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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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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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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