Therapy That Works...

Weight Loss - Why Don't Fad Diets Work? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe why fad diets may work for the short term, but your psychology could sabotage your long term weight loss goals - click here.

Every year, millions of Americans embrace new, trendy diets to lose weight. Whether it’s South Beach, Paleo, or Atkins, there always seems to be a new diet plan that will help you lose weight with little to no effort or exercise! Even with all of these so-called “miracle diets,” one out of every three American adults is obese.

So, why do we keep falling for the fad diet run-around?

Trying To Compete

Many men and women are influenced not only by the images in the movies and on TV, but also their peers. Rates of plastic surgery and liposuction are growing every year, and many people can’t keep up. Pressure from friends or colleagues can reach a boiling point, and many adults feel like they need to lose a lot of weight very quickly. They often turn to fad or extreme diets to drop the weight.

Short Terms Vs. Long Term

Many people find fad and extreme diets alluring. Either no effort is required or you just have to suffer for a short time to be beautiful! They can tough it out for that kind of reward, right? But many people don’t realize the kinds of serious side effects extreme diets can have on the body, and how on-again-off-again fad diets can actually lead to weight gain!

Why don’t fad diets work well?

Quick Loss, Quick Gain

Many fad or extreme diets may actually work for the short term, but what most people fail to realize is that once they are off the diet – they usually regain the weight with a vengeance. A starving body will soak up and hold onto any calories it receives in the future, and it usually holds on much tighter to the new weight.

Chemical Manipulation

Many diets manipulate your body’s hormonal or chemical balances to achieve quick, superficial results. However, shifting your body’s hormone and chemical balance can have long term health effects and you should talk to your doctor about the health risks.

Lifestyle Change

Without a change of lifestyle and a fundamental change in your attitude towards food, any diet will only work while you are strictly following its rules. The only way to truly lose weight is to adopt a completely different, healthy lifestyle that balances food, exercise, and plenty of rest.

Source:

The work of Dr Martin Seligman

"Generation Me" by Jean Twenge

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.gov)

“The Beck Diet Solution” by Judith Beck, Ph.D.

Growing Kids Strong - The Wrong Way To Rescue - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia describe some of the most common ways that parents try to comfort their kids and the possible long term emotional consequences - click here.

Every parent has done it. When our children experience anxiety, anger, or sadness, we swoop in to save the day and hopefully make them feel better. However, many parents use strategies that can actually increase negative feelings and set their children up for a lifetime of pessimistic thoughts, anxiety, and depression.

Here are three very common, but potentially damaging ways to rescue your child from negative feelings:

“I Think You’re The Best”

If they think they’re stupid, we say they’re smart. If they sat out the big game on the bench, we say they were the best athlete on the field. Sometimes, we lie to our kids and present them with a false reality to make them feel better in the moment. However, we aren’t fooling anyone, especially our kids. They know what we’re doing and they tend to resent it. Now they not only feel sad or angry about the situation, they’re mad at you too. We should tell our kids the truth and hopefully turn a temporary frustration into an opportunity for masterful action. If they failed the test, encourage them to study harder next time and you can work on practice problems together. It’s not that they’re stupid, it’s that they have a temporary problem with an easy solution.

“Let Me Do It For You”

We’ve all felt the urge to swoop in and help our kids work on a project, especially if they are having a difficult time. However, some parents go too far and try to make their child feel better by taking over the project entirely. The project may turn out wonderfully, but you’ve planted a dangerous belief in your child’s mind - “If I start to get frustrated or bored, give up and let someone else do it for me.” There is nothing wrong with your child experiencing negative feelings. The important thing is how they think about and recover from setbacks and frustrations. Instead of taking over the project, try to talk to your child about what they are feeling and why they feel that way. Talking to your child about how to overcome failure and bounce back from frustration is one of the best things you can ever teach them.

“Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself”

One of the most important things you can teach your child is how to frame and interpret events in their life. Most parents don’t know what to say to their kids when they are upset, and they often use temporary distractions to make their child feel better in the moment. But ice cream and video games can only go so far. Parents need to get in the habit of disputing their child’s negative thoughts. They need to teach their child how to fight back against the negative thoughts that can take over their mind. A failing grade becomes “I’m just a dummy.” A failed social situation becomes “I’m a loser.” Teach your child that their problems are temporary and almost always have an easy solution.

Many children are their own worst enemy and regularly tear themselves down with negative thinking. Pessimistic children tend to give up and let life pass them by. Interventions, like these cognitive techniques, early in life can prepare your child for a life of optimism and perseverance. Success usually requires hard work and dedication, and your child will be ready to bounce back from any set back and overcome any obstacle.

Source:

"The Optimistic Child" by Dr. Martin Seligman

Growing Kids Strong - How To Use Masterful Action - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how you can use "masterful action" to help inoculate your child against depression and anxiety - click here.

Have you ever wanted to boost your child’s self-confidence?

Since unwarranted praise and rescuing can have other negative effects, many parents wonder how they can help their children feel better about themselves while also keeping them grounded in reality. Masterful action is one of the most effective ways to teach your child to believe in themselves and to be effective in any situation.

Masterful action is when your child engages with a problem and overcomes obstacles to find a solution.

Whenever they encounter adversity, they must strategize how they will solve the problem and plan the steps they will take to do it.

Here are some important points to keep in mind about Masterful Action:

Progressive Positivity:

Teaching your child to be a resilient, optimistic problem solver doesn’t just happen overnight. It builds over time and hundreds of successes and failures. Each success builds their self-confidence, their perseverance, and their spirit for adventure.

Framing The Outcome:

One of the most important parts of masterful action is how your child thinks about the success. Was it pure luck or some external force that made them succeed? Or was their success driven by their hard work, intelligence, and perseverance? Framing the outcome as a result of their own actions further bolsters their belief in their ability to improve their lives and achieve their dreams.

Resist The Urge To Rescue:

Let’s face it – your child isn’t always going to win. In fact, most children will face failure regularly and they may often experience anxiety, anger, and sadness. However, negative feelings are not always a bad thing since they can be used as motivation for hard work and practice for the next time. You shouldn’t always feel the need to “rescue” them from bad feelings. Instead, try to talk to them about what happened and help them understand how they can change the outcome next time.

Teachable Moments:

You should try to teach your children how to think about and experience failure. Instead of them “just being stupid,” they may just not have studied very much for the test and they can improve their grade with a little extra hard work. If they regularly dread gym class or recess, they can always become stronger and faster through practice and discipline.

Create Opportunities:

One of the best things you can do for your child is create opportunities for masterful action. Solve math problems together, hold batting practice every weekend, or even play a video game together. Not only will you spend more time with your wonderful child, but you’ll also be teaching them valuable skills to overcome obstacles and to believe in themselves.

Source:

"The Optimistic Child" by Dr. Martin Seligman

Generation Me - The Downsides of Taking Selfies - By Chris Gearing

Friday, August 09, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how taking online self-portraits, or "selfies," could be bad for you - click here.

With the advent of social networks like Facebook, “selfies” have become increasingly popular with American children and adolescents. The Millenial generation is already changing the world and at eighty million strong, they aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

However, “selfies” are not always a good thing. Here are some things to think about:

Signaling Your Priorities:

Taking pictures of ourselves can be wonderful but only within certain limits. Creating an endless online photostream of yourself may appeal to some, but it can border on self-involved for the rest of the world. While we love to see occasional shots of you and your life, selfies can become a daily reminder of what you value (a.k.a. what you look like in the mirror). When you spend so much time posting pictures of yourself online, your priorities are not where they should be—out in the world contributing, learning about new things, and connecting to other people who would love to get to know you.

No Substitute:

“Selfies” are a one-way street. They cannot take the place of conversations, spontaneous interactions, and intimacy with others. They also tell us very little about who you are and what kind of person you want to be. Those can only be shared in person.

Lack of Learning:

One way we learn about ourselves is through being around and relating to other people. We learn about our strengths and weaknesses, practice relating and empathy, and learn how we can be a better friend when we are actively socializing and talking in person. Too much time staring at a computer screen prevents us from learning how to effectively relate and connect to others.

Greater Expectations:

Too much emphasis on how we look in our pictures online can create unrealistic expectations of ourselves that can prove difficult to sustain over the years. We need to find a balance between enjoying how we look while retaining a genuine sense of who we are. We need to define ourselves based on our strengths as people, not as pictures on the internet.

Source:

"Generation Me" by Dr. Jean Twenge

Generation Me - The Benefits of Taking "Selfies" - By Chris Gearing

Monday, August 05, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss why posting self-portraits, or "selfies," online could actually be a good thing - click here.

With the advent of social networks like Facebook, self-portraits, or “Selfies,” have become increasingly popular with American children and adolescents. The Millenial generation is already changing the world and at eighty million strong, they aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

So, what are the upsides of taking “Selfies?”

Adventures In Real Time:

Selfies can be used to share who we are with the world. These spontaneous pictures can broadcast our sense of humor, our serious side, or even a flattering physical shot. They are meant to give a fleeting glimpse of our life and our adventures to our friends and family in real time.

Cutting Loose:

Sometimes, we just need to have some fun! Selfies give us a way to play and forget our responsibilities and worries for a few minutes. We can have our own personal photo shoot with just ourselves or we can bring in friends to spice things up! Either way, it’s fun to cut loose for a little while and be silly and spontaneous.

Capturing The Creative:

Using services like Instagram, “Selfies” can be shot in a million different ways and they allow us to express and develop our unique personalities and creative perspective. We can share who we are at this moment in time without limiting who we want to be.

Source:

"Generation Me" by Dr. Jean Twenge

Growing Kids Strong - Are We In The Middle Of A Childhood Depression Epidemic? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, August 02, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss some of the statistics of childhood depression and why the problem is getting worse with each generation - click here.

One out of every four children will experience severe anxiety before they graduate high school.

One out of every ten teenagers will experience an episode of major depression by the time they go to college.

In addition, about half of teens diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and the average age of onset for an anxiety disorder is now six years old. However even with all of these terrifying statistics, only eighteen percent of anxious or depressed teens ever see a professional psychotherapist.

Psychologists and government officials have been warning for years that childhood depression and anxiety are reaching epidemic levels, and the numbers are not encouraging. However, very few parents are seeking out professional treatment for their children.

Here are some important points to keep in mind about child and adolescent depression:

Lifetime Effects:

Depression can be a lifelong struggle. Severe depression reoccurs in about half of those who have had it once in their lifetime. Once your child experiences a depressive episode, they will battle more frequent and severe depression for the rest of their life.

Rise In Suicide:

In 2012, American teenagers were polled on mental health issues. Sixteen percent of teens reported seriously considering suicide, thirteen percent created a plan to commit suicide, and eight percent had attempted suicide and failed. Suicide is now the third leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24, and it is responsible for thousand of deaths every year.

Generational Snowball:

Researchers have been interviewing previous generations for years to investigate their rates of depression throughout their lives. They asked if they had ever experienced at least two weeks of depression or anxiety symptoms during their lifetime. For those who were born before World War I, only one percent experienced an episode of depression. For those who were born in the mid 1920’s and faced the Great Depression and World War II early in their lives, only four percent ever experienced an episode of depression. For those who were born in the 1950’s and grew up in the political and social turmoil of the 1960’s, seven percent had experienced depression by the time they were 30. Currently, ten percent of children and adolescents experience a major depression before they graduate high school. The rates of depression are growing with each generation, and our young children are experiencing more depression than ever.

Childhood rates of clinical depression and anxiety have grown exponentially over the past century and can have devastating lifelong effects. If you are worried about a child or teen you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"The Optimistic Child" by Dr. Martin Seligman

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (www.CDC.gov)

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH.NIH.gov)

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA.org)

My, My-Selfie, and I - CW33 Appearance - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia on the CW 33 News discussing the detrimental effects of "selfies" and Generation Me - click here.

Anxiety - How We Treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how she usually treats Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at Gearing Up - click here.

Around 80% of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, cases see no improvement without professional treatment.

Most people require specialized treatment for OCD or they remain trapped in the cycle of intrusive thoughts and behavioral compulsions they believe will prevent disaster. They develop an addiction to the OCD thought-behavior cycle since the link between anxiety, action, and momentary relief is so concrete.

Research has found that most people have over 500 obsessive, intrusive thoughts per day.

However, the OCD cycle begins when the thoughts and behaviors begin to be used to intentionally soothe anxiety. At some point, the mind establishes a link between the obsessive thought, the compulsive behavior, and the magical ability to relieve stress. We begin to use it in our coping tool kit to deal with everyday stress, and it can eventually crowd out our other coping strategies since it feels so effective.

Here are some of the therapeutic approaches we use to treat OCD at Gearing Up:

Mindfulness Training:

Using the techniques of mindfulness, you can retrain your brain to calm down in seconds while still remaining present in what is happening around you. Research has found that regular mindfulness practice can literally reorganize and physically rewire the pathways in the brain to change how we think. We are able to focus on our problems as temporary, solvable issues. When we regain control of our thoughts and anxiety, we can solve problems calmly and effectively without the use of any compulsive behaviors for relief.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy:

Since the OCD cycle takes root with obsessive thoughts, we have to change how you think. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, can teach you how to correct inaccurate thoughts and dispute negative beliefs. You’ll be able to tame your overwhelming emotions and dodge the thinking traps that can sabotage your thinking. CBT helps put you back in control of your thoughts and actions to break the OCD cycle once and for all.

Sources:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (www.ADAA.org)

"Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders, Second Edition" by Robert Leahy, Stephen Holland, and Lata McGinn

Anxiety - Common Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder - By Chris Gearing

Monday, July 08, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the most common symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder and when to seek professional help - click here.

Social Anxiety is the fourth most common mental health diagnosis in the United States.

It is a very common, often misunderstood psychological issue that affects up to 12% of the U.S. population or 15 million Americans. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

Gender Bias:

Women develop Social Anxiety at twice the rate of men. However, women are less likely than men to report Social Anxiety as an ongoing issue.

Defined By Shyness:

Social Anxiety tends to develop in childhood or adolescence and the most common age of appearance is between 11 and 16 years old. If it goes unaddressed, it can become a defining part of many important stages of life including high school, college, and early work experience. It can rob your child of wonderful social opportunities and limit their ability to experience the world.

Contradictory Experiences:

Surprisingly, those who are socially anxious often have excellent social skills when they are one-on-one. In a group, they may present as somewhat shy or reserved, but they are actually extremely socially capable and have a lot of skills interpersonally. They continue to search for evidence every moment of every day that they are somehow compromised socially.

Family Tree:

You are ten times more likely to develop Social Anxiety if you have a relative who also has a form of Social Anxiety. The early life family system reinforces social withdrawal as normal and not a serious mental health issue. Over the years, they become convinced that they lack the social skills to reach out and develop connections to those around them.

Here are some of the more common symptoms of Social Anxiety:

  • A persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations
  • Fear of exposure to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny
  • Regularly worrying that they will humiliate or embarrass themselves
  • Fear of exposure to social situations
  • Panic attacks that are confined only to social situations
  • Avoidance or endurance of social or performance situations
  • Intense anxiety or distress during social or performance situations
  • Anxious anticipation of social or performance situations
  • Significantly changing their routines to avoid social activities or relationships

Social Anxiety Disorder is a very serious condition. If you think someone you know may have Social Anxiety, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

“Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders, Second Edition” by Robert Leahy, Stephen Holland, and Lata McGinn

Belzer et al. 2005

Chapman, Mannuzza and Fryer, 1995

Fiuieira and Jacques, 2002

Grant et al. 2005

Merikangas, Lieb, Wittchen and Avenevoli, 2003

Rapee, 1995

Anxiety - What Is Social Anxiety? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, July 05, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe what social anxiety is, some of the signs of social anxiety, and when to seek professional help - click here.

Have you ever been struck with fear when you walked into a crowded room?

Do you begin to feel overwhelmed with panic and anxiety right before a party or public presentation? You may be suffering from social anxiety if you regularly experience significant dread before or during social situations due to a fear of being humiliated or embarrassed. Social anxiety is a very common, often misunderstood psychological issue that affects up to 12% of the U.S. population or 15 million Americans.

Social Anxiety is the fourth most common mental health diagnosis in the United States.

Sufferers tend to narrow their lives in an effort to preserve any sense of safety and predictability. Over time, the social anxiety usually becomes more entrenched and more profound. They shape their lives to avoid any anxiety-producing social situation and to avoid any social settings that may make them feel vulnerable and nervous.

In fact, they often avoid professional treatment due to the overwhelming anxiety.

They usually only begin treatment once there has been an event in their lives that forces them to face the problem. Typical examples include professional responsibilities that require public performance or even family responsibilities like being a leader in their child’s PTA or other activities. For them, romantic relationships are a true struggle and they often avoid dating of any kind.

Instead of addressing the problem head on, most sufferers build a new life that helps them avoid social situations that trigger their anxiety.

They may begin to accept the loss of friends and family since their anxiety is too overwhelming to be involved. In the end, they truly collapse their lives around them until they are safe, secure, but ultimately alone.

Social Anxiety Disorder is a very serious condition. If you think someone you know may have Social Anxiety, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

“Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders, Second Edition” by Robert Leahy, Stephen Holland, and Lata McGinn

Belzer et al. 2005

Chapman, Mannuzza and Fryer, 1995

Fiuieira and Jacques, 2002

Grant et al. 2005

Merikangas, Lieb, Wittchen and Avenevoli, 2003

Rapee, 1995


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