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July 31, 2021

Causes of Sleep Problems Many people have sleep difficulties at some time in their life, and others have on-going sleep problems. There are a number of factors that can have a negative impact on a person’s ability to get good quality sleep. Stress is one common culprit to transient sleep troubles and often warrants examining issues in our life that may be preoccupying our mind and preventing us from quickly drifting off to sleep. It should also be noted that alcohol and other drug use can disrupt a person’s regular sleep cycle. Some people with chronic sleep issues may have a medical condition that impairs their sleep, such as sleep apnea. Additionally, some people who start to have sleep problems start to worry about their sleep, which in turns compounds their sleep troubles. A vicious cycle starts where a person worries about their lack of sleep and not being able to fall asleep and that in turn makes it that much more difficult to fall asleep. Many have thoughts such as, “Will I get enough sleep tonight so I won’t be tired at work tomorrow?” or “If I can’t fall asleep soon, I’ll never get to sleep tonight.” These types of thoughts increase our physical arousal and prevent us from being able to fall asleep. What is Sleeplessness? Sleeplessness can take several forms, but what follows are the three most common: read more

July 17, 2021

Biology Trumps Psychology

The myriad of mental health issues that exist are very real and have a profound impact on countless Americans. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis in order for the problem to be effectively treated. The vast majority of mental health issues are just that, mental health issues. However, there are dozens of medical, biological, chemical issues that can manifest as mental health issues. In these instances, treating the mental health symptoms, such as depression, may fail to address the true source of the symptoms. Before diagnosing a mental health disorder, it is critical to be on the lookout for possible medical conditions and rule them out. If there is an underlying medical condition, things will not improve or get better. This is an instance where biology trumps psychology.

Self-Advocacy and Thorough Assessment

Whether you are the patient or the provider, it is important that you be aware and on the lookout for biological and medical causes for mental health symptoms. It is important not to confuse symptoms for their causes. For example, don’t assume depressive symptoms automatically mean depression, or that psychotic symptoms automatically mean schizophrenia. If you are the patient presenting with mental health symptoms and you have no history of mental health problems and no obvious stressors (divorce, job loss, etc.) tha read more

July 4, 2021

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting at its essence is an attempt by one person to gain control over another person through mental and emotional manipulation. The primary mechanism of manipulation is the deliberate effort to supply false information that leads the victim to question what they know to be true. Victims often end up doubting their memory, perception, and interpretations. The person gaslighting will deny facts, experiences, or feelings. The end goal is intended to create increasing control and less resistance from the victim.

How it Begins

Often these relationships can start out quite well. A perpetrator may flatter and praise their victim as well as make significant disclosures rather quickly in an effort to establish trust quickly. Although it can happen in any type of relationship, it is most common in romantic relationships. These behaviors often occur throughout the relationship but are also especially prominent when attempting to assert a particular agenda. Over time the perpetrator can gain increasing control over their victims mentally, emotionally, physically, and even financially. This form of manipulation is abusive because it is intended to control another. Tactics and Profile of a Gaslighter Those people who employ gaslighting strategies and tactics often have personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder read more

June 19, 2021

In the last article in this series on emotional regulation, we talk about the different means and mechanisms by which people learn to actively suppress their emotions. The goal of understanding and becoming increasingly aware of this is to help set the stage for healthy emotional expression and release. In this article, we will discuss some fairly simple guidelines and suggestions for expressing feelings. Most people are able to quickly realize how they are suppressing, realize they probably need to stop suppressing, but fear stopping. They fear if they do express their feelings a great dam will burst open and they will not be able to stop the outpouring of emotion. There is some potential truth in this fear. Due to ongoing suppression, people stockpile feelings and they build up like steam in a pressure cooker. We cannot guarantee you that at times you will not lose control over some of your feelings and feel overwhelmed. We can assure you that you will not die or “go crazy”. We can also assure you that over time that pressure will begin to lessen and dissipate, which will make it easier to regain healthy control over your feelings. With some coaching, hopefully, we can teach you how to prevent the dam from bursting open and read more

June 16, 2021

In the last article in this series on emotional regulation, we talked about the natural order of emotions. Operating properly, children and adults alike, experience an emotion internally, and then we express the emotion outwardly. We also discussed a number of factors that cause many boys and men to avoid expressing their feelings. In this article, we will discuss how it is people hinder and interfere with the natural desire to express feelings. Given all the cultural influences on boys and men around emotional expression, many guys come to realize they are only socially allowed, or encouraged, the expression of two feelings: happy and angry. Guys are permitted to joke around and laugh, and they can express and display anger without any negative disapproval (unless the anger becomes violent). This is about it for socially sanctioned emotional expression. As a result, most guys begin overcontrolling and suppressing their other feelings like guilt, sadness, fear, hurt, etc. Unfortunately, for most guys they begin the act of suppression at a very young age; often between 6-10 years old when they start receiving negative messages for the expression of more vulnerable emotions. At this tender age this requires some active and conscious effort to keep these feelings from coming out. Over time, with enough time and practice, routine suppression of feelings becomes second nature and ev read more

May 22, 2021

For generations, women have complained about the men in their lives being stoic, flat, unemotional, and even like robots. Whether it is their father, boss, or significant other, many women find it nearly impossible to get an emotional response to the question, “How are you feeling?” Keep in mind this phenomenon is not exclusive to men, as we certainly see some women end up in this place, just as we know there are some men who are very capable of being emotional. In clinical practice, it seems about 80% of men struggle with emotions and about 10-15% of women struggle with expressing emotions. In this three-part series, we will discuss how so many men come to be so emotionally restrained. In the second article, we will discuss how it is that men are able to interfere and hamper their own emotional expression. In the final article, we will discuss the path back to emotionality for our men.

The Two Part Emotional Process

When it comes to feelings, there are broadly speaking, two main components to the process: the experience and the expression. We see many men who believe they are quite in touch with their internal experience of emotions in that they can label and identify what they are feeling on the inside. Some guys are confused about what they are experiencing, and others rarely feel anything on the inside. Where most guys fall down is on the expression side of the read more

May 8, 2021

Although most people believe depression is the number one mental health issue, it’s actually anxiety. There are many more cases of anxiety and it can manifest in a variety of forms such as: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Phobia, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) to name the more common ones. In most cases, the best treatment option depends on the diagnosis and the particular issues going on in a person’s life. Based on these variables’ healthcare professionals try to figure out the best treatment plan. Anti-anxiety medications are often part of the treatment plan when treating anxiety disorders. Broadly speaking most anxiety disorders are treated with antidepressants, benzodiazepines, or a few atypical anti-anxiety medications.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by excessive worry, rumination, and preoccupation that is intrusive and affects concentration, sleep, and energy level to name just a few symptoms. In most cases, generalized anxiety disorder responds quite well to antidepressants. There are a wide variety of antidepressants that generally target the neurotransmitters for serotonin and norepinephrine. These medications need to be taken daily and generally take 3-6 weeks to build up in the bloodstream and provide some symptom relief. Most people notice improvements in sleep, appetite, ener read more

April 24, 2021

Bipolar Disorder is a very serious type of depression that was formerly known as Manic Depression. Treatment for bipolar disorder differs from treatment for more traditional forms of depression, often using a class of medications called mood stabilizers. In this article, we will talk about how bipolar disorder differs from regular depression and about the best treatment options for it.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Bipolar disorder includes a depressive phase that is very similar to that of traditional depression and includes symptoms such as:

  1. Having a depressed (sad or empty) mood most of the day.
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in usually enjoyable activities.
  3. Appetite/weight gain or loss.
  4. Disturbed sleep (insomnia or excess sleep).
  5. Lowered energy level/fatigue.
  6. Restlessness or feeling slowed down.
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
  8. Indecisiveness or lack of concentration.
  9. Suicidal thoughts or feelings.

With traditional depression, these symptoms are usually persisting for weeks, months, or years. With bipolar disorder, the depressed phase tends to last for a shorter period of time, typically 2-3 weeks on average. Additionally, with regular depression, there are often situational read more

April 10, 2021

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a set of symptoms diagnosed into three categories.

  • Inattentive Type: Includes symptoms such as trouble sustaining attention, being easily distracted, trouble organizing and following through on tasks, making careless mistakes, being forgetful, misplacing things, and procrastinating and avoiding tasks that require focus and attention.
  • Hyperactive Type: Includes symptoms such as being fidgety, talking excessively, interrupting and intruding, always being on the go, restlessness, trouble sitting and engaging in activities quietly, and blurting out answers before questions are completed.
  • Combined Type: Includes symptoms of both the inattentive and hyperactive types.

What Causes ADHD?

In the nature (genetics, physiology, and chemistry) and nurture (environmental events, stressors, or rearing habits) debate that surrounds many of the mental health conditions, most research supports that ADHD is caused more by nature.

  • Genetics: seems to be one of the biggest contributing factors in the development of ADHD.
  • Prenatal issues: can include trouble pregnancy and delivery, prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, premature delivery, and low birth weight.
  • Environmental f

read more

March 27, 2021

People with ADHD struggle with issues of attention, hyperactivity, or both. These symptoms are usually present and evident from the time they are toddlers to grade school age. ADHD is not something people develop later in life. Because ADHD is present from childhood, it can start impacting development early on.

Impact in Childhood

Some children, as young as infants, see an impact from ADHD in having mild delays in picking up language skills or motor skills. Many kids struggle with gaining independence and sometimes behave younger and more immature than fellow peers. Probably the greatest impact is on social skills and development. Kids with ADHD are often impulsive, hyperactive, are more emotionally reactive and moody, and due to distractibility and inattention miss the social cues and reactions of their peers. These symptoms and behaviors can be very off-putting to peers even at very young ages. Many times, kids with ADHD, especially hyperactive symptoms, end up being socially outcasted or rejected. This can fuel anxiety, depression, or anger which can increase acting out behavior and can create a negative feedback loop of increasing ostracization. It is not uncommon for them to develop the oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder later on in adolescence. Academically, kids with read more