Monthly Archives: July 2013

Mental Health: Key to a balanced and happy life

Mental Health: Key to a balanced and happy life

The moment someone hears words such as ‘mad’, ‘insane’, ‘nuts’, ‘cranky’, etc. it sends jitters through the body and mind, doesn’t it? Majority of people in the world feel like this. Even I felt so but only before I entered into my Master’s Course in Clinical Psychology. Whew! I am relieved, as I have broken myself free of the fear of mental illness.

I can align myself to many of your fears and negative feelings as I was also sailing in the same boat. But, now things have changed. What helped me through it was psycho-education on some pivotal aspects of what the mind is, what mental health is, what mental illness is and how can we prevent or manage mental health issues.

The human brain is the biological aspect, where as the mind is the seat of consciousness, feelings, emotions and so on. The human mind is divided into three parts:

1)    The conscious mind

2)    The sub-conscious mind

3)    The unconscious mind

The conscious mind is what you are thinking about at present, in the current situation. Present thinking, decision-making, present behavior, etc. fall into this category of the mind. The periphery of the sub-conscious mind is rather a different one. The sub-conscious mind, as the name suggests, is that part of your thoughts, personality and behavior that is secluded from the rest of the world. Long-lost memories, bitter experiences that are shocking to you, dreams, defenses, irrational thinking, socially unacceptable and repressed thoughts, instincts, urges, etc. are some of the vital components of the sub-conscious mind. Problems in our mental health sometimes occur when there is a disturbance in this realm of the mind. Unconscious mind is one that is seated extremely in the deepest depths of a human’s mind and is rarely accessible. It is considered as an iceberg whose 1/10th part can be accessed through intensive and extensive psychological techniques and the rest 9/10th part remain in the dark. It is also called the hidden or dark chamber of mind. In a nutshell, all our thoughts, emotions, personality, behavior; everything that we are today are created and regulated by the interactions of the three realms of our mind.

Now, let me move towards what mental health is, what mental illnesses are and how to prevent/manage a mental health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” So this definition clearly states that mental health is something that leads to all-round well-being and development of not only an individual but also the society as a whole. But, defying this definition many of us fall prey to different mental illnesses too. Isn’t it? Mental disorders are broadly categorized into two parts. They are: 1) Psychoneurotic / Neurotic Disorders, 2) Psychotic disorders. Psychoneurotic disorders are disorders that are easily treatable with a bit of effort and interventions. Problems like stress, anxiety, tensions, and depression fall under this category. However, there are some disorders that require long-term treatment, intensive care, sometimes hospitalization, medications, psychotherapy, etc. as part of their interventions. These are called psychotic disorders. You must have heard about bipolar disorder, mania, unipolar disorder, paranoia, schizophrenia, etc. These are psychotic disorders and should not be ignored in any case.

Mental disorders crop up due to some major reasons. The obvious ones are genetic transmission, neurological disturbances in the brain, situational factors and faulty coping to life’s stressors and problems. Almost everyone reading this post must be wondering about how to prevent these or deal with these. The most effective way is to maintain good mental health hygiene. It means to lead a good mental life, a well-balanced mental life and a healthy mental life. Let me tell you some of the ways in which you can maintain and achieve a good mental health hygiene and regime:

  • Eat healthy i.e. a balanced diet, rest properly and do not compromise with your health.
  • A walk or exercise a day keeps the doctor away.
  • Accomplish the three S of: Self-respect, Self-recognition and Self- reconciliation.
  • Recognize your potentialities, harness them, believe in yourself and believe in the best.
  • Maintaining a daily diary of to-do tasks, have-done tasks, your everyday learning and future planning keeps many problems at bay.
  • Have good friends in life, enjoy, party, and socialize. Man is a social animal so social stimulation is also necessary.
  • Even if you are busy 22/5 a week still then take at least some “me” time for yourself. Time in which you can spend some moments with yourself and your inner being.
  • Meditate, as it’s the key to energize you for a day’s work and potential challenges.
  • Do not hesitate to express your feelings, your problems and your concerns. An effective communication and expression of feelings are the most effective ways of keeping the mind free of emotional burden and ultimately keeping it healthy.
  • Educate yourself about different mental health problems  (just the symptoms, self care and management outlets).
  • Talk to your GP, psychologist or psychiatrist if you or anyone known to you experiences a mental health issue.
  • Know about the different helplines and avenues of help present through online therapy systems or face-to-face settings. Do not hesitate to contact them as soon as you face the need.
  • Most importantly, never lose hope. No problem in life comes without a solution. If you can find the solution yourself it’s great. Yippee. But, if you struggle finding a solution, it’s always great to ask for help, a shoulder to lean on. Do not let your inhibitions pull you back, just go for it.

Gone are the days when people with mental health problems were tortured in asylums. Today, with changing times, mind – sets, value systems, science and technological advancements, broadened outlook, mental disorders can be kept at bay. Even if they occur due to certain reason, no matter how deadly it is, there is a solution for it. There are many medical/psychological/alternative interventions available, and there is hope and positivity. All you need to do is get off your couch and work on it as you deserve a happy and healthy mental life, and you are the best person who can do the best justice to your life. Wish you a happy and healthy life folks!

Best Wishes,

Sareeta

The A, B, Cs of Addiction – Psychoeduction

The A, B, Cs of Addiction“Hate addiction and not the addict”… If you are someone who is struggling to come out of the clutches of addiction, if you are someone who wants to know more about addiction and its treatment, then you have come to the right place. Technically speaking, addiction means getting used to a certain substance/behavior, etc. Addiction can be in the form of alcohol, drugs, pain pills, masturbation, smoking, gambling and so on. Addiction is different from a habit. Habits can be easily changed and manipulated with simple efforts. However, once you get addicted to something you will need strategic interventions to deal with it and come off it.

Let me give you an example: Let us assume that you brush your teeth three times a day. Without that you may feel that your day is incomplete. Suddenly one day you realize that there’s no need to brush your teeth three times, only two times is enough. Then you start working on it and soon you will get used to brushing two times a day. Sounds great, right! But, once you are addicted to something, say alcohol, you will get a variety of physiological and psychological problems/symptoms if you do not consume it. So that’s the symptomatic dimension of addiction. Getting recurrent thoughts of the addictive substance, getting frequent urges to satiate your addiction, changes in diet-sleep-thoughts-behaviour, experiencing a lot of stress-anxiety-depression-mood swings-hot/cold flushes-palpitations, etc. when the addiction urge is not gratified are some of the common symptoms of addiction.

Usually addiction starts under some common situations like:

  • Loss or death of a loved one
  • Faulty coping mechanisms to life’s challenges
  • Peer pressure
  • Social challenges
  • Lack of knowledge about a certain addictive substance
  • Lack of abstinence and self-control
  • Other intrinsic and extrinsic factors

Whatever be the source of cause of addiction, it literally shatters your life in a manifold ways. Once you are addicted to something it will have a negative impact on the vital organs of your body and important psychological functions like memory, attention, concentration, cognition, emotions and affect as a whole. The social stigma that strikes as an aftermath of addiction cannot be denied too. Sometimes you may be the center of fun and bullying due to addiction; family members may start de-tangling themselves from your company, moreover your professional life will also get affected in this muddle.

So what to do now? The first and foremost thing to do in case of addiction is to get loads of information about the same. Secondly, look out for the source of your addiction, how it started and what aggravates it, and thirdly, look out for support system, as in, people who can help you to get rid of it. People from different spheres can help you with your efforts in de-addiction or getting rid of addiction. Some of them may include your family members, friends, teachers/colleagues who understand you and empathetic towards you. The world fraternity is filled with professionals who are trained to help you in your de-addiction problem. So taking the help of a psychologist or a doctor will be of immense help too.

Addiction treatment and the virtual world

Given to the complex world of addiction and its pros and cons, the best solution is offered by online system of treatment or online therapy. Online mode of therapy will help you to deal with your addiction and at the same time protect your dignity, integrity, confidentiality and therapy expectations. If the addiction is too acute and chronic, you can opt for both in-patient treatment and online therapy. This will benefit you in both the ways. On one side you can get care and support of face-to-face health care workers/professionals and at the same time you can contact your online therapist as and whenever you need.

Online therapy of addiction treatment has many benefits over the traditional form of treatment. Some of them are:

  • You can access your online therapy sessions anytime
  • You will get 24/7 support and feedback from your online therapist
  • It is economic and less time consuming
  • You may forget the doctor’s treatment plans for you in a face-to-face setting, but in online therapy mode you can always save a copy of all the therapies your therapist imparts you and keep it for your future reference.
  • In case, you feel that there is a relapse you can again start working on those therapies or contact your online therapist immediately.

In the fast paced world today, virtual therapy in treatment of addiction is becoming the favorite of many people who are struggling with addiction. Many have already reached the safe shores of a normal life and others are continuing to get help via the online mode.

If you feel that you are addicted to something, if you sense that addiction is taking a toll of your life, if you are badly addicted and going to hospitals and clinics seem impossible due to lack of time, money, fear of stigma and discrimination; please don’t waste even an ounce of a second.

Best Wishes,

Sareeta

 

Depression and CBT

Lost and Confused Signpost

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” – Laurell K. Hamilton, (Mistral’s Kiss)

Almost in everyone’s lifetime there is a phase when pains and sadness, frustration and agonies strike from different dimensions and degrees. No matter how happy-go-lucky you are, no matter how strong your willpower is, there is a time when your heart aches and your eyes are moist with tears. Under such circumstances nothing and no one seems correct. Difficult life situations in a way thrust you to go on spiraling in the midst of depression and negative feelings. And when this happens it is high time to deal with it and bounce beyond the challenges, problems that you are facing.

Depression is a word that is common to every individual today. Death of a loved one, joblessness, break-up, physical and mental abuse, etc. are some of the common reasons that tend to push us into the hearth of depression. However, in clinical terms Clinical Depression has wider implications. Depression can be a cause of neuro-chemical disturbance in the brain, due to a medical condition, genetic/family history, and situational factors and so on. Subsequent research has also shown that the onset and incidence of depression is more during colder months. So this shows that environmental factors also have a role to play.

Common symptoms of depression include feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, lack / changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, feeling or wanting to be isolated, suicidal feelings and so on. Whatever the reason or way of manifestation of depression may be,  in reality it is a challenge not only for the person suffering from it, but his entire living environment as a whole. Starting from your personal life to your familial, social, educational/professional field; each and every aspect related to you gets affected by it. Therefore, either it is a mere sadness or a major clinical depression episode, you should never neglect it and also seek proper therapeutic assistance.

How can I stop my depression?

Treatment of depression can be done in many ways. Starting from a friend or family consoling a patient to going through intensive psychological interventions, everything plays a vital role in the treatment of depression. However, among all the treatment techniques or psychotherapies present till date, CBT is considered to be most effective in the treatment of depression. CBT stands for Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Cognition refers to the complex thinking process of human mind. Eg: logical thinking, memory, analysis, decision-making, etc. Behavior refers to the observable and measurable activities of a person. Combining both the terms, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works in changing the thought processes of a person so that his behavior is changed into a positive and healthy way. The basics of CBT:

Depression and CBT

Cognitive restructuring, skills training, relaxation exercises, etc. are some of the important techniques of CBT. With the help of these techniques you can not only get help in dealing with the symptoms but also CBT can impart you with a lifelong training on preventive measures so that depression can be kept at bay.

For receiving treatment for depression through CBT you can choose so many options. One among them is seeing a CBT therapist through the face-to-face mode; other ways include self-help lessons, group therapy sessions and so on. In the present era when competitions and commitments are so many, we seldom find adequate time to take care of ourselves. Situations become even worse when going to a therapist becomes next to impossible due to some or the other reasons. In this case, online treatment is the best solution available. With the help of online treatment or online therapy you can access/consult with your therapist and therapies at your own convenience. In fact, online therapy has many benefits over the traditional face-to-face mode of therapy in a hospital or clinic settings. Some of the obvious benefits of online therapy are:

  • It is less time consuming
  • It is cost effective
  • No need to wait for appointments or approvals
  • No traffic or other hassles
  • Individual attention to every client/patient
  • Absolute maintenance of client confidentiality and dignity
  • Therapist available according to the time and convenience of client
  • The client can access his therapy sessions/therapy materials at any time of the day as per his own needs.

So given to all the above benefits Online CBT is the most sought after mode of treatment not only in depression but also in other ailments too.

Best Wishes,

Sareeta