The Doctor's Blog
It's great to see you have a curious mind and want to explore my site. Psychology is a ever increasing field of growth in the clinical study of human behavior. Sometimes I will offer you a summary of some of clinical studies I have completed here in the Arabian Gulf states, or some summaries of my personal observations.
Today, I will give you a short overview of concerns that I frequently hear. I hope it will give you an overview of common everyday problems people feel concerned about, and some hints that may be of help to you. Here are some areas that may be of interest to you:
- Bring Your Life into Balance
- ADD and ADHD in Children
- Nutrition for Children
- Cutting and Self Harm
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health
- Domestic Violence and Abuse
- Helping a Depressed Person
BRING YOUR LIFE INTO BALANCE
Stress or mood swings rock everyone’s balance from time to time. However, too much stress, anxiety, depression, or worry can make you feel overwhelmed and act inappropriately. When moods and emotions get the better of you – when they begin to interfere with your career or personal relationships, or current life situations, you can learn to harness your emotions and bring life into balance. How you can get off the emotional rollercoaster and become a new you?
Do you ever feel like you’re at the mercy of your emotions? Do you wish you had more control over your mental and emotional state? We all know what it’s like to feel emotionally off-balance – to be buffeted by stress and anxiety and knocked down by depression.
It may seem like a never-ending ride, but you can get off the emotional rollercoaster. You can bring your life into balance by learning more about your emotions: why they matter, how to recognize them, and what you can do to manage them and harness their power.
The key word here is “learn”. Like anything worthwhile, achieving emotional balance will take some practice and patience, but you’ll also start feeling the benefits very quickly. Our brains have the ability to change and evolve, even as we age. So no matter how long you’ve felt out of
How can we tell our emotional life is out of balance? Some of us instantly know when we have an emotional problem, while others only suspect that something in our lives isn’t quite working as it should. Here are some questions.
- Do you feel overwhelmed by responsibilities and stressed out much of the time?
- Do you feel misunderstood in your relationships? Do you have a hard time connecting with others?
- Do you struggle with chronic depression, anxiety, worry, or negativity?
- Are you having trouble getting ahead in your career, despite your job talents? Have you received complaints about the way you interact with customers or co-workers?
- do your loved ones complain about your mood swings, temper, irrational fears, or your emotional distance?
- Do you find yourself getting annoyed or upset at little things that don’t seem to bother other people? Do you have a hard time rolling with the punches?
- Do you often say or do things you know you shouldn’t, only to regret it later? Do you feel trapped in a negative cycle, repeating the same mistakes over and over again?
If you answered yes to some of these questions, seeking help might benefit you. There is a limit to what you can do by yourself. Human beings are highly social creatures, with strong needs for relationships and positive connections to others. We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Solitary self help can only go so far. In order to change the way you think, feel, and behave, you will need to get out from behind the computer screen and share what you’re learning and experiencing with someone who is a good listener. A good listener is someone who listens with interest, encourages you to talk about your feeling, and doesn’t interrupt. This person may be your therapist, but it can also be a family member, friend, or interested and caring acquaintance.
ADD and ADHD in CHILDREN-SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS of ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER
It’s normal for children to occasionally forget their homework, daydream during class, act without thinking, or get fidgety at the dinner table. But inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity are also signs of attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD). ADD/ADHD can lead to problems at home and school, and affect your child’s ability to learn and get along with others. It’s important for you to be able to spot the signs and symptoms, and get help if you see them in your child.
What is ADD/ADHD?
We all know kids who can’t sit still, who never seem to listen, who don’t follow instructions no matter how clearly you present them, or who blurt out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. Sometimes these children are labeled as troublemakers, or criticized for being lazy and undisciplined. However, they may have ADD/ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that appears in early childhood. You may know it by the name attentiondeficit disorder, or ADD. ADD/ADHD makes it difficult for people to inhibit their spontaneous responses – responses that can involve everything from movement to speech to attentiveness. Is it normal kid behavior or it ADHD? The signs and symptoms of ADD/ADHD typically appear before the age of seven. However, it can difficult to distinguish between attention deficit disorder and normal “kid behavior”. If you spot just a few signs, or the symptoms appear only in some situations, it’s probably not ADD/ADHD. On the other hand, if your child shows a number of ADD/ADHD signs and symptoms that are present across all situations – at home, at school, and at play – it’s time to take a closer look. Once you understand the issues your child is struggling with, such as forgetfulness or difficulty paying attention in school, you can work together to find creative solutions and capitalize on strengths.
Some Myths and Facts About ADD/ADHD
All kids with ADD/ADHD are hyperactive
Some children with ADD/ADHD are hyperactive, but many others with attention problems are not. Children with ADD/ADHD who are inattentive, but not overly active, may appear to be spacey and unmotivated
|Kids with ADD/ADHD can never pay Attention||Children with ADD/ADHD are often able to concentrate on activities they enjoy. But no matter how hard the try, they have trouble maintaining focus if the task at hand is boring or repetitive.|
Kids with ADD/ADHD choose to be difficult and could behave better ifthey wanted to
|Children with ADD/ADHD may do their best to be good, but still be unable to sit still, stay quiet, or pay attention. They may appear disobedient, but that doesn’t mean they’re acting out on purpose.|
Kids will eventually grow out of ADD/ADHD
|ADD/ADHD often continues into adulthood, so don’t wait for your child to outgrow the problem. Treatment can help your child learn to manage and minimize the symptoms.|
|Medication is the best treatment option For ADD/ADHD||Medication is often prescribed for attention deficit disorder, but it might not be the best option for your child. Effective treatment for ADD/ADHD also includes education, behavior therapy, support at home and school, exercise, and proper nutrition.|
Symptoms of ADD/ADHD at different ages - One frequent sign that we can notice is inattention:
- Doesn't pay attention to details
-Makes careless mistakes
-Has trouble staying focused; is easily distracted
-Appears not to listen when spoken to
-Has difficulty remembering things and following instructions
-Has trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects
-Gets bored with a task before it's completed
-Frequently loses or misplaces homework, books, toys or other items
Other common symptoms include hyperactive movement and being unable to sit quietly without getting up and moving about where sitting quietly is an expected behavior. Being unable to wait for their turn in line, or at games, and impulsive saying whatever comes to mind, or guessing rather than taking the time to solve a problem are also common in ADD/ADHD.
Is it Really ADD/ADHD?
Just because a child has many of the symptoms does not mean her or she has ADD/ADHD. Certain medical conditions, psychological disorders, and stressful life events can cause symptoms that look like ADD/ADHD. Before an accurate diagnosis can be made, it's important that you see a mental health professional to explore and rule out the following possibilities of:
-Learning disabilities or problems with reading, writing, motor skills, or language.
-Major life events or traumatic experiences (e.g. a recent move, death of a loved one, bullying, divorce).
-Psychological disorders including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
-Behavioral disorders such as conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.
-Medical conditions, including thyroid problems, neurological conditions, epilepsy, and sleep disorders.
There are also some positive effects of ADD/ADHD in children. In addition to the challenges, there are some unique traits. The children can be marvelously creative and imaginative. The child who daydreams and has ten different thoughts at once can be a master problem solver. They are a fountain of ideas and even though they may be easily distracted, they sometimes notice what others don't see. They have boundless enthusiasm and spontaneity when they are doing things that are not repetitive and they are a lot of fun to be with.
Don't wait to get help for your child. If your child struggles with symptoms that look like ADD/ADHD, don't wait to seek professional help. You can treat your child’s symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity without having a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder. Options to start with include getting your child into therapy, implementing a better diet and exercise plan, and modifying the home environment to minimize distractions.
NUTRITION FOR CHILDREN
Good nutrition is the bedrock of lifelong health, and it begins in infancy. Healthy eating can stabilize children’s energy, sharpen their minds, and even out their moods. Unfortunately kids are bombarded by messages that can counteract your efforts. Between peer pressure and the constant television commercials for junk foods, getting children to eat well might seem more futile than fruitful. However there are simple steps that parents can take to instill health eating habits in their kids, without turning mealtimes into a battle zone. By encouraging healthy eating habits now, you can make a huge impact on your children's lifelong relationship with food and give them the best opportunity to grow into healthy, confident adults.
Children develop a natural preference for the foods they enjoy the most, so the challenge is to make healthy choices appealing. No matter how good your intentions, trying to convince your eight-year-old that an apple is as sweet a treat as a cookie is not a recipe for success! However, you can ensure that your children's diet is as nutritious and wholesome as possible, even while allowing for some of their favorite treats. The childhood impulse to imitate is strong, so it's important you act as a role model for your kids. It's no good asking your child to eat fruit and vegetables while you gorge on potato chips and soda. Here are some top tips to promote healthy childhood eating.
- Have regular family meals. Knowing family dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since children who eat breakfast tend to do better at school.
- Cook more meals at home. Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar, and salt. Save dining out for special occasions.
- Get kids involved. Children enjoy helping adult’s grocery shop, selecting what goes into their lunch box and preparing dinner. It's also a chance for you to teach them about nutritional values of different foods, and for older children to learn to read and understand food labels. Let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try.
- Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of low value, calorie filled snacks. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks and healthy beverages (milk, water, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible, so kids become used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of chips, cookies and sodas.
- Limit portion sizes. Don't insist your child “cleans the plate”. Never use food as a reward or bribe.
We all can encounter kids who are picky eaters. How to get them to enjoy a wider variety of foods? Consider offering a new food only when your child is rested and hungry. Present only one new food at a time. Make it fun. Cut food into unusual shapes, create something playful in appearance. Serve new foods with favorite foods to increase acceptance. Eat the food yourself, children love to imitate. One key seems to be “balance” - we don't have to have kids eating a perfect selection of all the food groups at every meal. If the food variety is there and mild encouragement is given to try at something new, over a few meals kids natural instincts will balance their intake. I believe that’s true if those instincts are not distorted by too much sugary or fat saturated snack foods.
One thing that I think is important and overlooked is you should think about exercise as a food group too. Encourage physical activities. Take family walks, go cycling, skating, swimming, and help your kids find activities they enjoy by showing them different possibilities. These habits start a healthy life style and sound exercise will stimulate them to make better food choices.
CUTTING AND SELF HARM
Whether you're dealing with a past trauma or facing overwhelming issues in everyday life, you may have turned to cutting yourself or other self-harm as a way to cope with your problems. Whatever the reason, there is help – and hope. Cutting and other self-injury may make you feel like you're better able to handle life again, but the pain returns without any permanent recovery. You can end this dangerous cycle by learning safer, more healing ways to deal with your problems. There are professionals who can provide treatment, and ways you can help yourself. You have the power to find healthier ways to manage your pain.
Cutting and self-harm are often ways to express deep distress and cope with painful memories. And although you may want to stop, you may not know how to begin. Understanding why you self-harm can be a vital first step toward your recovery. If you can figure out what function your self-injury serves, you can learn other ways to get those needs met – which in turn can reduce your desire to hurt yourself. Once you better understand why you self-harm, you can learn ways to stop self-harming, and find resources that can support you through this struggle.
Myths and facts about cutting and self-harm
Myth: Self-harm is a suicidal act.
Fact: Although people do die from self-harm, these instances are accidental; in general, self-harmers do not want to die. In fact, self-injury may be a way of coping, of regaining control of pain- in order to go on living.
Myth: People who self-injure are crazy
Fact: Those who self-harm are usually dealing with trauma, not mental health problems. There are exceptions, but by and large, you are probably trying to cope with problems in the only way you know how.
Myth: Injuring yourself is a cry for attention.
Fact: Friends, family, and even healthcare professionals may think that if you hurt yourself, you are seeking attention. The painful truth is that people who self-harm generally try to hide what they are doing – rather than draw attention to it – because they feel ashamed and afraid.
Self-harm and your emotions
You may find yourself more likely to self-harm after an overwhelming or distressing experience, or series of experiences. It's possible that you never learned how to identify or express difficult feelings in a healthy way. Understanding your emotions and how they may make you want to self-harm can be another important step toward recovery. When emotions feel out of hand and you can't cope with your pain, you may turn to cutting yourself or other self-harm. Self-harm may be how you:
- Regulate strong emotions, if you are experiencing high stress, self-harm can – temporarily – calm your nerves
- Distract yourself from emotional pain, you may feel emotionally “numbed” by past traumas and need a way to force yourself into feeling something.
- Express things that cannot be put into words, self-harm may be the only way you know how to display anger or deep sadness.
- Exert a sense of control over your body; you may imagine that hurting yourself will prevent something worse from happening.
- Self-punish or express self-hate, you may have a childhood history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and erroneously blame yourself for it. Self-harm can be a way to punish yourself.
- Self sooth, you may not know any other means to calm intense emotions.
Common emotional traits of self-injurers
Everyone's story is unique, but chances are you have certain emotional issues in common with other self-harmers. You may have been discouraged from expressions of anger while growing up, and as a result are unsure what to do about strong feelings. You may have co-existing problems with obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance abuse, depression, or an eating disorder – all conditions primarily about control.
Signs and symptoms of self-injury are important for family members or loved ones to know
Because clothing can hide physical injuries, and inner turmoil can be covered up by a seemingly calm disposition, self-injury can be hard to detect. Due to deep shame and guilt, self-harmers often go to great lengths to keep their injuries a secret. As a family member or friend, it may be up to you to be on the lookout for the warning signs of self-harm and to talk to the person about getting help. Red flags for cutting or self-injury include:
- Unexplained wounds. A self-harmer may have fresh or scars from cuts, bruises, or cigarette burns, usually on the wrists, arms, thighs or chest.
- Indications of depression. Low mood, tearfulness, lack of motivation, or loss of energy can be signs of depression, which may lead to self-injury
- Frequent “accidents”. Someone who self-harms may claim to be clumsy or talk about mishaps, in order to explain away injuries.
- Changes in eating habits. This could mean being secretive about eating, or unusual weight loss or gain, as eating disorders are often associated with self-harm.
- Covering up. A person who self-injures may insist on wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in very hot weather
Professional treatment for cutting and self-harm
You may need additional support to stop cutting yourself or self-harming, but seeking this help can be a confusing and intimidating process, especially under emotional distress. Professional treatment is most likely to work if the person who self-harms is the one who makes the decision to seek it. Professional treatment normally follows a course of talk therapy, in which you see a trained therapist who can help you get to the root of why you self-harm. Other types of treatment for self-injury include cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and hypnosis. Once you choose a therapist, you can work with that person to find the treatment that is right for your individual case. You can choose a social worker, trauma therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, but be sure that he or she is trained in dealing with self-injury. This therapist should be someone who accepts self-harm without condoning it, and who is willing to work toward stopping it at your own pace. You should feel at ease with him or her, even while talking through your most personal issues.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH
When you have both a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, it is called dual diagnosis. Dealing with alcoholism, or drug addiction is never easy. It's even more difficult when you're also struggling with mental health problems, but there are treatments than can help. With proper treatment and support, you can overcome substance abuse, and get the symptoms of depression or anxiety under control to reclaim your life. Which problem came first? That is not as important as realizing recovery depends on treating both the addiction and the mental health problem. The good news is that most suffering from addictions and mental health problems are able to recover, given proper treatment and support.
Recovery takes time, commitment and courage. Your best chance for recovery is integrated treatment for both the mental health and addiction with both providers in cooperation or on the same team. You should accept that relapses are part of the recovery process. Slips and setbacks happen, but, with hard work, most people can recover from their relapses and move on with recovery. Peer support is a vital help in recovery.
You can benefit greatly by joining a self-help group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. They give you a chance to lean on others who know what you are going through and you can learn from their experiences. Their program is free and their simple 12 step program has helped millions to move forward toward recovery. If you admit you have a problem these groups can be of great help.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery
If you are wondering if you have a substance abuse problem, the following questions may help. The more “yes” answers, the more likely your drinking or drug use is a problem.
- Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking or drug use?
- Have you ever tried to cut back, or quit, but couldn't?
- Do you ever lie about how much or how often you drink or use drugs?
- Have your friends or family members expressed concern about your alcohol or drug use?
- Do you ever feel bad, guilty, or ashamed about your drinking or drug use?
- On more than one occasion, have you done or said something while drunk or high that you later regret?
- Have you ever blacked out from drinking or drug use?
- Has your alcohol or drug use caused problems in your relationships?
- Has your alcohol or drug use gotten you into trouble at work or with the law?
Treatment for co-occurring substance abuse and mental health problems.
If I admit to myself I have a problem I cannot handle, how do I find the right program? There are a variety of approaches that treatment programs may take, but there are some basics of effective treatment you should look for:
- A treatment scheme that addresses both the substance abuse problems and your mental health problems.
- You share in the decision-making process and are actively involved in setting goals and developing strategies for change.
- You are taught healthy coping skills and strategies to minimize substance abuse, cope with upset, and strengthen your relationships.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of size, gender, or strength, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Emotional abuse is often minimized, yet it can leave deep and lasting scars. Noticing and acknowledging the warning signs and symptoms of domestic violence and abuse is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the warning signs and descriptions of abuse below, don't hesitate to reach out. There is help available.
We don't have to live in fear. The following are free help resources available to all. In the USA call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7223, in the UK call Women's aid at 0808 2000 247, or visit International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies for a worldwide list of helplines, shelters, and crisis centers.
Signs of an Abusive Relationship
There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling is fear of your partner. If you feel like your have to walk on eggshells around your partner - constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up – chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and you have a feeling of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation. To determine whether your relationship is abusive, answer the questions below. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you're in an abusive relationship.
YOUR THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS – DO YOU
- Feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
- Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
- Feel that you can't do anything right for your partner?
- Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
- Wonder if you're the one who is crazy?
YOUR PARTNERS VIOLENT BEHAVIOR – DOES YOUR PARTNER
- Have a bad and unpredictable temper?
- Hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
- Threaten to take your children away or harm them?
- Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
- Force you to have sex?
- Destroy your belongings?
YOUR PARTNERS BELITTLING BEHAVIOR – DOES YOUR PARTNER
- Humiliate or yell at you?
- Criticize you and put you down?
- Treat you so badly that you're embarrassed for your friends / family to see?
- Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
- Blame you for his abusive behavior?
- See you as a property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
YOUR PARTNERS CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR – DOES YOUR PARTNER
- Act excessively jealous and possessive?
- Control where you go or what you do?
- Keep you from seeing your friends or family?
- limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
- Constantly check up on you?
Despite what many people believe, domestic violence is not due to the abuser's loss of control over his or her behavior. In fact, abusive behavior and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you.
Speak up if you suspect a family member or friend is subject to domestic abuse. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you're hesitating – telling yourself that it's none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it – keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and that may even save his or her life. Don't wait for them to come to you, don't judge or blame, don't give advice, but do ask if something is wrong, express concern, listen and validate, offer help, support their decision. Remember abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help to get out, yet they've been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing.
HELPING A DEPRESSED PERSON
If someone you love has depression, you may wonder if there is anything you can do to help. The simple answer is yes. Your support and encouragement can play an important role in a loved one's recovery. Yet, taking care of you is equally important. Depression can easily wear you down if you don't tend to your own needs, making it hard to provide the support your depressed friend or family member needs. Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people, from young to old and from all walks of life. Depression gets in the way of everyday functioning and causes tremendous pain. It doesn't just hurt those suffering from it – it impacts everyone around them. If someone you love is depressed you may be experiencing any number of difficult emotions, including helplessness, frustration, anger, guilt and sadness. These feelings are all normal. It's not easy dealing with a friend or family member’s depression. If you don't take care of yourself, it can become overwhelming.
Understanding depression in a friend or family member
Don't under estimate the seriousness of depression. Depression drains a person's energy, optimism, and motivation. They can’t “snap out of it” by sheer force of will. Depression makes it difficult for a person to connect on a deep emotional level with anyone, even the people he or she loves most. In addition, depressed people often say hurtful things and lash out in anger. Remember that this is the depression talking, not your loved one, so try not to take it personally. Hiding the problem will not make it go away. Making excuses for a depressed person, covering up the problem, or lying for a friend or family member who is depressed may very well keep the depressed person from seeking treatment. You can't fix someone else's depression. Ultimately, recovery is in the hands of the depressed person. Encourage them to get help. Depression involves a negative way of thinking, so getting a depressed person into treatment can be difficult. Even the act of making an appointment or finding a professional to get treatment may seem overwhelming or pointless. Getting your loved one to admit to the problem
Some actions to help move forward to work on your loved ones depression.
A good starting point is to arrange an appointment with a physician. Your loved one may be less anxious about seeing a medical doctor than a mental health practitioner. A regular doctor’s visit is actually a great option, because the doctor can rule out medical causes of depression. If the doctor diagnoses depression, he or she, can refer your loved one to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Sometimes this “doctor’s professional opinion” makes all the difference. Offer to help your depressed loved one to find a therapist and go with them on the first visit. Finding the right treatment provider can be difficult and may be a trial and error process. For the depressed person already low on energy, it is a huge help to have assistance making calls and looking into options.
The key to depression recovery is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you make positive choices each day.
THAT’S THE DOCTORS BLOG FOR NOW – LIFE’S NOT ALWAYS EASY TO BALANCE – BUT IT CAN BE DONE
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