Suicide is for many an uncomfortable and taboo subject matter, which makes it no less of a problem around the world. Generally, happy people marvel at how someone could reach such a place of despair as to end their own life. As with any subject matter, the more we know about it, the greater our understanding and development of interventions can be. Knowledge is power. In this article, we will outline some of the grim facts about suicide and discuss some of the underlying causes and sources. In the next article, we will spend time talking about suicide prevention. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines suicide as “a suicidal act with a fatal outcome”. Suicide can be conceptualized on a spectrum of thoughts and behaviors. At one end can be risk-taking behavior, extending across varying degrees of ideation and thought, all the way over to suicide attempts and actual suicide. Suicidal thoughts cut across nearly all age groups, races, demographics, and orientations. In fact, it seems only pregnant women are more protected from suicidality, relative to all other groups. Even our youth are not protected. In a 1997 Youth Risk Surveillance Survey of 16,000 nineth to twelfth graders, 50% of New York high school students report that had “thought about killing themselves.” Suicide is in fact the third leading cause of death in the young. Overall, about 48,000 Americans commit read more
There are a lot of people who complain that their motivation and ambition are low or lacking. Some people have chronically low motivation, where other are experiencing a sudden drop in drive. In this article we will talk about potential causes and fixes for both.
What Is Motivation?
Motivation is the desire to take action toward a goal. This drive to achieve and accomplish can be derived internally or externally. External reasons may include trying to gain someone’s approval, acceptance, or validation. Internally oriented ambition is generally more about living up to one’s own standards and expectations. Long term it is better to have internal motivation than external. Doing things for yourself tends to have more staying power than doing things for someone else. If you become less interested in the person who you are doing things for, or you find yourself angry or developing resentments toward that person, motivation can drop off in a hurry. Trying to make goals and outcomes internally oriented can be a decision you make and set youR mind to. It may require reminding yourself of it periodically though. There are a number of variables that can cause motivation to falter and decline. Let’s examine a few of them that are relevant to the chronically unmotivated. Lacking confidence can really squelch your drive to tackle a goal. If you don’t feel confident and that read more
Since the beginning of the field of psychology, researchers have been studying people and trying to understand personality. There have been numerous theories proposed over the years and a fair amount of debate. Most studies agree that there are the “Big 5” personality traits proposed by Costa and McCrae. McCrae went so far as to study over 50 different cultures and discovered that these five personality traits are universal.
Big 5 Personality Traits
The Big 5 personality traits are: extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. It is important to note that all these traits fall on a range between two extremes with most people being somewhere in the middle but leaning more one direction than the other. For instance, one trait most of us are familiar with is the spectrum of introversion to extroversion. Rarely are people at the extremes of either end, but most people lean more towards being introverted or extroverted. With each of the Big 5 personality traits people tend to be high or low on a trait. People who are high on the openness trait tend to be open to trying new things, are creative, imaginative, and tackle challenges. People low on openness dislike change, do not enjoy new things, resist new ideas, and dislike abstract and theoretical. For the personality trait conscientiousness people who are high on this trait tend to be thoug read more
Living life, paying bills, raising kids, navigating work issues, and so much more are the things that make our lives challenging and stressful. When faced with all this, it becomes clear why we need a break from time to time. Taking time to indulge our hobbies or activities to reduce our stress is wonderful, but also requires a chunk of time that we may only be able to carve out once a day or even less. The drudgery of life would become virtually unbearable if we didn’t have some quick fixes along the way. One of the best and easiest is laughter. Our amazing brains have evolved to see and appreciate all the ironies, foibles, and follies that make us human. Whether it is recognizing the absurd, appreciating the silly, or enjoying the hyperbole; these are the things that bring smiles to our faces and cause us to expel joyous laughter. It’s important that we do not take ourselves or life too seriously. We need only to watch a few old episodes of Star Trek and watch Mr. Spock to see how sterile, bland, and joyless life is when we are too pragmatic and logical. Laughter is part of what brings color and brightness to our life experiences. Laughter also has countless positive health benefits. Laughter has been found to boost our immune system, relax muscles, improve circulation, and prevent heart disease. Laughter is also great for our mental health in that it can reduce anxiety, re read more
Don’t we all want to be in charge?
Everyone wants to feel like they have control over things in their life. Having some power and control helps us accomplish tasks and orchestrate things in our life the way we want or need. Even small children want power to be able to control their environment suggesting this is an innate human desire and need. Not everyone wields power and control very fairly or effectively; children being a good case in point. When it comes to relationships most people want a sense of power and control just like they do over other things in their life. In healthy and mature relationships people are able to discuss and negotiate the sharing of power and control so that there is a mutual meeting of needs. Unfortunately, many people are not real good at navigating this balancing act. Additionally, a lot of people are not even consciously aware that some of their actions and words are driven by their unconscious need for power and control. Needless to say, this can create issues, conflicts, arguments, or even the demise of relationships.
When power and control turn abusive
In extreme situations some relationships become abusive. For a long time, people in physically abusive relationships, and those people outside, have been able to see that the person who becomes abusive is driven by an intense need for power and need to control things and peo read more
Part Three: Proactive Tools for Anxiety
In the last two articles, we talked about the physiological chain reaction that occurs with anxiety and some of the reactive tools that we can employ to mitigate the escalation of anxiety at a physiological level and keep that anxiety from building or culminating into a full-blown panic attack. In this article, we are going to discuss how we go about keeping the anxiety from ever manifesting in the first place.
Principles of Proactive Tools
The primary goal with proactive tools is to intervene at the source of the anxiety where it is originating. As we alluded to in the previous articles about anxiety, most anxiety is originating at the cognitive level. By this, we mean, that it starts with our thinking, perceptions, and interpretations. When we arrive at conclusions that are anxiety-provoking interpretations, this triggers the emotions of anxiety, and from there activates a physiological response and drives our behaviors. When we teach people how to control and check their thinking and conclusions, they end up of having far less anxiety over time.
The Brain is a Noisy Place
Most people will agree that our minds are filled with a running stream of consciousness that some of us refer to as our inner dialogue. Most people feel like they are simply along for the ride when it comes to their thinking. The brain just read more
In the last article, we talked about the physiological chain reaction that occurs with anxiety. As anxiety triggers the release of stress hormones into our bloodstream the body is switching from a state of relaxation to a state of arousal. For many people, this creates a rapid snowball effect that causes anxiety to spike quickly in the moment.
Principles of Reactive Tools
The primary goal with reactive tools is to try to reduce anxiety in the moment and prevent the cascading snowball effect and keep anxiety from building or triggering a full-blown panic attack. Unfortunately, we cannot control much in the physiological chain reaction in order to keep our body in a state of relaxation. The main objective of reactive tools is to try to get our body back into a state of relaxation. With some conscious effort, there are a couple of things we can control to try to force the body back to a relaxed state.
When we feel stressed and anxious, physical tension builds in your chest which causes chest muscles to contract. This causes breathing to become short, shallow, and choppy. This general lack of oxygen, in turn, causes your veins and arteries to constrict and the heart has to pump harder to circulate blood flow. All this facilitates increased arousal. For the most part, our breathing operates unconsciously. Fortunately, with a little conscious read more
Anxiety: A Three-Part Series
Part One: The Physiological Chain Reaction
Treating Anxiety in Therapy
Many people elect to treat their anxiety with anti-depressants and/or benzodiazepines such as Xanax when they are dealing with panic attacks. These can be very effective for many people. That said, we get an equal number of people who would prefer to treat their anxiety without medications or treat their anxiety with counseling in addition to medication. When treating anxiety in counseling there are two main ways to treat it therapeutically. There are reactive tools and proactive tools. Reactive tools are utilized when the anxiety flares up and is actively going on. The goal is to reduce the intensity of the anxiety and try to get it to dissipate. These are useful tools to have and can keep anxiety from escalating to the point of panic attacks for many people. As a precursor to discussing the reactive and proactive tools of anxiety, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the chain reaction that occurs with anxiety. In the next two articles, we will spend time talking about reactive tools that help mitigate anxiety and proactive tools, which are designed to keep anxiety from manifesting in the first place.
The Mechanics and Physiolo read more
Even during the best of times life is full of stressors and challenges. It is difficult dealing with the competing demands of work, finances, relationships, kids, parents, and trying to do a little something for yourself. Nearly 20% of American’s will be faced with a clinical depression or anxiety disorder at sometime in their lives. read more
For the first time in our lives, our society is faced with very real danger and threat. As we struggle to figure out how to cope and survive a worldwide pandemic, many people are experiencing increased anxiety. They find themselves worrying, ruminating, and are preoccupied with news and updates about COVID-19. Compounding their anxiety is a dramatic disruption to our everyday lives. Our routines and the structure we are accustomed to has been turned upside down and most of us are floundering and scrambling to keep up and create some sense of normalcy in our lives.
What is Coronavirus Anxiety?
Anxiety is a very normal emotion and reaction to a perceived threat and unknown situation. Often the fear of the unknown will amplify our anxiety. Many people are prone to catastrophic thinking, meaning their thinking often goes to the work case scenario. With this thinking, anxiety can increase tenfold. Although this virus poses a real threat to people’s wellbeing, it is important to try to keep our thinking grounded so we are not pouring gas on a fire. Often in the course of therapy when dealing with anxiety in clients, we discover that much of their anxiety stems from irrational and unfound fears and conclusions. In this situation, the dangers are real and are not irrational inventions of our thinking or distorted interpretations. Anxiety for one’s physical health and finan read more