Individual, Family & Group Psychotherapy
Locations in New York & New Jersey
Jul 30

Our research shows that to make a relationship last, couples must become better friends, learn to manage conflict, and create ways to support each other’s hopes for the future. Drs. John and Julie Gottman have shown how couples can accomplish this by paying attention to what they call the Sound Relationship House, or the nine components of healthy relationships. Therapists can learn the Gottman Method here, and couples can learn it here and here.

The Gottman Method for Healthy Relationships:
Gottman Method Sound Relationship House

1. Build Love Maps: How well do you know your partner’s inner psychological world, his or her history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes?

2. Share Fondness and Admiration: The antidote for contempt, this level focuses on the amount of affection and respect within a relationship. (To strengthen fondness and admiration, express appreciation and respect.)

3. Turn Towards: State your needs, be aware of bids for connection and respond to (turn towards) them. The small moments of everyday life are actually the building blocks of relationship.

4. The Positive Perspective: The presence of a positive approach to problem-solving and the success of repair attempts.

5. Manage Conflict: We say “manage” conflict rather than “resolve” conflict, because relationship conflict is natural and has functional, positive aspects. Understand that there is a critical difference in handling perpetual problems and solvable problems.

6. Make Life Dreams Come True: Create an atmosphere that encourages each person to talk honestly about his or her hopes, values, convictions and aspirations.

7. Create Shared Meaning: Understand important visions, narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationship.

8. Trust: this is the state that occurs when a person knows that his or her partner acts and thinks to maximize that person’s best interests and benefits, not just the partner’s own interests and benefits. In other words, this means, “my partner has my back and is there for me.”

9. Commitment: This means believing (and acting on the belief) that your relationship with this person is completely your lifelong journey, for better or for worse (meaning that if it gets worse you will both work to improve it). It implies cherishing your partner’s positive qualities and nurturing gratitude by comparing the partner favorably with real or imagined others, rather than trashing the partner by magnifying negative qualities, and nurturing resentment by comparing unfavorably with real or imagined others.


Combining the knowledge and wisdom of nearly forty years of studies and clinical practice, Gottman Method Couples Therapy helps couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection and intimacy in their relationships. Through research-based interventions and exercises, it is a structured, goal-oriented, scientifically-based therapy. Intervention strategies are based upon empirical data from Dr. Gottman’s study of more than 3,000 couples. This research shows what actually works to help couples achieve a long-term healthy relationship.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy was developed out of this research to help partners:

Increase respect, affection, and closeness
Break through and resolve conflict when they feel stuck
Generate greater understanding between partners
Keep conflict discussions calm

Simply put, subjective well-being is defined as your evaluations of a) your own life, and b) your moods and emotions-hence the label “subjective.” 1

Subjective well-being is the primary way Positive Psychology researchers have defined and measured people’s happiness and well-being.

In this latest article in our article series on the Science behind Well-being, I’ll talk about the three parts of subjective well-being, and how you can track your own subjective well-being.

The 3 Parts of Subjective Well-Being

Subjective well-being consists of three parts: positive affect, negative affect and life satisfaction.

The first two parts of subjective well-being, positive affect and negative affect, are basically your emotions and moods. Affect reflects the basic and immediate experiences in your life. So, positive emotions and moods, and negative emotions and moods.

The third part of subjective well-being, life satisfaction, is the evaluation of your life as a whole.2 Are you satisfied with your life? How are the conditions of your life? Are you close to your ideal life? Have you gotten the important things you want in life? Would you change things about your life? These are all questions aimed to assess life-satisfaction.

It is important to note that life satisfaction is more than the sum of your emotional well-being over a period of time. For instance, habitually happy individuals can be very satisfied with their overall education even though they feel only moderately satisfied with the specific parts of it, e.g. textbooks or classes.3

This is because the mental process through which people judge life satisfaction is an idiosyncratic process in which information is selectively remembered. The process may also be swayed by transient factors such as the person’s mood or recent events. Unstable and fickle, how we come up with life satisfaction often isn’t rational.

Measuring your Subjective Well-Being

Tracking your own subjective well-being can be very powerful, if you keep alongside a journal of your life’s events. You can learn about how your life satisfaction and emotions fluctuate with the cycles of life, about which events affect you, and how they affect you.

Keep it up for some time and you will see trends emerge, and be able to adjust your activities in order to maximize positive affect and life satisfaction, and minimize negative affect.

If you want the highest-quality measures, most researchers use the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) to measure life satisfaction, and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) to measure positive and negative affect. These are no pop psychology quizzes. If you decide to only measure your subjective well-being now and then, you could use the more time-consuming scales above.

An interesting alternative, however, is to track your positive and negative affect throughout the day, once every half-an-hour or once every hour, and your life satisfaction at the end of each day. By diving into the details, you’ll get a clearer understanding of which specific activities give you the most emotional well-being.

One way you can do this is to set alarms on your phone to go off at 30 minute intervals. To measure your affect, you can use a simple 0 to 3 scale to the questions, “Are you feeling positive/negative emotions right now?” — 0: not at all; 1: a little; 2: moderately; 3: strongly.

Input a number each for your positive affect and negative affect, and write down a word or sentence describing what you are doing at that time. You can also elaborate on the specific positive or negative emotion you are feeling.

For the purpose of tracking, it is useful to have categories such as “working,” “doing housework,” “socializing,” etc., when you are describing what you are doing. Make up your own categories to suit the activities of your life, and be as detailed as you need.

At the end of the day, write down your answer to, “How satisfied are you with your life?” keeping in mind the questions used to describe life satisfaction above. Use this scale: 7: Very satisfied; 6: Moderately satisfied; 5: Slightly satisfied; 4: Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied; 3: Slightly dissatisfied; 2: Moderately dissatisfied; 1: Very dissatisfied. Also write a sentence or two about your day.

Maintain this regimen for a few weeks, then take a look at the trends that have emerged. Which activities make you happy; which activities make you unhappy? Which days are you the most satisfied with your life?

And finally, with what you know, what can you change to make your life better?

This article is part of a series about the Science Behind Well-being. For more, visit David’s website, Living Meanings.

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Most people think building better habits or changing your actions is all about willpower or motivation.

But, the more I learn, the more I believe the number-one driver of better habits and behavior change is your environment.

Let me drop some science into this article and show you what I mean.

Willpower vs. Environment

Anne Thorndike is a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Recently, Thorndike and her colleagues completed a six-month study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

This study secretly took place in the hospital cafeteria and helped thousands of people develop healthier eating habits without changing their willpower or motivation in the slightest way.

Thorndike and her team proposed that by changing the environment and the way food was displayed in the cafeteria, they could get people to eat healthier without thinking about it.

There were multiple phases of the experiment, but the portion that interested me focused on what Thorndike refers to as “choice architecture.”

Choice architecture is just a fancy word for “changing the way the food and drinks are displayed.” But, as it turns out, it makes a big difference.

The Impact of Choice Architecture

The researchers started by changing the choice architecture of the drinks in the cafeteria.

Originally, there were three main refrigerators, all of which were filled with soda. The researchers made sure water was added to each of those units and also placed baskets of bottled water throughout the room.

The image below depicts what the room looked like before the changes (Figure A) and after the changes (Figure B).

The dark boxes indicate areas where bottled water is available.

choice architectureImage Source: American Journal of Public Health, April 2012
What happened?

Over the next three months, the number of soda sales dropped by 11.4 percent. Meanwhile, bottled water sales increased by 25.8 percent.

Similar adjustments and results were made with food options. Nobody said a word to the visitors who ate at the cafeteria. The researchers simply changed the environment, and people naturally followed suit.

The usual argument for sticking to better habits is you need more willpower, motivation and discipline. But, studies like this one showcase just how important your environment can be for guiding behavior.

Environment design becomes even more important when you understand the daily fluctuation of willpower.

The Willpower Muscle

Decades of research has revealed that willpower is not something you have or don’t have, but rather, it is a resource that can be used up and restored.

Like tired muscles at the end of a workout, your willpower can become depleted if you use it too much.

Much of this research is explained in books like, “The Willpower Instinct,” by Kelly McGonigal, and “Willpower,” by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney.

A classic example can be found by looking at college students. During finals week, students use all of their willpower to study and everything else collapses as a result.

People eat whatever they can find; students who haven’t smoked all semester start lighting up outside the library, and many people can’t even muster the strength to change out of their sweatpants. There is only so much willpower to go around.

We don’t typically think about willpower and motivation as a finite resource impacted by all of the things we do throughout the day, but that’s exactly how it works.

And, this is where choice architecture and willpower come together.

Choice Architecture in Everyday Life

When your willpower is depleted, you are even more likely to make decisions based on the environment around you.

After all, if you’re feeling drained, stressed or overwhelmed, you’re not going to go through a lot of effort to cook a healthy dinner or fit in a workout. You’ll grab whatever is easiest.

And that means if you take just a little bit of time today to organize your room, your office, your kitchen and other areas, that adjustment in choice architecture can guide you toward better choices, even when your willpower is fading.

For example, in Richard Thaler’s best-selling book, “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness,” he discusses research that reveals items on the top shelf of supermarkets (near eye level) tend to sell more than items on lower shelves.

It’s easy to apply this discovery to everyday life. Simply place healthier foods in more visible spots in your refrigerator, pantry and around the kitchen.

Meanwhile, you can tuck away cookies, treats and other unhealthy choices down on the lower shelves. This is one way to use choice architecture to make it more likely you’ll grab healthy food, even when your willpower is fading.

To Change Your Behavior, Change Your Environment

Like the visitors in the hospital cafeteria, choice architecture can help you automatically do the right thing without worrying about willpower or motivation.

If you design your environment to make the default choice a better one, it’s more likely you’ll make a good choice now and have more willpower left over for later.

Environment design works. Talking about tiny changes, like moving your healthy foods to a more visible shelf might seem insignificant, but imagine the impact of making dozens of these changes and living in an environment designed to make the good behaviors easier and the bad behaviors harder.

When you’re surrounded by better choices, it’s a lot easier to make a good one.

James Clear writes at, where he shares science-based ideas for living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance by 10x, join his free newsletter.

By Brittany Burgunder
During the summer, most individuals feel the pressure to slim down to what’s considered “beach body ready.”

Unfortunately, some of these people may cross over the line of healthy dieting and exercise and develop an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are very difficult to overcome, and there are various stigmas and myths associated with the disease.

I know this because I struggled with severe anorexia, exercise addiction, binge eating and bulimia for over a decade, and I quickly learned about the depths of pain and loneliness.

For this reason, I want to shed light on the illness and dispel some of the common myths surrounding it.

1. Eating disorders are about vanity.

Growing up, I had extremely low self-esteem and was never one of the popular kids. I wondered what was wrong with me: Why wasn’t I accepted like they were?

The need to address my perceived sense of rejection and make friends caused me to desperately make changes in myself.

I took my self-hate out on my body and turned my pain inward. I became obsessed with food, calories and my appearance, but this was merely a way to distract my mind from the true pain I was feeling.

Before I knew it, I had developed an eating disorder, although I hadn’t realized it.

It’s true many people wish to emulate models or movie stars because the media makes it seem like these people are happy, confident and successful. This creates the illusion that their appearances are responsible for their perfect lives.

This is a dangerous trap. Once someone develops an eating disorder, that person loses touch with all sense of reality.

Outsiders often believe those with eating disorders are looking for attention or are vain, but typically just the opposite is true. Those suffering with eating disorders often lack self-confidence, and they are simply taking steps to feel better about themselves.

Yet, at the same time, they wish others would leave them alone.

And, while these individuals appear self-absorbed and closed off, the reality is they are struggling with mental illness, and they cannot help that their eating disorders control their every thought and action.

2. Eating disorders are a phase; they’re not serious.

I wish this were true, but it is a dangerous misconception.

Although most people can attempt to shed a few pounds without further repercussions, for a few others, an innocent diet serves as a gateway to a potentially deadly hell that is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to escape.

What many people fail to understand is that the obsession is not caused by a lack of character or strength of will.

Eating disorders are a product of a psychological condition that affects over 30 million men and women in the United States and has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness in the world.

When I first developed my eating disorder and began treatment, I was still blind to the severity of my situation.

While many of my friends from treatment did successfully overcome their eating disorders within a few years, I saw others who continued to struggle almost endlessly and some who tragically died.

Early intervention certainly is one key factor in addressing an eating disorder, but it does not always guarantee a cure.

I learned the hard way just how serious and long-lasting eating disorders can be.

Through my own decade of struggling, I faced serious physical and psychological complications from anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder.

I cannot begin to count the number of hospitals I have attended, the surgeries I have faced and the excruciating pain I experienced after repeatedly taking dozens of laxatives.

Fortunately, I am physically healthy and in recovery now, but I spent too many days fearing for my life.

I know others facing the same hardships may not have survived.

3. You can tell who has an eating disorder just by looking.

When people think of eating disorders, they often picture an image of a skeleton.

Although one suffering from anorexia may look sickly thin, this only accounts for a small portion of those battling eating disorders.

Statistically speaking, anorexia affects about 1 percent of the population, while bulimia afflicts 1-2 percent and binge-eating disorder up to 5 percent. Each form of eating disorder is significantly disabling and may be equally as deadly.

When I first developed anorexia, I didn’t appear to be sick, but my mind sure was.

While in residential treatment, I was quick to compare myself to those thinner than me, and then I concluded I was not sick because I wasn’t as bad off as them.

This train of thought led me into a death spiral.

Just five years later, I was lying in the ICU close to death, but I still believed I was “fat” and nowhere near sick enough to have anorexia.

Fast forward only a year and a half later, and I was obese.

It actually is somewhat common for people who first struggle with anorexia to flip into binge-eating disorder or bulimia.

After I gained so much weight from binging, I was horrified. I didn’t even recognize myself and believed I had failed shamefully as an anorexic, which had become my identity for the past seven years.

I thought I was lazy and lacked self-control, and so I isolated myself inside my house for months, only leaving to buy foods for binging. Those who saw me as I first began to gain weight stated I looked so much healthier, but obviously I wasn’t.

Two years later, my eating disorder transformed once again. This time, I developed bulimia.

I had reached a healthy weight, but not in a healthy way. I was still battling the same demons that took control of my life years ago.

Sure, from an outsider’s perspective, I didn’t have an eating disorder because I looked fine. But, no one could see into my mind or read my thoughts. No one knew I was secretly binging, over-exercising and overdosing on deadly amounts of laxatives on a weekly basis.

So yes, I looked healthy, but no, that did not mean I wasn’t struggling with an eating disorder that could have taken my life at any moment.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness for a reason, and it is not because of one’s physical appearance.

4. Eating disorders are about food and weight.

It would be easy to believe this. People with eating disorders often live a life controlled and consumed by food and weight. But, these are merely behaviors covering up much deeper problems.

I was lonely, had low self-esteem, was a perfectionist and put an unrealistic amount of pressure on myself.

By focusing my mind on calories, food and weight, I was able to numb the painful core issues I didn’t want to face. My eating disorder served as a Band-Aid over a wound that continued to grow.

I started to live in my own little world, and it wasn’t until I was in too deep that I realized I was in a deadly trap.

5. Eating disorders only affect young women.

I believed this myth myself for quite some time. It was only after several visits to treatment centers that I recognized many boys and men were consistently there with me.

In fact, 10-15 percent of those who suffer from an eating disorder are male.

Men seem to be less likely to seek treatment and admit to an eating disorder because of the stigma eating disorders are “women’s problems.”

Also, many of the people I encountered in treatment were significantly older than me, and their numbers are continuing to rise.

Eating disorders absolutely do not discriminate when it comes to gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic group, sexual orientation or age.

6. Family or a traumatic event is to blame.

From an outsider’s perspective, I had no reason to develop an eating disorder.

I was a straight-A student, a talented horseback rider, a naturally gifted tennis player, and I had incredible parents. But, I was also a perfectionist and lived with the belief I was never good enough.

I was teased by my peers at a young age and never had any close friends. I also was shy and never told my parents how unhappy I was.

I thought if I could become the best tennis player in the world or somehow become famous, I would be magically liked, accepted and happy.

This extreme thinking set me up for guaranteed failure, since no matter what I achieved, I could always “do better.”

My standards continued to rise as I chased hopeless perfection.

Through my decade-long battle, I’ve met many different people struggling with eating disorders. Some did experience a significant trauma, or came from abusive households, but this was certainly not true for everyone.

Rather, the common denominator for all of us was a deep feeling of inadequacy and a need to self-medicate a painful issue.

Eating disorders start out as a means to gain a sense of control over a life that feels chaotic. Sadly, it does not take long for the eating disorder to take control instead.

So, who is to blame? The short answer is no one.

It is well settled that eating disorders arise from a multifaceted combination of factors that come together to trigger a perfect storm.

Genetics, one’s personality, relationships, environment and particular events can all trigger an eating disorder, but rarely is one single factor to blame.

Developing an eating disorder is no different than falling victim to cancer, autism or depression. No one chooses to have an eating disorder; it is never the person’s fault.

7. Bulimics always throw up to purge.

When most people think of bulimia, they think of people forcing themselves to throw up. However, this is only one method of eliminating excessive quantities of food, which is the hallmark of bulimia.

For me, vomiting was never an option, but I found other equally dangerous ways to purge after binging.

Sometimes, I would compensate for a binge by obsessively exercising. Other times, I would simply under-eat, thereby creating a vicious binge-restrict cycle. I also used colonics and took severe overdoses of laxatives.

8. Eating disorders are easy to beat – just eat more or less.

This is a painful thing to hear when you are struggling with an eating disorder.

I can’t tell you how many times I screamed, “It’s not about food!” It truly wasn’t, and I definitely did not have the power or capacity to just “get over it.”

Years of pain and trauma were buried deep beneath my obsessive relationships with food. The complexity of eating disorders is significant and takes a tremendous amount of patience, hard work and support to overcome.

I often fell into the same trap with my own personal dialogue: “Why can’t you just eat more, Brittany? Or less, Brittany?” “Why can’t you just be normal?” I was often my own worst bully.

Eating disorders are one of the hardest conditions to beat since abstinence is not an option. You have to eat!

My favorite analogy is one I learned from a therapist:

“With addictions, you can lock the tiger up in the cage and throw the key away. With eating disorders, you have to learn how to open that cage multiple times a day and walk that tiger.”

9. Once you get treatment for an eating disorder, you are cured.

During family week at my first residential treatment center, my dad told me how proud he was I wasn’t like the other girls. I smiled and kept quiet.

I did follow the rules and tried my hardest to become the perfect recovering patient, but I never talked in therapy and never dared to look at what lay underneath my disorder. I just went through the motions.

Some people do well from the start with treatment, and they recover with only minor setbacks and without major relapses. However, there are, unfortunately, many individuals who are repeat “offenders” with treatment centers and spend decades struggling.

I received treatment at the onset of my eating disorder, but it certainly did not cure me.

Unfortunately, what works for one person does not work for another.

As the years went by, I truly believed I would never recover. But thankfully, I never gave up. The amazing thing is you never know when something will click and your whole life will be transformed.

While treatment can aid a person with recovery, one has to be in the right place at the right time with the right people and the right attitude to make it all come together.

10. Once you look healthy, you are recovered.

Many people suffer in silence with severe eating disorders because they physically look fine. So, they justify they are not sick, or they are not worthy of help. Too often, friends, family members and even doctors contribute to this dangerous justification.

When I started to binge and rapidly put weight on my skeletal physique, everyone was thrilled.

Everywhere I went, people kept telling me how great I looked, but they couldn’t see my inner turmoil. Likewise, once I began losing weight after becoming obese, people praised me for my shrinking body.

How twisted was that? And, then, when I reached a normal weight, everyone again was so happy, but bulimia hid what was really going on.

Actually, this may have been when I struggled the most, but who could have guessed?

11. You can never recover from an eating disorder.

Some people argue victims of eating disorders can never recover, while others believe remission is possible with constant vigilance. However, I personally agree with professionals who believe full recovery is possible.

The important thing to remember about recovery is it is not a linear process.

Recovery is messy, often full of bumps, potholes, swerving turns and painful falls. Recovery is not rainbows and butterflies.

Healing involves facing your demons, ripping off your Band-Aids, using brand new coping skills and learning how to live a seemingly foreign life. As the saying goes, “Two steps forward, one step back.”

Recovery will, at first, seem far more difficult than just continuing to live with the eating disorder, which has become so safe and familiar.

It’s easy to decide recovery isn’t worth it or give up when you feel defeated. But, this is where trust and faith in a better life becomes vital.

Although recovery is the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life, it is simultaneously the greatest gift I have ever received.

A letter from Albert Einstein to his daughter: about The Universal Force which is LOVE

In the late 1980s, Lieserl, the daughter of the famous genius, donated 1,400 letters, written by Einstein, to the Hebrew University, with orders not to publish their contents until two decades after his death. This is one of them, for Lieserl Einstein.More can be found about Lieserl her.

…”When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world.
I ask you to guard the letters as long as necessary, years, decades, until society is advanced enough to accept what I will explain below.
There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us.

This universal force is LOVE.
When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force.

Love is Light, that enlightens those who give and receive it.
Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others.

Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals.

For love we live and die.
Love is God and God is Love.

This force explains everything and gives meaning to life. This is the variable that we have ignored for too long, maybe because we are afraid of love because it is the only energy in the universe that man has not learned to drive at will.

To give visibility to love, I made a simple substitution in my most famous equation.

If instead of E = mc2, we accept that the energy to heal the world can be obtained through love multiplied by the speed of light squared, we arrive at the conclusion that love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits.
After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy…

If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.
Perhaps we are not yet ready to make a bomb of love, a device powerful enough to entirely destroy the hate, selfishness and greed that devastate the planet.

However, each individual carries within them a small but powerful generator of love whose energy is waiting to be released.
When we learn to give and receive this universal energy, dear Lieserl, we will have affirmed that love conquers all, is able to transcend everything and anything, because love is the quintessence of life.

I deeply regret not having been able to express what is in my heart, which has quietly beaten for you all my life. Maybe it’s too late to apologize, but as time is relative, I need to tell you that I love you and thanks to you I have reached the ultimate answer! “.

Your father Albert Einstein

Jul 19

Lead From Within@LollyDaskal
Your time is way too valuable to be wasting it on things that don’t work. Instead, treat it like the precious resource it is.
Too often we act as if time is infinitely available. There’s always another day, right? But that’s a huge mistake.

Whether you’re working or having fun, being mindful about how you spend your time is one of the best things you can do for your life.

Here are 18 time-wasters to cut out today.

1. Running from problems.
Sooner or later, you will run out of places to run to. Confront your problems and get it over with.

2. Cursing the darkness.
We all have struggles and failures, but if you can focus your energy on a solution–even a small one–you’ve started the process of finding your way out.

3. Lying to yourself.
The truth really does set you free. The beliefs and thoughts that limit your options aren’t representing your truth, and they’re keeping you from realizing your visions.

4. Fear.
It is human nature to feel fear, and most of us tend to fear what we don’t understand. If you can understand your fears, you can free yourself from them.

5. Negativity.
Focus on yourself with optimism and positivity instead of dwelling on the things that are holding you back.

6. The word impossible.
There’s no bigger impediment to any achievement than not trying at all, or trying and giving up.

7. Winging it.
Success favors those who work hard, put in plenty of time, and do whatever it takes to make it work. When you do your part, success has a way of showing up.

8. Cynicism.
Human understanding and kindness are at the core of the happiest people.

9. Distraction.
Stop wasting your time chasing shiny objects and focus on what you really need in your life.

10. Selfishness.
A truly successful life is made of giving, sharing, and praise, not taking, demanding, and criticizing.

11. Overthinking.
Stop overthinking everything because that just makes things worse. Think good thoughts and good things will happen.

12. Hoarding.
Any form of hoarding is unhealthy and wastes your time, whether it’s possessions, information, wisdom, or emotion.

13. Denial.
Look at your life and ask yourself whether what you are doing is truly representing what’s within you; if not, stop denying what you really want and need.

14. Criticism.
It’s easy to criticize, but it’s rarely helpful. Praise is far more powerful and rewarding for everyone all around.

15. Comparison.
Remember, everyone has a unique situation and is fighting their own battles. Stop comparing yourself to others, it’s never productive.

16. Procrastination.
There’s no bigger waste of time than putting things off–it adds stress and takes away options for solving problems.

17. Complaining.
Taking responsibility today is the first step in accomplishing something great tomorrow.

18. Perfection.
Remember, those who seldom make mistakes seldom make discoveries. Instead of searching for perfection, take this moment and make it perfect.

And, above all, stop squandering your gifts. This life is about making yourself useful and necessary, so find your purpose and run with it.

Who knows what you’ll find time for when you let go of all the time-wasting negatives in your life?

BY: Martine Foreman
It’s unfortunate, but the world is full of people who feign happiness to keep up appearances. When you walk down the aisle and take a vow before your friends and family to stay with someone for the rest of your life, admitting that things are not working out as planned can be tough. Many would rather pretend than admit they are unhappy or that they feel stuck.

Feeling stuck is a horrible feeling. Imagine trying to find a way out of something only to realize that you simply can’t. The feeling is cumbersome to say the least. Sometimes we feel stuck and that feeling is rooted in a genuine fear for our lives. We feel stuck because we fear what may happen if we walk away. We can also feel stuck because our marriage is just not what we signed up for, but because of our vows, we just grin and bear it.

But sometimes when we feel stuck, it’s not that we need a way out. The issue can be that we need some clarity and a better way to navigate where we are. When that doesn’t happen, we feel like we are stuck in a place we don’t want to be, yet we have to be because we said we would stay there. We said “I do.”

The biggest problem with feeling stuck is that it can often lead to inaction, and that’s how we end up being unhappy. If you find yourself in an unhappy marriage and you don’t know what to do, you have to make a decision to act.

Being married should never feel like a sentence—like you are trapped with no way out. Being married, even when faced with challenges, should feel like a partnership that you learn to navigate—together. Feeling stuck is not something you should ignore. It’s no way to live.

What should you do if you feel stuck and unhappy in your marriage? Well you have to start off by asking yourself a few very important questions.

Why is this marriage different than what I expected?
Am I willing to work on this?
Did I have serious doubts about marrying this person?
What specifically makes me feel stuck?
Is my unhappiness truly about my spouse or is something else going on?
What will my life look like in 5 years if I stay in this marriage?
What will my life look like in 5 years if I end this marriage?
Am I in danger?
Do I have a support system in place?
These questions may be difficult to answer, but answering all of them honestly is critical. You have to know what’s at the root of your feelings before you can act. Acting without clarity usually leads to trouble.

If you are a situation where you feel stuck but you are in danger, please seek help from an organization like the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can call them at 1-800-799-7233.

If you are not in danger, but just feel like your situation is not what you bargained for, don’t settle silently. Take action to determine if you can improve your marriage, or if ending your marriage is the best option for both of you.

Marriages were not designed for anyone to “put up” with them. Marriage should be a partnership that adds value and joy to your life, and the last thing a marriage should make you feel is stuck.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking steps to improve the warning labels featured on non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDs – so they reflect that the drugs increase the risk of for heart attack or stroke.

In 2005, the FDA added boxed warning labels about cardiovascular risk to all prescription NSAIDs. However, a new comprehensive review found that the risk for heart attack or stroke can happen even after using NSAIDs for a short term, like a few weeks – an earlier estimate than previously stated.

This new safety information prompted the update on the drugs commonly used to treat toothaches, back pain, strains or sprains, menstrual cramps and headaches, according to an agency announcement.

Patients who take over-the-counter or prescription NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac and celecoxib, should seek immediate medical attention if they experience chest pain, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, weakness in one part or side of their body or slurred speech.

“Be careful not to take more than one product that contains an NSAID at a time,” Dr. Karen Mahoney, deputy director of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products, said in the consumer update.

Read the Drug Facts label for additional information on the proper way to take NSAIDs, she adds. If you already have high blood pressure or heart disease, speak to a health care provider before using NSAIDs.

Jul 16

Coping With Childhood Depression


By Kirstin Fawcett
Ian Anderson was only 5 years old when he began to lose interest in activities he once loved. He experienced mood dips and withdrew from his peers. His school performance suffered. And his mind was plagued with thoughts of suicide.

Anderson’s mother took him to a family therapy session, and he was diagnosed with depression. Soon after, Anderson started regularly going to therapy. At age 10, he was prescribed antidepressants.

“It’s hard to say whether [my depression was spurred] by genetics and a chemical imbalance in the brain, or whether it was because my parents had just divorced,” says Anderson, a 29-year-old retail manager who lives in the District of Columbia. “But it was clear that that I was showing very classic symptoms” of the illness.

Many people mistakenly believe depression is only diagnosed and treated in adolescents and adults. After all, kids don’t fully understand major life stressors or have the self-awareness and maturity to feel anything more than a shallow sense of sadness. Right?

Wrong. In recent years, experts say, the medical community has started to focus more on the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric depression – spurred by increased awareness of mental health conditions, as well as a growing body of research in the discipline.

According to pediatric psychiatrists, approximately 5 to 8 percent of children and adolescents suffer from depression at any given time. But while the numbers peak in adolescence – teens ages 13 to 16 are more likely to receive a diagnosis – physicians do report cases of depression in children as young as 2 years old.

Parents might want to wait for their kid to “snap out of” or “outgrow” their depression, mental health professionals say. But according to studies, early onset depression often persists into adulthood, and can signal that the child will experience more frequent and severe episodes in adolescence or adulthood.

“A child who experiences a major depressive episode probably has at least a 50 percent chance of having another episode in the next five years,” says Dr. John Huxsahl, a psychiatrist who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Early diagnosis, intervention and treatment are key, experts say. Childhood depression is just as serious as adult mental illness – and should be treated as such.

Identifying Depression in Kids

Say your child isn’t sleeping well, or he is complaining of stomach aches, irritable bowel or migraines. He used to love going to the playground, but now barely leaves the couch. Kids who can talk will start expressing negative thoughts or sentiments; those who can’t will exhibit temperamental or reactive behavior. You take your child to a primary care or family physician for a screening. You’re looking for something, anything – a thyroid condition, low blood sugar – that might explain your once active, happy child’s mysterious symptoms.

Your kid might lack the vocabulary or emotional savvy to explain what’s going on in his head. Adding to your confusion? A depressed child might act – and feel – slightly differently than his older counterparts with the same condition, Huxsahl says. Sure, they’ll share some symptoms – a loss of appetite, sleeping too much or too little, withdrawing from the world – but there are subtle distinctions.

For instance, kids with depression might not appear “sad” to others, nor will they be able to tell you they feel down. They might, however, act more irritable and angry than normal, or be prone to more arguments and temper tantrums.

Ahedonia – the inability to experience pleasure or joy – is another tell-tale symptom that your child might be depressed, Huxsahl notes.

“Children are generally happier than adults, and more spontaneous with their happiness,” Huxsahl says. “When young children are clinically depressed, you notice it’s like someone grabbed a thermostat that regulates their ability to regulate pleasure and dialed it down 20 degrees.”

Another common feeling associated with pediatric depression is guilt, says Dr. Timothy Wilens, chief of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “Some adults report guilt as part of their depression, some don’t. But a lot of kids [with depression] will feel guilty about everything,” Wilens says. “They’ll feel guilty they’re not having fun, or that they’re holding their family back. They’ll feel guilty that they’re not doing anything. There’s guilt for a whole lot of reasons. You’ll see that more often with kids than you do adults.”

Psychosomatic complaints – a stomach ache, a headache – can be common among children with depression. And while adults with the illness often suffer in work performance, a kid with depression might start underperforming in school – not completing homework or assignments, doing poorly on tests and not paying attention in class.

Also, keep in mind that life circumstances often play a role in the development of depression in children, says Dr. Abby Schlesinger, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry. One of the most significant risk factors is a family history of mental illness. Kids with histories of abuse or neglect – physical and/or emotional – are also at a greater risk for developing depression, as are kids who experience traumas ranging from bullying or a major life change, such as a move, death or divorce.

“Negative, stressful life events in general can be triggers – particularly for children that are biologically sensitive because of their genetics,” Schlesinger says. Keep a close eye on whether the child also has any chronic illnesses, an anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or other conditions.

Reluctant to attribute your child’s recent behavior to depression? Think it might just be growing pains or a “phase?” Consider the duration and severity of the symptoms before writing them off, says Dr. Leslie Miller, an assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

“You want to look at how long [the symptoms] have been going on for, and you want to look at impairment,” Miller says. “Is this a kid who used to have a lot of peer interaction and now they’re withdrawing? Is this a kid who pretty much followed rules for the most part but is now having a tantrum every day? Are they barely passing their classes, or not able to get their homework in? Every kid has tantrums, and that’s normal and fine. But you have to look at patterns” to determine whether there’s something more serious going on.

One clear – and serious – indicator of pediatric depression is suicidal thoughts or behavior, Schlesinger says. Kids are more emotion-driven than adults, and don’t necessarily understand the finality of suicide. They’re less likely to plan it, and more likely to end their lives in an unpredictable manner. Although suicide in young children is rare – and a child isn’t necessarily going to end his life if it crosses his mind – it does happen.

According to the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide, suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents ages 15 to 24, as well as the sixth leading cause of death in children ages 5 to 14. Experts say a good psychiatric evaluation should include questions about suicidal thoughts or behaviors. And if a child has expressed suicidal thoughts to a parent, or shown warning signs – for instance, saying things like “I wish I were dead” – it’s important for the family to have a plan on how to handle worst-case scenarios.

“Children are impulsive by nature,” Schlesinger says. “If they have a strong negative emotion [and] they don’t have a plan how to manage it, then they’re at risk.” If your child has expressed suicidal thoughts, she advises parents to stay calm and supportive. Instead of freaking out, let the child know he or she can talk to you if he or she needs help. Plan coping strategies you child can utilize to make himself or herself feel better in the event of suicidal thoughts.

Jul 15

Brain Stimulation Accelerates Learning of Tasks


By Rick Nauert PhD
Provoking new research suggests pulsed non-invasive trans-cranial stimulation may help a person learn new tasks faster.

Investigators say the new technique enhances brain excitability — a factor that could improve physical performance in healthy individuals such as athletes and musicians.

The technique could also improve treatments for neurological and neuropsychological conditions such as stroke, depression, and chronic pain.

The idea of stimulating different parts of the brain with electricity may sound futuristic, but these types of treatments have a remarkably long history.

Early physicians and scientists such as Claudius Galen (the Roman physician) and Avicenna (the Persian physician) did not understand exactly why electrical therapy (using torpedo fish) was effective, but they did recognize that it could be used to non-invasively treat a number of illnesses such as joint pain, headaches, and epilepsy.

Current treatment methods used are transcranial direct current simulation (tDCS) — which is application of a low intensity direct (constant) current between two electrodes on the head, and transcranial alternating current simulation (tACS) — which sees a constant electrical current flow back and forth.

The treatments are preferred, as they are non-invasive with no or minimal side effects.

In 2013, Dr Shapour Jaberzadeh and his group, from the Department of Physiotherapy at Monash University, discovered a new technique that compared to conventional tDCS, significantly increases the brain excitability.

“This treatment, which we called transcranial pulsed current stimulation (tPCS) is a non-constant form of stimulation with “on” and “off” periods — or pulsing — between the two electrodes,” Dr Jaberzadeh said.

“We discovered that this new treatment produced larger changes in the brain and that the interval between pulses also had an effect. The shorter the interval between pulses the larger the excitability effect in the brain.”

In a new paper published in PLOS ONE, Dr Jaberzadeh has continued this work and found that the duration of the pulses also make a significant difference in creating brain excitability changes.

“The pulsation of the current induces larger excitability changes in the brain. These changes are larger when we use longer pulses.”

“When we learn a task during movement training (for example playing the piano), gradually our performance gets better. This improvement coincides with enhancement of the brain excitability.

Compared to tDCS, our novel technique can play an important role in enhancement of the brain excitability, which may help recipients learn new tasks faster.”

Researchers believe the technique had exciting implications for a whole host of conditions in which “enhancement of the brain excitability” has a therapeutic effect. These include priming the effects of repetitive task-specific training for treatment of stroke and other neurological disorders, mental disorders and management of pain.

“Our next step is to investigate the underlying mechanisms for the efficacy of this new technique. This will enable us to develop more effective protocols for application of tPCS in patients with different pathological conditions.”

Jul 14

What Most People Don’t Know about ADHD


By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Today, there are still many myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Everyone from the media to mental health professionals may perpetuate these erroneous beliefs. Below, experts shared what most people don’t know (or commonly misunderstand) about ADHD. You’ll find everything from what causes ADHD to what helps it.

1. ADHD is not caused by our super-busy, tech-consumed culture.

Today’s world is certainly busier and more distracting and more hectic than it’s ever been. Our attention spans are shorter. We have a harder time staying focused. We often can’t go an hour or 30 minutes without checking email or glancing at our phones.

However, those of us that don’t have ADHD still manage adequately, said Mark Bertin, MD, a board certified developmental behavioral pediatrician. ADHD is a complex neurological disorder that goes beyond being distracted.

“ADHD affects self-management skills called executive function that include not only attention and impulse control but organization, planning, time management and far more,” said Dr. Bertin. In this post he further explains how ADHD really functions:

ADHD is a poorly named condition. The stereotypical symptoms – lack of attention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness – merely scratch the surface. The parts of the brain implicated in ADHD also control executive function skills – abilities such as time management, judgment, organization, and emotional regulation. Executive function is kind of like the brain manager, responsible for supervising and coordinating our planning, our thoughts and our interactions with the world. The true issue with ADHD is one of executive function and as has been said by Dr. Russell Barkley and others, a more appropriate name for ADHD might be ‘executive function deficit disorder.’

Multitasking, social media, email and other distractions may exacerbate ADHD. But they don’t cause it.

2. ADHD affects all areas of a person’s life.

People often think that ADHD solely affects academic performance or possibly one’s productivity at work. Unfortunately, ADHD has far-reaching effects.

“ADHD can affect anything in your life that requires proper regulation, organization, planning, attention, impulse control and emotional grounding,” said Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a psychologist who treats ADHD and a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

This could be anything from sleeping to paying the bills to cleaning the house to interacting with your spouse.

For instance, as Bertin notes in this piece, kids with ADHD are at an increased risk for language delays. They also struggle with finding the right words and stringing thoughts together quickly. They have a hard time focusing on conversations in groups or noisy environments.

3. Up to two-thirds of people with ADHD have another disorder.

People with ADHD also may have depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or bipolar disorder. (This piece lays out comorbid disorders in kids with ADHD along with recommended resources.)

This is why it’s important to receive a comprehensive evaluation, which screens for other disorders. According to Bertin, “if treatment stalls, it’s worth looking again to see if something else is going on with ADHD.”

4. ADHD is highly genetic.

“If two tall people have children, and put them up for adoption, people expect the child to be tall regardless,” said Bertin, also author of The Family ADHD Solution. “The heritability of ADHD is similar.”

That is, if a family member has ADHD, the chances of another person in the family having ADHD increases three- to fivefold, he said. “For identical twins the risk may rise to 80 percent.” Bertin emphasized that ADHD is a medical disorder, which is “primarily programmed by genetics.”

Olivardia cited this 2012 review and this 2014 review for more on the genetics (and neurobiology) of ADHD.

5. Learning disabilities go underdiagnosed in ADHD.

This typically happens because the learning problem is believed to be part of ADHD, instead of something that’s exacerbated by ADHD, Olivardia said.

For instance, he noted that dyslexia is massively underdiagnosed. “It is assumed that the trouble reading is attention-related (ADHD) when there could be significant decoding, phonemic awareness, comprehension, or fluency issues that are completely independent of the ADHD.”

Anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of people with ADHD have a learning disability, Olivardia said. Almost half of children with ADHD might have a specific writing disability, Bertin added. (He cited this study as an example.)

This is why it’s essential for all students with ADHD to be properly evaluated for a learning disability.

6. Overcoming ADHD isn’t about working harder.

Often people assume that someone with ADHD just needs to work harder. They assume the person is lazy or lacks motivation or just doesn’t want to put in the work.

However, as Bertin points out, “You wouldn’t say to a child with asthma, ‘Just try harder, stop wheezing.’ Likewise, expecting a child with poor executive function skills to ‘pull it together’ right now is unfair and sets up challenging, often unrealistic expectations.”

Plus, people with ADHD are already working hard. “Studies show that an important mental control area of the brain — the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex — works much harder and less efficiently [in people with ADHD] than for those without ADHD,” said Terry Matlen, ACSW, a psychotherapist and ADHD coach, in this piece.

Instead of working harder, the key is to work differently. That means finding strategies that work with one’s ADHD brain. This can include everything from setting alarms as reminders to organizing with a specific paper system.

Again, ADHD is a complex neurological disorder. It’s also a highly treatable one. It’s important to get a comprehensive evaluation and seek treatment. This may or may not include medication.

“[P]eople sometimes avoid evaluation because they equate diagnosis and treatment of ADHD with deciding to use medication,” Bertin said. However, just knowing that you have ADHD can help you make positive changes.

“[P]eople often choose not to take medication, and still can take steps that help make ADHD easier to live with. Which isn’t to discredit what medication has been shown to do for ADHD, either.” Plus, if you’re not in crisis, starting with non-medical approaches to see how much they help is a great first step, he said.

Whether you’re taking medication or not, it’s important to use ADHD-friendly strategies, practice healthy habits and work with a therapist and/or ADHD coach.

Jul 13

The Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse


By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC
The cycle of abuse Lenore Walker (1979) coined of tension building, acting-out, reconciliation/honeymoon, and calm is useful in most abusive relationships. However, when a narcissist is the abuser, the cycle looks different.

Narcissism changes the back end of the cycle because the narcissist is constantly self-centered and unwilling to admit fault. Their need to be superior, right, or in charge limits the possibility of any real reconciliation. Instead, it is frequently the abused who desperately tries for appeasement while the narcissist plays the victim. This switchback tactic emboldens the narcissist behavior even more, further convincing them of their faultlessness. Any threat to their authority repeats the cycle again.

Here are the four narcissistic cycles of abuse:

Feels Threatened. An upsetting event occurs and the narcissist feels threatened. It could be rejection of sex, disapproval at work, embarrassment in a social setting, jealousy of other’s success, or feelings of abandonment, neglect, or disrespect. The abused, aware of the potential threat, becomes nervous. They know something is about to happen and begin to walk on eggshells around the narcissist. Most narcissists repeatedly get upset over the same underlying issues whether the issue is real or imagined. They also have a tendency to obsess over the threat over and over.
Abuses Others. The narcissist engages in some sort of abusive behavior. The abuse can be physical, mental, verbal, sexual, financial, spiritual or emotional. The abuse is customized to intimidate the abused in an area of weakness especially if that area is one of strength for the narcissist. The abuse can last for a few short minutes or as long as several hours. Sometimes a combination of two types of abuse is used. For instance, a narcissist may begin with verbal belittling to wear out the abused. Followed by projection of their lying about an event onto the abused. Finally tired of the assault, the abused defensively fights back.
Becomes the Victim. This is when the switchback occurs. The narcissist uses the abused behavior as further evidence that they are the ones being abused. The narcissist believes their own twisted victimization by bringing up past defensive behaviors that the abused has done as if the abused initiated the abuse. Because the abused has feelings of remorse and guilt, they accept this warped perception and try to rescue the narcissist. This might include giving into what the narcissist wants, accepting unnecessary responsibility, placating the narcissist to keep the peace, and agreeing to the narcissistic lies.
Feels Empowered. Once the abused have given in or up, the narcissist feels empowered. This is all the justification the narcissist needs to demonstrate their rightness or superiority. The abused has unknowingly fed the narcissistic ego and only to make it stronger and bolder than before. But every narcissist has an Achilles heel and the power they feel now will only last till the next threat to their ego appears.
Once the narcissistic cycle of abuse is understood, the abused can escape the cycle at any point. Begin by coming up with strategies for future confrontations, know the limitations of the abused, and have an escape plan in place. This cycle does not need to continue forward.

Jul 12

How Fear Fuels Obsession


By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

Do you have clients caught in a repetitive trap resulting in feelings of helplessness, frustration and discouragement? Is their careful and cautious behavior perceived by others as obsessive? Does it repel others instead of drawing them closer? Certain emotions such as fear can add fuel to an obsessive cycle causing an out of control feeling.

It begins with a painful event: abuse by a relative, abandonment by a friend or rejection from a job. Each of these events can spark fear directed inward or at another person. The feeling of dread is so uncomfortable, that a person overcompensates with a desire to over control. Sample obsessions include: cleaning, checking, washing, excessive order, repeating the same conversation, repetitive thoughts, hoarding, perfectionism, reassurance seeking, rituals or counting. Other people don’t like the preoccupation so they in turn withdraw. This leaves feelings of confusion. After all, the reason for the obsession was to avoid the fearful or anxious feelings. The result is another painful event such as a fight, more distance in relationships or further loss.

Acknowledge. The first step to stopping the crazy cycle is acknowledging the repetitive behavior. The crazy cycle is continuing. This is not the time to blame others for it; this is the time to accept responsibility. Everyone is responsible for their own behavior. This maybe a new concept as our culture is quick to blame others, parents, churches, organizations, companies, governments, and even nations for bad behavior. But this is not constructive thinking, it is destructive thinking.

Stop at Fear. There is nothing wrong with feeling fearful. But the response to fear doesn’t have to be obsession. It is OK to be fearful when hurt or when others hurts. Just don’t take it to the next step and become controlling. Rather deal with the fear by confronting feelings and taking responsibility for the actions that follow. Just saying the words, “I am fearful or anxious but I’m going to act responsibly” can restore that out of control feeling to restraint.

Know Obsessions. What is the obsession of choice? More than likely there is moe than one. Not all of the obsessive behaviors are listed above so taking an inventory is extremely helpful. Many times, a person goes directly from the painful event to the obsession and skips right past the fearful emotion. This is a conditioned response similar to Pavlov’s dogs. In Pavlov’s experiment, he trained dogs to salivate at the ringing of a bell by first giving food along with ringing the bell. Before long, he only needed to ring the bell for the dogs to salivate. The same thing is done with the obsession. Trace backwards from the fixation to the dread anytime the desire arises.

It is possible to take responsibility and stop the crazy cycle from destructive behavior. However, when a mistake is made and things slip backwards, it is never too late to turn around. Who a person is, is NOT defined by their mistakes. Rather, it is defined by the character developed along the way.

Jul 11

John Cordray Apr 28, 2015

It happened so suddenly and out of the blue. Racing thoughts filled my mind, my chest felt tight, and my heart was pounding so fast; I just knew I was having a heart attack.

Speeding to the emergency room, and finally getting the attention of a doctor, I was told I didn’t have a heart attack – I had a panic attack.

This was the story that a client of mine recounted to me as he described his latest panic attack. Panic attacks are real, scary, and are often confused with heart attacks.

Panic disorder affects about 1 out of every 75 people according to the American Psychological Association. That’s a lot of people who suffer from an invisible hell.

Panic disorder affects about 1 out of every 75 people according to the APA.
Panic attacks can lead to other anxiety disorders, relationship problems, depression, and can dramatically alter one’s lifestyle.

Imagine feeling that your worse fear is coming true, and you can’t do anything about it. Would you freak out? I think so. But for so many people who experience panic attacks it’s more than just “freaking out” – the fear is intense and magnified tenfold.

I always remind my anxious clients to remember two things about panic attacks:

1. There’s always a beginning and an end. I refer to this as the panic window. Panic attacks start slow (most of the time), then it peaks (high point), then it comes back down. The majority of panic attacks last for about 10-15 minutes.

2. Panic attacks won’t kill you. It may feel like your dying in the midst of a panic attack, but it won’t kill you.

Feeling out of control is a hallmark of a panic attack, so learning to take back control is the key to stopping it. As a therapist, I teach my clients 5 steps that will stop panic attacks in their tracks.

Try these 5 steps the next time you experience a panic attack.

Step #1: Go to a Quiet Place

Remove yourself from loud environments. Loud sounds and active movements in the room can heighten the panic.

Step #2: Take Slow, Deep Breath’s

I often call this “Smell the flowers, blow out the candles” to help people remember to close their mouth’s, inhale through their nose, hold their breath for 3 seconds, then exhale through their mouth’s as if blowing out candles. Do this slowly for 8 times.

Step #3: Practice Active Observation

During a panic attack people are not thinking clearly, they’re experiencing distorted thinking. Active observation forces you to stay in the moment by observing everything in the room using all of your senses. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you physically feel? What do you smell? Be as specific as you can with what you observe.

Step #4: Splash Cold Water on Your Face

Cold water will send active signals to your brain that will jolt you into reality. When you put cold water, ice or frozen gel packs on your face or neck your brain kicks in logical thinking automatically.

Step #5: Talk to Yourself – Refocus

After you’re able to gain more control, refocus by telling yourself the truth. Talk to yourself about what happened during the day, remind yourself of your blessings, focus on the positives in your life. Tell yourself to calm your heart and mind down. Tell yourself – I got this.

Repeat the steps above as needed.

It’s always difficult for people who suffer from panic attacks to describe how they feel to other’s who never had one. It’s very important for those who experience panic attacks to have people believe that they’re actually experiencing an attack on their emotions.

People who are having a panic attack can’t simply get over it. Panic attacks are not something you can just switch off. So, if you have never experienced a panic attack, please believe the person who has. They’re not making it up or trying to get attention. What people suffering from panic disorder need the most (besides a cure) is someone who will believe and support them through the attack. Panic sufferers need someone to remain rational and objective when they’re not.


If you suffer from a panic disorder please seek help from a trained professional to help you gain a sense of control. Don’t suffer alone, let someone help you through your invisible hell. You no longer have to feel helpless to fight your panic attacks.

You can do it. You got this.

Jul 5

Panic Disorder Linked to Physical Illnesses


By Rick Nauert PhD

While it is well known that mental health is linked to physical heath, physicians often disregard a person’s complaints of physical symptoms when a mental illness is present.

New research hopes to end this practice as investigators discover a cadre of physical disorders appear to occur in combination with particular mental conditions.

Jeremy D. Coplan, M.D., professor of psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and colleagues has documented a high rate of association between panic disorder and four domains of physical illness.

The findings may change how physicians and psychiatrists view the boundaries within and between psychiatric and medical disorders.

“Patients who appear to have certain somatic disorders — illnesses for which there is no detectable medical cause and which physicians may consider to be imagined by the patient — may instead have a genetic propensity to develop a series of real, related illnesses,” says Dr. Coplan, an expert in neuropsychopharmacology.

The researchers found a high association between panic disorder, bipolar disorder, and physical illness. Saliently, they discoverer a significantly higher prevalence of certain physical illnesses among patients with panic disorder when compared to the general population.

“Panic disorder itself may be a predictor for a number of physical conditions previously considered unrelated to mental conditions, and for which there may be no or few biological markers,” explains Dr. Coplan.

As reported in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, the researchers proposed the existence of a spectrum syndrome comprising a core anxiety disorder and four related domains, for which they have coined the term ALPIM:

A = Anxiety disorder (mostly panic disorder);
L = Ligamentous laxity (joint hypermobility syndrome, scoliosis, double-jointedness, mitral valve prolapse, easy bruising);
P = Pain (fibromyalgia, migraine and chronic daily headache, irritable bowel syndrome, prostatitis/cystitis);
I = Immune disorders (hypothyroidism, asthma, nasal allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome); and
M = Mood disorders (major depression, Bipolar II and Bipolar III disorder, tachyphylaxis. Two thirds of patients in the study with mood disorder had diagnosable bipolar disorder and most of those patients had lost response to antidepressants).

Dr. Coplan notes that the proposal of ALPIM as a syndrome is not entirely new, in that it contains significant elements of previously described spectrum disorders. ALPIM’s primary contribution is to add novel elements and groupings, and to shed light on how these groupings overlap.

The study documented high prevalence of physical disorders among patients with panic disorder compared to the general population.

For example, joint laxity was observed in 59.3 percent of patients in the study compared with a prevalence of approximately 10 percent to 15 percent in the general population; fibromyalgia was observed in 80.3 percent of the subjects compared with approximately 2.1 percent to 5.7 percent in the general population; and allergic rhinitis was observed in 71.1 percent of subjects, whereas its prevalence is approximately 20 percent in the general population.

“Our argument is that delineations in medicine can be arbitrary and that some disorders that are viewed as multiple disparate and independent conditions may best be viewed as a single spectrum disorder with a common genetic etiology,” says Dr. Coplan.

“Patients deserve a more informed scientific understanding of spectrum disorders. The disorders that are part of the ALPIM syndrome may be better understood if viewed as a common entity.”

Source: SUNY Downstate Medical Center/EurekAlert

Jul 3

5 Things Never to Say to an Anxious Child


By Renee Jain, MAPP
I wanted to sleep with a bat under my pillow. It was plastic; nonetheless, it was a weapon. I was five years old, and I firmly believed that each night when I went to sleep, a robber would break into the house. I needed something to defend myself (and maybe my family), and my brother’s yellow Wiffle ball bat seemed ideal. Unfortunately, my parents never complied with my request.

They didn’t understand why I was so worried. After all, there was no logical evidence to support my anxiety: our neighborhood was safe, we had never experienced a break-in, and we had a security alarm to alert us of any danger. But who said anxiety was logical? It’s generally not. Actually, let’s back up. Who said what I was experiencing was “anxiety”?

Anxiety is a word that I use now, based on personal and professional hindsight. Back then, as far as my parents and I were concerned, I was simply prone to a bit of extra worry. None of us understood that my fearful thoughts were actually provoking a real nervous system response.

So how did my loving parents deal with my countless “what if” questions? “What if we get robbed?” “What if we forget to turn the alarm on?” “What if we leave the door unlocked?” “What if the robber finds my room?” How did they handle it when I knocked on their door at two o’clock in the morning, asking to go downstairs to check the lock once more for good measure?

My parents’ first line of defense was always reassurance. The next strategy involved invoking my logic. When all else failed, which it often did, they (understandably) became frustrated and sometimes expressed it.

Please know that my parents are amazing. They always supported me, but they didn’t really understand what I was going through at the time. It took me a couple of decades to figure it out and to find ways to help alleviate my worries.

To help other families going through something similar, I want to point out five phrases that were said to me out of great love yet never helped when I was in the throes of anxiety. Knowing what I know now, I’ll also tell you what I wish I could’ve expressed to my parents. Finally, I’ll present some alternative ways to help a child experiencing anxiety. Here’s that list:

1. Mommy said, “It’s going to be OK. Trust me.”

I wish I could have said, “Mommy, I know you’re trying to make me feel better, but my mind is telling me the opposite: ‘It’s NOT going to be OK.’ And my body seems to be responding to my mind. My heart is racing, my palms are sweating, and my tummy feels funny. It’s hard for your loving words to overpower what’s happening inside of me.”

Here’s what we know: The stress response is hardwired into our nervous system as a protective mechanism devised to enact the fight-or-flight reaction to threats. Anxiety mimics this response. As such, when your child is knee-deep in anxiety, a rapid stream of chemicals is dumped into the body for survival. This makes it difficult to think clearly and, subsequently, for words of reassurance to sink in.

Try this: Respond to your child’s nervous system first. Help them calm down with deep breathing. This can take the mind and body from fight-or-flight to rest-and-digest mode.

2. Daddy said, “There’s nothing to be scared of.”

I wish I could have said, “Daddy, remember the first time you asked Mommy out on a date? Remember your first day at a new job? Or remember the time when you got in that bike accident? Maybe your parents knew everything was going to be OK, too, but you didn’t know that. You experienced real fear. My fear is real, too.”

Here’s what we know: Anxiety initiates a fear alarm inside your child’s mind and body. It’s a false alarm, but nevertheless, it feels very real. That alarm is for protection; your child feels “stress” or “fear” in order to survive. To make sure one is really paying attention, the mind might even exaggerate the object of the worry (e.g., mistaking a stick for a snake).

Try this: Validate your child’s emotions. You can say, “I see that you’re scared. I’ve been scared before, too, and I know what that feels like.”

3. Mommy said, “Let me tell you all the reasons you don’t have to worry.”

I wish I could have said, “Mommy, I know that what you’re saying makes sense. It’s just that it’s hard to think clearly and logically in this moment. I have a lot of feelings right now and I’m just focusing on those. It’s just really hard to think clearly.”

Here’s what we know: One by-product of the anxiety response is that the prefrontal cortex—the more logical part of the brain—gets put on hold while the more automated emotional brain takes over. After all, cave people didn’t have a lot of time to use logic when it came to running away or fighting a predator.

Try this: Soothe the nervous system with a visualization exercise. Ask your child to envision a still, quiet place. Ask them to breathe in and out in a way that’s comfortable and to describe this place to you. Once your child is calm, discuss with the idea that feelings are not necessarily facts. Feelings can be challenged by saying, “Hey, I don’t think you’re really true!” Self-disputation is a great way to quell worry.

4. Daddy shouted, “STOP BEING SUCH A WORRIER!”

I wish I could have said, “Daddy, I know that you’re frustrated and even angry. This makes me feel so bad because I want to stop being a worrier; I really do. I want it to stop, but I just don’t know how. I wish I knew how.”

Here’s what we know: Kids who worry know that they worry more than others because they are labeled as “worriers” from a young age. They also compare themselves to others who have less anxious reactions to the same fears. In fact, many kids develop anxiety about having anxiety. Add on a dose of guilt from parents, and kids can feel completely miserable. Remember, kids often feel as helpless as adults do when it comes to chronic worry.

Try this: To the best of your ability, do not label your child. Instead, when they’re in a relaxed state, explain the evolutionary basis of worry. Seriously? Yes! Kids love to know that worry has a purpose and that everyone worries to some extent. You can use this infographic to guide your explanation.

5. Mommy and Daddy said, “We don’t understand why you’re so worried.”

I wish I could have said, “I know you don’t understand, but I need you to try. I need you to try to understand what I’m going through. Put your hand on my racing heart, listen to my shallow breath, look at me… this is real. I want you to understand. I need you to understand. Please tell me you get it. Please.”

Here’s what we know: When a child is anxious, they feel scared and helpless. If you also feel helpless as a parent, empathy can help guide your actions. By stepping into your child’s shoes and understanding their feelings and perspectives, your reaction to their needs will be more authentic and in line with their needs.

Try this: When your child feels anxious, try to recall a time when you felt true fear. Then connect with your child using these three words: “I get it.” Let your child know that you see that they are going through something challenging. Let your child know that you really see them.

On a final note, I wanted to say something to my parents and to all parents on behalf of anxious children: “We, too, get it. We understand what you sacrifice for us. We know that our pain and struggle become your own. We know that even on the days you feel completely helpless, you still try to support us—and you do. By never losing faith and never giving up, you are our models of grit and perseverance. Thank you.”

Jul 1



Posted by Chris Jones-Cardiff
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to have small segments of their DNA duplicated or missing than other children.

The first study to find a genetic link to ADHD also finds significant overlap between these segments, known as copy number variants (CNVs), and genetic variants implicated in autism and schizophrenia.

Researchers say the findings prove strong evidence that ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder—in other words, that the brains of children with the disorder differ from those of other children.

Details are published in The Lancet.

“We hope that these findings will help overcome the stigma associated with ADHD,” says Anita Thapar, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Cardiff University.

“Too often, people dismiss ADHD as being down to bad parenting or poor diet. As a clinician, it was clear to me that this was unlikely to be the case.

“Now we can say with confidence that ADHD is a genetic disease and that the brains of children with this condition develop differently to those of other children,” she says.

ADHD is one of the most common mental health disorders in childhood, affecting around one in 50 children in the UK. Children with ADHD are excessively restless, impulsive and distractible, and experience difficulties at home and in school.

Although no cure exists for the condition, symptoms can be reduced by a combination of medication and behavioral therapy.

The condition is highly heritable–children with ADHD are statistically more likely to also have a parent with the condition and a child with an identical twin with ADHD has a three in four chance of also having the condition.

Until now there has been no direct evidence that the condition is genetic and there has been much controversy surrounding its causes, which some people have put down to poor parenting skills or a sugar-rich diet.

Genomes of 366 children, all of whom had been given a clinical diagnosis of ADHD, were analyzed against more than 1,000 control samples in search of variations in their genetic make-up that were more common in children with the condition.

“Children with ADHD have a significantly higher rate of missing or duplicated DNA segments compared to other children and we have seen a clear genetic link between these segments and other brain disorders,” explains Nigel Williams, senior lecturer in the department of psychological medicine who took part in the study.

“These findings give us tantalizing clues to the changes that can lead to ADHD,” he adds

The researchers found that rare CNVs were almost twice as common in children with ADHD compared to the control sample—and even higher for children with learning difficulties. CNVs are particularly common in disorders of the brain.

There was also significant overlap between CNVs identified in children with ADHD and regions of the genome which are known to influence susceptibility to autism and schizophrenia.

While these disorders are currently thought to be entirely separate, there is some overlap between ADHD and autism in terms of symptoms and learning difficulties. The new research suggests there may be a shared biological basis to the two conditions.

The most significant overlap was found at a particular region on chromosome 16 which has been previously implicated in schizophrenia and other major psychiatric disorders and spans a number of genes including one known to play a role in the development of the brain.

“ADHD is not caused by a single genetic change, but is likely caused by a number of genetic changes, including CNVs, interacting with a child’s environment,” explains Kate Langley from Cardiff’s School of Medicine.

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