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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 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

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

February 27, 2021

Most parents struggle with getting their children to comply with directions, get chores done, and simply being cooperative. There is a technique called a token economy system that has been around for a very long time and works quite well with most children. It is based on positive reinforcement and a reward system so that if you are a parent who is reluctant to punish and give consequences, this tool should work wonders.

Token Economy System

A token economy system can work with children as young as two and still be effective with kids up to 13-14 years old depending on their maturity level. The principle is fairly simple. The parents select 2-5 targeted behaviors that they would like to see improve, for example putting dishes in the dishwasher or not hitting a sibling. With young children (2-8 years old) we recommend getting a notebook and listing the goals (dishes and not hitting) at the top. Get a supply of various stickers from any craft store; preferably ones your child thinks are cool. Then sit your child down and let them know that you have created a new system where they have a chance to earn stic read more

December 13, 2020

As an adult, we all grew up experiencing parenting from our caregivers. Undoubtedly, you have your own opinions about the aspects of the parenting you received and which parts were good and which parts were less than desirable. Many of us decide to go on and have children of our own and find ourselves faced with the daunting task of now being in the parenting role. Most of us yearn to do as good or better than what we received as children but realize we may only have a single frame of reference with which to draw upon. In this article, we will discuss the different parenting styles that exist, what they look like, and the potential impact on the child. In the 1960’s an imminent psychologist Diana Baumrind through years of research delineated three distinct parenting styles. In 1983 Maccoby and Martin expanding Baumrind model to include a fourth parenting style. Overarching these different parenting styles are two stylistic attributes that are quite important to discuss. The first is demandingness or discipline. This refers to a spectrum upon which the parent falls in terms of the degree to which they control their child’s behavior and expect them to behave maturely. The other stylistic attribute is responsiveness which refers to the extent to which a parent is nurturing and accepting of a child’s emotional and developmental needs. Some feel it encompasses the degree of lo read more