Therapy That Works...

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

Psychological Resilience - The Advantages of Mind Over Emotions - By Chris Gearing

Friday, May 02, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss some of the benefits of using your logical mind to focus the emotional centers of your brain - click here.

Here are several advantages of using your logical mind rather than your emotions:

See The Whole Board

Master chess players often remind students that one of the keys to winning at chess is to be aware of the whole board. They know where every piece is on the board and they have a good idea what their opponent will try next turn. When you remain calm and can objectively work through every detail and issue, you have a better chance of solving the problem. You can understand what happened, how it happened and what you might have done differently. Your thinking will remain clear, disciplined, and accurate.

Leading With Focus

If your mind is clear and focused, you are better able to understand and work with those around you. By keeping your emotions well regulated, you can actually hear and understand what other people are thinking and feeling. It’s much easier to maintain order during tough times when you are calm and in control of your feelings.

Two Become One

Research has shown that we are most effective when our logical minds are working hand-in-hand with our emotional centers. By slowing down and remaining calm, our analytical abilities can partner with our emotions to create a new solution that may not have been obvious at first.

Most importantly, positive outcomes generate self-confidence and a belief that you can handle the problems that you face.

Psychological Resilience – The Steps of Self-Reflection - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the steps of self-reflection and how you can make sure you're on the right track - click here.

Self-reflection is one of the best strategies to overcome adversity.

Here are some self-reflection strategies that highly effective people utilize to make sure they are heading in the right direction.

Slow Down to Go Further

One of the best things you can do is quiet your mind long enough to focus on what is happening without interference from your emotions or distracting thoughts. When you are in the middle of a major life transition or tragic event, slow down and take stock of where you are. Anxiety makes your mind and body speed up, but it also makes you inefficient in dealing with problems. When adversity hits, take more time to remain quiet and calm. Sleep more, eat well, and exercise regularly. Even slow your speech down and measure your words carefully.

Avoid the Isolation Island

Avoid the tendency to isolate yourself and make a point to see your friends and family. A rough patch is only made worse when you go through it alone. Make sure that you only see the positive people in your life since other people’s negative words and moods are harder to shake especially when you are already going through a rough time.

Give Yourself A Break

Every day, set some time aside to devote a certain amount of time to being still—no screens, no texts, no talking. Breathe deeply and focus on your breath for at least ten minutes. Be quiet and let your mind rest so that you can anchor yourself and be effective for the next play. Even a short meditation session allows your mind to reboot and refresh.

Psychological Resilience – The Value of Self-Reflection - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe why self-reflection is important to your success - click here.

Many of us think that turning inward is something other people do when they have nothing better to do.

Some of us see it as self-indulgent, ineffective, or even a waste of time. However effective self-reflection can be an incredibly valuable first step if you are going through a rough patch. You can’t plan your next move if you don’t understand how you got to where you are today.

To strategically move forward, you must first catalogue the events that brought you to your current adversity, and the decisions you’ve made so far.

Once you have organized the events in your mind, you’ll find that there is less anxiety associated with the event. There is now a clear narrative where there was once disorganized pain. You’ll feel safer and calmer because you will have anchored yourself in the here and now, and you will fully understand that the traumatic events are in the past. You are safe.

Psychological Resilience - Moving Past Adversity Effectively - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how you can move past adversity effectively by using psychological resilience skills - click here.

Inevitably we all encounter disappointments, tragedies, and setbacks in our professional and personal lives. Jobs are lost, beloved parents die, we lose touch with close friends, and dreams for how we wanted out lives to turn out vanish.

However, research has shown that how you handle adversity in your life will actually determine where your life will go next.

Remember that it is not the adversity itself that determines what happens next. It is your reaction to the adversity and how you think about it that ultimately determines where you end up.

If you spiral into negativity, your bad mood will sabotage your ability to effectively solve the problem. You’ll become stuck in the “what if’s” and the agony of the situation. You’ll lose sight of how you can turn this adversity into something beneficial. The situation that seems so awful, so devastating right now can be the catalyst for making you stronger and more effective in the future.

True wisdom is usually hard won, and our challenges in life can be the very events that take us to the next level. Hopefully, after overcoming a setback you will truly value your resilience since you’ve learned that what is happening today is temporary and will not determine tomorrow unless you let it. The rest of your life can and will be determined by the resolve you demonstrate in the moment and your ability to triumph over setbacks.

Moving past adversity requires a particular set of thinking skills that, if used consistently, can take your life to the next level.

This series of presentations will give you some important tips and strategies for how to move past adversity effectively and overcome obstacles in your path.

Ordinary Moments – Increasing Your Emotional Intelligence - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how you can increase your emotional intelligence by paying attention to ordinary moments - click here.

One of the best parts of cherishing your ordinary moments is that doing so can increase your ability to be there for those you love. Being emotionally present for others can have a profound impact on them and your relationship with them. Here are a few ways that appreciating everyday experiences can benefit your relationships:

Not Too Seriously

Your friends and family will love your ability to laugh in the moment and to not take yourself or your situation so seriously. Your example can be a powerful one, and you can show others that there is always hope and joy in any situation.

Truly Listening

We listen and understand with our hearts, not with our critical minds. To truly empathize with another requires that you turn your problem solving brain off for a little while. Your loved ones will cherish your perceptive understanding and true empathy during their struggles. A truly great friend is there when everyone else leaves. Your kindness and loyalty will inevitably be returned when you encounter your own disappointments and struggles in life.

A Safe Space

Your ability to remain non-judgmental and unconditional in your focus and understanding is perhaps the greatest gift you can give others. When you are sincerely present in the moment, you are creating a truly safe space where they can share their thoughts and feelings.

Ordinary Moments - How To use Ordinary Moments For Success - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how you can use ordinary moments to make yourself happier and more successful - click here.

Appreciating ordinary moments can help you in all areas of life. In addition to expanding your personal well-being, keeping your mind clear and focused can also give you a decisive edge in your career. Here’s how can you savor your ordinary moments and learn to emotionally sustain yourself to work more effectively:

Slow Down to Go Further

Most of us misunderstand the relationship between speed and accomplishment. We think that if we go faster and push harder, we will go further in the end. Nothing could be further from the truth. People who are truly gifted and accomplished give themselves time to rest and recover. Although it seems counter intuitive, slowing down allows your mind to fully recover and can make the critical difference when you need it most. A well-rested mind sees the opportunity in the moment because it is clear and uncluttered.

Taking A Time Out

Everyday we encounter problems that distract us and interfere with our ability to feel calm and happy. Many of us think that if we keep worrying about a problem, we’ll figure out the perfect solution. However, an anxious and exhausted mind has very little chance of creating an effective strategy. Quiet time is indispensible for an effective and happy life. There is no substitute for the meditative moments when we let everything go for a little while. No screens, no conversations, no planning “what I have to do next.” Just letting this one moment fill your mind completely, slowly breathing, and being very still are all incredibly powerful ways to build a sense of well being and prepare yourself for the next play.

Silence Is Golden

Most epiphanies are born in silence. A well-rested mind is a solid foundation for your mind to create and assemble epic answers. Your mind cannot work on important questions when it is constantly busy creating your next grocery list or second-guessing your comments at today’s meeting. Since modern technology is so intent on inundating your mind with noise and distractions, try turning everything off. Taking a small portion of every day and being silent is a great way to notice the ordinary beauty around you and answer the big questions.

Ordinary Moments-How Ordinary Moments Keep Us Strong - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing introduce her new series - "Ordinary Moments." Click here.

Many of us spend more energy every single day trying to outrun our troubles instead of taking the time to enjoy the small moments of joy in our ordinary days. We miss the adorable chatter of our children or the happy tail wag of our dog hoping to be taken for a walk. Wondrous moments escape us as we drone through a life of tightly scheduled appointments, high expectations, and professional obligations. We neglect the everyday treasures of life, and we wonder why we aren’t happier.

Part of a happier life is using these ordinary moments filled with delight and beauty and humor to bolster you against the slings and arrows of life’s inevitable downturns. Taking the moment to share a chuckle, sing a song, or remember a treasured friend are all deposits into an emotional savings account. These memories are psychological sustenance you can draw on during your rainy days. You can find joy in your emotional life by accumulating them, and you can sustain yourself during the hard times by having a steady diet of joy, wellbeing, and gratitude.

My new blog series to kick off 2014 focuses on how to use these ordinary moments to build a life full of personal joy, professional success, and true well-being. Make sure to check back for new tips to make this year one of your best.


Recent Posts


Tags


Archive