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Tag: depression treatment

February 5, 2014

In this previous post, I discussed how we use cognitive rules which lead to us being upset, while in this post I am going to discuss how to transition getting past being upset to a more rational mindset. There are three ways we upset ourselves, the first is only accepting ourselves conditionally, having irrational rules of engagement with others and being resistant to disappointment.

Unconditional Self Acceptance.

One of the most common ways people upset themselves is only accepting themselves conditionally. Without realizing it, if we set up certain conditions for our happiness, such has having a certain type of wealth, a certain type of profession or being involved with a certain type of person, we have set up ourselves to become upset if any of these conditions to our happiness are not met. Being upset in this instance should not be confused with disappointment, this is because disappointment is an acknowledgement and acceptance of things not going your way, while being upset is an acknowledgement of things not going your way, but a refusal to accept things not going your way. One  way of learning to get past being upset is to practice unconditional self acceptance. Seeing yourself as a worthwhile human being simply because you exist, and not based on your accomplishments or your relationships.

Preferential Treatment from Others.

We love to be accepted by others, our drive to be accepted by others is so powerful that we even want others who we do not accept, to accept us. Yes, at our primal level we are irrational beings, which lends some explanation to our irrational expectations to be liked and accepted by others. One of the best methods of getting past our tendency to become upset in response to rejection from others, real or perceived is to change our rules of engagement with others. This means that expectations of acceptance from others become preferences. To preference your expectations for favorable treatment from others, you simply have to recognize that people like yourself have personal power. This means that you to come to place of acceptance that people have a choice as to whether or not they are going to accept you and that you are powerless to their opinions. We can’t force those who reject us to accept us, but we can certainly come to a place of peace regarding our powerlessness over the choices of others.

Embracing Disappointment.

Things aren’t supposed to go our way all of the time, if they did life would cease to have meaning. Challenges in life are what give us a sense of meaning and purpose, which makes the idea that things should mostly go our way an unhealthy one. It is easy to see why people become easily upset when things don’t go their way, given that difficulty in coping with disappointment comes from placing one’s sense of happiness on one hopeful outcome.

Happiness in life comes from from our ability to see ourselves as worthwhile people and our positive  interpretations of our life experiences. This best way to overcome being upset over disappointment is to see the disappointment as a part of your process and journey towards a desired outcome.

In summary,while being upset is a normal human phenomenon, it certainly isn’t a state of mind that’s healthy for anyone to be in for a prolonged period of time.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach

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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 17, 2014

Periodically I get calls from prospective clients who are inquiring about anger management therapy, and some of them would actually tell me that they have no idea why they are angry. One guy told me about how he had threatened the life of a fellow motorist, and how appalled he was with himself after the incident. Yet he couldn’t understand why he was so angry for this was one of a series of incidents that he had been involved in during the past month.

For those who do book an appointment with me,  the reasons for their anger becomes painfully obvious, but the question remains why couldn’t they understand the triggers for their anger in  the first place? The answer is quite straight forward- distraction.

Beer, food, video games, sex, sports, parties,  etc..  These are all types of activities that  if done in excess lead to a distraction of the mind. These are also activities that reduce the experience of negative feelings and increase the production of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter the brain produces when we feel joy. Another neurotransmitter the brain produces in response to pleasurable feelings is serotonin.

The problem with entertaining activities which we use to distract ourselves is that they are short lived. This means after a period of time, we find ourselves consuming more entertainment in order to produce the feel good neurotransmitters. This then leads to the point of diminishing return, where regardless of the amount of entertainment we consume, we find our difficult feelings inescapable.

The answer to understanding why we get angry lies in our ability to recognize our difficult feelings without overreacting. The thing with anger is that  it is an emotion of illusion. When we get angry, it is simply because our expectations have not been met. No matter how you slice it,  at the end of the day the best attitude to adopt for better health is an attitude of humility, regardless of how much wrong you have experienced due to someone else’s actions.

When people who have been experiencing episodes of anger share with me that they do not understand why they are angry, the truth is quickly revealed once I get them to exercise calm and I begin to ask them some personal questions. What is often revealed is a deep sense of disappointment with some facets, if not all facets of their lives. They have usually spent so many years distracting themselves that even when their methods of distraction have stopped working, they still are unable to recognize their difficult feelings.

The most effective method for understanding the source of your anger is to stop distracting yourself. Entertainment is not a bad thing but if done in excess it becomes mind numbing. Practice going one week without any source of entertainment, this includes, video games, movies, alcohol and and any pleasurable non productive activity you frequently engage in.

The second step is to familiarize yourself with a list of feelings like this one, as you go through the week without your typical distractions. Your difficult feelings are going to be quite intense that your knee jerk reaction is to mistake these feelings for anger. Once you have familiarized yourself, with a list of feeling words, get into the habit of documenting your daily experiences with difficult feelings which will crop up in your daily interactions with others.

The third step is to commit to not react to your difficult feelings, regardless of how badly you feel. If you find yourself unable to honor this third step, it is strongly advised you see a therapist who can guide you through the process of understanding why you are angry.
Often you will find that your skill in being able to distract from your difficult feelings was honed during your childhood years.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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January 16, 2014

So I recently watched an episode of the The Young Turks on YouTube, where they gave a commentary on Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s run in with a foul mouthed hooligan. Although, as the story unfolds, Kanye West proved to be more hooligan that the man who disrespected his wife, or wife to be.

The story is not what fascinates me, what inspired this post was the commentary by The Young Turks (TYT), where there seemed to be some consensus that Kanye was well in his right to pummel someone for verbally disrespecting his wife. This is the same channel that has a video regarding the ridiculousness of how a series of text messages led to a shoot out at a public venue.

To be specific I have two issues with the commentary, the first is the kid gloves members of the media often seem to use to addressing people of color, specifically Black people.

“Oh… You knocked that guy out for cursing you out? What was that? He used racial slurs? We understand, he had it coming.” It truly is a dangerous message for young people to digest, the idea that you get a free pass for losing your composure, simply because someone hurts your feelings.

In my opinion, this is a set up to get caught up in the American legal system. No, I am not advocating for blind obedience due to fear of authority, or obedience for the sake of fitting in, instead I am advocating for the practice of empathy, a by product that comes from adherence to the non aggression principle.

What is the non aggression principle? Fundamentally the non aggression principle is the commitment to not resort to  violence or the threat of violence to resolve disputes. An obvious exception would be when your life is truly in danger and you have exhausted all options in keeping yourself safe. In the story, Kim Kardashian gets racists insults directed at her from  a man, she calls Kanye, and Kanye shows up,  tracks the man down and beats him up.

The second issue I have with the TYT commentary on the Kanye West story, was the passive promotion of machismo. The idea that it is okay to seek retaliation is antiquated thinking. Violence only begets more violence. Take for example, the man has now pressed charges against Kanye West, with the help of the State. So Kanye now finds himself at the mercy of the State as the evidence and eyewitness testimony is overwhelmingly against Kanye. So now at the request of this man,the State now has the option of visiting violence against Kanye West by taking away his freedom, or a significant portion of his money or both. Just like when a parent, spanks one of his children for hitting a sibling.

One thing I learned from my military experience, is that the attitude of machismo is not practical, and therefore not rational. Machismo is impractical because there is always someone stronger than and more willing to resort to greater degrees of violence that  you are.
It’s nice to think that you can go about beating up on anyone who hurls insults at you, but what happens when you encounter someone who’s better at violence than you are? Then what?

Violence is overrated and bad for the brain, please give peace a chance. Furthermore if you are a black person reading this, and you take offense to what I said about the media and violence. Please understand that my pride for my heritage, comes from a place of love and not from a place of unrealistic expectations regarding how others should regard me.



My video response.

The Young Turks Video

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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January 4, 2014

Perceived lack of power is the most dangerous state any human being can find themselves in. Particularly when it comes to adults. We  all have power, power to influence change in our lives, as evidenced by the decisions we make everyday in our lives, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. Our ability to think and do is what makes us powerful.

Lack of power in our world is an illusion, this illusion is bought into when people come to believe that their path to happiness lies to doing one specific thing, or taking one specific route in their lives. This leads to a bottle neck phenomenon where most people end up following a specific path in the pursuit of happiness with only a handful of them achieving any success. Not to get off track, but we live in a multidimensional universe, as explained in this previous post, this means that our choices are more abundant than we realize.

For most people who have bought into the message that they do not have the ability to influence their reality, chances are that they too have become caught up in the bottle neck phenomenon, which creates for them a consistency of lack of power in  their world.

In the beginning of this post, I stated that for a human being to not recognize their power in this world is a dangerous state, the reason is because, a person who does not recognize his or her power, is most likely to overreact in an effort to gain some control in his or her world. Often times such an overreaction can be devastating. Just because a person does not recognize his power in the world, does not mean that his power is non existent.

Specific examples of people over reacting to their perceived lack of power would be, physical assault, verbal abuse, making false accusations against others and bringing about hurt and pain in someone’s life through some other miscellaneous actions. I have personally seen people set out to harm people out of anger, and also for a quest to regain a sense of control over their lives they thought they had lost.  They ended up over reacting, and causing such damage, that most of the shock registered on  their faces came from not realizing that they had the ability to influence so much change in the world around them, albeit a negative change. Unfortunately it was a bit too late, as the powers that be would always retaliate in kind, sometimes leading to a self fulfilling prophecy, were they would indeed lose a great deal of power they never realized that they had.

When I work with my anger management clients, I always inform them that they have power in this world, power which comes from within them. Once they come to believe this, they do what any normal person who recognizes their power would do, they use their powers to create their happiness.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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December 26, 2013

Why are disappointments so difficult to bear for some people? One reason could be because some people place all their stock for being happy in one basket. Specifically in regards to setting goals and expectations for the future. I often see this with people who struggle with mild depression, and procrastination. If you ask them what they want to accomplish, they are quick to inform you about their dreams, but some where along the way they lost motivation once the going got tough. When this phenomenon occurs it is because there seems to be an expectation that happiness can only be achieved once certain desires, goals and expectations are met. For clarification, my definition of happiness in this post refers to feelings of prolonged content and acceptance , versus joy which is shorter lived.

Where does happiness begin and where does it end? If you read or listen between the lines, sometimes when people are discussing something they want to accomplish, it appears that their beliefs about happiness stem from hidden statements such as, “I can only be happy if..” or “I can only be happy when..”

Ambitions, desires, goals and  accomplishments are all part of the wonderful attributes of the human experience, specifically they bring a sense of meaning and purposefulness to the experience of life. However, what happens when your narrative changes? What happens when a goal you set out to achieve with all your heart is not realized due to circumstances beyond your control?

Postponing your happiness today based your hopes and dreams for tomorrow is a recipe for a case for acute and prolonged depression. I have worked with people who were so caught off guard by a sudden and unexpected change in their fortunate situation that they spent more years depressed compared to the years when they were thriving.  What If you could begin experiencing happiness today, inspite of what your current circumstances are? What would that look like?

From my perspective what happiness today would look like would be living your life from a place of gratitude. Recognizing what you have going on for you and seeing any challenge in your life as an adventure and an exciting part of your journey. So even if you are confronted with disappointment from not having realized a goal, it would be easier for you to grieve and transition with your experiences into your pursuit of another goal.

So instead of the hidden statements such as,  “I can only be happy if…” or “I can only be happy when…” replace them with “I can experience happiness regardless of my circumstances.” This type of thinking leads you towards regarding your goals and ambitions with a different attitude. An attitude that leads you towards focusing on the process, rather than the outcome.

So when the going gets tough, you can always draw energy from your feelings of consent and happiness, because you understand that challenges are a natural and occurring phenomenon in our lives.

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 16, 2013
In this video post, I discuss three important rules to abide by when arguing. They are;
  1. Recognizing our need as human beings to be validated
  2. Being prepared to receive a discount accept critical feedback
  3. Not coming from an emotionally wounded place, when arguing.
In the video,  I expand upon each of these rules.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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December 12, 2013


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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