Disorders

Dialectical Behavior Therapy: How Action Conquers Emotion

“I don’t feel like it.”
When stress overwhelms me, I withdraw. Usually a talkative Ted, I glance at my phone and mumble, “Not today,” as the phone buzzes. Unhealthy? Sure. Ingrained? You betcha!

Insert DBT -- Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Or, as I call it, Don’t Be Timid. Stumbling across the emerging therapy, its simplicity registers. With DBT, opposite action is my guiding mantra.

Emotion fuels action, and when I am fearful or overwhelmed, I retreat into familiar creature comforts. Phone calls sit unreturned, dishes pile up, and bills mount. I stall, minimizing potential consequences.
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Depression

Is CBT a Scam & a Waste of Money?

Renowned UK psychologist Oliver James argues that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a "scam" and a "waste of money." His proof for the argument? Effects of CBT do not last.

It's true. The effects of virtually all treatments for mental illness do not seem to last forever. Whether you're taking a psychiatric medication or are involved in virtually any form of psychotherapy, the moment you stop the treatment, the effects of that treatment begin to fade.

But does that make treatment a "scam"?

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Anxiety and Panic

Living with an Anxious Spouse

All couples have their share of life challenges or issues throughout their relationship. However, when one spouse has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the couple faces a whole new set of challenges. Normal, everyday life issues seem to become exaggerated and can inevitably put a significant strain on the relationship.

Living with an anxiety disorder is typically associated with a great deal of personal distress, but it can be just as hard on the partners of those diagnosed with anxiety. Their significant others often take on more than the normal share of financial burden, household responsibilities, and emotional support.

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Antidepressant

Should Doctors Treat Depression Like Diabetes?

Depression is a mental disorder that impacts between 7 and 8 percent of Americans. But most people in the United States seek out treatment not from a specialist -- as they would readily do for cancer -- but from their primary care doctor.

Recently, a study in the journal Health Affairs complained that primary care physicians don't treat depression like they would other chronic diseases, like diabetes.

But is depression always a chronic condition? Should doctors treat it more like diabetes? Or should they instead treat it more like a serious condition in need of specialist care?

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General

7 More Bad, Annoying Habits of Therapists

Back in 2009, I wrote an article detailing some of the most annoying bad habits of therapists. It included things such as showing up late for a client's appointment, eating, sleeping or yawning in front of a client, or being distracted by a phone, text, email or pet.

Yes, these are all real things that happen every day in some therapists' offices. But generally, they are not signs of a good therapist, especially if they occur with regularity. (A once-in-a-while yawn is only human, after all.)

Here are seven more bad habits of therapists, habits that signal there may be a problem with your therapist's attention, focus -- or even career choice.

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Disorders

Being a Contender in Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is not for the faint-of-heart. Entering therapy is a substantial risk, especially when considering there is no blue print or written guarantee that you will get better. At the same time, it is just as thrilling as it is terrifying, like a sedentary extreme sport or emotional skydiving. Based in art, philosophy, and science, psychotherapy is fierce and a force to be reckoned with, so it still surprises me when patients worry about being judged as weak for stepping up to that level of commitment.

As a licensed social worker and post-graduate fellow, I was recently ask to speak to a group of interns about entering a program for psychoanalytically-informed psychotherapy after graduation.
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General

Happiness in a Bottle?

Popular commercials depict mental health consumers gleefully picking daisies on a sun-splashed day. Happiness is achievable, if only you insert this pill, embrace this diet regimen, or add this supplement. The sterile blueness -- or is it an overcast Seattle grey? -- is a temporary inconvenience.

Daisies, mimosas, and sun-kissed days in your future? Not so fast, my friend. In our instant gratification society, we expect to feel good. We glance at loved ones, colleagues, and friends and assume they are faring better than us. Try this cognitive distortion on for size: emotional problems, relationship difficulties, and financial concerns snare them, too. Life is a four-letter word.
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General

Getting Married Takes a Leap of Faith

Many singles are conflicted about marrying. They yearn for the fulfillment a good marriage brings but are afraid to commit. They fear it won’t work out, which, given the current high rate of marriage failures, is understandable.

It should come as no surprise that it takes a leap of faith to marry. The example below shows how one woman resolved her conflict about marrying. Her major challenges were learning to believe in herself and gaining trust that she could succeed.

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Addiction

How to Write a Daily Journal in Two Minutes or Less

Keeping a journal is often recommended as a powerful tool to aide addicts on their road to recovery. Journals not only help patients reflect on and express their feelings, but also to examine ways to avoid relapse.

However, many patients don’t stick with journaling because it can be a tedious practice. I work as an addiction psychiatrist, and I have developed a highly effective method of journaling that takes two minutes or less every day. This method offers patients personal accountability to understand the cycle of addiction.

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Disorders

Talk Therapy: It’s Not Just Talk

It’s not unusual for people to be hesitant to try talk therapy.

“If I want to talk to somebody, I’ll talk to my friends,” gripes Nicole. “I’m not going to talk to a complete stranger. What for? It’s stupid!”

“If you’ve got troubles in this world, you just have to deal with them,” roars Ben. “What would talking about it do? You have to suck it up and deal with it, not whine about it.”
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ADHD and ADD

Be More Careful with Your Language

I tend to be a little over the top in my criticism of people’s mistaken language and grammar. I am by no means perfect when it comes to these areas, but there are some errors that cause me to want to smack people. (Not in a violent way, but more in a, “I’m taking my glove off and slapping you across the face with it to show you how stupid you are” sort of way.)

One such phrase is, “I could care less.” If you could care less, that means you care some. You should actually be saying, “I couldn’t care less,” because that implies that you have supplied the least amount of caring possible.

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Brain and Behavior

Do You Struggle to Feel Big and Proud?

"Don’t get too big for your britches!" "Don't think you’re better than anyone else!" "Don't get a swelled head!" "Don’t think you are so great!"

Beginning as little children, we hear cultural messages that are meant to socialize and civilize us. We learn to keep our self-confidence in check in order to stay in the good graces of the people around us. Healthy shame makes sure we follow social rules such as not stealing, being honest, or not going to the bathroom in public. Shame is the emotion that ensures we fit in with the groups we need.

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