Doris Bersing, PhD
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Depression Kills

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Free Wallpapers by Karl

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!


Time To Heal: What Psychotherapy to Use?

Psychotherpay: Finding Nemo!

Copyright Teerayut Yukuntapornpong

Many patients or clients often ask what is the difference between different approaches of psychotherapy and although much has been written about, there’s no simple answer. Just as people respond differently to different drugs, you might do better with one type of therapy than with another. Many people find that a blended approach — one that draws on elements of different schools of psychotherapy — suits them best. There are many forms of psychotherapy, but some of the most popular forms are psycho-dynamic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, humanistic, and couples therapy, which in reality can be based on any other theoretical approach but emphasizing systems oriented therapy.

Although embracing a particular approach of psychotherapy, as a clinician, has to do with your philosophical values and your concepts of health and human potential, knowledge of what can work better or not with your clients is needed. Remember it is not about what you want or like but what could be more efficient and meaningful to your clients.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT helps you identify self-defeating thoughts and start to develop behaviors that are more constructive. And unlike, psycho-dynamic approaches you do not need to explore into issues of the past. CBT is about what happens in your mind, now and how it affects your behavior.

Psychodynamic therapy

In contrast to CBT, which focuses on conscious thoughts, psycho-dynamic therapy emphasizes feelings that are often beneath the surface yet still influence your behavior. The goal: to help you recognize how old, unresolved problems shape the way you operate today. The therapist will guide you to recognize the links between past and present so you can become more self-aware to avoid same patterns or connections. For a comparison between psycho-dynaminc and behavioral therapy click here The Huffingon Post gave it a try as well (Read more)  And my colleague Peter Strisik, Ph.D from Alaska did a more extensive job (Read his take on it). In my own practice, I called myself a humanistic-existential psychotherapist, practicing frequently the tenants of Gestalt Therapy. Of course, at this point, they seem confused and ready to run away from something so esoteric and unpractical. Yes indeed, perhaps the big difference is we do not focus on the past but on what happens in the here and now.

Humanistic therapy

This approach establishes you as the main tool in therapy, your own healer with the potential to achieve your ultimate goals. Human resilience and self-healing are at the core of this approach. The process helps unfold your self-healing potential, stimulates creativity, and promotes personal growth.

A very simplistic way to explain it is that the existential approach in psychotherapy is organized around life on earth itself and the social, cultural and spiritual ramifications of it, that is, the “human condition.” People’s existential issues are related to their mortality and impermanence, their experience of freedom of choice (or lack of it), their sense of worthiness, and their sense of separation/connection with others. We review the contributions of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Bugental, Binswanger, Fromm, Laing, Sullivan, May, Frankl, and Yalom. We identify five themes that pervade existentialism:

  1. Meaning in life is found in the living of each moment;
  2. Passionate commitment to a way of life, to one’s purpose and one’s relationships, is the highest form of expression of one’s humanity;
  3. All human beings have freedom of choice and responsibility for our choices
  4. Openness to experience allows for the greatest possible expansion of personal expression; and
  5. In the ever-present face of death itself, we find the deepest commitment to life itself.

We also address the relationship between experiential psychotherapy, the existential approach, and Heart-Centered therapies. Needless to say that there is not a system that can really explain the complexity to f the human phenomena and of course, there is not a system that alone can give you a quick fix or a cure. The solution is in the phenomenological understanding of the situation and of the human being involved, the comprehensive analysis of the situational elements, and of the comprehensive concept of care -versus cure- that we clinicians take into account to provide the bio-psycho-social-spiritual dimensions of care.

Nonetheless, there is enough research about the patient/client being the best agent of change and the personality of the therapist being more important than the “approach” itself. Interesting, isn’t.

You can always try to do some research when trying to find the right therapist for you but let’s say that is you are ready and the therapist has enough empathy and active listening, compassion, and of course knowledge, you will be safe independently of the “approach” she/he uses.

Good Luck and do it, it is worth it… Go find Nemo!


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