Therapy That Works...

Childhood Depression - Can Exercise Prevent Childhood Depression? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, August 08, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss how exercise can help prevent depression in your child - click here.

Facebook Fridays – Rizwan (08/01/14) - By Chris Gearing

Friday, August 01, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia answer a question from Rizwan on Facebook about Generalized Anxiety Disorder and how it's different from clinical depression - click here.

Rizwan from Facebook wrote in:

“I know a lady in my circle. She is regularly very worried because of some family issues. She doesn’t sleep well and also feels low these days. Her appetite is less than normal now for her. Is she suffering from GAD?”

Thanks for your question on Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Rizwan. To better understand this disorder, here are some important facts to keep in mind:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD is known as the “worrier” diagnosis.

People with GAD tend to ruminate on anxious or negative thoughts, which propel them into a seemingly endless cycle of anxiety. The more they worry, the more the habit is reinforced.

Over 40 million Americans suffer from GAD. That’s 18% of the population! In fact according to many sources, anxiety is the number one diagnosis in the US. However, most sufferers don’t get help for it and continue to hurt when there are proven remedies for this condition.

Here are a few of the most common symptoms for GAD:

  • Excessive anxiety and worry
  • Difficulty controlling worried thoughts
  • Restlessness or feeling on edge
  • Easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind goes blank regularly
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Insomnia or restless sleep

Clinical Depression commonly co-occurs with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and it is another one of the most common mental health diagnoses in America.

In fact, forty two percent of GAD patients also have clinical depression. The combination of the two conditions can propel us into an endless loop of catastrophic thinking that convinces us we are helpless and hopeless. The depressed and anxious brain tends to avoid objectively evaluating the evidence and instead jumps to catastrophic conclusions. Relapsing into depression is tragically common and is more likely when the previous episode was severe and incapacitating.

Common symptoms of Clinical Depression include:

  • Depressed thoughts and mood
  • Low energy, fatigue, and sudden loss of energy
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in the usual activities
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Restlessness or feeling slowed down
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of overlap between the symptoms of anxiety and depression and it is often very difficult to differentiate between the two.

Most depressed people have anxiety and vice versa. For example, many people who are depressed tend to worry, sleep and eat erratically, and feel low and empty much of the time. Anxious people may also worry, sleep and eat erratically, and feel blue some of the time. It is my opinion that while anxiety and depression often co-occur, one of the conditions precedes the other and is usually more dominant.

However, it is extremely important to differentiate between the two diagnoses since therapy approaches and medication heavily rely on an accurate diagnosis. Different psychotherapies and medicines are used to specifically treat each condition.

If you are worried about your friend having one of these problems Rizwan, please seek the help of a clinical psychologist or mental health professional who can use a combination of interviews and psychological testing to provide the correct diagnosis for effective treatment.

Sources:

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - IV - RT

Weight Loss - How Does Overeating Start? - By Chris Gearing

Monday, July 07, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia describe some of the ways overeating can start and why it can be so difficult to overcome - click here.

With one third of Americans meeting the medical definition of “obese,” we are struggling as a society to understand how to manage our relationship with food. Lifelong weight issues can sometimes be caused by metabolic issues or other medical problems. However for those of us without medical issues, we must be aware of some key issues with how we treat food that prevent us from weight management success:

Basic Instinct

Our relationship with food begins at birth. As infants, we learn that food quiets our rumbling tummies, is pleasurable, and can even bring a certain degree of comfort. Food begins to be associated with security, wellbeing, and happiness from an early age.

Inescapable Need

Like the air we breathe, we cannot escape the need to eat food. We can’t “give it up” or swear to never touch it again like drugs or alcohol. The fact that food is unavoidable is one reason why we struggle with it.

Eating To Soothe

Since food is so centrally associated with feelings of comfort early in life, many of us tend to use it to regulate or soothe difficult emotions. Since our emotional math is simplistic as children (such as,“I’ll eat this to feel better”) it is understandable why overeating becomes so entrenched early in life as a coping skill.

Overeating Cycle

Whenever we gain weight, there is an automatic emotional cost. Self-loathing and anger are common. We then overeat to regulate the negative feelings that come from unwanted weight gain. Round and round we go, and the cycle can overwhelm us before we know what’s happened.

Binge Eating

Many of us who struggle with food develop Binge Eating Disorder in which we lose control over how much we eat. Here are some of the symptoms of BED:

  • Overeating in a rapid fashion
  • Regularly overeating at meals and in between
  • Rituals with food such as eating only in the car or secretive eating behaviors
  • Feelings of shame and disgust

Weight loss can be sabotaged by significant psychological and emotional challenges. If you know someone who is struggling with the psychological aspects of weight loss, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"The Beck Diet Solution" Series by Dr. Judith Beck

KTXD 47 - Weight Loss Mentality - By Chris Gearing

Friday, June 13, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on KTXD 47 discussing the best psychological mindset for successful weight loss - click here.

Psychological Resilience – The Steps of Self-Reflection - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the steps of self-reflection and how you can make sure you're on the right track - click here.

Self-reflection is one of the best strategies to overcome adversity.

Here are some self-reflection strategies that highly effective people utilize to make sure they are heading in the right direction.

Slow Down to Go Further

One of the best things you can do is quiet your mind long enough to focus on what is happening without interference from your emotions or distracting thoughts. When you are in the middle of a major life transition or tragic event, slow down and take stock of where you are. Anxiety makes your mind and body speed up, but it also makes you inefficient in dealing with problems. When adversity hits, take more time to remain quiet and calm. Sleep more, eat well, and exercise regularly. Even slow your speech down and measure your words carefully.

Avoid the Isolation Island

Avoid the tendency to isolate yourself and make a point to see your friends and family. A rough patch is only made worse when you go through it alone. Make sure that you only see the positive people in your life since other people’s negative words and moods are harder to shake especially when you are already going through a rough time.

Give Yourself A Break

Every day, set some time aside to devote a certain amount of time to being still—no screens, no texts, no talking. Breathe deeply and focus on your breath for at least ten minutes. Be quiet and let your mind rest so that you can anchor yourself and be effective for the next play. Even a short meditation session allows your mind to reboot and refresh.

Psychological Resilience – The Value of Self-Reflection - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe why self-reflection is important to your success - click here.

Many of us think that turning inward is something other people do when they have nothing better to do.

Some of us see it as self-indulgent, ineffective, or even a waste of time. However effective self-reflection can be an incredibly valuable first step if you are going through a rough patch. You can’t plan your next move if you don’t understand how you got to where you are today.

To strategically move forward, you must first catalogue the events that brought you to your current adversity, and the decisions you’ve made so far.

Once you have organized the events in your mind, you’ll find that there is less anxiety associated with the event. There is now a clear narrative where there was once disorganized pain. You’ll feel safer and calmer because you will have anchored yourself in the here and now, and you will fully understand that the traumatic events are in the past. You are safe.

Psychological Resilience - Moving Past Adversity Effectively - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how you can move past adversity effectively by using psychological resilience skills - click here.

Inevitably we all encounter disappointments, tragedies, and setbacks in our professional and personal lives. Jobs are lost, beloved parents die, we lose touch with close friends, and dreams for how we wanted out lives to turn out vanish.

However, research has shown that how you handle adversity in your life will actually determine where your life will go next.

Remember that it is not the adversity itself that determines what happens next. It is your reaction to the adversity and how you think about it that ultimately determines where you end up.

If you spiral into negativity, your bad mood will sabotage your ability to effectively solve the problem. You’ll become stuck in the “what if’s” and the agony of the situation. You’ll lose sight of how you can turn this adversity into something beneficial. The situation that seems so awful, so devastating right now can be the catalyst for making you stronger and more effective in the future.

True wisdom is usually hard won, and our challenges in life can be the very events that take us to the next level. Hopefully, after overcoming a setback you will truly value your resilience since you’ve learned that what is happening today is temporary and will not determine tomorrow unless you let it. The rest of your life can and will be determined by the resolve you demonstrate in the moment and your ability to triumph over setbacks.

Moving past adversity requires a particular set of thinking skills that, if used consistently, can take your life to the next level.

This series of presentations will give you some important tips and strategies for how to move past adversity effectively and overcome obstacles in your path.

Ordinary Moments - How To use Ordinary Moments For Success - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how you can use ordinary moments to make yourself happier and more successful - click here.

Appreciating ordinary moments can help you in all areas of life. In addition to expanding your personal well-being, keeping your mind clear and focused can also give you a decisive edge in your career. Here’s how can you savor your ordinary moments and learn to emotionally sustain yourself to work more effectively:

Slow Down to Go Further

Most of us misunderstand the relationship between speed and accomplishment. We think that if we go faster and push harder, we will go further in the end. Nothing could be further from the truth. People who are truly gifted and accomplished give themselves time to rest and recover. Although it seems counter intuitive, slowing down allows your mind to fully recover and can make the critical difference when you need it most. A well-rested mind sees the opportunity in the moment because it is clear and uncluttered.

Taking A Time Out

Everyday we encounter problems that distract us and interfere with our ability to feel calm and happy. Many of us think that if we keep worrying about a problem, we’ll figure out the perfect solution. However, an anxious and exhausted mind has very little chance of creating an effective strategy. Quiet time is indispensible for an effective and happy life. There is no substitute for the meditative moments when we let everything go for a little while. No screens, no conversations, no planning “what I have to do next.” Just letting this one moment fill your mind completely, slowly breathing, and being very still are all incredibly powerful ways to build a sense of well being and prepare yourself for the next play.

Silence Is Golden

Most epiphanies are born in silence. A well-rested mind is a solid foundation for your mind to create and assemble epic answers. Your mind cannot work on important questions when it is constantly busy creating your next grocery list or second-guessing your comments at today’s meeting. Since modern technology is so intent on inundating your mind with noise and distractions, try turning everything off. Taking a small portion of every day and being silent is a great way to notice the ordinary beauty around you and answer the big questions.

Dealing With Anxiety During The Holidays - By Chris Gearing

Friday, November 15, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on KTXD 47 discuss how to handle your stress during the holidays - click here.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy - How Parents Can Help Their Emotionally Volatile Child - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how Dialectical Behavioral Therapy can help parents understand and work with their emotionally volatile children - click here.

Like the waves of a turbulent ocean, the world of negative emotions seems to ebb and flow with a disturbing lack of predictability. One day you can easily manage your emotions, but the next day everything seems to get to you. You find the insult in every comment from friends and family, and you just cannot seem to calm down.

Dr. Marsha Linehan recognized that biological vulnerabilities to high intensity emotions could create a difficult parental relationship early in life.

Well-intentioned parents do their best to match the intense communications of their children, but they often fall short with a child who lives with more intense emotions. Parental initiatives in discipline, organization, and performance that may have worked effortlessly with their other children fall flat with this child. Instead, this child may stubbornly resist change and compliance, further frustrating the parent.

In worst cases, the cycle between the frustrated parents and the emotional child can become highly toxic.

The child is unable to perform optimally at school and in extracurricular activities due to their intense emotions. Confused parents misinterpret this behavior as disobedience, apathy, manipulation, and defiance. The child is labeled as difficult and exhausting because the parent doesn’t know what to do!

These parents need to understand their child’s emotional states and use skills from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (or DBT) to help their children calm down, focus, and perform. They’ll be able to structure and properly work with their child so that they are successful at home and at school. Once they know how to communicate effectively with their child, the parent-child relationship will flourish.

If you or someone you know is having difficulty communicating with their child, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

The work of Dr. Marsha Linehan

"Doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy: A Practical Guide" by Kelly Koerner


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