Mental Health (2125)
In terms of pain management, the primary focus of psychological therapies is to help improve a sense of control over the pain. Pain can be stressful and strategies to reduce stress and improve coping can be directly beneficial.
Therapists help the person with chronic pain to identify the vicious cycle of pain. People who hurt tend to be inactive and to guard and hold muscle areas to prevent more pain. Over time they can become deconditioned, socially isolated, have recurrent worried thoughts, and have problems with sleep, often staying up at night and napping during the days. With time they can become depressed, alone and even more anxious, and this can have a tendency to make the pain worse.
A therapist can help to break this cycle by exploring ways for the individual to gradually improve function, reduce worried thoughts, and improve mood.
Strategies that have been most helpful include monitoring daily activity and mood, using problem-solving techniques, challenging some of the recurrent worried thoughts, engaging in a gradual exercise program, watching body cues, maintaining a daily routine and schedule, learning to pace activities, watching diet and caloric intake, getting involved in distracting activities with others, sharing emotions associated with the pain, and contacting others for help when needed.
Therapists can also be helpful in reviewing steps to prevent a relapse. With time the person with pain can become more “smart” about the pain in working toward better control, anticipating good and bad days, and not dwelling on those things that are out of the person’s control.
Therapists trained in behavioral medicine also often participate in relaxation training using various techniques that include diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic relaxation, guided imagery, cue-controlled relaxation, and hypnosis.
It is important to remember that the goal of psychotherapy and behavioral therapy is not to cure or get rid of your pain, and seeing a psychologist or other counselor does not mean that your pain is not real. Psychotherapy can help you cope or manage your pain to lessen its impact on you, your activities, relationships, and other aspects of your life.
Information obtained from the American Chronic Pain Association
Do you react to events quickly and with intense emotions, and then have difficulty getting your emotional reactions to subside. If you answer yes, more often than not, you may be an emotionally sensitive person.
Finding ways to manage your emotions effectively can decrease the pain you frequently experience.
Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness helps reduce anxiety and stress for everyone. Consider a way to practice mindfulness every day. Mindfully walk or eat or perhaps mindfully brush your teeth or mindfully drink your coffee. Consider using a bracelet or a sticky note to remind you.
Play. If possible, find a way to laugh today. Be silly. Giggle. Dance, watch a comedy, run in the park, buy a balloon, dabble with paints, gather friends for games or play games designed for one player. Just for a few minutes. Enjoy a simple pleasure and focus completely on the activity – not on your concerns.
Practice Gratitude. Each evening go through your day and list three things for which you are grateful. Be specific. Then focus on those three experiences, interactions, or things. Savor the positive.
Nurture Relationships. Friends will likely make you angry or upset, but having friendships is one of the keys to contentment. When you spend time with them, focus on what you like, what energizes you. Review the positive experiences to equal out our natural inclination to go over and over painful experiences.
Give Up Attachment to Outcomes. Being too attached to certain outcomes or living a certain way or having a certain solution limits you and leads to suffering. Be open to what comes your way.
Learn Something New. Learn a little about another culture or learn a new word or two. See the world anew with the eyes of a child.
Accept Imperfections. Life is messy and imperfect. Striving for perfection that doesn’t exist crushes joy and contentment.
Stop Comparing. Comparing is a way of evaluating and judging ourselves and others. Most often we compare ourselves to a characteristic of someone else who we see as superior to us. It’s also a way of competing. See yourself as part of a community where each person’s success benefits all. Practice saying, “Good for one, good for all.”
Notice What Works. Did you get to your job without a problem? Did you enjoy your dinner with a friend? Did you use a skill when you needed it? Did someone help you with a task? It is easy to overlook what goes right.
A pastoral counselor is a trained professional in the field of mental health counseling. While this professional may be a member of the clergy or may hold a specific position in a church they do not necessarily have to hold a clerical status and can be a laity or non-clergy.
A pastoral counselor is eligible to apply for and obtain a professional mental health care provider’s license but is not required to do so. More than likely, if you see someone at your church and the services provided are free of charge they may not be a licensed pastoral counselor but part of the pastoral care team.
However, if you go to a counselor who is in private practice or working at a public or private agency they are more than likely a licensed professional. There are a number of variables at play so a good rule of thumb to follow is, “when in doubt, ask!” You have a right to know with whom you are talking and sharing personal and private issues and what qualifies them to offer you a service.
Remember, a pastoral counselor is not only trained in addressing spiritual issues as they pertain to your good physical and mental health but they are also trained to assess, diagnose and treat mental health issues. You should discuss your provider’s philosophy about sharing a diagnosis and treatment plan in your first or second session since philosophies vary from one professional to another professional.
There is, what may seem to be quite evident, a very holistic theme to this type of counseling. Let me explain. The holistic movement strives to integrate the mind, body and spirit connection. While recognizing that people are not only a mental health issue, a physical malady or spiritual being, the holistic approach seeks to understand the client as a whole person.
For example, a person struggling with depression and high blood pressure may need to tap into their spirituality in order to attain a more balanced approach to health and well-being. If spirituality is not a resource for that individual, a pastoral counselor will not force the issue but respect the resources available to that specific client. However, for those seeking to utilize their spirituality in order to address specific issues, a pastoral counselor is versed in not only one religious tradition but has studied, in some depth, a variety of religious traditions and spiritual inclinations.
Why is it that women and men often have trouble discussing and resolving issues of conflict between them?
The answer may be found in neuroscience studies of differences in male and female brains that show, on average, male brains are just slightly larger, by five ounces, than an adult female brain. However, female brains comprise much more white matter tissue in volume than male brains do.
The brain pathways located in the white matter cells are rich in connections to the emotional centers of the brain, which suggests that the reason females are tied more to emotions as part of their experience is due to their white matter dominance and the areas of the brain that women use.
Males, on the other hand, primarily process their experiences through the gray matter or association cortex areas of the pre-frontal cortex, which involves facts rather than emotional connections.
When women want to discuss an issue, their discussion almost always includes the issue and a lot of emotional content involving their feelings. Interestingly, men have learned over time that the woman’s emotional reaction is a reflection of something the man is doing. That is, women are looking for a change in a man’s behavior when they discuss an issue.
Men want to avoid emotionality and will adjust their behavior until they notice the women showing signs that she is happy again and not angry with them. Men, as a group, have learned to avoid blame and manage a woman’s emotional discharges by adjusting their behavior (not changing it). When the man’s behavior continues, a woman might say, “He just doesn’t get it.” The answer is often found to be that the issue has not been addressed, because it gets drowned out in the emotional expression.
Another area of misunderstanding for women is when they ask a man to help them do something that is outside of the normal routine of expectations for the man. Women ask other women, all the time, to assist them in some way by lending a hand to what needs to be done. Men want to be acknowledged for going above and beyond what is normally expected of them. Women do not understand this dynamic because women operate quite differently.
Men will do what is asked, one time, and expect appreciation every time they do something extra. Women learning this principle will make communication much easier and help to resolve conflicts.
Sean and Rosa were into a familiar pattern. Convinced that Rosa did not fully understand his position, Sean insisted that he needed to explain it to her again. Every time she opened her mouth to speak, he overrode her, insisting that she needed to understand his side of things.
Rosa was convinced that if only he listened to her, he’d see her point. So she kept trying to speak. When he kept talking, she just waited him out, waiting for her opportunity to make him hear her. She wasn’t listening; she was just waiting her turn.
When he paused and she did speak, it became obvious that she had been waiting to make a point but had not listened to anything that he’d said. Frustrated, Sean tried again to speak over her.
Each time, eventually, they both gave up, convinced of the hopelessness of the effort.
Sean had been participating in leadership training at work and figured that what he was learning might be useful at home; there had to be a better way than the way they’d been doing it.
The coach had stressed that a good leader listened before he led if he hoped to be followed. Sean had no desire to become a leader at home, but he did want Rosa to follow him in the sense of paying attention to what he had to say.
At the next opportunity he told her right away that he wanted first to hear and to understand her side of things.
Rosa blinked several times while she attempted to shift gears. Afraid to lose the moment, she collected herself and started talking. She spoke quickly in hopes of getting it all out before he changed his mind. To her surprise, he listened without interruption. When she was finished, he asked her a couple of questions to understand more fully what she had told him; then he listened again to her answers.
It was only after that that he shared his own point of view. Because he’d listened to her, his own perspective now reflected his understanding of her perspective.
Once Rosa felt that she’d been listened to, she was more willing and able to listen to Sean. With listening as the first step, and his understanding of Rosa’s issues, Sean’s presentation was now much more persuasive; and Rosa was much more open to hearing and considering it.
Members of the Maryland General Assembly unanimously approved a new law making it a crime to use the Internet for electronic harassment, cyberbullying, and character assassination. Called “Grace’s Law” after a teenager who committed suicide in Howard County after being cyberbullied, this extends the harassment law already in effect in Maryland that applies only to harassment via email.
The new bill states, that “a person cannot use a social media site to intentionally inflict serious emotional distress on a minor or place a minor in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury.” A conviction of the misdemeanor would carry a penalty of up to a year imprisonment or a fine of up to $500.
Once the bill is signed into law, educators, teachers, and school staff’s, licensed health professionals, human service workers, and police officers, are court mandated to report incidents of electronic harassment in Maryland.
K.R. is a teenager recently attacked by a belligerent and aggressive cyberbully using an anonymous Twitter account. The cyberbully has initiated a terroristic offensive of character assassination against K.R.
The anonymous posts are written to coerce K.R. by threats or force as well as to garner support from other like-minded Twitter followers who would like to join the cyberbully’s terroristic offensive against K.R. The cyberbully openly sneered at K.R. in front of the entire Twitter community in a violent and intimidating way attempting to provoke a response or a fight.
There are distinctly opposing views on cyberbullying resulting in heated arguments.
One group of people including certain parents, educators, and health professionals say that victims of cyberbullying are soft and weak if they have an emotional or psychological reaction to cyberbullying. They say, victims should stop complaining, grow a tougher skin and just accept that anyone using the Internet should expect it and just learn to deal with it.
The other group expects teenagers and individuals to be protected from intentionally malicious targeting, electronic harassment, and menacing words and behavior no matter how they are delivered.
K.R. decided to bring her own case forward and be the face of strength of character and courageousness to help all teenagers who have faced similar cyberbullying attacks to restore their self-esteem and ability to fully function. K.R. and others will now have the law on their side to secure electronic records that can identify the anonymous perpetrators and bring them out of the darkness and into the light to explain their point of view to the courts.
“Domestic violence is more than just physical abuse. The power and control wheel describes the behaviors that are used together as a system in violent relationships. The wheel is drawn with violence as the outer rim and the other behaviors as spokes. Just like a wheel, they depend upon and reinforce each other. Together this system of behaviors builds barriers to a woman’s escape.”
Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence
On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.
Studies suggest that between 3.3-10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
Eighty-one percent of men who batter had fathers who abused their mothers.
Children who grow up in violent homes have a 74% higher likelihood of committing criminal assaults.
“Domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.
Examples of abuse include:
• name-calling or putdowns
• keeping a partner from contacting their family or friends
• withholding money
• stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job
• actual or threatened physical harm
• sexual assault
Violence can be criminal and includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Although emotional, psychological and financial abuse are not criminal behaviors, they are forms of abuse and can lead to criminal violence.
The violence takes many forms and can happen all the time or once in a while. An important step to help yourself or someone you know in preventing or stopping violence is recognizing the warning signs listed on the Violence Wheel.
If you are experiencing anxiety or uncertainty about pursuing college because you have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or a learning or physical disability, you are not alone. Thousands of high school students in this area are sharing your fears. To minimize your anxiety and ensure successful enrollment and performance while in college, there are a few conditions that should be put in place.
The U.S. Department of Civil Rights supports your right to reap the rewards of college without barriers or complications. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects you from discrimination based on your disability.
The conditions that need to be in place at your college so you can be successful are:
1. Documentation of your disability
2. A written report of college approved accommodations
3. A plan to share the information with professors
4. Knowledge of additional academic, social, and psychological services on campus
Documentation of your disability generally comes from a qualified psychologist or medical doctor. This information includes a diagnosis, date of diagnosis, assessments and methods used to determine the diagnosis, long and short term diagnosis implications, and the impact on academic, social, emotional, and psychological functioning. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan, is generally not considered adequate documentation for colleges. As a result, additional current assessments are necessary. Some high schools and colleges provide these services while others do not. Also state offices of Vocational Rehabilitation Services offer testing to students who qualify.
Once your documentation has been successfully registered with the college, the college will make accommodations for you based on your disability. Examples of accommodations include tutoring, modified course load, recording devices, adaptive software, extended test time, preferential seating, quite testing environments, prepared notes, sign language interpreters, Braille documents, priority registration, and designated dorm rooms.
Taking the time to ensure these conditions are in place can play a significant role in reducing anxiety and stress and maximize college success. College graduation significantly increases the quality of living, earning potential and overall family stability for persons with disabilities. In particular, a college degree neutralizes income disparities among students with disabilities and their general education peers. A qualified professional can help provide anxiety and stress reduction strategies and assistance with handling transition assessments and wrap around services for high schools to college transition.
We all experience anger from time to time. Nevertheless, most people find it uncomfortable, and many people fear it, believing that anger is always harmful.
Actually, anger does not need to be hurtful. It is one of various ways we internally become alerted to something that needs to be dealt with. Many people are ill-at-ease about anger because in their past they have experienced it as harsh, punishing, blaming or attacking. They don’t realize that such intense expression is rarely warranted, and that there are more effective ways of managing anger.
Anger is a bodily sensation—our bodies tighten and contract, our stomach or teeth might clench. It’s also a feeling. Anger is accompanied by a situation, either current, anticipated, or remembered. It’s how we’re currently viewing a circumstance that triggers the experience of anger. In the clutch of the feelings, it can be very hard to remember that our way of looking at something may not be the only way of seeing it, because intense emotion makes that sort of reasoning very difficult.
We learned how to express anger as kids—when we observed others dealing with it. Perhaps they were explosive, or held it in, or moved to blaming or even violence.
Assuming that people are born with different temperaments—some, more calm, others more easily aroused, the style of one’s handling of anger is still largely an acquired habit. That’s good news, because people can learn to convert ineffective or explosive anger into something more helpful and productive. Handling anger productively is a skill that can be learned.
There are some conditions under which anger is made worse—such as drinking or using drugs. Some kinds of depression lead to more irritability, and long-standing patterns of explosive anger exchanges between people tend to more easily break out and escalate. People who feel trapped, misunderstood or defensive sometimes use anger to manage the underlying feelings. Anger can also be used as a form of power or coercion—something often seen in domestic abuse situations.
Most anger, though, is the garden variety—everyday frustrations and obstacles. If we’re using anger wisely, it can guide us through conflicts and situations that seem to block our way to things.
Anyone who experiences chronic anger, helpless/futile anger, or explosive and sometimes violent forms of anger, needs to have help in learning better ways to handle situations. Anger used well helps situations improve. But when it’s ineffectual or even hurtful to one’s self or others, it’s putting people at risk physically, emotionally, and in relationships.
Psychotherapy is a place to work on anger issues. You can explore anger trigger factors, and learn better methods of expression for a more helpful way of dealing with life stresses. Sometimes individual therapy is the most appropriate way to learn improved anger skills, but at other times, couple or family therapy is more effective. If you feel you (or someone you’re close to) have an anger problem, an evaluation for treatment would be recommended.
The fact is that we need sleep and many of us simply do not get enough.
Almost everyone has occasional sleepless nights. Stress, anxiety, alcohol, and caffeine are some of the things that can contribute to problems with sleep. Research shows that people who don’t snooze enough are at a higher risk of losing their health than those who regularly get a good night’s sleep. Losing sleep has some immediate consequences that are obvious and unpleasant, such as irritability and difficulty in focusing and cognitive performance.
A lack of sleep can also have injurious or fatal consequences. According to one survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than one-third of U.S. drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel. Most of those surveyed were startled awake but not all – some crashed. The NHTSA estimates that drowsy-driving crashes result in about 40,000 nonfatal injuries and 1,550 deaths each year.
There are recent studies that link chronic sleep loss to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and shorter lives. The fact is that we need sleep and many of us simply do not get enough. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), sleeping about seven to nine hours each night carries the least risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses.
Some people think they are too busy to bother with sleep. Humans are the only animals that willingly deprive themselves of sleep. Other people find that they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep long enough to feel rested. This is insomnia, a common sleep disorder.
Common Symptoms Of Insomnia
• Difficulty falling asleep at night
• Waking up during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
• Waking up too early
• Feeling tired upon waking
• Daytime irritability
The NSF estimates that one third of adults suffer from insomnia every night and half experience this problem at least a few nights per week. Persistent insomnia is a particularly disruptive condition that can significantly reduce the quality of one’s life and one’s sense of well-being. It can also adversely affect mood and cause problems with concentration, attention, or memory problems.
A qualified health care provider can assess whether medical problems, medications, underlying sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea), depression or anxiety may be contributing to insomnia.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has consistently been proven to be the most effective first-line treatment for chronic insomnia. It improves sleep in 75-80% of insomnia patients and eliminates sleeping pill use in almost half of patients.
In three major studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Archives of Internal Medicine that directly compared CBT to sleeping pills, CBT was more effective than sleeping pills. CBT also has no side effects and maintains improvements in sleep long-term.