Posts from 2017-10

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.




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    Dr. Blair has the training and experience to treat a wide variety of problems, conditions and disorders. She is a relationship expert and marriage family therapist who specializes in relationship counseling .

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