Sleep Strategies

One of the most frequent causes of insomnia is anxiety. Insomnia of this kind is caused by increased activation of the sympathetic nervous system at night. The body releases norepinephrine (the flight or fight hormone) at night when that system should be inactive. You wake up and you feel “wide awake.” A current patient of Dr. Forster’s is having difficulty sleeping …

Stress and Your Brain

Stress has a major affect on our bodies and our brain. The release of catecholamines (adrenaline and related chemicals) and cortisol causes significant changes throughout our body that are designed to prepare us for “fight or flight.” By shutting down all non-essential functions the stress response system prepares us for a life and death struggle Nowadays there are no life …

Needing to be Perfect

The need to be perfect is one of the “dangerous ideas” that can destroy a life. It often comes from the fear of abandonment that all of us have, and which can be easily activated in childhood by a mismatch in personality with one’s parent. A wonderful, smart, attractive, funny, energetic woman talked with us about her experience of this. …

10% of Americans Suffered Childhood Sexual Abuse

Approximately 10 percent of American adults were sexually abused as children, according to a study reported in Comprehensive Psychiatry. They are more at risk of psychopathology and suicide attempts than are adults who were not sexually abused as children. This study fits with other evidence. The global prevalence of child sexual abuse has been estimated at 19.7% for females and 7.9% for males, based …

Feeling Already Full

A wonderful friend sent us a note that this post had been very helpful to him. It is, once again, from the Just One Thing site. The practice is called “Feel already full” and it is a perfectly timed reminder that so much of what we see in life (TV especially) is specifically designed to make us feel unhappy with …

Take a Chance

If you are feeling depressed or anxious, today’s post from Rick Hanson (part of his Just One Thing blog) may be helpful. If you are already feeling energized, you might not need more encouragement to do something risky/taking a chance… Rick’s post is about how, as children, we learn to avoid certain types of conversations that seem too risky, and …

Money and Security

How much money does it take for someone to feel really secure? This seems like a sensible question. Certainly, many of us have been dealing with  insecurity because of a lack of money. In other words, there is a relationship between money and security. On the other hand, over the years, we have never run into anyone who managed to …

reclaim your world

Reclaim Your World

Why You May Need to Reclaim Your World Threats from disasters, and other dangers in the world around us, can lead us to withdraw from normal activity and then we may need to reclaim our world from fear. I have always loved what I now call the territorial sports: the cross country skiing, running, hiking, bicycling, etc. These are sports …

Retraumatization

After nearly 20 years of work in the field of post-traumatic stress disorder, one thing that continues to trouble and baffle me is the phenomena that was described by Freud as the repetition compulsion.  Why is it that people who have been victimized in terrible ways are at much higher risk of being victimized again.  One would think that they would be …

Disaster’s Aftermath

The recent hurricane that hit New Jersey and New York reminded us of the research on the aftermath of disaster conducted by a friend and colleague, Kent Harber, PhD. Kent has been very interested in posttraumatic stress disorder, and in particular, the work of Dr. James Pennebaker, on the value of sharing one’s story in the aftermath of trauma. Jim …

Ghosts

Today is Halloween. The holiday is felt by many to be derived from the Celtic festival of Samhain. On this night the door of the underworld opened a crack and spirits of the dead, as well as other beings, like faeries, traveled back to their old homes. Costumes developed as a way to avoid being harmed by these spirits, who …

Mood Phobias

We were talking with a couple of wonderful psychologists about what it is that helps people come to terms with moods and learn to live with them creatively.  One of the barriers to successful mood surfing is a fear of moods.  I suppose the analogy is of someone who is afraid of the waves trying to learn how to surf. …

Sick of Vacation

Hard working professionals go on vacation and immediately get sick. This doesn’t happen just once, it is regular and reliable. What is going on? If this has happened to you, you are getting a crash course on the physiology of the body’s stress response system, and some of its flaws. It was developed to deal with very different problems than …

Performance Anxiety

Fear of public speaking and performance anxiety are very common things. Probably almost all of us have had the experience of desperately wishing to relax before a presentation. This may be a situation where you should be careful of what you wish for. When I was younger I had a terrible fear of speaking in public. And my first job …

When the Pressure Builds

We all have stress. It is a natural part of life. The level of stress in your life may vary from moment to moment. Some folks are more sensitive to stress and others may shrug it off, choosing to find contentment with whatever hand they are dealt in a happy-go-lucky fashion. Whatever your stress management style, it’s important to just …

Bad Memories

Unstable moods and bad memories seem to go together. In the clinic where many of us work we have noticed how often it is that folks who we see with bipolar have had traumatic experiences in childhood. Why that happens is speculation. But we do know that dealing with those experiences can be very, very hard, and, potentially, life transforming. …