Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mental Illness On The Rise

Nearly 20 percent of Americans -- 44.5 million adults -- experienced some sort of mental illness over the last year, according to a new report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency (SAMHSA).

The report details state by state the percent of the population who has suffered a mental illness.

“Mental illnesses are treatable and people can recover to live full, productive lives. Unfortunately in the past year only 37.9 percent of adults with mental health problems received any type of care,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a statement. “The chasm between need and care is costly both in terms of personal health because of missed opportunities to prevent disability and health care expenditures related to illness such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.”

The report counts "mental illness" as any sort of mental, behavioral or emotional disorder that is diagnosable from the DSM-IV. The disorder must cause "substantial functional impairment" or must be defined as a serious mental illness that requires treatment.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marriage Check Up

“A man and a woman should choose each other for life,” said Dr. George Truett, “for the simple reason that a long life is barely enough time for them to understand each other – and to understand is to love.”

Understanding is the key to true love and intimacy.

Although it is a process, you can deepen and develop your relationship along the way. Sometimes, along the path, it’s good to stop and evaluate how you’re doing as a couple.

Good maintenance prevents major breakdowns.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself  concerning your marriage:

  • How can I best serve my partner?
  • Am I a good listener?
  • Do I really hear what my partner is saying, or am I busy thinking about how I am going to respond?
  • Can we disagree agreeably?  If not, what it is that causes us to argue?
  • Do I know what really pleases my partner?  Have I pursuing this?
  • Do I know what really annoys my partner?  Have I been doing this?
  • What are my dreams and hopes for our marriage?
  • What are yours?
  • How do we express our spirituality as a couple?  Are we satisfied with the present level of spiritual commitment?
  • What are we not doing that we ought to be doing?
  • What would it take to start doing it?
  • Have I been completely honest with my partner?  About the past?  About how I am feeling?  About my activities?
  • Are there any roadblocks to emotional intimacy in our marriage?  Do we know what they are?  Do we know how to get rid of them?
  • Have I been making selfish demands?
  • Am I willing to change?
  • Do we agree on money issues?  What can we learn from each other in this area?
  • Is there something wrong that needs to be confronted?
  • Is there something good that needs to be celebrated?
  • Do I need to take more responsibility for creating a healthy and happy home?
  • Am I willing to forgive?
  • Am I willing to deal with issues, rather than attacking or sulking in silence?
  • What three things can I do which would bring great joy to my partner?
[from Revitalize Your Church 

Friday, July 29, 2011

10 Reasons I Think Your Marriage Is Going to "Make It!"

  1. Because you are willing to swallow your pride and ask for help, understanding that you are NOT the first married couple that has ever had trials and struggles.
  2. Because you are willing to stop pointing out all of the problems your spouse has and begin to beg God to reveal your shortcomings to you so that you can focus on the changes you need to make.  (I will focus on my responsibilities and not my “rights!”)
  3. Because you will stop investing tons of time in Facebook and reruns of movies you have already seen and actually begin talking to your spouse again, you know ... like you did when you were dating.
  4. Because you will listen to what the LORD says about marriage instead of listening to singles who are bitter and/or people who can’t seem to stay out of someone else’s bed!
  5. Because Galatians 6:9 packs a promise that is worth holding on to!
  6. Because you understand that two people who are willing to love Jesus first and then one another can overcome any problem or trial that comes their way!
  7. Because you are going to commit to spending quality time together and actually date one another at least once a week ... WITHOUT the kids or the cell phone.
  8. Because you are going to continually practice forgiveness towards your spouse in regards to the way they have hurt you in the past.  (If someone is unwilling to forgive a spouse for a sin or sins that have been confessed and repented of they can ultimately destroy a marriage.)
  9. Because you are going to make attending and being involved in a local church a priority!
  10. Because your kids need to see a godly example of what marriage looks like so that they have something to look forward to.

[By Perry Noble | Christian Post Guest Columnist]

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Some Good Ways to Handle STRESS

Stress is inevitable. It walks in and out of our lives on a regular basis. And it can easily walk all over us unless we take action. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimize and cope with stress. Here are 10 ideas for handling stress without causing more strain and hassle.

1. Figure out where the stress is coming from. 

Oftentimes, when we’re stressed, it seems like a big mess with stressors appearing from every angle. We start to feel like we’re playing a game of dodge ball, ducking and darting so we don’t get smacked by a barrage of balls. We take a defensive position, and not a good one at that.

Instead of feeling like you’re flailing day to day, identify what you’re actually stressed about. Is it a specific project at work, an upcoming exam, a dispute with your boss, a heap of laundry, a fight with your family?

By getting specific and pinpointing the stressors in your life, you’re one step closer to getting organized and taking action.

2. Consider what you can control—and work on that.

While you can’t control what your boss does, what your in-laws say or the sour state of the economy, you can control how you react, how you accomplish work, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on.

The worst thing for stress is trying to take control over uncontrollable things. Because when you inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you only get more stressed out and feel helpless. So after you’ve thought through what’s stressing you out, identify the stressors that you can control, and determine the best ways to take action.

Take the example of a work project. If the scope is stressing you out, talk it over with your supervisor or break the project down into step-wise tasks and deadlines.

Stress can be paralyzing. Doing what’s within your power moves you forward and is empowering and invigorating.

3. Do what you love. 

It’s so much easier to manage pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you love. Even if your job is stress central, you can find one hobby or two that enrich your world. What are you passionate about? If you’re not sure, experiment with a variety of activities to find something that’s especially meaningful and fulfilling.

4. Manage your time well.

One of the biggest stressors for many people is lack of time. Their to-do list expands, while time flies. How often have you wished for more hours in the day or heard others lament their lack of time? But you’ve got more time than you think, as Laura Vanderkam writes in her aptly titled book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

We all have the same 168 hours, and yet there are plenty of people who are dedicated parents and full-time employees and who get at least seven hours of sleep a night and lead fulfilling lives.

Here are Vanderkam’s seven steps to help you check off your to-do list and find time for the things you truly enjoy.

5. Create a toolbox of techniques.

One stress-shrinking strategy won’t work for all your problems. For instance, while deep breathing is helpful when you’re stuck in traffic or hanging at home, it might not rescue you during a business meeting.

Because stress is complex, “What we need is a toolbox that’s full of techniques that we can fit and choose for the stressor in the present moment,” said Richard Blonna, Ed.D, a nationally certified coach and counselor and author of Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Can Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life.  Make an appointment with your counselor today!

6. Pick off the negotiables from your plate. 

Review your daily and weekly activities to see what you can pick off your plate. As Vanderkam asks in her book: “Do your kids really love their extracurricular activities, or are they doing them to please you? Are you volunteering for too many causes, and so stealing time from the ones where you could make the most impact? Does your whole department really need to meet once per week or have that daily conference call?”

Blonna suggested asking these questions: “Do [my activities] mesh with my goals and values? Am I doing things that give my life meaning? Am I doing the right amount of things?”

Reducing your stack of negotiable tasks can greatly reduce your stress.

7. Are you leaving yourself extra vulnerable to stress?

Whether you perceive something as a stressor depends in part on your current state of mind and body. That is, as Blonna said, ““Each transaction we’re involved in takes place in a very specific context that’s affected by our health, sleep, psychoactive substances, whether we’ve had breakfast [that day] and [whether we’re] physically fit.”

So if you’re not getting sufficient sleep or physical activity during the week, you may be leaving yourself extra susceptible to stress. When you’re sleep-deprived, sedentary and filled to the brim with coffee, even the smallest stressors can have a huge impact.

8. Preserve good boundaries. 

If you’re a people-pleaser like me, saying no feels like you’re abandoning someone, have become a terrible person or are throwing all civility out the window. But of course that couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, those few seconds of discomfort are well worth avoiding the stress of taking on an extra activity or doing something that doesn’t contribute value to your life.

One thing I’ve noticed about productive, happy people is that they’re very protective of their time and having their boundaries crossed. But not to worry: Building boundaries is a skill you can learn. Here are some tips to help. And if you tend toward people-pleasing, these tips can help, too.

9. Realize there’s a difference between worrying and caring. 

Sometimes, our mindset can boost stress, so a small issue mushrooms into a pile of problems. We continue worrying, somehow thinking that this is a productive — or at least inevitable — response to stress. But we mistake worry for action.

Clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D, talks about the idea of worrying versus caring in his book, The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. “Worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it,” whereas caring is taking action. “When we are caring for someone or something, we do the things that support or advance the best interests of the person or thing that we care about.”

LeJeune uses the simple example of houseplants. He writes: “If you are away from home for a week, you can worry about your houseplants every single day and still return home to find them brown and wilted. Worrying is not watering.”

Similarly, fretting about your finances does nothing but get you worked up (and likely prevent you from taking action). Caring about your finances, however, means creating a budget, paying bills on time, using coupons and reducing how often you dine out.

Just this small shift in mindset from worrying to caring can help you adjust your reaction to stress. To see this distinction between worrying and caring, LeJeune includes an activity where readers list responses for each one. For example:

Worrying about your health involves…

Caring about your health involves…

Worrying about your career involves…

Caring about your career involves…

10. Embrace mistakes—or at least don’t drown in perfectionism. 

Another mindset that can exacerbate stress is perfectionism. Trying to be mistake-free and essentially spending your days walking on eggshells is exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Talk about putting pressure on yourself! And as we all know but tend to forget: Perfectionism is impossible and not human, anyway.

As researcher Brene Brown writes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth” and it’s not self-improvement.

Nothing good can come from perfectionism. Brown writes: “Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life-paralysis [‘all the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect’].”

Plus, mistake-mistaking can lead to growth. To overcome perfectionism, Brown suggests becoming more compassionate toward yourself. I couldn’t agree more.

[By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.]

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Fish Oil May Help Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism

Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine disclosed a potential therapeutic benefit, at a molecular level, between fish oil, alcohol abuse and psychiatric disorders.

At the Relationship Clinic we've seen many people with mood disorders show improvement after taking therapeutic doses of high quality Omega 3 fish oil.

Now, in a multi-year study, researchers showed conclusive behavioral and molecular benefits for omega 3 fatty acid given to mice models of bipolar disorder.  The fatty acid DHA, which is one of the main active ingredients in fish oil, "normalized their behavior."

In addition, the "bipolar mice" - like many bipolar patients - love alcohol.  However on DHA found in fish oil, they drank less and "curtailed their alcohol abusive behavior." 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Divorce Always Hurts the Children

You may have heard the old joke about a couple in their 90s filing for divorce. When the judge asks them, "Why did you wait so long?" they respond, "We wanted to wait until the kids were dead."

In fact the only time divorce is not going to hurt your children is when they are dead. There's a myth that adult children can handle their parents' divorce and aren't hurt by it. In fact, adult children may very well be devastated by their parents divorce. They not only have to deal with the pain of their divorce, but the assumption that it shouldn't bother them. Grownups are supposed to be just that--grown up--not dependent on their families. But, especially today, young people depend on their families throughout their young adulthood, for money, advice, a place they can call home, basically a net they can fall into when life knocks them off the tightrope.

Robert Frost once said, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." He expressed perfectly how much we depend on having a home when we go off into the world on our own. Just knowing it's there is profoundly reassuring, even if we don't come back home. Divorce means that home where they have to take you in is gone. After a divorce, everything you have taken for granted about your life isn't true anymore. You have to adjust your notion of your childhood to fit the new reality.

Adult children suffer a series of intense losses as a result of parental divorce. They lose their family as it has been and will never be again. While growing up children have a picture of their futures which their mother and father are part of. They will come to their weddings, be there for graduations, holidays, family visits. Divorce shatters all those expectations; any holiday or celebration becomes fraught with anxiety over which parent will come, will they bring the new mate, how will divorced parents get along, should they be separated, seated together, who should give the toast at the dinner etc?

The bedrock sense of self that children depend on to know who they are can be shaken by their parents divorce. Adult children will re-evaluate their childhoods in the light of the divorce, and come up with different versions of who they were and who they are now. They often start questioning the point of marriage and become more leery of dating and making a commitment.

The losses go on and on, separating what was once one extended family. Families split apart, take sides; children may stop seeing in laws if they take sides, or even if they don't. The logistics alone can be daunting, especially if everyone lives in different parts of the country. Mother and father are no longer one unit, no longer mom-and-dad. They have to deal with two of everything, two phone calls to keep in touch, two homes, two stepfamilies, dividing their time, trying not to make anyone jealous. Instead of being a source of comfort, parents become a source of anxiety.

Roles are reversed when there are adult children. Parents stop acting like parents and expect their kids to take care of them. Divorced parents may start telling their troubles to their children, or rely on them too much.

Adult children often get caught in the middle of a nasty divorce, with each side vying for their approval. This can be intensely painful for people who are used to relying on their parents as the bedrock of their lives. "Divorce means watching the two people we love most turn against each other and sometimes try to destroy each other--and because we are adults we are privy to every excruciating detail....They push us to take sides, manipulating us with angry phone calls and emotional e-mails. Instead of sitting down and explaining what's happening, they suck us into the middle," says Brooke Foster, author of The Way They Were; Dealing With Your Parents Divorce After a Lifetime of Marriage.

Adult children may even feel like they've lost their pasts. If they thought they had a happy childhood, they have to think again--to start examining whether or not it was really happy or they were deluded. The family history comes into question. They may even feel their parents stuck it out for them, which really can be hard to take--that makes them the cause of their parents unhappiness all those years. Foster says, "Adult children say they lost their sense of belonging. Divorce shattered their family and their concept of home. Something inside them died."

The fallout from divorce keeps reverberating over the years, with every new family event, every graduation, wedding, birth, funeral. Even caretaking a parent in their later years falls on the children, not the spouse. The notion that divorce is easy once the kids are grown is a myth. Divorce is never easy and the kids are never grown.

[By Erica Manfred]

Monday, May 16, 2011

Surprising Signs of Bipolar Disorder

Fewer than half of Americans with bipolar disorder are properly diagnosed and treated, recent research shows. Could you spot bipolar symptoms – in yourself or in someone close to you?

Bipolar disorder has been all over the headlines recently, from Charlie Sheen’s highly publicized rants leading many to suspect that the star is exhibiting “mania” (a telltale sign of bipolar disorder's emotional highs) to Catherine Zeta Jones seeking treatment for bipolar II, a milder form of the disorder. But the mental health condition goes far beyond Hollywood — and according to recent research, many people with the condition don’t even know they have it.

Fewer than half of people in the United States who show classic signs of bipolar disorder actually get diagnosed and treated, says a recent Archives of General Psychiatry report on a survey of more than 61,000 adults in 11 countries — the United States, Mexico, China, Japan, Brazil, Colombia, India, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Romania, and New Zealand. Bipolar patients in lower-income nations get even less treatment — in some cases, as few as 25 percent receive help.

Compared to the other 10 countries studied, the United States had the highest rate of bipolar disorder (4.4 percent of those surveyed fell somewhere on the bipolar spectrum). India had the lowest (0.1 percent). Overall, about 2.4 percent of those interviewed in the face-to-face survey could be classified as having bipolar disorder.

It may be buzz-worthy these days, but many people don’t fully understand bipolar disorder and the symptoms that can lead to proper diagnosis and treatment. Bipolar, also sometimes called manic-depressive disorder, is characterized by shifts from extreme highs (known as mania) to emotional lows (depression), with “normal” moods in between.

It’s bipolar disorder’s manic phase that most sets it apart from other common mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. While many people associate mania with high energy and exaggeratedly good moods, these other key symptoms are more subtle:

Reckless spending: If a friend is blowing her paycheck on shopping sprees she can’t afford, watch out. A person in a manic phase of bipolar disorder is more likely to take big risks, including spending splurges that can lead to mountains of unmanageable debt.

Super-charged sex drive: A sudden revving up of a person's sex drive, obsessively thinking or talking about sex, or engaging in sexual encounters he otherwise wouldn’t (like a one-night stand or sex with someone he doesn't know well) are all symptoms of hypersexuality, another less-obvious mania clue.

Alcohol or drug abuse. These often go hand-in-hand with manic episodes: As many as 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder have abused alcohol or drugs at some point in their lives. Depressants such as alcohol or pain pills can send a person with mania straight into depression, while stimulants like cocaine can have the opposite effect.

Skimping on shut-eye: Little need for sleep is another red flag that a person may be having a manic episode.

[By Katie Kerns]

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

FREE Counseling

The Relationship Clinic is offering free counseling to tornado victims. Call for an appointment.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Donations for Tornado Victims

Starting Monday, May 2, 2011, we will provide free counseling for Alabama tornado victims.

If you would like to contribute to this effort, CLICK HERE and donate.

Thank you so very much.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Donations for Tornado Victims

Starting Monday, May 2, 2011, we will provide free counseling for Alabama tornado victims.

If you would like to contribute to this effort, CLICK HERE and donate.

Thank you so very much.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

April - National Stress Awareness Month

It is so easy to get stressed these days.

Watching the news makes you stressed. Checking the weather makes you stressed. Then there are the thousand shocks you must bear in just going about your daily life: You are driving and someone cuts you off. Your boss barks at you. All the salespeople are surly. You can't reach a human on the phone. Just before the deadline, your computer crashes.

But it doesn't stop there.

As soon as you get stressed, you see the world through stressful eyes. Then it's you who speaks in an abrupt, dismissive way. It's you who cuts off another driver, you who pushes past someone in the store. It's you snapping at your children. It's you jumping to conclusions. It's you making mistakes that cause problems down the line.

In other words, stress gets passed on. It has a domino effect. Your stress becomes someone else's stress, and this becomes someone else's stress.

But what if we could stop the stresscalation?

"Stresscalation," as far as I can tell, is a term first coined by Ruth Dailey Grainger in 1992, in an article for the American Journal of Nursing. In that article, she uses the term primarily to describe how we exacerbate our own stress. For example, she cites obsessive thinking, living in the future, procrastinating and perfectionism as some of the ways we make our own stress worse.

But I am using the term "stresscalation" to mean the way in which we pass our own stress on to others, creating ever-expanding ripples of stress. I therefore see stresscalation not just as a personal health issue but as an ethical issue. To put it bluntly, when we pass our stress on to others, we violate the Golden Rule. We dump onto others what was just dumped onto us.

We might do this in flagrant ways -- shouting, blaming or roadraging -- or we might do it in more subtle ways -- sending a nasty look, using a brittle tone of voice, not giving someone the benefit of the doubt, treating others as if they were "in our way," or just being impatient with people because they happen to be younger or older or slower or more feeble or more ignorant or less important or more arrogant or more inconsiderate than we are.

But if we reframe stresscalation as an act of violence, a small but significant factor in making the world a more fearful, angry or jumpy place, then perhaps we could also consider stopping the stresscalation to be an ethical imperative.

Stresscalation is a political issue, too. Call me naïve, but I believe that most people genuinely want the world to be a more peaceful place. I also believe that most people think their actions are part of the solution (or at least not part of the problem). But I wonder how many times, each day, in the environments right near us, we actually make the world less peaceful simply by passing on our stress to others.

If we can't stop the domino effect of stress right here in our homes, workplaces and communities, how can we expect others to stop their conflicts in faraway places, in situations where the history of stresscalation is much deeper? If our political conversations are conducted from a baseline of stress, what kind of results can we expect? If our workplaces are emotionally toxic, what kinds of decisions do we make?

When you are stressed, it is simply impossible to think with a clear mind or to hear with an open heart. Consider this everyday example: When you are stressed, are you really able to listen to what someone else is trying to say? And if you are not really listening, what is the effect of that failure to listen on the person who is trying to talk to you? As she struggles to get her point across, or leaves the conversation feeling confused, frustrated, unsatisfied or unheard, what have you really accomplished?

But what if we made an ethical decision to not pass our stress on to others? What if we approached each business meeting, each political discussion or each private, difficult conversation first by trying to reduce our stress? Think of the reverberations if we could each reduce our own stress footprint -- if we could diminish our own contribution to the stresscalation -- in a small way, right where we are. Imagine if we were in the habit of taking a moment, regularly, to greet each new moment with fresh eyes, uncolored by the stress that came before.

As April is National Stress Awareness Month, I will be writing several articles here about stresscalation and how to stop it. I'd like to hear from you. How do you avoid picking up other people's stress? How could we do better at not passing it on? And what positive actions could we take today to make someone else's day less stressful?

Of course, stopping the stresscalation is not always easy. It's particularly challenging when someone has clearly just dumped his stress on you, and you are feeling aggrieved or resentful. But it really doesn't matter where the stress comes from, or whose fault it is. Once you are stressed, in that moment, it becomes your responsibility. You are holding the hot potato. And what you do with it is up to you.

[by Martin Boroson, author of "One-Moment Meditation: Stillness for People on the Go," and offers training in this technique in corporations, hospitals and online. His e-training course, OMM365, and a free animated training video are available at]

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Study Shows Brain Activity in Food Addicts Similar to Other Addicts

For Michael Prager, food used to be much more than a way to get his daily doses of nutrients or to satisfy a craving for a tasty treat.

"From an early age, I ate for reasons that other people didn't, and I ate in amounts that other people didn't," Prager said. "I stole money from my mother's purse and I stole candy from stores before I was 10 years old."

As an adult, he often stocked up on junk food after work and ate almost all of it. Food controlled him so much, in fact, he felt the need to stop for food after getting off at midnight so he wouldn't have to go back out in the middle of the night.

Now 53, it took years of binge eating and yo-yo dieting to realize he had an addiction to food.

"I used food as a coping mechanism. It's similar to the way people use drugs, or alcohol, or shopping or sex."

That's an idea supported by a new study that found food may indeed be just like a drug.

Researchers led by Yale University doctoral student Ashley Gearhardt discovered that women who exhibit more signs of food addiction, when shown a picture of a milkshake and then given a taste of it, had more activity in areas of the brain associated with "craving" than women who showed fewer signs of food addiction. The women who showed more signs of food addiction had less activity in the part of the brain that decreases the desire to eat.

In order to measure food addiction, the researchers used a scale similar to the one used to measure drug addiction.

"We got interested in this research because there have been a lot of interesting findings in looking at parallels between obesity and substance dependence. Studies have shown brain pattern similarities," said Gearhardt.

"Anticipation of a delectable treat provided the greatest activation, even more so than getting a taste of it," said Bonnie Levin, director of the Division of Neuropsychology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Levin was not involved in the study.

Stigma Surrounds Food Addicts

Food addicts exhibit many of the symptoms as those addicted to drugs and alcohol, including an obsession or preoccupation with food, binge eating and a lack of control over eating. Food addicts are often criticized about their inability to say no to overeating.

Not all food addicts are obese, and not everyone who overeats is a food addict.

"We saw the same brain activation patterns in lean participants as well as the obese ones," said Gearhardt. "BMI [body mass index] is not a good indicator about whether you're out of control with eating."

Experts say there's a lot of stigma surrounding food addiction, including the assertion that it's just an excuse for overeating and avoiding personal responsibility. In reality, food addicts are driven to eat.

"Part of the brain responds to anticipation of a reward," said Levin. "Some people can resist it and others cannot."

"I wanted no part of the realization that I had an addiction," said Prager. "Everyone thinks obesity is a matter of sloth and that obese people need to try harder."

Although it may seem that an addiction to heroin, cocaine or alcohol is more dangerous, experts say an addition to food is just as serious. Obesity is associated with a number of serious health problems as well as soaring health care costs.

"We already see such a large amount of people struggling with obesity, but kids are also eating a lot of unhealthy foods. The earlier people are exposed, the more likely they are to develop an addiction," said Gearhardt.

The study's authors also hope future studies can determine how the brain responds to food ads and whether certain foods are addictive. With that knowledge, they believe, advertising can be used to send healthier messages about food.

Addicted to Food," premieres on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The eight-episode series follows food addicts and others with eating disorders at a treatment facility with the goal of addressing issues that led to their problems with eating and finding their way to recovery.

Prager knows all about that long road to recovery. After years of therapy, he realizes now that food no longer controls him. He even wrote a book about it.

But as with most addicts, it's a battle he fights every day.

"There's no such thing as solving something forever. You have to take it one day at a time." To read Michael Prager's blog click here.

The following questions are part of the survey done by researchers at Yale University to help determine if you could have a food addiction.

Answer options for this section: 0 - Never 1 - Once per month 2 – 2-4 times per month 3 - 2-3 times per week 4 - 4+ times per week

1) I find myself consuming certain foods even though I am no longer hungry. THRESHOLD: 4

2) I worry about cutting down on certain foods. THRESHOLD: 4

3) I feel sluggish or fatigued from overeating. THRESHOLD: 3 or 4

4) I have spent time dealing with negative feelings from overeating certain foods, instead of spending time in important activities such as time with family, friends, work, or recreation. THRESHOLD: 4

5) I have had physical withdrawal symptoms such as agitation and anxiety when I cut down on certain foods. (Do NOT include caffeinated drinks: coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, etc.) THRESHOLD: 3 OR 4

6) My behavior with respect to food and eating causes me significant distress. THRESHOLD: 3 OR 4

7) Issues related to food and eating decrease my ability to function effectively (daily routine, job/school, social or family activities, health difficulties). THRESHOLD: 3 OR 4

Answer options for this section: No Yes


8) I kept consuming the same types or amounts of food despite significant emotional and/or physical problems related to my eating. YES or NO

9) Eating the same amount of food does not reduce negative emotions or increase pleasurable feelings the way it used to. YES or NO



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Demanding Effects of Stress

Our bodies respond to stimuli, whether they are bad or good. Everyone experiences stress at some time in life. Positive stress is effective in helping us to perform at high levels of expectations. Some children do well in examinations, because the anxiety and emotional overtones challenge them to pay attention to details. Public speakers are aware of the critics who seem to challenge every word and interpretation of information shared. Television personalities are under the watchful eyes of those who think that they are the experts in dress, voice tones, gestures and articulations.

Amidst this awareness, they still perform at their superlative levels. They seem to understand that the mirror of the community cannot shape them, for they have their individual personalities, judgments and choices. Negative stress has some damaging effects on the body, therefore, attention must be given to the stressors in our lives. The following are some of the effects that stress can have on our bodies — muscle tension, blood clots, skin irritation, insomnia, high levels of anxiety, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, body pain, indigestion, stomach ulcers, depression, asthma attacks, loss of energy, failure to work productively, problems in relationships because of bad attitudes, low tolerance and uncontrolled anger.

After a death or loss, most persons experience emotions of guilt, rage, fear, helplessness, loneliness, panic, dismay, anguish, despair, resentment, disappointment, yearning, anxiety, apathy, regret, feelings of abandonment, sorrow, vindictiveness, pain, inadequacy, denial and distrust. These are the tasks that a person in grief must work out in order to aid in the recovery process. It will be challenging, but you must use your own skills and temperament to recover in order to move on with your life. You must accept the reality of your loss through death or other disappointments. Talk about it until you reach a level of acceptance. As you experience the stress that comes from pain and grief, seek professional help that will help you to develop coping skills that will hinder you from damaging your health.

You will not be able to push all the pain and grief away if you internalize them and pretend that you are doing well. To pretend that you are strong enough to deal with the hurt will often cause your emotions to fester which in turn will affect your entire life. Learn to adjust to the environment in which your loved one is missing. Remember the pleasant things that you enjoyed doing together. Go to the places where you spent time together.

As you encounter each aspect of your life without the person, you have to learn new skills for living without the deceased. You cannot withdraw from the world and all your former relationships. If you have lost property, status or transfers, you have to take responsibility for your life and find alternatives, knowing that you have to function and survive.

Here are some symptoms that you are in grief irrespective of the cause:
  • Crying continuously.
  • Contemplating suicide.
  • Suffering from extreme loneliness.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene.
  • Engaging in self-criticism.
  • Thinking that there is no recovery from the loss.
  • Sighing a lot.
  • Can’t sleep at nights.
  • Feeling constantly tired.
  • Susceptible to illness, flues and colds.
  • Tempted to take too many drugs.
  • Staying extremely busy in order to have little time to think.
  • Eating disorder.
  • Can’t think clearly.
An optimistic approach to life can help you to overcome the unattractive experiences. Learn to cope with the unexpected and smile through the seemingly unbearable.

[by Dr. Pansy Hamilton Brown]

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


A marriage is maintained and strengthened by compromise, as is the relationship between parent and child. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV)

Monday, March 07, 2011

Things to Forget - Things to Remember

Things to Forget:
The bad stuff someone said about you.
The time you were overlooked or excluded.
The wonderful things you did for someone (which should have been noticed.)
How great (perfect) you are.
That you were right (I told you so!).
How bad "they" treated you.
Why you deserve to be first (or other special treatment).
Your grudges.
Your pet peeves.
The time someone disappointed you.
Your self-centered notions.

Things to Remember:
To say "Thank You".
To express your love and affection.
The gestures of kindness others have shown to you.
That any success you achieve is due, at least in part, to others.
That God answers prayer.
That you are not God, so you don't have to control everything.
To do your homework.
To lend a helping hand.
That persistence pays off.
What brings true happiness (things money can't buy).
To seize the day and make the most of the moments.

[from Revitalize Your Church

How to Stay in Love

Our society is obsessed with falling in love.

Just watch any romantic comedy or listen to most love songs, the focus on love these days leans heavily toward falling in love. This isn’t surprising though is it? I mean what’s the prerequisite for falling in love?

A pulse. That’s about it.

Truth be known while we’re all naturally equipped to fall in love, most of us are ill equipped to stay in love.

I once heard Andy Stanley say, “The foundation for staying in love is to make love a verb.”

Jesus himself said, John 13: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

This is cool. Do you see what he did? He takes a word we use as a noun and he makes it a verb. He’s essentially saying love isn’t something you find but something you do.

See we think we want to feel our way into an action. If I feel in love then I’ll be loving.

Jesus taught that actually it’s the opposite. You don’t feel your way into an action. You act your way into a feeling. Act loving, be loving, then you’ll feel love.

And that my friends is how I think you not only fall in love, but stay in love.

[from Without Wax

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Open Letter Concerning Pre-Marriage Counseling

"My wife and I didn't need premarital counseling.

"You see, we were special. We rarely fought. In fact, we loved everything about each other—right down to the silly little quirks others might find annoying. Plus, we were madly in love! Maybe counseling was necessary for those other couples—the ones that didn't love each other as much as we did. But we were fine. The intensity of our affection was more than enough to carry us through the challenges of married life.

"Unfortunately, my future in-laws failed to grasp our exceptional status; they insisted on two months of counseling before we walked down the aisle.

"I'm glad that they did. It turned out we weren't so unique after all. In counseling we unearthed differing expectations and caught a helpful glimpse at some of the challenges of living together. We discovered invaluable relationship skills that came in handy, especially once the euphoria of new love began to fade. Turns out everyone needs premarital counseling."

Premarital Counseling is designed to help you reflect on counseling goals, learn creative exercises, and consider the "touchy" situations of marriage with resources. Call the Relationship Clinic before taking another step.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

In an Affair? ... Now What?

It started innocently enough. You connected on FaceBook with an old boyfriend or girlfriend (isn’t technology wonderful?) — or started meeting regularly for lunch or drinks with a colleague from the office. You felt the chemistry, but you weren’t going to act on it. And since “nothing” was going on, you didn’t need to tell your spouse. But now you can’t deny it any longer. Whether your relationship has become physical or remains technically just a friendship, you know that you are in deep. You don’t want to hurt your spouse, but you are sure that ending your affair would break your heart.

At times like these, it can help to know something about human nature. When people feel intense emotions, the parts of their brains that process emotions become more active. Meanwhile, the logical parts of their brains remain relatively inactive. The result? People find ways to make sense of, and support, their emotional state; and it’s incredibly difficult to challenge this emotionally driven thinking.

When someone is having an affair, this kind of thinking intensifies the passion of their new love while also magnifying the inadequacies of their spouse, or their current “real” life. They can try to argue with themselves about how they shouldn’t feel as they do and how pursuing the affair is not a good idea, but that approach usually leaves them feeling a stronger “need” to pursue it. Still, the guilt about doing this can also be overwhelming.

So, if you are caught in this dilemma, what can you do? The first step is to fully acknowledge it. Trying to pretend that a budding love doesn’t exist, or isn’t that strong, will only send your awareness of it underground; where it will influence you without your even realizing it. You will likely find yourself the victim of a surprise attack; I was avoiding her and was okay with that, but then she needed my help with something, and, well… The next thing you know, you are thinking this must be fate. If, instead, you admit to your feelings and look squarely at the problem, you can begin to address it.

Addressing it means, in part, admitting that your thinking is clouded by strong emotions. With this acknowledgment, you are choosing to lead with your head and not your heart. You can consider your values and at least try to correct for the bias of your emotionally driven thinking. This doesn’t mean ignoring your emotions, but rather considering them with the perspective of what’s best for you in the long run. Remember, after all is said and done, after your heart’s fluttering has subsided, you will need to be able to wake up every morning with the results of your actions — so consider them carefully.

Think about your marriage vows and how important they are to you. Think about the effects of continuing an affair on your thoughts and feelings about yourself, as well as on your spouse, children, new love, and anyone else involved.

Many people want to savor their new love, but still have strong incentives to work on their marriage. They want to strive to be happy again with their spouse, not disrupt their lives (for themselves and their children), and do the right thing. But they also ultimately want to be assured of having romantic love in their lives if their efforts at reviving their marriage fail. The dilemma is understandable. However, holding onto both relationships simply does not work. It can’t. Honestly working on a relationship means giving yourself wholeheartedly to it.

[by Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD,]

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Is your HDL helping or hurting your risk for Alzheimer’s disease?

You probably know that having high levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol has been associated with a reduced risk for heart disease, but did you know that it may also reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease?

A study published in the December 2010 issue of the Archives of Neurology found that having high levels of HDL (defined as a level greater than 55) is associated with lower risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

This is great news! But what can you do if your HDL is low? Here are 5 very simple things you can do to increase your HDL, and they will boost your brain function at the same time. How cool is that?
  1. Get moving. Regular aerobic or interval exercise can increase your HDL in as little as two months. I recommend Burst Training, which is a form of interval training that is so simple anyone can do it. You can find a Sample Burst Training workout in my upcoming book The Amen Solution.
  2. Lose weight. Even dropping a few pounds has been shown to boost HDL levels. If you need help shedding the extra weight, then you’re going to love the new program I’m going to be introducing soon. It will hold your hand through the process and help you every step of the way.
  3. Quit smoking. Duh. Smoking lowers your HDL and constricts blood flow to the brain.
  4. Pump up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating more wild salmon, walnuts, DHA-enriched eggs, and avocados can increase HDL, as can taking an omega-3 supplement.
  5. Go low-glycemic. Eating too many refined carbohydrates and simple sugars can lower HDL. Stick with complex carbohydrates that are low-glycemic and high in fiber.
[from Amen Clinics

Monday, January 24, 2011

A New Study Shows a Link Between Suicide and Children of Divorce

Children with divorced parents are at an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, with boys especially vulnerable to the effects of marital breakups.

These new findings were revealed by the recent study, “Suicidal Ideation Among Individuals Whose Parents Have Divorced,” conducted by Esme Fuller-Thompson, a professor at the University of Toronto.

Using a sample of 6,647 adults, 695 of whose parents had divorced before they were 18, Fuller-Thompson found that men from divorced households were three times as likely to have seriously considered suicide, while women had an 83 percent higher chance of having done the same.

Even when Fuller-Thomson adjusted for additional factors like parental abuse and addiction, which often accompany divorce, men still had twice the likelihood of having had suicidal thoughts. These findings suggest that divorce can have seriously adverse effects on children. We asked Esme Fuller-Thompson to help illuminate her study and its implications.

What was the most surprising finding of the study?

“We’re certainly not the first [group] to find a link between parental divorce and suicidal ideation. We were looking at gender differentiation – whether adult sons and adult daughters have different [responses]. Both men and women are at increased risk of suicidal ideation – at some time in their life they’ve seriously considered suicide. When you look at it carefully, and we had a big sample, what we found was that the association between parental divorce and suicidal ideation disappeared when I took out women who had also experienced parental addictions and abuse. But for men, the relationship still existed. Men who had experienced a parental divorce that had not been exposed to those other childhood factors still were at greater risk for suicidal ideation.”

Why might boys be more affected than girls?

“Probably loss of the male role model, the father figure. The majority of children of divorce are raised by their moms. There are a portion of children who have very limited contact with their dad. The loss of a male role model is very significant for young men who are developing their gender identities. When you look back at the general literature, that seemed to be the one that popped up, but we don't know for sure.”

Are there some differences between men and women generally in terms of suicidal thoughts?

“Women have higher rates of suicidal ideation, while men are more likely to complete suicide. They tend to take steps such as shooting or hanging themselves. Women will attempt, but with drugs where you can catch them if you get it in time. In the general population, whose parents haven't divorced, among males 5.5 percent had seriously considered suicide, among females 8.7 percent. But when I looked at men who've experienced parental divorce, I had 17.5 percent. For females it went to 17.5 percent too, but compared to norms, women had a higher baseline to start with.”

What’s the link between having divorced parents and exposure to other negative factors?

“Basically, parental divorces are higher if there’s an addicted parent, and childhood physical abuse is higher in blended families. The majority of children of divorce don’t become suicidal, or are exposed to these stresses, though they have a higher chance of exposure.”

What were some limitations of your study?

“We don’t have all the intense details I would like to have. Though the parents had to divorce before the kid was 18, though one would expect the timing of the divorce would affect their experience – we didn’t have access to that information, or things like, how much contact the child had with the father afterward, or when exactly the suicidal thoughts occurred.”

What can divorced parents take from this?

“I don’t want everyone to panic, every divorced mom to go into an apoplectic fit! The vast majority of divorced children have never been suicidal. It’s just one factor among many. You want it to be replicated many times before you really know what’s going on. It seems to indicate that health professionals should use this as one more screening tool, particularly among men, particularly if they’re depressed. We need to think a little more creatively about how to build resilience in children as they’re experiencing parental divorce.”

[from The Huffington Post, by Amy Lee]

Sunday, January 23, 2011

8 Ways To Manage Your Stress

Life is full of stressors at home and on our jobs. Follow these simple tips, such as eating healthier and exercising, to reduce the stress in your life.

1. General Health - Practicing good basic health habits provides you with the energy you need to cope with stress, like: eating regular, nutritious meals, and limiting your intake of foods high in sugar and caffeine, since these can aggravate stress.

2. Good Nutrition - In addition to good nutrition, getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night will help your overall health.

3. Regular Exercise - Regular exercise is another important health habit -- walking, jogging, bicycling, aerobics. Any sport can help relieve muscle tension and release pent-up energy. In addition, exercise can make you feel good. It can help you think more clearly, and feel better about yourself.

4. Group Support - Another way to cope with stress is to develop a network of caring friends and relatives who will listen to problems, provide companionship, and simply be there when you need them.

5. Seek Professional Help if Needed - For major life changes or crises, professional help may be advisable. Call the Relationship Clinic for an appointment today.

6. Learn To Manage Stress In Healthy Ways - In our day-to-day lives, too often we become stressed-out by a world that heaps change on us. That’s why learning to manage stress in healthy ways is one of the most important things we can do to achieve a healthier, productive and rewarding life.

7. Make Time For Yourself - Making time for yourself for things you enjoy and find relaxing is as important as scheduling your time at work.

8. Take A Break From Everyday Routines - Time spent away from your everyday routine with family, friends, or even by yourself can help change your perspective on things.

[from Beliefnet]

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Prayer Can Help Manage Anger and Sadness

While prayer has been practiced for millennia, a new study looks at the way individuals believe prayer can comfort during hard times.

The 75 percent of Americans who pray on a weekly basis do so to manage a range of negative situations and emotions — illness, sadness, trauma and anger.

However, the mechanism by which relief is accomplished has gone unconsidered by researchers.

Through the course of in-depth interviews with dozens of victims of violent relationships with intimate partners, Shane Sharp, a University of Wisconsin graduate student, gathered an array of ways prayer helped them deal with their situation and emotions through coping mechanisms such as venting.

Sharp’s interviewees represented a wide swath of the United States in geographic, educational and racial terms, and came largely from Christian backgrounds.

Those who were boiling with anger said they found “a readily available listening ear,” said Sharp, who explores how prayer helps manage emotional pain in the current issue of the journal Social Psychology Quarterly.

“If they vented their anger to that abusive partner, the result was likely to be more violence,” Sharp says. “But they could be angry at God while praying without fear of reprisal.”

During any interpersonal interaction, the participants are considering how they look through the other’s eyes. In the case of people who pray, they are considering God’s view.

“During prayer, victims came to see themselves as they believed God saw them. Since these perceptions were mostly positive, it helped raise their sense of self-worth that counteracted their abusers’ hurtful words,” Sharp said.

Prayer is also a handy distraction for some, Sharp’s study found. Simply folding hands and concentrating on what to say is a reprieve from the anxiety of an abusive relationship. The experience isn’t that much different from a conversation with a close friend or a parent, he said.

“I looked at the act of praying, of speaking to God, as the same as a legitimate social interaction,” Sharp said. “Instead of a concrete interaction you would have face-to-face with another person, prayer is with an imagined other.”

That’s not to diminish God’s role by considering him an imagined participant in a prayer, Sharp added.

“On the contrary, I wouldn’t expect prayer to have these benefits for people if they thought God wasn’t real,” he says. “The important point is that they believe God is real, and that has consequences for them emotionally and for their behavior.”

Yet, the consequences of prayer aren’t always positive.

“For some, through prayer they told me they learned to forgive their abusive partners, to let go of their anger and resentment,” Sharp said. “But that’s a double-edged sword. It’s good for those who are out of that violent relationship to let go of it to a certain extent. But if they’re still in their violent relationship, it may postpone their decision to leave, and that can be bad.”

That double-edged sword makes the mechanics of prayer an important topic for new research, according to Sharp. “Religion is often pointed to as a mostly positive or mostly negative thing,” he said. “It’s way more complicated than that.”

Many of those interviewed by Sharp said they believe in God, but don’t belong to a specific church.

“They still pray,” he says. “It’s the most common religious practice you can find. For that reason alone it deserves more attention, and I think future research should consider prayer as an interaction instead of a one-sided act.”

[Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison - By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor - Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on December 15, 2010]

Monday, January 03, 2011

Depression Meds

There are many depression medications on the market. Here is a link, where you can read more about the different types. For many people, finding the right medication can be a complicated process. It usually requires trying several different medications or dosages to find what works best. It is a process that requires patience.

I would suggest further discussing this matter with your physician. If you are seeing a primary care physician, you may want to consider a psychiatrist instead (or in addition to). Primary care physicians commonly prescribe antidepressant medication to their patients but they are general practitioners. Mental health is not their specialty. Psychiatrists specialize in prescribing medication for psychiatric conditions. This is their area of expertise. Their specialized knowledge would be advantageous to you and may expedite the process of finding the right medication.

Medication does not always solve the issues. Medication will mask the symptoms, but only therapy will solve the cause.