Category: Therapy

2 + 2

2+2 = 4 may not always be the best way to solve the problem.

Have you ever wondered what mental health has to do with relationships?  People in their interactions with others often talk about their partner and what they have done wrong, what drives them bananas about their partners, or just why something isn’t working in their personal relationships. We all have a tendency to point the finger at the other person when questioned about why the relationship might not be working.  And while the adage says “it takes two”, the truth is, oftentimes there are more than two people present than just the couple.  Let me explain.

When relationships are formed with new partners, it is inevitable that the person does not come to the other with a blank slate.  There are previous partners, prior experiences and interactions, not to mention the history that is carried from families of origin and early childhood experiences.  And while physical chemistry plays an important role, we tend to be drawn to people who are somewhat familiar in their demeanor, mannerisms and overall presentation.   The beginning of a new romance is typically the fun and exciting part; but, what happens after the initial attraction diminishes and a sense of discomfort arises?  And why when the chemistry was so strong, does the feeling of overall well-being not continue?  Don’t most of us want to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after?  It is not unusual for old relationships, previous experiences and preconceived belief systems to invade the current relationships we are in.  These previous experiences can sometimes wreak havoc with the way we interact and respond and some of the decisions that we make while with our new partner.

If you are beginning to have conflict in your relationship or are questioning the things that may or not be happening in the relationship you are in, you may want to consider asking the following questions:

 

  • Are you stuck in a pattern of choosing similar people each time in spite of looking for the opposite of your previous relationship?
  • If you missed the initial warning signs (and sometimes they are hard to see) when do you decide that you are in the wrong relationship and need to get out?
  • What attracted you to the person you are involved with?
  • Did the physical attraction change or the dynamics of the interactions change?
  • What are your expectations? Have they been met and/or have they changed?
  • What are you prepared to give to the relationship and what are you hoping to receive in return?:
  • Are you disappointed; and, how do you express that disappointment to your partner?
  • Can you identify the difference between being suffocated, and controlled?
  • Are you involved with someone who is physically present but emotionally unavailable?
  • Are you reluctant to leave your current relationship out of fear of missing the person you are with from fear of being alone and without a significant other?

Are you having difficulty answering these questions or responding affirmatively to many of the questions asked? Seeking professional advice can help you process your answers and guide you onto the path that you believe is the best for you to follow.  Having an objective opinion, gaining insight into your behaviors and looking at things rationally can benefit you greatly.  We are here to help and look forward to working with you. Call us, we can help you.

 

Turning negatives into positives

Through the years, songwriters have written about how important it is to avoid negative thinking and focus on the positive. As emulated in popular songs from previous times such as: “Accentuate the Positive”, ”Sunny Side of the Street”, and “Put on a Happy Face”, to more recent songs such as: Pharell Williams’ “Happy”, and Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”, no one appears immune to having negative thoughts and experiencing feelings of the blues. The question of nature vs. nurture can be debated as to why some people always tend to go to a negative thought first; however, it is more important to focus on ways to become a more positive thinker than it is to figure out why. And for those that will argue that negative thinking has been a part of their life for as long as they can remember, please know that the more you practice positive thinking the more habitual and natural it will become. Here are some tips to help in becoming a more positive thinker:

  • Start by writing down the recurring negative thoughts you have.
  • Challenge those thoughts with at least one positive statement, Make the effort to add to this list even if you do not believe it will happen or apply to you.
  • Visualize positive things replacing the “not so positive thoughts you are having”.
  • Be mindful of your thoughts before you act on them. Try to act on the positive thought you are having. Some people think negatively as a way of avoiding disappointment, believing if they do not have positive expectations they will not be let down. Others may be in a frame of mind where they have to search for positives, and unless someone prods them they can’t think of any positives. Focus! Focus! Focus!
  • Try to step outside of yourself and act as if you were going to be making these choices for people you care about. Would you still be focusing on the “what ifs”, the “I cant’s” and the “never will happen to me” syndrome?
  • Do some yoga, meditation and/or some physical exercise. Endorphins are real and need to be released. Releasing these endorphins WILL make you feel better.
  • Make a play list of every positive song you can think of or research positive songs and put them on your playlist to listen to when you start feeling negative.

Remember that practice makes perfect. Just like brushing your teeth becomes second nature, so will going to a positive place with your thoughts. If you find that all your effort is not making a difference, it may be time to think about getting more professional assistance. Medication may also be an option. It may help get you past the depression you may be experiencing as a result of long-term negative thinking.

We feel what we think and we act as we feel. No one likes to be negative all the time. A professional can help.

Early childhood depression alters brain development @MNT_psychology

The brains of children who suffer clinical depression as preschoolers develop abnormally, compared with the brains of preschoolers unaffected by the disorder, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Their gray matter – tissue that connects brain cells and carries signals between those cells and is involved in seeing, hearing, memory, decision-making and emotion – is lower in volume and thinner in the cortex, a part of the brain important in the processing of emotions. The new study is published Dec. 16 in JAMA Psychiatry. “What is noteworthy about these findings is that we are able to see how a life experience – such as an episode of depression – can change the brain’s anatomy,” said first author Joan L. Luby, MD, whose research established that children as young as 3 can experience depression. “Traditionally, we have thought about the brain as an organ that develops in a predetermined way, but our research is showing that actual experience – including negative moods, exposure to poverty, and a lack of parental support and nurturing – have a material impact on brain growth and development.” The findings may help explain why children and others who are depressed have difficulty regulating their moods and emotions. The research builds on earlier work by Luby’s group that detailed other differences in the brains of depressed children. Luby, the Samuel and
Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Child Psychiatry, and her team studied 193 children, 90 of whom had been
diagnosed with depression as preschoolers. They performed clinical evaluations on the children several times as they aged. The researchers also conducted MRI scans at three points in time as each child got older. The first scans were performed when the kids were ages 6 to 8, and the final scans were taken when they were ages 12 to 15. A total of 116 children in the study received all three brain scans. “If we had only scanned them at one age or stage, we wouldn’t know whether these effects simply were present from birth or reflected an actual change in brain development,” said co-investigator Deanna M. Barch, PhD, head of Washington University’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences. “By scanning them multiple times, we were able to see that the changes reflect an actual difference in brain maturation that emerges over the course of development.” The gray matter is made up mainly of neurons, along with axons that extend from brain cells to carry signals. The gray matter processes information, and as children get older, they develop more of it. Beginning around puberty, the amount of gray matter begins to decline as communication between neurons gets more efficient and redundant processes are eliminated. “Gray matter development follows an inverted Ushaped
curve,” Luby said. “As children develop normally, they get more and more gray matter until puberty,
but then a process called pruning begins, and unnecessary cells die off. But our study showed a much steeper drop-off, possibly due to pruning, in the kids who had been depressed than in healthy children.”