• Escaping the depressive spiral (Part #2)
    Escaping the depressive spiral (Part #2)
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    So much of the psychological and medical community today speaks of, “Managing your anxiety and depression.? Think about that phrase for a moment. The implication of it is that, if you struggle with the spiral of anxiety and depression discussed in the last article, you are destined to continue to do so – permanently.

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  • Five key choices people make that result in addiction
    Five key choices people make that result in addiction
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    Really, no one wakes up one day and consciously chooses addiction. People do, however, make five key choices that, together, do amount to a choice of addiction. Or, perhaps another way of saying it is that the combined impact of those incredibly damaging choices makes addiction seem to be inescapable and seem to be something you are powerless over.

    Let’s look at those damaging choices:

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  • How to break a habit.
    How to break a habit.
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    They could include eating junk food, biting your nails, chewing your hair, picking at skin, scratching, shopping, cracking knuckles or even things like chewing on your pen – but we all have one. Usually, it’s maddening to us and, often, to those around us…

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  • Make change happen.
    Make change happen.
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    During graduate school, one of the comments I most frequently heard from different professors was the line, “Change is a mystery.” At the time, it seemed so philosophical and wise. In retrospect, it just sounds like complete nonsense generally uttered by those who now appear to have fled the real world for the safety of teaching.

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  • Why save your marriage?
    Why save your marriage?
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    “I’ve tried so hard for so many years, I don’t feel anything for him/her anymore and I really wonder if there’s anything left here. I’m just not sure my marriage is worth saving…”

    If I could get a dollar for every time I’ve heard that line, well, I’d have a LOT more dollars…

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  • Quick fixes, Band-Aids and EMDR…
    Quick fixes, Band-Aids and EMDR…
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    When we receive referrals from the medical community of clients struggling with anxiety or panic disorder, one of the most common requests we get is for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. It’s highly popular — though I doubt if the majority of those who refer for such have any idea what they are suggesting.

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  • Breaking through the stigma of miscarriage.
    Breaking through the stigma of miscarriage.
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    As many as 75% of all pregnancies result in a miscarriage before the woman knows she is pregnant. Once the woman has tested positive on a pregnancy test, there is still a one in five chance of an early miscarriage. Later in the pregnancy, while quite uncommon, miscarriage still occurs about 1% of the time though, for some women, it may repeatedly occur.

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  • Focus: Can you master your own mind?
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    In my mind, the award for the most incorrectly labeled disorder ever goes to the generalized mayhem that is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

    Think about it: We have a disorder that we know is the result of the brain continually searching for external sources of stimulation. We further know that children suffering with such can be treated with stimulant medications and that stimulant, paradoxically, calms the child — likely by providing enough internal stimulation.

    Clearly, it’s not a deficit of attention — if anything, there’s far too much attention being paid to nearly everything at once. (Well, other then the less exciting tasks the child should be focused upon…) Even a momentary glance at an ADHD child playing video games demonstrates that their attention can be stunningly focused and that the problem is much more a question of the regulation of attention.

    Since 1955, the treatment of focus problems or Attention Deficit Disorder has been dominated by one simple strategy: Drugs. Though, in recent years, non-stimulant medications have been tried, the dominant treatment still is the same psychostimulant Ritalin (methylphenidate) or derivatives of such used in 1955.

    But, things are changing. Driven by speculation that children can learn to control impulses and that there exists more then enough stimulation within one’s own self if attended to, more and more mindfulness based training is beginning to be tried with this disorder.

    And, it may be a much more effective strategy:

    In their (rather statistics heavy) paper, the researchers simply tried teaching ADHD children Tai Chi. The result?

    These results converge to suggest that tai chi training may help improve attention in healthy young adults.

    That’s typical academic understatement. The Tai Chi actually offered quite significant improvements in a remarkably short period of time.

    While the authors do caution that:

    Further studies are needed to confirm these results and to evaluate tai chi as therapy for individuals with ADHD.

    The truth is that there already is a substantial pile of studies already saying exactly the same thing. It is becoming increasingly clear that focus, self regulation and the ability to re-regulate a dis-regulated and disorganized mind can be taught along with the ability to simply learn to shut down and reboot your brain.

    Drugs are one option, but they are NOT the only option.

    And yes, we do work with ADHD — especially in adults. Contact us!

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  • Are you finally done with antidepressants?
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    Science Daily

    Ending Antidepressant dependancy with mindfullness meditation

    The study aimed to establish whether MBCT is superior to maintenance antidepressant treatment in terms of preventing relapse of depression. Although the findings show that MBCT isn’t any more effective than maintenance antidepressant treatment in preventing relapse of depression, the results, combined with those of previous trials, suggest that MCBT may offer similar protection against depressive relapse or recurrence for people who have experienced multiple episodes of depression, with no significant difference in cost.

    Over 2 years, relapse rates in both groups were similar (44% in the MBCT group vs 47% in the maintenance antidepressant medication group). Although five adverse events were reported, including two deaths, across both groups, they were not judged to be attributable to the interventions or the trial.

    According to study co-author Professor Sarah Byford, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, UK, “As a group intervention, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was relatively low cost compared to therapies provided on an individual basis and, in terms of the cost of all health and social care services used by participants during the study, we found no significant difference between the two treatments.”

    According to Professor Kuyken, “Whilst this study doesn’t show that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy works any better than maintenance antidepressant medication in reducing the rate of relapse in depression, we believe these results suggest a new choice for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions.”

    In so many ways, the above linked is not news — psychology has known for years that drugs are not the only or necessarily even the best treatment for depression. It’s no surprise that yet another study has found that therapy is as good or even slightly better then the drug route.

    But, in another way, this is most news worthy.

    Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a grand sounding name for something that is both incredibly simple and drastically limited when considered against all of the other tools we have for non-drug related treatment of depression.

    MBCT is simply teaching a person to be aware/accepting of thoughts and feelings, to remain detached from them and not react to them — perhaps choosing to change a reaction into a reflection.

    Yes, that’s it…

    It doesn’t involve skills at processing pain, addressing emotions, learning about the self, finding general health, coping with trauma, addressing stories from a family of origin, dealing with triggers, coping with lies about God or even getting basic needs met in relationship. (Or about 20 more areas needing to be addressed in the treatment of depression…)

    And, that one, simple, incredibly limited technique still worked as good or possibly even slightly better then drugs.

    It’s almost redundant to even say it but, yes, therapy is a remarkably effective cure for depression!!!

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  • Why saving your marriage matters.
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    Schroepfer will never forget when one of her hospice patients was hovering at the edge of death. She was unconscious, barely hanging on. Her children had all told their mother it was okay to let go. But the woman’s grieving husband hadn’t been able to give his blessing. Finally, after talking with his daughter, he decided he was ready to give his wife permission to leave them. “He sat down beside her and told her he loved her, and that it was okay,? Schroepfer recalls. “He got up to walk back to his chair. Right after he sat down, she raised her head out of the coma, said ‘I love you,’ and died. I was glad their daughter was there too, or I would have thought I’d imagined it.?

    Although medical researchers may not be able to pinpoint where that surge of willpower comes from, they have shown evidence for people’s remarkable ability to hold on and let go at will. David Phillips, a professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego, who specializes in statistical analysis of sociological data, has looked at the link between mortality and culturally meaningful events. Just before Passover each year, he found, the death rate for Jewish people fell sharply below normal levels, and rose again immediately afterward. Non-Jewish people showed no change in mortality before or after the holiday. Similarly, he showed a drop in deaths among Chinese people before their symbolically important Harvest Moon Festival, and a corresponding rise after the event had ended. If people can will their bodies to hold out for one more Harvest Moon Festival, one more family reunion, then why not for love?

    After all, love doesn’t just feel good, Coan has found, it is good for us: Happy relationships can protect against the negative effects of stress. In studies designed to measure how social support influences the stress response, Coan brings volunteers into an MRI scanner and threatens to zap them with an electric shock. Periodically a symbol flashes before their eyes, indicating there’s a 20 percent chance they’ll receive a shock in the next few seconds. The goal, he says, is to create an “anticipatory anxiety? that mimics the feeling you get from everyday stressors like a looming work deadline.

    But the volunteers aren’t in it alone. Some are holding the hand of someone they trust — a romantic partner, parent, or close friend. Others are holding the hand of a stranger. Coan has found that brain activity in the hypothalamus, the region heavily implicated in the body’s stress response, differs between those holding a loved one’s hand and those holding hands with a stranger. Clasping hands with a loved one tamps down threat-related activity.

    I put myself through both my undergraduate and graduate training by working at a part time job in emergency medicine. It doesn’t take long working in that sort of a field to have considerable experience with people’s end-of-life behaviours — some, quite peaceful — others, horrific.

    The majority of the peaceful experiences seemed to be marked by two key elements: The people experiencing such had lived lives of relational connection — usually in marriage — and they had lived lives of authenticity within those relationships.

    The full article is rather long — but it’s really a compelling and masterful piece which weaves cutting edge research on the relational activation of the brain (and it’s ability to protect us from so many things) and what happens when relationship is lost while mixing such with a clear grasp of how much our decision to live (or die) really does matter.

    And, it’s a sobering counterpoint to a culture that treats marriage as little more then a mechanism for pleasure and which would kick relationships to the curb with little to no thought.

    Marriages really are worth saving.

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