Month: April 2015

Giving Up Complaining For A More Positive Life

Everyone is going to do a bit of complaining now and again.  A lot of the time, we do not even really realize that we are doing it.  According to the research, in an average conversation we complain approximately once every minute. But is giving up complaining even possible? Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps says that there is a social reason for this.  “Nothing unites people more strongly than a common dislike.  The easiest way to build friendship and communicate is through something negative.”

Giving Up Complaining May Not Be So Easily Done

While complaining clearly serves a purpose, it can come at a price.  When we complain, our brains release stress hormones that can do damage to the neural connections of the brain that are responsible for problem solving and other cognitive functions.  These same things also occur when someone else is complaining to us.  While there is a time and place for complaining and studies have shown that bottling emotions up for too long can have detrimental effects too, there have been movements recently to keep complaining at bay.

Four Paths To A More Positive (Complaint-Free) Life

A recent project called Complain Restraint asked anyone who signed up to go a month without complaining.  The goal of the project is to create a more positive life.  There are a few ways that you can start to think about having more positivity in your life.

1. Create a definition for complaining and figure out how much you do it.

What is a complaint really?  When you point out that it is hot outside that is an observation.  When you inject how you feel about the fact that it is hot outside, that can be a complaint.  Making a conscious effort to notice when you start to complain can be enough to make a big difference in how you interact with people.  It is possible that you will be shocked at the sheer number of complaints that you and the people to whom you are talking share in an average conversation.  Awareness is the first step to changing your behaviors.

2. Start turning complaints into positive statements and solutions.

Jon Gordon, author of The No Complaining Rule, said “If you find yourself griping, add a ‘but’ and say something positive.”  For example, “I don’t like driving to work, but I’m thankful at least I can drive and I even have a job,” or “I had a really difficult day today, but I am happy that it is over, and I can start fresh tomorrow.”  Even just thinking a positive statement along with a negative statement can change your mood.

3. Gordon also recommends changing “Have to” to “Get to”

“I have to let out my neighbors’ dog.”  “I have to throw a baby shower for my sister.”  “I have to go home and cook dinner for my family.”  Sometimes these little obligations can seem like such annoyances or inconveniences.  But if you treat them like you “get to” do them rather than “have to” do them, you might find that you are able to look at them more positively.  The difference between “I have to call my grandmother today,” and “I get to call my grandmother today,” is more than just one word.

4. Remove chronic complainers from your life.

Once you start to think about complaining and how often you do it and how it effects your mood, you may start to notice how much the people around you complain.  You are going to notice which of your friends only wants to talk about the problems she is having with her job or his partner or their children.  The first step with these kinds of people is to try to respond with some positive.  Blake said, “You’ve really gotta be quite brave and confident and have the courage not to need the good opinion of another person… You find over a period of time those people who complain constantly start to leave you alone because their brains are not getting that stimulus they’re looking for.”

You can make a big difference in your life and your outlook by doing your best to stop the cycle of complaining.  You are going to slip along the way, but if you give it your best effort, it can really make a difference in your mental landscape.

depressed woman with text in forefront

There Are Different Types of Depression

The term “clinical depression” is tossed around quite a lot as if people believe that there is only one kind of depression.  But what most people do not realize is that, like with anxiety, there are several different kinds of depression.  There is some overlap between the different types of depression, but they have very distinct criteria that defines each one.  Typically, the differences in the criteria for defining each form of depression comes in the severity of the symptoms, triggering events, co-occurring symptoms, and many other factors.  Understanding the differences is important because the treatment for each type of depression is different as well.  There is no type of treatment that is the going to be approached in the same way for each type of depression.

Major Depressive Disorder

Millions of people are afflicted by Major Depressive Disorder.  Major depressive disorder can onset gradually or suddenly.  The key symptoms of major depressive disorder is that the sufferer experiences depression ranging in severity from mild to debilitating for at least two weeks solid.  Often, it lasts quite a bit longer.  While it is possible for major depressive disorder to be an isolated incident in the life of the sufferer, it is more likely to be an ongoing battle.

Some of the other symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

  • a loss of energy
  • feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • feeling run down
  • insomnia or hypersomnia
  • changes in weight and appetite
  • difficulty thinking and concentration
  • trouble making decisions
  • loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities
  • depressed mood.

Typically, therapists believe that in order for a patient to have major depressive disorder, he or she needs to exhibit at least five of the symptoms mentioned above.

Bipolar Disorder With Depressed Mood

Another one of the biggest types of depression is Bipolar Disorder with Depressed Mood.  Sometimes this is referred to as manic depression or bipolar depression.  This type of depression is much like major depressive disorder.  It presents with similar symptoms, and the criteria for diagnosis is the same; , the sufferer will have had at least one episode of mania or hypomania.  Mania and hypomania are described as including unusually high levels of energy, feelings of grandiosity, limited sleep, and excessive participation in activities that are highly pleasurable.  With bipolar disorder with depressed mood, the depressive episode usually directly follows a manic or hypomanic episode.

Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic Disorder is also similar to major depressive disorder, but is it generally less severe.  Dysthymic disorder suffers are typically diagnosed when they have experienced symptoms for at least two years and present with at least two of the average symptoms which include a sense of hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite or chronic overeating, fatigue, low self-esteem, and problems concentrating or decision making.  Without the proper treatment, it is possible that the symptoms of dysthymic disorder will persist for years.

Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood

Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood is usually a short term affliction, but can linger for a long time without the proper treatment.  When life gives us stressful events, it can sometimes be difficult to adjust to a new situation or change the ways that we operate in order to accommodate a new situation.  Often adjustment disorder is caused by a single significant personal loss such as the end of a relationship or the death of a loved one.  It can also be caused by several events that happen over a shorter period of time.  This can potentially create an adjustment disorder with depressed mood.  The symptoms are problematic enough to disrupt the regular life of the person suffering, but they do not meet the criteria for a major depressive disorder.

Get A Professional Opinion About Your Type Of Depression

Clearly, the symptoms for all of these depressive disorders and the other depressive disorders that are not mentioned have a certain amount of overlap, yet they all have distinct criteria that separates them from each other.  The treatment for each kind of disorder is usually therapy and medication, but the methods and the medications used are different for each type of depression.  There are also many new and different kinds of therapies that are being tried and tested for use with these different kinds of conditions.

The most important thing is to get the right kind of treatment for the type of depression that needs to be treated – determining what type of depression a person is dealing is best left to professionals. Contact our office to set up an appointment. We are here to help.

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3 Big Reasons Mental Health Treatment May Not Be Working

So you have made the decision to seek mental health treatment for a psychiatric disorder.  You have overcome all of the barriers – the cost, the stigma, your own fear – to seek treatment.  One of the most frustrating things that you can be feeling after you have made it through all of these obstacles is the feeling that your mental health treatment is not working.  If this frustration hits, you start to wonder if you have been wasting your time and your money pouring out your soul for no reason. You can start to wonder if you are ever going to feel better.  You are starting to wonder what is going to happen if you are never able to have the life you want.  And then you work yourself into a panic complete with fear and hopelessness – all feelings that are really just going to make matters worse.

Treating mental health conditions is not nearly as simple as going to a doctor for a broken leg where you know what to expect and you know what it going to happen.  There is little that is simple about dealing with the human mind.  But that does not mean that your concerns are not valid ones.  Your treatment may not be helping at the moment.  Here are some reasons why that might be true.

1. It Has Not Been Long Enough Yet

Therapy takes time. Sometimes therapy takes a lot of time – a lot more time than you may be expecting.  It depends on you and what you are being treated for.  Short term therapy is very effective for an adjustment disorder or a single episode of depression.  More complex and perplexing mental health conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder posttraumatic stress disorder generally require a more long term therapy commitment.  The presenting disorder may only scratch the surface of what is really going on.  Oftentimes, there are underlying difficulties that are manifesting as presenting disorders. Until these underlying difficulties are sorted out, the real problem cannot be dealt with.  And these things take time.

2. You are Dodging the Real Issues

Many people start going to therapy and talk around the real issues. Most experienced therapists know that fairly often the issue that initially brought a patient to him or her is not necessarily the real problem.  There are many different reasons why patients will avoid talking about their real problems.  They could feel shame or embarrassment about their difficulties and not want to feel judged by a therapist.  They may not want open up wounds that they think are already sealed.  They go to therapy to talk about surface issues rather than getting into the real problems.  It can take a long time for a therapist to pull the true issues out of a client.

3. You Have Been Misdiagnosed

Mental health conditions do not generally come with lab tests and MRI evidence of specific conditions just yet. That could be something for the future, but for now, diagnosing mental issues is a matter of experience and educated guessing.  Mental health disorders are typically based on self-reporting and observations.  These are not exact sciences.  Treatment plans are typically based on the diagnosis.  The treatment for different conditions could be very different approaches.  If that diagnosis is incorrect, the treatment plan may not be as effective as it could be.

There are a great many more things that can interfere with the effectiveness of your treatment.  The most important thing to remember is to be honest with your therapist.  Tell him or her if you are feeling like you are not progressing as you should.  Tell him or her if you are feeling frustrated.  He or she may be able to help you put your treatment and recovery in perspective.  Do not be afraid to broach the subject because your therapist will be happy to know that you feel comfortable being open about your feelings.  Getting your feelings out in the open can both strengthen your relationship with your therapist and enable your therapist to address some of the difficulties that you are experiencing.

Social Anxiety Linked to Empathy

A new study recently published in PubMed has indicated that people who suffer from anxiety and social phobias are extra sensitive to the states of mind of other people.  The more socially anxious a person is, the more likely he or she is to be able to discern the mental states of the people around him or her more accurately.  The study stated, “Results support the hypothesis that high socially anxious individuals may demonstrate a unique social-cognitive abilities profile with elevated cognitive empathy tendencies and high accuracy in affective mental state attributions.”

Defintion of An Empath

In the study, the researchers were looking to find any hidden links between social anxiety and being an empath.  While the extrasensory skill of being an empath is still widely considered the work of science fiction, there is some evidence to suggest that some people can go above and beyond the idea of simply being strongly empathetic.  An empath is generally considered to be those who are highly sensitive to the emotions of the life that exists around them.  This study used scientific testing methods to determine the levels of empathy within a group of subjects.  The subjects who tested high for empathic skill also demonstrated high levels of social anxiety.

What The Study Proves

The researchers on this study assessed 21 people who demonstrated high social anxiety levels and 22 people who had low social anxiety levels.  The first group exhibited off the charts empathic tendencies and could more accurately indicate the mental states of other people.  The people who exhibited lower levels of social anxiety exhibited corresponding levels of empathy.  The team is planning larger scale research in order to confirm their current findings and look into some other matters that could be associated.

Some are saying that this could mean big things for people who suffer from social anxieties.  If the abilities of people who suffer from social anxieties are actually a result of a different kind of condition than the treatment approach could be different.  Some scholars from the realm of metaphysical studies intend to use this evidence to convince society that these people have a gift rather than an illness.  One group issued a statement saying, “They possess a rare gift of empathy, which makes them able to feel the emotional experiences of people around them. But this flood of emotions and energy is so devastating that the brain causes those disturbing symptoms in the body in order to avoid and protect itself from this “emotional pollution”.”

Differing Opinions In The Field of Psychology

Traditional academics and metaphysical academics agree that people who suffer from social anxiety have higher levels of empathetic ability than people who do not suffer from social anxiety, but these academics do not agree about what this means.  Traditionalists believe that social anxiety is simply a mental illness that needs the proper treatment in order to be maintained.

Some scientists from both camps also agree that social anxiety and empathic ability can be controlled by being mindful of the environment in which you put yourself, making changes in your lifestyle to be able to control the amount of “emotional pollution” that you are taking on, and being careful to surround yourself with people who you trust.  You may be able to deal with much of your condition in this way, but there are always options should you choose to seek treatment or support.

individual therapy at boca raton

Five Ways You Can Help Yourself Treat Depression

If you struggle with depression, you know exactly how hard it is to do the things you would normally do – like get out of bed and take an interest in the activities of your daily life.  Some days are better than others, but once you start to get help for your condition, you are going to be better off.  Taking that first step of asking for help can be incredibly difficult, but you will be better for it.  Once you begin to treat depression, you will need to learn to navigate the waters of your life.  There are some things that you can do to help yourself get through each day and start to feel a little more like yourself again.

1. Focus On the People Who Love You

You have friends or family or both who care about you and want to see you succeed in your battle against depression. When you are finding it hard to be present, they notice.  It is likely that they understand, but if you make the time to focus on the people who love you the most, they will continue to be there when you need their love and support.  Try to cut down on distractions during the time you spend with your loved ones so that you can be as present as possible.

2. Take Your Medication to Treat Depression

If your doctor has prescribed some kind of anti-depressant to you, there is likely a need for it. Like most other medication takers, when you start to feel better, you may want to stop taking it.  This is a completely normal thing to feel, but it does not work for anti-depressants.  The only time you should stop taking your medication is if you have spoken to your doctor about it first.

3. Keep Goals Small and Realistic

Setting small goals can be very important. When you take a big goal and break it into smaller parts, it can give you a sense of accomplishment and a sense that you are working toward something.  Keeping your goals realistic can give you the same things.  You have to make your goals something that you can actually undertake.  Creating unrealistic goals can serve to make you feel like you are overwhelmed and sinking.  Small, realistic goals are a real morale boost.

4. Give Back

Depression can sometimes turn a person toward doing mostly things that are self-centered rather than others-centered. Taking a little bit of time to give back and focus on what you can do for others can go a long way toward your healing.  You can give back in very simple ways like saying something nice to one of your family members or buying coffee for a co-worker.  Giving back could also be a bigger volunteer effort like helping at a soup kitchen, an afterschool program, or a food bank.  Volunteering is a great way to connect with people and a great way to get out of your own head and start making a difference in the lives of other people.

5. Exercise

Whether you have depression or not, exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your mind and your body. Not only does exercise keep your body healthy, but it also keeps your mind fresh and your organs functioning properly.  Taking a walk outside can give you the time and space to think and process some of your emotions.  It is also good for getting that dose of Vitamin D that so many of us are lacking in our daily lives.

You are not going to be 100 percent successful all of the time.  You are not going to be able to be perfect and win the battle every day.  But the best you can do is fight each day and rejoice in the wins.  Be happy when each day you can wake up and try again.  You can keep going, and you can keep fighting.  Let go of days when you are not as successful as you want to be and hold tight to days when you are more successful than you think you can be.

Depression is a battle that you can win. To begin the journey, contact us today.

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