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How do I get my husband to give me affection?

Dear Dr. Sav,

My husband and I have recently decided to give our troubled marriage (24 years) another chance after a two-year separation. My biggest problem is that he does not know how to be affectionate to me. He tells me, “you don’t accept the love I have for you.” He thinks that because he feels love for me, that should be enough. He doesn’t understand how much I need him to show me his love with physical attention.

I had an affair prior to our separation. He asked me if I was having an affair, but I lied. I did it because the other person showed me that he cared very much for me by being affectionate. Now that relationship is over and I will never be with this person again.

But I know now, more than ever, what I need from my husband. I don’t fear his anger anymore. What I do fear is that my husband will never be affectionate to me. His parents rarely showed physical attention to anyone in their family, whereas, my parents always caressed and verbally showed us love. He says he knew he was loved without their affection. Does his upbringing have anything to do with his inability to show me love? I look forward to your response.

Sue Johnson, Las Vegas, NV.

 

Dear Sue,

Thanks for reaching out to me. Affection is something that’s learned. Some men (and women) who were raised in families that did not show affection are taught how to show affection by their girlfriends or wives. But other men have never been taught. So let’s focus on the positive. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but maybe the dog trainer sucked!!

You apparently received the affection you needed from your lover. It was your friend’s affection that met your need. But I totally understand, that when you are getting no affection, then any affection is FANTASTIC affection. Your husband can learn to say and do many of the same things, and mean it. Let the training begin!

Whenever I counsel a man who is not very affectionate, I give him a list of things to do every day. (I usually make up the list with his wife who tells me what to include.) He must do each of them and check them off the list as he does it. Here is a general example.

  1. Hug and kiss your wife and tell her you love her every morning while you’re still in bed. Rub her back for a few minutes before you get up.

  2. Tell her that you love her while you are having breakfast together.

  3. Kiss her and tell her you love her before you leave for work.

  4. Call her during the day to ask how she is doing and that you love her.

  5. After work, call her before you leave to tell her when you will be home, and tell her you love her.

  6. Buy her flowers on the way home at least once a week, with a card that tells her you love her.

  7. When you arrive home from work, give her a big hug and kiss and spend a few minutes talking to her about how her day went. Don’t do anything else before you have given her your undivided attention.

  8. Tell her that you love her as you are having dinner together.

  9. Help her clear off the table and wash and dry the dishes with her, giving her a hug and kiss at least once, and tell her that you love her.

  10. Hug and kiss her and tell her you love her in bed before you both go to sleep.

As the weeks go by, I have the wives review the list to be certain there isn’t anything in it that they object to, or that should be added.

Wives will often complain that it’s not real affection because it doesn’t come from the heart. If their husbands have to be told what to do, they’re not really being affectionate. But this exercise in affection is not fake. It is real. Their husbands really do love them and whenever they express that love, it is real. The problem is that they have not learned to express how they really feel. This exercise simply teaches them how to show their wives the care that they’ve felt all along.

When your husband says that you do not accept the things he does for you, you should explain that you don’t need the things he does nearly as much as you need things he isn’t doing. You cannot appreciate things you don’t need, it’s only what you need that you appreciate.

He really does want to meet your needs, but hasn’t learned how to do it. It probably makes him frustrated to think how much he cares about you, but has not been able to show it.

I hope this helps. Your relationship IS worth fighting for.

Best,

savsign

Top Conflict Points In Marriage

The typical argument a couple has greatly depends on the length of time married. For example a newly married couple will argue about different things than a couple who’s been married 20 years. I’ve listed the top five issues couples normally argue about below, based on a survey completed before they start marriage counseling. However as a counselor, I know that the information written on the survey form is the “politically correct” version of their relationship issues.  Most people are not skilled in expressing what they want, they fight about other “important” issues.

Read more

Handling Your Partner’s Anger

How can you cope with an anger partner?

Important relationship advice during affair recovery.

  1. Stay calm – Don’t get into a screaming match. If your partner gets ‘overheated,’ explain that you will be willing to talk with him/her. But, right now, tempers are too high for things to settle. Promise to discuss the issue at a later time when you are both in a calmer state. Pick a specific time to ‘check in’ with each other. Say something like “How about talking tonight when we are both in a calmer space?” or “…when you feel you are ready to talk about it.” I call this withdrawing with reassurance.

Be sure to follow up on your promise. If the other person is still upset when you check in, set up another time to check in. If this keeps happening, then it is clear that you need a third party to help you communicate properly again.

  1. Don’t argue with your partner about his/her feelings.
  2. Listen to what the other person has to say.
  3. Establish what you can legitimately agree with.
  4. Don’t try to justify your action.
  5. Listen. People feel better if they get things off of their chest and feel that someone is listening and acknowledging their feelings.
  6. Really listen to what is making your partner angry and try to identify anger themes.
  7. Don’t patronize your partner.
  8. If the anger is repeated, try to be patient and stay calm. If this behavior constantly repeats itself, then it’s time for a counselor to step in. Family and friends are very important for support, but using them as a referee can have disastrous results. Because handling intense anger in these circumstances can be difficult, you may need to rely on the knowledge and objectivity of an experienced professional.

The way in which two people handle anger and conflict significantly impacts their relationship. Often, they do not know how to successfully argue, or even disagree, and the end result is disastrous.

I hope that the above information has increased your understanding of anger and has given you some tools to start examining your own and your partner’s anger themes.

 

Savannah

 

 

Savannah EllisDBA, MBA, BBSc, MPsych (Clin)


Make an appointment | sav@savannahellis.net | 

Licensed Online Therapy and Counseling

how to help you child when you are going through a divorce

How to help your child when you are going through a divorce

What you can do to help your child deal with divorce

Different kids deal with divorce differently. Some kids saw the divorce coming for years and feel relief when it finally happens. Other kids feel confused by the divorce and hold out hope that their parents will eventually get back together. Other kids have strong feelings of grief and sadness followed by emotional outbursts and acting-out behaviors. Although you may feel like there’s nothing you can do (you certainly can’t change your spouse’s behaviors or undo the divorce), there’s a lot you can do to help your child cope with your divorce.

Don’t use your child as a confidant

You may not have realized it at the time, but you relied on your spouse a lot as someone you could share secrets, vent, and discuss your problems with. Everyone needs someone that they can share their thoughts and feelings with, and when that someone is gone, their is a void. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for divorced parents to then turn to one of their children as a new confidant. Your child may seem like they enjoy this new role and the special relationship they now have with you, but it is damaging. The child confidant tends to suffer from more depression and low self esteem. Children aren’t as well equipped as adults to listen to other people’s problems and have a tendency to feel responsible for these problems as well. These children are also much less likely to go to their parent when they themselves are experiencing problems. When you talk with your kids, who is the conversation for? Is it for your benefit or your child’s? When you use your child as a confidant, the message you are really giving is that you care more about your own feelings than their’s.

You might not be purposefully using your child as a confidant or be confused about what’s “too much information”. Something I’ve heard parent’s say to me is “I tell them about it because it affects them” or “they have a right to know”. My answer to this is that it is affecting them because you told them about it, and children have a right to be protected from harm and this includes the harm of being exposed to their parent’s stresses. If you are confused about what you shouldn’t be sharing with your child, the general rule of thumb is anything they can’t do anything about. This includes your finances, divorce settlement, new boyfriend/girlfriend, your feelings towards your ex, your health problems, or your sex life. If you’re still not sure, you can ask yourself “who is this conversation for?”. If it’s for your benefit, save that conversation for when you are alone with other adults.

Don’t bad-mouth the other parent

Remember when you were a kid how mad you would get when another kid would make fun of your mother? Just because you were married to her for ten years doesn’t make it okay for you to do the same thing. When you insult a child’s parent, you insult the child. Even if you believe that what you are saying about the other parent is true and the child already knows it to be, refrain from saying anything negative whatsoever about the other parent. And if you can’t think of anything positive to say, don’t say anything at all. Maybe your child doesn’t seem to mind when you do this and may even join in the bad-mouthing or bring it up on their own, but this still doesn’t make it okay. As I wrote earlier, the child may be engaging in these behaviors because they like having that one-on-one relationship, and you may be inadvertently reinforcing these behaviors by responding positively to it. However, I am yet to have a child tell me in private that they like it that their parents trash each other, and overwhelmingly my experience has been that children are secretly (or not so secretly) deeply hurt by it. This person, whom they are supposed to look up to and use as a role model, is being called a “dead beat”, “awful parent”, and “&^#*$@”. Even if what you are saying is true, your child’s parent is still their parent and it hurts to hear them being spoken about like that.

Aside from the psychological damage it causes children, at it’s very core, it sets a bad example. Parents should be models of restraint and respectful behavior. Do you want your child to call another kid a “&^*$@” at school? Or to grow up to have a relationship style where they yell and call their partner names? Your child deserves to one day be in a happy marriage.

Don’t elicit information from your kids about your ex-spouse

As stated before, when you are using your kids as informants or confidants, it puts them under stress. They may seem to be willing participants, but that is probably due to the special attention they get from you when they participate. When kids are visiting the other parent, they should be able to feel at ease and relax. The other parent also has a right to set rules and discipline them while in their custody. Maybe you didn’t agree with their parenting style while you were living together, but so long as the other parent isn’t abusive or breaking the law, they have a right to parent in the manner they see fit. The partner also has a right to date or remarry whomever they choose. If you do have an issue with what’s going on while visiting the other parent, you should share your concerns with your ex in a controlled respectful manner. This is a great example for your children and is a much more effective mode of communication than by using your child as the go-between.

Kids should also be encouraged to stop sharing information about what goes on at the other parent’s house unless it is serious. We all love a juicy piece of gossip and you might enjoy hearing how dysfunction your ex has become now that you’re not there to keep tabs, but this is also harmful to your kids in the same manner as discussed above. You also don’t know how accurate the information is. Because we are human beings and not machines, we miss-perceive things and don’t remember things very well. Kids often perceive speaking firmly or assertively as yelling, and naturally you become very upset to hear that “dad yelled at me all weekend”. Meanwhile they omitted their own misbehavior that prompted the “yelling” in the first place. Unfortunately, because you weren’t there, you don’t know the context or severity of what actually took place. And although no one wants to think that their child would ever lie to them, I have also had children admit to me numerous times that they purposefully play their parents against each other.

Encourage them to spend more time with the absent parent

Despite how you may feel about your ex, it is in your child’s best interest to spend quality time with both parents. Be positive and show enthusiasm when your kids have an upcoming visit. Do what you can to help your child have a positive experience. Make suggestions like “Billy really enjoys going fishing” or “If you’re too busy to have them over-night this weekend, maybe you can just take them out for a couple of hours?”. You may feel that you shouldn’t have to make the extra effort, but remember that this is for your child’s well-being. A 2008 study revealed that children that spent more quality time with their fathers had higher IQs and were more socially well-adjusted. The effects were found to be unrelated to the father’s own IQ or social skills, but rather to the individual relationship between father and child. Likewise, spending quality time with the mother has been shown to protect children from depression and mood disorders as adults. Don’t we all want our children to be smarter, healthier, and happier?

Hold family meetings

Provide opportunities for at home to allow the children to express their feelings about the divorce and subsequent changes to the family. Also, reassure them that their behaviors did not contribute to the divorce. They may have questions about the divorce. Provide answers for the ones you can and be careful to not give “too much information”. Also, don’t give answers for the other parent. Ideally your ex would be at the family meeting, but if not, it’s okay to say you can’t answer for them.

Don’t let your guilt keep you from parenting

You may blame yourself for the divorce and feel guilty for your kids, but you are still their parent and they need you to provide structure. Sometimes children react to divorces by having increases in negative behaviors such as tantrums, yelling, fighting with siblings, and breaking rules. However, they still need to be responsible for their own behavior. One of the best things you can do, is to show your children that life goes on. They still need to clean their room, do their homework, and treat others with respect.

I hope that you found this article informative and helpful to your family. As I offer e-therapy and coaching, I can help you no matter where you are located.

 

schizophrenia

Schizophrenia effects a young newly wed couple

Schizophrenia is truly one of the cruelest mental illnesses in existence. The illness does not discriminate, and lies dormant for almost 2 decades before surprising both the individual and their loved ones.

This week, I had a chance to work with a couple that I had seen for premarital counseling only two years ago. Chris & Rose were planning their wedding celebrations at the time, and had family flying in from all over the USA. The Las Vegas M Resort had been booked and paid for by Rose’s father, as a gift to the couple for their wedding, and their academic success. They had both completed law degrees at UNLV, and had huge goals. Both had full time employment. They both desired to have their first child by age 30.

Read more

Recognizing & Coping with Emotional Manipulation

 

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

– Chinese proverb

We’ve all been manipulated by other people, and it’s likely that we’ve done a bit of manipulation ourselves. Telling a white lie in order to get what we want is one way of manipulating someone.

  • Students are notorious for telling teachers that they couldn’t get their paper in on time because their computer crashed last night.
  • Employees claim to have car trouble in order to miss a day of work.
  • Politicians inflate a problem or make misleading statements in order to gain public support for their agendas.

manipulator_ezr

When we manipulate other people, we deprive them of their integrity and their ability to make decisions based on their own accurate reading of reality. When we tell a lie, we provide an alternate reality to the other person – and they make decisions that may be to our advantage, but it may not be a decision they would make if they knew all the facts.

Manipulation shows disrespect to the other person – but ultimately we are disrespecting ourselves and compromising our own integrity when we manipulate others. We give ourselves the illusion of control, but it is hardly a feeling of control that we can be proud of. Even if nobody ever finds out about it, we know that we got ahead by taking from another person. “I win and you lose – and that makes me feel good.” We deprive ourselves of the knowledge that our accomplishments in life are based on our own resourcefulness.

Most of us want to trust and assume the best in other people. We believe that when someone tells us something, the other person is telling the truth. When we have been repeatedly hurt because others have taken advantage of our trust, we may change our beliefs about the world. We may become cynical and try to undermine others before we are hurt yet again. The best strategy is probably to trust until someone shows us that they can’t be trusted. Hopefully, then, we can learn how to recognize emotional manipulation when it appears.

 

“I keep my ideals, because in spite everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

– Anne Frank

 

Recognizing Emotional Manipulation

 

Many of us don’t recognize manipulation when it occurs, mainly because manipulation violates our basic assumptions about how people should behave. We simply don’t expect it. Manipulators engage in “covert aggression.” They hide their anger toward the world in subtle ways and gain power over us in ways that are not obvious.

– We may sense, however, that we are on the defensive in their presence and this serves as our first clue. We feel somehow that they are trying to overpower us.

– They come across as caring, hurting, defending, vulnerable – almost anything but fighting – and these tactics obscure their real motives. You might pay attention to your need to take care of them, but you don’t recognize that they are trying to take advantage of you. “I care so much about you and now I’ve twisted my ankle. Can’t you give up your afternoon to drive me around?”

– All of us have weaknesses or insecurities, and sometimes we are aware of them, but we don’t expect that someone will take advantage of our vulnerabilities. We sometimes have the need to please others so that we’ll be accepted – and this trait can be spotted easily by an emotional manipulator. They sometimes know our vulnerable areas better than we do, and they exploit them to their advantage.

– Be aware of the degree to which you have empathy toward others and how much you might hate to make harsh judgments about other people. If you are overly trusting, you are vulnerable to being manipulated. The healthy stance is to learn how to recognize manipulation readily. You cannot be manipulated if you are aware that it is happening – at the moment it happens.

 

Take a look at some common examples of how manipulators work –

 

Emotional manipulators turn your statements around and make you the problem. Trying to be honest with the manipulator opens up your vulnerability. He or she is an expert at playing the game of “blame the victim.” For example, if you say, “I really wish you had taken a dish to the potluck, and I feel embarrassed that you didn’t,” the manipulator might respond with, “I wish you could understand the pain I’m suffering right now – and have been for some time – but then I guess your life is so happy that you can’t really feel empathy for someone else. So, sorry.”

 

They’ll say one thing and later assure you that they didn’t say it. “I’ll pay for half the groceries this time,” and then later the manipulator comes back with, “I never said any such thing.” This is a crazy- making experience because your sense of reality is challenged. The manipulator offers such a convincing argument that they had never promised to pay for half the groceries that you begin to doubt your own sanity.

 

The manipulator will offer to help you, but then the torrent of sighs begins. “Yes, yes, (sigh) I’ll take out the garbage.” You feel that you are the one to blame, as if you’re trying to control the manipulator. Again, you are considered the problem.

 

The manipulating person will set a negative emotional tone in a group and others feel compelled to make the manipulator feel better just to ease the tension. “John, if Keira can’t drive you to the dentist tomorrow, I’ll do it. Here, have a cup of coffee. Now do you feel better?” Notice how we tend to enable the manipulator, rewarding him or her for the controlling behavior.

 

Manipulators don’t fight fairly. They might talk behind your back and encourage others to confront you – and then they come in to save the day, placing the blame on the other people. Manipulators don’t deal with issues directly. They use passive-aggressive tactics so that you don’t realize that they are actually being aggressive toward you – “I love your hair that color. It does a nice job of hiding the gray.” You respond graciously to the compliment, but are then left with the lingering feeling that something is not quite right.

 

They negate what you say by outdoing you. If you want to talk about what a rough day you’ve had, they’ll come back with an account of their exceedingly brutal day, which makes your experience look like a day in the park. “Well, if you think that’s bad, listen to what I’ve been through today.” They bring attention back to themselves so that you find it difficult to feel any degree of validation. This is how emotional manipulators distance themselves from you and gain the upper hand. They lack the ability to relate to others with healthy boundaries and maturity.

 

Emotional manipulators are experts at playing on your emotions. If they sense that you respond easily to guilt, then they will try to make you feel guilty (“I feel embarrassed for you when you play with Dora’s kids as if they were your own – and it’s all because you’ve never had children”). Manipulators also play on our sympathy by playing the role of victim (“All I do is work, work, work – You’ll be sorry when I have a heart attack”). Or they might blame you for your anger, even though they have induced it (“Look, you’re the one who can’t control your emotions, not me”). Emotional manipulators have difficulty in expressing their desires or emotions directly, but by playing on the emotions of other people they covertly get their way.

 

Manipulators project blame onto other people or circumstances. They fail to take the responsible path of believing that they are accountable for their own lives. Their focus is on what others have done to them, and they are forever the victim (“My father was the first one to treat me badly, just as every man has done since”).

How Do You Deal with the Emotional Manipulator?

 

Manipulators work in covert ways. It is sometimes difficult to know that you are being manipulated, but then your frustration with this person grows over time and you know that something must be wrong with the relationship. You may feel pulled toward the manipulator, but then repulsed by this person at the same time. These relationships are generally conflict-ridden.

 

You may find yourself in a double bind. That is, if you go along with the manipulation, you feel angry – and if you drop the relationship, you feel guilty. It may seem that you can’t win. But there is a way out of the bind –

 

  • Be aware of your own emotions within the relationship. Your emotions are your best tool for sensing that there is a problem between you and the other person. Examine whether you feel defensive, guilty, angry, or sympathy toward the other person. You may not have these feelings during the interaction, but afterward, when you are thinking about what happens between the two of you, these emotions might emerge.

 

  • Define the emotion and understand the pattern. When you think about what happens between you and the manipulator, describe the emotions that you feel. Put your feelings into words. What specifically was said that led you to a certain feeling? How did you respond at the time? What was the effect of your response? (It may help at this point to work with a professional therapist who is trained to help you sort through this often puzzling set of questions.)

 

  • When you have a good understanding of the pattern of interaction between you and the manipulator, ask yourself whether you want to continue with the relationship or not. Sometimes we find ourselves in toxic relationships, and if we aren’t getting anything positive from the relationship, it might be in our best interest to terminate it, or else place good boundaries around it (like limiting our time with the other person). Some relationships cannot, or should not, be ended unless there is a pattern of abuse present.

 

  • Whenever a manipulation attempt occurs, right at that moment point it out to the other person. This is your way of taking control of the manipulation. There is no need to express anger when you give the manipulator this feedback. Do it assertively and calmly. The manipulator at this point might come back with a guilt trip or an angry response. Say something like, “I feel that you are trying to manipulate me at this point, and I am not going to go along with it. I would like a healthy interaction between us, so could you try to say what you need to say in a more positive and direct way?”

 

Why Do People Manipulate Others?

 

Manipulative people have a strong need to be in control. This may derive from underlying feelings of insecurity on their part, although they often compensate for these feelings with a show of strong self- confidence. Even though they may deny it, their motives are self-serving, and they pursue their aims regardless of the cost to other people. They have a strong need to feel superior and powerful in their relationships – and they find people who will validate these feelings by going along with their attempts at manipulation. They see power as finite. If you exert power over them, they will retaliate in order to gain back the control they feel they are losing. They cannot understand the idea that everyone can feel empowered or that everyone can gain. When they are not in control – of themselves and over other people – they feel threatened. They have difficulty in showing vulnerable emotions because it might suggest they are not in control.

 

Those who are manipulative usually don’t consciously plan their maneuvers. They emerge from the manipulator’s underlying personality disorder, and are played out within the context of a victim who colludes with, and unwittingly encourages, the manipulation. There is a wide range of tactics used by manipulators ranging from verbal threats to subtle attempts to arrange situations to suit the manipulator.

For example, one of the more common forms of manipulation is called splitting – turning two people against each other by talking to each one behind the back of the other, getting them to dislike or distrust each other, and leaving the manipulator in a position of control. They may use active techniques like becoming angry, lying, intimidating, shouting, name-calling or other bullying tactics. Or they may use more passive methods like pouting, sulking, ignoring you, playing the victim, or giving you the silent treatment.

 

Some manipulators can be described in terms of having an antisocial personality (these people are sometimes called psychopaths or sociopaths). This is a personality disorder often associated with criminal behavior. They feel little compassion for other people, don’t really feel guilty when they do something harmful, pathologically lie, show superficial charm, tend to be impulsive, and don’t take responsibility for their own actions. Changing their ways can pose a challenge. Some people who have a need to nurture others may feel that they can help an antisocial person change their lives – and this would be a formidable task.


#1 Marriage Counselor and #1 Infidelity Recovery Coach

 

Do you need to talk to someone about your depression? I offer Phone & Skype counseling. Talk to me about your situation. Leave your contact details HERE and I will return to you within 24 hours.


Recommended books on a manipulative partner & relationships

The Manipulative Man: Identify His Behavior, Counter the Abuse, Regain Control

Paperback: 256 pages

By Dorothy McCoy

This review is from: The Manipulative Man: Identify His Behavior, Counter the Abuse, Regain Control (Paperback)

When my marriage was falling apart, I quite literally wondered if I was going crazy. Everyone loved my husband. Even my parents loved him. I felt as if perhaps maybe there was something intrinsically wrong with the way I was feeling. My husband was so passive, and non aggressive that I began feeling as if I was the one that was the problem.

This book was like a breath of fresh air. I was not crazy for being frustrated with a man who always had an excuse for why he couldn’t do what he promised he was going to do. I was not crazy for being angry at him when he refused to make a decision or follow through. In fact, my anger and frustration were appropriate responses, and my depression was just the result of me talking myself into the notion that I had no right to be angry or frustrated by such a ‘nice passive’ man.

My husband wasn’t violent. In fact he was so passive, I sometimes wondered if he cared about anything at all. It was like living with a wet sponge.

The MM taught me to recognize extreme passiveness as a sign of manipulation and control. His passiveness controlled everything. I just didn’t see it, because I had been conditioned to think manipulative men were more obvious and aggressive than he was.

MM helped me detach from blaming myself, in spite of what even my family thought about my decisions. It was a valuable tool on my road to recovery.

It not only helped me to recognize my ex husbands behavior as disrespectful and manipulative, but it also taught me to be on the look out for other types of manipulative men as well. Girls, this is a must read!!!! This book is like a manual for self care…You must be willing to look at yourself and what you are attracting into your life as well. You must be willing to take accountability for the way you think, and ultimately for your decisions to keep the men you do, in your life.

I highly recommend this book…

Lisa A. Romano


 

Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men Paperback – September 2, 2003

#1 Best Seller in Domestic Partner Abuse on Amazon

 

 

“He doesn’t mean to hurt me-he just loses control.”
“He can be sweet and gentle.”
“He’s scared me a few times, but he never hurts the children-he’s a great father.”
“He’s had a really hard life…”

Women in abusive relationships tell themselves these things every day. Now they can see inside the minds of angry and controlling men-and change their own lives. In this groundbreaking book, a counselor shows how to improve, survive, or leave an abusive relationship, with:

€ The early warning signs
€ Nine abusive personality types
€ How to tell if an abuser can change, is changing, or ever will
€ The role of drugs and alcohol
€ What can be fixed, and what can’t
€ How to leave a relationship safely


 

Life Coaching Tips

Courage

Should I visit a therapist for my depression?

#1 therapist for depression Savannah Ellis

One of the most prominent and popular ways of dealing with depression is undergoing therapy with a psychiatrist or psychologist. Should you take that path? Let’s first give a brief rundown on the options that are out there:

Freudian Psychodynamic Therapy

  • Form: Seeking to uncover the source of your depression by exploring your emotions and experiences.
  • Effectiveness: 30% to 40% of individuals who undergo psychodynamic therapy will see a reduction in depressive symptoms.
  • Possible Pros: Research suggests results may be longer lasting than other forms of therapy.
  • Possible Cons: Seeing results can take a longer time commitment than other forms of therapy — several months to a year or more.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

  • Form: Identifying and transforming faulty cognitive patterns that may be leading to depression.
  • Effectiveness: 30% to 40% of patients will see a reduction in depressive symptoms by the end of a 12-week treatment cycle. Individuals who combine CBT with medication see a higher remission rate and have less chance of relapse.
  • Possible Pros: More practical and shorter in duration; CBT doesn’t focus on analyzing past emotions or past experiences, and lasts for 4-12 weeks.
  • Possible Cons: Research shows that preventing relapse after an initial CBT treatment cycle may require periodic follow-ups to “tune-up” your thinking skills.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

  • Form: Teaches mindfulness meditation and how to step back from negative thoughts in order to neutrally observe them.
  • Effectiveness: Just as effective as CBT, but less effective in individuals who have had only one or two major depressive episodes.
  • Possible Pros: Cultivates practices and a mindset that may be just as beneficial during non-depressed periods. Can be effective for severe cases.
  • Possible Cons: n/a

Conclusion

As you can see, each type of therapy is about equally effective, and research suggests that the type you choose to use doesn’t ultimately really matter — just talking to a helping and understanding person on a regular basis is what does the trick. Which type of therapy you decide to do will end up being a matter of preference.

If you do decide to begin therapy, do some homework first. See if you can set up an initial appointment to ask some questions. Inquire about the therapist’s background and training, as well as their experience specifically treating depressed patients. Ask about their approach — CBT? Psychodynamic? — as well as their philosophy on medication. You’ll also want to know if they take insurance. Many therapists don’t (like me), and that could make treatment unaffordable for you. If that’s the case, ask about setting up a payment plan. For lower cost options, look into community health centers or psychologist training clinics at local colleges. If you’re a student yourself, schools often offer free counseling.

NOTE: I offer very affordable payment plans for those suffering from depression. Contact me to ask for more information.

Your primary goal during this initial visit is to see if the doctor seems trustworthy, and just as importantly, if you feel comfortable talking to them. That fact alone can go a long way in your success with therapy.

So, how/when do you know if therapy is the right choice for you? There are no clear-cut answers, but there are a few things to consider. Therapy may help you dig into the fundamental origin of your depression and is free of negative neurological/biological effects. But it will cost you time and money. Antidepressants, on the other hand, are very convenient, but may have deleterious effects on your body and mind, and work by treating depression’s symptoms rather than addressing its potentially deeper roots. Antidepressants also take time in working out which antidepressant is right for you, and that can also be an expensive exercise.

So weigh both sides of the coin.

My advice both as a Psychologist, & one who has fought depression, would be to try the suggestions in this article first, and if you don’t find success with them, then take the action to seek professional help.

NOTE: If you EVER think suicidal thoughts,  you need to call for help IMMEDIATELY. Call emergency services in your country, or a depression HOTLINE, who has trained professionals ready to help you for free.


 

e75c88b4a14444fae1a598346ac3522fDo you need help with your depression?

I treat depression via Skype or Phone counseling. CONTACT ME about how affordable it is to start counseling for depression. We will work on your condition, on a weekly basis, where you don’t even have to leave the comfort and safety of your own home. I am looking forward to talk to you.

 

depression

How to fight Depression

female-depression

Many of my clients have depression. Some of them are on medication, and others are opting for holistic options. I have found there is no best solution with medication. Yet I do know of what does work on a consistent level, and that my friend is exercise.

You need to exercise. Regularly. From now until you take your last breath.

If you struggle with depression, but aren’t regularly working out, you haven’t begun to fight.

This isn’t rah-rah cajoling; it’s a research-backed truth.

Numerous studies(1) have proven that exercise is just as effective as antidepressants in treating depression. Research has also shown that people who exercise are about 3X less likely to relapse into depression over the course of a year, than those who take medication alone.

And of course, unlike drugs, exercise is free, and its side effects are 100% positive.depression

In 1999, a randomized controlled trial showed that depressed adults who took part in aerobic exercise improved as much as those treated with Zoloft. A 2006 meta-analysis of 11 studies bolstered those findings and recommended that physicians counsel their depressed patients to try it. A 2011 study took this conclusion even further: It looked at 127 depressed people who hadn’t experienced relief from SSRIs, a common type of antidepressant, and found that exercise led 30 percent of them into remission—a result that was as good as, or better than, drugs alone.

Exercise’s antidepressant effect is thought to be a function of the way in which it boosts endorphins — a natural painkiller and mood booster. It also increases norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that may enhance mood. Plus, exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells, which counteracts depression’s neuron-retarding and brain-shrinking effects.

Exercise also has more intangible benefits — increasing confidence, discipline, and willpower, and fostering the satisfaction that is born of using one’s body as it was intended — to move, work, push, run, jump, and lift.

Studies show that the more vigorously you exercise, the more depression-destroying benefits you accrue. Aerobic exercise seems to be particularly effective in boosting mood, but weightlifting has its unique satisfactions as well. I’d recommend doing both. Aim to work out for 45-60 minutes at least 3-5 times a week.

If that seems like too much to implement, know that simply walking vigorously for 45 minutes 3X a week has been found to have depression-squashing effects.

And if you can’t even motivate yourself to start walking? Take a page from a college student who was interviewed for an Atlantic Monthly article about exercise and depression and adopted the baby steps approach we recommended above:depression

“He thought getting some exercise might help, but it was hard to motivate himself to go to the campus gym.

‘So what I did is break it down into mini-steps,’ he said. ‘I would think about just getting to the gym, rather than going for 30 minutes. Once I was at the gym, I would say, ‘I’m just going to get on the treadmill for five minutes.’

Eventually, he found himself reading novels for long stretches at a time while pedaling away on a stationary bike. Soon, his gym visits became daily. If he skipped one day, his mood would plummet the next.

‘It was kind of like a boost,’ he said, recalling how exercise helped him break out of his inertia. ‘It was a shift in mindset that kind of got me over the hump.’”

When you’re having trouble dragging yourself to the gym, think of the admonition of psychology writer Tal Ben-Shahar: “Not exercising is like taking depressants.” If you’ve already got the melancholic deck stacked against you, don’t ingest metaphorical despondency drugs by living a sedentary lifestyle.

Do you need to talk to someone about your depression?

I offer Phone & Skype counseling. Talk to me about your situation.

Leave your contact details HERE and I will return to you within 24 hours.

 


 

SOURCE:

  1. Exercise Interventions for Mental Health: A Quantitative and Qualitative Review, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2850.2006.00021.x/abstract

  2. For Depression, Prescribing Exercise Before Medication – http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/for-depression-prescribing-exercise-before-medication/284587/

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