Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Beat Depression

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has had a huge amount of research carried out on it by medical professional scientists to show its effectiveness against depressive disorders. More and more people suffer from depression and other mental health problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), acute anxiety and eating disorders. This could be due to the global economic downturn and people struggling with employment and housing or it could be that depression is not the taboo subject that it once was, and many people are more open about their suffering nowadays. It is perfectly normal to get depression at any point in life as it can be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain which you have no control over.

Self help booksAt one time doctors would simply give you anti-depressants to deal with anxiety or low mood without addressing the cause. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a brilliant way to treat mental health problems, either instead of medication or alongside it. It is not the type of treatment where you would lie on a couch and tell the doctor all about your past. CBT totally focuses on the here and now, and how a person is feeling on a day to day basis. It is a therapy which will not cure depression, but it will help you think more positively about things in general by changing negative behavioral cycles.

People who suffer from depression and anxiety etc, think very negatively about life and about themselves. A CBT therapist works with a patient to identify the link between negative thoughts and the effect it has on a person’s mood. A specially trained therapist will encourage a person to concentrate on their negative thought and address it. To ask themselves questions such as ‘why did I just have that thought and what triggered it’ and ‘How does the thought make me feel and how can I change the negative way I feel to a positive feeling’. A CBT therapist will ask the patient to keep a mood and thought journal. They are expected to keep a daily record of any negative thoughts they have and how it affects their mood. CBT basically addresses the way we think, feel and then how we go on to behave as a result of these thoughts. Similarly, if a person occasionally has a nice thought with even a hint of positivity, CBT would encourage internalization of how the nice thought made them feel. This ‘behavioral exposure’ is quite a baptism of fire but has proven positive results.

CBT has a very high success rate for people suffering from certain mental health problems such as clinical depression, OCD, body dimorphic disorder, anxiety and eating disorders. By keeping thought journals as well as talking openly to a qualified therapist, sufferers can begin to change their negative thought patterns by recognizing it when it comes, analyzing it and then letting it go, no longer dwelling on it and letting it trigger low mood. Most people find having a year or so of CBT therapy makes them feel empowered and more assertive, resulting in less negative emotional feelings.

Of course CBT does not suit everyone and is not helpful for all conditions. Some people find it too distressing to write down their thoughts and analyse the way they are feeling as this in itself can bring on an anxiety attack. There are other things to try such as meditation, mindfulness and hypnosis which have all proved to be effective in helping to cope with depression and putting a more positive spin on thinking patterns.

About the author
Grace Pamer is a work from home mom and the author of www.RomanceNeverDies.com, one woman’s on going quest to get the world reacquainted with the art of writing love letters.

How Mindfulness Can Help With Depression, Stress, Anxiety and Chronic Pain

For over thirty years mindfulness has been a recognized alternative therapy to help people cope with illnesses such as depression, acute anxiety, stress, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and even chronic pain. Mindfulness proves that we can use our own bodies as a way to increase awareness.

Difficulties such as depression and mental health problems or living with chronic pain are part of life. Using mindfulness as part of our everyday lives can help us cope with these things in a better way. Being mindful cannot cure problems and you will still have to take any normal medication, but it helps to change the way in which we think about them. This is because practicing mindfulness refocuses our minds.

We can begin practicing being mindful by taking small steps. Mindfulness is all about being aware of what we are doing at any one given time. So next time you are doing something routine such as eating a bowl of pasta, concentrate on eating the food and ask yourself ‘what is the texture of my food like?’, ‘What flavors can I detect?’. Really try and chew your food and be aware of the nourishment that your body is getting. You can do these exercises in all your daily activities. For example, when you are going for a walk, try and notice your surroundings by asking yourself what you can see, what do the trees look like? Is it cold or breezy? You normally carry out these tasks without giving it a thought. By practicing these rituals while you are living your normal life, you will soon learn that you can feel enriched. Negative thought cycles often caused by depression, will start to become broken. You may usually think that if you answer the door you will have an anxiety attack, but by being mindful and taking slow deep breaths, this feeling will pass and it will eventually become the norm to address your problems without worry.

If your normal first reaction on waking in the morning is negative and you lack motivation then this can be very distressing. Being mindful helps your pain tolerance increase and this has a domino effect because you will automatically fear the pain, anxiety or stress less. The more you fear bad things happening, the more likely it is that they will happen. If you are in a calm, peaceful state this will help you deal with all of your problems.

Meditation is a key part of practicing mindfulness and does not come naturally to most people. Like all things in life, it is a skill which can be learned over time. You should start off by lying or sitting comfortably and try your best to clear your mind (it is perfectly normal for your mind to start wandering after about twenty seconds so don’t worry). If you notice that you are thinking about doing the laundry or something else, try and stop that thought and get back into the deep breathing, concentrating on how your breath comes out of your nostrils, or how your tummy rises and falls with each breath. Practice this exercise at least twice a day just for three minutes. After doing it for a couple of weeks you will notice that your mind does not wander as much and you are able to stay in a meditative state for longer than three minutes. Even if it takes you weeks or even months to acquire this skill please do not worry. Mindfulness is purely non judgmental. You are not letting yourself or anybody else down by not being an expert at meditation.

Once you are comfortable with sitting quietly concentrating on your breathing you can begin to introduce visualization techniques. Think of a lovely place that you can remember. It can be anything at all, perhaps a nice garden that you have sat in, a park you have visited or a stream. While you are picturing this object or place try and imagine that you are there and how it makes you feel. Using visualization exercises regularly lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, making the mind and body feel calmer.

Remember you should practice and practices again at bringing your attention back to your body, to the moment you are in. Making this simple effort gives us the power to expand our awareness from times when we are meditating to living mindfully every day. In other words, the meditation can help keep us relaxed even while we are not in a meditative state. Use your breath while you are trying to complete difficult tasks. Direct your full attention to each in-breath and each out-breath as they follow one another. By doing this you can bring both body and mind into a state of well being and stillness. You will find that after being mindful for a few weeks it starts to come naturally to you. And you will soon notice that your stress levels are not as high, you are having less panic attacks, your OCD is more controlled and you are dealing with your pain better.

Life is not a bowl of cherries and sometimes we can be overwhelmed by depression and distress. Fear, worry, pain, self loathing or hopelessness is part of many people’s daily lives. Practicing mindfulness gives us the tools to cope better with these difficult issues by helping us be more alert, aware, and accepting of ourselves as we are. By being mindful we can learn to live without fear, just live in the moment, and just be.

Mike Sorensen is an audiophile and the author of the www.AcousticFields.com soundproofing blog. Music has always been his greatest escape from the onset of depression.

How to Write the Best Argumentative Essay – 3 Techniques

Argumentative essays require a lot of research and a genuine interest in the topic in order to be successful. Studying the various viewpoints of an argument and collecting evidence for and against each opinion is vital.

This type of essay takes on quite a specific format in the form of the introduction, clearly organized main body and final conclusion.

Firstly…

You must carry out thorough research on your topic of choice. Your chosen topic should be of genuine interest to you. There is nothing harder than having to argue on a topic that you hold no interest in. You must be able to demonstrate that your beliefs are reasonable and logical by providing evidence to back up any claims. Have an in-depth understanding of all viewpoints on the topic so that you can substantiate both sides of the argument with sufficient evidence.

Secondly…

Introduce your topic clearly with a brief explanation touching on both sides of the argument and where your view sits. The main body of the essay must include more detail with strong evidence in support of your findings. You must also include evidence to support any other viewpoints. By considering carefully the possible reasons that others share differing ideas, you can gather enough evidence to refute their claims and strengthen your own. In your conclusion you must summarise the evidence you have found and come upon a final decision be it that you are right or simply that you still have strong beliefs but are happy to ‘agree to disagree’.

Thirdly…

The way in which you present your essay can say a lot to the reader. Ensuring that you format your work neatly and clearly will make it far more readable and appealing. Making each section of the essay clearly identifiable allows you to appear professional and the master of your topic. By using a writing program such as Microsoft Word, you have access to all the formatting, font styles and sizes that you need. Word comes as part of the Microsoft Office 2010 Package and also includes Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and many other programs. For students and teachers there are many online Student Software Stores where you can find specially discounted software for students with up to 90% discount on normal retail prices.

 

How to Cure Depression without Medication

Approximately 50 percent of people who suffer from depression do not benefit from prescribed anti depressants, according to Gracelyn Guyol an author and researcher who cured herself naturally from depression and bipolar. She also states that those who do find benefit from anti depressants, discontinue using them due to the side effects. Medication does not cure depression, what it does is temporarily mask the symptoms which then leads to addiction. The most effective way of beating depression is without medication, knowing what techniques can assist you, and being committed to your treatment will eradicate depression permanently.

It is essential that you know as much about depression as possible, and the range of symptoms that are associated with its different types. This will assist you in finding the most effective methods of self treatment. A helpful book to begin with is “Depression for Dummies,” by Laura L. Smith. This book covers all you need to know from the different types of depression and the symptoms; it also discusses techniques, and methods you can use to cope with the disorder.

There are certain types of depression that are caused by an underlying medical problem; you first need to go to the doctors to ensure that this is not the case. If you have a medical condition that you are unaware of, you will not be able to cure your depression unless the medical condition has first been dealt with.

There are a number of conditions that can cause depression; these include stroke, Lyme disease, diabetes, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease, brain trauma and multiple sclerosis.

Depression leads to isolation, this can make your condition worse as you are alone with the negative thoughts which are the cause of your depression. Go out with friends and family, join a support group or become a volunteer. Anything that keeps you in regular contact with people will help to manage the symptoms of the condition.

According to Dr. Segal you should speak to a therapist, the simple act of talking about your problems can help. Your therapist will be able to assist you in getting to the root cause of your condition; when this has been discovered, he/she can develop a treatment plant to help you to cope with the symptoms.

Start exercising for at least 15 to 30 minutes per day. You don’t need to do anything strenuous or go to the gym, going for a walk every day is enough. This helps to relieve stress which is one of the main reasons why people become depressed in the first place. Exercise also releases dopamine and serotonin, these are chemicals responsible for your mood; when released, you will start to feel happier.

There are several relaxation techniques that can treat depression, at the same time as stimulating feelings of well-being. Some of the better techniques include mediation, visualization, yoga and deep breathing exercises. Not all techniques are going to work with everyone. Therefore, you will need to try out different methods to see which of them works best for you. Once you have determined this, you will need to incorporate it into your daily routine in order to experience the full benefits.

About the author
Grace Pamer is a work from home mom and the author of www.RomanticFrugalMom.com, one woman’s on going quest to get her family to go green whilst keeping romance alive in her marriage. Check out her love letters for him section if you need help writing a love letter to your nearest and dearest because of a hectic schedule because ethical living starts at home.

Image via Creative Commons

February 15, 2012Permalink 1 Comment

Find The Right Drug Treatment For You

People who are suffering from a drug addiction don’t all arrive there in the same way. The reasons behind their addiction are varied, as is the length of the addiction and how it’s affecting their lives. So it only makes sense that drug treatment isn’t a one size fits all deal. What works for one addict may not work for another. The key to successful drug treatment is finding the right fit for you.

As long as you choose the right Maryland treatment centers or any other facility within the United States for your needs, you will be fine.

Here are three key things that you will need in order to get healthy again.

The right environment

There are numerous drug treatment centers that you can choose to go to. If you are absolutely not comfortable with the drug treatment center, then odds are you are going to fight your treatment every step of the way. While it is normal that there is some level of discomfort, if you think that it is going to be impossible for you to stay there, then you will want to look into other treatment centers. But don’t just walk out at the first sign of discomfort: look around, ask questions. Get a feel for the place.

The right doctor

As with the actual center, the first time you meet with your doctors and therapists, there will be a certain level of discomfort and awkwardness. But as you work with them, this should dissipate. But if you find that there is a major personality conflict with a doctor or therapist, then your treatment may not work. Ask up front if it will be possible to switch doctors or counselors if any issues arise.

The right treatment

There is not just one method of treatment when it comes to drug addiction. There are more than a handful of treatment methods that may or may not work for you. They key here is to be open to all forms of treatment so that you can find the one that will work for you. At first it might be a trial and error method, but you will find one that is a great fit.

Impressing Recruiters – Five Simple Tips

If you’re looking to secure one of the precious graduate jobs out there then there are a number of things that you can do to maximize your chances of getting an interview.

Tailor your CV
The most common mistake that job applicants make is updated or adding to their CV as if it were a list. Don’t fall into this trap. In today’s jobs market every application should be unique, and you should ensure that your CV highlights the skills that make you ideal for the exact role you’re applying for. Don’t be afraid to boast a little – save the modesty for another time!

Understand What Recruiters Do
Recruiters have a job to do, just like anyone else, but it just so happens that theirs is to get other people into work. If you can show them that you completely understand the role, that you meet their criteria and that you’re someone who would be good to have around their organization, then you will have made it easy for them to hire you.

Appearance and Demeanor
How you sell your personality is up to you, but taking care of your appearance and being polite should be considered essential. Being well-dressed, well-mannered and doing your best to make a good first impression will certainly help your chances. Dry-clean your suit, polish your shoes, and maybe even go for a haircut. Make sure you feel great when you go for an interview. Like it or not, your appearance at a formal interview reflects how well you take care of yourself, and recruiters often equate how well someone takes care of their appearance to how well they can take of their work.

Money
Talking about salary or benefits can be tricky at any time, and ought to be avoided unless the recruiter raises it with you. The best time to discuss it, if your questions haven’t already been answered, is after you receive a job offer.

Be Confident and Open
If a recruiter is talking to you then the chances are that they know you possess most of the qualities they are looking for. Most graduate jobs have very high applicant-to-interview ratios, so, if a recruiter has taken the time in their day to contact you, make sure to thank them for it and recognize that it’s because of your experience and qualifications.

The Dangerous Myth of Teen Suicide – Doing It For Attention

In 15-24 year olds, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death. In 5-14 year old children, it is the sixth. These alarming statistics show that youth and teen suicide is a serious problem with our younger population. Unfortunately, many of these suicides could have been avoided if friends and family recognized the warning signs and ignored the dangerous myth that these suicidal threats were “for attention.”

If an adult man was depressed and verbalized to others that he desired to end his life, in most cases that threat would be taken seriously by those around him. Other adults would immediately recognize that his thoughts and words were out of character. The danger with teens who threaten suicide, however, is that their threats are often dismissed as being dramatic, attention-seeking or overly emotional because they are frequently in a moody or irritable state. Teens become emotionally distraught very easily in their everyday lives. Like “the boy who cried wolf,” it can be difficult to distinguish when a child is being sincere.

Err on the side of caution

The number one rule of thumb should always be to err on the side of caution. Never make the dangerous assumption that a child is only “doing it for attention.” A common mistake that adults make, when dismissing a child’s suicidal thoughts, is that they look for reasons to justify why a child is so upset. A recent break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend is an excellent example of an excuse that is used to rationalize away these extreme emotions. However, if a child has already been emotionally distressed over other life challenges such as parents divorcing, worries about the future, problems with peers in school or failing grades, the breakup of an important relationship can be the final emotional trigger that leads a teen to feel suicide is the only way to end the pain.

Another common mistake that occurs is when adults fail to see that what they are labeling a cause of depression is actually a symptom of depression. In a recent true story, a 17 year old teenager began engaging in risky behaviors. He was drinking, doing drugs, his grades were failing and he broke up with his girlfriend of 14 months for no apparent reason. Feeling lonely and regretting his mistake of ending this important relationship, he wanted his ex back, but she declined and had moved on. He began threatening suicide to his ex-girlfriend, continually messaging her that his life was hopeless. Initially, she told no one about his suicidal thoughts simply because he asked her not to. Eventually, she told his mother and her own parents, but they did nothing and stated directly he was “doing it for her attention.” Fortunately, the young girl didn’t give up and finally found an adult who would listen. It took two direct suicidal threats and two calls to 911 for the young man to finally be taken seriously. He is in inpatient treatment and is getting the help he needs.

That is the kind of help that private drug rehab in Indiana and in other parts of the United States can bring.

In the above example, adults believed the teen’s regret over breaking up was why he was messaging her “dramatic” suicidal thoughts. However, his breaking up with her out of the blue was actually a symptom of his severe depression, including the other signs such as drug use and falling grades. Many adults and even counselors lack the whole picture of what a teen is feeling inside. Looking for an easier explanation to minimize the seriousness of the suicidal threat puts many depressed teens in harm’s way. In this story, the depression was actually due to severe emotional abuse in his household. He turned to drugs to dull the pain, and pushed away his girlfriend. Outsiders only saw a young man who was distraught over a relationship and drew dangerous, inaccurate conclusions from there.

Adults and teenagers both need to understand that youth who threaten to take their own lives actually do commit suicide. No one who commits suicide truly wants to die, they merely feel hopeless that their internal pain will never stop. Exclaiming to others that they want to die can often be a first step in preparing for the tragic end result of carrying out on those threats. In no instance should anyone dismiss threats, feeling they have an explanation for why a teen is feeling so upset. Every 100 minutes one 15-24 year old will take his or her own life. Many of these young adults will commit suicide because no one took their cries for help seriously, dismissing them as merely “doing it for attention.”

About the Author
Grace Pamer is a mom of 3, avid writer and widley known as the love letters lady. She runs a popular section called love letters for him on her Romantic Frugal Mom blog, a guide which helps couples to compose love letters for their nearest and dearest.

Image via Creative Commons

January 19, 2012Permalink 1 Comment

Popular New Year’s Resolutions

Every year newspapers, magazines, and websites post lists of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions along with suggestions on how to make a resolutions list and keep it. It’s as predictable as the appearance of holiday decorations and airings of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Looking back at resolutions made at the start of 2011, researcher Alexander Cherney found that losing weight was the top goal of surveyed Americans, with over 40% listing it as their top resolution. Unfortunately, it’s also at the top of the list of unachieved resolutions.  Along with losing weight, getting fit or exercising more is also a popular resolution, as is eating healthier.

The important thing in choosing a resolution is to pick goals that are achievable over the long-term. It also depends on your ability to develop new habits and the discipline to keep them throughout the year. For example, trying to save money may be difficult when it comes time to find a new apartment. Having the will power to keep your year-long budget in mind will keep you from splurging on the condo you can’t afford in favor of the smaller unit that will help you meet your goals.

Other popular resolutions, according to government statistics:

  • Get a Better Job
  • Drink Less
  • Quit Smoking
  • Manage Debt
  • Volunteer
  • Take a Vacation
  • Spend More Time with Family/Friends
  • Recyle

photo by Between a Rock, courtesy Creative Commons License

December 30, 2011Permalink 1 Comment

The Future of Solar Power – Solar Power Harvesting From Space

The scientific community has been on a swift curve toward better ways to harness the suns energy. There are drastic limitations on Earth bound solar collection due to atmospheric absorption which causes a decrease in the energy emitted by the sun. However, from space nothing will stand in the way of complete garnering and retaining of all accessible sunlight. In fact, traveling in geosynchronous orbit will position satellites in the perfect realm for collection of constant, direct and completely uninterrupted solar energy.

From Germany to Japan scientists are investigating the best ways to apply space based solar power harvesting. Most are in agreement that the best solutions are to utilize microwave amplification via stimulated emission of radiation or some variation thereof to beam energy from space to Earth.The benefit of employing microwaves lies in the fact that, when the frequencies are kept at approximately10 gigahertz or below, they have the ability to penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere without the concern of energy loss through absorption, even with considerations of adverse weather conditions. With that said, the issue with microwaves is that they are prone to spreading, which then must be combated with ever increasing receiver sizes, dependent on the distance the waves must travel to their destination.

Considering most existing satellites function above the earths surface at an orbit around 21,750 miles, land locked receivers would have to span a relatively vast area, perhaps literally hundreds of square miles. The idea is slightly less than practical in its simplest form. To combat this, the idea of a narrowed beam tuned to a wavelength that would not harm humans but would still retain its durability has been proposed as one of the most reasonable options. Such a beam would have a fixed reception point on the Earth’s surface.

Another, slightly more elaborate idea, presented at the International Union of Radio Science’s 30th General Assembly, was to virtually permanently dispel the issue by utilizing both lasers and microwaves. Alone, lasers are unstable and easily scattered; in theory a laser would beam the solar energy from a platform in space to an unmanned craft sitting just above the Earth’s surface, in fact, only 12 miles above. The craft would then transform the laser to microwaves and complete the transfer of energy to the ground receiver which could then be scaled down to a mere 130 feet.

Despite what mat seem like hindering factors to the project scientists around the world agree that in the next 10 to 20 years there will be functional solar harvesting from space. Potentially it could tale the place of solar panels for homeowners, however the cost would be astronomical. Whole cities won’t be powered, that will take significant advances in spaceflight technology and efficiency of solar usage but major staples such as hospitals or military will be able to utilize the resource. When can you expect solar power to your house from space? Well, when it is more economic to get the equipment where it is needed, in space, it will have the potential to become commonplace.

For now, the majority of solar energy is harnessed through the use of solar panels. In fact, solar panel installer training is becoming more and more commonplace as the need to conserve energy grows.
December 3, 2011Permalink 1 Comment

Why a Tropical Vacation is Good for Mental Health

Today, it isn’t uncommon for people to live very busy lives. Between going to work every day, coming home to take care of our children, making dinner to then repeat this several times each week, it’s easy to understand why we get burnt out so easily and need a vacation.

Though vacations can be costly, they are very beneficial to our health. Now, if you are planning a tropical vacation, here are some reasons it can be so therapeutic for your mental health:

Something to look forward to
When we have a vacation we’re planning to go on, our brain releases endorphins, also known as those feel good hormones. This is great for our mental health because it instantly reduces stress and gets us excited for our trip.

The warm weather
Warm weather can put anyone in a great mood. So, when you plan a trip to a tropical island, not only is it exciting to look forward to, but the warm weather on our trip can really help us relax and unwind. Warm weather has a great affect to our mind and body. Not only is it calming, but it’s also comforting, especially if we come from a cooler climate.

The scenery
The scenery of a tropical island is enough to get anyone excited. Though our hometowns are unique in their own way, a tropical island has scenery like no other. Not only can you stare at miles and miles of ocean, but the palm trees, white sandy beaches and all the beautiful colors put together are unlike any other thing.

The laid back lifestyle
When someone goes on a vacation to a tropical island, as opposed to a busy city vacation, one can relax and enjoy the sights and sounds around them while staying relaxed. Not only is lying out by a pool enjoyable, but so is the spa time, as well as the ocean views. Though it’s nice to stay busy and have all sorts of fun things planned for a vacation, it’s also nice to just take it easy and get away from that busy lifestyle that we live at home. In order to fully unwind and relax, it’s best to just take advantage of the laid back lifestyle of a tropical island like Hawaii.

As you can see, there are some tremendous health benefits to taking a tropical vacation. Though vacations in general can help the mind and body, the more relaxing ones tend to be even more helpful.