Monday, October 18, 2010

Dealing With Alzheimer's

It's normal for our loved ones to become a bit forgetful as they age. So how can we separate a harmless "senior moment" from a more serious problem like Alzheimer's disease? One in eight people 65 and older have this devastating form of dementia. In its first stages, Alzheimer's may not be obvious to friends and family. But there are some early warning signs to watch for.

In early Alzheimer's, long-term memories usually remain intact while short-term memories become sketchy. Your loved one may forget conversations you had. He or she may repeat questions that were already answered. The disease also disrupts speech, so patients may struggle to remember common words.

In addition to memory loss, Alzheimer's can cause confusion and behavior changes. Your loved one may get lost in familiar places. Mood swings and poor judgment are also common, as is poor hygiene. People who once dressed with style may resort to wearing stained clothes and unwashed hair.

While it's difficult to face the possibility that a loved one could have Alzheimer's, it's better to consult a doctor sooner rather than later. First, the diagnosis might not be Alzheimer's after all. The symptoms could be caused by a highly treatable problem, such as a thyroid imbalance. And if it is Alzheimer's, today's treatments work best when they are used early in the course of the disease.

There is no simple test for Alzheimer's, so the doctor will rely on you to describe the changes in your loved one. A mental status test, sometimes called a "mini-cog," or other screening tests can help evaluate the patient's mental function and short-term memory. In addition, neurological exams and brain scans may be used to rule out other problems, such as a stroke or tumor — and they can help provide other information about the brain.

Alzheimer's disease leads to nerve cell death and tissue loss throughout the brain. As the disease progresses, brain tissue shrinks and the ventricles (chambers within the brain that contain cerebrospinal fluid) become larger. The damage disrupts communication between brain cells, crippling memory, speech, and comprehension.

Alzheimer's disease takes a different path in every patient. In some people the symptoms worsen quickly, leading to severe memory loss and confusion within a few years. In others, the changes may be more gradual with the disease taking 20 years to run its course. The average length of survival after a diagnosis of Alzheimer's is three to nine years.

Because Alzheimer's affects concentration, patients may lose the ability to manage ordinary tasks like cooking or paying the bills. A study suggests difficulty balancing a checkbook is often one of the first effects of Alzheimer's. As the symptoms worsen, your loved one may not recognize familiar people or places. He or she may get lost easily, or use utensils improperly, such as combing hair with a fork. Incontinence, balance problems, and loss of language are common in the advanced stages.

Poor coordination, memory loss, and confusion make for a dangerous combination behind the wheel. If you feel your loved one should not be driving, explain why. If he or she won't listen, ask the doctor to step in. If the patient still insists on driving, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles for an assessment. Then make an alternate plan for your loved one's transportation needs.

Exercise can help people with Alzheimer's maintain some muscle strength and coordination. It also improves mood and may reduce anxiety. Check with your loved one's doctor to learn which types of exercise are appropriate. Repetitive activities, such as walking, weeding, or even folding laundry may be the most effective at promoting a sense of calm.

As the caregiver of someone with Alzheimer's, you will probably wear many hats — cook, chauffeur, accountant. While you may have to handle the meal planning and finances, encourage the patient to do some activities independently. It may help to label cabinets with their contents and put up sticky notes with reminders of daily tasks. Be sure to buy a weekly pill box for medications.

In the early stages of Alzheimer's, patients often understand what is happening and may be ashamed or anxious. Watch for signs of depression because this can often be managed with medication. In the more advanced stages, your loved one may become paranoid or violent and could even turn on you. Remember that the disease is responsible for this change. Alert the doctor about violent behavior promptly.

Some people with Alzheimer's become distressed when the sun goes down. This agitation tends to last through the evening and sometimes all through the night. The cause is not known, but there are some strategies to ease the tension. Keep the house well lit and close the drapes before sunset. Try distracting your loved one with a favorite activity or TV show. And restrict caffeine after breakfast.

Many people with Alzheimer's have trouble remembering names — even those of close family members. A temporary fix is to put up pictures of friends and relatives with names printed underneath. Eventually, the patient may no longer recognize faces and may react to loved ones as if they are strangers. This can be a distressing time for family members, especially the primary caregiver.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer's can be physically and mentally taxing. Signs of caregiver stress include:
Anger, sadness, and mood swings.
Headaches or back pain.
Difficulty concentrating.
Difficulty sleeping.

To avoid caregiver burnout, make sure you take at least a few minutes to do something you enjoy every day. Stay in touch with friends and keep up with hobbies whenever possible. Find a friend or relative to be your support person. You can also join an online or local caregiver support group through the Alzheimer's Association.

While your loved one is still able to make important decisions, contact an attorney about drafting advance directives. These are legal documents that spell out the patient's preferences for medical treatments and end-of-life care. The patient should designate someone to make health care decisions and manage finances on his or her behalf. This can avoid confusion when your loved one is no longer able to state his or her wishes.

Many patients express a desire to stay in their own homes as long as possible. Unfortunately, they may have trouble getting dressed or using the bathroom on their own as the disease advances. A home health aide can assist with personal hygiene and other daily tasks. You can also look into local services that deliver meals or provide transportation to the elderly. Most communities have an Area Agency on Aging that provides such services.

There may come a day when your loved one can no longer be cared for at home. If he or she does not need 24-hour nursing care, an assisted-living facility may be an appropriate choice. ALFs provide housing, meals, and activities, but are much less expensive than nursing homes. Look for a facility with an Alzheimer's special care unit, which delivers 24-hour supervision and personal care to meet the needs of people with dementia.

People with advanced Alzheimer's may lose the ability to walk, talk, or respond to others. Eventually, the disease can hinder vital functions, such as the ability to swallow. Patients in this stage may benefit from hospice care, which provides pain relief and comfort for the terminally ill.

Children may feel confused, afraid, or even resentful when a family member is affected by Alzheimer's. Let the child know these feelings are normal and answer his or her questions about the illness honestly. Help the child celebrate happy memories of the patient — for example, by creating a scrapbook.

If you're caring for a relative with Alzheimer's, you might be wondering if there's anything you can do to reduce your own risk. Research in this area is ongoing, but diet and exercise appear key. Studies indicate a lower risk among people who eat a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables, fish, and nuts. Research also suggests those who are the most physically active are the least likely to get Alzheimer's.

[Web MD]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stop Stressing

1. Name the Beast – The first step in tackling any obsession: Identify the thought. What is my fear? What is my doubt? Describe it in one sentence, or in a few words. Name the fear: “I am afraid that if my co-workers find out that I was hospitalized with severe depression that they won’t respect me anymore, and they won’t assign me any projects.” There it is. There’s the beast. You named it, and by doing so, you can rob it of some of its power over you.

2. Find the Distortion – Once you have named the fear or doubt, try to see if you can file it under any of the forms of distorted thinking that Dr. David Burns describes in his bestseller “Feeling Good,” like all-or-nothing thinking, jumping to conclusions, magnification (exaggeration), or discounting the positive (ie “None of my accomplishments count”). Your obsession almost always involves at least three forms of distorted thoughts. So consider Burns’ ten ways of untwisting distorted thinking to help me to undermine my obsession.

3. Pencil It In – Simply tell yourself, “Sorry, it’s not time for that. You’ll have to wait until 8 in the evening, when I give you, My Head, 15 minutes to obsess your heart out.” Record in your journal everything you are dwelling on for 20 minutes every night: that you are a horrible mom, an inadequate writer, that no one likes you, and so on.

4. Laugh at It – Laughter can make almost any situation tolerable. And you have to admit, there is something a little funny about a broken record in your brain.

5. Snap Out of It – Literally snap out of it. Wear a rubber band around your wrist, and every time your thoughts turn to an obsession, snap the band as a reminder. Or, write your obsession on a piece of paper, then crinkle it up and throw it away. That way you have literally thrown out your obsession. Or you could try visualizing a stop sign. When your thoughts go there, remember to stop! Look at the sign!

6. Pull Over – One of the most helpful visualizations is to imagine that you are driving a car. Every time your thoughts revert back to an obsession, pull over on the shoulder, because your car is misaligned. It’s dragging right. Once you’ve stopped, ask myself: “Do I need to change anything?” Can I change anything? Can I amend this situation somehow? Do I have anything I need to do to find peace? Spend a minute asking the questions. Then, if you don’t have anything to fix, it’s time to get your car back on the road again. This is basically a visualization of the Serenity Prayer. Try to decipher between what you can’t change and what you can. Once you have made the distinction, it’s time to start driving again.

7. Learn the Lesson – We often obsess about our mistakes. I know I messed up, and I’m beating myself over and over again for not doing it right the first time, especially when I have involved other people and hurt them unintentionally. If that’s the case, ask yourself: What is the lesson here? What have I learned? Just like the first step – naming the obsession – describe the lesson in one sentence or less.

8. Forgive Yourself – After you take away the lesson, you have to forgive yourself. This is a hard one. Especially for perfectionists. And guess what? Perfectionists are natural ruminators. Julia Cameron writes about this in “The Artist’s Way:” “Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. It is a loop – an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or painting or making and to lose sight of the whole. Instead of creating freely and allowing errors to reveal themselves later as insights, we often get mired in getting the details right. We correct our originality into a uniformity that lacks passion and spontaneity.” Forgiving yourself means concentrating on the insights gained from mistakes, and to let go of the rest.

9. Imagine the Worst – Imagining the worst can actually relieve the fear that’s triggering an obsession.

10. Put It on Hold – Sometimes we start to obsess about a situation for which we don’t have enough information. So it’s useless to worry. Therefore put your obsession “on hold,” like it was a pretty lavender dress at a boutique that you saw and wanted but didn’t have enough money to buy. So it’s there, waiting, when you get enough money – or enough data.

11. Dig for the Cause – So often the object of the obsession isn’t the real issue. That object or person or situation is masking the deeper issue we’re too afraid to face.

12. Reel It In – We all know how fast obsessions can take on a life of their own. A slight hitch in a project becomes a massive hurdle, a friendly gesture by a friend turns ugly and threatening, and a minor criticism from a colleague turns into a 150-page dissertation about your flaws and inadequacies – you know, everything that’s bad about you and why you shouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Granted, buried within any obsession are usually pieces of truth. But other parts are way off in fantasyland – with about as much accuracy as there is in a juicy celebrity tabloid story: “Celine Dion meets ET for drinks.” That’s why you need some good friends that will help you separate fact from fiction.

13. Interrupt the Conversation – Here’s where a bad habit can come in handy. Are you always interrupting people? Can’t help it? You get curious about a detail in someone’s story, and you want to hear more about that, not the end of the story? That’s how an obsession works in your brain – like a conversation over coffee: “This is why he hates me, and this, too, is why he hates me, and did I mention why he hates me? I’m sure he hates me.” Practice some of your rude manners and interrupt. You don’t even have to say, “Excuse me.” Ask yourself a question or throw out another topic. By doing so, you catch the snowball as it’s accumulating matter, and you throw it back with momentum because, as most of us learned in physics, a body in motion stays in motion. Now your internal conversation goes something like: “These are the reasons he should like me, and this, too, is why he should like me, and did I mention that he probably likes me? I’m sure he likes me.”

14. Stay in the Present – When you are grounded in the moment, you’re not thinking of what bad things can happen to you in the future, or dwelling on the mistakes of your past. To get yourself into the present, start with your senses. Try to hear only the noises that surround tiy – cars, birds, dogs barking, church bells – because if you give yourself the assignment of listening to the actual sounds around you, you can’t obsess on a fear. Likewise, concentrate on seeing what’s in front of you. At the very moment. Not in the year 2034.

15. Give it Back to God – The last step is surrender, as usual. “Okay, God, I give up! Take the bloody obsession from me!” It’s acknowledging that the last 14 steps haven’t gotten you where you need to be, and so you don’t know what else to do but give your ruminating mind to God and let him deal with it. Obsessions are almost always rooted in our attachments. So if we can think of them as borrowed from God – that God alone is the owner of this thing about which we are obsessing – we tend to become less greedy and possessive with our gifts, material and otherwise. In this way, we are mere stewards of whatever God has graciously given us.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Today's Quote

“If you think divorcing and marrying another will bring you happiness, know this: 74% of second marriages AFTER a divorce end in divorce.” Rick Warren

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Bipolar Does Not Increase Risk of Violent Crime

A new Swedish study suggests that a person with bipolar disorder is not at increased risk of aggression. However, substance abuse associated with bipolar does increase the chance of violent crime.

The public debate on violent crime usually assumes that violence in the mentally ill is a direct result of the perpetrator’s illness.

Previous research has also suggested that patients with bipolar disorder – also known as manic-depressive disorder – are more likely to behave violently.

However, it has been unclear if the violence is due to the bipolar disorder per se, or caused by other aspects of the individual’s personality or lifestyle.

The new study, carried out by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Oxford University, is presented in the scientific journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

Researchers compared the rate of violent crime in over 3,700 patients with bipolar disorder cared for in Swedish hospitals between 1973 and 2004 with that of 37,000 control individuals from the general public.

Twenty-one percent of patients with bipolar disorder and a concurrent diagnosis of severe substance abuse (alcohol or illegal drugs) were convicted of violent crimes, compared to five percent of those with bipolar disorder but without substance abuse, and three percent among general public control individuals.

The differences remained when accounting for age, gender, immigrant background, socioeconomic status, and whether the most recent presentation of the bipolar disorder was manic or depressed.

“Interestingly, this concurs with our group’s previous findings in schizophrenia, another serious psychiatric disorder, which found that individuals with schizophrenia are not more violent than members of the general public, provided there is no substance abuse,” says professor Niklas Långström, head of the Centre for Violence Prevention at Karolinska Institutet.

According to the researchers, the findings support the need for initiatives to prevent, identify and treat substance abuse when fighting violent crime. Additionally, Långström hopes that the results will help challenge overly simplistic explanations of the causes of violent crime.

“Unwarranted fear and stigmatization of mental illness increases the alienation of people with psychiatric disorder and makes them less inclined to seek the care they need,” Långström comments.

[Source: Karolinska Institutet, by Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor, Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D., Psych Central News]

Parental Depression After Childbirth

A study of UK parents suggests a significant number of parents develop depression during the first twelve months of a child’s life.

Researchers discovered more than 30 percent of mothers and about 20 percent of fathers experience an episode of depression — with the risk of depression greatest during the first year after birth.

The report will appear in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

“Depression in parents is associated with adverse behavioral, developmental and cognitive outcomes in their children,” the authors write as background information in the article. “While the maternal depression and child outcome literature is well established, there are fewer studies on paternal depression. There is evidence that paternal depression is not uncommon, with rates higher than those in the general adult male population; however, a wide range of prevalence rates for paternal depression have been reported.”

Shreya Davé, Ph.D., M.Sc., B.Sc., of the Medical Research Council, London, England, and colleagues examined incidence, trends and correlates of parental depression in 86,957 families seen in U.K. primary care facilities between 1993 and 2007.

Mothers and fathers with depression were identified using diagnostic codes and pharmacy records.

Overall, between their children’s birth and age 12, 19,286 mothers had a total of 25,176 episodes of depression and 8,012 fathers had a total of 9,683 episodes of depression.

The depression rate was 7.53 per 100 mothers per year and 2.69 per 100 fathers per year. The highest rates were observed in the first year after the birth of a child, with 13.93 per 100 mothers and 3.56 per 100 fathers experiencing depression in that period.

“These high rates of depression in the postpartum period are not surprising owing to the potential stress associated with the birth of a baby, e.g., poor parental sleep, the demands made on parents and the change in their responsibilities, and the pressure this could place on the couple’s relationship,” the authors write.

“The high rate of parental depression in the first year after delivery may also be partly due to a resumption of antidepressant use following a break during pregnancy and breastfeeding.”

Parents who had a history of depression, who were younger (ages 15 to 24, compared with 25 and older) when their child was born and who were more socially deprived were more likely to develop depression.

“There is a well-established link between depression and social and economic deprivation both in the general population and among parents. This finding may reflect the stresses of poverty, unemployment, low employment grade and lower social support among people of lower socioeconomic status,” the authors write.

In addition, “younger parents may be less prepared for parenthood with more unplanned pregnancies and may be less able to deal with the stresses of parenthood compared with older parents.”

The findings suggest that there is a need for appropriate detection of depression among mothers and fathers, and that clinicians should be aware of the risk factors for depression in parents and assess individuals who possess those characteristics.

In addition, the authors note, future research should examine other factors associated with parental depression, such as the couple’s relationship quality and stressful life events, as well as the separate and cumulative effects of maternal and paternal depression on children’s health and development.

[by Rick Nauert, PhD, Senior News Editor, Psych Central News, Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.]

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Why Do People Have Sex?

Your partner may come up with a dozen excuses to say “Not tonight, dear, I have a ____,” but how many reasons can the two of you name for seeking sex?

One? Two? Twenty? How about 200? Some college students have cited as many as 237 different reasons for having sex.

From pleasure to procreation, insecurity to inquisitiveness – today’s reasons for taking a roll in the hay seem to vary as much as the terms for the deed itself. A 2010 Sexuality & Culture review of sex motivation studies states that people are offering “far more reasons for choosing to engage in sexual activity than in former times.” And we’re doing it more often, too. It is a stark contrast from historical assumptions, which tend to cite only three sexual motivators: To make babies, to feel good, or because you’re in love.

Today, sexual behaviors seem to have taken on many different psychological, social, cultural, even religious meanings. Yet, some sexologists say, at the most basic level, there is only one true reason people seek sex.

Wired for Sex

“We are programmed to do so. Asking why people have sex is akin to asking why we eat. Our brains are designed to motivate us toward that behavior,” says Richard A. Carroll, PhD, a sex therapist and associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The idea that humans are hard-wired for sex reflects an evolutionary perspective, says Elaine Hatfield, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii and author of that 2010 review examining sexual motives from cross-cultural, historical, and evolutionary viewpoints.

“Evolutionary theorists point out that a desire for sexual relations is ‘wired in’ in order to promote species survival,” she tells WebMD in an email. “Cultural theorists tend to focus on the cultural and personal reasons people have (or avoid) sex. Cultures differ markedly in what are considered to be ‘appropriate’ reasons for having or avoiding sex.”

("Wired" can also mean - designed this way by the Creator.)

What’s Your Motive?

Why do you seek sex? Motivations generally fall into four main categories, according to psychologists at UT-Austin, who asked more than 1,500 undergraduate college students about their sexual attitudes and experiences.
  • Physical reasons: Pleasure, stress relief, exercise, sexual curiosity, or attraction to a person.
  • Goal-based reasons: To make a baby, improve social status (for example, to become popular), or seek revenge.
  • Emotional reasons: Love, commitment, and gratitude.
  • Insecurity reasons: To boost self-esteem, keep a partner from seeking sex elsewhere, or because of a feeling of duty or pressure (for example, a partner insists on having sex).
The Difference Between the Sexes

Generally speaking, men seek sex because they like how it feels. Women, although they very well may also derive pleasure from the act, are generally more interested in the relationship enhancement aspects of sex. Researchers describe these differences as body-centered versus person-centered sex.

Body-centered sex is when you have sex because you like the way it makes your body feel. You are not really caring about the emotions of your partner.

Person-centered sex is when you have sex to connect with the other person. You care about the emotions involved and the relationship.

“Men often start out being body centered,” says Janell Carroll, PhD, adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Hartford and author of a human sexuality textbook (no relation to Richard Carroll). “But that changes later on. As men reach their 40s, 50s, and 60s, their relationship becomes more important.”

Richard Carroll has been counseling couples with sexual issues for more than two decades. “Women actually become more like men over time, in the sense that often early on, sex is about initiating, developing, strengthening, and maintaining relationships, but in a long-term relationship they can actually begin to focus on the pleasure of it.”

Despite the generalities, research suggests that there has been a big convergence in sexual attitudes among men and women in recent years. In 1985, Janell Carroll and colleagues found that most college-aged males had casual sex for physical reasons, without emotional attachments. She repeated many of the same study questions to a new audience in 2006, and is working toward publishing her results.

“Instead of men and women being at opposite ends of the sexual spectrum, they are now coming together,” she tells WebMD. “More women might be having sex for physical reasons, but many more men were more likely to say they had sex for emotional reasons.”

20 Reasons People Have Sex

Stressed out? Have sex. Stress reduction is one of the leading reasons Americans, particularly men, say they have sex, says Richard Caroll. The review, published online in Sexuality & Culture, shows other most frequently cited reasons for having sex include:
  1. Boosting mood and relieving depression
  2. Duty
  3. Enhancement of power
  4. Enhancement of self-concept
  5. Experiencing the power of one’s partner
  6. Feeling loved by your partner
  7. Fostering jealousy
  8. Improve reputation or social status
  9. Making money
  10. Making babies (procreation)
  11. Need for affection
  12. Nurturance
  13. Partner novelty
  14. Peer pressure or pressure from partner
  15. Pleasure
  16. Reduce sex drive
  17. Revenge
  18. Sexual curiosity
  19. Showing love to your partner
  20. Spiritual transcendence
Why Study Sex?

Understanding why people seek sex is not always a simple task. Most studies have involved college undergraduates, a “sample of convenience” for university researchers, but one that is often very limiting. Such young men and women typically haven’t been in very committed relationships and are in the process of discovering their sexuality. Their answers to “why do you have sex” are often greatly tied to the image of themselves and their social relationships, says Richard Carroll. This can change over time.

But such knowledge can improve a couple’s sex life.

“Understanding these differences in motivations is very important. It helps us understand what’s going on in the sexual relationship and treat sexual disorders. Very often you find the source of the problem can be traced to the particular motivation,” says Richard Carroll.

If you need help, you can find a qualified counselor or sex therapist in your area through organizations such as the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapist (AASECT) or The Society for Sex Therapy and Research.

[By Kelli Miller Stacy - WebMD Feature]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How To Resolve Conflict With Your Partner

1. Shift your perspective, believing there is a solution that will leave you both feeling strong.

2. One at a time, allow each person to clearly state all of his or her concerns, hopes, assumptions, fears, feelings, beliefs, values and fears about the situation.

3. Speak and listen without judgment. Avoid interrupting or justifying; just stay curious.

4. Find the common feelings and experiences.

5. Decide together what values and feelings you both must experience in whatever solution you strive for. Always ask, "What would it look like when it's working?"

6. Seek solutions together that meet the needs of both people. Be open to the solution being something completely different from either original stance.

7. Choose. You may ask - choose what? Your compromise.

8. Know that the ultimate goal is your shared positive experience. Commit to your decision together and reinforce how this decision is going to uphold the positive emotions you are both striving to experience. It helps to make a physical sign of your commitment: Sign a paper or cross a line together on the floor. Establish that breaking this commitment is a sign to yourself that you do not feel that you and your relationship are worth the effort. Putting things in those terms may sound harsh - but not if you're truly committed.

Solving conflict is one of the most challenging things for couples to master, and doing it effectively takes patience and practice. Many couples report that getting through a difficult conflict brought them closer together, deepening each partner's understanding of the other's values, hopes and dreams. Focus on the outcome of deepening your connection, and the conversation will have a much better chance of success.

Just like your job, you signed onto your relationship, committing yourselves to making it work. And just like your job, there are times when you simply have to dig your heels in to do the work necessary to keep your job. The beauty is, each of these relationships has the potential to give you a solid, and growing, happiness. You just might find that sometimes, you have to look, and work, for it a little harder than you thought.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Want a Closer Relationship With Your Partner?

Getting closer to your partner could take some effort, yet can be one of the most important undertakings you’ll make in your relationship. And an undertaking that may not happen simply on its own. Here are ideas from contributor Marcus Buckingham to foster loving connections, and being certain that you are “supporting the being” of your partner:

1. Spend time discovering the experiences that strengthen your partner the most.

2. Create situations in which your partner will be able to experience these moments – with or without you. You needn’t try to enjoy your partner’s strengthening moments thinking it will bring you closer together. If you’re pretending to like something that you don’t, it won’t.

3. Design an evening where your sole purpose is to express gratitude for your partner. Talk about all the ways your partner makes your life better, the little things that you notice and appreciate and the impact your partner has on the lives of your children, if you have them. Use specific examples to illustrate what you are saying.

4. Every week, plan to share a mutually strengthening experience together.

5. Inevitably your partner will do things that frustrate or annoy you. Strive to focus on what’s working, or what “working” would look like, and then find evidence that your partner is doing it. Look for it. Believe in it. You’ll be surprised when your partner begins to transform before your eyes. We get what we look for.

6. Research reveals the ways you perceive your spouse not only color your current reality, but they actually alter your relationship and thereby create your future reality. So, when looking at your spouse, choose your perceptions carefully.

When the desire to connect, support and love outshines the need to be right about your partner, you’re onto something. It is a deliberate choice to look for the best in the people around us. Always look for what’s working. Attention amplifies.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thunder by the Canyon

[Click on image to enlarge.} For more information, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

DeKalb Grief Support Group

[Click on image to enlarge.] For more information, CLICK HERE.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Prescription Drug Abuse

The dealer supplying you or your kids might be a pharmacist. And people of all ages are getting addicted.

Here are some stats:
  • According to a recent study one out of five teens has abused prescription medication.
“It’s an epidemic and I’m afraid we’re losing a whole generation. These pain medications are so highly addictive that these young people are digging themselves a very deep hole.”, stated Beth Lewis Maze, the Chief Circuit Judge for the 21st Judicial Circuit in Kentucky in an interview on MSNBC.
  • Another study recently found that the number of Baby Boomers (those 50 and older) showing up for treatment has almost doubled in the last 15 years. Many of these admissions are for several drugs, prescriptions included. Though most reported that they had used drugs at an early age, the abuse picked up within the last five years.
“The graying of drug users in America is an issue for many programs and communities providing health or social services for seniors." These findings show the changing scope of substance abuse problems in America.” stated SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde.
  • The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported that hospitalizations for poisoning by opiates and tranquilizers rose 65% from 1999 to 2006.
  • Meanwhile, the statistics for those who need treatment and don’t seek it are skyrocketing.
While physicians, pharmacists, drug companies and law makers have had a hand in the pharmaceutical epidemic, solutions will be slow in coming from the perpetrators.

It is up to families and individuals to find their own solutions and the only real answer for prescription drug addiction is effective treatment program through counseling.

If you know someone who is abusing prescription drugs, do something about it now. The consequences of waiting could be deadly. Call us today.

Acting now could very well save a life and the value of a life saved is priceless.

Monday, June 14, 2010

When There is Conflict in Marriage

Marriage counseling is so difficult because everything is read through the lens of “He is so controlling,” or “She won’t respect me.”

Why does this happen? On the surface, an intractable conflict might seem to be about land (e.g., Palestinians vs. Israelis) or about ideological solidarity (republicans vs. democrats) or about bald desire for power. The marriage conflict may appear to be about respect, money, or power. But, conflict can become intractable because the larger system is supported by the conflict and would more or less collapse if peace were to overtake it. Attractors, they say help maintain a coherent view of the world, a way of promoting unequivocal action without hesitation. Truth be told. We like living in a black/white world where our actions are always clear to us and the bad guys are always bad.

A word about power. In conflict, we use power to get what we want (via direct use or manipulation). But there are always power differences between parties. Someone always has more power. In couples, one spouse will always want more sex than the other. This isn’t a bad thing. It only becomes bad when either party refuses to accept the differences or show any capacity to be influenced by the other.

When peaceful resolutions take place, it is because a new system has been developed; a new set of values and definers of reality.

How do you implement such a change? You cannot go directly after the thing that maintains the conflict. In other words, don’t say, “You, wife, stop believing your husband doesn’t love you”; or “You, husband, start loving your wife by…” Built into the maintainers of conflict is a strain of resistance. “I know you just did something nice for me but you really are just trying to get on my good side so you can (fill in the blank), but I’m on to you!”

Attempts to challenge directly the validity or practicality of an attractor for intractable conflict are therefore often doomed to fail and in fact are likely to intensify people’s beliefs and energize their response tendencies.

Again, how do we deal with these longstanding conflicts? How do we stop seeing the problem as a simple equation (you stink and I’m great) to something more complex (we’re both broken and here’s what I can do to make things better)?

1. Force yourself to step back to see the complexity of the situation. This sometimes happens when something blows our mind (we act in a way we THOUGHT we never would). To do this we have to believe that the simple answer is easy but ALWAYS wrong and desire to have a more nuanced view of self and other.

2. Go back to see previous unity. So, a couple might go back to remember their first love. What affinities did they once have? Can they recover them? Some couples can. From here, they may find the power to fix problems that seem just a wee bit smaller because of a more powerful unifying narrative that was forgotten.

3. Focus on who you want to be in the midst of trials and tribulations. What kind of person do I want to be (that God empowers me to be) come what may?

Notice that only #2 has to work towards maintaining the marriage and living in close quarters. One can develop a more complex and realistic view of the problem (#1) or focus on character development (#3) and still choose to end a violent or destructive relationship. Both also require that we value something greater than self-interest. From a Christian point of view, love must be the reason for all three options – a love given to us by God alone.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Is Dessert Really Necessary?

Food desserts have become a hot topic around the country, with health and policy experts seeing them as a contributor to the epidemic of obesity and its accompanying health problems, including high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.

Those issues are particularly critical in Alabama, which ranks second in the country for obesity and fourth for diabetes, according to the state health department. And while health experts are constantly pushing the message of healthy eating, 77 percent of Alabama adults and 85 percent of high school students don't get five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, according to an Alabama Department of Public Health report.

Low-income and minority residents are the most likely to be obese, according to the health department. Some of that may be because of cultural choices or not having money to spend on healthy food, which is often more expensive than soda and fries.

But in some cases, it has gotten harder to find healthy options, especially in inner-city neighborhoods where food stores have closed. For example, the one grocery store in the Pratt community, a Food Fair on U.S. 78, now stands empty, said community president Alonzo Darrow.

"A lot of people from north Birmingham would come to that store," Darrow said. "Now you will not find a grocery store until you get to Five Points West, and that's a long way away. So all those people who don't have a grocery store either have to get to Five Points West or they have to get to Forestdale."

More markets would help provide employment and keep residents from spending their money in other cities, said Mayor William Bell, who said he hears constantly from residents that they have no convenient place to shop. But, he said, the health factor is the biggest priority.

Healthy thinking produces healthy eating habits. Think about it. Obesity can be prevented. Is that dessert really necessary?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How To ...

Cooling Down Following a Confrontation

We all try to keep our cool and stop anger and hostility from infiltrating our sense of inner peace, but sometimes — whether we rashly lose our tempers or are provoked into a righteous confrontation — we find ourselves in an argument. During the fight, our endorphins pump, our faces flush, our hands might shake, and our hearts pound.

But what about afterwards? How can we harness our endorphins, faces, hands, and hearts and re-assemble that inner peace that was shattered when the argument reared its ugly head?

Here are some ideas.

Take a walk - think about the situation and what just happened. Was that even worth it to argue? Did it really need to go that far? And what was the whole argument about again?

Tear up paper - the simple activity of shredding up paper with both hands can keep you distracted and help relieve those fleeting thoughts of anger.

Take it out on something else - go out and find the largest rock you can pick up and toss it as far as you can. Or, take a plastic baseball bat and use it on the sofa. Use a punching bag if you have one. Do not be destructive, but take it out on something non-destructive. Exertion is good.

Burn vanilla or lavender candles - vanilla scents are calming and soothing, while lavender also encourages sleep. Taking a whiff of these powerful scents can help you de-stress and remove yourself from the tension just long enough to simmer down.

Don't tell the story too many times - instead, tell the story to a very inner circle, and to others who know you had an argument, either have a one-sentence summary or just ask them to support you in calming down. Tell the story too much and with detail, and you will becoime anxious all over again.

Shake your shoulders - most of us collect tension in the areas in the back of the neck, shoulders, and upper body. Next time you’re having a tense moment, notice how your shoulders may be hunched in and how the muscles are contracting. Shaking your shoulders will give you a much-needed posture adjustment, helping you breathe naturally and calming you down.

Respect different opinions - it is hard sometimes for people to realize that an argument is an expression of difference of opinion, and we all are entitled to our own opinion. That doesn’t mean that either person is wrong, just different. It is not always what you say, but how you say it, so try to say it with God’s guidance and a pure heart. That you remain calm during and after an argument.

Think about your breathing - consciously try to slow your breathing and breath deeply. The more you can control your breathing, the better you can lower your heart rate.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Prepare for Better Sleep

Most of us do things at night that are counter-productive to actually sleeping. Instead, make slight changes in your rituals to prepare your body for rest.

Dim your lights several hours before bed to avoid the stimulation caused by artificial light pollution — which is all around us through TV, computers, and indoor lighting — and serves to stimulate us.

Come up with a regular, rhythmic evening ritual that allows you to embrace anxieties that get released when you slow down. Meditation, prayer, and deep breathing are all good methods.
Surrender to sleep. After all, you go to the movies, you shouldn't go to sleep. There is nothing you have to do to sleep — except let go of waking. Practice "dying" into sleep — rather than forcing yourself to sleep — and cultivate awareness of your personal twilight zone.

- No alcohol or nicotine for 1.5 hours before bed.
- No exercise that makes you sweat for 1.5 hours before bed.
- No caffeine, caffeinated beverages or food, or caffeine in pills for as long as you need to avoid (we recommend three hours) before bed.
- No eating three hours before bed, so you can avoid reflux issues that can disturb sleep.

Some sleep problems don't arise because of worry or melatonin problems. Some are caused because your back hurts like stink. Truth is, some people get through general back pain or knee pain during the day because they're so focused on other things. But when trying to get to sleep, they feel the pain — and focus on it. A simple over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can help — not specifically to get you to sleep, but to help alleviate the pain that's preventing you from sleeping. Take a low-dose aspirin with a glass of water at least one hour before bedtime so that the acid doesn't have as much chance of refluxing up from your stomach to your esophagus.

Allergies can make sleeping trouble worse because of the congestion they cause. About 40 percent of people with allergic rhinitis have trouble sleeping. Over-the-counter nasal strips and sprays help open up everything and clear up symptoms like headaches, watery eyes, runny nose, or new-onset snoring. If you experience those symptoms and aren't aware of any allergies, search for the source in unexpected places. Some have allergies to gluten (wheat, barley, oats), which can lead to congestion and increase insomnia, as can allergies to detergents and the cleaning products you use on your clothes or sheets. One note: Decongestant nasal sprays are addictive and raise your blood pressure. Saline or antihistamine sprays (or a prescription steroid spray) are better options.

You'd think that the way to treat a lack of sleep is to get more of it, but one way that sleep docs treat insomnia is by making their patients sleep less. For instance, they'll take a patient getting five hours a night and force them to get only four a night, and then gradually increase for 10 or 15 minutes a night once a week. The sleep-deprivation approach can work as a way to force your body to reset back into a regular sleeping pattern.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Living Longer Starts in Your Head

Want to live longer? Then you better have a really good idea of what you're living for.

In a study of older adults, those who lived a goal-driven life were 57 percent less likely to die during the 5-year study period -- compared with those who didn't have much direction or purpose.

How a Purpose Protects

Are you making plans for the future? Is there something that you're actively trying to achieve? Does your life have meaning? A resounding yes to these questions could mean you get more time on earth to accomplish things. Having a purpose in life was so helpful in a recent study that it even appeared to improve the longevity of people with depression, disabilities, chronic medical conditions, or financial difficulties.

Having a purpose in life can boost your emotional well-being -- which in turn may lower the risk for chronic disease. Taking care of your emotional health and well-being can add up to 16 years to your life.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nonmedicinal Treatments for ADHD Children

When parents learn their child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, they often find themselves facing a mountain of treatment approaches to improve their child's well-being. Most parents will find an element of control in one or more of the many psychosocial, behavioral or pharmaceutical treatments available for ADHD. Dr. Eugenia Chan, director of the ADHD program at Children's Hospital Boston says there's no "instant fix" for ADHD.

"It takes a sustained effort by a team of people, including parents, teachers, doctors, and other health professionals," she says.

There are as many approaches to changing a child's behavior as there are cable channels. Finding the right ones will require some creative strategizing and some trial and error before you are able to tune in to a few effective methods.

While many children and their families have found solace and support in drug treatments for ADHD, other parents would prefer to not medicate their child and turn to nonmedicinal treatments instead.

Here are seven med-free strategies that might help kids with ADHD gain focus and control. (Be sure to discuss any new treatment approaches with your health-care provider before trying them with your kids.)

Get Beyond the Time-Out -- Be very clear and specific about what is expected from the outset. For example, instead of saying, "Clean your room," say, "Straighten your bed blankets and pillows." Working with just a few small, reachable goals is more manageable. And let your child help devise goals.

Use charts, checklists and reminders to keep track of the progress and to look for patterns -- both negative and positive.

Send in the Reinforcements -- Who doesn't want to be rewarded for doing good work? If the result is a good one, show praise for the behavior by recognizing it with a reward -- a gold star, well-deserved privilege or other mutually agreed-upon prize. Chan says it is just as important to actively (and selectively) ignore undesirable behaviors as it is to recognize and reward the good ones.

"One of the core problems in children with ADHD is the inability to keep themselves from doing something even though they know it's wrong, says Chan. Some things are clearly not OK, such as aggression and threats to safety -- but other things can wait."

Start Moving -- Sounds counterintuitive to tell a child with ADHD to move more, but exercise has wide-reaching benefits to brain function. While straightforward exercise, such as walking or cycling, helps to flood the brain with focus-sharpening neurochemicals, programmed exercise turns on higher centers of the brain that promote organizational functioning.

Physical activities that require kids to pay close attention to where their bodies are in space are better at sustaining focus and concentration. Martial arts, ballet or gymnastics are good choices. And yoga is especially good because it incorporates controlled breathing techniques, posture and meditation that all work to improve concentration and reduce stress. Don't dissuade a physical activity that your child likes, even if she doesn't excel at it.

Go Green -- Kids with ADHD often spend a lot of time indoors receiving therapy and extra help. But a few studies tout the benefits of exposing children with ADHD to natural environments and open space as a way to reduce "attention fatigue" that kids with ADHD experience after long periods of time spent concentrating indoors. A University of Illinois study published in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of Attention Disorders found that children with attention deficits concentrate better after a short 20-minute walk in a green park.

Watch What They Eat -- When looking for reasons to explain behavior changes, diet is often in the line of fire. Sugar is the most maligned, but food coloring, preservatives and natural and artificial salicylates in foods have also been implicated. While the scientific evidence linking these foods and behavior is thin, eliminating foods with a high potential for allergies -- dairy products, wheat, corn, yeast, soy, citrus, eggs, chocolate and nuts -- might reduce ADHD symptoms in certain highly sensitive children.

If you are planning to alter your child's nutritional intake, consider working with a registered dietician to assure you maintain a well-balanced diet during the process of elimination. Keep a detailed food diary to see if there are any positive behavioral changes associated with removing or adding certain foods.

Get Wired -- In biofeedback sessions, which are led by a trained practitioner, your child would wear a cap connected to sensors that measure brain activity while she is engaged in a focus-promoting game displayed on a computer screen. If she loses focus, the game stops, encouraging her to regain focus in order to continue playing the game. The hope is that children will practice focused activity for increasing periods and will learn to sustain their attention outside of therapy.

Put Them to Work -- Finding something that a child with ADHD enjoys and takes pride in can give him a sense of purpose and self-control while diffusing some negative behaviors and tension.

"A lot of kids with ADHD have poor coordination, so finding a creative or service-oriented activity they genuinely enjoy is important for building self-esteem and self-confidence, says Chan. "And the child does not necessarily have to do the activity well for it to be effective."

And while doing chores is, well, a chore, performing household tasks can be good work, too. Be specific about what is expected, give a deadline and tell them how they will be compensated -- extra TV time or other recognition of service.

[By Tina Pavane]

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Advice for Husbands

Trust me, the following is a partial list of what many wives want and need. This list is not complete and your wife has specific needs. But, this may give you some valuable insight.

Lend a hand -- Frankly, what your wife wants (like a marriage proposal?) is you getting down on your hands and knees! Now, after the "I do's"- getting plain old down and dirty. Literally- sweaty and … scrubbing the grout in the bathroom. Man up when it comes to household duties; it pays off.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T -- Behave respectfully to your in-laws. It may be your opinion that they don't deserve it, but make no mistake: your wife does. Do it for her.

Hold her hand -- Often.

Work at your marriage -- "Marriage is not a noun; it's a verb. It isn't something you get. It's something you do. It's the way you love your partner every day." —Ann Landers

Confide your thoughts and feelings - carefully -- Sometimes when times are tough, you've got to talk to someone, anyone other than your wife, just to get perspective. But keep in mind that your friends are there to support you, not provide perspective, and don't say anything you can't take back once these troubles are behind you.

Surprise her -- Do something nice for your wife, with no provocation, no less than once a week. If you have to put it on your calendar, if you have to tattoo it on your forehead, make it happen. Your life will be longer and happier for it.

Don't write off counseling -- Everyone should be in marriage counseling because marriage is hard. If your car is having problems, you take it to a mechanic. Don't give up on a relationship you value without exploring every possible avenue for healing first.

Make time for your relationship -- Never underestimate the importance of closeness to each other in your marriage.

Apologize -- Be the first one to say "I'm sorry" or "I was wrong," even when you're not sorry and you weren't wrong.

Give her a hug -- Hug her. We all love hugging- here, I'll say it: no doubt, your wife does.

Don't try to change her -- Every new young married thinks he or she can change their spouse. Every experienced husband wishes he could have back all the time and energy he spent trying to do so. Men, feel free to share this rule with your wife.

Fight fairly -- When you fight — and you will — fight fairly. The causes of a quarrel will fade from memory, but cruel words are remembered for years, as well as the lingering heartache.

Be open to change -- Yours; hers... While it is true that in our heart of hearts, people basically do not change, be aware of the truth that people do change in some ways, as years go by, and so do marriages. Be flexible.

Remind yourself why you love her -- Marriage is a choice you make every day, not just at the altar. Once in a while, it's important to remind yourself why you chose this woman, and why you still choose her. Then be sure your wife knows you remember.

The golden rule, adapted for marriage: Treat her right -- Put her above all others. It's not always possible, of course, but when you are able, make her your #1. That includes your parents, your children, and yourself.

[From Glamour magazine]

The Importance of Sleep and Dreams

Scientists have long wondered why we sleep and why we dream. A new study provides evidence for some long-held notions that sleep and dreams boost learning and help us to make sense of the real world. Even naps can help, the researchers found.

Test subjects who dreamed about a challenging task performed it better than those who didn't have such dreams.

This newly discovered link between dreaming and learning gives insight into why humans bother sleeping at all. The study is thought to be the first to show "the relationship between dreaming and function in the outside world," said senior researcher Robert Stickgold of Harvard Medical School.

While dreams have always mystified mankind, scientists have been equally curious about sleep. Speaking in terms of evolution and an uncivilized culture hundreds of years ago, "It is dangerous to go to sleep," Stickgold says. Unconscious beings lying flat on their backs are especially prone to attack, he pointed out.

So why have we evolved to spend a third of our lives sleeping?

Previous research has shown that sleep benefits the immune and endocrine systems, but it hasn't been clear that sleep, in and of itself, is necessary. Resting quietly may be enough to meet these needs, Stickgold told LiveScience's Robin Nixon.

Sleep, however, might affect the brain in a way that no other state can equal, suggests the study published in the most recent issue of the journal Current Biology. The effect is likely critical for learning and making sense of life -- skills worth sleeping for, scientists think.

During the study, 99 participants were taught to navigate a virtual maze on a computer screen. Half were then allowed to nap for two hours, while the other half remained awake. Later that day, all participants were re-tested on the maze task.

Those who reported dreaming about the maze significantly improved their performance. They did better than people who had slept, but did not dream. And better than those who stayed awake rehearsing the task in their minds. Specifically, the dreamers bettered their performance more than six times the improvements of all other participants.

Instead of simply rehashing the maze experience, participants described dreams that made broad associations between mazes and other aspects of their lives -- like recalling an experience exploring bat caves or seeing their future job application process depicted with maze-like features.

"Every day, we are gathering and encountering tremendous amounts of information and new experiences," said lead researcher Erin Wamsley, also of Harvard Medical School, in a press statement. "It would seem that our dreams are asking the question, 'How do I use this information to inform my life?'"

Sleeping essentially lets the chaos of life sink in so we can make sense of it. A study earlier this year found that even naps boost learning.

Stickgold explains that we can't really process one stream of information at the same time taking in another one, making sleep necessary. He says, "It may be that for every two hours we are awake, it takes our brain an hour to process that information, so we need eight hours of sleep a night."

He goes on to suggest that in order to remember something in particular, like the lines of a play or formulas for an exam, it might help to study right before dozing, whether that means studying late at night or napping right after a cram session.

And if you can get yourself to dream about the material, you are at a particular advantage. Unfortunately, "dream content is notoriously hard to control," Stickgold said. The non-conscious brain "has its own rules," and focuses on whatever it deems most important, he added.

So your best bet for inducing an exam-acing dream is convincing yourself (and your brain) that the material truly matters, though this type of dream control is easier for some people than others.

While some scientists have previously brushed off theories that dreams have meaning, Stickgold says dreams aren't random. "In dreams, we are seeing the brain's calculation of 'Do I care' and 'Why do I care?'" he explained.

The brain is also making associations between new information and past experiences. Stickgold appreciates the brilliance of the human brain in its ability to take learning in one area and apply it to another. He believes that sleep may be critical for this level of understanding to occur.

By reflecting the brain's effort to prioritize information and make associations, Stickgold said, "dreaming may be part of the process that creates the meaning of our lives."

[Research by John Tesh]

Monday, May 03, 2010

Grief Support Group Meets in Fort Payne, Alabama

The DeKalb Grief Support Group meets the first and third Tuesday of every month at 6:30 PM at the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce. This is a community service with no cost to attendees. The public is invited.

For more information, CLICK HERE for a PDF document, or CLICK HERE to connect with the Grief Support Group Blog.

The next meeting is Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 6:30 PM. See you there!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Sex Therapy for Women with Low Libido

According to a group of new studies, young women between the ages of 18 and 30 are suffering from low libido at rates never seen before: 43% of women have sexual problems, they say. And 1 in 10 women doesn't want to have sex at all, trumpeted a recent ABC News story.

The weird part isn't the fact that women are reporting what experts like to call "sexual dysfunction," but that women this young are: Usually we think of sexual issues as the stuff that plagues the over-40 set.

But sexperts are now blaming 20-somethings with low libido on everything from stress (we're worried about our jobs/working longer hours) to birth control/antidepressants (both are potent chemical cocktails that can make lust dry up).

We also know that desire tends to decrease in long-term relationships, so you can be young and healthy and fit, but you could still experience a decrease in desire the longer you stay with someone, whether you're a woman or a man. Also, recently, because we have such a focus on desire and so many discussions about low libido, we have a lot more women questioning if their desire is at the right level. We're seeing a lot more distress than we used to.

The entertainment industry could be partly to blame. We see people that are always ready to have sex in movies and television, as if sex is always the number one priority in people's lives. But we know that's just not the case, and it shouldn't be. Worrying about work and school take precedence. Those stresses of life take their toll on sleep and eating and stress -- and also sex.

Is there a link between birth control and low sexual desire?

Some studies have found that a portion of women, not all, do experience lower sexual desire after they start the birth control pill. Unfortunately, a lot of researchers have tried to do more on this but have been unsuccessful in getting funding because, as you can imagine, there hasn't been a lot of interest from pharmaceutical companies to investigate this since they make those products.

What about women who take antidepressants?

We know that for some women on antidepressants, sexual problems are a common side effect, including difficulty with orgasm.

And how much do you think the inability to orgasm is related to low sexual desire?

It can be linked, but there are certainly many women who enjoy sex whether or not they have an orgasm, which is hard for a lot of men to grasp. If you're a woman who is used to having orgasms or for whom orgasms are important, and you don't have one, then desire might be affected next time you have sex. But, also, sex might not be pleasurable if you don't feel connected to your partner. And on average, women have lower sex drives than men, and sometimes that leads to what they feel is 'duty sex' or obligation sex, and it starts this cycle of dread. Overall, there can be lots of reasons why you lose desire.

What advice do you give women who are suffering from low libido?

I often ask women if it is a problem for them or a problem because they think they are disappointing their partner. They should also look at what's changed in their lives: Am I tired? Am I stressed? Did I just have a baby? Often lifestyle behaviors are very strongly related to sex, but we really undervalue that. If you think your partner wants it more than you, talk to your partner. Sometimes he doesn't know, and it's fine. You can do something else together.

As far as what you can do, there's some more research that mindfulness techniques can help. Women are very prone to cognitive distractions -- worrying about the laundry, worrying about the kids, worrying about school, instead of focusing on sex. Instead, you should focus on how the sheets feel on your skin, how your partner's skin and hair smells and how it feels to kiss them and touch them. Really focusing on those things can help you find the desire in sex again.

There's also research on storytelling techniques. Sometimes when our partner's approach us we think, "Oh no, he wants sex again. All he ever wants is sex." And that's a negative story. But if you can replace that with a positive story like, "He thinks I'm so hot, he can't resist himself,' we find that those positive sexy stories can help women feel in the mood.

There's still a lot of talk about the female Viagra. What about taking a drug that claims to increase desire?

For a portion of women, medication might be helpful if nothing else really works. But I think it'd be a mistake if drugs were the first line of treatment because we have decades of knowledge that sex therapy works well and more cognitive techniques can work. Mostly these things are about relationships: If you don't feel loved or desired or special to your partner or they are condescending towards you, a pill is not going to work.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

People Going Through Divorce and Separation Find Hope, Help and Healing

People hurting from the pain of separation or divorce receive practical help and teaching at DivorceCare support groups. Nearly 13,000 churches across the US, Canada and several other countries around the world have been equipped to offer these life-changing groups.

DivorceCare groups meet in 13-week cycles throughout the year. People in the aftermath of a marital breakup can begin attending at any time. “People facing the trauma of divorce need help right away,” said Steve Grissom, founder and president of DivorceCare/Church Initiative. “With DivorceCare, the emergency room is always open.”

Grissom understands the need for DivorceCare. He created this program in 1993 after experiencing the pain of his own divorce.

And in an age where bad advice is passed off as wisdom, DivorceCare offers teaching based on ageless truths found in the Bible. This Christ-centered material works from the heart of the issue out, guiding participants to true healing and hope.

DivorceCare group participants gain counsel and encouragement through video teaching, small group discussion and weekly scripture study. Each group session includes a 35-minute video presentation featuring insights from respected Christian experts on divorce-related topics. Participants then spend time in discussion with other people who truly understand the tough issues of divorce and separation.

Topics discussed include:
  • How to recognize, face and cope with difficult emotions (such as loneliness, anger, bitterness, depression, shame)
  • Financial survival
  • How to help your children through the changes
  • The possibility of reconciliation
  • What to do about new relationships
  • Experiencing God’s comfort and help
“I began to heal rapidly, and I owe it all to DivorceCare!” exclaimed a participant in Iowa.

Many churches that offer DivorceCare also have a special group for children of divorce or separation, called DivorceCare for Kids. DC4K offers games, music, videos, crafts and more. Each aspect of DC4K is designed to help children identify and cope with their emotions and learn to communicate concerns with their parents.

“When DC4K and DivorceCare are run in tandem, it means that a family can begin healing together,” said Linda, a church ministry director in Ohio.

To find a nearby group, go to and enter a zip/postal code, city or country. To find a group for children ages 5–12, visit

(Source: Christian Newswire)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Becoming One in Marriage

There is a fine line between becoming one with your mate and still maintaining your God-given identity. It's challenging, but even more so if you're new to married life. If this is your story, maybe you're asking, "What does it mean to become one, and how do my spouse and I actually do it?"

Does a husband pursue his career over his wife's desire to move to another state for a once-in-a-lifetime job offer? Should a wife go out once a week with her girlfriends while her husband stays at home with the children? And how do they realistically merge their finances, possessions and time?

read more

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DeKalb County Grief Support Group

The DeKalb County Alabama Grief Support meets the first and third Tuesday of every month at 6:30 PM at the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce offices. The public is invited.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How to help a family member who is addicted.

Fighting addiction can be a daunting, overwhelming and depressing battle. And, at the end of it all- only the addict themselves can, indeed, be in control. But that doesn't mean that you, as a loved family member or friend, can't help.

Interventionist Brad Lamm offers this advice to families who may be waiting for a loved one to hit rock bottom before they step in to help.

People who change rarely do so in a vacuum. They change with the support of others. Add to the mix a compulsive behavior that has a real physiological jolt to it—a rush, a high or a numbing out—and it's even that much harder again to begin change.

When it comes to facing a family member's addiction, like frogs, we come to accept greater and greater compromises until it becomes the easy way to live. We lull ourselves into thinking: "Tiger's okay. It's better lately." That thinking must stop and be replaced by this truth: "We will wait no longer nor try to beat the heat. We will act now in love, with purpose and a plan."

In Lamm's How to Change Someone You Love, his purpose was to turn the whole idea of change on its head and help Frogs jump and Tigers talk. Whether teaching or intervening, Lamm challenges families to start this process of change by jumping out of the increasingly costly situations they find themselves in.

The next step is that they throw out the myths that have kept them stuck in indecision in the first place:

Myth 1: He Has to Hit Bottom - The notion of hitting bottom is a lie. One compulsive addict Lamm had worked with described his urge to engage in his addictive behavior as all consuming. "I don't think straight for days at a time; it's like I'm crazy." He's in an altered state from it- a common occurrence- whatever the behavior. Why would we wait for him to think his way out of the problem? We don't need to. With some behavior, a "bottom" that people wait to hit is often someone, perhaps a spouse, or even a stranger, to get hurt. You can decide where the bottom is. You need not sink any further.

Myth 2: You Can't Change Someone - We are wonderful, adaptable, changeable creatures—and love is the greatest motivation of all for change. More than fear or danger. Love.

When Lamm takes an initial call from someone struggling to help a loved one, he all-too-often also hears the fear surrounding the myth that you can't change someone. It becomes his work to blow that lie out of the water. Lamm states, "If you care about someone who has a self-destructive problem, you are not powerless. In fact, the greatest power you have is the connectedness you have with your loved one. The human brain behaves like a 2-year old—tell it what to do, and it pushes back."

Instead, Lamm advises, invite your loved one into a family meeting. Combat the denial, the confusion and pain with love and your eyewitness accounts of the situation, and you're off to a strong start. Secrets and fear suck the oxygen out of the room when trying to enable change.

Fall into hope and love. It will serve you best.

Myth 3: You Can't Help Someone Unless He's Ready - Finally, Lamm challenges the myth that you cannot help someone begin change unless he's ready as nonsense. Through a loving invitation to change and family intervention, an addict can be helped to get ready.

While we may not agree with everything Lamm says, it at least challenges us to do something now.