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Phobias may be cured by watching others – an interesting study reveals

Big scary spider

Whether it is a fear of spiders, snakes or heights, many of us have phobias that we would love to be rid of for good. Now, a new study suggests that we can, by watching other individuals interact with the object or scenario that frightens us.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden say that experiencing our fears through the actions of another person may be more effective than trying to combat our fears directly, and it could even prevent them from resurfacing.

Previous studies have suggested that social forms of learning may trigger phobias, the researchers say. From this, they wanted to see whether it could also help to suppress them.

The study, published in Psychological Science, involved conducting a vicarious learning experiment on 36 male participants.

All participants were shown a series of faces. The appearance of one face was followed by an unpleasant electrical stimulation to the wrist six out of the nine times it was presented. The researchers say this was to teach the participants to associate the target face with the electric shock.

The researchers then showed the participants two movie clips of the same experiment in which the target face was not linked to the electrical stimulation. One movie clip showed a person carrying out the experiment, while the other clip did not.

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A history of depression increases risk for future episodes following divorce

depressionDivorce is associated with an increased risk of future depressive episodes but only for those who already have a history of depression, according to a new study published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Stressful life events like divorce are associated with significant risk for prolonged emotional distress, including clinically-significant depression,” notes psychological scientist and lead researcher David Sbarra of the University of Arizona. “At the same time, we know from considerable research that the experience of divorce is non-random. Some people are much greater risk for experiencing a divorce than other people.”

This led Sbarra and colleagues to wonder: Is it divorce, or the factors leading to divorce – such as marital discord, neuroticism, or hostility – that increase the risk for depression?

To investigate this question, the researchers took advantage of data from the longitudinal, nationally representative Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) study. The researchers matched each participant who had separated or divorced during the study to a continuously married person in the study who had the same propensity to divorce, based on a number of previously identified factors. By comparing participants to their match, the researchers were able to account for the fact that it’s impossible to randomly assign people to divorce or stay married.

In line with previous research, the results showed that divorce had a significant effect on subsequent depression.

But, as Sbarra and colleagues found, the full story was a bit more complex.

Specifically, divorce or separation only increased the likelihood of a later depressive episode for those participants who reported a history of depression. In fact, nearly 60% of adults with a history of depression who divorced during the study experienced a depressive episode at the follow-up assessment.

For all other participants – including those who had a history of depression but hadn’t divorced, and those who divorced but had no history of depression – there was no elevated risk for a future depressive episode. Only about 10% of these people experienced a depressive episode at follow-up.

Read the full story here…

Study Reveals Working Moms Experience More Stress than Dads on Family Matters

Although working mothers and fathers are almost as likely to think about family matters throughout the day, only for mothers is this type of mental labor associated with increased stress and negative emotions, according to new research to be presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“I assume that because mothers bear the major responsibility for childcare and family life, when they think about family matters, they tend to think about the less pleasant aspects of it — such as needing to pick up a child from daycare or having to schedule a doctor’s appointment for a sick kid — and are more likely to be worried,” said study author Shira Offer, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

depressionMuch has been written about the unequal division of household labor and childcare, but the overwhelming majority of studies in this field examine specific behaviors, Offer said. “These studies focus on the physical aspect of tasks and demands, which can be measured and quantified relatively easily,” she said. “However, much of the work we do, both paid and unpaid, takes place in our mind. We are often preoccupied with the things we have to do, we often worry about them, and feel stressed not to forget to do them or to do them on time. These thoughts and concerns — mental labor — can impair our performance, make it difficult to focus on tasks, and even hurt our sleep. This mental labor is the focus of my study.”

The study relies on data from the 500 Family Study, a multi-method investigation of how middle-class families balance family and work experiences. The 500 Family Study collected comprehensive information from 1999 to 2000 on families living in eight urban and suburban communities across the United States. Most parents in the 500 Family Study are highly educated, employed in professional occupations, and work, on average, longer hours and report higher earnings than do middle-class families in other, nationally representative samples. Although the 500 Family Study is not a representative sample of families in the U.S., it reflects one of the most time pressured segments of the population. Offer’s study uses a subsample from the 500 Family Study, consisting of 402 mothers and 291 fathers in dual-earner families who completed a survey and a time diary that collects information about the content and context of individuals’ daily experiences, as well as the emotions associated with them, in the course of a week.

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Why Counseling Takes Time? An Article by Prof. Fatic

Prof FaticProf. Fatic talks about the modern philosophical term ‘polylog’ and the implications of client-counselor relationship and dynamics. What to expect from a counseling session and why is it taking longer than anticipated? “Those who prefer to maintain a distance will be much less able to help the clients change their ways of seeing the world and reacting to it,” says Prof. Fatic. Getting through to the client is not a straight forward business, but a real challenge to any Therapist. Client-Therapist relationship is very important and highly significant. In his own words, “The relationship between the client and the counselor is the foundation of the client’s emancipation and progress in addressing the issues.”

Read the full article here…

Memory Problem, PTSD, Good News Here!

memory problems and PTSD

Researchers have just identified a drug capable of preventing memory problems and increased anxiety in traumatized mice suffering from PTSD-like symptoms.

The finding has huge medical implications for future human PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) treatment and/or prevention.

According to Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators, a receptor called Oprl1 is altered when mice experience PTSD symptoms. The scientists then developed a drug that targets that specific gene, thus preventing the development of the disorder.

Mice were put through a traumatic event – being restrained to wooden boards – and were at a heightened state of fear.

The researchers then gave the mice the Oprl1-targeted drug and found that it had a preventive effect on PTSD and a significant impact on fear memory modulation.

The study, which was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, indicated that humans with genetic variants of the Oprl1 gene are at a higher risk of developing PTSD after a traumatic event, suggesting that the new drug could have a similar effect in humans.

Study leader, HHMI investigator Kerry J. Ressler of the Emory University School of Medicine, said:

“PTSD is a tractable problem that can be prevented and treated if we put our mind to it. Bringing neuroscience and genetic approaches together provides a powerful way to understand this debilitating illness.”

PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder brought on by direct experience of traumatic events – the NHS (National Health Service) in the U.K estimated that about 40% of sufferers developed PTSD after a loved one died suddenly. A sufferer’s life may be completely disrupted, by reliving the horrific event through nightmares as well as flashbacks. Approximately 5% of men and 10% of women suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives.

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“Break Free from Depression,” Diane is Here!

Press Release: Diane Davis is a Licensed, trained, experienced and accredited Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and member of The American Psychological Association. She is a new member of the qualified and approved ProvenTherapists team.

Diane DavisDiane has been practicing mental and behavioral health counseling to individuals, couples, children, adolescents and families dealing with issues such as depression, anger, relationship conflicts and disruptive behavior disorders. Diane has counseled middle school adolescents for 15 years, while helping their parents also. She has worked as an individual and family therapist for 5 years and an administrative for more than 10 years in family counseling agency settings.

Expert Service

Diane is a person-centered counselor. She is a caring, understanding, respectful, empathic and non judgmental professional counselor. Diane is empathically interested in all the clients she counsels and is congruent in the relation to the client. Diane deeply focuses on the client so that she may gain a deep understanding of their inner world. This is a very powerful technique that allows the client to open up his or her inner world, discuss the problem that brought client to therapy and to bring about effective change behavior. Diane practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) a powerful intervention that enhances clients to transform their thought process that will change behavior to improve self-concept, social relations be it at home, school and community.

Diane believes that the World Wide Web is destining to help change depression and destruction behaviors. Online counseling, live text and live voice chat is the twenty first century’s professional mental health counseling intervention services. These services are offered by https://www.proventherapy.com by email and real-time chat. Research shows that online counseling has established the efficacy of therapy with treatment intervention outcomes that is equal to traditional to office visits. Many researchers have reported online counseling is more effective than office visits because the client is at home, relaxed, at ease and not intimidated by sitting in front of a therapist. Online counseling has shown to be more effective since clients do not have to reach the appointment during office hours and can schedule online at their own convenience.https://www.proventherapy.com has been providing online counseling and psychotherapy service since 2006.

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Prof. Fatic is Here with his Incredible Social Philosophy!

Philosophical Counselor Moving Practice to Online Therapy

Press Release: A practical ethics professor, Certified Counselor and Fellow of the American Association of Philosophical Practitioners with 20 years of academic teaching and research experience on three continents, Aleksandar Fatić is now part of ProvenTherapy.

Prof Aleksander FaticProf. Fatić specialises in life coaching for a variety of life goals, using the time-proven methodologies of practical philosophy. His main interest at the moment is the use of Epicurean ethics for philosophical counseling and life coaching. He has published 8 academic books in the various professional applications of ethics and over 100 academic papers in journals and edited books worldwide.

Another approach that Aleksandar is currently working on is the application of Confucian practical ethics to life coaching. He is currently working on a major research paper on this topic that will be available online by the end of 2013.

Aleksandar’s basic approach to working with clients is conceptualization. The method is based on the idea, advanced throughout the tradition of practical philosophy, that our reactions to events are a result of our concepts and understanding of what happens to us, and so is our ability to change our behavior and emotions.

Once we conceptualize, or re-conceptualize, our life situation, the next step is improvement, which is based on personal enhancement. Enhancement means practice and self-development by treating problems as opportunities to develop skills that can later be used across the board of other issues one comes across. Modern bioethics and other fields of practical ethics are very much focused on the concept of enhancement.

The use of conceptualization and self-enhancement allow a dramatic change of the landscape of the issues we face. Once the problems are interpreted in a different way from the one that gave rise to emotional difficulties, coaching typically takes as its main task the development of skills and focus on oneself, rather than on others: instead of judging others or feeling devastated by a loss, treachery or a lie, or by lack of love or or opportunity, one is able to focus on how to develop the quality of oneself as a person. People who use this approach start regular exercise, develop healthy eating habits, new interests, re-organize their time so as to get enough sleep, reduce their workload and manage their time and goals much more effectively. In turn, by shifting the focus from the external to the internal, greater self-appreciation arises, because it is encouraged by working on oneself. Finally, apart from allowing the achievement of better professional and personal results, the person undergoing coaching through conceptualization and enhancement solves many of the emotional and mood issues that may have their cause in the inadequacies of outlook at the problems and of treatment of oneself.

Because of his teaching and research, Aleksandar has limited time for working with clients, and he has now moved his practice entirely online, offering service through https://www.proventherapy.com.

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Brain Can be Trained in Compassion

Recent study shows that the brain can be trained in compassion!

compassionUntil now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion – the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.

A new study by researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that adults can be trained to be more compassionate. The report, published Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, investigates whether training adults in compassion can result in greater altruistic behavior and related changes in neural systems underlying compassion.

“Our fundamental question was, ‘Can compassion be trained and learned in adults? Can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?'” says Helen Weng, lead author of the study and a graduate student in clinical psychology. “Our evidence points to yes.”

In the study, the investigators trained young adults to engage in compassion meditation, an ancient Buddhist technique to increase caring feelings for people who are suffering. In the meditation, participants envisioned a time when someone has suffered and then practiced wishing that his or her suffering was relieved. They repeated phrases to help them focus on compassion such as, “May you be free from suffering. May you have joy and ease.”

Participants practiced with different categories of people, first starting with a loved one, someone whom they easily felt compassion for, like a friend or family member. Then, they practiced compassion for themselves and, then, a stranger. Finally, they practiced compassion for someone they actively had conflict with called the “difficult person,” such as a troublesome coworker or roommate.

“It’s kind of like weight training,” Weng says. “Using this systematic approach, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”

Compassion training was compared to a control group that learned cognitive reappraisal, a technique where people learn to reframe their thoughts to feel less negative. Both groups listened to guided audio instructions over the Internet for 30 minutes per day for two weeks. “We wanted to investigate whether people could begin to change their emotional habits in a relatively short period of time,” says Weng.

The real test of whether compassion could be trained was to see if people would be willing to be more altruistic – even helping people they had never met. The research tested this by asking the participants to play a game in which they were given the opportunity to spend their own money to respond to someone in need (called the “Redistribution Game”). They played the game over the Internet with two anonymous players, the “Dictator” and the “Victim.” They watched as the Dictator shared an unfair amount of money (only $1 out of $10) with the Victim. They then decided how much of their own money to spend (out of $5) in order to equalize the unfair split and redistribute funds from the Dictator to the Victim.

“We found that people trained in compassion were more likely to spend their own money altruistically to help someone who was treated unfairly than those who were trained in cognitive reappraisal,” Weng says.

Read the full story here…

Would Positive Thinking Guarantee Positive Result?

Eric HolmesEric Holmes

Approved ProvenTherapist

We carry our past with us, to wit, the primitive and inferior man with his desires and emotions, and it is only with an enormous effort that we can detach ourselves from this burden. If it comes to a neurosis, we invariably have to deal with a considerably intensified shadow. And if such a person wants to be cured it is necessary to find a way in which his conscious personality and his shadow can live together. ~ Carl Jung

Yesterday someone wrote a post on Why Positive Thinking Won’t Guarantee You Positive Results and just like they promised, today they go deeper into the topic and talk about the 7 things you should do to make positive thinking effective.

1. Ownership

Whenever we get angry or irritated because of something people say or do to us it is so because we project our own shadows and our own darkness on to them.

Next time something negative happens and next time you come in contact with somebody you don’t quite like or maybe hate, ask yourself these questions: What is it about this person, situation that is triggering me? What is it about them that I haven’t yet accepted in me? Do I have some hidden open wounds that they touched?

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. ~Carl Jung

2. Non Resistance

If you feel the presence of anger in your life, let it be there, allow yourself to feel its presence but don’t allow it to define you, don’t allow you to become you!

Say to yourself: There is anger, frustration, negativity, etc. in me and I allow it to be there without making it my own. There is anger in me but I am not the anger, I am the observer of this anger.

Nonresistance is the key to the greatest power in the universe. ~Eckhart Tolle

3. Acceptance

Accept yourself for who you are and for who you are not. Accept yourself both in the presence of positivity, progress and happiness and their absence. Accept the idea that what you dislike the most in others might be something hidden deep down within yourself, in your unconscious, something you haven’t accepted in yourself.

The difference between my darkness and your darkness is that I can look at my own badness in the face and accept its existence while you are busy covering your mirror with a white linen sheet. ~C. JoyBell C.

4. Forgiveness

Forgive yourself for always believing that the enemy was outside yourself and never within you. Forgive yourself for projecting your own shadows on to the world and making it look cold, scary and frightening.

We have met the enemy and he is us. ~Pogo

5. Love and compassion

We have to learn to love and accept not only the good, bright side of us but also our dark side. Only by loving and accepting our own darkness without judging and oppressing it, we will help heal it.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. ~Martin Luther King Jr.

6. Vizualization

Visualization is such a powerful tool that you can use to visualize the person you want to become, the life you want to live and the impact you want to have in the world.

The power of imagination is incredible. Often we see athletes achieving unbelievable results and wonder how they did it. One of the tools they use is visualization or mental imagery… they made the choice to create their destinies and visualized their achievements before they ultimately succeeded. ~George Kohlrieser

7. Detachment From the Outcome

Whether things will happen the way you want them to happen or not, should not matter to you that much. You now know that your happiness and your well being is not dependent on how things are on the outside but rather how things are on the inside and if you take good care of yourself and if you heal your darkness, you whole life will be healed and light will always shine on you and through you.

Detach yourself from the opinions of others; from the habit of judging or controlling others; from the past; from the need to be right and to win; from an obsession with material things. Follow your passion in life, but detach from the outcome and allow the universe to handle the details. ~Dr. Wayne Dyer

Positive thinking alone does not work and only by facing our own darkness, by accepting and loving our own shadows we will be able to get the positive results from thinking all those positive thoughts.

What are your thoughts on this? Share your insights by commenting bellow or by posting your lovely comment on the PurposeFairy Facebook Page.

Address Your Insecurity Feelings

Dr. Sharanya Dinesh

Approved ProvenTherapist and Clinical Psychologist

Sharanya Dinesh - Approved ProvenTherapistIt is usually our own inhibitions; insecurities and a pre conceived image of the self which makes us feel shy, leading to insecurity. A weakness or fear which sets in a feeling of imperfection, causing a dint to the ego or self-image results in insecurity. This self- image makes us vulnerable and we resist or shy away from other situations and people alike. People, especially the youth, go through this phase of insecurity when their ideal- self image clashes with the real-life self or when they experience disappointment too often and too recurring for them to overcome the negative situation. This youth withdraws into a shell and becomes shy or some tend to bury the disappointment with a show of aggression and bullying.

Most of the times, it is either the emotional self or the physical self which causes insecurity. Insecurity pulls down our confidence and self esteem takes a beating. Finding out what the core issue is which is causing the insecurity; it could be physical appearance like complexion, voice or lack of enough money, whatever may be the reason, the beginning to recovery will only come if we pin point the reason which brings in the insecure feeling. Insecurity also creeps in if the person is too set or rigid, inflexible with the way he/she wants to be, look or behave. In real life though, not all goes as planned and the obstinate person invariably faces disappointment and it becomes incredibly difficult to accept oneself; to face reality. Getting rid of this insecurity is many times difficult because acknowledgment comes after a very long time and insecurity being such a personal thing to each one of us; it is tougher to get rid of it. Most of us usually succumb to it, only the brave acknowledge it and seek ways and means to combat insecurity and hope for a free secure life.

Feeling shy about a new place, person or a new event is very natural reaction and it cannot be attributed to inherent shyness. Even a boisterous over confident person senses ‘butterflies in the stomach’ sensation before embarking on anything new. Insecurity stemming out of physical attributes results in shyness and low confidence level with regards to self-image, this batters the emotional levels also to a certain degree, but insecurity which has emotional reasons as it’s trigger results in emotional problems, low self esteem, depression and the like. The second needs to be addressed with a sense of urgency. Self image needs a definite mind shift and a renewed perspective of the self.

To lead a better holistically happy life, the sooner these insecurities are gotten rid of the better for us. Let us look at a few things that can be done differently to b able to overcome insecurity, it is easier said than done, but is imperative if one is determined to make the change:

Acceptance is the first step, learn to accept and like yourself the way you are. You are your own comparison and you are your own parameter. Comparing with anyone else will be futile because no two individuals are made the same way! So how can they behave or be the same? Start by accepting who you are, appreciate yourself and then you will start seeing where improvements can be made. If the beginning itself is rejection and criticism of the self then one can only see faults and imperfections and correcting so much will be an uphill task.

Stop being judgmental and critical about yourself; it only attributes to pulling down the self esteem and seeps in more insecurity. Write one good thing about yourself every day, morning and evening. Take time to look at yourself and see the good in you and why you are special and how you can make these your strengths to overcome your weaknesses.

Every small achievement of yours must first be recognized by you and you deserve a treat for every milestone crossed. Do not listen to what others have to say about you, start listening to yourself. Strictly avoid discouraging company and friends who make you feel bad or low about yourself. Seek out new friends who can teach a few good things without putting you down or being judgmental about you.

The world is a big place and we all have people who find us worthy. It is just when we start feeling worthy about ourselves is when the other person also begins to look at you with an appreciative eye. This in itself is a morale boost and uplifts the confidence levels. Change the image you have of yourself and the world automatically looks at you the way you look at yourself.

This is just the beginning, stick to the task and you are on your way to overcoming insecurity and take on new challenges in life.