Therapy That Works...

Clinical Depression - The Differences Between Sadness and Depression - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the differences between normal sadness and clinical depression - click here.

Everyone feels sad sometimes. A bad breakup with a partner, a problem with a child, or a setback at work can all make us feel sadness. But where is the line between normal sadness and clinical depression?

The central characteristic of sadness is a feeling of loss and a sense of regret for recent choices or events.

Sadness can feel all encompassing and dominate our thoughts for a little while, but it will usually run its course in a short amount of time.

Here are some symptoms of common sadness:

  • A feeling of permanent loss
  • Mild to moderate negative feelings such as regret, disappointment, or helplessness
  • Emotional intensity is moderate and does not impair functioning or daily behaviors
  • Usually resolves within a few days or even hours

Clinical depression is far more impactful on daily functioning than a simple case of the blues.

It is a physiological and psychological illness that can consume your life and compromise your mind. Once depression gets a foothold, it can literally rewire the neurological pathways in your brain and, for instance, create a direct link between normal sadness and negative thinking cycles.

According to research, this connection can cause normal sadness to trigger significant negative thoughts that could revive the full-blown clinical depression once again. To make matters worse - if you have faced depression in the past, you are twice as likely to experience clinical depression in the future.

Here are some symptoms of clinical depression:

  • Regularly feeling extremely down or “empty”
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty without explanation
  • Loss of energy or interest in favorite activities
  • Feeling very tired without cause
  • Unable to concentrate or remember details
  • Unable to fall sleep or dramatically oversleeping
  • Significant shifts in eating behavior, such as overeating or having no appetite
  • Vivid thoughts of suicide or even suicide attempts

If you are worried that someone you know may be experiencing clinical depression, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

The National Institute of mental Health

“The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness” by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Weight Loss - Resisting Self-Sabotaging Thoughts About Eating - By Chris Gearing

Monday, July 21, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the most common self-sabotaging thoughts about eating and how you can stay on track to your weight loss goals - click here.

Over the years, I’ve become convinced that the chief reason diets fail is that we don’t really understand the psychology of dieting.

We are usually competent at a million other things—our work, our marriage, parenting our kids. But the task of really taking care of our bodies and regulating our food is often left for another day. Now here are some important things that you can do to dispute your negative thinking about dieting:

Plan, Plan, Plan

In Dr. Judith Beck’s best selling book, she reminds us that planning for dieting is essential. We know that a clearly defined path bolsters successful change. Without a dedicated food plan, exercise regimen, and proper psychological tools, dieting will be much more difficult.

Disputing Hopelessness

Dr. Beck’s brilliant method of response cards can help you dispute the negative thoughts that float through your mind and undermine your resolve. With each negative thought, write a positive reply that reinforces reality. For example, if you say to yourself that dieting is hopeless, reply that you’ve done harder things before and there is always a choice in what you eat.

Meditating For Success

Dr. Beck recommends using the skills of mindfulness to calm your mind and prevent overeating. Try taking slow, deep breaths for ten minutes while you allow your body and thoughts to slow in pace and intensity. Taking the time to calm your mind will help you establish full control over your food choices.

Savor The Moment

Dr. Beck also recommends using mindfulness techniques when you are eating. Slowly and carefully chew each bite while sitting. Allow your body to consume the food without stress or hurry. Taste each bite completely and focus on how full you are feeling. Redefine your concept of feeling full and when to stop eating.

Self Congratulate

Once you begin to lose weight, make sure to acknowledge your accomplishment. Most of us forget that positive self talk is the fuel to keep us going. Taking a moment to congratulate yourself will help you hit the next weight loss goal!

For the best and most comprehensive guide to successful dieting using the power of cognitive techniques, read Dr. Judith Beck’s books on the Beck Diet Solution.

If you know someone who is struggling with the emotional and psychological aspects of weight loss, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

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

Weight Loss - Identifying Overeating Triggers - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how you can identify triggers that may cause you to overeat even when you're dieting - click here.

In order to control your eating effectively, you have to identify your own triggers to overeating.

Here are some of the most common overeating triggers:

Environmental Triggers such as being near food or seeing food online or on a TV show.

Mental Triggers like thoughts about a meal or a particular type of food.

Emotional Triggers such as when we use food as a coping tool to manage our stress, anxiety, or depression. However, food can also be used to express happiness, excitement, or even for a celebration.

Social Triggers are one of the main ways that many of us struggle. We love to eat out with friends and family, and its hard to turn down family cooking too.

Another important step is to identify your self-sabotaging thoughts:

Denial: We deny how important it is for us to regulate our food.

Hunger: The discomfort of deprivation can be difficult to withstand.

Feeling Full: Some of us insist that we feel full at the end of a meal rather than learning that tolerating some slight hunger is normal and acceptable.

Emotional Eating: The most common sabotaging thought and the most difficult to regulate since it can be so entrenched.

Shame and Self-Loathing: Often these thoughts can lead us into despair, which can lead us to excessive eating.

Entitlement: Witnessing the eating habits of others who can eat without worry and not gain weight is difficult. We often feel angry and resentful that our bodies are not similarly wired.

If you know someone who is struggling with the emotional and psychological aspects of weight loss, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

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

Weight Loss – Is Emotional Overeating Sabotaging Your Weight Loss? - By Chris Gearing

Monday, July 14, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how emotional overeating may be holding you back from losing weight - click here.

One third of Americans meet the medical definition of obesity and many others carry excess pounds that their doctors wish they would shed.

As intelligent and resilient as most of us are, it is confusing why we struggle so much with food. Here are some key factors that can derail you from weight management success:

Begins In The Mind

All weight loss begins in the mind. Without understanding your relationship between your emotions and food, you cannot change the habits that interfere with your ability to lose weight. All overeating begins the same way: a trigger leads to a thought, the thought creates an emotion, and the emotion leads to a choice to eat.

Releasing Tension

Many of us eat to soothe internal tension or anxiety. Your raging emotions tell you that eating will calm you down. Once the decision is made to eat, you feel a little better. What many of us miss is that we can also reduce our tension by deciding not to eat. The active decision to not eat can provide the same tension release as choosing to eat.

There Is No “Try”

Most of us take our self-sabotaging thoughts about food at face value. We try to not eat popcorn at the movies or we promise to not have another cookie at the party. But then we read an upsetting text or see an ex-girlfriend. The uptick in emotion can cause us to lose self-control in the moment.

If you know someone who is struggling with the emotional and psychological aspects of weight loss, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

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

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

Facebook Fridays – Curtis (06/20/14) - By Chris Gearing

Friday, June 20, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia answer Curtis from Facebook's question about long distance relationships - click here.

Curtis from Facebook writes in:

“My girlfriend and I just went long distance after being together for a year. Our relationship is strong, [and] we are best friends as well as a couple. She left 2 days ago and I can’t see her again until Christmas time. Any advice on how to make it work?”

Well Curtis – first, congratulations on finding such a wonderful partner and I sincerely hope that things work out for both of you. Here are some a few tips to keep in mind:

Built On Friendship

Many people forget that a deep and abiding friendship is one of the cornerstones to love. Romance thrives when you genuinely enjoy your partner and have fun when you interact either on the phone or face-to-face. Consider this to be one of your most important strategies to survive and even thrive during the physical separation. There are a million ways to keep your friendship alive when you are away from one another by playing through words and activities. Playing games together online like “Words With Friends,” video chatting through Skype, posting on each others’ Facebook walls, or sharing pictures on Instagram or Tumblr are all great ways to stay connected.

Building Trust

Most people don’t realize that trust is built one interaction at a time. We reinforce trust through staying faithful to one another, but we also show our trustworthiness when we interact with sincere and total focus. Whenever you interact with her, be emotionally present and give her all of your attention. Women find undiluted focus intoxicating. Also, make sure you remain committed to timely answers to texts, emails, or any social media interaction. Even if you’re just explaining that you’re busy right now, she’ll appreciate your attentiveness and care.

Radical Acceptance

Being away from the one you love can be difficult, particularly for long stretches of time. If you find that your stress or anxiety is growing, use a distress tolerance technique called “radical acceptance.” Dr. Marsha Linehan, the inventor of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, invented this technique. Radical acceptance asks you to separate what you can control and what you cannot control. Focusing your attention and efforts on what you can control will calm you down and makes you more confident. Remember that radical acceptance does not ask you to enjoy what is happening. It simply asks you to focus on controllable factors and let go of what is out of your control. Once you can do this, you can focus on what you can do to keep your relationship vibrant and healthy.

Express Yourself Verbally

While actions are very important, there is no substitute for the power of words, particularly for women. Send a poem that you wrote or borrowed from a famous poet that tells her how much you love her or that you were simply thinking of her. Send a loving phase along with a favorite picture of both of you or even a Pinterest board to plan your next vacation. And most important of all, when you talk to her, tell her that you love her and you miss her.

Sources:

The Work of Dr. John Gottman

Men's Issues - Why Some Men Turn To Suicide - By Chris Gearing

Monday, May 12, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss why some men turn to suicide - click here.

Men have a tough time in a world that expects so much of them. In fact, suicide rates for men are four times higher than women. In the last few years, the suicide rates for men in their fifties increased by nearly 50%. Here are a few reasons why men may turn to suicide:

Generational Perfect Storm

The economic struggles of the last decade have been especially hard for men who have the expectation of providing for their entire family, including older children and both sets of elderly parents. When the stress and expense of supporting two generations finally hits, the perfect storm of financial hardship can be devastating for a hard-working man.

Pressure Cooker

Many men were never taught the skills of emotional regulation and control. When they are up against complex problems in life, admitting and processing the emotional fallout from loss and setbacks is more difficult for a man who is supposed to be endlessly strong and stoic. Once the internal pressure becomes too great, they may hurt themselves or others.

Men's Issues - Why Do So Many Men Struggle With Depression? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss why many men struggle with depression - click here.

Men have a tough time in a world that expects so much of them. In fact, suicide rates for men are four times higher than women. In the last few years, the suicide rates for men in their fifties increased by nearly 50%. So why do so many men struggle with depression and anxiety?

Weight of the World

Many men feel as though they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, and they are often reluctant to share their troubles with loved ones.

Lone Wolf

Many men tend to ruminate on what is worrying them, and they feel duty bound to work it out on their own. Depression grows in isolation since we tend to lose perspective and it reinforces our feeling of helplessness. They tend to conclude that nothing they do makes a difference and the worst outcome is inevitable.

Quiet and Strong

Unfortunately, boys and men are frequently told to not talk about what they are feeling. In fact, many boys are actively encouraged to suppress the concerns that haunt them. They don’t learn the language of emotional expression, and they often push their emotional surges down and cover them up. That internalization can lead to negative health effects like higher blood pressure and heart concerns. They don’t have an emotional outlet, and they often resort to vices or distractions to take their minds off their worries.

Men's Issues - Grumpy Husbands & Pessimistic Thinking - By Chris Gearing

Monday, May 05, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how pessimistic thinking can lead to grumpy husbands - txt to link goes here.

Many wives are perplexed with husbands that are regularly grumpy. They often don’t know how to help their grumpy partners pull out of their negative thinking, and that feeling of helplessness often leads to grumpy wives. Here are some reasons why your man may be so negative:

From Childhood

Most grumpy people don’t intend to be negative. Pessimistic thinking often originates in the thinking habits that many of us develop in childhood. When we used them as children to explain events in our lives to ourselves, they made a lot of sense. As we have become adults, we are still using old explanations for new events. It’s kind of like if you wore the same pair of shoes from your childhood as an adult. The old pessimistic thinking continues to frame events in our lives in a negative, gloomy way.

Hopelessness Cycle

Unfortunately, pessimistic thinking is often reinforced with regularity. When you’re always expecting a bad outcome, you’re going to be right a lot of the time. We stop challenging our negative thoughts and begin to lose hope for our lives. The cycle takes hold and you’re pessimistic thinking begins to downsize your life.

Accepting The Worst

Negative minds tend to give up and just accept the inevitability of a lousy outcome. On a fundamental level, they are convinced that they are ineffective and are helpless to change their lives for the better. They stop trying and settle for what life gives them.

For more information on what you can do to help someone with pessimistic thinking or clinical depression, watch my series on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy on my blog or on our Facebook page.

Psychological Resilience - The Advantages of Mind Over Emotions - By Chris Gearing

Friday, May 02, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss some of the benefits of using your logical mind to focus the emotional centers of your brain - click here.

Here are several advantages of using your logical mind rather than your emotions:

See The Whole Board

Master chess players often remind students that one of the keys to winning at chess is to be aware of the whole board. They know where every piece is on the board and they have a good idea what their opponent will try next turn. When you remain calm and can objectively work through every detail and issue, you have a better chance of solving the problem. You can understand what happened, how it happened and what you might have done differently. Your thinking will remain clear, disciplined, and accurate.

Leading With Focus

If your mind is clear and focused, you are better able to understand and work with those around you. By keeping your emotions well regulated, you can actually hear and understand what other people are thinking and feeling. It’s much easier to maintain order during tough times when you are calm and in control of your feelings.

Two Become One

Research has shown that we are most effective when our logical minds are working hand-in-hand with our emotional centers. By slowing down and remaining calm, our analytical abilities can partner with our emotions to create a new solution that may not have been obvious at first.

Most importantly, positive outcomes generate self-confidence and a belief that you can handle the problems that you face.


Recent Posts


Tags


Archive