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Detecting Eating Disorders - By Chris Gearing

Friday, February 22, 2013

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing describe a few ways you can detect an eating disorder - click here.

Eating disorders affect millions of Americans every year.

Not only are they painful and disruptive to productive lives, they are very difficult to overcome, especially without professional help.

But part of what makes eating disorders so challenging they are to define, especially when they are just beginning. They are on a continuum and the early symptoms are usually intermittent. It is very confusing to really understand when the disorder cross the line into something more serious.

Here are some tips to guide you in knowing when to reach out to professional help:

Unintentional:

First of all, no one who develops an eating disorder really intends to do so. At some point, there is a psychological shift that causes us to use these behaviors to manage food and to deal with stress. We often do not fully realize the impact of our behavior until we are fully involved in the eating disorder.

Progressive Slide Down:

It is usually a progressive disorder and most of us back into them using the behaviors occasionally at first. Once it becomes a habit, the slide downhill into a full blown eating disorder is difficult to stop.

Planning My Life Around Food

Since eating disorders are so addictive, they often begin to interfere with our planning of food, time, and even our social interactions. Our lives and our schedules are often built around food, and they begin to change their lifestyle to center around the eating disorder.

Justified Reasons:

Those of us who develop eating disorders are great at creating justification for our maladaptive habits, and we find it difficult to think of ourselves as unreasonable. After all, everyone says we look great! We excuse and permit ourselves to return to these behaviors repeatedly, reinforcing their presence in our lives.

Emotional Seesaw:

Many of us with eating disorders vacillate between self loathing and denial. Our emotions shift back and forth as our devotion to the eating disorder increases. Depression may become a part of our daily life as we descend into the world of the eating disorder.

Eating disorders are very serious conditions, and they can even be lethal. If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)

The work of Dr Christopher Fairburn

How Eating Disorders Begin - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how eating disorders begin and what you should watch out for - click here.

Eating disorders are a tenacious mental health disorder that can be highly lethal if left unaddressed.

The disorder usually begins in adolescence and can last a lifetime. Current researchers recognize that the earlier the eating disorder develops, the more serious and stubborn the condition.

Society’s Message of Perfection:

One of the chief reasons that eating disorders persist is that our society continues to value being thin as a desirable characteristic, for women especially. Others who view the decreased weight as a sign of self-discipline or ambition tend to reward very thin people, often unintentionally. When the social environment is so reinforcing, the young man or woman learns to focus on external approval of appearance rather than creating a more mature, internally derived sense of self.

At a Young Age:

Another reason that eating disorders persist is that they often occur at such a young age. According to authors, Dr. James Lock and Dr. Daniel Le Grange, most cases of anorexia begin between the ages of 13 and 14 but can occur as young as 8 years old. The authors emphasize that the eating disorder usually begins casually with dieting. The progressive elimination of foods leads to pronounced weight loss and social approval, which reinforces the potentially malignant eating habits. Once firmly entrenched, the eating disorder can begin to disrupt a young person’s life with stress. Over the years, it will come and go at times of peak anxiety and challenge.

Thin Equals Power:

Tragically, weight becomes a scorecard of adequacy and many women equate being excessively thin with being in control and powerful in their own lives. The eating disorder is likely to linger into young adulthood especially if there has not been a strategic intervention by parents and psychologists. During this pivotal time, stressors that should be handled with healthy coping skills are dealt with through weight and rigid eating habits. Young men and women do not learn the coping skills required for handling food competently and for living a mature life. Instead, they are defeating stress and adversity through the eating disorder. Developmentally, they are not progressing as their same age peers and may continue to act out with food for years.

Older Women Also Affected:

Eating disorders are not only an affliction of the young. Current estimates of eating disorders in older women indicate that it is on the rise with up to 13% of older women reporting an eating disorder. The International Journal of Eating Disorders reports that 13% of women ages 50 and older stuggle with the problem and that the eating disorder may be a new phenomenon in older women. According to the author, Dr. Cindy Bulik, 79% of the women polled reported that their shape and weight affected how they viewed themselves.

Eating disorders are very serious conditions, and they can even be lethal. If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)

The work of Dr Christopher Fairburn

What Is An Eating Disorder? - By Chris Gearing

Monday, February 18, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing explain what eating disorders are and when you should get professional help - click here.

Eating disorders affect millions of people every year.

They happen to people across all socioeconomic levels, all ages, to both genders, and they can vary in intensity and duration. Fundamental to all eating disorders is the presence of unhealthy eating habits that are disruptive to a person’s health.

Eating disorders take over peoples’ lives and become central to how they define themselves. They’re often difficult to detect since they start with small changes that become large problems, and they are usually well hidden – particularly when they start. The chief reason that eating disorders begin and flourish is heavy doses of denial. They come out of nowhere and can become very serious, very quickly.

From my clinical practice, I’ve learned that patients develop their eating issues for a variety of reasons including the following:

Trauma Disorders:

Eating disorders can be triggered by a trauma like the loss of a loved one, the loss of a stable life style (like the divorce of parents or the loss of income), or an event or series of events that threatened their safety or even their lives.

Perfectionism:

The psychological need to be perfect can be overwhelming. These individuals are excessively dependent on the opinions and the approval of others. In their own minds, they are only as good as their last success.

In Control:

Some people have a relentless need to be admired and an entitlement to being the center of attention. Controlling their weight is a method of controlling others.

Affective Disorder:

In some cases, affective disorders like depression and anxiety are the basis of the eating disorder. An underlying depression can cause abnormalities in many areas of life including eating and self-regulation.

Family System:

Certain families emphasize performance and weight can become a central focus, especially in females. Issues of adequacy emerge and the eating disorder becomes a defining way to control anxiety.

Eating disorders are very serious conditions, and they can even be lethal. If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)

The work of Dr Christopher Fairburn

Courageous TV Anchor Responds To Bullying - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discusses the courageous response from a TV anchor to her bully - click here.

Why would someone write an email like this?

This is a classic example of workplace bullying. This man was shaming, disrespectful, and embarrassing to this woman. His comments emphasized the imbalance of power—he could reprimand her from a distance without direct response. I doubt if he ever dreamed that she would respond live on the air.

This is the pattern that we see in online bullying. Bullies feel like there are no consequences. I can slam you and lie about you without any consequence for me. In a fair fight, the victim gets a chance to respond, but this man chose to humiliate her anonymously over nothing except his own prejudice.

What about her response?

It was a masterful, eloquent statement that directly discredited his attack. She pointed out what all women know—we come in all shapes and sizes and they are not only acceptable but beautiful. She did the right thing by speaking up since silence perpetuates injustice. Injustice then builds helplessness, and this anchor was by no means helpless. She used the very tools of her own professional success—her verbal agility, on air presence and organizational skills—to make this man look ridiculous. A great lesson for children in America.

Why was she targeted?

We live in an epidemic of eating disorders. Around 40% of college aged women engage in some sort of eating disorder behavior. Being thin is sadly linked with being powerful or attractive, and this myth has gathered momentum over the decades. Appearance is still too defining of our worth as women. But change starts with us. Women need to refuse to buy into silly prescriptions of who we are and how we should look.

Is this kind of bullying increasing or are we just more aware of this kind of harassment?

I think both statements are true—bullying is increasing AND we are more aware. With the infiltration of technology and social media into our lives, we all go online to express our opinions and to share with the community. However, such access to others can turn ugly, as we see in this case. A shot at another person, especially a woman with notoriety and power, is easier to do than ever.

Remember that bullying flourishes in an environment of anonymity. This man hoped that she would internalize what he said and feel badly about herself. He tried to offload his own prejudices onto her and she refused to take it. Good for her and good for all of us!

A generation ago, we lived in a society that was more accountable. There was a community that reinforced that accountability. Now with the Internet, you can be savage without your community really knowing how poorly you behaved.

What can women do to support her?

Please support women who choose to stand up and speak out about this kind of prejudice. Refuse to be a victim of others who tell you how you should look. Remember that there is nothing more beautiful in this world than a woman who knows who she is and refuses to be silent about her gifts.

SOURCES:

www.APA.org

Are Teenage Girls Getting More Violent? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss why teenage girls are becoming more violent - click here.

How To Catch A Liar, Part 5 - By Chris Gearing

Friday, May 25, 2012

Here are three more tips to help you tell whether someone is lying or not:

1.) Liars’ voices tend to soften and get very quiet as they continue to tell their story. They are trying to hide their shame for the lie behind the story and are usually trying to make themselves feel better while lying. The falsely accused are usually frustrated angry about being interrogated when they are telling the truth!

2.) Watch for subtle body movements – they are usually telling the real story. A slight shoulder shrug usually indicates a lie like you would shrug if someone asked you a question you didn’t know the answer to. If the liar is smiling while telling you something that is sad or upsetting, they are trying to mask their own discomfort with a smile. Liars also sometimes indicate their true feelings with their heads – for instance, if someone is telling you that they agree with you but they are actually shaking their head.

3.) A smile can be very informative if you suspect someone is lying. Always watch to see if the liar is suppressing a smile – it could be indicative of what Dr Paul Ekman calls “duping delight” or the rush or joy that liars feel when their lies are believed and accepted.

SOURCE:

The Work of Dr. Paul Ekman

Men’s Health, March 2012

How To Catch A Liar, Part 4 - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Most of us think that there are skilled liars and not-so-skilled liars, but professional lie catchers have many methods to detect a lie from almost anyone. Here are three more tips to help you tell whether someone is lying or not:

1.) Liars rehearse their stories before they have to say them. They are usually so locked into their story that any distraction can reveal the truth. While they are telling you what happened, try interjecting with “Why should I believe you?” Liars will usually calmly pick up the story where they left off whereas truth tellers will usually get angry and say “Because I’m telling the truth!”

2.) Another way to check on whether a story is true or false is to have them tell you the events backwards. Most liars rehearse they lies from beginning to end, but they have a much harder time telling the story in reverse.

3.) A final clue to whether someone is lying to you or not is how much body movement they are displaying. Like I mentioned before, liars are usually so locked into telling their story that they don’t act normally. Most of us use gestures or we act things out with our hands when we are telling a story – what Dr Paul Ekman calls “illustrators”. If someone is completely still for the duration of their story – they may be lying to you.

SOURCE:

Men’s Health, March 2012

The Work of Dr. Paul Ekman

Does Attachment Parenting Go Too Far? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, May 11, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia on CBS 11 discuss the new TIME Magazine cover about Attachment Parenting and whether or not it goes too far - click here.

Valentine's Day Surprises: Love Gone Bad - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss how Valentine's Day could actually be the end of your relationship - click here.

According to a recent report, filings for divorce increase by up to 40% around Valentine’s Day. Why would partners think about calling it quits around the biggest romance holiday of the year?

The bill comes due on Valentine’s because many of us begin to think a little harder about our relationships—what we do have compared to what we wish we had in the relationship. As we consider those differences, that’s when trouble often begins.

To make matters worse, it often seems like everyone else has it better—flowers are being delivered, reservations are being made, and we are alone in what now looks to us like a loveless relationship. If your relationship is already in a rough patch, then you are more likely to focus on this day as a last ditch effort to pull it out of the fire. He either “gets it” or he doesn’t and many of us make large decisions based on what happens around this holiday.

In addition, people like to have simple stories or narratives to explain relationship endings. Valentine’s Day can be a perfect example of the serious failures in the relationship. Often what did happen—or didn’t—is played out in the social network of each partner.

So what happens when people talk about breaking up?

Certain conversations can redefine the relationship. Often times, people will fight and say things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment. However, even talking about breaking up can leave a permanent mark. It can actually be traumatizing for one or both of you.

When you talk about breaking up, you are rehearsing the death of the relationship. While your partner may move past the moment and forgive what you said, he will always remember your threat to leave even if you didn’t actually walk out the door. The bottom line is if say anything about breaking up, you need to be very sure that it is something you are serious about. You can’t take back the words once they are said.

So what are the basic questions you should ask yourself if you are considering breaking up?

Have you exerted every effort to repair the relationship? Have you talked to friends and family? Have you worked with a psychologist? This self inventory includes taking a hard look at what you may have done to your partner. Don’t sweep past that point since many of us don’t realize how we also have failed in the relationship.

Is your marital misery insurmountable? Are you really able to live without him forever and will you be less miserable as a single person?

Do you believe that your partner is incapable of being your ultimate partner? Have you lost your belief in the relationship but most of all in her basic personality fitting with yours?

Are you making an emotional decision? Are you so angry or so disillusioned that you are inaccurate about the potential of the relationship? Remain balanced and look at some of the positives that exist even if negatives are pronounced.

Are you making a decision using both your rational mind and your emotional mind? Research shows that the best decisions are made using both parts of your mind to weigh the pros and cons.

Are you ready for the aftermath of the divorce or break up? All the financial, logistical and social consequences? Are you willing to share your children on the weekends and holidays? Are you willing to win your freedom by making vast changes in your life? Make sure that the consequences are worth it.

Emotional Detachment: How emotionally detached have you become? Do you fundamentally not care anymore and do you define yourself as separate and on your own? Research shows that emotional detachment is the number one predictor of divorce.

But don’t you worry – there is hope if you are thinking of breaking up around Valentine’s Day.

I believe almost any relationship is fixable if the following factors are present:

First, Early Warning: You have the best shot at fixing your relationship if you catch serious problems early and address them head on. Most people wait an average of six years before they seek help for a struggling marriage. By the time they make it into the counselor's office, one or both partners has already left the relationship either physically or emotionally.

Accountability Is Key: Remain personally accountable even if the truth is painful. Relationships are our greatest teachers because our greatest faults are always in play. If you have difficult parts of your personality, don’t blame your relationship for your own personal problems. Face the challenges and overcome them with the help of your partner.

Meet In The Middle: Problems have solutions if both parties can compromise and commit to working as a team. You won’t always get your own way, but you can strike a balance between the needs of both parties if both of you will give a little bit.

Never Give Up: Resilient couples push through even when things get tough. If you truly love your partner, remain committed to them and keep trying to get your relationship back on track.

Sources:

Avvo.com

Huffington Post

The Work of Dr John Gottman

The Cuddling Connection - By Chris Gearing

Monday, January 30, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing share how cuddling is important to both men and women in relationships - click here.

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, millions of Americans will be snuggling up with their partners in front of the fire. We all know that cuddling is important in any relationship to build intimacy between partners, but most people think that men are just putting up with what their women want.

However, new research has found that frequent kissing and cuddling were found to have the largest effects on how men felt about their relationship! Men were happier with their partner when they had more cuddle time. In fact, they may even crave more non-sexual contact than women! But don’t think women aren’t happy with cuddle time – it was found to have a large effect on their ratings of sexual and relationship satisfaction.

So go ahead and snuggle up in front of the fire. It should make your nights a little brighter.

Source:

Men’s Health Nov 2011 edition


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