Anxiety and Panic

4 Things I Learned in Trauma Group Therapy

I never wanted to go to group therapy, especially for my trauma history. Child sexual abuse didn’t seem like something I was ready to share with a group of people, even if they had walked a mile in my shoes. As long as I didn’t reveal my dark secret to anyone else, they saw a normal woman before them. If they learned I was abused, I thought for sure they’d see me as some kind of festering wound on society, a reminder that there are perverts among us, operating beneath the otherwise cheerful and wholesome social world.

I'm sensitive about my faults. In fact, I'm sensitive about everything. I didn’t want to take what I considered to be by far the ugliest thing about me to a group of strangers on a weekly basis as if to say, “Here it is again!”

Sadly, I never considered the fact that I didn’t feel that way about other people who had been abused. Why would I ever imagine they’d feel that way about me?
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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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Brain and Behavior

How Mental Health Is Like Pulling Weeds

Yard work has ben one of the banes of my existence, and this was especially true when I was young. I hated yard work so much that I would rather have had dental work done in a back alley van than work in the yard.

One of the activities I detested the most was pulling weeds. My parents told me that I had to go around and pull the weeds out of the ground by hand -- I had to bend down and play tug-of-war with them until the entire weed finally gave in and let go of the earth. Then I discovered another way: I could run them over with the lawn mower. It was a genius plan! No bending, grabbing, or pulling!

I had really saved myself some time and effort; except there was one tiny problem. I didn’t know the reason my parents wanted me to yank out the weeds by hand (I assumed they were just torturing me).
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Anxiety and Panic

A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Childhood Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns for children and adults, and affects approximately 20% of children and adolescents. Children with anxiety are often well-behaved and quiet, so their anxiety may go unnoticed by parents and teachers.

Understanding the type of anxiety is the first thing parents can do to help their children. Is it anxiety or an anxiety disorder? Anxiety is a natural human reaction, and it can prove to be an important function when one perceives danger. An anxiety disorder is persistent, irrational, and overwhelming worry and fear that interferes with everyday life. Anxiety disorders become a true hindrance in a child’s home and school life. A child with an anxiety disorder may become so distressed and uncomfortable, they begin to avoid activities and/or social situations.
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Bipolar

New Zealanders’ Improving Perception of Mental Illness

I am a 63-year-old New Zealander. I’m happily married with two adult sons and two grandsons and work from home in the suburbs of Auckland as a freelance writer. I also suffer from bipolar disorder, which I believe I manage very well. Over the years since I first became ill as a teenager, I have seen huge improvements in the public perception of mental illness, but believe we still have a way to go.

I was about 10 or 11 years old when my father first was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. I can remember being very confused and asking my teacher if my dad had gone mad. This was back in the '60s when no one really discussed mental illness. If it was talked about, it was in hushed tones. Sufferers were described as being “nervy” or having “bad nerves.”

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Antidepressant

Don’t Mess with Moms Who’ve Suffered Postpartum Depression #meditateonthis

When you claim there's some sort of global conspiracy against a minority population, you probably should have some, you know, actual data to back up your claims.

Unless, of course, you're New York Times best-selling author Marianne Williamson. Then you can just apparently make a claim without any need for science or data, all the while expressing what to me seems like a prejudiced view against people with a mental illness. Namely, moms with postpartum depression.

How did those angry postpartum moms react on Twitter? With one voice.

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General

Helping People’s Mental Health? $500 Million. Driverless Cars? $4 Billion

When your country has tens of thousands of people dying every year from preventable causes, what would you do about it?

If you're the federal government, you throw money at the problem. But you don't disburse your money equally or to those most in need. Instead, you apparently give the most money to a for-profit industry that has already benefited from government bailouts.

And the poor, homeless, mentally ill folks who have no lobbyists in Washington DC? They get unfairly tied to gun violence. Again.

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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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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Natural Remedies for Rapid Relief of Anxiety

Excerpted and adapted from Anxiety: Top Tips For Rapid Relief Of Anxiety, Panic, Nervousness, and Worry by Lance Levan
Some forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) have proven to ease the stress of anxiety, based on research studies. Complementary medicine includes strategies that are not routinely used in Western medicine, although some doctors are favorable towards these methods.

Here are examples of several types of CAM that are used frequently to treat people with anxiety:

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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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General

Can You Live with a Judgmental Therapist?

In a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal, psychotherapist and licensed marriage and family therapist Paul Hokemeyer admitted that his mind often wanders when his patients are talking.

“Frequently. Most of the time it wanders back to the session I had with the last patient and what I should have done differently,” said Hokemeyer, who sees patients in New York and Colorado as well as Skyping across country. “It can also wander if the patient is avoiding connecting and filling the time with superfluous details. I’ll start to think about the dry cleaning or what I can have for dinner.”
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