The Platinum Rule: How to Enrich Your Intimate Relationships

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Platinum is a symbol of true love, purity, rarity, and strength. These qualities of platinum are equivalent to the ideals of eternal true love, something couples strive for in their relationships.

We all want to connect in our intimate relationships, yet most of us have difficulty holding ourselves back when partners voice their frustration. Most people respond either by offering words of reassurance, try to solve the problem, or worst offer constructive criticism.

If you use one of the methods above, you wouldn’t be surprised if I say your partner’s response is not the one you might have been expecting. Your “help” might have not have landed the way you expected or had the effect you intended. Most people respond by feeling more irritable or frustrated than they were before they even shared their concerns.  

Working with numerous couples struggling in their relationships, I’ve learned empathy towards one another works best to build on intimacy and get more out of the relationship. First, I ask couples to commit to empathy before they verbally engage. As a relational therapist I lead with empathy in the room and then ask couples to use the same method and see how the partners respond.

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Not that starting out with words of empathy, understanding and compassion will always work. There are times when nothing can. But particularly in troubling situations where the startup is likely to determine the outcome, there’s no safer way to open a discussion than seeking to genuinely “participate” in your partner’s state of mind. This is most effectively accomplished through accurately identifying with their feelings, whether they’ve been overtly stated or implied by language, facial expression, and tone of voice.

When your partner experiences that you’re sincerely making an effort to grasp where they’re coming from, the odds that they'll be more receptive to where you’re coming from. The strong desire to feel understood and non-judged increases emotional intimacy and connection in the relationship.

Healing  yourself  heals the relationship.

Healing yourself heals the relationship.

When should you consider psychotherapy?

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Because of the many misconceptions about psychotherapy, you may be reluctant to seek help. It may be stigma, your own judgment, or you may feel nervous about trying it. Overcoming these blocks may be worth it because any time your quality of life isn’t what you want it to be, psychotherapy can help.

Some people seek psychotherapy because they have felt depressed, anxious, or angry for a long time. Others may want help for a chronic illness that is interfering with their emotional or physical well-being. Still, most people have short-term problems they need help navigating. They may be going through a divorce, having relationship concerns, feeling overwhelmed by a new job or grieving a family member's death.

You may benefit from therapy if you have any of the following concerns:

  • You feel an overwhelming, prolonged sense of helplessness and sadness.

  • Your problems don't seem to get better despite your efforts and help from family and friends.

  • You find it difficult to concentrate on work assignments or to carry out other everyday activities.

  • You worry excessively, expect the worst and are constantly on edge.

  • Your actions, such as drinking too much alcohol, using drugs or being aggressive, are harming you or others.

  • You have thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else.

The treatment you receive will depend on a variety of factors: current psychological research, your psychologist's theoretical orientation and what works best for your situation. 

The most important factor to consider is whether your psychologist has the expertise  when it comes to your specific needs and whether your psychologist feels he or she can help you. It is important you find someone not only you feel comfortable with but are able to get the help you need.

What Are Social Anxiety Symptoms?

Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 15 million American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder following specific phobia.

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The average age of onset for social anxiety disorder is during the teenage years. Some might dread meeting new people, dating, being on a job interview, answering a question in class, or having to talk to a cashier in a store, others might avoid only some of the scenarios above.

Most people with social anxiety do not talk about it and might not understand why they feel fine in certain situations but not in others. Some might feel physical symptoms of anxiety in situations such as giving a speech, playing a sports game, or dancing or playing a musical instrument on stage.

Here are some of the symptoms of social anxiety when performing in front of others:

  • Extreme fear of other people judging them

  • Staying away from places where there are other people they might feel judged by

  • Blush, sweat, tremble, or feel a rapid heart rate

  • Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice

  • Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they don’t already know, and have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could

  • Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed and awkward

The defining feature of social anxiety disorder is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. Because people with social anxiety disorder may worry about acting or appearing visibly anxious, they often avoid social or performance situations, and when a situation cannot be avoided, they experience significant anxiety and distress.

Although they recognize that their fear is excessive and unreasonable, they often feel powerless against their anxiety. The first step to effective treatment is to have a diagnosis made, usually by a mental health specialist. Without treatment, social anxiety disorder can prevent a person from reaching their full potential.

Managing Anxiety Through Biofeedback

Managing Anxiety Through Biofeedback

Everyone has anxiety from time to time, but chronic anxiety can interfere with your quality of life. While perhaps most recognized for behavioral changes, anxiety can also have serious consequences on your mental and physical health. Biofeedback focuses on often hidden indicators of prolonged or inordinate stress an anxiety by regulating Autonomic Nervous System and treating anxiety and stress caused by the ongoing activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System .

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Emotional and Physical Manifestations

It’s the thinking, thinking, thinking, dwelling, dwelling, ruminating, ruminating, and inability to shut the mind off.

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” ~Jodi Picoult

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” ~Jodi Picoult

Generalized anxiety disorder is a relatively common anxiety problem, affecting 3-4% of the population that turns daily life into a state of worry, anxiety, and fear. Excessive thinking and dwelling on the "what ifs" characterizes this anxiety disorder. As a result, the person feels there’s no way out of the vicious cycle of anxiety and worry, and becomes depressed about life and the chronic state of anxiety they find themselves in.  Generalized anxiety usually does not cause people to avoid situations, and there isn’t an element of a "panic attack" involved in the prognosis, either.

Emotional Manifestations

Feelings of worry, dread, lack of energy, and a loss of interest in life are common in general anxiety. Many times there is no "trigger" or "cause" for these feelings and the person realizes these feelings are irrational. Nevertheless, the feelings are very real. At this point, there is no "energy" or "zest" in life and no desire to want to do much.

“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” ~Anais Nin

“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” ~Anais Nin

This emotional fear and worry can be quite strong. If a loved one is ten minutes late, the person with generalized anxiety fears the very worst -- something’s dreadfully wrong (after all, they’re ten minutes late!), there’s been an accident, the paramedics are taking the person to the hospital and his injuries are just too critical to resuscitate him....."Oh, my God!.....WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?" Feelings of fear and anxiety rush in from these thoughts, and the vicious cycle of anxiety and depression runs wild.

Some people with generalized anxiety have fluctuations in mood from hour to hour, whereas others have "good days" and "bad days". Others do better in the morning, and others find it easier at the end of the day. These anxiety feelings and moods feed on themselves, leading the person to continue in the pattern of worry and anxiety -- unless something powerful breaks it up.

“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression,addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” ~Brene Brown

“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression,addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” ~Brene Brown

Physical manifestations 

The physical manifestations of generalized anxiety may include headaches, trembling, twitching, irritability, frustration, and inability to concentrate. Sleep disturbances may also occur. Elements of social anxiety and/or panic may sometimes be present, such as high levels of self-consciousness in some situations, and fear of not being able to escape from enclosed spaces.

It is also common, but not universal, for people with generalized anxiety to experience other problems, such as a quick startle response, a lack of ability to fully relax, and the propensity to be in a state of constant motion. It is difficult for some people with generalized anxiety to settle down enough to have a quiet, reflective time where they can calm down, relax, and feel some peace and tranquility. Strategies to peacefully calm down and relax are one part in overcoming this problem.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fearof the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fearof the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

What Causes General Anxiety?

Normal life stresses aggravate generalized anxiety. The person who typically performs well at work and receives a sense of accomplishment from it, all of a sudden finds that work has become drudgery. If work is perceived as a negative environment, and the person no longer feels fulfilled, then considerable worry takes place over these situations. As a result, the anticipatory anxiety about going to work can become quite strong.

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

How It is Treated ?

Generalized anxiety has been shown to respond best to cognitive-behavioral therapy, an active therapy that involves more than just talking to a therapist. In CBT, the person gradually learns to see situations and problems in a different perspective and learns the methods and techniques to use to alleviate and reduce anxiety. Sometimes medication is a helpful adjunct to therapy, but for many people it is not necessary. Research indicates that generalized anxiety is fully treatable and can be successfully overcome over the course of about three to four months if the person is motivated and works toward recovery.

Generalized anxiety must be chipped away from all sides and that is what CBT is designed to do. No one has to live with generalized anxiety disorder.  Treatment for GAD has been shown to be both effective and successful.

Please seek a therapist who understands anxiety and the anxiety disorders. Remember, that just because a person has a degree behind their name, does not mean they understand and can treat an anxiety disorder. Feel free to ask questions of any professional and make sure your therapist understands and knows how to treat generalized anxiety. It is usually a good idea to see a specialist in this area because they have a practice that is geared toward the anxiety disorders.

Feeling depressed? 7 Facts About Depression Treatment

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Depression is something we all can experience, however if we don’t attend to some of the symptoms it can turn into a Major Depression and it can be a devastating—even life-threatening—condition.

Thousands of studies have examined what works in restoring hope and vitality. I've compiled 10 important facts about depression treatment, based on the latest research.

1. Psychotherapy, in particular Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication are equally effective in treating depression. Medication can help with severe depression even as much as CBT. 

2. Chronic and more severe depression responds better to a combination of medication and therapy. It can be more effective than meds alone, and medication adds additional benefits for those receiving weekly psychotherapy. For mild, non-chronic depression, therapy sessions typically work as well as the combination—and avoids the additional time, effort, cost, and side effects.

3. CBT is not the only type of talk therapy that works well in treating depression. There's growing evidence that short-term psychodynamic therapy is helpful as is a more general type of treatment called “ non directive supportive therapy.”

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4. Movement can release a lot of anxiety and tension in the body when youre feeling depressed. It doesn’t need to be rigorous exercise. A simple 30 minute walk can be a powerful antidepressant treatment. Researchers have found benefits of walking, jogging, running, resistance training, and other forms of movement.

5. Healthy eating may be an effective way to relieve depression based on a study from earlier this year. Educating people about better eating habits including increasing awareness of your choices could lead to big reductions in depression. Participants in the study were advised to increase consumption of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats, and lean proteins, among other foods; and to reduce heavily processed and sugary foods, as well as alcohol.

6. Fewer relapses are supported when continuing psychotherapy services and practice the tools learned in treatment. Learned interventions such as “"aimed at cultivating positive feelings, positive behaviors, or positive cognitions” can relieve depression symptoms.

7. Mindfulness and its practice prevents depression relapse, particularly among those with 3 or more episodes of depression. Those who practice mindfulness skills were 34 percent less likely to relapse an effect that's comparable to staying on medication for depression.

Is it time today to take a step toward getting help? Maybe you have a loved one who's been struggling with depression. Consider talking with that person about looking into treatment options. Or perhaps you've been thinking about treatment yourself, and even have a recommendation for a provider from someone you trust but haven't yet made that call. Why not reach out right now? 

The information here is not intended as medical advice—talk to a healthcare professional you trust if you or a loved one needs help with depression.

 

Self-Care Strategies When Dealing with Anxiety

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We are often afraid of silence, because emptiness feels unproductive, scary and worries might come to surface. So we fill our lives with noise, clutter, and chaos.

Silence can be powerful, therapeutic, and the remedy for our stress, anxiety, and the habits that crush us. If we want quiet and peace in our lives, how do we created?

Here are some strategies to create space and sooth anxiety:

  1. Valuing the Person You Are: Appreciate the person you are by providing kind thoughts and actions to yourself.

  2. Refocus on the Reward: Remember to focus on the benefit and privileges you have; practice gratitude.

  3. Recognize the Hazards: Acknowledge and accept day to day challenges.

  4. Minding the Body: Remember to practice the essential;s of health living: sleep, eat, have fun.

  5. Seeking Nurturing Relationships: Cultivate support among friends, family members, mentors. Ask the question, “Who can I trust?”

  6. Sustain Healthy Escapes: Seek restorative activities that keep you vital and engaged.

  7. Cultivate Spirituality and Mission: Connect to sources of meaning and value in your life

  8. Foster Creativity and Growth.

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Learn to seek professional help sooner than later. Engaging in psychotherapy on a periodic basis as a form of positive self-development.

How to recognize signs of depression?

Depression is cruel and it can affect anyone. The symptoms might begin with some general worries, some guilt and very quickly can slide down a black hole where these thoughts spiral down and take over feeding depression and its severity.

1.     Feeling Hopeless

Major depression is a mood disorder that affects the way you feel about life in general. Having a hopeless or helpless outlook on your life is the most common symptom of depression. Other feelings may be worthlessness, self-hate, or inappropriate guilt.  Common, recurring thoughts of depression may be vocalized as, “It’s all my fault,” “I’m worthless “or “What’s the point?

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2.     Loss of Interest

Depression can take the pleasure or enjoyment out of the things you love. A loss of interest or withdrawal from activities that you once looked forward to — sports, hobbies, or going out with friends — is yet another telltale sign of major depression. Another area where you may lose interest is sex. Symptoms of major depression include decreased sex drive and impotence.

3.     Fatigue and Sleep Problems

Part of the reason you might stop doing things you enjoy is because you feel very tired. Depression often comes with a lack of energy and an overwhelming feeling of featigue which can be among the most debilitating symptoms of depression. This could lead to excessive sleeping. Depression is also linked with insomnia as one might lead to the other and vice versa. They can also make each other worse. The lack of quality, restful sleep can also lead to anxiety.

4.     Anxiety

If you’ve been feeling down and you just can’t seem to shake it off then it is not just sadness. While depression doesn’t cause anxiety, the two conditions often occur together. Symptoms of anxiety can include:

·        restlessness, nervousness, or feeling tense

·        dread, panic, fatigue

·        rapid breathing

·        feeling on edge

·        increased sweating

·        trembling or muscle twitching

·        trouble focusing

·        foggy thinking clearly

·        obsessing about things you’re worried about

5.     Irritability

Depression can affect irritability.  People suffering from depression may have symptoms of irritability, anger, risky behavior, and/or substance abuse. People are less likely to recognize it is depression causing these symptoms in order to seek treatment for it.

6.     Appetite changes

Weight and appetite can fluctuate for people with depression. This experience may be different for each person. Some people will have an increased appetite and gain weight, while others won’t be hungry and will lose weight. One indication of whether dietary changes are related to depression is if they’re intentional or not. If they’re not, it may mean that they’re caused by depression.

7.     Thinking of death

In 2013, more than 42,000 people died from suicide in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who die by suicide usually show symptoms first. Often people will talk about it or make a first attempt before succeeding in ending their life. If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

·         Call 911 or your local emergency number.

·         Stay with the person until help arrives.

·         Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.

·         Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

If you have had some of the previously mentioned symptoms for more than two weeks, you might be suffering from major depression disorder. Recognizing that you’re depressed is essential to getting the right help.

Depression affects millions of people, but there are treatments available, from lifestyle changes to medications. No matter the path of treatment you choose, asking for professional help is the first step to getting back to feeling like yourself again.

 

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I Am Anxious and Can’t Get Out of It! What’s Wrong with Me?

Anxiety is a solvable problem, yet you might find it harder to overcome. The reason is that, while you have the ability to overcome it, anxiety “tricks” you into maintaining it rather than removing your fears and symptoms. Most people try to resist anxiety, however most of the anxiety problems come from efforts to resist or remove anxiety.

Most people mean well when they suggest to someone feeling anxious to “calm down!” or advice to “stop worrying about it!” Yet, nothing good comes out of it. If it were that simple people would “calm down” or “stop thinking” about it.

The more you fight your anxiety, the more it grows. It’s like throwing gasoline to the fire. People who struggle with persistent anxiety have tried some type of relief and when it has not worked they might think it is their fault or that there is something wrong with them for not being able to get out of it.  But if it’s really true that the harder you try the worse it gets, you probably need to look at the other strategies. Here are some successful methods I use in session with clients struggling from anxiety noticing results:

1. Psycho-Education: To reduce and overcome anxiety, you must understand the symptoms. If you know that adrenaline is a result of the flight or fight system, you won't be as worried and unsure as to what's happening to your body. If you recognize your symptoms you might find it comforting to know it is anxiety that’s causing you to feel or behave a certain way. Learning how your anxiety works is the first step to healing.

2. Diaphragmatic Breathing – All of us breathe (I’d hope) yet most anxious individuals do not use their lungs in a way that is beneficial for them. Diaphragmatic breathing technique is a technique I use in session to help clients come back to a normal state, slightly reducing anxiety and its physical symptoms. 

3. Biofeedback – Practicing biofeedback can be not only helpful for anxiety but also measurable for the “skeptical”client. Heart Rate Variability is very important for the entire regulation of the complete system. The autonomic Nervous System is the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic and enables humans to adapt very rapidly to the vast potential for changes that occur in their environment. As you can imagine this does wonder for he anxious body and mind.

4. Guided meditation – I work mostly with high functioning anxious individuals that suffer in silence. Most of them are accomplished in life, attended college, have great jobs, yet they deal with lingering anxiety day in and day out. My work includes guided meditations to increase self-compassion. Meditation itself is used in the sessions to create space and bring to surface negative self-talk, feelings of guilt, shame, not worthy etc…and then counteract these feelings with kindness. This approach is challenging for most yet has helped many clients to be easy on themselves, recognize thought patterns of self-destruction and see themselves in a different light.

Overall, it’s important to learn to identify your triggers and responses and find strategies that work for you. If you have difficulty managing anxiety and it impedes your ability to carry out your day to day activities therapy can help.

What is Depression and How can I Treat It?

Millions of Americans suffer from some form of depression every year, making it one of the most common mental disorders in the country. Being depressed often feels like carrying a very heavy burden, but you are not alone in this struggle.

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Depression is more than just feeling sad. Everyone feels upset or unmotivated from time to time. Prolonged feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities, trouble sleeping, decreased or increased of appetited are all symptoms of a more mood disorder. If these symptoms persist for a period of at least two weeks, it is considered a depressive

According to a 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) report, depression accounted for 3.7% of all U.S. disability-adjusted life years and 8.3% of all U.S. years lived with disability.

Causes of Depression

There is no one cause for depression, as it depends on a unique combination of an individual’s genetic makeup and environmental conditions. There are many factors to take into account:

·         The brain’s physical structure or chemistry

·         History of depression in family

·         History of other disorder (SAD, Anxiety, Complex Trauma etc.)

·         Stressful, traumatic events (abuse, financial issues, death of a loved one)

·         Hormone changes (menstrual cycles, pregnancy, taking hormones)

·         Certain medications (sleeping aids, blood pressure medication)

Types of Depression

Depression types can take many forms. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders lists nine distinct types:

1.      Major Depression, is the most common type of depression. Often, people with major depression experience recurrent episodes throughout their lives.

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2.      Dysthymia is a persistent low mood over a long period of time, even a year or more. It could be described as feeling like you’re living on autopilot.

3.      Some people are more sensitive to the lower amount of light in the wintertime. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression brought on from a lack of natural sunlight.

4.      Those with Atypical Depression often report feeling a heaviness in their limbs. They may suffer from irritability and relationship problems, as well as be prone to overeating and oversleeping.

5.      Bipolar Disorder is also called Manic Depressive Disorder because it involves alternating between mania and depressive episodes.

6.      Sometimes depressive episodes can get so severe that hallucinations or delusions are present, the person becomes catatonic, or they feel stuck in bed. This is known as Psychotic Depression.

7.      Postpartum Depression occurs after giving birth. Mothers may feel disconnected from their new baby or fear that they will hurt their child.

8.      Severe depression that shows up during the second half of the menstrual cycle is called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It affects the individual’s ability to function normally.

9.      Situational Depression is triggered by a life-changing event. It could be anything, from losing your job to the death of an immediate family member.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Though there are multiple types of depression, many of them have similar recognizable symptoms. This list provides a general idea of what comprises depression:

·         Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or emptiness

·         Irritability, frustration, or restlessness

·         Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that used to be enjoyable

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·         Difficulty sleeping, sleep disturbances, or sleeping too much

·         Fatigue and lack of energy

·         Difficulty thinking clearly, remembering, concentrating, or making decisions

·         Appetite or weight changes

·         Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

·         Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or back pain

Experiencing some combination of these symptoms for a period of at least two weeks likely signifies that you are in the midst of a depressive episode.

Treatment

Any treatment for depression should coincide with a healthy diet and regular sleep schedule. It may sound simplistic, but the importance of taking care of your body cannot be overstated.

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There are various methods you could use to sooth the symptoms of depression. Physical activity is especially helpful for the depressed mind. It enables you to better handle stress, helps you sleep better at night, and the endorphins released give you a mental boost.

Yoga is a more accessible form of exercise, because it doesn’t require equipment and because many of the moves and poses do not require much effort.

Meditation is a highly effective way of clearing your head and calming your body. It’s also easy to do, with guided meditations available through phone apps, online in text and videos, and in books.

If you enjoy keeping a journal, you may find that it helps to express your thoughts on paper instead of bottling them inside. It’s helpful to have close friends and family who you can confide in, but they’re not always available or may be dealing with stress of their own.

For a more hands-on approach, try a mental health experts to dive into learning healthy coping skills to help with the current mood and prevent relapse.

Sonila Sejdaras Psy.D, LCSW, CADC