Posts tagged ‘depression’

April 18, 2011

The benefits of a good therapist

by Dandy

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now than you’ve probably figured out that I’m a strong advocate for counseling and therapy.  I have benefited greatly from psychotherapy.  It has changed my life profoundly in so many ways.  I sought out therapy for depression and anxiety, as well as the need to know myself better and be aware of my own needs and emotions.

The overall benefit of therapy is to have a safe and secure place to talk with another person without the fear of judgement.  Having a sounding board releases an incredible amount of pressure and stress, which allows the person to be happier and more centered; this goes for all people, and doubly so for anxiety sufferers.

Another benefit of therapy is it places a high value on the worth of the individual.  A good therapist will praise and encourage their client to seek help.  A therapist can help to determine which kind of therapy the person will benefit from, whether it be cognitive behavioral therapy, Pastoral, Humanistic, Gestalt, Interpersonal, Transpersonal, or Positive Psychology.  Therapists may present other techniques to the client, but the client has the ultimate say of which technique, he or she feels works best for them.  The client works with the therapist to establish goals that the client wants to obtain from therapy.  Therapy is all about the client, while the therapist does their best to help the client seek and reach those goals.  For many, being in the position to make significant choices over their own well-being is a new experience.  This can be intimidating to some, but again this is what the therapist is for.  Working through this can be incredibly empowering.

Therapy is a gentle process.  Therapist are trained to be very emotionally gentle because they realize that if they make even slight comments or mistakes that are perceived as threatening, or judgemental, that they have begun to jeopardize the therapeutic relationship.  Clients who feel judged withhold information, which impedes progress.  Going through therapy isn’t always easy.  When one is willing to make changes in their lives it can be very distressful.  Therapists help to reduce transitional stress so that they can aid their clients to lead the healthy and happy lives they want to live.

Some important things to know when seeking out a good therapist…

*  Ask your general practitioner for a referral, or ask your religious community if they can recommend someone.

*  Interview the therapist.  Ask them their area of expertise and how they’ve helped people with your presenting concern.  If it is important to you, ask if they will respect your Spiritual views.

*  Listen to your inner voice or instincts.  Not every therapist will click with a potential client. 

*  Go with experience over degrees.  Not everyone with multiple doctorates can be helpful.  But make sure they are licensed to practise.

*  You do not have to tell anyone you are seeing a therapist.  This is a very personal decision.  It is entirely up to you who you tell.  unfortunately, there is still a stigma over mental illness and it is a profound shame.  If someone you know thinks that only, “sickos go to head shrinks,”  then it may not be in your best interest to let them know your personal business.  But this must be discussed with your therapist.

*  If after a few sessions you find that you are not comfortable with this therapist than it is ok to seek another one.  I’ve had this experience and was so glad I kept looking for a therapist that could really help me.  I’ve never regretted it.

If you know of someone who may need help encourage them to seek therapy.  Let them know there is no shame in it at all.  Refer them to my website.  Let them know they aren’t alone and that they can lead a happy life.  Ok, now que the soundtrack to Good Will Hunting:)

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January 17, 2011

Cognitive Distortions: Win against it

by Dandy

When you think about your negative thoughts do you see a possibility that your mind plays tricks on you?  Can you see how negative thinking can distort your view?  Cognitive distortions-where your mind puts a spin on the events we experience, and attaches a not-so-objective interpretation to what we experience.  These distortions of thinking happen all the time.  They are especially common in people with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. 

The theory of cognitive distortions came about in the 1960’s with Aaron T. Beck leading the way with his research.  Cognitive therapy has helped multitudes of people since then.

When we know to be aware of these thoughts, it becomes easy to see the cognitive distortions in ourselves and others.  Doing so in ourselves can bring lasting positive change in the way we experience stressors in our lives.

Here are the 10 most common (and officially recognized) cognitive distortions

  1. Overgeneralization: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  2. Mental filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
  3. Disqualifying the positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. You maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  4. Jumping to conclusions: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.                                                                                                               >>Mind reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and don’t bother to check it out.
    >>The Fortune Teller Error: You anticipate that things will turn out badly and feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
  5. Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
  6. Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
  7. Should statements: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  8. Labeling and mislabeling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, “He’s a damn louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
  9. Personalization: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which, in fact, you were not primarily responsible.
  10. All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these?  To conquer over negativity and depression/anxiety, we can and must stop these automatic thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.  We have the power to change negative thoughts.  We have the power to live a happier, more fulfilling life.

December 6, 2010

Deep breathing techniqes for well being

by Dandy

There are so many benefits to deep breathing.  It can help with physical pain, sleep disorders, anxiety, asthma, depression, etc,.   Just because we know how to breathe doesn’t mean we are taking advantage of all the great things that can come from it.  Most of us breath in a very shallow and aimless manner, with stataco jerks.  We are so used to this that it takes mindfulness to alter the breath.  But it is easier than you may think to develop an unconscious habit of mindful deep breathing.  Once we gain attention to our breathing and make an effort to stretch and lengthen our breath, we easily start breathing deeply.  However, as soon as our minds start to wander in some other direction we return to the shallow breathing.  But there is a remedy.

The first method is known as the Pause Breath method.  This is a simple, but powerful technique.  All you need to do is concentrate on the two pauses that occur while breathing, the inhalation and the exhalation.  Just by doing this you will start taking continuous deep breaths.  When you inhale deeply, you will need to exhale deeply.  Try this now.  You can do this technique anywhere and everywhere.  Just observe your breath.  So it for 5 minutes.  Start focusing on these breathing pauses twice a day for 15 minutes each.  Try to do the session of pause breath in a quiet, peaceful place at first.  As you do this, you will find that even when you stop focusing your attention on the pauses, you will still be breathing deeper.

The second method is called the Pavlov method.  We use “conditioned reflexes” for this method. There is a long list of things we do everyday without fail, like driving, getting dressed, reading the newspaper, internet surfing, etc,.  we will use these activities as external stimuli to train our nervous systems (minds) to automate the process of deep breathing.

Let us take walking as an example.  We walk to the bus stop, or the bosses office, or down the supermarket aisles.  We do all of this with purpose.  So all you need to do is choose one of these daily walks.  Just one.  Now when you walk for that purpose give attention to your breath.  Be aware of the pauses.  Try to breath deeply.  For this one walking purpose always breath deeply.  For all other occasions of walking, forget about it and take in breath the way you normally do. 

So suppose you choose to do this every morning you walk out to your car.  Always do this deep breathing.  After you are in your car you can breathe normally again.  You are not required to do deep breathing all day long.  Just to the car.  You will be unconsciously training your mind to start associating the process of deep breathing while walking to the car.  The simultaneous process of walking to the car and deep breathing will become automatic.  You’ll see that when you forget to breath deeply while walking to the car, your mind will remind you and your body will respond.  A “conditioned reflex” will be created!  You can apply this to other daily activities you do, like taking a shower, or washing the dishes, or checking your email.

If you do this several times a day during your daily activities, you can be deep breathing for 3 or 4 hours daily.  Just imagine all that pure oxygen running through your brain and body!

Do you practise deep breathing?  How has it benefited you?

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