Therapy That Works...

Survivor Guilt In "Insurgent" (from The Divergent Series) - By Chris Gearing

Friday, March 27, 2015

Watch Chris and Dr. Sylvia discuss why and how Tris (Shailene Woodley) is suffering from survivor's guilt and complex trauma in the new film "Insurgent" from "The Divergent Series". click here.

Man Accused Of Firing At Police & Firefighters Speaks From Jail - By Chris Gearing

Friday, August 15, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discussing the psychology behind a North Texas man recently accused of shooting at the police - click here.

Childhood Depression - Can Exercise Prevent Childhood Depression? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, August 08, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss how exercise can help prevent depression in your child - click here.

Facebook Fridays – Rizwan (08/01/14) - By Chris Gearing

Friday, August 01, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia answer a question from Rizwan on Facebook about Generalized Anxiety Disorder and how it's different from clinical depression - click here.

Rizwan from Facebook wrote in:

“I know a lady in my circle. She is regularly very worried because of some family issues. She doesn’t sleep well and also feels low these days. Her appetite is less than normal now for her. Is she suffering from GAD?”

Thanks for your question on Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Rizwan. To better understand this disorder, here are some important facts to keep in mind:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD is known as the “worrier” diagnosis.

People with GAD tend to ruminate on anxious or negative thoughts, which propel them into a seemingly endless cycle of anxiety. The more they worry, the more the habit is reinforced.

Over 40 million Americans suffer from GAD. That’s 18% of the population! In fact according to many sources, anxiety is the number one diagnosis in the US. However, most sufferers don’t get help for it and continue to hurt when there are proven remedies for this condition.

Here are a few of the most common symptoms for GAD:

  • Excessive anxiety and worry
  • Difficulty controlling worried thoughts
  • Restlessness or feeling on edge
  • Easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind goes blank regularly
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Insomnia or restless sleep

Clinical Depression commonly co-occurs with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and it is another one of the most common mental health diagnoses in America.

In fact, forty two percent of GAD patients also have clinical depression. The combination of the two conditions can propel us into an endless loop of catastrophic thinking that convinces us we are helpless and hopeless. The depressed and anxious brain tends to avoid objectively evaluating the evidence and instead jumps to catastrophic conclusions. Relapsing into depression is tragically common and is more likely when the previous episode was severe and incapacitating.

Common symptoms of Clinical Depression include:

  • Depressed thoughts and mood
  • Low energy, fatigue, and sudden loss of energy
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in the usual activities
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Restlessness or feeling slowed down
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of overlap between the symptoms of anxiety and depression and it is often very difficult to differentiate between the two.

Most depressed people have anxiety and vice versa. For example, many people who are depressed tend to worry, sleep and eat erratically, and feel low and empty much of the time. Anxious people may also worry, sleep and eat erratically, and feel blue some of the time. It is my opinion that while anxiety and depression often co-occur, one of the conditions precedes the other and is usually more dominant.

However, it is extremely important to differentiate between the two diagnoses since therapy approaches and medication heavily rely on an accurate diagnosis. Different psychotherapies and medicines are used to specifically treat each condition.

If you are worried about your friend having one of these problems Rizwan, please seek the help of a clinical psychologist or mental health professional who can use a combination of interviews and psychological testing to provide the correct diagnosis for effective treatment.

Sources:

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - IV - RT

Clinical Depression - Can Sadness Become Depression? - By Chris Gearing

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how normal sadness can evolve into full clinical depression and some of the signs to watch out for - click here.

How would a normal amount of sadness ever evolve into depression?

We know that many people who are prone to depression have what psychologists call negative explanatory views. Every time you experience an event in your life, your brain investigates, explains, and remembers it for the future. Negative explanatory views exist when the brain can only see the negative side of an event.

The research of author, professor, and former American Psychological Association President, Dr. Martin Seligman, has identified three distinct ways the brain can transform sadness into depression:

Permanent

When we are slipping into depression, we slowly transform a temporary setback into a permanent problem. Depression can seem insurmountable since the obstacle or issue is now seen as a permanent part of life.

Pervasive

To make matters worse, the depressed brain tends to make a mountain out of a molehill. It expands the reach and scope of a problem in one area of our life to all areas of our life. For instance, a setback at work also means that I’m now a horrible spouse and a terrible parent.

Personal

A depressed mind concludes that the negative outcome is entirely my fault. The blame isn’t shared, and it wasn’t just bad luck. The problem becomes very personal and can lead to a sense of helplessness. We are convinced that the obstacles in our lives are entirely our fault, and we tend to retreat to a life that is narrowed and more controllable.

Once you have experienced depression, you are twice as likely to fall back into depression in the future. Learning therapeutic systems like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or Dialectical-Behavior Therapy can dramatically lower your chances of experiencing depression again.

If you are worried that someone you know may be experiencing depression, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

The work of Dr. Martin Seligman

Clinical Depression - The Differences Between Sadness and Depression - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the differences between normal sadness and clinical depression - click here.

Everyone feels sad sometimes. A bad breakup with a partner, a problem with a child, or a setback at work can all make us feel sadness. But where is the line between normal sadness and clinical depression?

The central characteristic of sadness is a feeling of loss and a sense of regret for recent choices or events.

Sadness can feel all encompassing and dominate our thoughts for a little while, but it will usually run its course in a short amount of time.

Here are some symptoms of common sadness:

  • A feeling of permanent loss
  • Mild to moderate negative feelings such as regret, disappointment, or helplessness
  • Emotional intensity is moderate and does not impair functioning or daily behaviors
  • Usually resolves within a few days or even hours

Clinical depression is far more impactful on daily functioning than a simple case of the blues.

It is a physiological and psychological illness that can consume your life and compromise your mind. Once depression gets a foothold, it can literally rewire the neurological pathways in your brain and, for instance, create a direct link between normal sadness and negative thinking cycles.

According to research, this connection can cause normal sadness to trigger significant negative thoughts that could revive the full-blown clinical depression once again. To make matters worse - if you have faced depression in the past, you are twice as likely to experience clinical depression in the future.

Here are some symptoms of clinical depression:

  • Regularly feeling extremely down or “empty”
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty without explanation
  • Loss of energy or interest in favorite activities
  • Feeling very tired without cause
  • Unable to concentrate or remember details
  • Unable to fall sleep or dramatically oversleeping
  • Significant shifts in eating behavior, such as overeating or having no appetite
  • Vivid thoughts of suicide or even suicide attempts

If you are worried that someone you know may be experiencing clinical depression, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

The National Institute of mental Health

“The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness” by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Men's Issues - Why Some Men Turn To Suicide - By Chris Gearing

Monday, May 12, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss why some men turn to suicide - click here.

Men have a tough time in a world that expects so much of them. In fact, suicide rates for men are four times higher than women. In the last few years, the suicide rates for men in their fifties increased by nearly 50%. Here are a few reasons why men may turn to suicide:

Generational Perfect Storm

The economic struggles of the last decade have been especially hard for men who have the expectation of providing for their entire family, including older children and both sets of elderly parents. When the stress and expense of supporting two generations finally hits, the perfect storm of financial hardship can be devastating for a hard-working man.

Pressure Cooker

Many men were never taught the skills of emotional regulation and control. When they are up against complex problems in life, admitting and processing the emotional fallout from loss and setbacks is more difficult for a man who is supposed to be endlessly strong and stoic. Once the internal pressure becomes too great, they may hurt themselves or others.

Men's Issues - Why Do So Many Men Struggle With Depression? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss why many men struggle with depression - click here.

Men have a tough time in a world that expects so much of them. In fact, suicide rates for men are four times higher than women. In the last few years, the suicide rates for men in their fifties increased by nearly 50%. So why do so many men struggle with depression and anxiety?

Weight of the World

Many men feel as though they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, and they are often reluctant to share their troubles with loved ones.

Lone Wolf

Many men tend to ruminate on what is worrying them, and they feel duty bound to work it out on their own. Depression grows in isolation since we tend to lose perspective and it reinforces our feeling of helplessness. They tend to conclude that nothing they do makes a difference and the worst outcome is inevitable.

Quiet and Strong

Unfortunately, boys and men are frequently told to not talk about what they are feeling. In fact, many boys are actively encouraged to suppress the concerns that haunt them. They don’t learn the language of emotional expression, and they often push their emotional surges down and cover them up. That internalization can lead to negative health effects like higher blood pressure and heart concerns. They don’t have an emotional outlet, and they often resort to vices or distractions to take their minds off their worries.

Dealing With Anxiety During The Holidays - By Chris Gearing

Friday, November 15, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on KTXD 47 discuss how to handle your stress during the holidays - click here.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy - Who Needs DBT Treatment? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe which types of clients benefit most from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (or DBT) and how it helps calm down intense emotions - click here.

For most of us, our emotions are manageable and easy to navigate. They express the highs and lows of life and color our everyday experiences. However, for many people, emotions surge and swell without notice. Happiness can burn into anger and hope can wither into depression in the blink of an eye.

The surges of negative feelings that become intense outbursts are deeply confusing, not only to the person experiencing them but to everyone around them. Their friends, family, and coworkers tell them to pull themselves together with phrases like “get a grip ,” “be less sensitive,” and “you are such a drama queen.” However, they cannot hope to stop what they cannot control. Other people often think they are undisciplined, immature, or deeply flawed in a fundamental way.

They often give up hope and believe that their lives will never improve.

As a psychologist, I have worked with many clients who have struggled everyday to control how they felt and reacted to situations. By the time they finally sought out treatment, they were often thoroughly frustrated, helpless, and hopeless. They felt like they would never learn how to control their emotions like everyone else. Many of them had developed self-destructive habits to soothe, mask, or escape their underlying emotional discomfort and pain. They would sometimes lash out at others, avoid proper nutrition, regularly self-mutilate, escape into alcoholism, or develop other addictions when their emotions became too difficult to handle.

They were desperate for any kind of escape, no matter the cost.

Many years ago, Dr. Marsha Linehan developed a type of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, to help resolves intense emotions and regain control of life. Dr. Linehan was frustrated with therapies she thought fell short of helping her clients reign in emotional intensity in the moment. She wanted a therapy regimen that could teach clients coping skills so they could handle situations on their own in between sessions. She wanted her clients to be able to regain control of the car when they began to spin out of reality.

DBT is extremely effective with clients who are struggling with emotions that are too intense, too frequent, and too overwhelming.

If someone you know is experiencing extremely intense emotions or outbursts, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Source:

"Doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy: A Practical Guide" by Kelly Koerner


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