Bipolar

How to Let Go of the Thoughts that Cause Depression

Depression is different from other illnesses in that, in addition to the physiological symptoms (loss of appetite, nervousness, sleeplessness, fatigue), there are the accompanying thoughts that can be so incredibly painful. For example, when my Raynaud’s flares up, the numbness in my fingers can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t tell me that I am worthless, pathetic, and that things will never ever get better. During severe depressive episodes, however, these thoughts can be
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

Living with “What If” — Addressing Anxiety

There are many people who don’t know that their hesitations, fears, and even compulsive “musts” throughout the day are actually stemmed in anxiety. Regardless if the anxiety is caused from stress or trauma, the longer anxiety is ignored -- the worse it usually gets.

If your life is plagued by “what if” moments, then it is time to address your quality of life from a mental health standpoint. It is important to know that not all anxiety disorders are the same, however all of them can cause such distress that it interferes with your ability to lead a normal life. The “what ifs” can become immobilizing and then the stress can lead to actual physical disability.
Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Decision Fatigue: Does it Help to Wear the Same Clothes Every Day?

Ever since the late Steve Jobs popularized the idea, some folks have been enamored by the idea that by wearing the same clothes everyday, you are somehow setting yourself up for greater success. The psychological reasoning behind this is the idea that the fewer decisions you have to make every day on rudimentary tasks (like choosing your clothing, what you're going to eat, etc.), the more brain power you have available for more important decisions.

But is that true? Does cutting out simple decisions about clothing really likely to significantly impact your overall brain reserve for the day?

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Stop Refusing to Apologize & Embrace Being Sorry

One of the hardest lessons to be learned in life is how to be truly, genuinely sorry for our behavior or words that cause another person pain, upset, or harm. Some companies -- as we saw this past week with United Airlines' difficulty in apologizing to their customers -- have an even more difficult time with this than most people.

You may think, "Well, what do I have to apologize for? They were clearly in the wrong." Such stubbornness and a refusal to apologize will get you into far more trouble than it could possibly be worth. It's a lesson worth learning sooner rather than later -- that is, if you want to be happier and more successful in your life.

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Are You Codependent or Just Caring?

The word “codependency” -- our tendency to deny our own wants in order to serve others -- has entered the mainstream vocabulary. The concept evolved from the term “co-alcoholic,” which describes an alcoholic partner’s passive, enabling behaviors but neglects to recognize how they are being affected and fails to affirm their own needs and limits.

At the heart of codependency is ignoring or bypassing our own inner life in favor of responding automatically to others’ real or imagined needs

Continue Reading

Children and Teens

‘Help Me Figure Myself Out’: The Paved Road to the Adolescent Mind

“What do I do? I don’t know what to do with him anymore!” This is one of the many scenarios of a frantic parent knocking on the therapist’s door. Teenage years are tough, let’s not kid ourselves. We have been there, we remember.

In my practice I’ve consulted numerous parents on teens’ presenting problems such as: indifference, apathy, resistance, verbal/physical aggressiveness, destructive behavior, mood swings and a complete emotional shutdown expressed by their teenage sons and daughters.
Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Scrupulosity OCD — You Have Choices!

“I’m such a sinner. I’m supposed to have pure thoughts. I’m so wicked!” Destiny’s incessant thoughts compelled her to pray, sing hymns, confess, and repent to no avail. Her religious leaders kept telling her that she was not a sinner. They reassured her by telling her that she was a good person. She didn’t know her reassurance seeking was actually a compulsion that kept strengthening her OCD.
Continue Reading

Children and Teens

What Is More Important: Will or Skill?

“Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.” - Muhammad Ali
Recently, I was in conversation with the mother of a 20-something daughter who was finding it challenging to help her fly the nest and take responsibility for her own independence. The young woman has a part time job but doesn’t make enough money to enable her to move out. Rather than seeking additional employment, she spends much of her off time sequestered in her room on her phone, watching videos or talking with friends. Not much of an in-person social life.
Continue Reading

General

Psychology of Empathy: Why It May Hurt More Than You Know

As a child, many of us are taught that it's important to put ourselves in another person's shoes, to feel what they're feeling. "How would you like it if Joey took your toy and smashed it?" This is an attempt to understand that our behaviors can have a negative impact on another person's life -- that our actions can hurt others.

So it's no surprise that as we age, we tend to believe that it's important to keep empathy in our lives when thinking about other groups of people -- such as the poor or disadvantaged.

But what if everything we think we knew about the value of empathy is wrong? What if empathy hurts us more than it helps?

Continue Reading