Wednesday, June 18, 2008

12 Tips to prevent Holiday Stress

When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress in the first place, especially if you know the holidays have taken an emotional toll in previous years.

1. Acknowledge your feelings
If a loved one has recently died or you aren't able to be with your loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness or grief. It's OK now and then to take time just to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.

2. Seek support
If you feel isolated or down, seek out family members and friends, or community, religious or social services. They can offer support and companionship. Consider volunteering at a community or religious function. Getting involved and helping others can lift your spirits and broaden your friendships. Also, enlist support for organizing holiday gatherings, as well as meal preparation and cleanup. You don't have to go it alone. Don't be a martyr.

3. Be realistic
As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Hold on to those you can and want to. But accept that you may have to let go of others. For example, if your adult children and grandchildren can't all gather at your house as usual, find new ways to celebrate together from afar, such as sharing pictures, e-mails or videotapes.

4. Set differences aside
Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all your expectations. Practice forgiveness. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. With stress and activity levels high, the holidays might not be conducive to making quality time for relationships. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

5. Stick to a budget
Before you go shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend on gifts and other items. Then be sure to stick to your budget. If you don't, you could feel anxious and tense for months afterward as you struggle to pay the bills. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Donate to a charity in someone's name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.

6. Plan ahead
Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make one big food-shopping trip. That'll help prevent a last-minute scramble to buy forgotten ingredients — and you'll have time to make another pie, if the first one's a flop. Expect travel delays, especially if you're flying.

7. Learn to say NO
Believe it or not, people will understand if you can't do certain projects or activities. If you say "yes" only to what you really want to do, you'll avoid feeling resentful, bitter and overwhelmed. If it's really not possible to say "no" when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

8. Don't abandon healthy habits
Don't let the holidays become a dietary free-for-all. Some indulgence is OK, but overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and schedule time for physical activity.

9. Take a breather
Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Steal away to a quiet place, even if it's to the bathroom for a few moments of solitude. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

10. Rethink resolutions
Resolutions can set you up for failure if they're unrealistic. Don't resolve to change your whole life to make up for past excess. Instead, try to return to basic, healthy lifestyle routines. Set smaller, more specific goals with a reasonable time frame. Choose only those resolutions that help you feel valuable and that provide more than only fleeting moments of happiness.

11. Forget about perfection
Holiday TV specials are filled with happy endings. But in real life, people don't usually resolve problems within an hour or two. Something always comes up. You may get stuck late at the office and miss your daughter's school play, your sister may dredge up an old argument, your partner may burn the cookies, and your mother may criticize how you're raising the kids. All in the same day. Accept imperfections in yourself and in others.

12. Seek professional help if you need it
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for several weeks, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. You may have depression.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alcoholism and depression

Alcohol abuse and depression can be a deadly mix.
Often, a person with depression will also have alcoholism, and vice versa. In fact, 30-50% of people with alcoholism, at any given time, also are suffering from major depression. Family history of depression or alcoholism puts a person at greater risk for developing either illness.

You should know that while alcohol often causes a good mood at first, it is a depression-causing drug.

Alcoholism may cause a relapse in people with depression. The depressive symptoms from alcohol are greatest when a person first stops drinking. So people recovering from alcoholism who have a history of depression should be carefully monitored during the early stages of withdrawal; the symptoms of depression are greatly reduced after three to four weeks of stopping drinking.

When a person suffers from major depression and abuses alcohol, he has a much higher risk of attempting and succeeding at suicide.
Other facts:
- alcohol abuse can exaggerate depression and increase impulsiveness;
- alcohol frequently is detected in suicide methods involving driving a moving vehicle or overdosing;
- alcohol impairs judgment, which explains its association with painful suicide methods.

Major depression and alcohol abuse are the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders in people who attempt suicide. A recent study showed that following age, alcoholism and drug addictions are the most likely reasons for suicide attempts.

Because of the risk of suicide, if you are suffering from major depression and abusing alcohol it is critical that you seek prompt medical attention.


3 important facts about Hypnosis

1. What is a hypnotic trance?
It is a normal and natural state that most of us experience several times a day. It commonly happens when people are driving. Have you ever driven somewhere and not really remembered the journey? It also often occurs when reading a book or watching TV. Sometimes you can be so absorbed in the book or TV programme that you are not consciously aware that someone is talking to you. Hypnosis is the focussing of the conscious attention in such a narrow corridor of influence. The conscious mind is so intensely focussed that other influences are not being critically analysed by the conscious mind. We still hear them, although we are not always aware. A good example of this is when you are in a place where there are several conversations going on at once. They may all sound like a mass of background noise. However if someone in one of those conversations mentions your name, you then consciously focus on that conversation. How did you know someone said your name? Your subconscious mind was listening to EVERY conversation AT THE SAME TIME! That is perhaps a reason why you can sometimes just know something. Your subconscious mind has absorbed it without you consciously being aware.

2. Is hypnosis dangerous?
A hypnotic trance is actually a very natural state that almost everyone goes into several times per day. In 1955 the British Medical Association set up an inquiry which favourably reported hypnosis as a therapeutic tool. It even recommended that it should be taught at medical schools. Hypnosis was also approved by the Council of Mental Health of the American Medical Association in September of 1958 as a safe practice with no harmful side effects. Since then there has been acceleration in the establishment of hypnosis societies for doctors, dentists, and psychologists. No one has been seriously hurt with hypnosis.

3. Can I be made to do things against my will?
You could never be made to do anything against your will or contrary to your value system. If this was actually possible, would there not be criminals learning the art of hypnotherapy in order to hypnotise their bank managers to opening the vaults and handing over a large sum of cash?! In a trance, you would not unknowingly reveal your deepest secrets. You can even lie when in a trance, which is one reason why testimony in hypnosis is not permissible evidence in a court of law. It is only used by police to help with the investigation. A person will only act upon suggestions that serve them in some way or reinforce an expected behaviour, anything else their subconscious will just ignore. Most people develop these misperceptions from seeing or hearing about a Stage Hypnosis show. However they largely achieve their results from showmanship, selection of the more extrovert people, and peer pressure.

Alcoholism F.A.Q.

How can I have a drinking problem if I can hold my liquor?
Anyone who drinks too much liquor in too short a time, with too little in their stomach, or with too little body mass gets drunk. Some people can drink more than others because of genetic factors or because they have built up their tolerance, just like any other drug user. Ironically, "holding your liquor" is actually a sign that you may have a drinking problem.

I’m no different when I drink than when I’m sober. Is it possible that it doesn’t affect me at all?
Most people who are moderate drinkers report that low doses of alcohol have a pleasant effect on their ability to communicate, a stimulant effect on appetite, and an overall relaxation effect.
A regular low-dose "user" of alcohol can experience a number of mental effects, ranging from sadness to anxiety, hyperactivity, and irritability, and a wide range of interpersonal problems. At higher, chronic doses continued drinking on a regular basis almost any psychiatric symptom can result, from paranoia to auditory hallucinations to intense prolonged insomnia. The effects on mental processes are as severe or as limited as the dose and length of use.

Do alcoholics have "addictive personalities"?
No one kind of addictive personality appears to predict alcoholism. The addictive personality does not seem to be inherited or to be present before the onset of alcoholism.
However, antisocial behavior in childhood frequently leads to alcohol drinking and eventual alcoholism. It is estimated that somewhere between 50 percent and 90 percent of prisoners are alcoholic, and many of these are antisocial personalities.

I like to drink. You could even say I’m a heavy drinker. Does that mean I’m an alcoholic?
Because someone is a "problem drinker" or "heavy drinker" does not mean that he or she is automatically an alcoholic. You can say that these people abuse alcohol, but alcoholism is an addiction with several definitions, and there is some controversy about how the diagnosis should be made.
We say alcoholism is an addiction primarily because it contains these crucial elements: preoccupation with acquisition, compulsive use, narrowing of interests, denial, and relapse. These factors are seen in addiction to all other drugs.
There is no single definition of alcoholism because the disease is so subtle in its progression. The point where heavy drinking becomes alcoholism is often unclear, but applying an overall definition of addiction compulsive use and continued abuse in spite of adverse consequences is a good place to begin.
Any person whose alcohol use has proceeded to the point of addiction as defined above, including serious interference with functional ability, is an alcoholic and needs immediate professional help.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Marijuana F.A.Q.

Can I die from a marijuana overdose?
A lethal overdose of marijuana is virtually impossible; however, deaths from accidents and multiple drug use are not uncommon.

I smoked pot in the 1960s. I went to a party last weekend and took a hit off a joint and thought I was going to die. I have never been that high before - what happened?
There may be several factors involved, but the most likely reason is the increase in the potency of today’s marijuana. Today, marijuana is up to 16 times stronger than what you smoked in the 1960s.

Why are doctors against the use of marijuana as a medicine?
They generally are not against it, but doctors are interested in administering active and effective treatments. It takes scientific studies to prove that a medication is safe and effective and is better than existing treatments. Smoked marijuana should be held to standards equivalent to other medications for approval, standardization of dose, efficacy and safety. Most of the work in the area of smoked marijuana does not meet the standards for FDA approval.

Why is marijuana use among American teens escalating?
Increases in use can be attributed, in part, to cultural influences that minimize the danger or glamourize drug use. Specifically, 41% of teens and 53% of their parents say that American culture glamourizes the use of illegal drugs.

What is marijuana treatment?
Recently, researchers have been testing different ways to attract marijuana users to treatment and help them abstain from drug use. Currently no medications for treating marijuana dependence are available. Treatment programs focus on counseling and group support systems.
A marijuana treatment group is typically an abstinence-based group of 10-12 persons trying to end their dependence on marijuana. In one recent study, 14 groups were started; they met once a week for 14 weeks and were led by two co-therapists. People were able to join without proving that they had stopped smoking pot before requesting assistance; thus, people entered the groups at varying levels of dependence. The intervention was designed to help people quit using marijuana by the fourth week. They were not asked to leave the group if they were unable to completely stop using marijuana. Instead, those still using the drug were encouraged by the therapists and group members to continue trying to stop.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Anxiety and Meditation

Anxiety is not only a driving force behind most severe psychiatric conditions, but one of the chief stumbling-blocks to their effective treatment. The highly anxious person is frequently afraid to talk about the very things which are most important for him or her to face. Unmitigated anxiety leading to panic is so painful an emotion that it is usually avoided at all costs, even if the costs be the undermining of the patient’s psychiatric treatment. Any auxiliary therapy that can reduce anxiety is therefore of help, one reason why tranquilizers are so widely prescribed.

In observing patients who are meditating, my psychotherapist colleagues and I have noticed that anxiety is lessened in a majority of them as they continue in their practice of meditation. These people now worry less about their jobs, their families and a host of anticipated dangers which formerly paralyzed their initiative. They seem protected or cushioned from these strains.

As their anxiety lessens, they also tend to be more relaxed and proficient at handling many tasks. This increased "coping ability" is different from that which we usually see in patients on tranquilizers or anti-depressant medication. Drugs may restore a patient to feeling more "normal" - "I feel like my old self since I’ve been taking my tranquilizer" - but the drug is not likely to foster personal growth or help the person experience life in a new way. By contrast, after commencing meditation, people often find themselves reacting in ways they have not done before. The practice of meditation tends to open up new horizons rather than restoring a former state of affairs. For this reason some psychiatrists familiar with meditation will recommend to patients that they try learning meditation, before prescribing tranquilizers for them.

Another advantage of meditation over drugs is the fact that the meditator does not ordinarily lose alertness or become groggy. People taking high dosages of tranquilizers, on the other hand, often complain that they feel dull or sleepy and that their reaction times are slowed down. Because of this, people taking these kinds of drugs are regularly cautioned not to use machinery or engage in other activities where quick reflexes are required. By contrast, meditators are frequently more alert, nimble and aware of their surroundings than they were before.

The very fact that meditation is something which patients can do for themselves also builds strength and confidence. People, who meditate when anxious and thereby regain a sense of calm, sense that they are in control of their own life and that no drug is doing the work "for them". One lesson of meditation, then, is that one can bring physical and mental processes under one’s own control, a basic step in coping with anxiety.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hypnosis F.A.Q.

Q. Can everyone be hypnotized?
A. Probably not. It is thought that a small percentage of the population, perhaps 10%, can not be hypnotized while an equivalent percentage is highly suggestible and very easily hypnotized.

Q. What does it feel like to be hypnotized?
A. Most people report a very pleasant, deeply relaxed feeling.

Q. How do you know that you are hypnotized?
A. You don't. Many people, even those who were very deeply hypnotized, are convinced that they were not really hypnotized but were very relaxed and "just felt like doing those things".

Q. What do you remember after being hypnotized?
A. Some people remember all or almost all of everything, some remember virtually nothing. Most remember parts but are frequently convinced that they remember everything. For many they are dream like memories.

Q. What are the practical uses of hypnosis?
A. The most important in my opinion is the use of self-hypnosis to better cope with stress and thus minimize the many adverse physical effects attributed to stress. Smoking, headaches, nail biting, compulsive behavior, fear of travel and other phobias are all areas where hypnosis may be helpful for some people. Hypnosis will apparently remove warts. Of course throwing a dead cat over your left shoulder in a cemetery at midnight will also remove warts. Possibly for the same reason: suggestion.

Q. Will hypnosis help athletes perform better?
A. It won't make them run faster than a speeding bullet but I think it may be helpful in improving concentration and motivation. My experience in working with athletes has been very limited. I have hypnotized quite a few golfers but have not noticed any of their names turning up on the leader board at major tournaments. I had the opportunity a few years ago to work with the point guard of a women's basketball team. Her coach had alerted me to one or two of her problems and I made suggestions to cope with them. The next day she had a career game and was instrumental in leading her team to an upset victory. Unfortunately circumstances prevented continued work with her. Another sports experience turned out far worse. At a show at a high school in southwestern Pennsylvania I suggested to the volunteers, as I frequently do, that they would find their home work, indeed all of their school work, both interesting and easy and would do the best work they had ever done. I had not realized that about half of my volunteers were members of the football team and when I arrived home that evening I had a call from an enraged coach. The players I had hypnotized had all skipped practice because they had to do their homework.

Hypnosis - myths and facts

The Hypnotist will be able to control my mind.
No one can control your mind, unless you let them. Your Hypnotherapist will give you suggestions that you want to be given, based on the Pre-Hypnotic Interview. At no point during your session will you lose control of your mind. If you hear a suggestion that you don't agree with, or don't understand, your subconscious mind will automatically reject it.

I will be made to perform embarrassing acts, such as bark like a dog, or walk like a duck.
This assumption is based on Stage Hypnotism and Hollywood fiction. The truth is, these people volunteer to act on stage, and thy allow themselves to participate in silly suggestions. Hypnotherapy is a serious process of self-improvement, not entertainment.

Hypnosis comes from "Black Magic" or is "Supernatural".
Hypnosis is a natural state that has been studied scientifically. Hypnotherapists are not Psychics or Palm Readers with "special powers". Hypnotherapy is based on many years of clinical research by famous Psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

If I become Hypnotized, I may not be able to snap out of it, or Hypnosis is Dangerous.
Hypnosis is very safe and is in fact, a state of hyper-awareness. Any time there is an emergency, a person would naturally be able to come out of the Hypnotic state by opening their eyes, and stretching or speaking.

I have never been in Hypnosis before.
Every person naturally enters a state of hypnosis at least twice everyday: just before falling asleep at night, and upon awaking every morning, before getting out of bed. Most people easily enter "Environmental Hypnosis" while at the movies, watching TV, driving on the highway, or while reading a good book.

Hypnosis is a "Miracle Cure".
While Hypnosis is a relatively quick method of making permanent improvements, there is no such thing as a one-time "Hypno-Miracle"! Every individual makes progress at his or her own rate. Be weary of those who make wild claims of overnight success.

Hypnosis is a great tool to get someone to "confess".
Hypnotherapy sessions are kept private and cannot be used for court testimony. It is not an alternative to lie detector tests. Hypnosis cannot force anyone to "tell the truth" or to confess.

When Hypnotized, I will lose all sense of my surroundings, and will have no memory of the session.
hypnosis is not an unconscious state of sleep. In fact, most people report having a heightened sense of awareness, concentration and focus, and can even hear more acutely during a session.

Self-Hypnosis is safer, better, or more effective than going to a trained professional.
Self-Hypnosis can be detrimental when not taught by a trained professional, as a negative attitude or belief about oneself will be reinforced regardless of suggestions given. This can cause more stress and problems in the long run. Hypnotherapy directly accesses the subconscious mind, while Self-Hypnosis cannot.

I can't be hypnotized because my mind is too strong.
Basically anyone can be hypnotized as long as they do not belong to the following groups of people:
- children who are age under 4;
- people who are mentally challenged;
- people who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol;
- people who are unwilling to be hypnotized.

Friday, June 6, 2008

PAIN is imagination?

"In a sense, pain is always in our heads. By definition, pain is a subjective and personal experience. Its existence cannot be proved..."

D. Martin

Antidepressants against chronic pain

is the antidepressant most commonly prescribed for pain, and it's the one that has been studied most thoroughly. Other tricyclic antidepressants used for pain include:
Imipramine (Tofranil)
Nortriptyline (Pamelor)

Tricyclic antidepressants seem to work best for the burning or searing pain common after nerve damage, which sometimes occurs with diabetes, shingles or strokes. These drugs are also effective in some people for fibromyalgia, or as a preventative for migraines.

The painkilling mechanism of these drugs is still not fully understood. Tricyclic antidepressants may increase neurotransmitters in the spinal cord that reduce pain signals. But they don't work immediately. You may have to take a tricyclic antidepressant for several weeks before it starts reducing your pain.

Tricyclic antidepressants don't cause dependence or addiction, and they're safe to take for long periods of time. But they can make you drowsy. To manage this side effect, take your tricyclic in the evening, just before bed. In addition, these drugs may cause dry mouth, constipation, weight gain, difficulty with urination and changes in blood pressure. If you have heart disease, these medications may not be a good choice. Discuss it with your doctor.

To reduce or prevent side effects, your doctor will likely start you at a low dose and slowly increase the amount. Most people are able to take tricyclic antidepressants, particularly in low doses, with only mild side effects. The doses that are effective for pain are typically lower than the doses used for depression.

Symptoms of nicotine dependence

  1. You can't stop smoking. You've made one or more serious, but unsuccessful, attempts to stop.

  2. You experience strong withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop. Your attempts at stopping have caused physical signs and symptoms of addiction, such as craving for tobacco, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, headache, drowsiness, stomach upset, even constipation or diarrhea.

  3. You keep smoking despite health problems. Even though you've developed problems with your lungs or your heart, you haven't stopped or can't stop.

  4. You give up social or recreational activities in order to smoke. You may stop going to certain restaurants or stop socializing with certain family members or friends because you can't smoke in these situations.