Category Archives: Depression And Anxiety Articles

Effects Of Inconsistent And Unpredictable Parenting

Inconsistent parenting

What are the effects of inconsistent and unpredictable parenting? This article investigates that question.to

Coming home each day from school as a child, I would never know what kind of mood my mother would be in; one day she might be deeply depressed, the next excitable (in this mood she would often sing, diva style, her favourite songs from the Mikado – ‘ the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la, have nothing to do with the case…’ I can’t remember how the song goes from there, but you get the general idea?). Or she might be seething with anger and full of intense loathing for me, conveying her feelings of deep disgust, evoked by my most unwelcome reappearance, by shrieking insults at me through the kitchen window before I’d even set foot inside the door. (I have written about this elsewhere.)

Whilst there has not been a great deal of research conducted upon the effects of unpredictable and inconsistent parenting on children, there exists evidence to suggest (eg. Luxton, 2007) that those who experience it are at increased risk of developing low self-esteem and depression as adults. (Also, it seems that consistent maternal care may be a particularly important factor in the generation of high self-esteem).

Consistent Parenting:

Healthy families are relatively stable and predictable and the child knows that the parents can be depended upon both physically and emotionally. For example, if a parent says s/he will pick the child up after school, the child can be confident s/he will do so; and if the child is distressed, s/he can depend upon the parent to sooth and comfort him/her; the child knows, too, that if the parent feels the need to discipline him/her, s/he will do so in a fair, reasonable and consistent manner.

Inconsistent Parenting :

In unhealthy families, however, parents may behave towards their children in inconsistent and unpredictable ways. The environment in which the child is compelled to live, therefore, tends to be unstable, chaotic and fraught with potential danger. Because of this, the child is likely to feel constantly anxious – walking on eggshells and fearing what the unpredictable parent may do next.

In such a household, the behaviour of the parent may fluctuate wildly and dramatically (this can be for clinical reasons such as alcoholism, drug addiction, cyclothemia or bipolar disorder). Inconsistency may occur in relation to both physical and emotional care. For example, a parent may leave a lone child at home, promising to be back by 6pm, yet not return until 3 in the morning. And the manner in which the parent uses discipline may be highly unpredictable. Or when the child is distressed, s/he may not be able to depend on the parent for psychological support.

Conclusion :

To reiterate, then, according to research, such inconsistent parenting is associated with those individuals who are on the receiving end of it being placed at higher risk of developing depression and having low self-esteem as adults.

However, to gain a fuller picture, more research needs to be conducted – it is known, for instance, that significant and protracted child abuse puts the abused individual at increased risk of developing a whole range of psychiatric conditions, such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex post traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD), in adulthood; it therefore follows that when inconsistent parental behaviour crosses a certain threshold (i.e. when it amounts to chronic, significant abuse), the seriousness of the implications speak for themselves.

RESOURCES :

eBook:

Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here.

 

Downloadable Hypnosis MP3 / CD :

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Anxiety And Its Link To The Imbalance Of 5 Key Neurotransmitters

 

anxiety neurotransmitters

We have seen from many other articles that I have published on this site that significant childhood trauma over a protracted period of time can adversely affect the brain’s physical development both in terms of its structure and function. One common result of this is that, as adults, we are more likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder (such as social anxiety, panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder) than are those individuals who experienced a relatively stable upbringing (all else being equal).

Indeed, two very serious disorders associated with childhood trauma – borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex post traumatic disorder (cPTSD) – both have anxiety as one of their most prominent symptoms.

Many individuals who suffer from anxiety take prescribed medication for it. This is because anxiety is linked to the imbalance of various neurotransmitters in the brain and medications can sometimes helpfully correct such imbalances (though, like any treatment for anxiety, they do not work equally well for everyone – indeed, in my own case, very few medications I have ever taken for anxiety have had any beneficial effect whatsoever).

What Are Neurotransmitters And What Is Meant By ‘Out Of Balance’?

The brain contains about 10 billion neurons (brain cells). Each of these can potentially communicate with 10,000 other neurons. This communication is carried out by the brain’s neurotransmitters and this communication gives rise to how we think, behave and feel.

When neurotransmitters become out of balance, it simply means that there is an excess or insufficiency of them being produced in the brain. The effect of such an imbalance can cause us problems relating to how we think, behave and feel.

In this article, I want to look at the main neurotransmitters in the brain that are found to be out of balance in those suffering from an anxiety disorder; they are :

  1. SEROTONIN
  2. DOPAMINE
  3. NOREPINEPHRINE
  4. GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid)
  5. GLUTAMATE

What Symptoms Are Caused By Imbalances Of The Above Neurotransmitters In The Brain?

I briefly describe these below :

  1. LOW LEVELS OF SEROTONIN CAN CAUSE : 

 

       2. LOW LEVELS OF DOPAMINE CAN CAUSE :

  • inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia)
  • loss of motivation
  • delusions / psychosis
  • obsession with detail / perfectionism

 

         3. HIGH LEVELS OF NOREPINEPHRINE CAN CAUSE :

  • impaired ability to think coherently / scattered thoughts
  • intense anxiety and restlessness
  • impending sense of doom
  • sense of extreme tension (both bodily and psychologically)
  • hyperarousal
  • feeling ‘wired’ and ‘jittery’
  • panic attacks

4. GABA :

  • when GABA works ineffectively it can cause panic attacks and can cause a

         5. GLUTAMATE imbalance which can, in turn, exacerbate an imbalance in other neurtransmitters

 

As stated above, medication prescribed to help correct the imbalance of neurotransmitters does not work equally well for everyone. Non-drug methods of treating anxiety which can be effective include :

  1. COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (CBT)
  2. MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
  3. BREATHING EXERCISES
  4. HYPNOTHERAPY / COGNITIVE HYPNOTHERAPY

RESOURCES :

pack-beat-fear-anxietyBEAT FEAR AND ANXIETY

 

eBook:

depression and anxiety

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here or on image.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

Self-Hypnosis For Depression

 

self-hypnosis for depression

We have seen from many other articles that I have published on this site that those of us who have suffered significant childhood trauma are at increased risk of developing depression (as well as many other psychiatric conditions) in adulthood than those who had relatively happy and stable childhoods (all else being equal).

One method that can help to reduce feelings of depression, especially when used in conjunction with other therapies such as pharmacology and psychotherapy, is self-hypnosis.

One of the main prevailing theories of the cause of depression is that it arises due to imbalances in certain brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters), in particular serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

What Is The Function Of These Brain Chemicals?

 – Serotonin is thought to be involved with appetite, digestion, social behaviour, sexual desire, sexual function, sleep, memory and mood.

 – Norepinephrine is thought to be involved with the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response.

 – Dopamine is thought to play a very important role in internal reward-motivated behaviour (eg the pleasurable feelings generated by sex or a large gambling win).

In order to attempt to correct this chemical imbalance, and thus alleviate depressive symptoms, medications are frequently prescribed. Unfortunately, however, not everyone finds them effective.

Self-Hypnosis For Depression :

Another way to alter the brain’s chemical balance in those suffering from depression, research has shown, is by self-suggestion, as used in self-hypnosis, and by altering a person’s level of expectancy regarding their recovery (which plays a major role, of course, in the placebo effect); both of these phenomena have their foundations in the well known phenomenon of  mind-body connection.

Indeed, self-hypnosis for depression (utilizing self-suggestion) combined with psychotherapy and/or drug therapy may be a particularly effective way of alleviating depressive symptoms.

Depression can also be exacerbated by loneliness or due to poor relationships with significant others (an illustrative example of this is that, on average, married people are significantly less likely (some research suggests up to 70% less likely) to suffer from depression compared with their non-married counterparts; here, again, self-hypnosis can be of use in order to assist us to  improve our interpersonal relationships by, for example, helping to repair our disrupted unconscious processes, allowing us to be more able to give and receive love/affection, making us less withdrawn, and reducing tendencies to judge ourselves and others in an overly negative manner.

 

Self-Hypnosis Downloadable Audio MP3s:

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Shame And Its Agonizing Effects

As we have seen from other articles I have published on this site, those who suffer severe trauma in early life may go on to experience irrational, deep-seated feelings of shame in adulthood, particularly if they have developed conditions highly likely to be linked to their adverse childhood experiences such as clinical depression or borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Feelings of shame can be excruciatingly painful; at their worst, they can cause us to completely isolate ourselves so that we avoid contact with others to the extent that we may become virtual recluses, perhaps only daring to venture out of our house or flat when absolutely necessary. Indeed, the word ‘shame‘ derives from the Indian word ‘sham‘ which means ‘to hide.’

What Is Shame?

When we feel ashamed we feel very negatively about ourselves and believe we are, to put it simply, a deeply bad person. We also tend to assume that others are judging us in a similarly disparaging manner. The sensation of shame also frequently involves feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, incompetence, self-disgust, self-hatred, anxiety, anger, bodily tension, nausea and sweating/feeling too hot.

Effects On Relationships :

Because of our own jaundiced and self-lacerating view of ourselves, we assume others will feel the same way about us (or soon will do once they discover’ what a ‘horrible and disgusting’ person we are). We therefore avoid trying to form close relationships, believing such efforts to be futile given that we will ‘inevitably be rejected’ once the ‘real’ us is ‘discovered.’

Other Possible Effects Of Shame :

We may also try to psychologically defend ourselves from deep rooted feelings of shame. For example :

– we may become preoccupied with managing a superficial image of ourselves when interacting with others which we desperately hope will keep ‘our true badness‘ concealed; this can lead to the creation of a ‘false self’ which precludes any chance of authentic or meaningful interaction with others (in other words, we ‘become afraid to be who we are’).

   – perfectionism / ‘workaholism’ (in a desperate attempt to compensate for the profound inner feelings of inadequacy and inferiority that may accompany a pervasive sense of shame).’Workaholism’ and perfectionism are both extremely precarious ways of maintaining some semblance of self-respect and self-esteem as we tend to continually set ourselves targets which, inevitably, we sometimes fail to achieve. We are then highly vulnerable to suffering a catastrophic collapse in our sense of self-worth as it has not been built upon strong enough, nor sustainable, foundations.

Image result for shame

Differentiating Between Three Types Of Shame :

We can differentiate between three specific types of shame. These are :

1) INTERNAL SHAME

2) EXTERNAL SHAME

3) REFLECTED SHAME

I define these three types of shame below :

Internal Shame : this is a sense of shame we feel about ourselves

External Shame : this is when we perceive that others have a very low view of us which makes us feel ashamed

Reflected Shame : this is when we feel shame vicariously due to how someone else connected yo us has behaved, such as a family member or a member of a group with which we identify.

Often, a sense of internal shame and external shame co-exist within the same person. However, in the case of shame related to childhood trauma, we may (irrationally) feel a strong sense of internal shame even though we can accept that others are not negatively evaluating us as a result of what happened to us (i.e. there is an absence of external shame).

A POSSIBLE SOLUTION : COMPASSION FOCUSED THERAPY :

There is evidence to suggest that COMPASSION FOCUSED THERAPY may be of particular benefit to those suffering from distress connected to the experience of shame.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

Feelings Of Emptiness : A System To Reduce Them

reducing feelings of emptiness

It is extremely common for those of uswho have suffered severe childhood trauma, especially if we’ve gone on to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) as a consequence, to experience feelings of profound despair and emptiness – this involves feeling that life is utterly devoid of meaning or purpose and a general sense of being emotionally numb or ‘dead inside.’

Such feelings of emptiness are also symptomatic of clinical depression and anhedonia (a condition that prevents one from being able to experience any feelings of pleasure), both of which illnesses are associated with the person suffering from them having undergone early life trauma).

How We Attempt To Cope With Feelings Of Emptiness In Dysfunctional Ways :

Dysfunctional ways of trying to lessen feelings of emptiness include the following :

  • overeating
  • drinking too much
  • harmful use of narcotics
  • smoking
  • overspending / compulsive shopping
  • overuse of internet / social media
  • overuse of computer games
  • gambling
  • promiscuous sex
  • inappropriately gaining attention of others (e.g. by getting angry, over-caretaking, being a compulsive ‘people-pleaser’, blaming others)

The Link Between Feelings Of Emptiness And Self-Abandonment :

Feelings of emptiness have been linked to the concept known as self-abandonment. Self-abandonment is characterized by extreme self-judgment, ignoring / not paying proper attention to one’s feelings and emotions, dissociation, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-compassion.

Developmental And Systems Approach For Reducing Feelings Of Emptiness :

Charles Wang M.D, developed a therapeutic system to address feelings of emptiness called the Developmental And Systems Approach.

Initially, this system was developed to help to quickly stabilize psychiatric inpatients.

The system focuses on five key areas :

  1. The patient is helped to understand that feelings of profound emptiness are at the root of many of his/her problems
  2. The patient is helped to form a more accurate sense of his/her relationship with others with whom s/he interacts
  3. The patient is encouraged to understand the underlying causes of his/her ‘acting out‘ behaviours
  4. The patient is encouraged to accept that s/he is in a state of deep emotional pain in order to help to motivate him/her to undergo treatment
  5. The patient is empowered to undergo this treatment

As well as helping to reduce feelings of emptiness, Wang’s Developmental And Systems Approach also seeks to help individuals develop feelings of trust and security.

RELATED RESOURCE:

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Healthy Guilt Versus Unhealthy Guilt

healthy guilt versus unhealthy guilt

Like all emotions, feelings of guilt evolved in humans for their ‘survival value.’ However, feeling guilty is (at minimum) an unpleasant sensation so what ‘survival value’, or, to put it simply, benefits, does the emotion bring?

The answer to this question is that healthy feelings of guilt motivate us to preserve our personal standards/morality/ethics which, in turn, makes our relationships with others more likely to thrive (e.g. our conscience makes it less likely we will treat others badly and risk losing them as allies/friends).

However, feelings of guilt can also be unhealthy and affect our lives adversely. Those of us who have suffered significant childhood trauma are particularly likely to experience unhealthy guilt which, unfortunately, often persists into adulthood. I provide some examples of how feelings of unhealthy guilt may develop below :

– a child whose parents divorce may irrational blame him/herself for this divorce

– a child whose parent dies may irrationally feel guilty moving on with his/her own life

– a child whose mother suffers from depression may irrationally feel guilty enjoying him/herself

– a child who is perpetually criticized and treated negatively by his/her parents may develop deep seated and pervasive feelings of irrational guilt that are likely to persist into adulthood in the absence of effective therapy.

WHAT ARE THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF SUCH IRRATIONAL, UNHEALTHY GUILT?

  1. DISTRESS – this can range from the uncomfortable at one end of the spectrum to excruciating and paralyzing at the other.
  2. AN INABILITY PROPERLY TO FOCUS UPON ONE’S OWN NEEDS
  3. SELF-HATRED, EXTREMELY LOW SELF-ESTEEM, LACK OF CONFIDENCE
  4. FEELINGS OF SHAME – if we are made to feel guilty to a significant degree, and often enough, during childhood we can develop a constant, profound feeling of shame. [The difference between feelings of ‘guilt’ and feelings of ‘shame is that when we feel guilty we feel we’ve DONE something bad, but, when we feel shame, we feel that we ARE bad (i.e. intrinsically bad)]. Click here to read my article about How A Child’s View Of Their Own ‘Badness’ Is Perpetuated.
  5. POOR CONCENTRATION AND FOCUS (due to intrusive, guilt-ridden thoughts and ruminations)
  6. POOR PERFORMANCE AT SCHOOL OR WORK (linked to number 5, above)
  7. LOSS OF CAPACITY TO ENJOY LIFE / WON’T PERMIT ONESELF TO DO ENJOYABLE THINGS (due to feelings/beliefs along the lines of ‘I don’t deserve to be happy’ or ‘it would be morally wrong to enjoy myself’). Such feelings/beliefs can also be related to conscious or unconscious desires to punish oneself.

It can be seen, then, that, whilst ‘healthy guilt’ has benefits, ‘unhealthy guilt’ serves no beneficial purpose and is solely destructive.

THE LINK BETWEEN UNHEALTHY GUILT AND PSYCHIATRIC CONDITIONS :

Unhealthy guilt can be a symptom of certain psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Such guilt can be unremitting and overwhelming and, as such, should be treated by a relevantly qualified profession.

USEFUL LINK :

STRATEGIES FOR COPING WITH IRRATIONAL GUILT. Click here.

Self-hypnosis MP3/CD to help alleviate feelings of guilt and shame. Click here.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Hypnosis For Simple Phobias

hypnosis for simple phobias

Research shows that those who suffered significant trauma as children are at elevated risk of developing anxiety conditions as adults; simple phobias are one (amongst many) expression of such anxiety.

A simple phobia is an irrational fear of a single object, activity or situation (unlike complex phobias that may have multiple triggers, such as social phobia). The individual who has the phobia is fully aware that his/her phobia is irrational, but, despite this awareness, at the point of starting therapy has been unable to overcome it.

Research:

Whilst further research needs to be conducted on the effectiveness of hypnotherapy as a treatment for individuals suffering from simple phobias, several studies have shown it to be helpful (e.g. McGuinness, 1984; Rustvold, 1994).

How Is Hypnotherapy Used To Treat Simple Phobias?

One of the most effective ways of treating a simple phobia with hypnosis is to employ the method of desensitization and I explain the process below, using the example of arachnophobia (a phobia of spiders).

1) A deep sense of relaxation and safety is hypnotically induced in the patient.

2) The patient is instructed to visualize a small spider from a distance

3) The patient is instructed to visualize the same spider but from a closer distance

4) The patient is instructed to visualize an average sized spider from a distance

…etc…etc

The final stage might consist of the hypnotherapist instructing the patient to visualize picking a large spider up with a people piece of tissue paper and dropping it out of the window.

The idea is that at each subsequent stage the patient is gradually exposed, in imagination only, to increasingly, potentially anxiety-provoking ‘encounters’ with the spider. It is unnecessary for the patient to come into contact with a real spider.

Throughout the process, the client receives suggestions that s/he will feel relaxed, safe and in control.

When successful, this process has the effect of gradually and systematically ‘desensitizing’ the patient to spiders (ie causing the patient to stop responding fearfully to them in a way that is TRANSFERABLE TO REAL SITUATIONS).

Phobias, Logic And Reasoning:

Many individuals who suffer from phobias become frustrated that they are unable to overcome their phobia through logical and reasoned thinking given that they know their fear to be irrational; repeatedly telling themselves the object of their fears presents no threat or danger to them tends not to work which means cognitive based therapies may be unsuccessful.

When individuals try to cure their phobia by logic and reason they are using the brain’s left hemisphere.

However, the benefit of using hypnosis to treat phobias is that it taps into the brain’s right hemisphere and this side of the brain is involved in emotional processing, feelings, instincts and visualization, all of which hypnosis harnesses to help the individual overcome his/her phobia.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Effects Of Homophobia In Schools

homophobia in schools

When I was about fifteen, I drew a heart in a notebook I kept on my desk in my bedroom and, within the heart, wrote ‘ I love…’ followed by the name of a boy in my year at school (complete with drawing of arrow piercing the heart, and, for good measure, a few dollops of blood seeping from the wound – yes, I know!)

Of course, I always kept the notebook shut and in a drawer, to keep it safe from prying eyes (as I naively believed at the time), concealed by other books, innocuous books placed on top of it.

Some weeks later, I arrived home from school (still never having even spoken to the boy – I was mysteriously struck dumb whenever in his presence), and, as was my habit, beat a hasty retreat to the solitude of my bedroom (to avoid having to interact with my stepmother who despised me).

Imagine my horror when I saw on my bed the notebook which I always so carefully kept concealed! And worse, oh, so much worse, open at the ‘incriminating’ page.

This was, of course, my stepmother’s handiwork (nobody else had been in the house all day) calculated to cause me maximum shame, humiliation and embarrassment. Well, It worked (and then some).

To make the matter even more sinister and insidious, she never mentioned it – nor, of course, did I. (Preferring, instead, to skulk around the house looking sheepish).

Her communication of the hatred she felt for me, epitomized by this both shameful, and shaming, incident, continued in its usual vein – tacitly, implicitly and by insinuation – making it impossible for me, as a callow young teenager, directly to identify or effectively defend myself against.

Indeed, if I attempted to, I would be accused of paranoia (this is a well known psychological technique known as gaslighting which undermines the victim’s sense of reality and can, when chronically sustained, eventually induce psychosis).

As teenagers we long to be accepted as part of the group, and, whilst things are much better than they were three decades ago when I myself was a teenager, teenagers today still, sadly, experience homophobia.

Needless to say, this discrimination, leading to exclusion from the group, can be very traumatic, particularly as being singled out due to something as sensitive as one’s sexuality can be especially devastating (teenagers are, after all , at a stage in their lives when they are especially self-conscious and in need of acceptance).

Homophobia Leading To Mental Suffering :

A recent study carried out by Benigui found that young people who experience homophobia, including discrimination, prejudice, bullying and verbal attacks, have elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol flowing in their blood streams and are at increased risk of suffering from anxiety and depression.

And, most concerningly, they are fourteen times more likely to commit suicide than the average person their age.

homophobia in schools

Internalization Of Anti-Gay Attitudes :

It is likely that one of the main reasons for these findings is the fact that these victimized young people internalize the negative views others express towards them. This can result in the young person becoming what is technically known as an ego-dystonic homosexual (i.e. his/her homosexuality causes him/her mental distress).

Resilience:

However, the study also found that the young person could develop resilience against the negative effects of homophobia if :

– s/he had good emotional support from friends

– good emotional support from family

Conclusion:

The main conclusion drawn from the study was that much work still needs to be done to increase acceptance of, and respect for, diversity in the home, at schools and in the community in general, notwithstanding the significant advances made over recent decades.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).