Vulnerability – Nancy

Vulnerability!  If your first response is “Ummm, no, thanks”, you’re not alone.  Vulnerability sounds like something we want to get away from, not something to cultivate.  Yet researcher Dr. Brené Brown of the University of Houston has done considerable study of this topic and her findings are that being or becoming vulnerable to risk, to emotional upset, to shame and …

Learned helplessness – Nancy

“What’s the use”.  “It won’t work anyway”.  Do you find yourself thinking hopelessly and helplessly about your own situation, unable to find any constructive steps to take to move forward? Learned helplessness is what psychologists call it when a patient believes strongly that no action they can possibly take will make their situation better.  It’s the “dark side” – or …

functional symptoms

Physical Symptoms without Physical Disease – Nancy

A new website designed for people experiencing physical symptoms that are not traceable to physical disease offers clear, scientific information, and also hope for those patients who sometimes spend years in the medical system trying to get relief for pain and other symptoms only to be told that nothing is wrong. The site refers to these symptoms as “functional symptoms.” …

Avoidance Behavior – Nancy

Avoidance behavior, or avoidance coping, is a way of trying to stay calm by trying not to pay attention to disturbing thoughts or feelings.  Avoidance may work in the short run, but it also tends to take a short term problem and make it a long term one. James Edgar Skye, a bipolar blogger we follow, has a blog post …

Micro-Progress Overcomes Inertia

A reader of this blog forwarded to me an article on “micro-progress” that promises a solution the the common problem of procrastination. Editor of Smarter Living, Tim Herrera, writes… “Of the countless articles, books and so-called lifehacks about productivity I’ve read (or written!), the only “trick” that has ever truly and consistently worked is both the simplest and the most difficult …

Anger – Uses and Abuses

What do we mean by anger uses and abuses? Righteous anger is a powerful force for change in the world. But some folks seem to live in anger all the time, and for them, and those around them, anger can become a trap. As others pull away from them they feel more helpless, and more angry. How to break this …

meaningful resolutions

Meaningful Resolutions for 2018

How can you make meaningful resolutions for 2018?  Maybe not something like “adopt more healthy habits”, which can be hard to do.  How about resolving to work on something that research shows is foundational to healthy habits and healthy motivations? Cultivating a sense of purpose in life has been shown to affect health and longevity through numerous avenues of study.  Those …

Cynical Hostility

Cynical Hostility

Cynical hostility is a personality style of cynicism and anger mismanagement in social relationships. Sometimes called chronic anger, it is associated with mistrust and weakened social support networks. In a recent study, researchers from France and University College London looked at data from a long-term study of 3,399 British civil servants. Those in the top 25% of cynical hostility levels were over four-and- a-half …

Language Predicts Stress Levels

The way that people use language predicts stress levels quite reliably, according to a 2017 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many different stressors (traumatic stress, poverty, loneliness, being told that you have a life threatening illness) all activate a single pattern of profound changes in the function of the immune system. The changes are known …

Hope

Find Hope Despite Adversity

Finding hope can feel miraculous when wrestling with the endless challenges of any chronic illness, including depression. At the end of a long week struggling to help others I ran across an article by a psychiatrist who has thought long and hard about the sources of hope, and felt the wonderful sense of renewal that hope brings to the beleaguered. …

Motivating Healthy Behavior Changes

What is the most effective way of motivating healthy behavior changes? And how does medical practice best  take advantage of information about what motivates people to make positive changes? It should be obvious that just telling someone that a certain behavior is healthy is often not enough to motivate change. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal …

Interpersonal Effectiveness and DEAR MAN

For many people with depression, it can be hard to find an assertive, but not hostile, way of dealing with conflict. Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) addresses many practical problems such as this with straightforward answers. This comes from the “Interpersonal Effectiveness” module of DBT. The acronym to remember is DEAR MAN: Describe Describe the situation in as objective …

Accepting the Loss

One of my patients wrote to me this morning asking if she could get a medication to help with her anxiety. She has been trying to find a good therapist for quite a while and I think she might have found someone who could really help her. But this is making her feel anxious and irritable. Now she has to wrestle …

Secrets are Dangerous

A young, attractive, and very successful man who recently got married came in to see me the other day and told me that he was in recovery from sex addiction. That caught my attention and, I have to admit, living as I do in a very mental health oriented world, made me wonder if this was an example of over …

Breaking Up without Depression

Some people seem to find it much easier to weather the breaking up of a romantic relationship than others. Sure they may feel sad, they may worry about what it means that their relationship ended, but relatively soon they’re able to move on. Others get mired in doubt and find it hard to reenter the dating world. A study from Stanford …

Awe Reduces Inflammation

What if you knew that the experience of awe could measurably improve your health, would you approach the world differently today? At the most recent TEDMED, psychologist Jennifer Stellar presented evidence that the experience of a number of positive emotions (joy, pride, contentment and awe) was associated with reduced levels of interleukin – 6 (IL6) a well validated blood measure …