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Will Power & Distraction: Not the Best Solutions

February 7, 2020

Can You Use Will Power to Get Rid of Depression or Addiction?

Will power, or what others would refer to as self-control, is the ability to control and subdue our impulses, emotions, and behaviors. It is one of the critical skills that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. When it comes to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, or behavioral compulsions like drinking and gambling, many people believed it was a character weakness of will power. Not even 10 years ago, we routinely heard many clients struggling with great amounts of guilt and shame for even showing up in our offices for help. They assumed they should be able to exert some power of will and simply stop being depressed or stop drinking compulsively. This notion has been rather old fashioned and outdated for some time, yet the number of people who still think this way is shocking. Baby boomers and the generation before them grew up in an era where you “pulled yourself up by your bootstraps” and “let things roll off your back”. Those generations propelled our society forward in many ways with the idea that dedication and hard work could accomplish anything.

Fortunately, research and education of the public at large has helped most people rea

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December 16, 2019

The good news is that the rates of smoking are on the decline. In 2005, 21% of Americans were current smokers. In 2017, this has declined to 14%. This means that there are roughly 34 million Americans that still smoke and some 16 million Americans are dealing with a smoking related disease. There are still nearly 500,000 smoking related deaths each year from conditions such as various cancers, stroke, heart disease, asthma, gum disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

Vaping came onto the scene around 2007 and has become a trendy alternative to cigarette smoking. For some it is an attempt to get off cigarettes, who end up transferring their nicotine addiction to a vape device. For new users, they misperceive it as a safer alternative to cigarettes, but often find themselves addicted to nicotine nonetheless. For those who don’t know, vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol from an electronic cigarette (e-cig), vape pen, or other vape device such as the JUUL which looks similar to a USB flash drive. The JUUL product line now accounts for 70% of the vaping market and sells a variety of fruity flavors, coffee, or chocolate flavors some believe are targeted to youth. Most vape devices contain a mouthpiece, battery, a heating component, and a cartridge that hold the e-liquid or e-juice. The battery hea

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September 23, 2019

What is the Spending Addiction?

Spending and shopping are very socially acceptable in our society and advertisers work hard to convince us that buying things will make us happy. Many people are prone to social comparison and there is an allure to wanting what you see others have. Frankly for many, their possession become a measure of their self-esteem. Because of this thinking and mentality our culture abides by, it is only a small step further for those people with addictive personalities and tendencies to cross the line and develop a spending addiction. Although there is no official diagnosis for spending addiction and many experts disagree about whether it is a real disorder, it has been recognized as far back as the early 19th century. It is estimated that about 6% of the population may have a spending addiction, which often starts in their teens or early adulthood. With the advent of online shopping, spending is increasingly more available, accessible, and anonymous. We’ve seen increases in other behavioral addictions such as sex addiction, gaming, and gambling which have all flourished on the internet.

Diagnosing the Addiction

At present there is no unified set of symptoms or criteria for spending addiction, but we will discuss the common features and traits, many o

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November 21, 2018

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop after exposure to any number of traumatic events that can happen to people. Some common types of traumatic events that can result in PTSD include military combat, physical or sexual assaults, accidents, or natural disasters such as a tornado, hurricanes, etc. Although PTSD has likely existed since humankind has been involved in traumatic situations, PTSD has only been recognized as a diagnosis since 1980.  It should be noted that not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will end up with PTSD. Many people endure and recover from difficult life situations just fine. Others develop less severe problems such as depression or anxiety problems. Traumatic events that are enduring (military combat) or recurring (physical or sexual abuse) increase the likelihood of developing PTSD.

Symptoms & Features

A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought if you suspect you might have PTSD. The diagnosis of PTSD can be difficult and complex. In response to a traumatic experience where real or perceived life-threatening situations have occurred, people experience some of the following symptoms. There are re-experiencing symptoms that include: 1) intrusive thoughts or images, 2) feeling like the event is recurring or reliving it, 3) dreams or nig read more

November 7, 2018

What is Compulsive Gambling?

Where many people enjoy gambling as an occasional social or recreational activity, for others it becomes a real struggle. Problem gambling is an urge to gamble despite experiencing negative consequences or continuing to gamble despite a desire to stop. An estimated 15 million Americans have problem gambling with more than 3 million of them having severe problematic gambling. Problem gambling is not a bad habit or moral weakness, but a serious condition that is treatable. Although it is commonly referred to as gambling addiction, it is actually categorized as an impulse control disorder. However, like chemical addictions, it is a progressive and chronic condition. Problem gambling tends to strain relationships, affect one’s ability to fulfill responsibilities at work, home, or school, and can lead to financial catastrophe. It can lead people to do things they never thought themselves capable of such as borrowing or stealing money from partners, employers, and even their children.

Symptoms & Features

Pathological Gambling Disorder is a persistent and recurring maladaptive gambling pattern as evidenced by five or more of the following symptoms: 1) a mental preoccupation with gambling, 2) a need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement or effect, 3) repeated unsuccessful efforts to con read more

June 6, 2018

The use of alcohol in our culture is pervasive. For most people their use of alcohol is social or recreational and is secondary to the event and situations they are engaging in. For about 10% of the American population their use of alcohol becomes abusive or has already reached the level of dependence. There are four levels of alcohol use: abstinence, social use, abuse, and dependence. Social use pertains to people who drink for the taste rather than the effect (glass of wine with dinner or a dessert drink).  It can be difficult to differentiate between those who abuse and those who have crossed the line to dependence, both of which are problematic. One benchmark of problematic drinking stipulates that men who drink more than 4 drinks in one sitting or more than 14 drinks in a week and women who drink more than 3 drinks in one sitting or more than 7 drinks in a week, likely have abuse or dependence problems. Alcohol abuse and dependence fall on a spectrum. The more symptoms a person endorses, they can move from abuse to dependence. Alcohol abuse is suggested if a person endorses 2-3 of the symptoms, and alcohol dependence is likely present if a person endorses 4 or more of the following symptoms: 1) tolerance (a need for an increase in the amount of alcohol to get the same desired effect), 2) withdrawal (shakes, sweats, etc. in the absence of drinking, 3) drinking in larger am read more

January 31, 2018

Addiction is a disease that does not just affect the person who is engaging in addictive behaviors, it also affects those loved ones around them. The impact can be so sweeping that many people become obsessed with the person’s addiction and trying to do something about it. Below are attributes common to those with codependency.

  • Collusion: Many people help support their partner’s addiction by covering up for them in some way. Social rules about family image and social perceptions pull many people into the addictive process and they become a party to the secrecy. Collusion can also take the form of participating in addictive behavior. Some become drinking or using “buddies” or gambling partners. Rationalization is also a big part of the collusion. Partners tell themselves such things as; “At least he’s not at the strip club, he’s only online”, or “At least she’s not shooting up”.
  • Obsessive Preoccupation: Codependents obsess about their partner’s behavior and their lives. They think constantly about their partner’s addiction. They find themselves checking emails, texts, computer history, hiding spots, connections, dealers, checking and credit card statements. These efforts may provide temporary relief of anxiety and create the illusion of control, but in the end, they simply help people avo

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