The Hippies Were Right: Healing Trauma With Yoga

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

Post-traumatic stress disorder can come with difficult symptoms, many of them physical. Some people with a history of trauma have a constant heaviness in the chest, some have muscle tension or pain. Others experience continuous feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or flashbacks. Most have some difficulty regulating their emotions and may suffer from distorted body image or difficulties in personal relationships. Still others numb emotions with substances , rely on distractions like high-risk behaviors or use self injury to ward off the internal pain with an external distraction (read more on the symptoms of trauma in The Evolution of PTSD).

But some feel far less due to self protection in the form of dissociation or disconnection, some detaching so cleanly that they may have to look at their arm to know it’s moving at all. But this disconnection from body and emotion is usually imperfect, with individuals experiencing breakthrough symptoms at unexpected times, suddenly panicking at a particular noise or freezing mid conversation. Childhood trauma in particular often hides until a later date when the individual is more able to handle the discomfort, leading some to wonder, “I didn’t feel this bad then! Why is this happening now?” 

Congratulations, you’re healing. It feels shitty but it means your brain and your body are finally dealing with what happened. You are no longer fully disconnected. And you now have a chance to take back your body....  continue reading

Cognitive Behavioral Techniques: How To Use Research to Combat Scary Thoughts and Magical Thinking

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

When I suggest research as a treatment for anxiety, sometimes people look at me like I have three heads. I do not believe in my inherent ability to sprout extra heads, based on my extensive research on the subject. Therefore, I assume that the looks are because some individuals are not big fans of looking stuff up once they get out of school. 

It isn't just the research itself. Many people do not like the idea of exploring their deepest, darkest fears because they are afraid of what they will find. Many are worried that they will find out their scary thought is true. 

But what if it isn’t?...  continue reading

How To Cope With Intrusive Thoughts: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Putting Aside Time to Worry

Thursday, May 26, 2016 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

“Just stop thinking about it. Get over it.” 

If you hear this often from the people around you, tell them to screw off. Because I’m here to tell you that refusing to think those scary thoughts might be a huge mistake from a mental health standpoint. Instead of supressing them, you need time to focus on them. 

But why the hell would anyone put aside time to focus on scary thoughts, especially if they are not currently anxious?

It's not masochism. It's a part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. And there may be a solution that allows you to put off scary thought patterns without the side effects related to suppression, while improving your perception of control over your thoughts. 

Let’s take a ride. We’ll start with the bad news....  continue reading

"You Want to Zap My WHAT!?" Electroconvulsive Therapy, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Memory

Monday, April 27, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

When people think of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), they usually envision something pretty archaic. A One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest style lab complete with sadistic doctors in lab coats and patients strapped to tables prepared to have their brains scrambled. Or they picture that whole lobotomy thing with ice picks up the nose. 

Except…that’s not at all what it is, though there are probably those who would embrace lobotomy treatments if it meant the depression would cease altogether. (For a great insight into ECT and recovery check out Will I Ever Be the Same Again? Transforming the face of ECT.)

So let’s get into this. 

Disclaimer: I have never been involved in administering ECT, though I have worked with a few outpatient and inpatient clients who have undergone this procedure. I’m a smart girl, but treating a handful of people who have undergone ECT does not make me a expert on this particular treatment. 

I wish it did. I’d be an expert on Every Damn Thing. 

What I can offer you is what I saw, answer the questions that my patients had, give you some background on what ECT is and what it isn’t and tell you about another less invasive treatment using magnets.

Uh...magnets?

That's right folks. Prepare to be fucking amazed....  continue reading

How To Deal With Intrusive Thoughts: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and "What If?" Thinking

Monday, January 19, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

What-if thinking is an exercise described in detail by Dr. David Burns in When Panic Attacks1. For those who suffer with anxiety or panic attacks, this exercise can be immensely helpful with getting to the root of a scary thought pattern.  

I know, it sounds very Freudian, but I promise we won’t blame it all on your mother or sexual attraction to your father.

Freudian slip = when you say one thing but mean a mother…I mean another!! 

Why Getting To The Root of a Problem Matters

The underlying meaning to these patterns is sometimes important because there may be a deeper-rooted fear for certain negative thoughts. While someone with an overactive nervous system may feel anxious about all kinds of different things, someone with a deeper fear may have it manifest in a series of thoughts that are seemingly related, but not obvious in their root. If you can change that original underlying thought--which may be closer to a belief--you can avoid other thoughts cropping up later....  continue reading

How to Cope With Intrusive Thoughts: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Talking (To Yourself) and the Benefit of Defensiveness

Friday, October 24, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

In When Panic Attacks1Dr. David Burns notes that role playing can be a great exercise to organize ideas and hear the absurdity of irrational scary thoughts. Debating anxiety-producing thoughts out loud may be of even more assistance for people who prefer to learn by listening to lectures or other types of auditory cues. 

This post will be short as there are only a few techniques that are related closely enough to justify putting them together. Because no matter which type of cognitive behavioral therapy practices you're into at the moment, they just don't compare to yelling at yourself or someone you love like a tweaked-out Gilbert Gottfried....  continue reading