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What is Sleep Hygiene?

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

March 14, 2021

Many people use the terms guilt and shame interchangeably and are not even really sure what makes them different. There are important differences; especially in terms of the impact they can have on you and how you address them. Let’s look at what makes guilt and shame differently. Guilt: Is an emotion that occurs as an automatic reaction to acting against one’s own morals and values. For example, if Bill values honesty, but he goes home and lies to his wife, he will suddenly feel guilty. Interestingly, the purpose of function of guilt is that it is designed to get you back in alignment with your values, i.e., to be a good person. In our example above, Bill’s guilt will hopefully propel him to get honest with his wife, or simply stop lying to her in the future. Shame: Is an emotion that occurs in reaction to a perception of self-defectiveness. For instance, Beth might believe there is something bad or wrong with her when a guy didn’t call her for a second date. In many instances shame causes people to hide parts of themselves that they believe are self-defective from others in an effort to avoid humiliation. Most people who do this only allow others to see and interact with the persona they portray, because of the fear that if they were genuine and real, they would be humiliated in front of others. The primary diff read more

November 28, 2020

What is Self-Injury?

Self-injurious behavior (SIB) is self-harm, self-mutilation, or the deliberate act of causing pain or injury to your own body. Self-injurious behavior usually takes the form of cutting or burning, but can include scratching headbanging, or any other form of injury.

Who does Self-Injury?

Self-injurious behavior can occur at any age and any demographic; however, it is most common in teenagers and young adults. One recent study found that 6-14% of adolescent boys and 17-30% of adolescent girls engage in self-injury at some point. Most adults who engage in self-injury either have mental health issues or a history of self-injurious behavior.

Why People Injure Themselves?

Contrary to common perception, self-injurious behavior is rarely about suicidal ideation or intentions. Interestingly, it is typically about pent up and intense emotions that the person is struggling to deal with. Many people stumble upon this strategy to escape and avoid difficult emotions. When people engage in self-injury, pain receptors are activated and the brain goes into emergency mode to identify and alleviate the source of pain and injury. In the process, the brain prioritizes the physical pain from the self-injury and pushes all the emotions to the side in order to deal with the more immediate crisis at hand – the pain. In short, the infliction of physical read more

August 28, 2019

There is no unified definition of a workaholic, but there is a profile and we will discuss some of the features and characteristics common to being a workaholic. Many of these types of people regularly find themselves working 50 or more hours a week and feel compelled to stay busy and productive. This pattern of being in the world is often passed down within in families. Some people become workaholics to cope with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. Excessive productivity or earnings are an attempt to compensate for not feeling good enough. Often there are perfectionistic standards and expectations that the person holds or grew up with.

Unfortunately for the person, being a workaholic is one “addiction” that our society reinforces and encourages. Employers benefit greatly and often others are encouraging and supportive of such effort so there is an inherent benefit to engaging in this type of behavior. The danger of this pattern is that there is a finite amount of time and energy to go around in any person’s life. When we become unbalanced but vesting too much time and energy into any area of our life, this inevitably means that other areas will suffer and be neglected. Often family and friends complain about not having enough time with the person. They may end up neglecting their physical hea

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July 17, 2019

Most people are not sure if they have ever had a panic attack until they hear exactly what they are. Many people have experienced heightened levels of anxiety at various times in their life, but panic attacks bring it to the highest level and are very alarming. Panic attacks are typically triggered by intense worry or anxiety, but end up triggering a severe physical reaction. Most describe a feeling of losing control or wonder if they are having a heart attack.

Panic Attack Symptoms

Symptoms of a panic attack often feel like they hit suddenly, without warning, and seemingly out of nowhere. A panic attack may last for five minutes or as long as a half-hour, but become very intense within minutes. Symptoms can include racing heart, chest pains, sweats, shakes, chills, nausea, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, a sense of doom or dying, hot flashes, or headaches. Given the intensity of them, many people begin to develop a fear or anxiety about experiencing another one, which can create a snowball effect or even cause people to avoid going out for fear of having one in public situations.

Causes of Panic Attacks

Although there is no known cause for panic attacks, some research points to genetics, environmental stressors, the experience

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July 4, 2019

In practice, we are often asked by clients what is the best way to treat the issues they are dealing with? The short answer (of course) is that it depends. The recommendations that we provide to clients are based on professional training, clinical experience, and most importantly research findings. Let’s try to discuss some of the important variables that go into making what is a very personal decision.

Probably the most important factor to determining how to treat issues, is the issue itself. The diagnosis typically drives the treatment recommendation, however sometimes the severity (mild, moderate, severe) also changes the recommendation for medication, therapy, or both. Let’s talk about a few of the more common issues that people are often familiar with and often have a clearer recommendation. ADHD, once diagnosed after appropriate testing, is a condition that is often treated most effectively with medication. This is particularly true for moderate to severe forms. Some mild cases can be effectively treated with therapy or ADHD coaching that helps clients to implement certain tools and tricks to make their symptoms more manageable.

Medication Therapy

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