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Tag: anxiety and depression treatment

January 29, 2014

So how exactly does food affect your mental health? Consider my recent experience, I set up my appointments so I can take a lunch break around noon or 1pm. For lunch I usually alternate between a left over meal from last night’s dinner, or the occasional sandwich.

Yesterday, I did something different, I stopped by a pizza buffet on the way to the office for lunch. About an hour and a half after lunch I noticed a significant cloudiness in my thinking process, which seemed to flare up when I took notes. I also found myself mildly irritated for reasons I could not explain.

Bad start to the morning

I have actually read about this before, and I  even wrote a post on depression and foods that can help alleviate depression. Consider this, if most antidepressants are designed to increase the transmission of serotonin between neurons in the brain, then where does serotonin come from? More specifically, where is serotonin produced?

80% of serotonin is produced in our guts while the rest are produced in our central nervous system. While the scientific community has known for a long time about certain types of foods which influence our moods, I think it’s something most professionals and the rest of the public take for granted.

The foods we eat does influence how our biology produces serotonin and subsequently our mood, and this post shows how. Based on what I  read, it appears the extra carbs I consumed from the pizza slices rapidly boosted my serotonin production, but briefly. Which was probably followed by a drastic decrease in production which led to my mild irritable mood.

The moral of the story is that what we eat also plays a role in our mood and overall mental health. I am going to stick to my leftovers and the occasional subway. In the mean time, if you want to do some reading on your own, I would recommend a copy of the food-mood solution written by renowned nutritionist Jack Challan. Besides recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, Jack discusses types of foods and supplements people should consume in order to help regulate their moods.

 

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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January 7, 2014

People are competitive in nature, put simply we like to win. So what happens when we have experienced wrong doing at the will of others? The natural inclination is to retaliate and when retaliation is not feasible, people have a bad habit of playing the role of the victim and complaining almost endlessly.

Fundamentally the brain is wired to help the body survive, but mere surviving does nothing to bring about happiness. Happiness comes from a genuine sense of thriving. Let’s say you were raised by emotionally and physically abusive parents, which led you to become wired towards being on the look out for emotional and abusive people. It then becomes highly probable that you will become so accustomed to abusive people that the story of your life would be about transitioning out of one abusive relationship and unintentionally towards another.

Contrary to what some may believe, we don’t have to remain victims of our past, we can learn to thrive past surviving. So how does anyone make the transition from surviving to thriving? Such a transition involves exploring your current patterns of beliefs and changing them to beliefs that are more meaningful and purposeful to you.

For example, if you were to hyper focus on your mistreatment by others, in the past and present, without realizing so, you would have bought into the belief that no one should mistreat you. At first glance this belief would not seem out of place, but imagine if the following where your life’s motto;

“No one ever should mistreat me, ever! My motto in life is that any and everyone who I encounter should be courteous to me. In the event they are not, I will make it my mission that they right their wrong or be properly shamed.”

This is what the motto of negative people sounds like, rather pathetic. Negative people tend to focus on things that have gone wrong in their lives, be it with people, places and things. Grieving is important, but it should not be the focus of your existence. Regardless of what you have experienced, your experiences with negativity would pale in comparison to a sense of meaning and purpose you have ascribed to your life.

When we create meaning and purpose in our lives, we tend to look for and create positive experiences in our lives. These positive experiences help us transition through negative experiences. So if you have personal relationships you cherish, encounters with others who reject you would become insignificant. Furthermore, your focus on  yourself and with your relationships with others would be more focused on the positive experiences you seek and create for yourself.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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December 20, 2013

Our thoughts influence our realities, so it stands to reason that beliefs about low self worth, lead to feelings of low self worth, which in turn leads to behaviors that betray how we really feel about ourselves. The resulting natural and logical consequences lead to a reinforcement about our beliefs of low self worth.
In this video I discuss how I use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to treat Depression.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and Life Coach

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December 12, 2013

Depression

Imagine if all of your life to present you were promised a prize. Let’s say that in order to gain access to this prize that there are certain things you have to accomplish, certain challenges you have to overcome.

So through great pains and effort, you take on the challenges and overcome them, one by one. Until after years of hard work, it came time for you to receive your prize, only to be told that there was never any prize.

This hypothetical scenario can easily be applied to any number of stories where people have been let down. For some people there is nothing more hurtful than investing into an experience with the expectation of a reward for your efforts only to be disappointed.

One of the chief feelings that gets in the way of getting past grief stemming from disappointment is the idea that you have been deceived, cheated or wasted your time and energy.

What if you came to learn that getting past disappointment is easier that you realize? When we experience disappointment, what keeps us emotionally stuck in the grief of disappointment is the context we use to frame the experience.

If you think back to the last time you struggled in getting past your grief from disappointment, you will probably agree it’s because you invested a lot of time in the experience, with the expectation of an outcome, and because you believed that the route you took to achieve the desired outcome was the “only” route you or any one could have taken to achieve the desired outcome. Furthermore you probably also believed that the desired outcome was the “ultimate” outcome you or anyone could ever archive to accomplish any a sense of happiness and fulfillment to varying degrees.

This linear style of thinking is what keeps us stuck in grieving what we believed could have been. Take for example, two months ago my son’s school threw a Halloween party, one of the highlights of the evening was walking through a haunted house. The school library had been converted into a haunted house and we got the thrill of going through a door, and traveling from one partitioned room to the next, while staff and students took turns in giving us their best fright, from hidden and unsuspecting places. The experience of traveling through the make shift haunted house was a linear experience from start to finish, because we transitioned from room A to room B to room C to room D before we finally existed the haunted house.

With this scenario in mind, imagine how frustrated it would have been if we entered room A, then went to room B only to be told that we could not gain  access to room C? This would mean that without accessing room C we would not be able to access room D. This is why people either get depressed or angry over their feelings of disappointment. They feel there is no other way to get to the next level and beyond, if their travel path has become blocked.

Here is a visual representation of my explanation of  a linear style of thinking;

linear thinking_01

Now imagine  thinking in a multi verse context. To further explain, I will share another story. In my village, my father’s immediate younger brother built a home on the other side of the street from my parent’s home. While my parents built a two story home, my uncle built a one story home, with roughly the same number of rooms as my parents’ two story home. How did he manage this? Rather than stack rooms one on top the other as my father had done, my uncle designed his house in a circular pattern. With a courtyard in the middle of the structure, surrounded by all the rooms of the home. This meant that from the courtyard, you could simply turn and walk towards any room of your choice, versus my parents’ home where you had enter the front door into a greeting room, into a hallway, into the stairway, etc. I would say that my parents’ home was linearish in design, while my uncle’s home was multi verse-ish in design.

Using the ABC model to represent the multi verse style of thinking, it would look something like this diagram.

Multi Verse Thinking_01

With multi verse thinking,  a set back or disappointment becomes an opportunity to embark on another experience. If a desired goal or outcome is not realized it is interpreted as there being another bigger and more fulfilling outcome waiting for you to define and realize. This means that the time spent in pursuing an outcome not realized is seen as experience gained to be used  as leverage for another challenge instead of time squandered.

When  we come to realize that our path to happiness and fulfillment comes from within, only then will we acknowledge that our thoughts do indeed create our realities.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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December 5, 2013

Periodically I come across videos online with young people acting out humorous skits about  humiliating experiences. In some cases it is easy to tell that these skits are based on the personal experiences of the main actor or actress while in other cases they are clearly making fun of other peoples’ misfortune.

I am going to focus on skits based on personal experiences, needless to write, making an online video to mock the misfortune of others is not okay.

If I were to meet some of the producers of the videos based on their own humiliating experience, I would like to ask them,

“Prior to making your video, did you heal from the experience?” “Did you learn the lesson you needed to learn from the experience?”

To the young girl who made the skit about how her boyfriend kept their serious relationship a secret from his family and friends and was hesitant to bring her around his family during the holidays, I wonder if she is still in that relationship? If she still is, I wonder why? Does she not consider herself worthwhile to be introduced to her boyfriend’s family and received warmly by them?

If she were a relative, I would suggest to her that perhaps she is the only one between the two, who thinks it’s a serious relationship.

To my Nigerian brethren who made the video about how Nigerian parents are notorious for beating their children who behave in non African traditional ways – that’s not funny. Yes, I know, most people think it’s funny, but it’s really not. If you disagree with me, simply  insert yourself into the shoes of the two main characters.

There is nothing more damaging to the self esteem of a teenage young man, who has put in a lot of work into toasting and inviting a female friend over to his home. Only to be walked in on by his father and beaten in front of her. Furthermore, beating a confused girl who has decided to strip before a camera only worsens her damaged identity.

“But I  no dey vex for una,”  your other videos are funny expect this one.
We have to be honest with ourselves, because lies only help us in soothing our feelings. That way we can pretend not to be bothered by events we have experienced. Events while unfortunate, provide a sliver lining for us to achieve significant growth via painful feelings.

This attitude of pretending not to be bothered by humiliating experiences, is like convincing yourself you have the ability to dodge bullets and fly like a character in a Hollywood blockbuster. However we are all vulnerable, and recognition and acceptance of our vulnerabilities gives us needed courage in accepting life on life’s terms.

If you have been humiliated or shamed, call it for what it is, because pretending not to be bothered only sets you up to experience a repeat.  When we are able to admit experiences that wound our egos, we set ourselves up for proper healing.

By healing I mean being able to acknowledge the source of the wounding, and learning the lesson you need to learn.

What are some healthy and unhealthy methods you have used to respond to feeling humiliated?

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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November 22, 2013

In a previous post, I wrote about using what if scenarios to transition from negative thinking to positive thinking.

What if_01(blank)      What if_01(filled)

However, what if transitioning to a positive thought process is not enough. What if the identified positive thought is intellectually sound, but still emotionally unbelievable?

In this  video post, I discuss taking the what if scenario to another level by performing brief behavioral experiments which force you into making a paradigm shift in your thought processes for the better.

 

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November 4, 2013

Would you knowingly expose yourself to an infectious disease? If you are sound of mind, chances are that you will say no. Further, the reason you will most likely say no is because you have an appreciation for how vulnerable your physical self is.

 

Our awareness of our vulnerability as human beings, (on a physical level)  alters the choices we make. Collectively, so few of us willingly take risks that  puts our physical being in  danger.

So what about the mind? Is the mind vulnerable? Should we take the same precautions? The answer is yes, understandably the vulnerability of the mind is a concept that some people struggle to grasp. This is because while their mental state is something that can be experienced, it is not something that they can touch and see when they are mentally wounded by a bad idea.
Ideas are the equivalent of nutrition for the mind, good ideas that we come to believe help us to become successful in experiencing peace of mind, while bad ideas we come to believe, lead us into creating a world of continued crisis in our lives.
Here are three examples of common bad ideas that some people buy into.

Bad idea #1: You lack intellect.

During my time in the military, I discovered the true meaning of intellect, and that is truth. This is why the defense industry invents so much in technology and people when it comes to “gathering intelligence”.  This is a term that is used so often by the military when commanders talk about wanting the learn more about what is really going on in a foreign territory. With this in mind, imagine how ridiculous it sounds when  someone suggests that you lack the ability to gain awareness for the truth. This is exactly what people say when they suggest that others are of lower intellect,  simply because they don’t display cognitive abilities that are subjectively valued.

No two brains are the same, and everyone has the ability to gain awareness of truths in and out of their lives to solve their problems. When people buy into the idea that they are not intelligent, self fulfilling prophecy takes precedence. They lose interest in seeking the truth and live a life where they transition from one crisis to another where, due to their difficulty in making predictions, they would have been able to make if they possessed awareness of the truth.

Bad idea #2: You are a villain.
My first child was born in a hospital, which turned out to be a terrible experience, while my second child was born at home. The reason my wife and I choose for her to have a home birth was due to the terrible experience she experienced at the hospital, and myself as well. After her doctor had failed to show up for the birth, another doctor showed up for the birth and kept looking at his watch the entire time. I thought he was counting the contractions until he mentioned  to one of the nurses that this was taking too long and he would be upset if he missed his golf game. My wife and I ended being talked into my wife taking an epidural medication when she had insisted on wanting a natural birth. I regret going along with the doctors and nurses, but it was my first child and I thought it best to go with the advice of professionals. So this was the insult my wife experienced.
My insult came about ten minutes after my son was born, I was watching my son by the heating lamp as a nurse tended to him,  when I overheard another nurse quietly ask my wife if she felt safe with me in the home. Of course my wife said she felt safe with me,  and the nurse left. I found this offensive to say the least. The next morning, prior to picking up my wife and our latest addition, I made a complaint with the charge nurse of the maternity ward. She apologized and explained to me that they were mandated by state law to ask new mothers this question. I seized upon the opportunity to point out how badly my wife was treated and then myself coupled with the irony of the question.
When people, due to basis of personal prejudice attempt to portray you as a villain, while you certainly have a right to speak up for yourself, overreacting to the accusations only makes their accusations come to life.

 

Bad idea #3: You are worthless.

I am going to again use my wife’s bad hospital experience as an example for this one. It was my wife’s idea to have a baby at home. We argued over this  and I was initially upset with her. You see our medical insurance doesn’t cover home births and I knew this,  but my wife wouldn’t budge on the issue. I was upset with her because I thought she was being spoiled, we already hired a doula to assist us in the hospital and now we had to pay for the services of a mid wife. I grudgingly agreed to the home birth.
The home birth was a success, with the help of the doula, the mid wife and her two assistants. It was on the day that my daughter was born that I came to realize just how right my wife had been. Why put yourself in a situation where you know you are going to be treated poorly when you don’t have to. Growing up in Nigeria, I had become so accustomed to poor treatment, that I would consider anyone who complained about poor treatment to be spoiled.
While I am not entitled to be liked and considered in good graces by anyone, I am certainly entitled to not put myself in such a situation, and to remove myself from such a situation should I find myself in it. The home birth was success on many levels, our daughter was born healthy, the professionals where not in a hurry, they were compassionate towards my wife, and not once did I feel any of them regarded me as a villain.

 

How to prevent yourself from buying into bad ideas.

Seldom are bad ideas sold directly to anyone,  they are usually subtly suggested. However, if you are paying attention you can smell the waste. Here are three ways you can prevent your self from buying into bad ideas that lead you into practicing more harm than good in your life.

 

Prevention method #1:

Politely and assertively disagree. Don’t be afraid to disagree even if you are outnumbered. It is important to keep in mind that your goal is not to convince anyone, but yourself. There is power in disagreement, all the more reason that your disagreement shouldn’t be nasty and disrespectful. Also, don’t worry about you accepts you or otherwise, if someone is intent on having you buy into a harmful idea, they clearly don’t care about, so nothing is lost if you disagree and practice the next prevention method.

 

Prevention method #2:

Identify sources and people who spread bad ideas and keep your distance. For example, I cut of my cable years ago and the programs our children watch are very limited and hand picked by my wife and I. The brain is vulnerable to infection from bad ideas through the simple act of repetition. For example, youth who are habitually exposed to music with unhealthy messages eventually adopt those messages as their beliefs and values, this is what happens when the brain is exposed to only one type of message on a consistent basis.

 

Prevention method #3:

It’s not enough to disagree with those who spout bad ideas,  you also have practice good ideas. Your thoughts create your reality, and when you practice what you believe, you bring about self fulfilling prophecy and more importantly you surround yourself with people who agree with you and are supportive of you.

 

Ugo is a  psychotherapist and life coach.

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November 1, 2013

This Therapist’s Blog is changing names. The change means from here on forward, This Therapist’s Blog will become Road 2 Resolutions.

Change is this case is a good thing, and we plan on bringing you the same short but meaningful and insight provoking posts.

Also, the previous posts from This Therapist’s Blog will remain available on Road 2 Resolutions Blog.

Thanks for reading.

Ugo

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October 21, 2013
What is stress? There is a short story circulating around the Internet about a psychologist who walks before an audience with a glass half filed with water. She asks members of the audience to guess the weight of the glass, and after several missed guesses, she tells them the answer. The answer is irrelevant, however she proceeded to explain to the audience that the longer she holds the glass of water, the weaker her arm would become, while the weight of the glass of water remains the same.

Her analogy was simple,  stress we hold unto  for a short time, isn’t a bad thing. However stress we hold unto for a significant period of time weighs on the mind,and leads to cognitive issues accompanied by poor health.

“Reality exists in the mind before it is experienced.”

A common reason people struggle with stress is due to a refusal to accept that they are dealing with circumstances out of their control. Often times we have a narrative in our heads regarding how we believe certain experiences should unfold and how we will respond accordingly. This is both a strength and a weakness, because our ability to practice foresight allows us to plan ahead and prepare for the future. While on the other hand, we have a tendency to think ahead of ourselves and develop unrealistic expectations on how things should unfold simply because we planned ahead. It also doesn’t help that we are inherently pleasure seekers and often times the realities we create in our heads are designed for us to feel good about ourselves and the situation. This also presents with an irony of us being unprepared to deal with circumstances we believed we were prepared to deal with.
So what is stress? Stress is a phenomenon that occurs when people over a significant period of time continue to respond to the same life challenges with antiquated strategies that they have repeated tried in the past with limited to no success. After repeated attempts at addressing the problem, they then brood over the matter consistently, only to attempt using the same ineffective strategies once again. In such circumstances, a cruel thing can occur. The situation can resolve itself only to reoccur again, leading the stressed person to believe that the strategies they employed actually were effective, when they were not.
An example would be a panic attack sufferer coming to believe that his or her hyperventilating and overreaction to the episode of panic is what led to the end of the panic episode,  when in fact the panic episode coming to end was caused by the depletion of adrenaline in the person’s body. This then begins a vicious cycle, as the person now develops anxiety due to his or her attempts to anticipate when the next panic episode is going to occur.
The solution to stress is to practice accepting life on life’s terms, this process involves internalizing a great deal of humility in coming to accept when narratives we tell ourselves on how our lives should unfold are proven to be flawed. When we come to accept our narratives are flawed, then next step is to make revisions to the new narrative based on new information acquired from our experience.
If I were an audience member when the psychologist in the short story was giving the presentation, I would have raised my hand to catch her attention. If she had noticed me, and called for me to speak, I would have recommended that she drink the water, and then put the glass down. This for me would represent the metaphor of coming to accept reality for what it is (drinking the water) and exercising the courage to rewrite your narrative, (putting down the glass).
Ugo is a psychotherapist and a life coach.
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October 18, 2013

Over the years I have noticed a trend with people who struggle with anger management, they are usually people pleasers. They bend over backwards most of the time to please others,  mostly because they are fearful of conflict. They desire to not ruffle any feathers, they prefer to get along for the sake of getting along with others even though,  getting along with a specific group will cause them anguish.

That is, until the last straw breaks the camels back, then  they explode. They then take on the label as angry people. It is only after they have internalized anger management skills that the passivity that’s to present itself. It then turns out that they suffer from codependency and that they need to learn self advocacy.

Self advocacy is the process where people learn to set healthy boundaries in their relationships. They learn to say no when they need to say no, and they learn to accept that other people are responsible for their own emotions, negative or positive.

Often, people who struggle with passivity, grew up with one or more abusive care givers, where as a child they learned to survive by predicting when a caregiver would become upset and using manipulative techniques to manage the emotions of that caregiver. Unfortunately that attitude carries over into their adult years, where they attempt to please people in their lives, for fear of being ostracized. Given that it is not possible to please anyone, they find themselves experiencing plenty of frustration in their personal relationships, with periodic episodes of restorting to poor anger management.

So how do these people develop self advocacy skills?

With self advocacy, there are two specific habits to practice, and these habits are getting into the habit of accepting when others are in a bad mood and setting healthy boundaries for self. The process of practicing these healthy boundaries involves the same skill set, with the practice of not being reactive to negative feelings.

So when a person who struggles with passivity or co dependency feels the urge to pacify an adult who is angry, they practice becoming mindful of this urge and doing nothing. When this same person is setting a healthy boundary with others, they will practice becoming aware of their fear of being rejected by the other person, leading to the urge to set no boundaries. They will then choose to set their boundaries regardless of their fears.

Being mindful and not being reactive to negative feelings, is something that can be practiced in imagined scenarios. I have found that when clients practice self advocacy in imagined scenarios, they become better prepared to practice self advocacy in unexpected real life scenarios.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC.

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