Conversion therapy or restorative therapies are, ethically and intrinsically, wrong when trying to change an individual’s sexual preference based on homophobia and extreme religious beliefs. These types of treatment have been a source of controversy in the United States and other countries. The American Psychiatric Association has condemned “psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per-se is a mental disorder thus the need to revert the “disease” by changing your sexual preference.The issue is more serious when it comes to youth since they do no have the legal right to oppose their parents’ decisions. Well, for now a victory!
Samantha Ames, Esq. Staff Attorney & Born Perfect Campaign Coordinator for NCLR just announced, moments ago, the District of Columbia Council unanimously approved a bill that will protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy. When signed into law, Washington, D.C. will become the third jurisdiction—behind California and New Jersey—to pass legislation protecting LGBT youth from ineffective and harmful practices designed to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. Counsel Ames, explains “… today, the Council sent a powerful message to LGBT youth and their families that they are accepted, supported, and loved. It has used its power to protect the most vulnerable from a dangerous pseudoscience that tells them that who they are is wrong, and reaffirmed the consensus of every major medical and mental health organization in the country that all children are born perfect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Earlier this year, NCLR launched the Born Perfect campaign to end conversion therapy across the country over the next five years by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms to ensure the safety of LGBT youth, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous and discredited practices Their site explains that in the past” …In the past, some mental health professionals resorted to extreme measures such as institutionalization, castration, and electro-convulsive shock therapy to try to stop people from being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Today, while some counselors still use physical treatments like aversive conditioning, the techniques most commonly used include a variety of behavioral, cognitive, psychoanalytic, and other practices that try to change or reduce same-sex attraction or alter a person’s gender identity…” Learn More about the Born Perfect Campaign.
We have written about people dying of depression, which can be an ultimate fact for those who shut down and decided to go on a suicidal path, for those, that is the end. However for others, who go with untreated depression, death perhaps is not an option but a less than pleasant and meaningful life is. Having the blues or being sad after an important loss in your life, it is not depression but a normal and healthy response to events in life but when the blues become more purple than blue (so-to-speak), we are perhaps looking at a different situation.
Many myths regarding depression revolve around being stronger, like getting a grip on the particular situation one faces, or working harder to “get it out of your head…”or believing the prolonged sadness is just normal and not perhaps an illness; even thinking it is only one’s self-pity instead of a treatable condition add insult to an already deep and painful injury.
Sometimes, we are worry that treating the depression will mean being labeled as a mental patient, being on drugs forever, and seeing a therapist several times per week. Despite what the best seller “Prozac Nation” depicts (although some passages are right) about medication is only one of the tools used to lift depression. And looking for help does not mean you will be on psychotropic drugs forever. In fact, studies suggest that psychotherapy in any of its modalities (talking therapy, drama therapy, expressive arts, cognitive behavioral, deep brief oriented or others) work as well as prescription drugs to treat depression. Moreover, even if you are prescribed some drugs, chances are that it will not be a lifetime solution.
Feeling sad, hopeless, and helpless, is true, does not help to lift the by now purple instead of blues but do not fool yourself, the hopelessness is part of the illness, not a part of daily life and for sure not an unchangeable reality. When treated, positive thinking gradually replaces negative thoughts. In fact, most people (up-to 70% as by the National Institute of Mental Health) who seek for help to deal with their depression become symptom-free by combining medication and psychotherapy.
The bottom line is that if you have been feeling down and/or sad for what it seems to be too long, you should seek for help. Trying to diagnose yourself or going through the list of symptoms after a goggle search can confirm your suspicion but can mislead you as well. A reliable source on how to seek for help can be found on the WebMD or Psychology Today.
Whatever you do, remember you do not need to lose your mojo, being purple all the time, or miss out on all the fun and meaning of your life.
Still after few days, the news about Robin Williams’ apparent suicide shocked me beyond what I expected my own reactions to this phenomenon would be. Few months ago, Philip Seymour Hoffman saddened me when dying of a drug overdose yet another consumed suicide. What has become apparent to me after these events is how much depression is underestimated by the general public and even by professionals and how, sometimes, it’s plays down as a personality fault, like not trying hard, being lazy.
How many times had we said to somebody who expresses feeling depressed…”comm’on …try it this or that…eventually it is about trying and you will be out of it…’ Well, the true facts show us that sometimes like in Williams; case or even Hoffman’s one, it is not that simple.The suffering created by mental illness is misunderstood by some people and the lack of empathy and support can be lethal for those affected by it.Millions of U.S. adults struggle with depression. Often, medication and psychotherapy help their moods and outlook. That said there is an optimal time to deal with the issue and a far-gone time when all hopes are over. Then we need to try to act upon the right timing and provide the help the person is looking for. Yet when depression kills, who is to blame, then? Is it the system, the therapist, the lack of willingness to work on the issues from the patients’ perspective, the despondence after trying tons of times?
Let’s face it, there is not a one size fits all answer and it is difficult to blame only one factor on why depression turn deadly for some and others seem to overcome it. Although they can be many factors affecting how bad depression can go like chronic mental illness, physical illness, untreated depression, feelings of hopelessness and emptiness, depression can be conquered. We need to continue talking about it and being alert and attentive to the signs of profound depression among us to support people affected by and encourage them to seek help.
Not all therapists are the same but if you are ready to do the “work”, therapy and the right therapist will help tremendously. Treatment works when done right. Medications help but alone it is just a palliative intervention and without diving into the deep waters of your mental issues, you are just masking the real reasons for your hopelessness. Look for someone who is a licensed therapist, with expertise in the area in which you are seeking help and combine it with supportive medication and be ready to walk through the dark night of the soul with the conviction that there is alight at the end of the tunnel.
Lord Buddha had already said 2,500 years ago that life is full of unpleasant moments and experiences and that there is pain in the world and it is unavoidable.
“Each life is filled with 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows.” But suffering, he said, is the response, “the relationship” we maintain, to the pain. He stated that one could experience pain without experiencing suffering. Even physical pain seems to reduce if we don’t resist it. Thus, there is hope, if we change the way we approach our suffering, we change the results of it. One valuable resource is mindfulness practice, used these days to work with pain, people with dementia, ADD, an other conditions and it teach us to breath and being in the moment, which, can help with the feelings of despondency and depressive thoughts. The breath calms the body and calms the mind. Mindfulness is about being aware of all this. It’s about stepping back and taking a different view of things, as the observer, rather than the participant. Of course, easier said than done and yet, we should have hope and seek professional help.
Diving into the deep sea of your issues is not comfortable or easy but very rewarding once you close some of the unfinished business that originate your current issues while gaining awareness of how your life became what is today. Yes, we are the product of the past but gaining that awareness here and now, helps us take the reins of our lives and make the changes we need to make to keep going in a different path from now on. Appreciate the opportunity to immerse yourself in anew path, one of change and hope. Start anew!
Accepting we clinicians are not as mighty power as we , sometimes, want to believe, and as much of a blow to our egos, it can be, there is a fact we need to recognize as such: human resilience and people’s self-healing powers count for positive outcomes after traumas and strenuous circumstances, equally effectively or more than proven therapeutic approaches.
A very respected and renowned colleague of mine, Dr. Arthur Bohart always reminded me and anybody who wanted to listen to his revolutionary opinions in regards to the effectiveness of some therapeutic approaches or the best personality traits for a successful clinician, that human beings are more resilient that what we want to account for and that the theory of some approaches being more effective than others are more of a myth than a fact since for Dr. Bohart” the “client acts as a self-healer” and human resilience counts for more of the positive outcomes in therapy. So, what is the clinician’s role? In a way, we therapists are a catalyst or better said a witness to the self-healing process. A guide to educate and share the process with the client. In an article published in the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2000, he describes the dominant “medical” or “treatment” model of psychotherapy and how it puts the client in the position of a “dependent variable” who is operated on by supposedly potent therapeutic techniques. Next I argue that the data do not fit with this model. An alternative model is that the client is the most important common factor and that it is clients’ self-healing capacities which make therapy work…” Read his article
The same concept works with the forgotten population, the older adults and elders. Resilience and aging: it’s a favorite theme of gero-psychiatrist Helen Lavretsy, MD, MS. It’s the subject of her new book, Resilience and Aging: Research and Practice and the theme of a symposium at the APA Annual Meeting in New York City. In a recent podcast, she talks briefly about interventions that can help bolster resilience and help older people recover quickly from adversity. Listen to her podcast
Resilience and aging: it’s a favorite theme of geropsychiatrist Helen Lavretsy, MD, MS. It’s the subject of her new book, Resilience and Aging: Research and Practice and the theme of a symposium at the APA Annual Meeting in New York City.Here, she talks briefly about interventions that can help bolster resilience and help older people recover quickly from adversity. – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/apa2014/strategies-bolstering-resilience-older-adults#sthash.LuOVSHfT.dpuf
Resilience and aging: it’s a favorite theme of geropsychiatrist Helen Lavretsy, MD, MS. It’s the subject of her new book, Resilience and Aging: Research and Practice and the theme of a symposium at the APA Annual Meeting in New York City.Here, she talks briefly about interventions that can help bolster resilience and help older people recover quickly from adversity. – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/apa2014/strategies-bolstering-resilience-older-adults#sthash.IleQ1IGr.dpuf
These days, we all are under steady pressure, stress, and with constant stimuli, anxiety really has gone “viral”. Anxiety can cause physical symptoms like a fast heartbeat and sweaty hands. It can make us limit our activities and can make it hard to enjoy our life and have meaningful and close personal relationships.
Anxiety is having too much fear and worry. Some people have what’s called generalized anxiety disorder. They feel worried and stressed about many things. Often they worry about even small things and it is s much more than being very nervous or edgy. An anxious person will report an unreasonable exaggeration of threats, repetitive negative thinking, hyper-arousal, and a strong identification with fear. The fight-or-flight response kicks into overdrive.
Although Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is widely used to treat anxiety and anxiety disorders by changing our thoughts and cognitive patterns, many specialists have found that healthy thinking and mindfulness can help us prevent or control anxiety. CBT attempts to replace maladaptive thinking by examining the patient’s distorted thinking and resetting the fight-or-flight response with more reasonable, accurate ones. The anxious person and the therapist work to actively change thought patterns. In contrast, instead of changing thoughts, mindfulness-based therapies (MBTs) seek to change the relationship between the anxious person and his or her thoughts. (Read More)
In mindfulness-based therapy, the person focuses on the bodily sensations that arise when he or she is anxious. Instead of avoiding or withdrawing from these feelings, he or she remains present and fully experiences the symptoms of anxiety. Instead of avoiding distressing thoughts, he or she opens up to them in an effort to realize and acknowledge that they are not literally true. Mindfulness involves paying attention “on purpose” and involves a conscious direction of our awareness. It seems that awareness and mindfulness go hand-to-hand but Wildmind differentiates them”…We sometimes … talk about “mindfulness” and “awareness” as if they were interchangeable terms, but that’s not a good habit to get into…one may be aware one is irritable, but that wouldn’t mean one was being mindful of my irritability. In order to be mindful one has to be purposefully aware of oneself, not just vaguely and habitually aware. Knowing that one is eating is not the same as eating mindfully…”
Margaria Tartakovsky, M.S says about mindfulness practice “…Mindfulness is one effective practice that helps to relax the mind and body…” according to Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., and Wendy Millstine, NC, in their book Daily Meditations for Calming Your Anxious Mind, mindfulness is: … an awareness that is sensitive, open, kind, gentle and curious. Mindfulness is a basic human capacity. It arises from paying attention on purpose in a way that is non-judging, friendly and does not try to add or subtract anything from whatever is happening. Ms. Tartakovsky had summarized 3 practices to calm your anxiety from Brantley and Millstine’s book.
UCLA research center in mindfulness defines mindfulness as “… paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. It is an excellent antidote to the stresses of modern times. It invites us to stop, breathe, observe, and connect with one’s inner experience …” The UCLA research center in mindfulness is full of resources and information, as well. (Visit them)
Use all this information and resources and start today and stop the worrying that interferes with your daily life, remember chronic worrying is a mental habit that can be broken. You can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more positive perspective. If needed talk to your physician or look for psychotherapy to help you out. Good luck and stay cool!
Understanding Fear: What Are Phobias and How Common Are They?
Phobia: From the Greek: φόβος, Phóbos, meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”
Phobias: a persistent (and often irrational) fear of an object or situation.
Greek physician Hippocrates (470-410 B.C.E.) first described phobias; 500 years after Hippocrates, Roman doctor, Celsus used the word hydrophobia for a patient who feared water.
NOW: 400 different types of phobias recognized by the medical profession.
Top 10 Phobias: Percent of US Population
1 Fear of public speaking – Glossophobia 74 %
2 Fear of death – Necrophobia 68 %
3 Fear of spiders – Arachnophobia 30.5 %
4 Fear of darkness – Achluophobia, Scotophobia or Myctophobia 11 %
5 Fear of heights – Acrophobia 10 %
6 Fear of people or social situations – Sociophobia 7.9 %
7 Fear of flying – Aerophobia 6.5 %
8 Fear of confined spaces – Claustrophobia 2.5 %
9 Fear of open spaces – Agoraphobia 2.2 %
10 Fear of thunder and lightning – Brontophobia 2 %
3 Categories of Phobias
Persistent fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation. (examples: Spiders, Flying, Water, Heights, or contracting a specific illness)
Typical age of onset: 7
Affects: 19.2 million American adults age 18 and over.
Fear and Worry Statistics
Percent of things feared that will never take place 60 %
Percent of things feared that happened in the past and can’t be changed 30 %
Percent of things feared that are considered to be insignificant issues 90 %
Percent of things feared in relation to health that will not happen 88 %
AKA Social Anxiety Disorder: a persistent fear of being judged, watched and criticized by others, or of public situations leading to embarrassment or humiliation.
Typical age of onset: 13
Affects: 15 million American adults age 18 and over.
The lifetime prevalence rate for developing social anxiety disorder is between 13 and 14 percent.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
People suffering from social anxiety disorder can experience significant emotional distress in the following situations:
• Being introduced to new people
• Being in large groups of people
• Being teased or criticized
• Being the center of attention
• Being watched while doing something
• Meeting authority figures
• Most social encounters, especially with strangers
• Going around the room, or table, in a circle and having to say something
• Eating or drinking in front of others
• Writing or working in front of others
• Being the center of attention. Interacting with people, including dating or going to parties
• Asking questions or giving reports in groups
• Using public toilets
• Talking on the telephone
The physiological symptoms that can accompany social anxiety may include:
• Constant and intense anxiety
• Intense fear
• Racing heart
• Turning red or blushing
• Excessive sweating
• Dry throat and mouth
• Swallowing with difficulty
• Muscle twitches
• Panic attack
Agoraphobia: intense fear and anxiety of any place or situation where escape might be difficult, leading to avoidance of such situations. (example: Traveling in a car, bus, airplane, elevator, or being in a crowded area)
Typical age of onset: 20
Affects: 1.8 million American adults age 18 and over.
Diagnostic criteria for agoraphobia include a severe fear or anxiety about two or more of the following situations:
• Using public transportation, such as a bus, plane or car
• Being in an open space, such as a parking lot, bridge or large mall
• Being in an enclosed space, such as a movie theater, meeting room or small store
• Waiting in a line or being in a crowd
• Being out of the home alone
Scarlett Johansson: Ornithophobia – The fear of birds.
Orlando Bloom: Swinophobia – The fear of pigs.
Megan Fox: Bacteriaphobia – The fear of germs and bacteria.
Billy Bob Thornton: Chromophobia – The Fear of bright colors.
Madonna: Astraphobia – The fear of thunder and lightning.
Oprah Winfrey: Chiclephobia – The fear of chewing-gum.
Nicole Kidman: Lepidopterophobia – The fear of butterflies.
Phobias You May Not Have Heard Of
Anablephobia- Fear of looking up
Anuptaphobia- Fear of staying single.
Bibliophobia- Fear of books.
Cathisophobia- Fear of sitting
Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers.
Genuphobia- Fear of knees
Hellenologophobia- Fear of Greek terms or complex scientific terminology.
Helminthophobia- Fear of being infested with worms
Logizomechanophobia- Fear of computers.
Meningitophobia- Fear of brain disease.
Omphalophobia- Fear of belly buttons.
Phobophobia- Fear of phobias or fear. Source: http://www.bestmastersincounseling.com/fear-phobias
When you read the statistics on the mental health phenomena, they will tell you that mental health is extremely prevalent in the adult population. An estimated 44.3 million American adults experience a diagnosable mental disorder each year. Approximately 18.8 million adults have a depressive disorder and over 19 million adults suffer from anxiety disorders. Millions of other people are dealing with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, substance abuse and other mental health problems. Mental illnesses can cause a person to have major difficulty functioning at their job, as a parent and in all areas of their lives. It is imperative for adults to be aware of their mental health and the mental health of their loved ones.
From these numbers, it seems like having a mental illness is an issue that everybody portraits, a norm, thus if it is so common, what that really means? perhaps that the abnormal is becoming normal? That the system is screwing us all? or that the paradigm should shift from diagnosing to preventing, re-vamping? Healing? Is it as the allergies in California, something you develop sooner or later once you have landed here? Is it, really, that prevalent or we are misusing and/or abusing diagnoses?
When abusing or misusing diagnoses we are increasing the stigma that is already linked to mental illness. There is the sense of general stigma from being different, weaker, suffering from depression, being a loser, having low self-esteem, ADD, not completing tasks, having anxiety or panic attacks, or to that matter any mental disorder found in the voluminous DSM V.
Once diagnosed or complaining about having a mental “issue”, well intentioned people would look at you and say things, like: I too have been sad but if you work hard, you’ll get out of it…well sometimes, you do not; or they will suggest you just try to lead a healthy and balance life, find your purpose, your meaning in life, follow your passion…Really? Some people cannot even get up and go, none the less find a passion to keep going. The stigma and the paralysis to act hits you really hard.
Having mental illness depicted in a negative side and represented in the media inaccurately and giving hurtful representations of its causes and consequences increase the stigma and discourage people suffering to seek help. NAMI StigmaBusters is a network of dedicated advocates across the country and around the world that seek to fight misleading representations of mental illness. Whether these images are found in TV, film, print, or other media, StigmaBusters speak out and challenge stereotypes. They seek to educate society about the reality of mental illness and the courageous struggles faced by consumers and families every day. Their goal is to break down the barriers of ignorance, prejudice, or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding, and respect.Each month, close to 20,000 advocates receive a NAMI StigmaBusters Alert, and it is read by countless others around the world online.
In a candid tale of her own depression, Dr. Elizabeth J. Griffin, MD, a pediatrician tells of her 40-year battle with severe depression, and the stigmatization she fell under. She says “Depression is overwhelming and overpowering, and it crushes its prey…’ Severely depressed persons grow convinced beyond any doubt whatsoever that our families would be better off if we were dead. We believe that only by suicide can we help them salvage whatever remnants of their lives we have not already destroyed, even if we actually have done nothing that would hurt them or anyone else….’ I believed that everyone felt and thought this way to some extent. I once explained some of this to one friend, a compassionate and extremely intelligent physician. He looked at me in amazement and said, “You do know, don’t you, how completely foreign everything you just said is to me?” In fact, learning just that was a real eye-opener for me, “a light-bulb moment.” Read her story Dr. Griffin has very interesting points to guide people in the process of “how to talk about depression:
“…People with depression need someone to speak up when we cannot, especially to explain our illness to our loved ones. Most of us are too frightened and ashamed to talk about it. Unless we learn how to be open about depression, the stigma will remain, and people who need treatment will continue to avoid seeking it.
If you have depression, tell someone you can trust and seek professional help. It is available—and it can help. Depression does not have to last forever; you really can get better with time and treatment…’
If someone you care about is depressed, tell him you do care, that you love him, and that you want to understand and help. Tell her how important she is to you and what you admire about her. Tell him you want him and need him in your life, and that things will get better. Ask her to hang on until they do. Beg him to promise that he won’t do anything to hurt himself, that he will not commit suicide…’
You may save the life of someone you love….”
As mental health providers, we are supposed to be the catalysts of personal growth, soul search, and redemption, we should never give up, labeling, or cast out people who are going through the dark night of the soul, redeeming one person is redeeming the world. Actually, this represents the traditional Jewish principle of Tikkun Olam that is the precept of the Jewish ethical principle that every person is worth saving. The Jewish path of walking through life, is a path of healing. Tikkun olam, the repair of the world, is a macrocosm of the tikkun atzmi, the inner process of healing. Healing, by definition, is the attempt to bring balance to both the inner and external healing processes and that, instead of labeling and pathologizing our clients, should be the role of the clinician. But more about Tikkun Olam in my next post. For now, let’s be a container for those who suffer from depression without judgement or biases, but with the right intervention, a listening ear, and a compassionate heart.
How to talk about depression
o People with depression need someone to speak up when we cannot, especially to explain our illness to our loved ones. Most of us are too frightened and ashamed to talk about it. Unless we learn how to be open about depression, the stigma will remain, and people who need treatment will continue to avoid seeking it.
o If you have depression, tell someone you can trust and seek professional help. It is available—and it can help. Depression does not have to last forever; you really can get better with time and treatment.
o If someone you care about is depressed, tell him you do care, that you love him, and that you want to understand and help. Tell her how important she is to you and what you admire about her. Tell him you want him and need him in your life, and that things will get better. Ask her to hang on until they do. Beg him to promise that he won’t do anything to hurt himself, that he will not commit suicide.
You may save the life of someone you love.
– See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/suicide/what-depression-does-our-minds-when-it-attacks/page/0/2?GUID=&rememberme=1&ts=22072014#sthash.buAhOPkF.dpuf