Tag: Mental Health

¿Qué es la mente inconsciente?

Para comenzar debemos reconocer que hay una división de nuestra mente, se divide en dos, sólo que no son mitades, puesto que una de ellas, la mente consciente representa no más del 5%, mientras que la mente inconsciente representa el 95% o más.

Para poder expresarlo más gráficamente imaginen un iceberg, o incluso un cubo de hielo sumergido en agua, se alcanza a notar que sólo una punta del mismo emerge del agua y el resto (aproximadamente el 95%) permanece bajo el nivel del agua. Podemos decir que la sección que emerge del nivel es la mente consciente, mientras que el 95% sumergido es la mente inconsciente.

Ahora bien, la mente inconsciente posee una serie de características:

  • Primera, es que es un receptáculo de toda la información recogida durante nuestra vida, desde que nos encontramos en el vientre materno.
  • Segunda, no tiene sentido del humor, es completamente literal, de forma tal que toda información que recibe la toma exactamente como la recibe.
  • Tercera, no reconoce temporalidad, para ella no existe el pasado, el presente o el futuro, por ello se pueden presentar manifestaciones que involucren temporalidad.
  • Cuarta, pueden coexistir sentimientos contradictorios, por ejemplo el odio y el amor, que no se excluyen el uno al otro, lo que nos puede confundir.
  • Quinta, no hay un sentido de contradicción, en ella pueden convivir, por ejemplo, odio y amor, rechazo y aceptación y todo ello sin conflicto uno al otro.
  • Sexta, maneja lenguaje simbólico, regularmente se expresa a través de símbolos, en forma muy similar a como se expresan los sueños.
  • Séptima, no le es posible hacer juicio de valor, esto quiere decir, que un suceso muy importante puede tener el mismo impacto que otro que no sea importante.
  • Octava, predomina el principio de placer, lo que le lleva a orientarse a eludir situaciones displacenteras, a buscar el placer sin juicio previo.
  • Novena, inconsciente colectivo, esto es, en ella se encuentra información acumulada y compartida con muchos otros seres humanos, en todo el planeta, además de información ancestral, de donde proceden además temores, rechazos y manifestaciones instintivas.
  • Décima, lo que Freud llamó el inconsciente reprimido, que por la carga emocional que conlleva, sus manifestaciones suelen presentarse como acciones y emociones sin explicación aparente y en forma de pensamientos sin control o de sueños.

Por todo lo anterior, cualquier profesional de la salud mental tiene que estar versado en estas características, pues de otro modo corre el riesgo de dejar pasar situaciones que le harán difícil o imposible comprender motivos, actitudes, comportamientos, sentimientos, respuestas, etc. de sus clientes.

Si gusta más información sobre la hipnosis, no dude en llamar nuestra oficina (915) 209- 1234.

Sinceramente,

Guillermo Castañeda, Hipnotista Profesional

Fibromyalgia and Mental Health

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a term used and suffered by many but understood by the few. It is a chronic disease that many professionals do not really understand or even believe is an illness.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculosckeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS, 2021), fibromyalgia is a chronic long lasting disorder that creates widespread pain and tenderness. It also causes fatigue, sleep disturbances, and sensitivity to pain. Scientists do not really know why people get fibromyalgia and unfortunately there is not a cure (NIAMS, 2021).

Fibromyalgia is most commonly seen amongst middle aged women, however, further studies have identified fibromyalgia amongst men and people from all ages (NIAMS, 2021).

Other studies have also identified it through genetic dispositions and those with no familial history of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is an enigma within the medical sciences and its young discovery has not given researchers opportunity for full studies and exploration on the subject. According to Dellwo (2022) and NIAMS (2021) common symptoms of fibromyalgia include,

  • Sleep difficulties
  • Exhaustion/fatigue
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Memory issues
  • Concentration issues
  • Headaches
  • Ringling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Pain in face or jaw (at times TMJ is diagnosed)
  • Abdominal pain (like menstrual cramps)
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Chronic widespread pain throughout the body or pain in multiple places at once in the body
    • Often felt in the arms legs, head, chest abdomen, back and buttocks
    • Described usually as aching, burning, throbbing or needle sensations
  • Heightened sensitivity to light, noise, odors, and temperatures
  • Muscle and joint stiffness
  • Allodynia (skin sensitivity or pain usually with clothes or touch)

The symptoms can be overwhelming alongside with the journey of getting the proper diagnosis. Hence why mental health for people with fibromyalgia, depletes. Fibromyalgia is only a little more than 30 years old from its discovery and identification.

Because it has not been that long since its finding, many doctors and medical personnel do not believe it exists or place importance on the detriment it has on the people who suffer from it.

Fibromyalgia and mental health

When getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it can be a tedious, frustrating journey. Not only are you having to go from doctor to doctor explaining how you feel, the symptoms you are having, but having to undergo every physical, blood, and neurological test doctors can think of only to say, “All tests came back negative, you are fine.”

This creates feelings of disappointment and frustration with not only the symptoms that you are feeling, but with the medical sciences that are supposed to help, not dismiss. You begin to think it is all in your head and doctors start override your case and become unempathetic as well as blaming you for not being better at your own health. Comments such as, “It’s your weight,” “you’re not exercising enough,” “you’re not eating right,” etc… create deterioration in your mental health.

According to Dellwo (2022) 27% through 58% of people with fibromyalgia report having feelings of hopelessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide. This is due to factors of being dismissed, difficulty managing symptoms, and there not being a cure.

Fibromyalgia however, has also been linked to many other forms of mental health disorders including anxiety, depression, and trauma (Johnson et al., 2006).

Trauma is a change in our psychophysiological chemistry. Trauma affects how the chemical and anatomy of our brain function (Johnson et al., 2006). Trauma and prolonged stress in adulthood influences brain modulatory circuit of both pain and emotions (Romeo et al., 2022).

It is important to also understand that when high forms of trauma—or prolonged trauma such as childhood ongoing trauma—dissociation (separation from consciousness) can occur. Some dissociative disorders include psychoform (psychological separation from consciousness) and somatoform (body dysfunctions).

Researchers have found high levels of both these forms of dissociative disorder symptoms with people who have rheumatic disorders and medical unexplained disorders (Romeo et al., 2022). In a study conducted by Romeo and colleagues (2022), they found high levels of psychoform and somatoform dissociation with fibromyalgia and a relational connection between childhood and prolonged trauma.

In other words, prolonged, cumulative, and childhood trauma affects the brain chemistry in which changes the ability for the brain to process pain, possibly creating fibromyalgia. However, it’s important to realize this does not mean “it’s all in your head”. It is a true and valid illness that was created by chemical changes in our brain by trauma in which we were exposed to. The pain is real, the symptoms are real, the suffering is real.

Ways to cope.  

Coping with fibromyalgia is hard.

It is not only a physiological coping strategy, it’s also a psychological, spiritual, and social support form of coping.

It takes motivation, determination, and self-care to be able to feel functional, FUNCTIONAL, when managing fibromyalgia. Sometimes to world around us does not understand and it is hard for them to empathize.

However, it starts with our own self-empathy. When we learn to empathize with our symptoms and how our body is managing stressors, and past traumas, we learn to appreciate the strength we generate throughout our every day lives that we wake up. Other important forms of coping techniques include,

  • Exercise
  • Stretching
  • Massages
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic exercises
  • Hobbies
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Healthy eating
  • Educating self on symptoms
  • Swimming/water aerobic exercise (my personal favorite)
  • Anything that makes you feel whole, alive, strong.

As someone who has had to cope living with fibromyalgia, I realized it is a journey. It is a journey with the pain, learning the struggle, empathizing with myself, determination to continue, hope that I will feel better, strength that I have gained, and resilience.

The more I learned about my pain, the more I was able to comprehend and empathize with myself and fall in love with my strength to manage the everyday pain and adjustments of fibromyalgia.

If you would like to learn more about our practice and different mental health counselors please contact (915) 209-1234 for more information.

 

 

References

Dellwo, A. (2022, October 19). The 7 types of fibromyalgia pain. Verywell Health.  https://www.verywellhealth.com/seven-types-of-fibromyalgia-pain-716138#toc-hyperalgesia

Johnson, L., Zautra, A. J., & Davis, M. C. (2006). The role of illness uncertainty on coping with fibromyalgia symptoms. Healthy Psychology, 25(6), 696-703. Doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.25.6.696.

NIAMS. (2021, June). Fibromyalgia. National Institutes of Health.https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/fibromyalgia#:~:text=Fibromyalgia%20is%20a%20chronic%20(long,a%20heightened%20sensitivity%20to%20pain.

Romeo, A., Tesio. V., Ghiggia, A., Di Tella, M., Geminiani, G. C., Farina, B., & Castelli, L.             (2022). Traumatic experiences and somatoform dissociative in women with fibromyalgia. Psychological trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy, 14(1), 116-123.             https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0000907

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Sleep Impacts Mental Health

Sleeping too much or too little?

Is your sleep being interrupted or you simply cannot stay asleep? At some point we all have experienced what it is like to not get a good night’s rest. This can be apparent during the day in many different ways, such as: being irritable or moody; having difficulty concentrating, remembering things, learning, or even completing daily tasks.

Why sleep is important? What happens during sleep?

Adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep. During sleep, the brain goes through 5 stages of sleep. 4 stages are non-rapid eye movement sleep and the last is rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

It begins with the first stage when you are drifting off to sleep. Here, your brain produces alpha and theta waves which soothe you into relaxation and lasts about 5-10 minutes.

During the second stage, brain waves begin to increase drastically, lasting about 20 minutes. This stage is ideal for waking up from a nap, since it will make you feel energized and not groggy.

In stage three and four, also known as deep sleep, the brain begins to produce delta waves. During this stage, the brain undergoes memory processing, growth, and muscle repair.

During the fifth stage, or REM sleep, there is an increase in eye movement. Dreams occur during this stage. The brain processes emotional and learning information from the day and stores important items in long term memory while discarding unwanted information. This stage usually occurs about 5 to 6 times throughout the night.

How can he lack of sleep can affect mental health?

It is important for the brain to go through the five stages of sleep in order to regenerate, process, and filter information. When this process is interrupted or unfulfilled, connections within the brain become severed, impacting your thought processes, mood, and energy.

A mental health problem can affect sleep and in turn, lack of sleep can worsen symptoms due to a mental health problem.

Anxiety disorders can make falling asleep difficult due to the constant hyperarousal from worry or fear.

Depression can lead one to sleep too much, and even experience insomnia.

With bipolar disorder, sleep patterns are constantly changing due to mood change resulting in either getting too much sleep or too little.

Trauma can disrupt the sleep cycle by experiencing flashbacks and night terrors.

Even side effects of medication may also affect your sleep.

It is very important to be able to identify what may be impairing your sleep cycle to determine how to properly improve it.

 Ways to improve sleep

Here are some ways you can start improving your sleep:

1. Environment- Adjust your area to create a relaxing environment by considering temperature, lighting, and noise.

2. Exercise- 10-30 minutes of exercise during the day can improve your sleep.

3. Exposure to natural light- Our bodies have a natural sleep-wake cycle that repeats every 24 hours. Having an exposure to sunlight can help your body maintain this sleep cycle.

4. Avoid screen time- Exposure to screens and artificial light can alter your sleep cycle and stimulate your brain, making it more difficult to wind down.

5. Avoid stimulants- This can include alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.

6. Consistency- Creating a routine such as going to bed and waking up at the same time, reading, meditating, etc., can help your body determine when it is time to start unwinding.

Achieving the five stages of sleep is a natural process that needs to occur in order for us to be able to feel well rested, focused, emotionally stable and be able to properly function throughout the day.

It is important for our brain to have the time to restore, although it may be a challenge knowing that symptoms of some mental health problems may hinder this process.

If this is something that resonates with you or you simply want more information, please feel free to contact our office.

-Karime Aziz, MS, LPC, Associate Supervised by Guillermo Castañeda, LPC-S

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 13). Tips for better sleep. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html

Mental health and sleep. Sleep Foundation. (2022, November 4). Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health

YouTube. (2020). How sleep affects your emotions | Sleeping with Science, a TED series. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F8wFkScnME.

Stages of Change in Therapy – how understanding of ourselves helps us progress

When clients first come to therapy, they often wonder: “What do I want to gain from this? How can I get help if I don’t even understand what’s bothering me?”.

Maybe they tried therapy before and it “didn’t click” or they lost motivation, or simply couldn’t find time to commit to weekly sessions. What they DO know is they need help, they just need to find out what to do.

These feelings are very common when facing a big step such as going to therapy. The understanding of our motivation is one of the essential parts of getting better – not only knowing what the issue is – also the knowing why I want to change.

What to expect from the process of change?

How fast can I move forward?

What if I fail?

Being prepared will make us more confident and less anxious about the changes and will let us navigate the process in a more mindful way.

The Stages of Change or The Transtheoretical Model of Change is a clinical theory developed in the 1970’s by James Prochaska of the University of Rhode Island and Carlo Di Clemente.

The stages can be best explained as interrelated steps we go through with our thoughts and emotions when we are confronted with a difficult situation that needs changing.

The concept can be applied to anything from quitting drinking to breaking up an unhealthy relationship to healing from grief after losing a loved one. The stages follow an order and each of them has a purpose in creating change. They also occur gradually – from initial resistance and denial, a commitment and progression is created, and relapse is an expected part of the process.

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Intimate Partner Violence Amongst Men

This blog is dedicated to all individuals that have been subjugated to violence, abuse, and distress within their relationships even though this blog specifies abuse towards men. Readers’ discretion is advised.

 

 

This topic is a little more distressing than others.

However, I have found that this topic is important to discuss especially for those individuals that believe there is no way out, that nobody would understand, empathize, or care for their well-being after being subjugated to some form of abuse by a partner.

 

If you have been keeping up with the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard case, you may have come to realize the severity of intimate partner violence—no matter what stance you take within this case—one thing is imminent, men are and can become victims of abuse by their partner.

 

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is defined as intimate partner (whether current or former) who perpetrates violence through physical, sexual, psychological, stalking, and coercive acts (Douglas & Hines, 2011; Miller & McCaw, 2019). The CDC has considered IPV to be a national and social health problem affecting thousands of people each year (Douglas & Hines, 2011).

 

Past research has concentrated on IPV amongst women, however, as time has passed, more cases on IPV amongst men have risen and have become an important focus for our society, community, and health departments.

 

In 2010, a study conducted to measure IPV, 37.3% of women have experienced some form of sexual, physical, or stalking by their partner and 30.9% of men had experienced the same by their partners (Miller & McCaw, 2019).

 

Alongside this, 23.9% of women and 13.9% of men experienced severe physical violence by their partner where medical attention was needed (Miller & McCaw, 2019).

 

As we can see through these statistics, men experience a high percentage of IPV from their partners, so why are we not talking about it more?

 

Well according to Campbell-Hawkins (2019) in her study amongst African American males who experienced IPV, some barriers for obtaining help included fear of being viewed as weak by their society, culture, and peers.

 

Men will less likely seek out help when experiencing abuse due to their community’s stigma on what being a “man” consists of.

 

However, as we have seen through the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard case, it does happen, and it can lead to violence, aggression and abuse.

 

Even though the stigma on men says they “should” be stronger and able to defend themselves amongst women or their partners; these toxic ideologies can perpetuate suffering in silence for men.

Let’s talk about some of the abuse and IPV men can experience from their partners.

  • Physical abuse
    • This includes hitting, slapping, scratching, shoving, pushing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, throwing things to hit the person, destruction of property.

 

  • Psychological/Emotional abuse
    • Humiliation (i.e., “you’re not man enough,” “you’re a coward,” etc…)
    • Shaming, invalidating feelings (i.e., “quit being so sensitive you’re a man.”),
    • Isolation of family friends (i.e., severe jealousy), threats (i.e., removal of children, lawful consequences, self-harm/suicide threat if left, etc…)
    • Stalking and harassing either at work, home, social media, phone calls, to family members, and so on.
    • Manipulation/coercion
    • Screaming/yelling
    • Blaming
    • Chronic infidelity

 

  • Sexual abuse (yes, men can be sexually abused by their female partner)
    • Manipulation in doing something they do not feel comfortable during intimacy.
    • Threatening their masculinity (different from toxic masculinity) if they do not engage in specific acts.
    • Inserting foreign objects into the body without their permission.

 

These are some examples of IPV amongst men.

 

However, this does not minimize the abuse women go through as well, many of these examples also apply for women and other parties.

 

For men, it is also important to be aware of these examples and seek out help. There is help for you through no judgement and unconditional positive regard.

 

Remember, you are a person and should be treated as such.

 

This isn’t just a “woman” issue, it is a man issue as well and being aware, empathetic, and active in ending IPV in general is a community, society, and individual duty.

 

If you are or have experienced some of these examples, please do not hesitate to contact the National Coalition against Domestic Violence (NCADV) 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224

 

If it is an emergency, please call 911 immediately.

 

Kindly,

 

Elda Stepp, PhD, LPC, LMHC, CART

 

References

Campbell-Hawkins, M. Y. (2019). Intimate partner violence (IPV) and help-seeking: The experiences of African American male survivors (Doctoral dissertation, Walden          University).

Douglas, E. M., & Hines, D. A. (2011). The Help Seeking Experiences of Men Who Sustain Intimate Partner Violence: An Overlooked Population and Implications for Practice.      Journal of family violence, 26(6), 473–485. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-011-9382-4

Miller, E., & McCaw, B. (2019). Intimate partner violence. New England Journal of Medicine, 380(9), 850-857. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra1807166.

 

 

 

 

 

Resilience: An Anxiety Vaccine

“People experience increased stress and concern in times of crisis as we are currently facing.”

– Dr. Asim Shah, professor and executive vice president in Menninger’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine.

A word that has gone viral in our society is anxiety, keeping in mind that anxiety is needed and adaptive in supporting us and preserving life, along with fear, anger, sadness, or happiness.

Until a few years ago, it was estimated that 20.6% of the world’s population suffered from anxiety. A recent survey by the American Psychiatric Association shows that Americans are suffering from anxiety.

The survey found that four out of 10 suffer from anxiety when they think they may become seriously ill or die, five out of 10 Americans experience anxiety about getting coronavirus and six in 10 suffer from anxiety because family members get the virus. In addition, individuals may be overwhelmed with concerns about uncertainty of the next paycheck, increased bills and increase in social isolation.

Considering now, that when we experience a sleep interruption and change in appetite, we find ourselves more irritable or sensitive. When it comes to anxiety, the most recurrent manifestations of anxiety are shortness in breathing, palpitations, headache, back pain, catastrophic thoughts and other symptoms, and managing them is not always easy.

If this is the case, the important thing to keep in mind is to observe these changes and address them promptly by seeking professional support, so that it does not adverse impacts on yourself or your family.

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5 Things to Consider when Navigating Uncertainty in Relationships

Dear Reader,

Naturally, life and human behavior can be both predictable and unpredictable.  In relationships uncertainty is closely tied to vulnerability“What ifs and How comes?” are questions that surface and recycle themselves both in our minds and in our hearts.

 

Therefore, to define uncertainty I like to reference Brené Brown’s research on vulnerability:

“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow—that’s vulnerability.”

Simply put, uncertainty is a form of vulnerability and courage.  We do, hope and love in spite of our fears.  The challenge with uncertainty is that there are no promises, no guarantees or assurances.  It can truly trigger fear in us which can lead to a fight or flight response.  We can feel both activated and powerless at the same time.

That is not to say that we don’t like uncertainty.  To some degree it actually brings variety and spontaneity to life which can be delightful and fun.  But, in some cases, too much uncertainty can leave us feeling insecure and doubtful.

Therefore, let’s consider the following 5 things when navigating uncertainty in relationships:

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7 Types of Anxiety: Not all Anxiety is the Same

Anxiety is a totally normal response in daily life, it is a conditioned response that distinguishes us from inanimate objects. For example, when we feel hungry we have a feeling of anxiety, which preserves life.  The same is the case when an animal threatens us.  We tend to flee or defend ourselves, but when anxiety is shown disproportionately to the stimulus that caused it , or when it comes up for no apparent reason is when we are faced with a pathological situation.  Typically, this is when we seek and need help.

Usually the first answer is to go to anxiolytics, methods to reduce anxiety.  However, it is very important to find out the real triggers of anxiety so that we can feel and manage own our emotions again. That’s when we require the assistance of a professional. Anxiety of this kind deteriorates the quality of life; the world becomes a threat.

These manifestations can last a long time and/or present themselves intensely, leading to panic attacks and anxiety.  Many times, this can lead to an in individual to visit the emergency room in a hospital, where, of course, they do not discover physical problems.

Symptoms that usually occur include, but are not limited to:

  • Feeling nervous, agitated or strained
  • Feeling imminent danger, panic or catastrophe
  • Increased heart rate
  • Accelerated breathing (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Problems concentrating or thinking about anything other than the current concern
  • Having trouble falling asleep
  • Having gastrointestinal problems
  • Having difficulty controlling concerns
  • Having the need to avoid situations that create anxiety

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