Posts from category "Wellness"

Food Addictions Continued: Behaviors to be Alert For:


1) Sneaking food:


When you go to the store, do you buy a lot of “snack foods,” like potato chips, Cheetos, cookies, or other such items? Do you buy other “special” foods that you like to “nibble on” or have as a “midnight snack”? Do you have special places around the house or apartment where you put food so you can find it but no one else can? How often between meals do you eat? Where do you eat? In bed? while working on the computer? while reading? Do you nibble on food while you are shopping. Do you wait until you are alone to pull out the snack foods? What about the evidence of your eating? Do you hide the food wrappers or dispose of them in places no one will or can find them? Based on your answers to these questions, they may indicate a food addiction.


Like a drug addict or alcoholic, food addicts often seek to conceal or camouflage their behavior so it cannot be easily identified by people around them.


2) Food guilt:


Eating in secret and/or hiding the evidence of eating demonstrates conscious or unconscious feelings of guilt focused on food and eating behaviors. However, guilt in regard to food and eating can be expressed in other ways: Do you overeat, but feel guilty afterwards? Do you feel guilty about thinking about or craving food? Do you diet for a while, but then “slip,” and feel guilty about it? Worse, do your feelings of guilt make you feel depressed? But, feeling depressed stimulates more eating, followed by more guilt, in a seemingly unending cycle? Guilt feelings about food and eating have the adverse effect of contributing to food addictions rather than diminishing them. Listen to your feelings. Be aware of the guilt feelings that you have related to food and eating.


3) Health problems:


Food addictions, of course, result in the over consumption of food. That often leads to weight gained. Excessive weight gained and maintained is a significant adverse health problem. While being overweight or obese creates obvious problems such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, many people do not know that these conditions can also result in low energy levels, skin problems, digestive problems, and even poor oral health. An increasingly common problem nowadays is type 2 diabetes which is associated with poor diet and being overweight. Thus, if you overeat and have any of these problems, the food addiction is probably contributing to your health problems. Thus, these health problems may be a warning sign to do something about your food addiction to bring it under control.


Treatment: If you see yourself in this general picture of the food addict, don't despair. Psychological counseling can provide you with coping mechanisms and positive behavioral change: The treatment modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, crisis intervention therapy often combined with medication treatment and inpatient hospitalization for acute interventions specifically in cases where the patients are not treatment compliant in psychotherapy or lacking family support and are experiencing severe symptoms and/or adverse health issues.



More on Eating Disorders.


Food addicts often eat beyond the point at which they feel they are full, sometime to the point that they know that it will make them sick. Why do they do this when their body tells them they have had enough? While hunger is the physical feeling that most people associate with eating, for the food addict, hunger is really only a secondary motivation. Thus, for the food addict, there is a difference between the need for nourishment and the psychological cravings to eat.


The warning sign of this is that the food addict eats until they are stuffed, but then continues to eat more.


Another warning sign is sneaking food. Like the alcoholic or drug addict who keeps a secret “stash” of the drug to be prepared for their need for it in the future. Food addicts hide food for several reasons: first, they want to be sure they have enough food on hand to satisfy their needs. Second, they are aware that their overeating my draw attention and make other people conscious of their addictive behavior. Third, while food is ordinarily eaten in the kitchen, food addicts do not confine their eating activities to the kitchen, so they want to have food available elsewhere. However, since food looks out of place in other rooms in the house beyond the kitchen, they hide it so that it does not draw attention to itself—and to the food addict who has hidden it.


Therefore, while hiding food is one warning sign of food addiction, another is where you eat: Do you eat in the car, in bed, while watching television, or in other rooms in the house while doing other things? As indicated, food is ordinarily consumed in the kitchen, regularly eating in other locations may indicate a food addictive problem. Further, eating in a multiplicity of locations also indicates some form of constant eating. Meals usually take place at given intervals during the day, not constantly throughout the day.


Another warning sign is focused on what is done with what is left after eating varying forms of food—packaging and containers. Like the alcoholic who carefully disposes of bottles to evade other people discovering his or her drinking, the food addict is careful in disposing of candy bar wrappings, snack packaging, and other tell-tale evidence that food has been consumed. If you feel it necessary to hide the evidence of your eating from other people, you are demonstrating a symptom of a food addict.


If you see yourself in this general picture of the food addict, don't despair. Psychological counseling can provide you with coping mechanisms and positive behavioral change: The treatment modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, crisis intervention therapy often combined with medication treatment and inpatient hospitalization for acute interventions specifically in cases where the patients are not treatment compliant in psychotherapy or lacking family support and are experiencing severe symptoms and/or adverse health issues.



Eating Disorders: 1

Do you have an eating disorder?

Eating disorders are adverse relationships with food and eating that go beyond eating to survive or eating to enjoy the food. Eating disorders add a dimension to food and eating that is psychologically disturbing and physically unhealthy.

What are the warning signs to look for in eating disorders?

Overeating” is one obvious sign. How many times do you fill your plate up? How many cheeseburgers or French fries do you get at the fast food outlet? Do you often eat between meals? Is every day just one long continuous meal with interruptions for other activities? Do you think a lot about food when you are not eating? Do you often eat while reading or watching television? Do you eat at established and traditional mealtimes (three per day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner), or do you eat whenever you feel hungry? These are some questions to ask yourself to help you to recognize if you have an eating problem.

Looked at separately, there are a number of warning signs and signals that you may have an eating problem:

As mentioned above, overeating” is a good indicator. Overeating once in a while or at special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas is “normal” and nothing to worry about. Overeating at every meal is another matter. When you eat a meal, do you stop at one plate or go on for two? ...or more? When you cook, do you always eat up everything that is left rather then put it into the refrigerator?

Food addicts demonstrate the same addictive behavior as drug addicts. One heavy dose may be followed by the need soon for the next. This means that just because the individual ate a big meal not long previously does not mean that they are not ready to begin the next big meal or snack right away. When you open a box of ice cream, or a bag of cookies or potato chips, do you eat it all? Think about it. These are signs that the individual my have an eating disorder.

Like drug addicts or alcoholics, food addicts also make excuses for their habit. They might make a resolution to control their eating in different ways, but before long, they have broken the resolution and are eating in the old pattern again. In addition to these broken resolutions, there may also be the use of “valid excuses” for the overeating: “I was too upset to know what I was doing.” “You know, I wasn't really aware of what I was doing. I was thinking about something else.” “After tonight, things are going to change.” These are typical excuses used by food addicts. So, the meaning of these excuses is to go on doing what you want to do right now because you have a good reason for it, and things will be different tomorrow.

Addicts often set themselves up to fail. While saying that they will stop eating snacks between meals, when they go to the store, they will, nevertheless, buy snacks (just to have them on hand).” When they cook, instead of cooking planning only for the needed portions, they will cook much more.. Later, eating the leftovers, the individual thinks, “Oh, there really wasn't any more room in the refrigerator, so I decided just to eat it.” These are forms of addictive behavior that one should be aware of.

Often times Eating Disorders, as many other Addictions, can be accompanied by one or more Personality Disorders particularly Borderline Personality Disorder and Mood Disorders such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.

If you see yourself in this general picture of the food addict, don't despair. Psychological counseling can provide you with coping mechanisms and positive behavioral change: The treatment modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, crisis intervention therapy often combined with medication treatment and inpatient hospitalization for acute interventions specifically in cases where the patients are not treatment compliant in psychotherapy or lacking family support and are experiencing severe symptoms and/or adverse health issues.

Next:  More on Eating disorders.




Love Addiction, Part 2


America’s “instant gratification” culture is a causative factor:

Public awareness of the problem of love addiction has been increasing in recent years. In part, this has been the result of a number of celebrities that have “come out of the closet” about their problems with love addiction. Margaret Cho has stated that her obsessive relations with men are an addiction. On Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, supermodel Amber Smith admitted to being a love addict. In fact, she has now become a lecturer on love addictions.



While women seem particularly vulnerable to this problem, it also affects men. A number of men have been identified as love addicts as an element of their sexual misbehavior, such as Anthony Wiener, Harvey Weinstein, and others. To some degree, their serial sexual misadventures may be related to their love addiction but lack of success in establishing lasting, meaningful relationship with another person. For example, despite the fact that he was married, Anthony Wiener admitted that he sexted other women because he wanted to feel desired by them. Tiger Woods, for example, did not see himself as love addicted when he had his serial affairs with one-night stands and prostitutes. It can be judged that these men were really looking for love, even if it was only short-term and transitory.



For example, the case of “George,” both successful in business and highly educated, who admitted to being addicted to what he called the emotional effects of being “in love,” the pounding of the heart, the anticipation of seeing the loved one, and the exhilaration. However, in a relatively short period of time, usually about 6 to 9 months, the excitement would wear off, and he lost all interest in continuing the affairs. In “dumping” his ex-loved ones, he created emotional problems both for himself and for the other parties in the affairs. In time, he became aware that this was a repeating pattern. He recognized that the brief periods of pleasure and exhilaration he was getting from the relationships were not authentic emotions, but merely stages in a cycle of fantasies.


After consulting with a psychologist, he was led to recognize that the pattern of his love addiction relationships grew out of a deep sense of loneliness within him that could not be permanently filled by another person in a transitory relationship. A deeply-ingrained sense of social isolation is often at the heart of the love addictive behavior. Those feelings, in turn, are accentuated and elevated by images of couples enjoying themselves and glamorized in television commercials. These images demonstrate to the person with the deep-seated feelings of isolation and loneliness that they are “different,” and, therefore, they “create” love affairs in order to satisfy the longing inside of themselves. The problem is that the relationships are not based on meaningful interests and characteristics, so they don't last very long. After the break up, which is a problem not only because the other personal may be missed, but, more significantly, because it emphasizes the fact that the love addict is alone again, deepens their feelings of loneliness. To “fix” the problem of their depressed personal feelings, and to become “normal” again, they enter into another relationship just to be in a relationship, not for other more significant reasons, and the cycle begins all over again.


This love addicted behavior is one factor that drives many people to the social networking websites in the hope of finding a lasting relationship there, but these relationships, also, are often transitory, generating more motivations for the vain search for the next relationship to fill the void.



Texting and email may also be may also be used to fill the void between relationships. Whenever an email or text from a potential love interest comes through, that stimulates an injection of adrenaline and dopamine into the brain, producing pleasurable sensations. This is a form of instant gratification which has become a critical element of modern-day life. The postponement of love relationship until the “right person” is found creates tension within the individual;, and the tension needs a release, and the release is the start of a new relationship. The need for instant gratification overrides logic and reason that indicates that, under the right circumstances, time will produce the desired results. But, that requires patience, so it is sacrificed by the need for immediate results. The love addiction substitutes the intensity of emotional extremes for the values of real intimacy between the members of a relationship. Thus, the love addict needs the relationship, but not the partner who is just a tool to create the illusion of a meaningful relationship. These are mechanical ways of relating to other people, not the creation of authentic, reality-based relationships.



Love addiction can be successfully treated by various forms of psychological therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Gestalt Therapy and Psychoanalysis.



Next: Part 3, Positively dealing with problems of love addiction.




Love Addiction, Part 1


Barbara had fallen in love, so much in love that when she was with her “significant other,” Bob, she felt truly alive and excited. When she was away from him, she was lonely and felt desperate to get back to his side again. In a way, this situation would seem to describe a powerful romance. She was head-over-heels in love with Bob.




In confidence with her psychologist, however, Barbara admitted that she's been in love like this several times before. She has had a history of new loves of her life on an almost regular basis. Time after time, however, the love affair would begin to go bad. Her “loves” would leave her, or, on the other hand, she would “dump” them. Barbara's life was filled with a strong alternating emotional highs and lows. It was beginning to worry her. “I was getting nowhere in my life but just getting hurt on a regular basis.” She would have a relationship for three weeks, but she would worry, fret, stew, and obsess over it for three months. The love affair was a high, but when it fell apart, there would be deep depression. She began to see her situation as similar to that of an alcoholic: the affair was the drunk, but the depression afterwards was the hangover. The “hangovers” were getting harder and harder to take.



Finally, at the age of 30, Barbara went to a psychologist. A friend had told her that she was suffering from a “love addiction.” Thinking about it, Barbara began to realize, through the adrenaline highs and lows, her romantic affairs was a kind of addiction.



In talking this over with the psychologist, she came to realize that her attachments to her short-term boyfriends were not love so much as they were a response to a addictive need: the addictive need to be :in love.” She also learned that she was not alone in being addicted to love. She was tired of it, however. As she put it, “When I was 22, I could take the ups and the downs, but at 30, after having the same thing happen over and over again for several years, I realized that things were going to have to change.” Otherwise, she realized, the next lover would not be the last, but just the “next” who would, also, before long, be replaced by the next one, and so on and on. She said, “I think that I need to make a change, but I don't know how do it or what a change would be like.” The recurring cycles of love affairs, breakups followed by more love affairs and breakups had become vicious cycle, love addiction.

For various kinds of additions, there have been developed programs to help: Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Gamblers Anonymous are just a few of them. A common addiction which has been ignored people who are addicted to love relationships. It has been estimated that six percent of the population are love or sex addicts.



The interesting about this is that the effect of being in love creates changes in the body's chemistry having effects like cocaine. Thus, the results are similar—addiction.



Just like, for an alcoholic, the first drink leads to an expectation and desire for the next drink, for a love addict, each affair, despite the fact that it was followed by down period and depression, just like the alcoholic's hangover, does not significantly diminish the desire for the next drink, the next love affair is needed. In time, for the alcoholic, the need for the next drink becomes insatiable. In the same way with love addiction, each “hangover” is not powerful enough to diminish the desire for the next “love” experience.



Love addiction can be successfully treated by various forms of psychological therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Gestalt Therapy and Psychoanalysis.



Next: Love Addiction, Part Two....




Seasonal Affective Disorder




SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that is caused by the effect of various atmospheric and weather conditions on one's personal psychology. It is a form of depression that typically begins in the fall and winter and goes away in the spring and summer. Although there can be episodes in the summertime, they are most common in the fall and winter.


Signs and Symptoms:


Seasonal Affective Disorder is a particular form of depression, but not a separate disorder in and of itself. Its symptoms are often the result of the character and quality of light and the length of daylight in contrast to hours of darkness, conditions created by the changing of the seasons. The criteria for the depressive disorder is the basic condition, but along with the variable that the depression increases in some seasons and decreases in other seasons for a continuous period of 2 years or more. As such, the seasonal depressions must be recurrent over and above other depressive characteristics.


Symptoms of Major Depression must first apply:


  • Feelings of depression daily and recurring every day

  • Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness

  • Low energy levels

  • A loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed

  • Problems in sleeping, going to sleep, and staying asleep

  • Loss of appetite

  • Loss of weight

  • Feelings of lethargy and reluctance to do anything

  • Feelings of agitation

  • Difficulty in concentrating

  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide



Symptoms occurring in the winter pattern of SAD include:


  • Low energy

  • Feeling sleepy often, wanting to sleep a lot

  • Weight gains

  • Eating often and overeating

  • Carbohydrates carvings

  • Withdrawal from social contacts




Symptoms that less frequently occur in summer SAD include:


  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Insomnia

  • Feelings of agitation

  • Feeling restlessness

  • Feelings of anxiety

  • Unusual violent behavior


Risk Factors


There are certain attributes and circumstances potentially increasing SAD risk:


  • SAD occurs 4 time more often in women than in men.

  • SAD occurs more often in people that live far, either north or south, of the equator.

  • SAD can occur in family lines, and especially in family lines exhibiting depression.

  • Depressive or Bipolar disorders often predispose SAD.

  • It is more prevalent in the young rather than in older people.



There are also some biological indicators of SAD:


  • Differences in serotonin production in the winter than in the summer.

  • Melatonin may be overproducing. Melatonin affects sleep patterns, and in shorter winter days, more melatonin is produced than in longer summer days. The effect of this is to cause people to feel sleepy and want to sleep more in the wintertime.

  • Vitamin D production is low.


Treatments and Therapies


The starting place is psychological counseling to identify and isolate symptoms and to determine if there may be other causative elements present other than SAD. Other therapies focus on some combination of light therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and learning coping mechanisms.



Eating Disorders




Eating disorders are not, as many people mistakenly think, a lifestyle choice. Eating disorders can be very serious, even life-threatening. They are actually mental health disorders that effect eating behavior. The existence of eating disorders may be signaled by body weight and positive or negative obsessions with food. Binge-eating, bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa are three of the most common eating disorders.


Signs and Symptoms


Anorexia nervosa


Anorexia Nervosa focuses on one's body image. Most often those with this disorder imagine themselves as being overweight, despite the fact that they may actually be underweight. A behavioral characteristic of those with anorexia is repeatedly weighing themselves. Imagining themselves to be overweight, they limit severely the amount of food they eat, only eat small amounts of food, or only eat certain kinds of food. The seriousness of this disorder may be seen in the fact that it has the highest mortality rate of any of the other mental disorders. Those suffering from this disorder most often die from the effects of starvation, although suicide incidence , also, is high, especially with women.


Acute symptoms may include:


  • Highly restricted eating behaviors

  • Emaciation, a state of being extremely thin

  • Constant concern with and focus on being and staying thin

  • Inability to establish and maintain a healthy, normal weight

  • Extreme fear of gaining weight.

  • Distortions in self-image

  • Self-esteem directly related to perceptions of the individual's body shape and weight

  • A denial of the potential problems associated with low body weight.

  • Intense fear of gaining weight




Additional symptoms developing with the passage of time:


  • Osteopenia or osteoporosis

  • Mild forms of anemia

  • Weakness and muscle wasting

  • Hair and fingernails that are brittle

  • Yellowing and/or dry skin

  • The growth of fine hair on the body

  • Regular and obstinate constipation

  • Damages to the heart structure and function

  • Brain damages

  • The failure of one or more organs

  • A decrease in body temperature, associated with feeling cold all of the time

  • Regular feelings of tiredness, sluggishness, and lethargy

  • Lack of reproductive fertility


Bulimia nervosa


Bulemia Nervosa is characterized by frequent and recurring spells of easing unusually large amount of food accompanied by no control over this behavior. The episodes of overeating are followed by compensating behaviors, such as vomiting and the use of laxatives, the use of diuretics, excessive exercise, fasting, and/or some combination of these activities. Bulemics often maintain a normal and healthy body wight, unlike people with anorexia.


Typical symptoms include:


  • Persistent inflamed sore throat

  • Swelling in neck and jaw salivary glands

  • Tooth enamel that is worn along with sensitive and often-decaying teeth demonstrating regular exposure to stomach acid.

  • Acid reflux, GERD, or other gastrointestinal complaints.

  • Intestinal pains and problems relating to overuse of laxatives

  • Dehydration

  • Imbalance in electrolytes leading possibly to stroke or heart attack.


Binge-eating disorder


Binge-Eating is demonstrated by having no control over eating. These episodes of overeating are not followed by any of the characteristics of bulemia, such as laxative use, excessive exercising, or fasting. People suffering from the binge-eating disorder are often fat or excessively obese. It is, perhaps, not surprising than binge-eating is the most common eating disorder in the U.S.


Typical symptoms are:


  • Eating an excessive amount of food within a particular period of time.

  • Eating while feeling full

  • Eating despite not feeling hungry.

  • Rapid eating behavior.

  • Eating until the point of feeling uncomfortable

  • Frequent eating while alone.

  • Eating in secret

  • Eating accompanied by feelings of guilt, distress. or shame

  • Frequent dieting but without significant loss of weight


Risk Factors


The highest time of risk in the life cycle is in the teenage years, followed by childhood, but sometimes later in life. Both men and women are subject to eating disorders, but women are more than twice as likely to develop eating disorders than men. Both men and women have problems in their perception of body image. Women may be focused on loosing weight to become thin, while men may focus on gaining more muscle.


The causation of eating disorders is complex, involving interactions in genetic makeup, biological, social, and psychological factors.


Treatments and Therapies


Critical in therapies for people with eating disorders is assistance in establishing optimal weight levels while, at the same time, developing food and eating coping and management strategies that are effective and long lasting. Treatment plans for eating disorders may focus on one or more of the following:


  • Individual psychotherapy

  • Family psychotherapy

  • Medical intervention and monitoring

  • Counseling in nutrition

  • Cognitive behavioral training

  • Psychodynamic therapy,

  • Crisis intervention therapy,

  • Psychoanalysis”


Women and Mental Health




Men and women react to mental disorders differently. While certain disorders, such as anxiety and depression, occur more commonly in women than in men, also certain forms of depression only women are subject to. Also effective in determining mental disorder symptoms is the time of hormonal change, such as perinatal depression, premenstrual dystrophic disorder and perimenopause-asociated depression.


For other mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, there are significant differences in occurrence for women and men. Nevertheless, women may experience these disorders differently from men. For example, characteristic differences in symptoms may be seen in women but not seen in men. Additionally, there may be biological and psychosocial factors that affect women differently from men.


Warning Signs


While women and men may experience the same mental conditions and disorders, their symptoms may differ.


  • Continuing feelings of sadness and/or hopelessness

  • Alcohol or drug abuse

  • Changes in eating and/or sleeping habits

  • Diminishing appetite

  • Weight changes

  • Fatigue or a loss of energy

  • Continuing worries or fears

  • Hallucinations

  • Alternating high and low moods

  • Bodily aches, headaches

  • Digestive problems

  • Regular irritability

  • Withdrawal from social activities

  • Suicidal thoughts.



If any of these symptoms are bothering you, call for a consultation and assessment.



At Blair Wellness Group, we specialize in women's mental health problems which can be positively treated with various forms of therapy.




Anxiety Disorders




While we all experience temporary anxiety at some time or another, the anxiety disorders are long-term states of anxiety triggered by various causes. The American Psychological Association describes anxiety and anxiety disorders as, “ emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry.” In anxiety disorders, the anxieties do not gradually decline or go away over time. In fact, they may increase in occurrence or intensity over time. They often interfere with interpersonal relationships, school, or job performance. Anxiety disorders may take several different forms: generalized anxiety, panic attacks, or differing forms of social anxiety disorders:


Signs and Symptoms


Generalized Anxiety Disorder


Generalized anxiety disorder takes the form of excessive anxieties or worry for long periods of time. Typical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are:


  • General feelings of restlessness

  • Feeling “on edge”

  • Getting tired easily

  • problem in concentrating

  • Occasionally having the mind “go blank”

  • Being irritable

  • Feelings of tension in the muscles

  • Obsessive worrying

  • Problems in sleeping, such as difficulty in falling asleep, inability to remain asleep, or feelings of dissatisfaction with the quality of sleep.


Panic Disorder


This disorder is characterized by recurring panic attacks. A panic attack is feelings of sudden fear without clear or distinctive causation accompanied by palpitation or pounding of the heart, rapid heart rate, shaking or trembling, sweating, shortness of breath, feeling of smothering, and feelings of impending disaster or doom.


Most common symptoms of panic disorder are:


  • Sudden attacks of intense, unreasoning fear

  • Repeated attacks of sudden intense, unreasoning fear

  • The feeling of loss of control or being out of control

  • Constant worry about when the next attack will occur

  • Fear of certain situations which appear to have triggered panic attacks in the past

  • Avoidance of situations or places which appear to have triggered panic attacks in the past



Social Anxiety Disorder


Social anxiety disorder, which is also called “social phobia,” is characterized by intense worries about and fears social situations. Fears may focus on embarrassment, negative judgments of other people, fears of possible rejection, and fears of inappropriate behaviors.


Other symptoms of social anxiety disorder are:


  • Anxiety about being in situations with other people

  • Anxiety about the ability to talk to other people, to carry on a natural conversation

  • Extreme self-consciousness in situations in front of other people/

  • Anxiety about being humiliated in front of other people

  • Anxiety about being rejected by other people

  • Anxieties about offending other people.

  • Fears of being judged adversely by other people

  • Excessive worry about future social situations

  • Avoiding social situations

  • Difficulties in making and keeping friends

  • Anxious reactions, such as sweating, trembling, or blushing when around other people

  • feelings of nauseousness or being sick to the stomach when with other people or in social situations.



A psychologist should asses the presence of social anxiety disorder as there are certain health conditions which may cause behaviors similar to social anxiety disorder. Some medications, also, might cause similar reactions and behaviors. The psychological assessment will consider the person as a whole in regard to symptoms and behaviors rather than disproportionately focusing on specific behaviors. Thus, the assessment may discover associated conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression.


Risk Factors


There are a number of risk factors to the incidence of anxiety disorders, among which are::


  • Having been a shy child

  • Females are more likely to develop anxieties disorders than males

  • Poverty or few economic resources

  • The status of being divorced or widowed

  • Having been exposed to stressful life experiences in childhood or later

  • Genetic predispositions, anxiety disorders sometimes follow family lines

  • Parent having suffered from mental disorders


Treatments and Therapies


The treatments for anxiety disorders involve psychotherapy and may also include medications.




Psychotherapy, or “Talk therapy,” focuses on the personal background of the patient, the identification of circumstantial and situational causative factors for anxiwety, therapeutic approaches to defusing causative circumstances and situations, and the development of coping mechanisms. A part of psychotherapy would be some temporary discomfort in thinking about the causation and reactions to particular feared situations in learning to get past them


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provides another approach in psychotherapy in dealing with anxiety disorders. The focus of this therapy is on learning new ways of thinking about and reacting to anxiety-producing situations. CBT can assist in the learning of new social skills and in the development of coping mechanisms to anxiety-producing situations. The intent of cognitive therapy is on the identification, challenging, and then the neutralization of thoughts related to anxiety-inducing circumstances.


Exposure therapy is another approach which gives the patient the opportunity to confront fears for the purpose of conditioning their responses from negative to positive. This is effective in aiding people who fear particular situations or circumstances to be more comfortable and functional in them.


Thus, there are a variety of approaches to leaning to deal with anxiety disorders through psychotherapy. The objective of psychotherapy is the create within the client the ability for normal, anxiety-free functioning in otherwise fearful situations and circumstances.



Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)



Definition:  Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is defined as “a brain disorder characterized by an continuing pattern of inability to focus attention often accompanied by hyperactivity/impulsivity which interferes or disturbs functioning.”




  • Inattention or lack of ability to focus attention makes it difficult to focus on a task for a period of time. Focus wanders resulting in disorganization and lack of progress and accomplishment. Defiance and/or lack of comprehension is not a factor in this form of inattention.

  • Hyperactivity is a condition in which one is constantly in motion inappropriate to the time and place, fidgeting, regular hand or leg motion, and/or excessive talking, and general restlessness.

  • Impulsiveness means taking actions with incomplete forethought or preparations. Unexpectedly doing things “on the spur of the moment.” Further, this often occurs without regard to potential danger or harm. It is a desire for instant gratification and a need for immediate rewards. Interrupting the conversations of other people often occurs. Decisions are often made without the consideration of long-term consequences.




Signs and Symptoms



It is the three characteristic behaviors, Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which are the most identifiable elements in ADHD. Some people may demonstrate only one of these behaviors, but other people may demonstrate all three. It is typical of children to demonstrate all three behaviors.


While some inattention is normal, when it becomes noticeable and effects the individual's interpersonal, social, or job activities, it becomes a negative ADHD factor.


In people representing ADHD symptoms, the behaviors of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness are presented as more severe than non-ADHD people. These symptoms occur more regularly. What is also important is the fact that these behaviors have the result of reducing or interfering with the ability of the ADHD individual to function normally in social situations, at work, or in school




Typical and common behaviors for people demonstrating inattention often:


  • Make careless mistakes and/or overlook details at school or at work

  • Experience difficulty in maintaining their attention while playing, at school, at work, and in conversations. They have problems in reading anything of any significant length.

  • They don't seem to listen or hear when they are being spoken to. They can't carry on a focused conversation on a single topic for any length of time.

  • Do not listen to or carefully follow instructions.

  • Have difficulty in completing tasks at school, on the job, or in social situations.

  • Start work on tasks, but soon lose their focus. They get easily sidetracked.

  • Do not seem to be able to get organized or stay organized. They don't do things in the normal or expected sequence. Their belongings and work spaces are not organized. They are not good in time management. Thus, they often fail to meet expected deadlines.

  • Do not like tasks that involve focused mental effort and attention. They are not good in working on long-term projects as they cannot stay focused on them to completion.

  • May regularly lose things that are necessary to pursue tasks or in daily life.

  • Are easily distracted and often experience thoughts that change their focus.

  • Are over-reactive to external stimuli

  • Forget things and do not do ordinary things expected, like returning phone calls or messages, doing errands or chores, and keeping appointments




For people demonstrating hyperactivity and impulsiveness, theyoften:


  • Squirm and fidget. They have trouble sitting quietly.

  • Can't remain seated for typically expected periods of time, such as during a class or in a meeting.

  • Demonstrate physical restlessness, hand actions, foot actions, looking around.

  • Can't focus on a particular activity for very long.

  • Want to talk constantly.

  • Don't give someone they are talking to the chance to complete their thoughts. Finish their sentences for them. They don't wait their turn to talk, but blurt out and talk out of turn.

  • Intrude unexpectedly into conversations, games, or other activities.






The ADHD diagnosis requires an array of diagnostic approaches by a licensed psychologist. Critical elements of the diagnosis require the symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattention, and these symptoms must be chronic not just short-term or temporary. Further, their effect must be the impairment of the functioning of the individual. The symptoms cannot be due to medical or psychiatric conditions or medications.




The symptoms of ADHD can occur as early as ages 3 to 5 and can persist into adulthood. In children and adolescents in school or home, the condition may be the source of disciplinary problems. The behaviors of impulsivity, restlessness, and inattention persist into adulthood. Adults with ADHD often are characterized by poor performance in academic situations, problems in the work environment, and conflicted or problematical interpersonal relationships.



Risk Factors for ADHD:



While it is not certain what causes ADHD, there are certain factors which can contribute to it:



  • Genes: often ADHA behavior is found in family lines

  • The use of alcohol, smoking, and drug use in pregnancy

  • Prenatal environmental toxins, such as lead, exposure

  • Low weight at birth

  • Certain injuries to the brain.



The incidence of ADHD is more common in males than in females, but females with ADHD tend to focus in the area of inattention. There are further conditions which may accompany ADHD, such as anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, drug abuse, and conduct disorders.


Treatment Therapies:


There is not “cure,” as such, for ADHD. However, a number of treatment therapies can contribute to behavioral changes. Typical treatments are psychotherapy, education/training, medication, and some combination of these treatments.





Psychotherapy for ADHD patients contributes to insights about behavior and associated coping mechanisms.


Behavioral therapy:


Behavioral therapy has as its objective to assist the patient in recognizing ADHD behavior and determining approaches to changing it. This could involve varying kinds of practical assistance, such as in focusing on the completion of projects and tasks and/or approaching and coping with emotionally-charged circumstances. Critical elements of behavioral therapy focus on self-monitoring of behavior and the development of a system of praise and rewards for correct behavior in, for example, the controlling of anger and thinking things out before acting.


Family members can learn forms of positive and negative feedback to assist the ADHD patient in self-monitoring. Such assistance can involve the creation of rules, lists of required activities which must be completed, various structured routines around activities in daily life.


One approach in psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy which teaches the patient personal mindfulness. Meditation can also be useful. It is necessary for the patient to learn to be aware of their emotional states, what generates, stimulates, and motivates them, and how they can be encountered and appropriate responses. It can include training in learning to think before acting and learning to recognize and avoid unnecessary risks.


Additionally, family and marital therapy can aid the patient and immediate family on encountering, reacting to, and amending disruptive behaviors.


Thus, ADHD represents a psychological problem which can be the source of a number of personal, academic, and career problems, but there are a number of therapies which can be effective in alleviating many of these problems and to aid the patient in developing positive coping mechanisms.


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