Category Archives: Depression And Anxiety Articles

Koro (Or The Incredible Shrinking Manhood).

Koro (Or The Incredible Shrinking Manhood).

It has taken me a very long time indeed to pluck up the courage to write this post, such was my embarrassment; you may understand why when you read what follows below.

Male readers will be familiar with the fact that when it is very cold, or when one is extremely anxious or fearful, the penis can partially retract.

Whilst I know this now, I didn’t know it when I was ten years old.

One day, whilst staying at my father’s home for the weekend (my parents were divorced) when I was around this age, I noticed, whilst in the bathroom, that my penis seemed smaller – whether due to the bathroom being cold, or high anxiety, I don’t recall.

Immediately, I went into a terrible panic which had the effect of causing my penis to retract further into my body, thus setting up a vicious cycle.

As some readers will be aware from other posts that I have published on this site, I had already developed clear psychological problems by this age and became hysterical with fear due to the ‘fact’, as I perceived it at the time, that my penis was about to permanently disappear.

Koro (Or The Incredible Shrinking Manhood).

Terror stricken, and crying uncontrollably, I begged my father to drive me to the doctor’s. At first he refused, but, when it became abundantly clear that my hysterical condition was intensifying rather than abating, he reluctantly relented.

During the ten minute drive there, I remember, sitting in the back seat, I kept the flies of my jeans open, allowing me monitor the situation, fully expecting my penis to disappear altogether; my older brother was in the front seat, mocking me and sneering at me, absolutely true to form.

When we finally arrived at the surgery, we found that it was closed.

At this point, my memory of the incident shuts down. However, I do know I never did get to see a doctor about the incident, nor did my father ever arrange counselling for me as a result (typically) perhaps due to the fact that this might have obliged him to admit to any such counsellor that he had left me living with a highly disturbed, unbalanced and psychologically abusive mother.

As an adult, I was surprised to learn that this fear of the penis disappearing is a recognised psychological condition (referred to as Koro) related to extreme anxiety, which, for those who are interested, can be read about by clicking here

 

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Behavioural Activation Can Effectively Alleviate Depression.

Behavioural Activation Can Effectively Alleviate Depression.

We know that those of us who suffered severe childhood trauma are at an elevated risk of developing clinical depression as adults. Indeed, my own depression necessitated hospital admissions and electro-convulsive shock therapy as I’ve written about elsewhere on this site.

One of the hallmarks of serious, clinical depression is reduced ability to perform everyday tasks and activities. Again, in my own case, I was often confined to my bed for much of the day, stopped washing, rarely shaved and stopped brushing my teeth.

I know, therefore, that when very ill with depression, even basic tasks can feel impossible to undertake – indeed, even contemplating having to carry them out can, when one is so ill, create severe anxiety and distress. For those who have not experienced clinical depression, this is almost impossible to imagine or comprehend; such lack of empathy leaves one feeling devastatingly alone and terrifyingly emotionally imprisoned, compounding the problem.

Sadly, this loss of ability to carry out everyday tasks and activities tends to perpetuate and even intensify one’s depressive state, thus creating a vicious cycle.

Behavioural Activation Can Effectively Alleviate Depression.

Above : Avoidant behaviour can set off a vicious circle, whilst behavioural reactivation can set off a virtuous circle.

 

Behavioural Activation :

The psychologist Lewisohn has carried out research showing how, by reactivating the behaviours we used to carry out before severe depressive illness struck, we can alleviate our depressive symptoms, or, indeed, rid ourselves of the condition entirely.

Lewisohn suggests changing our behaviours may be more effective in treating depression even than changing our thinking style (as occurs in cognitive therapy). In other words, he postulates that:

Behaviour Therapy (changing the way we behave)

may be a more effective way of treating depression than:

Cognitive Therapy (changing the way we think)

 

In order to test this hypothesis, Lewisohn carried out the following research study:

– 200 hundred hospital outpatients suffering from clinical depression were recruited into the study.

– these 200 individuals were the randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups

– these four treatment groups were as follows :

1) individuals were treated with anti-depressants

2) individuals were treated with a placebo

3) individuals were treated with cognitive therapy (to change their thinking styles)

4) individuals were treated with behavioural therapy (to change how they behaved each day)

Results of above research study :

It was found that those in the behaviour therapy group, on average :

– gained more benefit than those in the cognitive therapy group and placebo group

– gained a benefit equal to the benefit those treated with antidepressants derived

Other studies have produced similar results.

In relation to this study, Lewiston devised a therapy known as ‘behaviour activation.’

What Is Behaviour Activation Therapy?

In basic terms, this therapy involves the depressed person :

a) listing how his/her illness has changed his/her behaviour. For example :

– stopped socializing

– stopped exercising

– spend far more time in bed

– stopped doing housework

– reduced self-catering

b) Then, in relation to list, set goals s/he would ideally achieve. For example :

– socialize as much as before the illness struck

– go to gym for an hour, every other day

– limit self to eight hours a day in bed

– keep house reasonably clean

– care for self in same way as prior to becoming ill

Once these goals have been identified, it is necessary to undertake behaviours that help one achieve them.

Now, clearly, achieving all these goals cannot happen immediately!

Therefore, it is usually necessary to take small steps. For example, if trying to attain the goal of going to the gym, for an hour, every other day, one may start off by going to the gym for twenty minutes once per week, then very gradually increase this rate.

The importance of adjusting our behaviour positively and increasing our activity levels to help improve our mood seems hard to overstate. Even by starting with tiny steps, a powerfully therapeutic virtuous cycle may be set in motion.

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Four Types Of Stress Exacerbated By Childhood Trauma

Four Types Of Stress Exacerbated By Childhood Trauma

We have already seen that those of us who have suffered severe and chronic childhood trauma are at increased risk, compared to those who experienced a relatively happy and stable childhood (all else being equal), of experiencing extreme difficulty dealing with stress in our adult lives ; it is theorized that this is often, in no small part, due to damage to our brain’s development in early life, in particular to brain regions called the amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.

Indeed, research shows a clear link between early life trauma and the later development of borderline personality disorder (BPD) ; one of this condition’s hallmark symptoms is the inability to adequately control one’s emotions, in particular those emotions induced by stress such as anxiety and anger.

So which areas of our lives are likely to be adversely affected if we have developed a particular sensitivity to stress?

Albrecht, an expert and pioneer in the development of stress management techniques identified four key types of stress. These are:

1) Time Related stress

2) Anticipatory Stress

3) Situational stress

4) Encounter stress

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

Time Related Stress

If we feel this type of stress, we are likely to worry about all the things we need to do and how little time we have to do them in, especially if we have deadlines to meet. We will tend to rush things and feel a constant, oppressive sense of pressure, leading to a perpetual state of anxiety, tension and unease.

We may, too, frequently find ourselves obsessively ruminating, at night in bed, about what we need to do the next day, leading, perhaps, to insomnia.

Anticipatory Stress

This type of stress may :

a) be linked to a specific event or activity we have to undertake in the future, such as a job interview, public speaking engagement or examination.

b) be ill-defined, vague and generalized and, when severe, may take the form of a pervasive sense of dread about the future and a constant and abiding feeling of impending doom or disaster.

This negative view of the future is one of the negative cognitive triad of clinical depression, the other two being a negative view of the self and a negative view of other people.

Situational Stress

This type of stress may occur when:

– we find ourselves in a threatening situation over which we are unable to exert control

– we feel unaccepted (e.g. by work colleagues)

– we suffer a sudden drop in social status, such as being fired from a good job and becoming unemployed

– we find ourselves involved in interpersonal conflict (e.g. with boss or family member).

Encounter Stress:

This kind of stress can occur if we have to mix socially with others who intimidate us or who make us feel awkward and self-conscious or whom we simply dislike.

Also, interacting with those who are unpredictable can give rise to this category of stress.

Those who work in jobs which involve interacting with others who are emotionally distressed (e.g. doctors or police officers) are also susceptible to this kind of stress.

Important: If we have suffered childhood trauma that has led us to develop conditions such as BPD, it is imperative that we reduce the stress we experience to manageable levels in as many areas of our lives as possible if we are to give our brains a chance of recovery.

 

Resources:

Four Types Of Stress Exacerbated By Childhood Trauma  Time Management – advanced self-hypnosis download. Click here for more details.

 

Four Types Of Stress Exacerbated By Childhood Trauma  Ten Steps To Overcome Social Anxiety – advanced self-hypnosis download. Click here for more details.

 

Four Types Of Stress Exacerbated By Childhood Trauma. Overcome Anticipatory Stress – advanced self-hypnosis. Click here for more details.

 

Four Types Of Stress Exacerbated By Childhood Trauma. Overcome Anxiety – advanced hypnosis pack. Click here for more details.

EBook:

 

Four Types Of Stress Exacerbated By Childhood Trauma

Above eBook  (instant download) now available on Amazon. Click image for more details.

 

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Suicide : Who’s Particularly At Risk?

Suicide : Who's Particularly At Risk?

We have already seen that those who have suffered severe and chronic childhood trauma are at an increased risk of ending their lives by suicide than the average. Indeed, an astonishing ten per cent of those suffering from borderline personality disorder, or BPD (a severe mental illness linked to childhood trauma) die by their own hand.

I myself made a suicide attempt, at the peak (or should that be trough?) of my illness which left me in a coma in intensive care for five days.

So, apart from those suffering from BPD, which other groups of individuals are at a heightened risk of commiting suicide?

At greatest risk, as one would imagine, are individuals who are mentally ill – nine out to ten people who die by suicide are suffering from a diagnosable mental illness.

Of the mentally ill, those suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are especially at risk (like those suffering from BPD, one in ten with either of these mental health conditions eventually commits suicide).

Suicide : Who's Particularly At Risk?

Hopelessness:

Of course, whilst about ten per cent of those suffering severe mental illnesses such as BPD, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia end their lives by suicide, we need not be mathematical geniuses to deduce from this that 90℅ do not. So what tips people in these groups over the edge?

Research suggests that the main predictor of an individual with severe mental illness commiting suicide is if they also experience a profound sense of hopelessness. Like me, when I made the suicide attempt I referred to above, they feel that their intolerable mental pain will never end, that everyday will be a day of intense psychological suffering and turmoil, and that there is absolutely no way out whatsoever.

An aspect of the tragedy is, of course, that a person’s state of mind can make the individual believe 100℅ that things can never get better when, objectively, this is not the case. There are many who can vouch for this, happily, from their own former bitter experiences.

Rejection:

Feeling rejected by family, friends and society in general is another important predictor of suicide.

Impulsivity:

Whilst some suicide attempts are methodically planned (as my own was), others are made on impulse. It follows, of course, that those who have an impulsive type personality (impulsivity is often a feature of BPD) are also at higher risk.

Being Male:

About twice as many men die by suicide than women.

However, unsuccessful suicide attempts are approximately twice as likely to be made by females than by males.

The Paradox Of Getting ‘Better’:

Those suffering from severe depression, at their illest, may be so lacking in motivation, and so close to being in a catatonic state, that they wish to die but cannot muster the mental energy required to end their lives (they may, too, in such a state of illness, lack the requisite planning and decision making abilities necessary). Paradoxically, it is sometimes only when such depressive symptoms start to lift slightly that they find themselves able to make a suicide attempt.

 

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

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Early Life Trauma Can Reprogram Our DNA

Early Life Trauma Can Reprogram Our DNA

Research has now clearly demonstrated that our genes and, therefore, their effects on our personality and behaviour, can be influenced according to the environment in which we grow up. In fact, our experiences in early life can interact with specific genes and determine whether or not they become active (i.e. whether they GET SWITCHED ON or SWITCHED OFF).

If we are unfortunate enough to suffer severe trauma and chronic stress throughout our early lives then the way in which our genes express themselves (i.e. the way in which they affect our personality and behaviour) can be changed very much for the worse.

What’s more, these adverse genetic changes may then be passed on to the next generation, if we choose to have children of our own.

The evidence for the above comes from two main sources :

longitudinal studies involving humans (i.e. monitoring families over generations)

animal studies

Early Life Trauma Can Reprogram Our DNA

One major animal study was conducted by Saavedra-Rodriguez et al. The study involved normal male rats which were exposed to chronic stress.

Later, these (now highly stressed) rats were mated with normal female rats.

It was found that the resultant off-spring themselves exhibited abnormally stressed and anxious behaviour. Furthermore, their off-spring displayed abnormally stressed and anxious behaviour.

Conclusion:

It follows from the above that if we have an anxious personality type it is possible that this is a result of our father himself  having had a chronically stressful childhood that adversely affected his genetic make-up which he then passed on to us.

Also, if we, too, choose to have children, there is a risk that we might pass on these adversely affected, stress-inducing genes to our own off-spring.

And it logically follows from this that it is not inconceivable that, if we ourselves have an anxious personality type, this may be a result of our grandfather having had a stressful and traumatic childhood!

Resources:

Link:

General advice on dealing with anxiety. Click here.

 

Self-hypnosis MP3/CD:

Reduce Generalized Anxiety. Click here.

 

eBook:

Early Life Trauma Can Reprogram Our DNA

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

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

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Anxiety : Personality Characteristics Which May Intensify It.

Anxiety : Personality Characteristics Which May Intensify It.

We have seen from several articles that I have already published on this site that if we have suffered significant childhood trauma we are at increased risk of suffering from crippling anxiety conditions in our adult lives.

Such anxiety conditions, unfortunately, may be intensified if we have certain personality characteristics. I briefly outline each of these characteristics below:

High Anxiety Personality (HAP) Traits (Characteristics):

1) Creativity/Imaginativeness:

Such individuals’ brains may ‘run wild’ when thinking about what could go wrong in their lives; hence, of course, the expression, ‘You’re letting your imagination run away with you.’

2) Excessive Need For The Approval Of Others:

Such an individual is extremely dependent upon the approval of others in order to sustain self-esteem as s/he lacks the requisite internal, psychological resources to sustain it by him/herself.

Those with this extreme need for approval often deeply fear rejection and find it very hard indeed to accept criticism from others.

They may, too, constantly feel compelled to meet the needs of others (or to perpetually be what is colloquially known as a people-pleaser).

Anxiety : Personality Characteristics Which May Intensify It.

3) Perfectionism:

A perfectionist:

– sets him/herself  unreasonably and, often, unobtainably, high standards in the tasks s/he undertakes

– tends to become obsessive about small flaws in tasks s/he undertakes, detracting from concentration on the ‘big picture’ in relation to what s/he wishes to achieve

– tends to see outcomes of tasks s/he has undertaken in ‘black and white’ terms, ignoring all of the ‘shades of grey’ in between; to the perfectionist, the outcome of a task is either a success or a failure. For example, a student may regard getting a grade ‘B’ rather than a grade ‘A’ as a ‘failure’, thus ignoring the fact that getting a grade ‘B’ is itself a very worthwhile achievement which many other students (non-perfectionists) would be quite content with.

4) Excessive need to be in control:

Those with an excessive need to be in control tend to have a very high need for life proceeding in an orderly, structured, predictable and routine manner, and to become very anxious when unpredictable events intervene. Frequently, also, they feel a strong need to control those around them.

Whilst they may experience a high level of anxiety and distress when events conspire to undermine their ability to control their environment, they may, nevertheless, be very adept at hiding such internal feelings from others, giving the impression of being an extremely strong individuals.

5) Excessessive need to be in control of their negative emotions:

For example, they may feel it is somehow ‘wrong’ to ‘indulge in’ negative emotions such as sadness and anger and, therefore, subjugate and suppress such natural feelings that are, of course, common to all humanity.

However, this is not healthy. The suppression of anger, for example, can cause it to build up over time, eventually erupting in a manner that is totally disproportionate to the trigger (or, to use a very well known expression, the straw that broke the camel’s back). Also, research suggests that the suppression of anger can also impair physical health, contributing to:

– high blood pressure

– heart disease

– insomnia

– and, possibly, even cancer

Resources:

Link:

NHS information on anxiety, click here.

 

Hypnosis downloads (click below):

overcome anxiety

overcome perfectionism

stop being so controlling

stop needing approval of others

 

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Night Terrors : Sleep Paralysis

Night Terrors :  Sleep Paralysis

Perhaps three of four dozen times in my life, a very unnerving thing has happened to me whilst in bed : I have awoken to find myself completely and utterly paralyzed. Mercifully, however, it never lasted for more than about a minute.

The first time it occurred, this transient quality, though, did not stop me worrying. Did I have a tumour pressing against my spine? Was it incipient Parkinson’s disease? Did I have some terrifying and irreversible brain disease? Would I be dead within a month?

Imagine my relief when I discovered from my doctor that this condition was, in fact, not all that uncommon and was, apart from the psychological distress it causes, completely harmless.

The condition is a type of parasomnia (sleep disorder) that sometimes occurs when we wake directly from REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep – the stage of sleep in which we dream) and is called sleep  paralysis; it is also frequently accompanied by night terror (a feeling of intense anxiety, sometimes involving an irrational fear that one is under the control of some dark, malevolent, evil, omnipotent force).

During REM sleep the brain stem blocks bodily movement in order to prevent us from physically acting out our dreams. Also, during REM sleep, the brain produces images (the visual content of our dreams).

 

Night Terrors :  Sleep Paralysis

Above : During REM sleep we enter a state of atonia (paralysis). Sometimes, this persists for a short time on awakening abruptly from REM sleep, rendering us temporarily incapable of either movement or speech.

Sometimes, when we wake up abruptly from REM sleep, these processes are still operating (ie they have not switched themselves off). This results in us being awake and yet unable to move or, indeed, to speak. And, because the brain may still also be producing images, we may, as if being paralyzed and rendered temporarily mute were not enough to contend with, have also to endure frightening hallucinations, for good measure

Most unpleasant, you will agree.

A Simple Cure:

Fortunately, however, this distressing state is short lived – perhaps lasting a minute or less. Indeed, one can escape its grip by, if possible, initiating tiny bodily movements such as wiggling a toe, finger or, even, by just blinking.

Why Are Those Who Suffered Childhood Trauma At An Elevated Risk Of Experiencing Sleep Paralysis?

Because those of us who have experienced significant childhood trauma are more likely than the average person to suffer from sleep problems, it follows that we are, too, at an elevated risk of suffering from night terrors/sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis is also sometimes referred to as hynagogic or predormital sleep paralysis.

 

Resources:

Insomnia Beater Pack : Click here.

 

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Psychomotor Agitation (And My Experience Of It).

Psychomotor Agitation (And My Experience Of It).

We have seen that those who have suffered significant childhood trauma are at an increased risk of developing anxiety disorders in their adult lives. In extreme cases, this may lead to what is known as psychomotor agitation. I explain what is meant by this term below. However, I wish to start by recounting my own experience of this most distressing of psychological conditions.

For at least three years in total, off and on, I could not take a bath. The reason for this was that, when I was in this state (each episode could last several months) I was too agitated to do so – I couldn’t relax enough to lie down in the water, or even sit in it, any more so than I could voluntarily immerse myself in molten iron.

So I showered instead, right? Wrong. I felt too agitated to even indulge in this activity, even though most people find showering extremely relaxing and pleasurable.

Instead, I carried out my ablutions with a damp flannel; however, I confess that even this frequently proved to be a challenge I could not meet. Anti-social? Well, yes, if I saw anyone : but I didn’t. I was living as a virtual recluse.

Of course, for people who haven’t experienced severe agitated depression, it is extremely difficult to imagine how acutely distressing it is to have to endure such psychological torment on a constant and unremitting basis.

I couldn’t even sit back in an armchair; I was, quite literally, always on the edge of my seat’ (so it seems the expression is not merely a metaphor).

In other words, I existed in a perpetual and unrelenting state of the most intense kind of agitation – permanently distracted and distraught. This led to a suicide attempt which left me in a coma in intensive care for five days, followed by hospitalizations and several courses of electro-convulsive shock therapy (ECT).

The name for this kind of profound, and highly distressing, restlessness is psychomotor agitation. I describe what is meant by this term below:

Psychomotor Agitation (And My Experience Of It).

Symptoms Of Psychomotor Agitation:

– unintentional/ involuntary/ purposeless movement driven by an irresistible compulsion to do so,  feelings of inner tension, restlessness, anxiety and intense mental anguish and distress. These involuntary movements may include:

– pacing around the room

– hand wringing

 

Psychomotor agitation is found particularly frequently in those with bipolar disorder, substance abusers and those with psychotic depression (to read about all the other types of depression, click here).

Treatment:

Doctors may treat the disorder pharmacologically (ie. with medication) but it also often treated non-pharmocologically by means other F therapies such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga and other relaxation techniques.

Resources:

Psychomotor Agitation (And My Experience Of It).    Overcome Fear And Anxiety. Click Here.

 

eBook:

Psychomotor Agitation (And My Experience Of It).

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

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery