Tag Archives: depression

Lonely Holidays

By Dr. Ken Larsen

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air.”
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray  1751.  

For me this verse struck me with sadness from the very first time I heard it.  As life has unfolded I see evidence of the many unseen flowers trapped in the loneliness of our culture.

We all know those who are lonely, most of us have been there ourselves.  When I’m in that place I find mental health and happiness more elusive.

kid_catI think the holiday season afflicts many of us as we look to the fabricated images of people enjoying the holiday season and then realizing that our own lives don’t often match those fabrications.

I recently had some major surgery and was feeling lonely and a bit sad because of the forced inactivity of recovery.   Then the phone rang.  It was a call from a friend who is a media personality in her part of the world.  What touched me and actually sent a jolt of joy through me is that she took the time to call and tell me she was thinking of me.  This simple act of friendship and kindness changed the color of my day from blue to rosy red.

helpinghands2A call, a note, a smile,  a friendly touch are all very welcome to us when we are feeling unseen and out of touch.  Let’s reach out and brighten the day of someone we know or someone we don’t know to give them the boost they may need to reconnect with their mental health and happiness.

 

Gratitude, the gift you give yourself

Contributed by Denise Daub

How Gratitude Can Benefit Your Physical Health All Year Long

by Lindsay Holmes Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post

canstockphoto2744335Now that we’re officially in the holiday season, generosity and gratitude reign supreme. We’re altruistic because we’re motivated at this time of year to support others who are less fortunate, and we express thanks for those who have extended similar kindness to us.

And honestly, why wouldn’t we want to tap into this sort of holiday spirit? Both generosity and gratitude have an incredible influence on our emotional health. When we practice them, we’re happier, more optimistic and have a lower risk for depression and anxiety. New research also shows that gift giving reflects how we feel about others and could give more insight into how we maintain relationships.

Yet, somehow, we really only concentrate on the benefits when the year winds down. Bah-humbug.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gratitude-benefits-physical-health_56538058e4b0879a5b0c1464?ir=Healthy%2BLiving%253Fncid%253Dnewsltushpmg00000003

Take Your Life Back

26 Ways To Take Your Life Back When You’re Broken

pensivewomanThere’s an old, outdated assumption that time heals all wounds. But I believe this to be untrue. In the words of Dr. Phil, “Time doesn’t change us. It’s what we do with that time that changes us.” We are all more than capable of taking control back into our own hands when life knocks us down. It’s just a matter of doing so deliberately. Of making changes that will move us forward. Of finding a way to progress with purpose, rather than simply letting life knock us around into whoever we will become next. When you’re feeling lost and disheartened with life, here are 26 simple methods of taking your power back.

Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/heidi-priebe/2015/11/26-ways-to-take-your-life-back-when-youre-broken/

Total behavior and Atrial Fibrillation

by Dr. Ken Larsen

Dr. Wm. Glasser taught us about “total behavior”.  His insight that our actions, our thinking, our emotions and our physiology are all interconnected helps us understand ourselves and one another.  Each of the components of this total behavior have an impact on the other parts.  My actions affect my emotions and my physiology, my thinking affects my actions and emotions.  This helps us see that we are one integrated whole and not a separated collection of parts and pieces.  They all work together as we move more closely to deeper mental health and happiness.

Emotions often get our attention, especially when they cause some discomfort.  Depression and anxiety are epidemic in our culture and have victimized far too many of us for far too long.  Our mental health is overshadowed by these emotional states.  Our tendency is to look outside ourselves for the cause of our depression or anxiety.  Sometimes we may need to look inside ourselves for the cause.  Let me tell you what happened to me that brought this message home.

heart

A couple years back I started to experience a very uncomfortable level of anxiety.  It was what is described as “free floating anxiety” without any apparent cause.  I was not facing divorce or foreclosure, my dog hadn’t died—any of these would foster some real anxiety.  What I was feeling didn’t seem to have a focus, but it was very real.  I was tempted to have one of my physician friends Rx some Xanax, but I decided to look elsewhere before asking for the Rx.

I had heard about “HeartMath” and was reading one of the books published by that organization.  I turned to the section on “Anxiety” and I read that sometimes a physiological condition could cause anxiety.  They specifically mentioned cardiac arrhythmia as a possible cause.

I made an app’t with my primary care physician and described the situation, especially the part about an arrhythmia.  He scooted me into the room where they do EKGs and sure enough, the EKG readout clearly pointed to atrial fibrillation.  This is a condition where the upper chambers of the heart are not working as they should.

Once this diagnosis was made, I was given the appropriate treatment and the anxiety slipped away.

I’m not saying I am totally free of anxiety.  If I got a letter from the IRS, I suspect I would get a little uptight.

In our quest to enjoy more mental health and happiness, it is good to be aware that we are whole beings “fearfully and wonderfully made” with an amazing complexity to the way our parts and systems work together.  It’s good to have this in mind if mental health and happiness become a bit elusive.

Tomorrow is another day

Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Have you ever had a problem or upsetting issue that seemed to haunt and invade your every thought? Perhaps your thinking is drawn to the recent upsetting conversation you had during an argument with a loved one and no matter how hard you try to stop this train of thought, you play the conversation over and over and over again in your mind. Or maybe the senses of shock and disbelief from having received sudden and unwelcome news has your going over and over and over all options and possibilities in search of a solution and relief.

It’s like when you have a painful cavity or broken tooth. It seems that out of your control or awareness your tongue keeps going to the spot in your mouth to check; Does it still hurt? Sometimes it feels as though our minds return to the same painful thoughts to check; Does it still hurt?

Please check for other blogs that have been written to help you transform these experiences through searching for the GLO Gift, Lesson, Opportunity from these kinds of life events.

Here’s another idea that you can immediately implement to help you deal with these obsessions. Using this management strategy will help improve your Mental Health & Happiness while you are also dealing with the problem or issue.

waitingwomanSet aside thirty minutes during your day when you will indulge and embrace the upset, sadness, depression, anger, frustration or any other upsetting emotion accompanying your present circumstance. Make this a consistent and regular part of your day. Include any props, music, letters, articles, emails that you want and need to fully engage your emotions associated with your present situation.

Now set the timer for thirty minute and begin. During this thirty minute period do what ever you want and need to do: cry, yell, curse, write, rock, punch a pillow, stay motionless and silent or what ever else you feel moved to do. During this time you are not to worry about what others will think or say. You are alone, accepting, acknowledging and allowing full expression of your unhappiness. If you run out of steam before the thirty minutes is complete, simply sit breathing in and out while thinking about what has upset you. Allow your thinking to continually check in with your mind to see; Does it still hurt? Once your time is up, leave this space and know you will return to this practice tomorrow at the same time.

During the rest of you 23 hours and thirty minutes, when your mind drifts back to the upset, outrage or unhappiness, look at your watch. Have your reached the correct time to embrace this thought? If not, remind yourself that now is not the time for this thinking. You will get back to this thought later today at your designated time.

Give this a try the next time you find yourself feeling out of control and driven by your obsessive thoughts. Remind yourself that it’s okay to think those thoughts, feel those feelings and have your own personal temper tantrum. However, you are going to invite and engage your full range of emotions only during the time you manage and designate. Taking this kind of management and control will help support your Mental Health & Happiness during those unpredictable and upsetting moments in our life’s journey.

 

Overcoming depression, anxiety, suicide ideation and more

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Want to develop, improve and maintain your Mental Health & Happiness? Then you need to effectively follow your psychological instructions every day.

Want to feel less stress, anxiety, sadness, depression, alienation and powerlessness? Then you need to more effectively follow your psychological instructions every day.

Want to stop continually  obsessing over one thought, loss, sadness or failure? Want to stop your never ending internal argument of whether or not to ingest that forbidden substance, whether it be food, drink, or drug? Then you need to more effectively and consistently follow your psychological instructions every day.

sadwomanAre you feeling a complete lack of hope, feeling so despondent that you have been considering ending your life? Maybe you are feeling this right now. Then you need to effectively and consistently follow your psychological instructions right now, especially your instruction to connect in a meaningful and authentic way with one other person.

These are your psychological instructions: the urge to feel safe & secure, to be loving with a sense of belonging and connectedness, to be powerful, to be playful, and to be able to make choices with freedom.

Ask yourself these questions:

Who do you feel closest to in the whole world? Who do you share your hopes, dreams, wishes and sorrows with? If you don’t have at least one person in your life that fits these requirements,  start cultivating that kind of a relationship NOW! Your answer could be a pet, or God, or some other similar answer. That’s okay. However, if you can add a real person that would be even better.

Where do you feel important? What are you doing that you know makes a difference in the world, including just your own immediate world? If you can’t give an answer to this question start doing meaningful work, whether volunteer, paid or family work. We all need to feel as though we are making a difference. Make a contribution and know that your presence adds value not just to your own life but the lives of others.

Where do you feel like you have choices and options? Can’t answer that question? Then start  paying better attention to your world and your life now. You have lots of options and choices, including the choice of reading this blog to the end or doing something different. You have more freedom and choices than you realize. You just need to start noticing and giving thanks for all this freedom and choices. (If Viktor Frankl had choices then so do you.)

When was the last time you laughed so hard your cheeks hurt, tears streamed down your face and your belly got tired? Can’t remember? You my friend are in dire need of more fun and learning in your life. Start doing something, anything to be more playful and joyful. This can include going to a funny movie and watching and hearing others laugh, Laughter is contagious. Find a laughing yoga class near you and attend. Search on YouTube for videos of others laughing and watch long enough until you get tickled too.

Where do you feel safest in your world? This is the place where you seek shelter and comfort when you’re frightened. Don’t have that place? Then create it! If you have to, close your eyes and visualize being in a place from your past or your imaginations where you felt held, comforted and safely in a nest. We all need our own personal refuge.

Now that you have completed this brief needs assessment evaluation, do you have any ideas of what you can do to help develop, improve and maintain your Mental Health & Happiness? Let today be the day you get started.

For better results and greater effectiveness, connect with an accountability buddy. You help your buddy succeed in an area of his choosing, and ask for the help and support you need to succeed in improving your Mental Health & Happiness.

Best Antidepressant Cure

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Did you know that in the early 1800s, Americans turned to the advice of Scottish physician William Buchan for melancholy:

The patient ought to take as much exercise in the open air as he can bear . . . A plan of                this kind, with strict attention to diet is a much more rational method of cure, than                              confining the patient within doors, and playing him with medicines.

Today British medical authorities have rediscovered Buchan’s advice. The National Insitutute for Health and Clinical Excellence decided that antidepressants are not recommended for the initial treatment of mild depressions because the risk-benefit ratio is poor. Instead physicians should try non-drug alternatives and advise patients of all ages with mild depression of the benefits of following a structured and supervised exercise programme. 

That’s right, doctors in the UK may write a prescription for exercise! Andrew McCulloch, executive director of the Mental Health Foundation in London says, “The evidence base for exercise as a treatment for depression is quite good. It also reduces anxiety. It’s good for self-esteem, control of obesity, et cetera. It has a broad spectrum effect.”

In 2000, a study by James Blumenthal at Duke University revealed that it is unwise to combine exercise with drug therapy. He conducted a study with three different groups: exercise, or Zoloft, or exercise and Zoloft. Those treated with exercise alone were doing the best. And given the choice after the study, more people chose exercise alone and continued for a long time afterwards.

Hmmm. Why is this information such a mystery for those of us living in the United States? Are our physicians less well informed? Are our drug companies perpetuating the myth that
depression indicates bad brain chemistry?

canstockphoto2397096

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about finding this answer. All you need to do is follow the advice of getting yourself outside and exercising to improve your Mental Health & Happiness!

*Information for this blog is courtesy of: Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, Robert Whitaker. New York: Broadway Books, 2010, p345.

 

Teenagers and Depression

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Are you checking your teenage girl for depression? Do you know what to do to help instead?

Recently I saw an article that was published on Parenting magazine sharing the symptoms of teenage depression in girls. I’m glad to read it, glad to see it.

sadwoman

What I find disturbing is the lack of articles about what we can to with and for our teenagers to keep them from getting depressed in the first place. Do you know how to develop, improve and maintain good Mental Health & Happiness? I fear too many of us have bought into the notion that mental health is somehow a mysterious brain disturbance or disorder. In fact too often what is natural and normal upset and unhappiness is now understood as mental illness.

There was a time not so many years ago when sadness, upset and unhappiness were the words used to described feelings not depression. Now it is not uncommon to hear someone say I was so depressed that the football game I wanted to watch was blacked out in my area. Feeling disappointed or angry because of such an event is understandable, not depressed.

Choice Theory psychology explains that all emotions are the result of either the match or the mismatch between what a person wants the world to be like and what the world is actually like. When you hope for sunny day and you awaken to a sunny day you feel happy, satisfied and glad. What you want and what you are experiencing is a match. When you hope for an A on your chemistry test and receive an F you feel upset, disappointed or perhaps sad and angry. What you wanted and what you are experiencing are two very different things.

Unfortunately there are too many people believing and being told that the reason for depression has to do with a broken brain or chemical imbalance in the brain. Amazingly there is no evidence to support this claim, despite what the pharmaceutical companies claim. There are plenty of companies making the claim and selling the drugs to correct this imbalance. No one seems to question the next drug put on the market when the first antidepressant is no longer working alone and needs a second drug to boost the first. What happened to the magical drug correction from the first? Isn’t this suspicious? There are also many, many studies conducted by psychiatrists (some independent doctors, some paid by the pharmaceutical company!) resulting in worse outcomes longterm for patients taking these antidepressant and antipsychotic medications.

No one says that being a teenager is easy. It is probably the most challenging developmental period of childhood, and for some of their entire lifetime. There are plenty of times, experiences and life events for an adolescent that are different from what she wanted or he imagined. These differences result in powerful disappointing and overwhelming emotions, sometimes even depression. But the answer is not to take a drug to try and correct broken brains or brain chemical imbalances that do not exist. In fact, taking these medications too often keeps a young person from being able to learn and practice new behaviors and strategies to deal with these life events and disappointments.

The answer is to help our young people learn how to meet their genetic psychological
instructions responsibly and respectfully. We need to help our teens and young adults learn the successful and effective strategies to develop and maintain good, strong connections with the important people in their lives. This is much more effective in helping to eliminate sadness, loneliness and depression. These are the answers for teenage depression in girls and boys that lead to Mental Health & Happiness.

Pain, Wisdom and Resiliency

By Barnes Boffey

People who hope that life will be filled with only smooth moments and pleasurable events are actually working against their own happiness. We should be praying not for smooth roads, but for the strength and resiliency to handle those roads in ways that will allow us to be proud, strong and successful. A life well-lived will have its share of tragedy, sadness, failure and struggle. Mental health is a reflection of our ability to face these events with clarity and strength, and to cope with them in reasonable ways within a reasonable amount of time.

challenges

As parents  should be praying that our children do have difficulty in school and with friends, and in groups and in situations where they are trying something new. We obviously don’t want these difficulties to crush them, but without difficulties as children, they can never learn the resiliency needed in later life. People whose roads are too smooth learn to expect that smoothness, and then when life throws it’s inevitable curve ball, they are knocked off balance and unable to understand what has happened or what to do.

Many of us aspire to be wise in our older years, looking at the lessons of life and being able to abstract thoughful lessons about the meaning of life and how to thrive as human beings. Wisdom does not come from success. Wisdom comes mostly from failure and pain. Wisdom is distilled pain, just as maple syrup is distilled sap. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. It takes many painful experiences to create a drop of wisdom. Looking back over the many painful moments that I have had in the midst of addiction, divorce, family death, illness, depression and failure, I am grateful for the wisdom that has come from that. I am finally ready to be a healthy person myself and to be able to help others in their struggles.

We cannot be much help to others unless we can understand their struggles. The most powerful understandings do not come from books; they come from having personally failed and succeeded in the situations our clients, friend and families are in.

In the words of and unknown Confederate soldier:

I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

My journal: A lifeline from despair

By Dr. Nancy Buck

My life was falling apart. My husband of 24 years left, saying he wasn’t sure he wanted to be married to me anymore. He needed time on his own to figures things out. My twin sons had left for college. The family dog ran away.

I was alone in our home, but there was no more “our” or “we.” Was there even a home anymore?

pensivewoman_blue

I didn’t know what to do. Crying didn’t help. Talking with my sisters and friends gave me only temporary relief.

Day after heart breaking day, the sadness, isolation, failure and oppression was unbearable.

My lifeline, it turned out, was my journal. Every morning I wrote my three morning pages. Every evening I listed five things I was grateful for. Most days my gratitudes consisted of:

1.    I am breathing in

2.    I am breathing out

3.    I am breathing in

4.    I am breathing out

5.    I am breathing in and out

The lessons I learned during that time were many. The most important lesson was to keep breathing no matter what.

You never know what might happen next, what internal strength will be discovered, and what gifts will be revealed in the next moment.

And if you don’t keep breathing you never will know.

So keep breathing, in and out, in and out, in and out.