And using shame as a tactic to “encourage” someone to be what you think they should be only adds to a person’s suffering. Mental health problems should be thought of no differently than physical health problems. In fact, they are completely related: mental health problems affect physical health and physical health problems affect mental health. We need a world where no one feels embarrassed or ashamed about their suffering. We need a world where suffering evokes only kindness, compassion, and a desire to help. Here are 5 enlightened ways to think about mental health: Everyone suffers! I have never met anyone who is happy and calm all the time. It’s just not possible, no matter how good someone’s life looks like from the outside. Most people suffer at some point in their life from anxiety, depression, aggression, PTSD, addictions, and other symptoms. And, if a person is lucky enough to never suffer psychologically, they surely love someone who does suffer in these ways. Instead of living lives of quiet desperation, to paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, let’s encourage honest talk. If someone gets uncomfortable, we can talk about that too. Mental health check-ups are an important part of wellness. Do you feel ashamed when you go for a check-up at your internist? No, in fact you probably feel quite good that you are taking care of your health. Yet most people are ashamed to call a psychotherapist for a consultation. This makes no logical sense. A mental health checkup is a great idea especially if you are suffering and not able to function the way you want. Gym for the brain! That’s exactly how I describe therapy for my patients who come in feeling bad that they “have to come to therapy.” In our society, we praise people for working out at the gym. We think of them as maintaining their health and taking good care of themselves. Well that’s no different for a person wanting to enhance their psychological wellbeing. Therapy grows new brain cell networks, calms the mind and body, makes it easier to meet life’s challenges, and helps us thrive as we become the best versions of our self that we can. Education in emotions is a game-changer! We live in a challenging society because it is not very nurturing. That’s why rates of anxiety, depression and addiction have skyrocketed and, according to a new disturbing report from the CDC, suicide rates are steadily increasing. At the very least, our society could provide an accessible and understandable education on emotions. This would help us all understand how our childhood experiences translate to directly affect our adult mental health (for better and for worse). Even better, our schools could teach us tools like the Change Triangle, and skills for managing relationships and interpersonal conflicts constructively so bullying, for example, would become a thing of the past. Stigmas and judgments are caused by ignorance. Education on emotions and mental health can do a lot to eradicate stigmas and even reverse the current epidemic in depression, anxiety and addictions. Question assumptions, judgements and fears around mental health and mental illness. Many of us fear difference. When people feel, act or look different than we do, we tend to judge them. Judgement, while a form of emotional protection achieved by distancing ourselves from those we fear or don’t understand, is also destructive for all of us. Judgement is the basis of stigma and justifies the horrible way we treat people who suffer mental illnesses and addictions. Judgement shames those who suffer and that is all of us. No wonder shame-based depressions are rampant in our society. Instead of judging others for their emotions, can we instead be curious about our assumptions and question where we learned to judge or fear people who struggle psychologically? Most suffering can be eased with support from nurturing others, proper treatment and a variety of resources. Let’s be proud to grow our mental health. What a difference it makes to wholeheartedly say to someone seeking help, “Good for you! I could use some gym for my brain too! A+ for trying! View the full article
  6. The prevalence and rise of anxiety is documented and, with the abundance of informational sources available at arms-length, you do not have to look far for bad news. A sense of danger, both subtle and blatant, projects from the screens that dominate attention. As the world gets bigger in an interconnected way, the interpersonal sphere of those closest and most important to us becomes more influential, particularly to the basic needs of children. The holding environment created by parents while children are dependent, as well as the health of the attachment, become crucial to the quality of two vital parenting responsibilities: providing the safety of “home base” as well as the conditions for exploration. How some have chosen to engage this challenge may seem to have some value on the surface, but on a deeper level sabotages fundamentals of growth. “Helicopter” parenting, the hovering, overinvolved, and overprotective posture assumed by many moms and dads, attempts to spare children from pain, suffering, conflict, and the darker, cruder side of life. While it may appear to come from a place of positive intent, the approach derives from pain and fear. While hovering may have its roots in a parent’s personal history or lack of insight into healthy development, insulating children from the challenge and emotions of conflict, responsibility, and adversity comes at a cost. Equal to the importance of providing nurturance and support, is what balances the authoritative parenting style: setting limits and building the coping and problem-solving skills so important to resilience, self-control, and personal responsibility. Interestingly, when we examine the four parenting styles that emerge from the combination of levels of the factors of support/nurturance and demand/expectations, only one style is associated positively with self-regulation: the authoritative style. This style is one that is high in support and demand. The authoritative parent acknowledges that building relationships, competence, and autonomy all require a flexible, resilient character, one that uses the ups and downs of life as opportunities to grow and learn. Self-regulation emerges both from modeling as well as allowing children the opportunity to experience, modulate, and manage the negative emotions that accompany conflict, disappointment, and adversity. Hovering and clearing a sterile swath of problem-free terrain does not provide a realistic environment for children to grow from dependent to independence. Studies consistently point to the connection between this parenting approach and less than optimal developmental outcomes in the areas social-emotional, academic productivity, and self-regulation. The meta-message of hovering is “You are weak and you can’t handle this.” The fear that fuels protectiveness over time creates the conditions of entitlement, anxiety, and dependence. Helicopter parents assume that there are no consequences to their actions, and that independence and resilience are a function of age and genetic make-up, and not experience. But the detriment to development surfaces very early as other children only will play with someone for so long when that child always has to have it his way and falls apart when he doesn’t. This does not mean parents should go looking for conflict and challenge. Everyday life offers plenty of opportunity to increase autonomy and resilience. For young children, play can be as challenging as it gets, full of negotiation, delaying gratification, and things just not going your way. For older children, peer relationships and developing a sense of competence are challenging with plenty of room to learn and practice coping skills, problem-solving, and regulating emotions. Here are 5 strategies to help parents shift from helicopter mode to a more authoritative approach: Make sense of your experience of being parented. Our most intense and intimate experience of parenting is the first-person experience of our own upbringing. A great deal of this time we were dependent upon our parents on our way to becoming independent. This point of view is critical to understanding how we learned about ourselves, relationships, and how the world works. A robust predictor of parenting is whether or not we have made sense of our experience of being parented. Simply put, if we have made a coherent narrative of the past, these experiences will not intrude upon the present. This is a hopeful notion for regardless of past conditions, we can make sense and parent in a proactive and responsive manner. Build problem-solving skills. Problems are a regularly occurring part of life and are opportunities to build our thinking capacity as well as reciprocity within relationships. Studies find that intrusive and over-controlling parenting interferes with the development of emotional regulation and inhibitory control that children need to handle problems. Normalizing the inevitability of problems and modeling aloud the problem-solving process builds skills and reduces anxiousness. Process disappointments. Feeling fully from start to finish when things do not go our way is a valuable experience. Processing the sequence of emotions, choices, and outcomes creates coherent narratives and is more likely to promote an approach attitude rather than the avoidance stance that is common in anxiety. Coach children through conflicts. At the psychological core of well-being is the attitude of approach rather than avoid. Providing the appropriate scaffolding through conflict builds the cognitive and emotional resources needed for present and future challenges. This empowering stance is much different than letting kids figure it out for themselves for the literature points out that early on children require scaffolding and co-regulation from adults. Model resilience and composure. Children learn substantial lessons by watching us. How we handle when things go our way and when things do not is in full view. We can use these moments purposefully in modeling the beliefs, skills, and attitudes that we say matters. Do not underestimate the power of walking your talk for this creates the conditions within the family culture for grit and resilience to develop. References Panepinto, J.C. (2016). Up follows down: Resilience in everyday life. Bradenton, FL: Booklocker. Perry, N. B., Dollar, J. M., Calkins, S. D., Keane, S. P., & Shanahan, L. (2018). Childhood self-regulation as a mechanism through which early overcontrolling parenting is associated with adjustment in preadolescence. Developmental psychology. Siegel, D. J., & Hartzell, M. (2013). Parenting from the inside out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive. TarcherPerigee. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml View the full article
  7. ​Seeing as most kids nowadays have their eyes glued on different types of screens, one might argue that social development is now more important than ever. Our children still need to learn how to interact with other people in the community and that’s where social skills come in. Children with better social skills have a greater chance of cultivating more positive relationships and interactions with others and they generally have healthy self-esteem. Conversely, poor social skills have been linked to an increased risk of various physical and mental health problems including loneliness, anxiety and depression. While many aspects of social development are an innate part of your kid’s unique personality and temperament, the environment they grow up in also determines how socially adept they become. Luckily, social skills can (and should) be taught even from a young age. As you endeavor to improve your kids’ social skills, remember that these are best learned in a social environment so have your kids interact in groups as much as possible. Here are some fun activities and tricks that can help hone your kids’ social skills: 1. Board games to teach kids how to cooperate and take turns. There’s nothing like a game of Snakes & Ladders to teach your kids how to play together, negotiate on who goes first and wait patiently for their turn. A good board game will also help your child learn how to follow instructions, stick with rules and be a good sport whether they’ve won or not. You can also change up the rules of some games to encourage kids to cooperate towards a common goal, e.g. instead of competing against each other while playing Uno, you can have them work together to eliminate adults instead. Remember to choose age-appropriate games and they’ll have so much fun that they won’t realize they’re also learning. 2. Play “Would you rather” to practice decision-making skills. Decisions are part of life and what better way to help your kids refine those skills than engaging in a silly, goofy and outlandish game of “Would you rather…?” The good thing about this game is that you can come up with lots of options that compel kids to pause and think before making a decision. You can stimulate further thought by asking them to explain why they chose one option over another. Have kids come up with their own questions to make it more fun. Some favorites include: Would you rather grow all your own food or sew your own clothes? Would you rather be able to control water or fire? Would you rather always talk in rhymes or sing instead of speak? 3. Improve their communication skills by getting them to discuss favorite topics. The ability to communicate effectively with others will determine the kind of interactions your child will have as well as the kinds of relationships they’ll forge in life. Effective communication consists of many distinct skills including conversation skills, listening skills, remembering what others say, reading body language and non-verbal cues, to mention a few. One of the best ways to help kids learn these skills is by encouraging them to talk about their favorite topics. If you have more than one child, group them into pairs and have them practice the back and forth of a conversation. Make it a game where they have to listen intently to what the other person says, perhaps even write it down and then you can ask what they’ve learned about each other’s favorite topics. 4. Use books and videos to help kids identify and express their emotions. The ability to identify, express, accept or manage feelings is crucial to a child’s emotional development. Identifying emotions and finding healthy ways to express them are skills that last into adulthood. Being young, kids struggle to name what they’re feeling and they might also struggle with managing emotions. As part of your kid’s learning, you can read kids’ books about feelings or watch videos together that help them understand their emotions. To make things more interactive, you can create a chart listing different emotional states then have your kids draw different faces showing those feelings and stick them on the corresponding areas on the chart. 5. Teach kids to problem solve with entertaining activities. We parents are often guilty of stepping in to help our kids whenever we see them struggling. Unfortunately, this can cripple their ability to solve problems on their own. Luckily, there are a variety of activities your kids can participate in to encourage them to look at problems from different angles and come up with alternative solutions. Some classic problem-solving games include jigsaw puzzles, jenga blocks and charades. Older kids can be introduced to origami or you can even have them follow a recipe to make a simple snack. Several games and activities can always be modified to tickle your kids’ creativity in order to polish their social skills. Above all, remember that you are your kids’ biggest role model, so ensure you set a good example for them to emulate. Resources: Improving Communication With Your Teen- Infographic (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.sundancecanyonacademy.com/improving-communication-with-your-teen-infographic/ Emotional Development (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/mental-health-matters/social-and-emotional-learning/emotional-development Katie (2017, May 3). 45+ books about feelings for kids. Retrieved from https://www.giftofcuriosity.com/books-about-feelings-for-kids/ Editor. (2016, October 4). 17 Fun Problem Solving Activities & Games [for Kids, Adults and Teens]. Retrieved from https://icebreakerideas.com/problem-solving-activities/ View the full article
  8. Phobiasupportforum

    The Mental Health Toll of Disasters

    In the last few months, people around the world have been mourning the death of celebrities by their own hand. Just days after the news of Kate Spade’s suicide rocked the fashion world, Anthony Bourdain’s untimely end sent shock waves through food lovers across the world. These were not the first high-profile suicides to take the world by surprise, and they will not be the last. But these tragic deaths have garnered a great deal of global attention, helping to shine a spotlight on the dangers of suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming almost 45,000 lives each year — an average of 123 suicides a day. It’s also the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54. Though suicide disproportionately kills white males, anyone can have thoughts of suicide, and the tragedies of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain prove that fame and wealth do not necessarily equate with happiness. And, unfortunately, thoughts of suicide can also often be exacerbated by difficult situations. As NPR reported, when Hurricane Irma passed through the Florida Keys, she left a trail of devastation in her wake. Homes were destroyed; lives were uprooted. For many, that devastation was mental as well as physical. Though the rebuilding of the physical infrastructure is well under way, not enough attention has been paid to repairing the damaged psyches. The Florida Keys were severely affected by the deadly storm, and the suicide rate this year is roughly double the average for the area — and this was a county that already suffered from a higher-than-normal suicide rate. To make matters worse, suicide catches on — a phenomenon known as suicide contagion has impacted the rise of suicide rates for years. Of those who commit suicide, 90 percent have an underlying mental disorder. Unfortunately, too few reach out for support, and those that do reach out often face difficulties accessing care. This paints a grim picture, but there is hope. If you or a loved one is struggling with feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide, it’s important to seek help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is a 24/7 suicide prevention network that anyone in emotional distress can call. Having a hotline like this is crucial, but it’s not sufficient. For those with depression, anxiety or other mental disorders, it’s important to speak regularly with a therapist or counselor. That’s why the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides you with a listening ear when you need it most, by routing you through a local crisis center. In the Keys, according to the NPR article, an additional exacerbating factor could be its remote and isolated location where access to an appropriately matched therapist may be nearly impossible. Through mobile resources like the new mental health app, LARKR, individuals can access lifesaving therapy without leaving their homes, thus also avoiding the stigma of seeking help — a stigma that is lessening, but unfortunately still exists. To stem this epidemic of suicide, we need to ensure that help is available to anyone who needs it, when they need it. There is no such thing as being too independent to seek out therapy. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. By bringing this conversation out into the open, we can offer increased support to those who are suffering, particularly those who we know are dealing with difficult times, such as those brought on by Hurricane Irma. It’s important to remember that mental health is just as affected by natural disasters as physical health. When something looks like it’s fixed on the outside, that doesn’t mean everything is operating smoothly on the inside. To handle the mental health toll that stressful events take, and to prevent future suicides, we need to have accessible mental health care available to everyone. View the full article
  9. Happy Saturday! School just started back in my neck of the woods, so in addition to the connection between brain function and heart health, the psychology of food, and other mental health news, this week’s Psychology Around the Net takes a look at some important kid-specific topics like dealing with back-to-school anxiety, the impact of mental illness on teen friendships, and why doctors are going to start prescribing playtime! How to Help Your Kids Cope With Back-to-School Anxiety: Some worry is normal, right? Naturally kids are going to be a little anxious (and maybe even excited) about who their teachers will be, whether they’ll have class with their friends — whether they’re going to make friends — and if they’ll be able to keep up with their school subjects. However, just because it’s normal doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can help smooth the transition, and there are signs to look for when “normal worry” turns into “extreme anxiety.” Scientist Explores the Nexus Between Appetite and Psychology: A bad mood could make your food taste sour. Organic foods could make you feel superior and judgmental. Want to eat less? Try putting your food on a red plate. The psychological influences on our appetites are fascinating! Brain Function Tied to Heart Health Early and Late in Life: Two new reports show that the cardiovascular health of both young and older folk is tied to brain function. Regarding Teens and Friendship, Misery Does Love Company: Researchers from Florida Atlantic University and collaborators studied whether internalizing poor mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depressions, and social withdrawal could predict the end of teen friendships. Does a teenager’s friendships end because of the teen’s mental health problems or because of the differences in the ways friends suffer from these problems? The Secret to Business Success That Will Improve Your Mental Health: I won’t give it away here, but be prepared to think about how the success of your business can benefit more than just your bank account. The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children: The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a report emphasizing the important role playtime plays (pun sort of intended) in helping children develop social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills and providing pediatric doctors with the information they need to “write a prescription” for playtime. View the full article
  10. Phobiasupportforum

    OCD and Flooding Exposure

    As an advocate for OCD awareness and proper treatment, I thought I was familiar with most things related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, it was not until recently that I heard the term “flooding” in reference to OCD, and over the past couple of months I have connected with three parents of young adult children with OCD who have dealt with this technique. For those of you who aren’t familiar with flooding as it relates to OCD, it involves the use of exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. But instead of those with OCD creating a hierarchy and then working with their therapists to determine which exposures should be tackled first (also known as graduated exposures), they are “flooded” with the exposures that cause them the most fear and anxiety — the ones at the top of their hierarchy. As with any exposure, the person with OCD needs to remain in the situation, refraining from compulsions, until the anxiety subsides. To help clarify the difference between flooding and graduated exposures, the analogy of going for a swim is often used. If you jump right into the icy cold water, you feel the shock of the cold, though you will eventually acclimate. This is comparable to flooding. Entering the water slowly, perhaps dipping your toes first and then dabbing your arms, is similar to a graduated exposure. There is less shock to the body and it is likely more tolerable. The hope is that both approaches lead to the same result – an enjoyable swim. Now back to the parents I mentioned. In each case, their young adult children experienced flooding while attending residential treatment programs specializing in the treatment of OCD. None of the parents felt it was helpful, and two were firmly convinced this treatment backfired, as their children regressed considerably. This is not surprising to me or to most people familiar with OCD and its proper treatment. Whereas graduated exposures afford those with OCD a measure of control over their treatment, flooding does not. And exposing someone with OCD to their worst fears immediately? It is too much too quickly. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I actually think it borders on inhumane treatment. So why was flooding used in these cases? As far as I know, the only reason is because health insurance coverage limited the length of time their children could stay in the residential program, so there was only enough time to use flooding, not graduated exposures. There is so much wrong with this picture. Unless I am missing something, flooding does not ever appear to be in the best interest of those with OCD who have bravely reached out for proper treatment. And certainly not being allotted enough time by insurance companies to get the help they need and deserve is also not in the best interests of anyone — except perhaps the insurance companies. This is frustrating to say the least, and just one more example of why we need to advocate for ourselves and our loved ones when it comes to the fight against OCD. There is much work left to do! View the full article
  11. Admin

    OCD and Flooding Exposure

    As an advocate for OCD awareness and proper treatment, I thought I was familiar with most things related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, it was not until recently that I heard the term “flooding” in reference to OCD, and over the past couple of months I have connected with three parents of young adult children with OCD who have dealt with this technique. For those of you who aren’t familiar with flooding as it relates to OCD, it involves the use of exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. But instead of those with OCD creating a hierarchy and then working with their therapists to determine which exposures should be tackled first (also known as graduated exposures), they are “flooded” with the exposures that cause them the most fear and anxiety — the ones at the top of their hierarchy. As with any exposure, the person with OCD needs to remain in the situation, refraining from compulsions, until the anxiety subsides. To help clarify the difference between flooding and graduated exposures, the analogy of going for a swim is often used. If you jump right into the icy cold water, you feel the shock of the cold, though you will eventually acclimate. This is comparable to flooding. Entering the water slowly, perhaps dipping your toes first and then dabbing your arms, is similar to a graduated exposure. There is less shock to the body and it is likely more tolerable. The hope is that both approaches lead to the same result – an enjoyable swim. Now back to the parents I mentioned. In each case, their young adult children experienced flooding while attending residential treatment programs specializing in the treatment of OCD. None of the parents felt it was helpful, and two were firmly convinced this treatment backfired, as their children regressed considerably. This is not surprising to me or to most people familiar with OCD and its proper treatment. Whereas graduated exposures afford those with OCD a measure of control over their treatment, flooding does not. And exposing someone with OCD to their worst fears immediately? It is too much too quickly. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I actually think it borders on inhumane treatment. So why was flooding used in these cases? As far as I know, the only reason is because health insurance coverage limited the length of time their children could stay in the residential program, so there was only enough time to use flooding, not graduated exposures. There is so much wrong with this picture. Unless I am missing something, flooding does not ever appear to be in the best interest of those with OCD who have bravely reached out for proper treatment. And certainly not being allotted enough time by insurance companies to get the help they need and deserve is also not in the best interests of anyone — except perhaps the insurance companies. This is frustrating to say the least, and just one more example of why we need to advocate for ourselves and our loved ones when it comes to the fight against OCD. There is much work left to do! View the full article
  12. I saw a video recently that potently illustrates how what we see and believe forms our world view. A teacher presented her students with a sheet of white paper with a black dot in the center. She asked them to describe in writing what they saw. When they completed the task, she read some of them and found they all focused on the dot and not the white space around it. She likened it to the idea that many people only see the block and not the way to get around it to their destination. Negativity begets negativity. When people only see impediments, depression is more likely to take hold and maintain its grip. For those I have worked with who have this diagnosis, life can look pretty dark. Imagine a pair of glasses sitting by your bedside table. You pick them up and place them on your face and then squint because your vision seems distorted. It takes a few minutes until you realize that they are smudged. You have a decision to make. Do you clean them, or do you allow them to remain smeared? The logical choice is to wipe them off. Sadly, some people would sooner complain that they can’t see than take the moment to make a positive change. I see folks with this mindset often in my therapy practice. Part of our shared task is to have them notice the smudges, decide if they want to keep them and if not, pick up a proverbial cloth. It can take the form of long-held beliefs that people in their lives do them wrong and then they wonder why they continue to attract the same experiences, friends or partners. There are some I have heard say, “It’s just not my day/year,” to which I have responded, “What I want to know is whose day is it and who has your day?” They do the cartoon character head shake; think Scooby-Do. It is as if they are attempting to make sense of it all. I chalk some of it up to culturally reinforced figures of speech. What if every day was your day? Last week I spoke at a support group for people who had experienced Traumatic Brain Injury. A woman who had a stroke a few years earlier was there with her husband. Their shared attitude was stellar. Although she was still in a wheelchair and her left side had residual paralysis, they did an exercise each Sunday night. They called it their gratitude dinner at which they reviewed all that they were thankful for from the week. It kept their chins up when they could easily have hit the ground and remained there. A few days ago, I had a grocery store encounter. I was perusing the aisles and an employee named Scott approached me pushing a pallet of ice cream. He smiled and said, “How’re you doing, young lady?” My standard response is, “Life is grand.” He volleys back with, “You must be a lucky lady. ” I tell him that I create my own luck and have a choice about my attitude. I then rattle off some life events…widowed at 40, single mom, both parents gone, lost my home in Hurricane Andrew in Homestead, Florida, had a heart attack and other medical issues. A dear friend is living with cancer. I was officiating at an anniversary memorial service for another long-time friend/family member that day. And yes, in the face of all that, I feel blessed and life is indeed grand. Scott said, “I never thought of it that way.” Now he can. When he wasn’t looking, I left a feather on his cart to remind him. Does environment mold us as well? If you grew up in a home in which people were perpetually pessimistic, might you take on those characteristics, or finding it unpleasant, making a concerted effort to alter your choices? Conversely, if your family were cockeyed optimists, it might be easier to see the world in that way. Consider that the glass is neither half full nor half empty, but instead all full, since even if it is half-filled with water, the other half is air. I am glad that I grew up in a home where, despite challenges at times, I learned resilience. One of my father’s favorite aphorisms was, “If that’s the worse thing that ever happens to you, you’ll be alright.” A few years ago, I saw a movie that forever changed the way I will look at happiness. It is called Happy: The Movie. It was shown in theaters only one time and then released on DVD. Sitting in a mostly empty theater with three friends I watched this documentary, enraptured with the concept. I had long known that happiness is a choice. It sets the stage with the idea that 50% of our happiness is hardwired; it’s what we are born with, 10% are the life occurrences along the way and 40% is what we decide it all means. Produced by Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, Patch Adams) and directed by Roco Belic (Ghengis Blues), it takes the viewer on a worldwide adventure that explores the nature of this state that so many seek, and few achieve for very long. An opening scene is of a rickshaw driver in Calcutta, India, who explains that in the midst of the harsh conditions he faces on the job, his sense of happiness lies in knowing that when he returns home each night to his ramshackle dwelling, he is embraced by his family and neighbors who are his true source of wealth. It would be easy to think that he would be miserable. Instead, he is grateful for his blessings. Imagine a lump of clay in front of you. What will you sculpt with it? Knowing that you have an infinite imagination, there is always a choice, to allow it to sit in its current state, complaining that it isn’t attractive or design a masterpiece. Beauty is in the eye and mind of the beholder. What will you create? View the full article
  13. It has long been known that maternal depression may affect infant development. Studies have shown that children of depressed parents are at an increased risk of developing depression themselves. It has also been determined that the amygdala’s microstructure — how it is wired — was seen as abnormal in two-week old infants born to depressed mothers. Abnormal amygdala function is a feature of mood and anxiety disorders, so this is a cause for concern. A July 2018 study published in ScienceDirect takes this one step further and finds that a mother’s depression during pregnancy was connected to several adverse outcomes for her baby. The study, known as The Psychiatry Research and Motherhood-Depression (PRAM-D) study, was led by Sarah Osborne MBBS, PhD, of King’s College London. Dr. Osborne and her colleagues found that mothers who had major depression during their pregnancy also had a shorter length of gestation by an average of 8 days compared with mothers who did not have depression. In addition, those who were diagnosed with major depressive disorder during pregnancy had several raised inflammatory and cortisol biomarkers in their third trimester. Mothers without depression did not have these raised markers. In regards to the babies, those exposed to their mother’s depression in utero had adverse effects on neurobehavioral functioning as early as 6 days postnatal. This was marked by a significant difference in suboptimal functioning in several Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale clusters after adjustments. However, exposure to depression in utero did not appear to have any impact on the infants’ development as assessed by the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development at 12 months of age. In reference to cortisol responses to stress no difference was seen at 2 months of age, but these children did have higher cortisol responses to stress compared with the control children at 12 months of age. Dr.Osborne told MedPage Today: “Our findings that compared with women without depression in pregnancy, women with depression in pregnancy have increased stress-related biology, newborns with less optimal neurobehavioral function, and infants with a greater biological response to stress, confirmed our hypotheses. Our hypotheses were based on bringing together evidence from a combination of previous, but perhaps less clinically relevant, research.” “We felt this [the study] was important, as depression is common in pregnancy, occurring in approximately 10% of women, and is easily recognized and treated. Furthermore, the study had the potential to deepen our understanding of how the biological environment of the developing fetus might affect its later development — so-called ‘developmental programming.'” “The results of our study alone are not sufficient to make recommendations regarding clinical practice. However, our results will highlight the importance of actively looking for depression in pregnancy, and will inform clinicians when they are considering the risks and benefits of actively treating depression in pregnancy.” More research is warranted in the area of depression during pregnancy and how it might affect not only mothers, but their babies as well. The good news is that in most cases, depression is treatable, and perhaps these new findings will encourage more pregnant women to seek help when needed. View the full article
  14. We are surrounded by the message to “live in the moment.” But sometimes, the moment just seems too hard to manage. Our breath shortens and muscles tighten, and all we want to do is break free from the present. This experience happens to us all — a medical exam we want to avoid, a work project we want to erase from our plate. It’s all we can do to breathe and take a step forward. The thing is, that stress and fear are what continuously hold us back. And they exist in the present. As a result, the only place to handle them is in the here and now. So I am, for a moment, going to be like all the others — because I want you to feel free of the worry and to tell you what you’ve heard one hundred times before: live in the present. Sit in the present. Be present. But don’t sit in that hard-to-manage present unprepared and alone. Instead, equip yourself with these simple reminders today, so that you can face your fear and worry with your truest strength: 1. Highlight your strengths. We are beautiful creatures, built with a balance of strengths and weaknesses. Our minds, though, are these curious things, focusing mostly on the parts of our lives that need improvement. We don’t see ourselves in a fair light in the least. But when you look at those around you, what do you see? That neighbor who is living the life of your dreams; that classmate living great adventures; people finding more time than you can imagine to be social and sparkling. I’ll let you in on a secret: when they look at you, that’s also what they see. You are their sparkling, glowing, brilliant comparison, the one they want to be. And YOU ARE! Everything others see in you, everything you deny from your own self-reflection, is true. Highlight your strengths and choose to embrace the part of your reflection that others see. 2. Live without barriers. We all face obstacles. Walk down the street — take in the sun and the movement; it’s great for your soul! And notice the people around you. I guarantee that not one of them got to where they are today without facing an obstacle. And no obstacle is greater than another; they are just different and a result of being human. So, when faced with obstacles, we are left with two options: freeze, or take a step forward. Perhaps we could just not be human and voilà! Obstacles will vanish. But until we morph into an alternate life form, we will face obstacles, and we will face the choice to stay frozen in the past or continue moving forward in the present. The thing is, you have already made this choice — and the brave choice at that — plenty of times! To get to where YOU are today, you chose to move forward despite your life challenges. And you made it through! I’m even willing to bet some of those obstacles that seemed so daunting in the past have become silly little memories. It might be hard to believe those obstacles would have ever held you back! So for a moment, remember that you are here. Remember all you have been through to get here. And smile in the mirror, telling yourself that YOU did that. 3. Live YOUR life. We grow up in a society that makes us think we are supposed to be a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way. If we don’t follow a certain life trajectory, we are led to believe something is wrong. If we make a choice outside of the norm, we are forced to justify our position, if not to others than to that internal dialogue we have established from all that we’ve learned growing up. We’ve learned we are unique, and yet we fall into a pattern where no two lives ‘should be’ different. It’s time to take the temperature of this environment, though. Are the choices you make bringing you joy? Is the life you wake up to fueling your energy and feeding your passions? Are you laughing every day and finding yourself with connections? Do you feel free to unapologetically be you? If you answered yes to all of those questions, celebrate the life you’ve created. Rejoice in the realization that YOU are someone who brings you and the world around you joy. If you find yourself leaning towards no, don’t worry! You are not alone! We all end up in that place from time to time. And not all of us are so good at recognizing it, so great work! You really do know who you are — you know enough to realize some changes need to be made to live the life of your dreams. And knowledge is power enough to start to make small choices every day to return to living for YOU and authentically as you. And it’s okay to be wrong; a simple choice can change your trajectory again. Trial and error, when guided by your authentic voice, will lead you on the right path before you know it. So remember, check in with yourself. Support yourself. Let your inner self shine! You can create the life of your dreams. You can create a life where every present moment is as beautiful as a dream. View the full article
  15. Phobiasupportforum

    The Generosity of Listening

    “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus When we hear the word “generosity,” we may think about donating money and helping the needy. While these can be expressions of a generous heart, there is a more fundamental and soulful way that we can extend generosity in our everyday lives. And it doesn’t cost us any money. A deep human longing is to be seen, heard, and understood. The epidemic of loneliness and depression in our society can be traced in part to how we often don’t hear each other. Perhaps we’re driven by a fear of survival in a highly competitive society. By the end of the day, we may be exhausted and seek solace in the TV or computer. We may have grown so accustomed to not being heard, and being criticized and shamed when we’ve tried, that we’ve learned to hold a lot inside. Our feelings and longings go into hiding and atrophy when we’ve given up on them. We shut down our vulnerability, or worse, we turn against it in an attempt to erase all vestiges of being a vulnerable human being. Sadly, when we don’t turn toward each other for support, reassurance, and encouragement, we isolate ourselves. We succumb to the emptiness that derives from removing ourselves from the fabric of life. We’re wired with a need for human connection. When that need goes unmet, we may give up and seek secondary gratifications, such as for power, fame, or money, which don’t really fill our emptiness or satisfy our deepest yearnings. Or we turn to various addictions to distract us from our painfully unmet longing. Consequently, we may then lose sensitivity not only to ourselves, but also to the plight of others. This is a sad state of affairs, especially when those in leadership positions promote policies that increase divisiveness and dissociation from our humanity. Begin with Generosity Toward Yourself Being generous toward others begins by developing a generous presence toward ourselves. Rather than judge and criticize ourselves, we can cultivate a “caring, feeling presence” toward our feelings, as described by Focusing teachers Dr. Edwin McMahon and Dr. Peter Campbell. We’re then well positioned to extend attention toward others’ experience. Meaningful relationships are nourished by the generosity of attending to others. How deeply do you listen to people when they are sharing something important to them — hearing not just the words, but also the feelings beneath their words and stories? How attuned are you to their felt experience? Do you notice your attention wandering or preoccupied with any of the following: Preparing your response? Finding things to criticize? Turning the conversation toward your own thoughts or feelings? Struggling to find something to say to make them feel better or feeling badly that you don’t know how to respond? It’s natural for our attention to wander, but the generous art of listening means sustaining our full attention toward our partner or friend as they’re sharing something personal or difficult. This is not about fixing their problem or telling them what to do. It’s simply about extending your caring, feeling presence toward someone who is struggling. It’s about listening with the ear of the heart, as St. Benedict put it. What could be more generous and healing than opening our ears and heart to how another is experiencing life right now? Listening is the doorway to the connections we seek. It is the salve that soothes our disconnectedness and eases our isolation. Listening can open a door to being heard. When a person feels heard, they feel cared about. They feel less alone. They feel more connected. By creating a climate where others experience your generous attention, they are likely to appreciate you, feel drawn toward you, and come to care about you. If you want to be heard, begin by listening. It’s a powerful practice to give to others what we’d like to receive from them. View the full article
  16. Phobiasupportforum

    Vacationing with OCD

    August is a popular time for many of us to take vacations. That’s what summer is all about, right? Many of us look forward to this summer vacation time all year. But what if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)? How does going on vacation, planning a vacation, or even thinking about a vacation, affect you and those around you? When my son Dan’s OCD was severe, he could barely move, let alone go on a vacation. But when his obsessive-compulsive disorder improved to a moderate level, he planned a trip to Canada with a friend for his winter break. He was excited about going, and from all accounts had a great time exploring and trying out exciting new activities such as dog sledding. He wasn’t able to leave his OCD behind completely on this trip, but still managed to enjoy himself most of the time. I, on the other hand, was worried the whole time he was gone. I was concerned about the stress of him traveling (he flew), the change in environment and routine, the absence of therapy (and his therapist), and the inevitable trials and tribulations that come along with vacations. Also, what if he needed help while away? Would he tell us? Where would he turn? Who would he call? Indeed, the very nature of vacations is often conducive to stress for all of us, not just those with OCD. But if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, dealing with changes in daily routines as well as sleep routines, might be particularly difficult. Perhaps you’re staying with friends or family when you are used to being alone. Or perhaps you are alone in a hotel room, when you are usually surrounded by people at home. Your food choices might be different. And if you suffer from contamination OCD, you are faced with many challenges on vacation. Public toilets in particular seem to be a trigger for a lot of people with OCD. Still, Dan’s vacation turned out to be more stressful for me than it was for him because he was able to do what I could not: embrace the uncertainty that comes with a vacation — that same uncertainty that comes with all of life. Those who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder who are able and willing to go on vacation are indeed facing that uncertainty head-on. Will their OCD improve while they’re away? Maybe. Sometimes getting away from old, familiar triggers into a totally new environment will quiet OCD. Or will their OCD spike due to new triggers, or because of any of the other reasons mentioned above? Maybe. It’s certainly possible. Of course, there is no way of knowing until you go. In my opinion, if those with OCD aren’t allowing their disorder to prevent them from actually taking their vacation, the trip, whatever the outcome, should be considered a success. That’s the thing. We can’t let OCD call the shots. We need to continue to live our lives as fully as possible. So whether your summer involves vacations from OCD or with OCD, I hope your experiences are positive ones that create some great memories. View the full article
  17. Fixing. Solving. Smoothing over. We often reach for the metaphorical superglue when we feel bad or out of sorts. We seek to plaster the cracks of ourselves so the negative emotions don’t leak out, keeping a self-imposed equilibrium of what life “should” be like. But it is OK to be frightened, sad, stressed, anxious or feel grief because it’s OK for it not to be OK. The amount of effort it takes to hold the self imposed equilibrium tells us something — something important if we choose to listen. What it’s pointing out is we are fighting a battle we may not win. We are effectively fighting our own pain which often results in further pain. It’s a cycle of ouch. As well as denying ourselves the opportunity to develop healthy ways to cope with adversity. We are giving power to the emotional energy and building it into an insurmountable beast. The Cycle of Ouch The actions of fixing, solving or smoothing over suggest to our subconscious that what we are feeling is wrong. Its an inadvertent judgment saying it’s not OK to be in pain. We try to turn the tap off to our emotions by diverting attention or ignoring it, which triggers yet further pain, continuing the cycle of ouch. If we give ourselves permission to experience the emotion, open ourselves up to the vulnerability of pain we can find security. It is scary to even consider it. But being in the present with it, simply saying, “Hey, I feel you and I’m not fighting today,” takes away some of the energy of the emotion. This is a neutral position of working with the emotion rather than against. Neither holding it in or pushing it down into our bodies and hoping it will just go away. Or expressing it to its fullest so it bubbles over and becomes a bit messy. Neutral is a softer way to experience emotions. Rather than fighting life, we go with it. We find more inner peace as we embrace our experience just as it is. This won’t be easy to start with as this approach is a skill you practice and develop over time, but once you have it, it’s an approach that you will get plenty of use from. Five Skills to Develop to Break the Cycle of Ouch Say hey to it – Give the emotion recognition: “I see, hear and feel you and I’m OK with that.” Name it – Identify the emotion you are experiencing. The more honest you can be with what you are feeling, the gentler you can ultimately be with yourself. “I feel you ‘anger,’ I feel you in the pit of my stomach, I’m not going to fight you today, its OK that I feel you and it hurts.” Hang out – Just sitting with the emotion and even giving it space in your mind and body brings the potential for calm with no effort on your part. The emotion’s energy sometimes runs out when you allow it space; it kind of gives up as it’s not causing the desired drama. Focused breathing – Just noticing your breath, not making an effort to breathe deeply, just noticing where you are breathing from and maybe even counting the length of breath in… and out… will help the mind and body cope with what it is experiencing. Our minds can’t multitask so focusing on the breath rather than the emotion will automatically break the cycle of ouch. Trust yourself – Remembering that you are the best person for the job and your willingness to feel uncomfortable is a true sign of strength. Trusting in the knowledge that this will last for as long as it lasts but it won’t be forever, is powerful. This isn’t easy, but fighting or ignoring it isn’t easy either and takes more effort. Once the emotion has lessened, when you feel able you can choose to reflect on your experience and recognize your thoughts that triggered the emotion, you can do so, but you don’t have to do anything with these thoughts — again it is just acknowledging them because it is OK. Having simple, but effective techniques we can call upon when we experience negative emotions takes the power and energy from what is a scary experience. You can start to break your own cycle of ouch by just by remembering it is OK, for it not to be OK. View the full article
  18. Fixing. Solving. Smoothing over. We often reach for the metaphorical superglue when we feel bad or out of sorts. We seek to plaster the cracks of ourselves so the negative emotions don’t leak out, keeping a self-imposed equilibrium of what life “should” be like. But it is OK to be frightened, sad, stressed, anxious or feel grief because it’s OK for it not to be OK. The amount of effort it takes to hold the self imposed equilibrium tells us something — something important if we choose to listen. What it’s pointing out is we are fighting a battle we may not win. We are effectively fighting our own pain which often results in further pain. It’s a cycle of ouch. As well as denying ourselves the opportunity to develop healthy ways to cope with adversity. We are giving power to the emotional energy and building it into an insurmountable beast. The Cycle of Ouch The actions of fixing, solving or smoothing over suggest to our subconscious that what we are feeling is wrong. Its an inadvertent judgment saying it’s not OK to be in pain. We try to turn the tap off to our emotions by diverting attention or ignoring it, which triggers yet further pain, continuing the cycle of ouch. If we give ourselves permission to experience the emotion, open ourselves up to the vulnerability of pain we can find security. It is scary to even consider it. But being in the present with it, simply saying, “Hey, I feel you and I’m not fighting today,” takes away some of the energy of the emotion. This is a neutral position of working with the emotion rather than against. Neither holding it in or pushing it down into our bodies and hoping it will just go away. Or expressing it to its fullest so it bubbles over and becomes a bit messy. Neutral is a softer way to experience emotions. Rather than fighting life, we go with it. We find more inner peace as we embrace our experience just as it is. This won’t be easy to start with as this approach is a skill you practice and develop over time, but once you have it, it’s an approach that you will get plenty of use from. Five Skills to Develop to Break the Cycle of Ouch Say hey to it – Give the emotion recognition: “I see, hear and feel you and I’m OK with that.” Name it – Identify the emotion you are experiencing. The more honest you can be with what you are feeling, the gentler you can ultimately be with yourself. “I feel you ‘anger,’ I feel you in the pit of my stomach, I’m not going to fight you today, its OK that I feel you and it hurts.” Hang out – Just sitting with the emotion and even giving it space in your mind and body brings the potential for calm with no effort on your part. The emotion’s energy sometimes runs out when you allow it space; it kind of gives up as it’s not causing the desired drama. Focused breathing – Just noticing your breath, not making an effort to breathe deeply, just noticing where you are breathing from and maybe even counting the length of breath in… and out… will help the mind and body cope with what it is experiencing. Our minds can’t multitask so focusing on the breath rather than the emotion will automatically break the cycle of ouch. Trust yourself – Remembering that you are the best person for the job and your willingness to feel uncomfortable is a true sign of strength. Trusting in the knowledge that this will last for as long as it lasts but it won’t be forever, is powerful. This isn’t easy, but fighting or ignoring it isn’t easy either and takes more effort. Once the emotion has lessened, when you feel able you can choose to reflect on your experience and recognize your thoughts that triggered the emotion, you can do so, but you don’t have to do anything with these thoughts — again it is just acknowledging them because it is OK. Having simple, but effective techniques we can call upon when we experience negative emotions takes the power and energy from what is a scary experience. You can start to break your own cycle of ouch by just by remembering it is OK, for it not to be OK. View the full article
  19. If you take a moment to reflect, you will notice that almost 99% of the things that “bother” you are either in the past or the imagined future. Virtually none of them are in the here and now. That’s because that which is in the here and now is available to us to interact with, encounter, know, and influence. We usually have a great sense of control about things — even problems — as long as we feel we can see and wrestle with them. Things in the past or the future aren’t available to us to wrestle with in a concrete way … they are ambiguous, and therefore we are left either making plans A, B, and C, or rehashing versions D, E, and F of woulda, shoulda, coulda. We despise ambiguity because it renders us helpless to act, and acting is where we are comfortable. We are largely accustomed to taking in data, churning it around, and then focusing our efforts on doing something. Ambiguity makes it hard for us to do anything. And we hate that. We are action-oriented critters who find the feeling of helplessness highly unpleasant at best and severely distressing at worst. Being able to act gives us the illusion of control that makes us feel safe. Consequently, ambiguity makes us feel unsafe and unable to do anything about it. Often, this feeling is so uncomfortable that we act out in other ways that are largely irrelevant but nonetheless give us the sense that at least we are doing something, as unrelated to The Problem as it may be. This is the essence of the classic scene in which a rejected lover sits on the couch eating a half-gallon of ice cream. The character can’t do anything about making the object of their affection return the feeling, but he/she surely can locate a spoon, open the freezer, remove the goods, settle on the couch, and effectively eat loads of premium Rocky Road. It’s some kind of mission accomplished, if the other one is inaccessible. Many of our unhealthy behaviors are just that — stand-ins for other things that we can’t quite get our arms around, for whatever reason. Recognizing our discomfort with ambiguity and learning to tolerate the uncertainty of life is a choice, a practice to be cultivated on a daily basis by those who seek to decrease their engagement in unhealthy stand-in behaviors (such as eating ice cream when you don’t understand why someone doesn’t like you, or smoking cigarettes when you’re waiting for medical test results because you’re “stressed”) and cope directly with the reality of how much we dislike the grey area. If you’d like to start cultivating a greater tolerance for uncertainty so that you can decrease your unhealthy avoidant behaviors, one way is to practice on “little” uncertainties. For example, we’re used to having our phone with us 24/7 and constantly “checking” all kinds of things, keeping up on a million little pieces of information. A lot of these pieces of flotsam and jetsam aren’t really very important to definitively know and yet we’re more or less addicted to knowing them anyway. You might start by going off the grid briefly. When you meet a friend, let them know you’re leaving your phone in the car so that you can practice tolerating little nonthreatening pieces of ambiguity such as, is your friend late? Did they get held up in traffic? What happened with that work thing that you don’t really need to know about this very minute? Like anything else, we can’t get better at tolerating uncertainly and ambiguity unless we practice it, and modern technology creates the illusion that we never have to do so, which makes us all the more unprepared for the moments when we have no choice. Technology has increasingly facilitated our avoidance of uncertainty, but by no means has actually changed it. We can help ourselves tremendously by choosing to practice coping with what is an inevitable part of life regardless of how much we dislike it. View the full article
  20. Back in 2008 — a decade ago — we noted that the good folks who oversee the Golden Gate Bridge finally approved a suicide barrier for this iconic landmark. Every year, 30 to 50 people jump from the bridge. With a 98 percent fatality rate, the chances of survival are poor. Six years later in 2014, we noted that a specific barrier type was approved for the Golden Gate Bridge — a wire-mesh netting that would be mostly out-of-sight tucked underneath the bridge. Construction was expected to be completed by 2018. Here it is August 2018, and still no suicide barrier has been erected at the Golden Gate Bridge. What’s going on? Suicide barriers — whether they be a net like this one, or a higher fence — are very effective in reducing the number of people contemplating or attempting to jump to their death (and in some cases, completely effective). Because of its iconic, beautiful nature, the Golden Gate Bridge has long attracted hundreds of suicidal people to it. Each year, somewhere between 150 and 300 people attempt to jump from the bridge. Thankfully, most are saved by trained crisis workers. But dozens more sadly are still successful in jumping to their death. In 2016, for instance, there 184 successful interventions and only 39 confirmed suicide deaths. In 2017, there were 245 successful interventions, and only 33 confirmed suicide deaths, according to the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. Since the suicide barrier was first approved in 2008, it is estimated that more than 300 people have lost their lives jumping off of the bridge. With the updated completion date now set for 2021, the three-year delay will add more than 100 more souls to the bridge’s gruesome death count. Work has finally begun on the Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier. Last week, the construction crew began delivering crates of equipment and tools to the worksite on the bridge deck. After constructing platforms for the builders, work will begin adding brackets to the bridge that will support architectural struts. Those struts, in turn, will support the stainless-steel, marine-grade netting that will jut out from underneath the bridge deck. The netting will be painted gray to better blend in with the water, and will be nearly invisible to the naked eye when viewing the bridge from a distance. The only clear view of the netting will be when standing on the sidewalk, looking straight down toward the water. When someone jumps, they will fall onto the net. Bridge crisis workers will be notified in order to pull the individual off of the net. Most people who jump and land on a suicide net don’t actually crawl to the edge to continue their jump. Instead, most people just wait to be rescued from the netting, which has just saved their life. Most people are thankful to be given a second chance at being alive. According to research, suicide barriers like netting or raised fencing are very effective in reducing the number of people using a bridge as a suicide method. At some bridges, after such barriers were erected, the number of suicide attempts have been reduced to zero. Sadly, the cost of the project has ballooned from an initial projection of $66 million to more than $204 million since it was first conceived and budgeted. Just six years ago, the project’s estimated cost was $76 million.1 What has accounted for the ballooning cost estimates? According to a spokesperson from the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District: Due to the complexity and difficulty of the work to be performed, construction bids on the project came in above what the District originally estimated and the budget was amended to meet the new estimates for what it would take to complete the work. It also took several years to secure funding for the project — which includes federal, state, and regional sources — including a change to federal transportation funding policy to make the project eligible for federal funds. Countless families and mental health advocates around the country will be thankful when the bridge’s suicide barrier is finally completed in three more years. We expect the suicide rate at the bridge will drop to less than a dozen per year once the barrier is installed, saving dozens of lives annually. No matter what the cost, the lives saved by the barrier will be worth the cost and the wait. Footnotes: When we first started covering the suicide barrier for the Golden Gate Bridge in 2006, the estimated cost of the barrier was between $15 and $20 million. View the full article
  21. More than the actual anxiety was the anxiety about the anxiety. I felt tremendous shame for having negative feelings at all. It was 3pm on a Tuesday, and I was sitting at my desk with my head on my keyboard; I was too revved up to sit still, much less concentrate on work. I was in the midst of a resurgence of my lifelong anxiety and couldn’t talk to anyone or even focus on anything. Months later, I would finally be diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The diagnosis was a relief. It made sense of overwhelming feelings I’d had my whole life that had mostly been regarded as a character flaw. I grew up in an alcoholic home, and I’d been going to therapy for years to face the trauma of my childhood. For the first time I was feeling my emotions instead of mashing them down, and expressing anger before it turned into resentment. My anxiety had decreased throughout this process, but then I decided to get married. My fiance did nothing wrong, mind you, but somehow the thought of marriage made me feel trapped and put me mentally back in my childhood home. I grew incredibly anxious — and yet completely unaware of it. I’d had trouble sleeping for months but I wasn’t upset or stressed about anything — at least not anything conscious. My stomach felt like it’d been glued shut. I couldn’t eat. Soon enough my weight starting dropping enough for other people to comment on it. Compliments at first that slowly morphed into expressions of concern. I felt nervous all the time and I was hyper-vigilant, no matter who I encountered or where I was. If I was in a car, I’d flinch at the sight of another vehicle pulling out of a parking space as though it was about to hit me — even if it was well outside my physical range. I was sleeping two hours a night and not even feeling tired the next day. Sitting still felt like torture, and I was constantly second guessing myself as if I couldn’t trust my perceptions. I’d had episodes like this off and on for most of my life but I’d always pushed it down. But now, after a lot of therapy and ACOA recovery work, when the anxiety attacks returned, I had to acknowledge them. My overwhelming anxiety was there and I couldn’t hide it no matter how badly I wanted to. But that was the problem: I really really wanted to… Generally, social media gets a bad rap when it comes to how it affects our mental health; however, Erica has more to say on how Facebook actually helped her deal with her Generalized Anxiety Disorder in the original article How Facebook Helped Me Overcome My Anxiety at The Fix. View the full article
  22. We think of anxiety as something terrible and awful and wrong. We think it makes us weak and worthless, deficient and defective. And we keep our anxieties hidden like a shameful secret, telling ourselves regularly that we’d be mortified if anyone ever found out. Being anxious is like “a private prison we carry with us,” writes Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D, a licensed psychologist and anxiety expert in Washington, D.C., in her eye-opening book, Hack Your Anxiety: How to Make Your Anxiety Work for You in Life, Love and Work (co-written with Jon Sternfeld). Over time, we try to avoid our anxiety and pretend this prison doesn’t exist. Nope. No anxiety here. Nothing to see here. “This is completely understandable,” Clark told me. “[A]nxiety is uncomfortable, unsettling, can be confusing, and the vast majority of messages we hear about anxiety warn of its dangers and advise us to calm down at all costs.” But the discomfort of anxiety is actually a good thing. Anxiety is supposed to be uncomfortable. Clark further explained: “Like a baby’s cry, anxiety is designed to focus our attention and fuel action to solve the issue. It’s not designed to be ignored.” Which means that we can use anxiety to help us accomplish our goals. Specifically, we can use moderate anxiety—what Clark calls “chatter” anxiety—to fuel optimal performance. In fact, we rarely do our best without anxiety’s extra push of arousal, she said. In Hack Your Anxiety, Clark cites the Yerkses Dodson law, which illustrates that a moderate amount of anxiety can actually be motivating and energizing, such that performance increases as physiological arousal increases (but only to a point). The key is to be open to our anxiety, to listen to its message—and not to resist or fear it. Because this only escalates anxiety, and makes it less useful. Below, Clark shared two ways we can use anxiety to our advantage. Adjust Your Attitude How we think about anxiety dictates how we experience it, Clark said. If you fear anxiety, you’ll avoid it (which, again, only boosts it). You’ll also experience anxiety negatively if you see it as a massive obstacle you wish you could overcome (but can’t). And you’ll experience anxiety negatively if you see it as interfering with or hindering your progress, as something that only holds you back. If only I wasn’t anxious, I’d apply for that job. I’d ask for a promotion. I’d submit a book proposal. I’d have a relationship. I’d have a closer relationship. I’d apply for that grant. I’d start giving talks. However, if you see anxiety as a tool that can help you connect to what you care about and give you the energy to tend to it, you’ll experience it as a sincerely useful emotion that helps you to succeed. Because anxiety can be genuinely helpful. In Hack Your Anxiety, Clark quotes David Barlow, founder and director of the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, who calls anxiety “an ambassador of responsibility, nudging you to taking care of the things that you need to take care of.” Clark also notes that anxiety activates the brain circuit associated with motivation (i.e., dopamine): “We want to act, we want to do something. This is our brain circuitry helping us to take action. As anxiety summons our attention, it is also activating dopamine to keep us motivated to act. The reward is solving the problem to remove the stressor, and dopamine helps us keep our efforts focused.” We can use our anxiety as a sixth sense that helps us guide our focus, and supplement our energy to keep growing, Clark said. Channel Your Anxiety Once you see your anxiety for what it is—a potentially helpful tool—you can channel it into creating solutions. Clark shared these examples: If you’re anxious about handling your job situation, use your anxiety to work on what you can control and improve (e.g., learning certain skills, submitting work on time, talking to your supervisor). If you’re anxious about how your partner will react to bad news, use it as energy to be more thoughtful about how you approach your partner and to listen more empathically. If you’re anxious about making a deadline, but your concentration is waning, use your anxiety to fuel your focus. If you’re anxious that your connection with your spouse is weakening, use your anxiety to identify how you can carve out quality time, and have fun together. The next time you feel anxious and wish to harness your energy, Clark suggests asking yourself these two questions, which she lists in Hack Your Anxiety: What problem is my anxiety trying to tell me about? How can I use my anxiety to solve that problem? Ultimately, when we’re stressed out and worried, our anxiety has already been triggered. It’s already moving. As Clark said, it’s already translating itself into energy and fuel. It’s up to us to figure out where to steer it. In other words, Clark suggests thinking of anxiety as a burst of energy that we can’t stop, but we can direct. Which is great, empowering news. That is, anxiety can be a strength, instead of a symptom, Clark said. We can capitalize on our anxiety, using it as a strategy to get what we want. “The choice is always ours, and this to me is the great hope,” Clark said. *** If your anxiety is way beyond moderate, please know that you have nothing to be ashamed about either. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting around 18 percent of the population every year. Thankfully, these disorders are also highly treatable. You can learn more here. View the full article
  23. The transition to college is an exciting time for students and families. The rites of passage associated with a senior year of high school in particular lend significant buildup to the college transition. Whether going directly from a senior year in high school or from a “gap” year, students are looking forward with intense anticipation to all of the mysteries and wonders of college life as they’ve come to understand it: meeting new people, a profoundly new degree of independence, exciting new surroundings, studies that may one day connect to a career, and a symbolic point of entry into their adult lives. This excitement can mask an equally profound sense of anxiety associated with this transition, and students often struggle to reconcile these co-existing emotional experiences. Leaving home can be as scary as it is exciting. Choosing a course of study (or feeling like one has to choose one) can feel as much like pressure as it can feel like possibilities. Meeting new people often goes hand-in-hand with fears about losing old, comfortable, and familiar friends with whom one has shared an extensive history. Being geographically distanced from one’s parents can feel deeply unnerving even as it feels liberating. Additionally, individuals may have significant concerns about the ramifications of the decisions they have made. The college application, acceptance, and selection processes and all of the inherent details such as securing financial resources and making housing decisions may render students with the sense that they have made profound and unbreakable commitments of epic proportions, which can feel like intense pressure to thrive no matter what — all the while having nagging anxieties that they may not have made “the right” decisions but are now stuck with them regardless. What was at one point an elated fantasy about four years of bliss may alternately seem like a foreboding, ominous, inescapable, and very expensive black hole. What if I hate it there? What if I should have picked the other school/program/scholarship/dorm/etc.? What if I’m too far away from my family? Will my family be disappointed/angry/upset if I want to change programs? Will Mom and Dad be angry/hurt/lose money if I try this program and it’s not right for me, and I want to transfer? What if I’m miserable on the soccer team and have to play to keep my scholarship/etc.? These are just a few examples of the kind of anxieties that frequently intrude on the festivities and glow surrounding the college transition. Students transitioning to college frequently feel anxious about being open about concerns they have because they fear that they will be perceived as unready for the change if they show signs of hesitation. It is important to them to prove their ability to go forward and engage their futures, and they may be reticent to verbalize any sentiments that have the potential to undermine their perceived readiness. The anxiety of transitioning to college is as likely to be a factor for individuals who do not have a history of anxiety or other mental health concerns as it is for those who do. In fact, it’s important to remember that individuals with no history of anxiety may feel even more pressure to appear to be “handling” the transition well, as individuals who have had anxiety in the past may be more comfortable discussing their concerns as feeling anxious is not an unexpected experience. They may feel less pressure to keep up an appearance “keeping it together” having already dealt with similar feelings previously, and therefore more inclined to seek help and support. For the people who care about them, supporting students through the transition to college means being empathetic to their conflicting feelings and not personalizing the stress. Often, the college process can be stressful and anxiety provoking for the people who make up the student’s support system, especially parents. Be mindful of your own attitude — verbally and nonverbally — towards the new college student. There may be a little part of you that resents them being less than completely positive about the upcoming experience into which you may also have put great time, effort, and resources. But you need to remember that their feelings of anxiety having nothing to do with their appreciation for the part you have played in the process. Their anxieties really exist independently of that, and your compassionate empathy for their conflicting feelings is as important as any other kind of support you have provided along the way. Consider trying to have some open and low-stress conversations with your student about their transition. You can help open the doorway for them to share their feelings by letting them know it’s okay for them to have some ambivalence … perhaps by sharing your own conflict (i.e., You know, I’m so excited for you and yet I find myself also a little anxious about having you so far away). Preemptively explore the support resources available on campus such as the student mental health center or counseling service, and review those opportunities with your student the same way you would take note of other resources such as the dining hall or the registrar’s office. In doing so you make your student aware of the opportunities while at the same time normalizing the idea that they might have anxieties and that seeking additional support is a good way to handle such feelings. Also, make sure your student knows that you will always be glad to hear from them, and you want to know how they are doing no matter what. By preemptively letting your student know that you expect there to be downs as well as ups and lows as well as highs on this exciting time in life, you are taking the pressure off of them to only be calling home with good news. View the full article
  24. We’ve entered the last month of summer (well, sort of — I don’t really consider September summer, bring on the pumpkin spice please and thank you!), and I have a question for you: Have you felt stressed this summer? Have you felt anxious and guilty? Have you withdrawn? If so, you’re not alone. There are many reasons why people with mental illness struggle during the summer, as surprising as that sounds to some people. That’s just one topic we’re covering in this week’s Psychology Around the Net. Keep reading for more on summertime blues, increased sales of books related to stress and anxiety, why we need to stop “merchandising mental illness” (and what that means), and more. 15 Reasons Summer Can be Hard for People With Mental Illnesses: It’s difficult to imagine that anyone could struggle during the summer — when it’s warm and sunny and there’s time to do all sorts of fun things — and yet…those examples are just a few reasons why summer actually is hard on some people with mental illness. Support From People With Lived Experience Reduces Readmission to Mental Health Crisis Units: A randomized controlled trial of more than 400 people in England shows that when they receive care from peer support workers who have personal experience with mental health conditions, people with mental health problems could be at a lesser risk for readmission to mental health crisis units. 5 Ways to Start the Mental Health Conversation in Creative Industries: Showing some compassion and empathy (and not just caring only about profit), setting an honest example, and sharing resources are just a few of the ways you can help boost mental health awareness and support in the workplace — whether you’re the boss or an employee. Please Stop Merchandising Mental Illness: “Seeing or experiencing illness makes any glamorization of it entirely ridiculous. Depression is not an effective way of ensnaring a man. Nor is it a love song to bop along with, a fashionable illness, or a fad for bloggers to wear for a few weeks, post about on Instagram, favorite and then disregard.” — Rhiannon Picton-James ‘An Anxious Nation’: Barnes & Noble Sees a Surge in Sales of Books about Stress: In the last year, sales of books related to anxiety increased 26 percent at Barnes & Noble. According to the senior director of merchandising, Liz Harwell, the company has never seen a comparable increase in books on this subject, and she suggest “we may be living in an anxious nation.” However, according to Harwell, there might be some good news. Alongside the idea that we’re “living in an anxious nation,” this increase in anxiety-related book sales could suggest that we’re also living in a nation where people are looking for solutions. 20 Morning Mantras to Start the Day Loving People (Instead of Judging or Ignoring Them): Not only can these mantras help you change the way you see and treat others, but also they can help you change the way you see and treat yourself. View the full article
  25.  The rate of depression in children and adolescents continues to grow, leaving many parents clueless on what to do. What is driving this increase? Are things truly different for young people today, compared to twenty or thirty years ago? This episode welcomes a child psychologist to address these issues and more, including: how and why kids today are overloaded with activities, the different ways depression expresses itself in youth versus adults, how to tell when kids are “just being kids” versus dealing with depression, how to recognize the various signs of depression in young people, and how parents can stop feeling like failures. Subscribe to Our Show! And Remember to Review Us! Youth Depression Show Highlights: “Parents often have some kind of intuition that something doesn’t feel right, and because we don’t want to admit that something’s wrong, we’ll override that.” ~ Luana Colman Cook [3:57] Are we expecting too much of kids, today? [5:49] Why are we overloading children? [8:03] How do we slow down? [17:56] What does depression look like in young people? [23:40] how can parents tell when kids are depressed, rather than just “kids being kids”? [29:56] What about parents who think they’re failures? About Our Guest Luana Coloma Cook, PsyD is a licensed psychologist and mother of three who has specialized in supporting youth and families for the past fifteen years. She is an experienced supervisor and trainer of new psychologists, and previously served as the Consortial Director for the Kaiser Permanente Central Valley Consortium Postdoctoral Residency Training Program. She currently works with children, teens, couples, and families in her private practice in Sacramento, California. It is her belief that in order to successfully move through the therapeutic process, the therapist must be open to learning about the perspective of the family and must recognize the strengths and wisdom in each individual and in the family as a whole. Luana utilizes mindfulness and attachment-based therapy to assist with this process. Luana is a certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist (EFT) and has advanced training in Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (EFFT). About The Psych Central Show Hosts Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. In addition to hosting The Psych Central Show, Gabe is an associate editor for PsychCentral.com. He also runs an online Facebook community, The Positive Depression/Bipolar Happy Place, and invites you to join. To work with Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.com. Vincent M. Wales is a former suicide prevention counselor who lives with persistent depressive disorder. In addition to co-hosting The Psych Central Show, Vincent is the author of several award-winning novels and the creator of costumed hero Dynamistress. Visit his websites at www.vincentmwales.com and www.dynamistress.com. View the full article
  26. Phobiasupportforum

    OCD and Showering

    When my son Dan was in the throes of severe obsessive-compulsive disorder in 2008, he would sit in his “safe chair” for eight hours at a time. He was literally “stuck.” While I didn’t realize it at the time, getting stuck, or more accurately, becoming a slave to OCD’s demands, is part of what severe OCD is all about. Never-ending compulsions take over your life as you try to achieve <certainty that all is well. I’ve always found it particularly heartbreaking when OCD latches on to our most basic needs such as loving relationships, eating, and physically caring for ourselves. One of the more common compulsions that is often used as an “example of OCD” is hand washing, which can indeed be so severe that scarring, bleeding, or infections occur. The person with OCD cannot stop washing until their doubt and anxiety subside. What perhaps is less known to people who are not directly affected by OCD is that showering is also a common compulsion. While those with obsessive-compulsive disorder might believe they are just trying to get clean, showering as a compulsion serves the same purpose as all compulsions — to reduce anxiety and uncertainty. Some people will insist on using scalding hot water, while others will have rituals that need to be done in a certain manner. If something is done “incorrectly,” the person with OCD feels the need to start all over again. At the very least it is tiring and draining, and in the worst-case scenarios it is completely debilitating. I personally know of a young woman who got “stuck” in the shower for ten hours and had to be physically removed. As I said — heartbreaking. A basic activity of daily living turned into a nightmare. What leads to this nightmare? How and why do things get that bad? Well, as with all types of OCD, it starts with an obsession. In those with shower compulsions, obsessions typically include contamination fears or germ phobias, but that isn’t always the case. OCD has an impressive imagination and can latch on to anything. For example, someone with OCD might fear harm coming to someone they love if they don’t wash each body part ten times in the shower. While the person with OCD typically realizes this makes no sense, there is always that doubt, and the compulsions are then carried out. Unfortunately, that’s never the end of it. The reassurance that compulsions provide is addictive and just as with drugs, tolerance rises and more and more compulsions are needed to feel that sense of relief. Before you know it, you’re in the shower, unable to get yourself out. I know that even with this explanation, it is hard for those of us without obsessive-compulsive disorder to understand. Why can’t our loved ones just get out of the shower? Shut the water and get out!? It is difficult for us to comprehend the level of fear and anxiety they are dealing with. But there truly is good news. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, no matter how severe, is treatable. The frontline psychological therapy for the treatment of the disorder is exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, and it works. Remember the young woman who was stuck in the shower for ten hours? After two months of intensive ERP therapy, she now easily takes fifteen-minute showers. She is in charge of her showers, and her life, now. Not OCD. View the full article
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