All are agreed. 2008 was a terrible year. Woolworth's has gone, stock markets have crashed, house prices have collapsed and we're all a little poorer. To pile on the agony, it's making us feel old and ever more weary. Any one of these things is enough to send us into a spiral of depression leading to the very nadir of despair.
But help is at hand.
Hot off the presses is a book called ‘Pensioners in Paradis' by Olga Swan. It relates the story of how a couple reach that fork in the tree of life called retirement. They had lived their whole lives in the West Midlands - a place endemic with self-deprecation, pessimism and laconicism. And then disaster struck. Read what the Connexion, a national newspaper in France, had to say when they reviewed the book in December:
Posted by: Uticopa in therapy, self help on
Dec 30, 2008
The first thing to understand is that everyone's life goes through its ups and downs. Try to visualise one of those giant sequoia trees in California. As you stand at the root base and stretch your neck backwards, the trunk proceeds straight and true. Up, up it goes in a regular fashion until suddenly, without warning, there are two forks: one pointing one way, one the other. What to do? Which direction should you take?
So it is in life. A normal pattern is for your life to move along fairly smoothly, skipping over the inevitable knots and thorny problems on the way, until suddenly you encounter a major crossroads, one you have not encountered before.
Now, people who are emotionally healthy are in control of their emotions and their behaviour. They are able to handle life's inevitable challenges, build strong relationships, and lead productive, fulfilling lives. When serious things happen, as they will, they're able to bounce back and move on.
Posted by: Uticopa in anxiety on
Dec 30, 2008
We all recognise the syndrome. You can't sleep and you can't get those pessimistic thoughts out of your head. All those doubts and fears deep within your mind paralyse your thinking. An invidious cycle begins whereby your anxiety levels soar sapping your emotional energy and darkening your day-to-day life with burgeoning black neuroses. Constant worrying takes a heavy toll. It keeps you up at night and makes you tense and edgy during the day. You hate feeling like a nervous wreck, but what can you do? It's as if, by constantly being preoccupied with all those "what ifs" and worst-case scenarios, worry itself becomes a problem all on its own. You may worry that you're going to lose all control over your worrying - that it will take over and never stop.
Posted by: Uticopa in self help, depression on
Dec 30, 2008
All my life I've been a pessimist. At least, that's what everybody tells me, so it must be true, mustn't it ? I was perplexed, therefore, to read in ‘The Times' that psychologists are at last coming round to the view that ‘constructive negativism' can be quite a good thing. Is this what I and many other people have ?
It all started with my paternal grandmother, who hailed originally from Eastern Europe. Her family, from the icy wastes of Lithuania, were long familiar with what we deem to be pessimism. It seems that those of us who descend from this part of the world are particularly prone to the syndrome, and now a genetic link has apparently been found. Of course, we all knew that really, deep down. There are so many of us who can recall our Russian/Polish grandmothers sitting with black scarves around their heads, despondent heads resting on a hand, giving that all pervasive and non-explanatory ‘oy' at all the injustices in life.
What a surprise, then, to discover that eminent researchers in the U.S. have been studying the syndrome and have come up with some surprising conclusions. Not only have they discovered a genetic link but also that to have a constructive negativism mindset is a good thing after all. How can this be, I hear you say ? We have long been conditioned, particularly by the Americans, to believe that optimism is everything. We must never be sad, depressed or despondent. We must instantly ignore the fact that there may have been a death in the family, for example, but jump up, smile, and get on with life.
Posted by: Uticopa in stigma, mental health on
Dec 18, 2008
So much of the media stigmatizes mental health issues. Yet, media coverage in general has a direct impact on all our lives and even controls, subliminally, how we think. But in the field of mental health, it is clear that poor quality, essentially unbalanced, press coverage of mental health issues fuels stigma and actively reduces a sufferer's quality of life.
So, what can we do about it?
First we need to gauge its effects on mental health sufferers themselves. The mental health charity Mind recently surveyed over five hundred people suffering from a range of mental illnesses, asking them how they felt about press coverage. Over seventy percent felt that coverage of mental health issues was usually unbalanced, decidedly unfair and very negative in its biased reporting. In turn, this had made sufferers feel more anxious and depressed as a direct result. Some had even felt suicidal, whilst others reported withdrawal symptoms coupled with feelings of isolation.
Posted by: Uticopa in trauma, therapy on
Dec 17, 2008
Doctors and researchers alike are the first to admit that the brain is the last bastion of uncharted body territory. However, by degrees, more and more is being learned and procedures developed to ‘chart' the brain, learn which areas control which physical activity, and to heal areas which have become damaged.
It is well-known that stroke is notoriously difficult to treat. Haemorrhagic strokes account for around thirty per cent of the 150,000 strokes in the UK each year. Stroke is Britain's third biggest killer, after heart disease and cancer, and causes more disability than any other disease. It costs the economy about £7 billion a year, including NHS bills and lost productivity.
Up until now, the only option has been conventional surgery, which has a variable success rate. Half of such surgery patients currently die within a month and just one in twenty patients will recover, to varying degrees. Moreover, depending on the precise site of the injury or embolism, the resulting physical effects can be different from patient to patient.
Posted by: Uticopa in eating disorders on
Dec 15, 2008
Adam Bremelow, the health correspondent for BBC, have said in this morning's news program on Radio 4 that the new research from Oxford has given a ‘Pretty promising prospect for a wide array of people suffering from eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, binge eating.'
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of a therapy that challenges people's behaviour by getting them to reassess their thoughts and assumptions. The treatment usually takes the form of approximately 20 regular brief sessions 15-20 min long.
Over the last few years the UK government has been trying to promote CBT in a range of initiatives and CBT has been a recommended as 1st approach for treating Bulimia.
This new research has shown that the new modified approach for CBT is also extremely effective with treating binge eating.
Posted by: Uticopa in therapy, death on
Dec 12, 2008
Society is a continuous cycle, our pavements peopled by all age groups. From babies to the elderly, we are all moving through that ever-changing kaleidoscope called life. But, as we grow older, our mindsets change. In youth we understand that people die, but that is something so far off in the future, we need not worry about it. As we climb the generational ladder, we are so busy chasing that elusive career goal, we have not the time nor desire to focus on what is looming ever closer: our own inevitable demise.
But look closely into the eyes of some who have successfully reached and overcome the biblical three score and ten and you see a certain fear and haunted look deep within the soul. Death is staring them in the face and they do not know how to deal with it.
The important thing is to unburden all those fears lurking deep within your brain. No-one needs to deal with these issues alone, and there are many ways to help. That is when the role of a therapist or guide is so desperately needed.
Posted by: Uticopa in trauma, depression on
Dec 10, 2008
Physiologically speaking, the brain as the most important part of our lives. Yes, the heart is the ticking clock that keeps our organs functioning, but the brain is the controller without which the body is thrown into a directionless trauma bereft of instructions, devoid of organisation, floundering in uncharted seas.
So, consider the two case-studies below when, as so often happens, that unexpected trauma of injury to the brain occurs.
Case study 1.
Posted by: Uticopa in therapy, talking cure on
Dec 06, 2008
Someone once said that the therapist's job is to put himself out of work! It's probably true of all the caring professions: the better you are, the more self-sufficient your patient, thereby lessening the need for further treatment.
One example is the role of family therapists. Newcomers to the whole process of therapy sometimes expect the therapist to take on the role of ‘mother hen'. It is often a subconscious desire on the part of people with deprived childhood experiences to search for someone to take on this role. However, it is not the therapist's job to replace or restore one's parents; rather, it is to provide a non-judgemental, encouraging and safe environment alongside the modelling of good parenting techniques. If the therapist actually took on a ‘mothering' role, she would effectively be negating the ability of the client to be self-sufficient. That would go against everyone's wishes. Clients need to become more confident in their own abilities, not dependent on the therapist's nurturing skills.
I now realise I need help, but how do I choose the right therapist?
Experience has proven time and time again that what is important is the relationship between the client and therapist, and the therapist's skills, knowledge and experience with your individual complaint. There is absolutely no point in reaching for your local Yellow Pages. There are 3 main avenues you can try: