Deficiency in vitamin D is linked to depression, Parkinson disease and to cognitive decline according to a new article in Scientific American. According to the article, about three quarters of the population in the USA suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Here, in Michigan, the percentage may be even higher because of the lack of sunlight.
If you suffer from depression, it would be prudent to ask for a blood test, to determine whether your blood levels are within normal limits. Do not take extra supplements of Vitamin D without consulting your primary care physician, as it can be toxic in large doses.
Recommended movie: Up
This poignant movie describes the grief process of an older man who has lost his wife, the love of his life. We witness both his pain and despair and his process of recovery. His recovery is initiated by his determination to carry out a dream that they had together, in spite of his wife’s absence. Underneath the adventure story and amusing animation lies a deeper truth about the need, not to forget but to continue living , forming new bonds and connections while remembering .
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.
- 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.
- Overgeneralization – Taking isolated cases and using them to make wide generalizations. Generalization from one detail , or aspect of a situation, to the whole situation.
- Mental filter – Focusing almost exclusively on negative or upsetting aspects of an event while ignoring other positive aspects.
- Disqualifying the positive – Continually deemphasizing positive experiences.
- 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”.
- 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.
- Emotional reasoning – Accept your emotions as a valid evidence. “I feel therfore it is true”. If you feel stupid , than you are stupid.
- 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.
- 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.
- Personalization – Attribution of personal responsibility and guilt to yourself for events over which you have no control.
- 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.
This is a picture book about a little girl that was sexually abused. The book describes the inner dynamics and emotions of the little girl, from shame to self blame. This book can be helpful not only for children, but also for adults dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse as children.
The book is currently out of print, but a few copies can still be found on the web. I hope the publishers will re-issue this book.
I Can’t Talk About It: A Child’s Book About Sexual Abuse (Hurts of Childhood Series)
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)
The Body Image Workbook: An Eight-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks
body image is a major concern and source of depression for women, and sometimes men. Women always seem to think that their body is not “right”. It is either too fat, too thin, not fit enough, or not according to barby model. Many women do not let themselves live until they get to their “ideal” weight, which means they let their life pass by. Well, life tend not to wait for them. This dissatisfaction with their body is a major cause for low sexual desire for women.
This workbook is designed to help people accept and love their own body, just as it is now.
Strangely enough, once people accept their own body, they tend to lose weight more easily often reaching their optimal weight, according to their body type, which may be far from their original idealized image.
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 series 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.
A different approach to mental health. Historically, psychology and psychiatry developed though trying to understand – and correct – pathology. Prof. Zeligman, one of the prominent psychologists today, recommends using our strengths. According to him our mental health consists not in overcoming our weaknesses but recognizing and using our strengths. It give a fresh look at the ancient saying “know thyself”. The site contains articles, videos, and self tests. The self tests are particularly helpful. We are so used to think in terms of our faults, that we forget to look at our strengths and use them more.
Positive Psychology Website