Tag Archives: Childhood Trauma Resources

A Closer Look at the Link Between Childhood Experiences and BPD.

childhood trauma and bpd

BPD And Childhood Trauma

One of the things that frequently marks the childhood of individuals who later develop BPD is LOSS, especially when the loss has occurred as a result of death, divorce or serious illness (necessitating long periods in hospital). In one particular research study looking at this, it was found that three-quarters of those suffering from BPD had experienced such losses in childhood.

Abuse also plays a large part in the development of BPD. One study found that 75% of those suffering from BPD had experienced sexual abuse during their childhood compared to 33% of those who suffered from other psychiatric conditions.

However, it is not just obvious trauma in childhood that is linked to the later development of BPD. More subtle forms of problematic parenting also put the child at risk. Examples of this include:

– the parent/s emotionally withdrawing from the child
– inconsistent parenting (eg praise and punishment being distributed in an UNPREDICTABLE manner)
– parent/s discounting, belittling or ignoring the child’s feelings

Another form of problematic parenting which has been linked to the child later developing BPD include:

– the parent behaving too much like a friend rather than a responsible, caring figure
– turning the child into a CONFIDANT
– role reversal : treating the child like a parent

OBJECT RELATIONS THEORY:

Parenting problems are so closely tied to putting the child at risk of later developing BPD because as illustrated, for example, by object relations theory, the way a parent brings up a child has a critical influence on the way the child develops, especially in relation to the following:

– how the child goes on to see him/herself (self-identity, self-concept)
– how the child goes on to view others
– how the child goes on to deal with relationships (functioning in this area often becomes deeply impaired).

The theory suggests, then, that problematic parenting can lead to the child developing identity problems later on together with problems of self-image (affected children will often later develop a view of themselves as ‘bad’, or, even, ‘evil’) with concordant effects upon behavior. Often, also, a feeling of profound HELPLESSNESS will develop.

In relation to how the affected child sees others, certain patterns have been found to emerge. For example, the child may develop into an adult who deeply mistrusts those in authority, viewing them as overwhelmingly vindictive, malicious and punitive. Interestingly, also, however, there can develop a tendency to IDEALIZE people of importance to him/her in the initial stages of knowing them; because, however, this is likely to lead to UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS of the one who has been idealized (especially in relation to them – the idealized one, that is – being able to protect and nurture them) when these high expectations are not lived up to the failure gives rise to feelings of having been BETRAYED in the one who had those expectations.

In conclusion, it should be pointed out that a very difficult childhood does not guarantee the later development of BPD, but risk is elevated if the individual also has a genetic disposition to developing emotional problems.

Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

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

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY (DBT) is an exciting new treatment option for those suffering with BPD. It is a therapy which has elements in common with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

It is an evidence-based treatment (ie it is backed by scientific research).

In the past, BPD was considered to be extremely difficult to treat, but, with the development of therapies such as CBT and DBT, the prognosis is now far more optimistic.

DBT was originally created by the psychologist Marsha Lineham; at first, it was developed with the treatment of females who self-harmed and were suicidal in mind. However, since then, its possible applications have become much broader; it is now used to treat both males and females suffering from a large array of different psychological conditions.

As already stated, DBT has many elements in common with CBT; in addition to this, it also borrows from ZEN and a therapy, which is becoming increasingly popular, called MINDFULNESS.

DBT has been particularly successful in the treatment of BPD (for information about BPD see Category 3 of the main menu : BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO CHILDHOOD TRAUMA). It is thought that one of the main CONTRIBUTING FACTORS of BPD is a traumatic childhood in which the child grows up in an INVALIDATING ENVIRONMENT (eg made to feel unloved and worthless). Such a childhood environment is especially likely to result in the child developing BPD in later life if he/she also has a BIOLOGICAL VULNERABILITY (carries certain genes making him/her particularly vulnerable to stress).

When a person is suffering from BPD the condition causes him/her to REACT WITH ABNORMAL INTENSITY TO EMOTIONAL STIMULATION; the individual’s level of emotional arousal goes up extremely fast, peaks at an abnormally high level, and, takes much longer than normal to return to its baseline level.

This condition leads to the affected individual – a victim of his/her uncontrollable, intense emotional reactions – prone to stagger in life from one crisis to the next and to be perceived by others as emotionally unstable. It is thought that, due to the invalidating environment which the sufferer experienced in childhood, the normal ability to develop the coping strategies needed to regulate emotions is blocked, leaving the person defenceless against painful emotional feelings and leading to maladaptive (unhelpful) behaviors.

It is this problem which DBT was is now used to address. The therapy teaches individuals how to cope with, and regulate, their emotions so that they are no longer dominated and controlled by them. This is vital as the inability to control feelings will often wreck crucial areas of life, including friendships, relationships and careers. It is because of these possible effects that DBT also helps individuals develop SOCIAL SKILLS to help reduce the likelihood of them occurring.

DBT has been found to be effective in helping people suffering from a large range of psychiatric conditions; these include;

– self-harming
– depression
– suicidal ideation
– bipolar
– anxiety
– ptsd
– eating disorders
– substance abuse
– low self-esteem
– problems managing anger
– problems managing relationships/friendship

eBook :

borderline personality disorder

 

Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. CLICK HERE

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

Latest Research Leads to New List Of Main Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Symptoms: The List

Main Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms :

Recent research has led to an expansion of the description of the main borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms. Following the development of the Sheldern Western Assessment Procedure 200 (an assessment tool which includes 200 questions that aid in the diagnosis of BPD) experts, based on up-to-date research, have now developed a much more detailed and comprehensive list of symptoms of BPD than used to be the case.

The list is published in a book by Patrick Kelly and Francis Mondimore -called Borderline Personality DisorderNew Reasons For Hope – who are experts in the field of BPD. I reproduce the list of symptoms in full below:

 

FULL OF PAINFUL AND UNCOMFORTABLE EMOTIONS : unhappiness, depression, despondency, anxiety, anger, hostility.

INABILITY TO REGULATE EMOTIONS : emotions change rapidly and unpredictably; emotions tend to spiral out of control leading to extremes in feelings of anxiety, sadness, rage, excitement; inability to self-soothe when distressed so requires involvement of others ; tends to catastrophize and see problems as unsolvable disasters ; tends to become irrational when emotions stirred up which can lead to a drop in the normal level of functioning ; tends to act impulsively without regard for the consequences

BECOMES EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED TO OTHERS QUICKLY AND INTENSELY : develops feelings and expectations of others not warranted by history or context of the relationship ; expects to be abandoned by those s/he is emotionally close to ; feels misunderstood, mistreated and victimized ; simultaneously needy and rejecting of others (craves intimacy and caring but tends to reject it when it is offered) ; interpersonal relationships unstable, chaotic and rapidly changing.

DAMAGED SENSE OF SELF : lacks stable self-image ; attitudes, values, goals and feelings about self may be unstable and changing ; feels inadequate, inferior and like a failure ; feels empty ; feels helpless, powerless and at mercy of outside forces ; feels like an outsider who does not belong ; overly needy and dependent ; needs excessive reassurance and approval.

 

eBook :

borderline personality disorder

 

Above eBooks now available for immediate download on Amazon. CLICK HERE.

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

Childhood Trauma Leading to Excessive Need for Approval.

 

excessive need for approval

What Causes An Excessive Need For Approval?

If we did not receive approval from those close to us in childhood we may grow up to have an excessive need for it from others later in life as a kind of compensation and in order to raise our shattered self-esteem. This can make us vulnerable and excessively anxious to make everybody like us and admire us. Of course, this is impossible to achieve.

It is just not possible to interact fully in society without sometimes experiencing disapproval and rejection. Very often, such rejection and disapproval does not mean that there is anything particularly wrong with us.

Indeed, it could be much more to do with failings in the other person, obvious examples are prejudice, discrimination, biased and irrational thinking or misdirection of emotions which were not originally generated by us (eg ‘displacenment’ – the psychological term for when somebody takes something out on us which was not our fault; or ‘projection’ -the psychological term for constantly ‘seeing’ in other people the things we don’t like about ourselves and may have repressed).

excessive need for approval

Frequently, too, a person’s behaviour towards us might be due to distorted beliefs stemming from psychological wounds that have been inflicted upon them in the past (eg a woman who distrusts men because her husband used to beat her).

When we are (inevitably) sometimes rejected, a useful exercise is to calmly think about why we have been responded to in a negative manner and analyze if it really was something to do with us or to do with something else not really connected to us.

For example, perhaps the person who behaved in a negative way towards us was over-tired or under a great amount of stress. In such a case, the disapproval is likely to be ephemeral, in any event, and something we do not need to dwell upon or take personally.

Obviously, when someone rejects us it does not mean that we are of no value. Even if we have done something wrong, one action or set of actions does not define us as a person (either in the present or in the future). To become defined in such a way would be absurdly limiting and simplistic. Human beings are, after all, complex creatures (hence expressions like : ‘he’s the sum of his contradictions’).

Individuals who have an excessive need for approval often feel that it is imperative that EVERYBODY approves of them. I repeat, this is impossible, and, in my view, undesirable (often, history has shown us, the most enlightened and edifying views can meet with vicious opposition). We do not need the approval of everyone we meet in order to live a happy and meaningful life. Also, other people’s views of us should not be given equal weight (eg most of us would value the view someone we respected had of us more than the view a stranger had).

It is also important to point out that we can sometimes feel hurt and upset if someone criticizes us in a mannner which we do not feel is warranted – to avoid falling into such a trap we need to remind ourselves that we need not let our mood be affected adversely by something negative someone says about us if we know it not to be true.

Finally, it is worth saying how it might be helpful to react when someone disapproves of us when we HAVE done something we regret. A constructive response might be as follows:

a) we can learn from the criticism

b) just because we know we have done something wrong, it is illogical to overgeneralize from this and view ourselves as a wholly bad person

c) accept that we feel temporarily uncomfortable but to keep in mind, too, that this feeling will pass and that we are not necessarily being totally written off as a person by the individual we have upset, let alone by everybody else for evermore!

RESOURCES :

OVERCOME THE NEED FOR APPROVAL MP3 – CLICK HERE

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

Childhood Trauma: Food and Nutrition which may Help with Resultant Depression.

depression and nutrition

Due to the side-effects associated with anti-depressants, together with the controversy which surrounds their effectivenes, some individuals prefer to try to treat their depression in more natural ways; in relation to this, many people adjust their intake of nutrients in ways which research suggests may lift their mood. I examine the foods and nutients which may help this goal to be achieved below:

FOODS AND NUTRIENTS WHICH MAY HELP TO LIFT MOOD :

Not only does some research suggest that the foods and nutrients listed below may help lift mood when depressed, it suggests they may also make depression less likely to recur once feeling better:

1) SELENIUM : this can be found in oysters, mushrooms and Brazil nuts

2) CHROMIUM : this can be found in turkey and green vegetables

3) ZINC : this can be found in shellfish, seafood and eggs

All of the above nutients can also be bought in supplement form from chemists and health food shops. However, they should not be taken in large doses so be sure to read the relevant labels to obtain the recommended amounts to take.

4) VITAMIN B12 : this vitamin, which can also be bought as a supplement from health shops and chemists, is thought to help maintain general mental alertness and, also, help keep feelings of depression at bay. It can be found in salmon, meat, cod, milk, cheese, eggs and yeast extract.

FISH

Some scientists recommend eating fish as a way of reducing depressive symptoms. The reason for this is that some research studies have provided evidence that FISH OILS have both an ANTI-DEPRESSANT and MOOD-STABILIZING effect. However, because of the amount of fish oil which needs to be ingested, one would have to consume a vast quantity of fish. In order to rectify this problem, many companies now produce FISH OIL CAPSULES (eg OMEGA – 3) as dietry SUPPLEMENTS. These contain very concentrated fish oil. However, more research needs to be conducted in order to come to a definitive verdict on their effectiveness. One benefit of them, however, is that they have no side-effects, apart from, rarely, a mildly upset stomach.

5-HTP

Otherwise known as HYDROXTRYPTOPHAN. The body manufactures this from tryptophan (an AMINO ACID) in the diet (sources include turkey and bananas) and it is linked to the production of SEROTONIN (a neurotransmitter which I discuss in other posts – please enter ‘SEROTONIN’ into this site’s search facility if you wish to access those posts) in the brain. Depleted serotonin levels in the brain are thought to be connected with depression and insomnia. Indeed, taking supplements of 5-HTP has been linked to not only helping to treat depression and insomnia, but, also, obesity.

The Cochrane Review (2001) found two studies suggesting that 5-HTP was more effective at treating depression than placebos, but, also, concluded that more research needed to be conducted in order to reach a proper conclusion in relation to how beneficial it is.

CONCLUSION:

A lot more research needs to be conducted in order to come to any definitive solutions about just how helpful diet, nutrients and supplements are at treating mental health conditions. However, there is a vast number of people who take them and are convinced of their effectiveness.

Finally, I wish to stress that it is extremely important to speak to a doctor if you are considering coming off any prescribed medication.

 

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

Simple Questions We can Ask Ourselves to Reduce Anxiety

effects of childhood trauma

Below I have listed a set of questions we can ask ourselves when we are worried and anxious. The questions are intended to help us CHALLENGE OUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS; this technique derives from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):QUESTIONS WE CAN ASK OURSELVES WHICH HELP US TO CHALLENGE OUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS:

1) What evidence is there that the negative thought I am having is true?
What evidence is there that the negative thought I am having is not true?

2) Is the negative thought a fact based on rational and logical thinking?
Or is it influenced (distorted) by the way I am feeling (ie based upon EMOTIONAL REASONING rather than on rational thinking)?

3) Is constantly focusing on this negative thought helping me to move forward in my life? Or is focusing on the negative thought causing me unnecessary distress, hindering me and holding me back, preventing me from making a valuable contribution in life?

4) Is there a more positive way I can interpret events? Is there another perspective I can take/ Can I apply ‘out of the box’ thinking?

5) If a close friend was in the same situation, what advice and help would I give him/her? Can I apply the same sensitivity, compassion and understanding I’d show to a friend to myself? If not, why not? Am I treating myself unfairly?

6) What is the worst outcome of the situation in which I find myself? Am I over-estimating the probability of the worst happening? If the worst does happen, am I underestimating my ability to cope with such an outcome?

7) Can I change my mind-set from viewing this situation as a problem, to viewing it as a challenge? Which of these two approaches is likely to be of most benefit to me?

It is possible, of course, for us to write these questions down and remind ourselves of them when we feel particularly anxious; we can even carry them around with us if we feel so inclined! Sometimes, a simple shift of perspective can have a very liberating effect.

 

David Hosier BScHons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) : Further Treatment Options.

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

Individuals suffering from psychiatric conditions such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) find there are a vast array of therapies on offer purporting to be able to effectively treat them. The choice can seem overwhelming and confusing.

In the case of BPD, however, although many different therapists may claim that the particular therapy that they offer is beneficial, research shows that there are only a few which result in significant improvement.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one example of an effective treatment, but, as I have dealt with that in several of my other posts (just enter ‘CBT’ into this site’s search facility if you are interested in reading any of them) so will not discuss it further here. Instead, in this post I will look at the following 4 evidence-based therapies for individuals suffering from the condition of BPD. These are:

1) DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOUR THERAPY (DBT)

2) MENTALIZATION BASED THERAPY (MBT)

3) TRANSFERENCE-FOCUSED PSYCHOTHERAPY (TFP)

4) SCHEMA THERAPY

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOUR THERAPY –

this was the first therapy specifically designed to treat BPD. Research into its effectiveness have yielded encouraging result : it reduces the risk of the individual who undergoes it from attempting or commiting suicide, and, further, after a year of being treated with DBT many show a significant improvement in their condition (although, despite this improvement, they may still feel substantial emotional distress; due to this fact, it is clear treatment programs lasting significantly longer than a year need to be implemented and assessed).

What does DBT involve? The therapy uses a combination of psychotherapy and group therapy. The group therapy helps the individual recognise that his/her intense emotions often get out of control, in a destructive way, and teaches techniques related to how these emotions may be regulated (controlled) by the individual who suffers them.

DBT is strongly influenced by Buddhist philosophy, and, drawing from it, encourages the individual to accept his/her distress (see my post entitled ‘Why Fighting Anxiety can Make It Worse’ for more on why such an approach is effective); it also encourages the individual being treated to meditate to calm down the inner emotional storms that may often rage within them.

In conclusion, it is worth saying that although much research suggests that DBT is very effective for treating BPD, because it is complex, and uses techniques from several other therapies, it is difficult for researchers to know exactly which elements of the therapy are the effective ones. More research is necessary to answer that question.

MENTALIZATION BASED THERAPY –

MBT, like DBT, was designed specifically to treat borderline personality disorder. MBT is largely based upon the idea that the core reason why individuals develop BPD is that they EXPERIENCE PROBLEMS EARLY IN LIFE IN CONNECTION WITH HOW THEY BONDED, AND RELATED TO, THEIR PRIMARY CAREGIVERS, which, in turn, leads to them experiencing further DIFFICULTIES WITH FORMING AND MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS IN LATER LIFE. MBT seeks to help the individual suffering from BPD empathize with others, ‘put themselves in their shoes’, and develop awareness and understanding in relation to how their volatile emotional outbursts affect others (people with BPD tend to have an impaired ability to do this if they do not seek out trewatment).

So far research into the effectiveness of MBT has been encouraging. It has been found to:

– reduce hospitalizations

– reduce suicidal behaviours

– improve day-to-day functioning

TRANSFERENCE-FOCUSED PSYCHOTHERAPY (TFP) –

this type of therapy is based upon the theory that individuals who suffer from BPD often have severe difficulties with their perception of interactions with others. Following on from this observation, the theory also assumes that the BPD sufferer will tend, too, to misinterpret his/her relationship with the therapist. In order to try to correct these chronic misperceptions and misinterpretations relating to the individual’s personal interactions, the therapist helps the individual gain awareness of what is going wrong with his/her interpersonal interactions and teach him/her strategies and techniques which help to correct the problem. Research into the effectiveness of TFP continues.

SCHEMA THERAPY –

SCHEMAS are deeply embedded CORE BELIEFS ABOUT ONESELF, OTHERS and THE WORLD IN GENERAL; these deeply held beliefs are LAID DOWN IN CHILDHOOD. The therapy aims to change the BPD sufferer’s NEGATIVE, MALADAPTIVE and UNHELPFUL SCHEMAS into more POSITIVE, ADAPTIVE and HELPFUL ONES.

Early research into the effectiveness of this type of therapy suggests that it can significantly improve quality of life and reduce BPD symptoms. Whilst these findings are encouraging, it is necessary to carry out further research into the therapy’s effectiveness.

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

Why We Worry.

 

why we worry

Other posts in this category have already dealt with how early life experience of trauma can contribute to us becoming anxious adults, and, also, that the type of negative thinking (cognitive) style we may have developed as a result of the early trauma can perpetuate symptoms of depression and anxiety. But what are the other causes of excessive worrying and what are the other ways of dealing with the problem? It is to this question I now turn:

CAUSES OF ANXIETY/EXCESSIVE WORRY:

1) OUR GENETIC INHERITANCE: It seems we can inherit a predisposition towards anxiety genetically. This means, for example, if we have a parent who is very anxious, all else being equal, we are more likely to become anxious ourselves due to our genetic inheritance. (Also, of course, if we have a very anxious parent, we are more likely to develop anxious responses due to ‘learned behaviour’ – ie modelling our behavioural reponses on those of the anxious parent). However, the key word here is ‘predisposition’; in other words, having an anxious parent will not guarantee that we, ourselves, will become anxious adults, but, rather, we will be more vulnerable to this happening if other factors also affect us in life (such as those detailed below):

2) LATER LIFE EXPERIENCES: If we have suffered the experience of early life trauma, the damage done by this can be compounded (made worse) by going on to experience yet further trauma in later life. It is particularly unfortunate, then, that early life trauma can in itself create problems for us in later life, thus increasing the probability that further trauma will strike (which is one reason, amongst many others, why early therapeutic intervention is crucial for those affected by childhood trauma).

3) DRUGS: It is not just a side-effect of many illicit drugs which can create anxiety conditions; some prescribed drugs, too, can cause anxiety as a side effect. It is, of course, always important to ask doctors about possible unwanted effects of the medications they may prescribe.

4) INTERNAL CONFLICTS: Sometimes we behave in ways which CONFLICT with our own ideals and values, or the ideals and values we have INTERNALISED from our upbringing and culture (even if we have only internalized them on an unconscious level). Freud believed we all have such internal conflicts, a price he thought was paid for living in a ‘civilized’ society, in which we are compelled to repress many natural human instincts (for those who are interested, you may wish to investigate further Freud’s view of how the ‘Id’ (the name he gave to our instinctual self/basic impulses) and the ‘Superego’ (the name he gave to our conscience/moral selves, which develops due to learning from parents, teachers, society, culture etc) may be constantly ‘at war’ with each other.

Therapists who place emphasis on the link between INTERNAL CONFLICTS and ANXIETY tend to recommend what is known as PSYCHODYNAMIC PSYCHOTHERAPY.

5) NEUROLOGICAL FACTORS: This refers to how the brain we possess is physically set up or ‘wired’ Some of us are, it seems, ‘wired’ in such a way that our ‘internal alarm systems’ are highly sensitive. I have discussed in other posts how the brain’s physical ‘wiring’ can be affected by the experience of early trauma.

 

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

Neuroscience: An Introduction to The Science of the Brain.

childhood_trauma_effects

My fascination with neuroscience (the science of the working of the brain) stemmed from two key, fundamental questions about what it means to be human; in fact, I never cease to be amazed as to why these two questions do not appear to be of much interest to the majority of individuals, at least in the UK.

1) The first concerns THE QUESTION OF FREE WILL which is, essentially, this:

If we are, essentially, our brains (ie it is just the brain that produces the experience of self, decision making, emotions etc) and given that the brain is a PURELY PHYSICAL ENTITY, subject, like all physical objects, to the LAWS OF PHYSICS, can we, in any true and meaningful sense, be said to possess free will? Or is everything we are, do and feel determined by the aforementioned laws of physics. If not, by what mechanism are our brains exempt from these laws?

You may be surprised to hear, as this, to most people, sounds utterly COUNTER-INTUITIVE, that the majority of neuroscientists believe that, in fact, the sense we have of free-will is simply an illusion and that there is no central, controlling entity we call self – no ‘ghost-in-the-machine’.

2) WHAT IS CONSCIOUSNESS? This question is, of course, inextricably linked with the question of free will. It runs like this:

Most of us are agreed that the brain is ‘just’ a lump of physical matter (albeit the most complex entity so far discovered in the universe). But somehow, (and neuoroscientists are not at all close to solving this ultimate riddle) this lump of physical matter gives rise to CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE, including, for example, seeing the colour red, appreciating a Beethoven symphony, or falling in love. We know why these abilities arose (from an evolutionary perspective), but, in truth, have virtually no idea how the consciousness we use to perform them, in itself, came into existence.

Whether neuroscience will ever solve these questions is not known; it is possible human intelligence has not, and never will, evolve sufficiently
to answer them; the answer may involve concepts we can’t even imagine.

Maybe the answer will come someday, but don’t hold your breath.

childhood_ trauma _workbookchildhood_trauma_aggression_ebook-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-69,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_

Above eBooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. $4.99 each (except for Workbook, priced at $9.99). CLICK HERE.

Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

‘Fighting’ Anxiety can Worsen It: Why Acceptance Works Better.

 

What Happens When We Try To ‘Fight’ Anxiety?

Trying to fight anxiety, research suggests (and, certainly, my own experience of anxiety would tend to confirm this) can actually AGGRAVATE the problem and lead to greater feelings of distress. Stating the shatteringly obvious, none of us wants to experience the feelings an anxiety condition brings; however, difficult as it may sound at first, DEVELOPING AN ATTITUDE OF ACCEPTANCE TOWARDS IT, rather than entering an exhausting mental battle with it, has been reported by many to be a superior strategy for coping with anxiety.

The psychologist Beck, to whom I have made several references already in this blog (he was one of the founders of the very helpful therapy called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, or CBT, for people suffering from conditions such as depression and anxiety – see my posts on CBT) devised the acronym A.W.A.R.E for ease of remembering the key strategies for coping. Let’s take a look at what the acronym A.W.A.R.E stands for:

A Accept the anxiety (it sounds hard, I know, but so is constantly struggling to fight it):

The benefits of adopting this approach are that it may help to reduce the PHYSIOLOGICAL symptoms commonly associated with anxiety (eg accelerated heart rate, increased muscle tension, hyperventilation, sweating -or ‘cold sweats’- trembling, dry mouth etc). It may, too, help with PSYCHOLOGICAL symptoms (people report that an attitude of acceptance towards their anxiety makes them feel less distressed). A kind of motto which has come to attach itself to the acceptance approach to anxiety is: ‘if you are not WILLING to have it, you WILL’ (see what they’ve done there!)

W Watch your anxiety:

It is suggested that rather than get too ‘caught up’ in anxiety, together with all the distressing negative thoughts and fears it produces, to, instead, just observe it in a DETACHED and NON-JUDGMENTAL manner; this involves trying to adopt a kind of NEUTRAL MENTAL ATTITUDE towards it – in other words, neither liking it nor seeing the experience of anxiety as a terrible, unsolvable catastrophy (again, I realize, of course, that intense anxiety is very painful, so this, too, may sound difficult at first). People report that when they adopt this DETACHED, NEUTRAL view of their feelings of anxiety they starts to lose their, hitherto, tenacious grip on their lives.

A Act with your anxiety:

Severe anxiety can leave us feeling as if we are incapable of functioning on even a basic level. It is important to remember, however, as I have repeated at, no doubt, tedious length througout this blog, that just because we believe something it does not logically follow that the belief must be true. Indeed, when my anxiety was at its worst, I did not feel able, or even believe I could,shave or brush my teeth etc…etc… Many people report, however, that if they take the first (often, extremely challenging) step to try to carry on with normal activities, despite the feeling of anxiety which may accompany this, they can, after all, accomplish that which they originally believed they couldn’t. Success then tends to build upon success: completion of the first activity increases the self-belief and the confidence to go on to the second activity, the completion of which provides further self-belief and confidence…and so on…and so on…

In order to make this easier, it may be necessary to slow down the pace at which, in different circumstances, we would otherwise carry out the particular tasks that we set ourselves.

R Repeat the steps:

This just means that by repeating the ACCEPTING ANXIETY, WATCHING OUR ANXIETY (in a detached and neutral manner) and ACTING (despite the feelings of anxiety which may accompany such action) CYCLE, the anxiety may be slowly eroded away.

E Expect the best (even if it does not come naturally)

When we are depressed and anxious we, almost invariably, expect the worst. This is overwhelmingly likely to perpetuate the condition. However, just as expecting the worst can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, so, too, can expecting the best. If, like me, you are not a natural optimist, the concept of expecting the best may go against the grain. However, research shows that optimistic people are more likely to achieve their goals than those of us who do not appear to have been blessed with quite such a sunny disposition. It is worth adapting the strategy on, at least, an experimental basis. It is also useful to keep in mind that even if the best does not occur, we will still have the inner-strength necessary to cope.

eBook :

 

childhood trauma and depression

 

Above eBook now available for immediate download on Amazon.  CLICK HERE.

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

Trauma: How Cognitive Processing Therapy can Help.

It is always important to treat post-traumatic stress and this is particularly the case in relation to childhood trauma. This is because it is during childhood that we form our core beliefs about ourselves, others and the world in general. Childhood trauma can severely distort these beliefs in a highly destructive manner. Without treatment, these damaging views and beliefs can endure for a life-time, blighting the entire life of the affected individual, even ruining it.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a particular type of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and there is now much evidence from research studies that it can prove highly effective in the treatment of the effects of trauma:

Frequently, individuals who have suffered childhood trauma find themselves in a perpetual and distressing struggle with painful memories. Thoughts about these often become circular and overwhelming, never reaching a resolution. The person experiencing them can feel more and more conflicted as time goes on if effective treatment is not sought.Indeed, many who seek therapy do so because they find they have become ‘stuck’ or ‘caught up’ in their painful thoughts, memories and feelings and they feel unable to properly integrate or make sense these.

CPT helps people to understand what they went through, how it affected them, and how it has affected, in a negative and distorted way, their view of themselves, others and the world in general (psychologists refer to such thinking as a ‘negative cognitive triad’, one of the key symptoms of clinical depression).

CPT aims to help individuals rectify this negative cognitive triad and gain AUTHORITY over their trauma-related memories and feelings, or, to put it another way, CPT helps people to be IN CONTROL OF THEIR MEMORIES AND RELATED FEELINGS, rather than the other way around.

Many individuals who have experienced childhood trauma, also, very frequently, find themselves ‘living in the past’: continually brooding on what happened, why it happened and how it has adversely affected their lives; such ruminations may become obsessive. CPT helps break this pattern of thinking: one of the key elements of CPT is to help people CREATE A BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE PAST AND THE PRESENT so that the individual can free him/herself to finally live in the ‘now’ rather than the ‘then’.

For more information about CBT and help for recovery from trauma a good site is: http://www.psychologytools.org/ptsd.html

Because I found CBT very useful in my own recovery, and, additionally, because it has a very solid evidence base showing that it is an effective therapy, I have listed links to two online CBT courses below :

I found CBT an important part of my recovery and therefore highly recommend A Clinically Proven Online CBT Course For Panic and Anxiety Disorder Created By Professional Therapists. Adheres to the Ethical Guidelines set down by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists (BABCP). FREE 30 DAY TRIAL.Click Here!

CBT program to address anxiety featuring the A.W.A.K.E.method. Full refund within 15 days of purchase if unsuitable. Click Here!.

I hope you have found this post of interest. Please click on the FOLLOW icon if you would like instant notification of new posts. New posts are added to this site at least twice per week. You are also welcome, of course, to leave a comment, to which I will reply as soon as I am able.

Best Wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Large Study Suggests Antidepressants Work No Better than Placebos.

 

Do Antidepressants work?

Do Antidepressants Work?

The pharmaceutical industry makes over 12 billion pounds a year from antidepressant medication. Indeed, millions of adults and children take antidepressants and there are hundreds of thousands of doctors throughout the world who are happy to prescribe them.

However, it has been suspected by many for a long time that a proportion of any beneficial effect given by the taking of antidepressants is due to THE PLACEBO EFFECT (the PLACEBO EFFECT is a phenomenon whereby the patient’s BELIEF that a medication will help causes any improvement in his/her condition, not the drug itself.

A simple example of this would be to give someone who has a headache a dummy pill, such as a sugar pill, and then to tell the person who took it that it will cure his/her headache. Often, the person’s BELIEF the tablet will help him/her then causes an improvement. There is so much evidence of the placebo effect that it is now fully accepted by the scientific community – it is an excellent example of how the mind can affect the body).

do antidepressants work?

Major Study On The Effectiveness Of Antidepressants :

A major study has now been undertaken to discover how much of any beneficial effect antidepressants have is not due to the drugs themselves, but, instead, to the placebo effect. The study was led by the academic, Professor Kirsch, from Harvard University.

His method was to take an overview of 38 studies which had already been conducted on the effects of antidepressants (psychologists refer to this as a meta-analysis). The SHOCKING DISCOVERY was that the data showed that antidepressants worked almost no better than placebos.

In other words, giving an individual an antidepressant for his/her depression, according to the extensive data reviewed by Professor Kirsch, is likely to work hardly any better than giving the individual a sugar (or ‘dummy’) pill. In fact, the difference in effect upon lessening depressive symptoms between the sugar pills and the antidepressants was found to be, by careful statistical analysis, CLINICALLY INSIGNIFICANT.

Further investigation of the data revealed that the proportion individuals who were helped more by the antidepressants than by the placebo (and, even then, only in a very minor way) was just 10-15% (those who had the most extreme forms of depressive illness).The majority, then (85-90%), were not helped in a significant way by antidepressants per se anymore than they would have been by a placebo.

Doctors have been made aware of this study, but a survey recently conducted has, worryingly, shown that over half of them did not intend to change the manner in which they prescribed antidepressants.

Whilst criticisms of Professor Kirsch’s study were made, particularly, unsurprisingly, by those who had a vested interest in the pharmaceutical industry, none of them, on analysis, have been shown to carry much weight. Additionally, a study commissioned by the NHS has SUPPORTED Professor Kirsch’s findings.

Despite these alarming findings, 235 prescriptions for antidepressants were made in the USA in 2010, and, in 2011, 47 million were made in the UK.

It is clear that there needs to be a major review of medical policy in relation the prescribing of antidepressants and that alternative ways of treating depression now need to be considered more than ever.

DISCLAIMER – DO NOT DISCONTINUE ANY PRESCRIBED MEDICATION WITHOUT FIRST SEEKING EXPERT MEDICAL ADVICE.

childhood trauma and depression

 

Above eBooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. 

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

Controversies: Alarming Study – How Psychiatrists can Get It Wrong.

psychiatric misdiagnosis

psychiatrists and misdiagnosis

A research study that I remember very clearly from University when I was studying for my first degree in Psychology demonstrates just how disturbingly wrong psychiatrists’ diagnoses can sometimes be. It is a notorious study which was led by the psychologist Dr. David Rosenhan.

In the experiment that he conducted, a group of eight academic researchers presented themselves at various psychiatric hospitals located in different areas across the USA. None of the researchers had ever been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition.

Each of these researchers reported to whichever psychiatrist happened to be in charge and responsible for new admissions on the particular day of their arrival and informed him that he was hearing a voice in his head which said the word ‘thud’. This was not true – it was just a fabricated symptom. However, this was the SOLE and ONLY way that the researchers misled the psychiatrists; they did not make up any other false symptoms or lie about their mental health in any other way whatsoever; from the point they reported the false symptom onward, they behaved normally.

How did the psychiatrists respond? All eight, in each of the eight different hospitals, admitted each of the eight researchers into their care. Furthermore, each of the eight researchers (or pseudo-patients, as they could be called) were diagnosed with a severe psychiatric condition. All, too, were prescribed extremely potent anti-psychotic medication (which can have serious side-effects, it should not be overlooked). It is worth repeating here: this occurred despite the fact that all of the eight researchers acted entirely normally except for reporting hearing a voice in their head saying the word ‘thud’.

And the error was not swiftly corrected. Quite the contrary, in fact. Most of the researchers were detained in the psychiatric ward to which they had been admitted for several weeks. Some were detained for over eight weeks, at great expense. Try as they might, the researchers were simply unable to convince the doctors that they were, in fact, sane. Their attempts to do so were interpreted as denial or lack of insight into their own condition.

psychiatric misdiagnosis

When the researchers finally explained they were simply there to conduct an experiment, matters were made even worse. They were seen as delusional and their claims were dismissed. In the eyes of the psychiatrists, their ‘illnesses’ now looked even worse than originally thought.

Eventually, in order to secure their release from detention, they found the only way to accomplish this was to go along with the psychiatrists’ notions that they were extremely mentally ill and then gradually ‘get better’.

But the farce does not end there. A media storm was created and one of the hospitals, shamed by events, was determined to prove that they could not be so easily hoodwinked a second time by the duplicitous Dr Rosenhal. To this end, they laid down a challenge. They told Dr Rosenhal to send more fake patients to their hospital and confidently declared that, this time, they would be able to identify the impostors.

About four weeks later the hospital triumphantly announced it had identified over 40 fake patients. There turned out to be one problem, however: Dr Rosenhal had not sent a single one. We can only imagine the embarrassment those who ran the hospital must have felt.

The experiment, now notorious, created a sensation and led to a major crisis in psychiatry, including a complete re-evaluation of the reliability (or otherwise) of psychiatric diagnoses. Whilst changes were made as a result of Dr Rosenhal’s study, controversy surrounding the reliability, and, indeed, validity, of psychiatric diagnoses remains today.

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

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