Announcement: Mental Health Blog

I have decided to skip the usual list of links to major mental health websites. If you are looking for those, I highly recommend you start from the site of Michigan Mental Health Network . This site encompasses everything you may want to know about mental health in Michigan and beyond. It contains a directory of therapists, clinics and support groups in Michigan; an excellent list of links to mental health websites; and interesting articles for professionals and lay persons alike.

Another excellent resource is the website The guide to self help books. It contain a directory of books, arranged by different topics in self help, personal growth and self improvement areas.

I will dedicate this space to less known resources, that touched me deeply and influenced my life and my professional work.

This blog is not a substitute for professional advice on diagnosis or treatment of a mental health condition. Please consult with a professional before trying any of the ideas presented here.

If you have more recommendations along those lines, email me at mchll.samuel@gmail.com I’ll be more than happy to add them.

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7 Effective Coping Mechanisms for Adults who suffer from ADD

In my experience ADD in adulthood is often misdiagnosed, especially if the person happens to be intelligent. Many times the person is diagnosed as suffering from depression. The diagnosis of depression may be correct, but it is the result of the problem, not the root cause. ADD in  adults often leads to recurring failure and under-achievement and this may lead to depression.

Recommended book on coping with ADD as  adults:
Mastering Your Adult ADHD: A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program Client Workbook (Treatments That Work)

This book brings helpful coping mechanisms for people that suffer from ADD. Almost anyone could benefit from using these skills.

The main skills discussed in the book are:

1. Get a calendar, whether a paper one, or a computerized. My inclination is to direct people to a computerized system, unless they are not computer Savvy. Most people with ADD have awful handwriting, and their writing tends to be very messy.

2. Get a to do list, organized by priorities, and with a deadline. People with ADD tend to go for low priority tasks because they are easier, or more attractive. Putting a formal list in place with priorities, helps people organize their day in a more appropriate way.

3. Learn how to break each task into small steps, so that they are not overwhelming.

4. Mange your environment, to minimize sources of distractions.

5. Find out  how long you can work on a single  task without being distracted. Use a watch for that purpose, studying your own performance as you go about your daily tasks. Once you have an idea of the optimal period in which you remain focused, break any task you need to do to smaller ones that can be accomplished in that time frame.

6. Deal with the depression that is associated with ADD, otherwise you will find it difficult to make the necessary changes in your life.

7. Learn better study skills.

While medication prescribed for ADD can be helpful, it is insufficient. Additional work is often required for the person suffering from ADD to reach his or her full potential.

 

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Cognitive Distortions of Depression

Depression contributes, and is maintained by common distorted thought patterns. It is a vicious circle, which keep us depressed.

This checklist is taken from the Wikipedia, “Feeling Good” book  and other sources, with some changes and additions. As you go through this list try to  identify these patterns that you tend to use. It may be an  eye opener: You will realize that what sounded like “the reality”,  is indeed very subjective. This is the first step to start controlling those thought patterns, and influence your mood. You may want to keep track of these thought patterns in a journal.

  1. Black and white thinking – No shades of grey. Thinking of things in absolute terms, like “always”, “every”, “never”.     If it is not perfect, it is a failure.
  2. Overgeneralization – Taking isolated cases and using them to make wide generalizations. Generalization from one detail , or aspect of a situation, to the whole situation.
  3. Mental filter – Focusing almost exclusively on  negative or upsetting aspects of an event while ignoring other positive aspects.
  4. Disqualifying the positive – Continually deemphasizing  positive experiences.
  5. Jumping to conclusions – Drawing negative conclusions  from little  evidence. Two specific subtypes:
    • Mind reading – Assuming you can read the feelings and thoughts of others. You know for sure what other people think of you, and of course is it negative.
    • Future reading –  Catastrophizing.  You expect the worst possible outcome, however unlikely. You ruminate about “What if”.
  6. Magnification and minimization – Distorting aspects of a memory or situation through magnifying or minimizing them such that they no longer correspond to objective reality.  If you are depressed, often the positive characteristics of other people are exaggerated and negative characteristics are understated. The reverse  happens when you think about yourself.
  7. Emotional reasoning – Accept your emotions as a valid evidence.  “I feel therfore it is true”. If you feel stupid , than you are  stupid.
  8. Should statements – You know the way things “should” be.  You have rigid rules which  always apply, no matter what the circumstances are. Using “should” statement  leaves you and others feeling preasured, guilty, and on the long run  jeopardizes any motivation for change. It does not allow you to be flexible and adapt to  changing circumstances.
  9. Labeling –  Rather than describing  a  specific behavior, you assign a negative  label to yourself.  it is not the action that was a mistake, you are the mistake. Frequntly, you judge others as harshly as you judge yourself.
  10. Personalization – Attribution of personal responsibility and guilt to yourself   for events over which you have no control.
  11. False expectations: Assuming that other people should be able to read your mind, without any need of your part to express your emotions and needs.  Assuming that your happiness depends on somebody else.

© Wikipedia
A depressed person

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Humor and Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy does not have to always be  a serious endeavor. Sometimes  laughter can be more effective than tears. Loretta Laroche is a clinical psychologist, and a stand up comedian; an unusual combination. Her CD’s and DVD’s teach the basics of cognitive behavioral therapy and existential therapy through a humorous examination of her own life. Very uplifting, lots of common sense, gives a great perspective on life. An effective audio antidepressant.

How to Be A Wild, Wise, and Witty Woman 4-CD: Making the Most Out of Life Before You Run Out of It

Life Is Short, Wear Your Party Pants

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Excellent workbook that gives basic information on and the theoretical foundation of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The workbook also contains an outline of exposure therapy for post traumatic stress disorder.

Exposure therapy is considered the most effective evidenced based therapy for PTSD. It helps people deal with trauma  in the past, and  enables them to move forward. It consists of confronting the painful memories and the triggers that arouse them. Repetition, which lies at the heart of exposure therapy, eventually causes the painful memories to lose their intrusive intensity.

EMDR, which is in vogue today, is a form of exposure therapy.

Reclaiming Your Life from a Traumatic Experience: A Prolonged Exposure Treatment Program Workbook (Treatments That Work)

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Social Anxiety (Social Phobia)


Managing Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can reduce you quality of life, not let you achieve your full potential, and ultimately lead to depression. What results is a vicious cycle – the more anxious you are, the more barriers you will encounter in your life, the more depressed you become, which ultimately contribute to your anxiety. I recommend this self-help book. It is part of a serie published by Oxford University Press. All the books adhere to cognitive-behavioral approach. They come in pairs – one for the client, one for the therapists. All those I have seen so far, were excellent.If you read this book, and work along its guideline, you may not even need to see me. And if you do, it will shorten the treatment and make my work easier.

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