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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

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

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

January 30, 2021

What Are the Facts About Domestic Abuse?

Recent studies and statistics reveal that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This can include shoving, pushing, slapping as well as more severe forms of violence. Roughly 10 million people are impacted by domestic abuse each year. Sadly, 1500 deaths occur each year from domestic violence. In sum, domestic abuse is all too common. Abuse and violence can take lots of different forms. Most people are aware of the physical forms of abuse but are often less knowledgeable about the other forms of abuse. Abuse can be emotional, psychological, sexual, economic, and occur in the form of neglect. Domestic abuse occurs across all races, socioeconomics, education levels, religious groups, genders, and sexual orientations. Nurses are typically the first people to encounter domestic abuse, but sadly most perpetrators and victims do not seek out help.

What Motivates and Drives Domestic Abuse?

Most people who abuse others have an intense need to control. Many perpetrators struggle with jealousy issues, low self-esteem, and feelings of inferiority. Many simply cannot regulate their emotions very well, in particular feelings of anger. Unfortunately, for some, it is learned behavior as they grew up in homes with domestic a read more

January 17, 2021

What is Recreational Marijuana?

Medical marijuana has been around for some time and is legal in most states with a valid medical diagnosis such as glaucoma, epilepsy, cancer, and, just recently in Minnesota, PTSD. Medical marijuana is closely regulated, prescribed by a physician, and used to alleviate symptoms of a medical condition. Recreational marijuana, on the other hand, is pot used by regular citizens without a medical reason. Recreational marijuana typically has a higher THC content than medicinal varieties and produces a euphoric high that medical varieties typically do not.

How Many States Permit it?

There are currently 11 states (CA, WA, OR, NV, IL, MI, ME, MA, CO, VT, AK) and the District of Columbia that have legalized recreational marijuana. For many states, recreational marijuana has become a tax revenue boon. For instance, in 2018 the state of Colorado sold roughly $1.2 billon in recreational marijuana. This produced around $270 million dollars in tax revenue for the state, over 5X the tax revenue of the $45 million the stated collected on alcohol tax. With sales producing this sort of revenue, it may only be a matter of time before the other states follow suit with legalizing recreational marijuana.

Are People in Favor of Legalization?

It seems attitudes toward marijuana and its legalization have been changing over the last decade. Nea read more

November 1, 2020

In the last article, we talked about the incredible impact and effect that suicide has on individuals, families, and the community. In this article we are going to talk about how to prevent suicide. With proper knowledge and awareness, there are things we can do to intervene and hopefully prevent unnecessary losses.

Predisposed Temperament

The greatest triad of factors that account for most suicides are a person’s predisposed temperament and genetic vulnerabilities, severe psychiatric illness, and acute psychological distress. A predisposed temperament can include things such as an impulsive nature, a tendency to be emotionally volatile and reactive, and genetic vulnerabilities can include a tendency to have mental health issues or even a family history of suicide. By severe psychiatric illness we are referring to severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance abuse. If one or more of these are going on, a person is it high risk for suicide. Acute psychological distress are often environmental factors such as loss of a job, divorce, or breakup of a relationship to name just a few. Whether it is yourself or a loved one, being alert and on the lookout for this perfect storm can let you know when you need to be aware and possibly intervene. Temperament may or may not change read more