Tag Archives: Distress

Men And Women After Trauma: Coping With Differences

• Do men and women react differently after trauma? Yes.

• Does it mean one suffers more than the other? No.

• Do the differences confuse and often create tension for couples? Too often.

The Differences

What we find across cultures is that in the face of traumatic loss, women need to speak about what has happened and men need to do something about what has happened. In one scene from the devastation of the Tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2005, the women gathered, crying for their lost children while the men rebuilt the homes.

In their 2006 review of 25 years of research on sex differences in trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder in the Psychological Bulletin, David Tolin, and Edna Foa reported that although men have a higher risk for traumatic events, women suffer from higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. In their analysis, they suggest that the different rates of PTSD may actually be a function of the fact that men and women manifest their emotional pain in different ways.

In the aftermath of a traumatic event, women are more likely to have feelings of anxiety and depression, while men are more likely to express distress and depression in terms of irritability, anger and increased alcohol consumption.

Couple Response

Caught in the physical and emotional pain from a traumatic loss or event, couples often have very little patience for differences. It is hard for them to believe that their partner could feel different. It is even more difficult to believe that their partner could feel the same and react so differently.

When she suffered a miscarriage in the beginning of her fifth month, Claire was devastated. Then in her late 30’s, she was worried that this might have been her only chance to have a child. Even when she regained her strength, she was often unable to concentrate or sleep. She would ruminate and blame herself for waiting until her career was set before starting a family.

Claire was further upset by her husband John’s reaction. He was upset by the loss, but he seemed confident that there would be other chances. Claire wondered why he wasn’t blaming himself for their decision to wait to have kids. When she questioned him about this, he felt judged and blamed her for making it worse. They would end up fighting.

According to Dr. John Gray of Mars and Venus Starting Over, in the aftermath of the loss, both men and women need time to grieve. As such, it is often more common for women to blame themselves and for men to blame others.

Differences Don’t Equate to Lack of Love

If you find yourself struggling with your partner in the aftermath of a traumatic event, it does not mean that you don’t have a good relationship, or that you were never truly in love.

• Traumatic events are beyond what we ever expect. No one is prepared to respond.

• Differences in response don’t mean that as a couple you won’t cope or can’t heal.

If you take your time and give yourself and your partner a chance to grieve, cope and regulate stress in your own way and different ways, you will be able to use your relationship as an asset for coping.

• She joins a bereavement group at the church.

• He increases his workout schedule.

• She doesn’t want to socialize on the weekends, but he needs to get out—they settle on a movie date together.

Couple Considerations for Coping

• Everyone deals with trauma in their own way and in their own time – there is no right way.

• When in doubt don’t assume the worst about your partner – assume you don’t know.

• Interest and acceptance of your partner’s reactions invite sharing and empathy, which enhance healing.

• Being physically next to someone you love is a natural buffer for stress and emotional pain.

• Talking about the pain at times for her, valuing the shared silence for him—reflects the resilience of connection.

Sometimes the best-traveling companion in life is someone who sees and reacts to things in a way you would never have considered.

Image

Advertisements

Symptoms Of Severe Depression

First, let’s get some terminology straight. ‘Severe depression’, ‘major depression’ and ‘clinical depression’, are terms that tend to be used interchangeably to mean the same thing.

What these terms refer to is the condition described technically by psychiatrists as ‘major depressive disorder’. Therefore as we discuss the symptoms of major depressive disorder in this article, bear in mind that we are looking at what may also be called:

• Major Depression Symptoms
• Clinical Depression Symptoms, and
• Symptoms of Severe Depression.

The Symptoms of Severe Depression – The Technical Version

A person is suffering from major depressive disorder or (severe or clinical depression) if for most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2 weeks, they have had at least 5 of the following symptoms, including (1) and/or (2):

1. A low/depressed mood.
2. Significantly less interest in and pleasure from usual activities (this is called “Anhedonia”).
3. Significant change in appetite or weight.
4. Inability to sleep or sleeping more than usual.
5. Fatigue, loss of energy.
6. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
7. Lethargy or hyperactivity.
8. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
9. Recurring thoughts of suicide or death.

Now, let’s break that down a bit.

Step 1

First, it is important to note that low mood and/or loss of pleasure or interest in usual activities (Anhedonia) must be present.

In effect these are the threshold conditions. Doctors are sometimes recommended to screen for depression by asking questions to establish whether either of these two conditions are present.

Step 2

If you are suffering from low mood and Anhedonia, then the next consideration is whether 3 of the other listed symptoms are present.

If you are suffering from either low mood or Anhedonia, then 4 of the other symptoms need to be present.

Step 3

The next step relates to the duration of symptoms. The relevant symptoms must have been present every day for at least two weeks and must have been felt for most of every day.

Of course you may in fact have been suffering for much longer than two weeks or have had more than one episode where the symptoms have been present for at least two weeks. This is really the norm, of course – we don’t usually go to our doctor two weeks and one day after starting to feel depressed.

Step 4

The final step that I didn’t refer to above, but which it is crucial to consider, is that your symptoms must be a change from your normal state and have a significant impact on your day to day functioning. The symptoms must: “cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”

If you think about it, this is what is at the heart of an individual’s experience of depression. It is the inability to function normally that takes us out of the ‘feeling down’ camp into a whole new arena.

Symptoms of Severe Depression – The Real Life Version

Whilst it is useful for you to know the technical framework that doctors use to assess depression, the criteria may not necessarily reflect your own descriptions about the way you feel. We can all experience different symptoms or express them in different ways, both to ourselves and others.

Depression – what is it?:

“Diagnosis by counting is a totally absurd, and often very dangerous, proposition. When it works, we arrive at a very rough indicator of what may be wrong with us. Too often, the exercise is wholly misleading.”

For this reason, doctors assessing a patient for depression (assuming that are doing a thorough job) should ask lots of questions about the way the patient feels and look for examples of behavior that may or may not fit into the accepted criteria.

Some of the other ways that you might use to describe the way you feel, but which in substance may still fit within the technical criteria are as follows:

• Feeling flat
• Feeling very down
• Feel like I don’t care about anything
• Having to make a real effort to do anything
• Can’t really feel anything any more
• Don’t care about the things I used to
• Feel very on edge
• Feel very stressed
• Very irritable
• Can’t think straight
• Can’t make up my mind about anything
• Don’t feel like I can go on
• Feel useless
• Feel hopeless
• Don’t see any future
• Don’t see the point of anything
• Can’t get out of bed
• Don’t want to see anybody
• Don’t want to talk to anybody
• Can’t sleep
• Can’t eat
• Can’t stop eating
• Don’t have any energy
• Feel exhausted

Other Diagnoses:

If you feel that something is not quite right with your moods or the way that you feel, you need to be aware that there are various different types of depression and other behavioral or mood disorders. So, if your situation doesn’t reflect the symptoms of severe depression, then you or your doctor should consider whether any of the other possibilities might apply.

These include –

• Dysthymia (milder, prolonged depression)
• Bi-polar disorder (formerly manic depression)
• Adjustment disorder with depressed mood (a depressive reaction to a particular event or stress)
• Schizophrenia

Conclusions:

The symptoms of severe depression will usually be very clear to you if you stop to think about how you feel.

But, one of the major difficulties with depression, of course, is that it takes away our inclination to take action to put things right – we can just feel ‘too depressed’ to do anything about it.

That’s why it is essential that you discuss how you feel with somebody close to you, as they may be able to help you get the attention you need.

Image

Five Ways To Avoid Depression After A Break-Up

The break-up of a relationship ranks as one of the most stressful life events; it’s up there with the death of a loved one. After the initial shock, when you may feel like you were just hit by a truck, sadness and loneliness often take over. You may feel “a part of you has died,” and your whole world has fallen apart. The ability to concentrate and get motivated may be hard to come across. You may also find yourself remembering and missing things you used to do with your partner.

YOUR PAIN IS REAL.

Brain research shows that rejection experiences in a break-up can activate the same areas of the brain that physical pain or distress do. Especially in women, a break-up can cause cardiac pain and shortness of breath. The pain is both emotional and physiological, which means it can be very intense.

Recovering from a break-up is not easy and can lead to severe depression; lowered immune system response; and even health problems.

As you recover from your break-up, you need to take care of yourself. The following tips might be helpful in that process.

TIPS FOR RECOVERING FROM A BREAK-UP FASTER

• Express yourself. Share your feelings.

One of the best ways to deal with the pain of a break-up is to share your feelings with friends or family, people you trust. The simple process of identifying and talking about your feelings is very soothing. Studies show that talking about negative feelings can reduce activity in the pain-feeling portion of the brain. Talking to others not only feels good, but also releases opiates, which are natural “pain-killers,” and helps you process and manage the emotions generated by a break-up.

• Give yourself time to grieve.

Allow yourself to be sad about the loss of your relationship, rather than trying to rush into feeling well again. People who refuse to face the pain of a break-up get involved in rebound relationships before working through the painful issues of the past relationship. They tend to project their pain and desires onto their new partner, substituting their previous partner and not seeing the new person for who he/she really is.

Give yourself time to grieve; the process may be as painful as mourning the death of a loved one. Breaking up is a loss and the only way to come out of it healthy and with peace is to grieve properly.

• Consider having a conversation with your ex-partner.

You may be able to have a final discussion with your ex-partner to help you understand what caused the break-up and express any pent-up issues and feelings. However, this may not be something your ex-partner is willing to do or it may be too painful for you to do. In this case, research shows that having an imaginary conversation, where you express all your feelings and say goodbye, can help you move-on.

• Sleep.

Sleep is one of the best ways to deal with stress and avoid depression, yet it can be hindered by emotional distress. The day’s residual pain, sadness, and anger can make it difficult to sleep well. If you wake up too early, or can’t fall asleep, take notes in order to identify a recurring theme. That will help you figure out how get stress and anger under control during the day. Try keeping a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day; you will feel more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times. Create a relaxing bed-time routine. Regular exercise and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation may also improve your sleep.

• Exercise.

Working out, running, and even brisk walking release opiates, which can help you deal with stress. Studies show that cardiovascular exercise can be as effective in dealing with mild to moderate anxiety and depression as antidepressants. So, get up and put your running shoes on!

It is natural to feel sad as you are grieving the end of your relationship. Remember to allow yourself to experience and process your own thoughts and feelings, no matter how painful they are; it will allow you to move forward. If you feel helpless, have low self-confidence, or think you are worse than you were, you may benefit from professional help to alleviate your feelings and avoid a deeper depression.

Don’t wait too long before intervening; when one door closes, you need to find the window that will allow you to go through and heal.

If you want help in dealing with relationship break-up, mail me at soulrevivng@gmail.com; for a ‘FREE’ consultation.

Image

Relationship Advice: Breaking Up Hurts For Real And How To Recover Faster

In studies of life’s most stressful events, being divorced or break up is the number two top life stressor, following right behind number one, being widowed. Both can plunge you into severe depression and health problems. Breakup of a significant relationship or marriage creates a panic response in the brain and such stress in the body that neuroscientists believe it can lead to a lowered immune system and illnesses. If you fall into either of these categories, you absolutely need to take care of yourself and do all the activities we discuss.

Women who hadn’t gotten over a relationship by 16 weeks after the breakup had decreased brain activity in the regions associated with emotion, motivation and attention. This is a physical change in the brain. That’s why it is so hard to concentrate on anything-so hard to get up and go. Do not let yourself go this length of time without intervention.

Researchers at UCLA have pinpointed the part of the brain that registers the pain of a break-up. Being rejected activates one of the same areas of the brain as physical pain! In the study, the more ignored the people felt, the more activity they had in the anterior cingulate, which also registers physical distress. So your pain is physiological.

Other researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that a breakup can create physical heart pain and shortness of breath. They call it Broken Heart Syndrome and, of course, it affects more women than men. Emotional stress or rage can actually precipitate a heart attack, so on this one you need to get it medically checked out.

Relationship Advice: Getting Over the Heartbreak Faster

Getting over heartbreak isn’t easy but there are definitely some clinically proven methods to beat the blues. There are five recovery methods I recommend: sharing; meditation; sleep; exercise; and, having imaginary conversations with the ex. In one study, talking about their negative feelings lessened the participant’s activity in the pain-feeling part of the brain. Among the recommendations coming out of the UCLA study is that a good remedy for heartache is to spend time sharing with close friends, because this activity causes the brain to release natural opioids, which are like the painkillers found in opium. So make a beeline for your friends, a sponsor, a minister or someone else you confide in.

A second group of recovery methods recommended by the Johns Hopkins researchers emphasizes practicing relaxation techniques, including meditation, deep breathing or journaling out your feelings.

Sleep is very important to helping immune function but with the depressive reactions that many have, sleep may be hard to come by. This is another reason to consider starting a regular relaxation or meditation program-these have been shown to help people sleep better. Also, working out at the gym may help, because it releases opioids.

One final way to beat the blues comes from a study that showed that people who had imaginary conversations and then said goodbye to their partner had more relief from grief than those who didn’t. Here is one imaginary conversation that Darlene, had with her very narcissistic ex:

“You are so classically narcissistic! You only think of yourself. You sucked me in at first with all this generosity, but once you had me, you only took, took, took. And you were the one who abandoned the relationship, even though I bent over backward for you, you jerk! Withdrawing slowly from me to the point where there was nothing left. You stonewalling jerk! Even though you were the one withdrawing, you provoked me into ending it by actually going on Match and chatting online in the same room as me! How humiliating! And now I hear you are happy. It makes me so upset! You never deserved me and I hope in your next relationships you’ll get exactly what you dealt out–a lot of bullshit in a charming voice. You wasted my time and my life these past 2 years. I fell for it, I didn’t self-protect, I was too anxious to be in a relationship and I ignored the signs. I wanted someone else to do the hard work for me. Well, I have learned that I have to do it. I will watch out for myself. I will speak up for myself!”

Airing these pent-up issues and feelings helped Darlene let go and later she moved forward into a relationship with a terrific guy she met at church. Similarly allowing yourself to be with and process your own thoughts and feelings, no matter how painful they are will also allow you to move beyond them and the guy who triggered it all.

Image

Seven Simple Steps To Improve Your Relationship.

There are so many books and articles written about how to communicate effectively that it often can be overwhelming knowing what to believe. Below are some of the most important factors couples need to focus on to improve their relationship.

My ideas are based on my observations of working with hundreds of couples over the last 6 years.

1. Seek to understand before trying to be understood.

One of the most common negative patterns I see in my work with couples is the cycle of criticism and defensiveness. This often happens when you hear something you perceive as an attack or criticism from your partner, which leads you immediately to defend yourself.

This pattern sets both of you up not to be heard. As soon as you start to defend your position, you’ve lost the opportunity to understand your partner. Even if you feel under attack or think you hear a criticism, try to understand your partner’s thoughts and feelings before you respond.

2. Slow down your communication to truly hear your partner.

Many issues get out of control because once this dynamic of criticism and defense is under way, the interaction often moves very quickly. When your communication is speeding up, you can miss a lot of important information that your partner is expressing. This fast pace also increases the volatility of your discussion, making it harder for you to keep the conversation calm.

If you notice that your discussion is moving too quickly, intentionally put on the brakes and slow down the exchange. Make sure your partner knows you truly want to understand what he or she is saying. This helps defuse the reactivity and allows you to continue to communicate in an adult-to-adult way.

3. Be curious about your partner’s perspective.

This one is easier said than done when you’re feeling blamed, criticized or attacked. However, one of the best things you can do in such circumstances is to be curious about your partner’s perspective. This can be disarming in a positive way, and it immediately helps de-escalate the rising tension between you.

By being curious, you can learn new things about your partner, as well as support your conversation in moving toward a resolution. You can still disagree with your partner’s perspective and remain curious and interested in how their view is different from yours. Practice this next time you feel a heated discussion coming on and see what happens.

4. Recognize your emotional triggers and learn to self-soothe.

When you know what your emotional triggers are, it allows you to be aware when the potential for their activation is present. We all bring ‘baggage’ into our relationships — from our childhood, previous relationships, school experiences and of course, our family of origin. There’s no such thing as a person who is ‘baggage-free;’ however, you can use your awareness of your hot spots to know when they are likely to be triggered.

Practice observing yourself, even when you feel triggered by your partner. See if you can name it by saying “I’m feeling [insert feeling] now, and I think it’s also touching something in my past that’s not related to you.” By naming the trigger, it helps your partner understand that there’s more at play here than just the current conversation. This understanding can help both of you be less reactive in the moment.

5. Practice using empathy to foster a closer connection.

Empathy is the fuel of good relationships. Being empathic is about imagining yourself walking in your partner’s shoes seeing the world from their perspective. When you can respond empathically to your partner, it facilitates a deeper bond and creates a strong sense of safety and trust between you. When you’re feeling attacked, however, this is the last thing you feel like doing. It does require you to be able to step outside yourself and begin to appreciate a reality different from yours.

Practicing empathy does not mean that you have to completely surrender and give up what you want or give up your own reality. It just means you need to suspend your own perspective, even momentarily, so you can appreciate the smallest part of how your partner sees things. Start small – even if you’re imagining only one to five percent of what your partner feels — and then build on that. Your partner will feel the shift and will be able to let down his or her guard a little, opening up the possibility of a better connection.

6. Listen for the hidden unmet need or emotion.

When your partner is in distress and voicing a complaint or you’re feeling criticized or blamed, there’s always some unmet need, want, desire or unexpressed emotion underlying this cry. The challenge for you is to go underneath the overt complaint and see if you can tap into the hidden emotion. By uncovering this emotion and tentatively asking if the covert emotion is also going on for your partner, you can bypass the surface anger, irritation or resentment and cut to the core emotion that needs to be validated.

This is no easy task, as it requires you to figuratively step up and out of the current conflict and to look and listen for what’s not being expressed. It also requires you to suspend your own reactivity and defensiveness in order to connect with your partner’s deeper needs. When you find yourself in a conflict situation, pause for a moment and see if you can feel what else in the conversation your partner is not expressing. To help you with this, remind yourself that your partner is in distress, but is not able to share the whole picture of the distress with you. Listen carefully for this and use your curiosity to find out what else is not being overtly shared.

7. Anticipate issues before they become issues.

Many current issues could have been dealt with much earlier in the relationship, but weren’t. Avoiding talking about small issues often can lead to unresolved issues festering and expanding over time, only eventually to explode and become much bigger than they were initially. You may not want to rock the boat when things seem to be going well. You may believe that nothing good comes of raising complaints or issues.

The reality is, couples who seek to avoid conflict almost always end up in lots of it. Get into the habit of naming and flagging issues with each other, even when they are small. One of the ways to do this is to have a regular check-in to discuss current issues and assess where your relationship is going. Over time, this structure can help you feel more confident about your ability to effectively deal with conflict and disagreements.

Communication in a relationship requires constant attention. Start with the basics and establish rituals of communication and connection to ensure the longevity of your love and connection with each another.

 
Image

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest real physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life.

People often experience a general state of worry or fear before confronting something challenging such as a test, examination, recital, or interview. These feelings are easily justified and considered normal. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to sleep or otherwise function. Generally speaking, anxiety occurs when a reaction is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation.

9 Common Anxiety Symptoms :

If you think that you might be experiencing anxiety symptoms, or that you might be suffering from an anxiety disorder, then you are probably wondering what, exactly, anxiety symptoms are.

Here are nine of the most common anxiety symptoms :

1. Persistent, usually unexplained fear. This is probably the most common and telling of all the anxiety symptoms. If you feel scared or worried all the time, for no apparent reason, then there is a good chance you are suffering from an anxiety disorder.

2. A racing heart. Another of the most common anxiety symptoms, many sufferers report palpitations. In fact, some even believe they are having a heart attack when they have a panic or anxiety attack!

3. Muscle aches or tension. When you are anxious, you tend to tense your muscles without thinking about it. Over time, this can lead to muscle aches, another of the common anxiety symptoms.

4. Sweaty palms or flushing. This may be a cliché, but it is also one of the most common anxiety symptoms around. If you find yourself literally hot and bothered often, you might be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

5. Changes to your sleeping patterns. Insomnia is one of the more common anxiety symptoms, and people who suffer from anxiety disorders often have trouble sleeping too. Nightmares are another common symptom of anxiety, especially in children.

6. Changing to your eating patterns. Like other mild mental disorders, one of the common anxiety symptoms is to lose, or gain, weight because your eating patterns have changed.

7. Abdominal distress, particularly diarrhea, is a common symptom of an anxiety disorder too – particularly when combined with other symptoms.

8. Irritability, and an inability to concentrate, is two more common symptoms of anxiety. Many people find that they have trouble remembering, focusing, or regulating their moods.

9. Finally, a loss of sex drive, when combined with other anxiety symptoms, can indicate that you might have an anxiety disorder. If you’re feeling that you have no desire for sex, because you’re always worrying, then the root cause could very well be anxiety.

Anxiety symptoms can start out very subtly, and you might not notice them at first. Many anxiety sufferers also suffer from depression as well as anxiety, or their anxiety symptoms causes them to isolate themselves, which leads to depression.

The good news is that anxiety symptoms are usually completely manageable and treatable, and there are many different ways to do so, including therapy and medication.

So if you are suffering from anxiety symptoms, it’s a good idea to find out more about anxiety disorders, anxiety treatments, and anxiety therapies, and if you suspect that you might have one of these disorders, speak to a doctor or therapist. Again, anxiety symptoms are completely treatable in most cases, but they will not go away on their own. You will need to be proactive, recognise your symptoms, and seek help.

Image