Tag Archives: research

Depression may not be all bad

A recent study by Dr. Andrews and Thomson was reported in July 2009’s Psychological Review that discussed a new idea in the study of depression. Our understanding of sadness in regards to long term illness has been a growing avenue of consideration. There are multiple theories and new research comes out fairly often. Taking these studies into the realm of possibility for treatment is important.

So many people suffer from feeling blue/lonely/lathargic and usually we call this depression. The symptoms can vary in range but overall we just don’t feel very much like ourselves. The feeling of being emotionally stuck in molase is a common one that is discussed within the walls of my office.

I have found that what works best for one client may not necessarily be the best method for another. While everything from meditation, exercise, sleep hygiene, eating habits, expression, social connection, and talk therapy are wonderful attempts at getting at the issue, we still are lacking in many areas of understanding.

Hence when new research comes along that looks at depression in a fresh way it is worth delving into further.  An article from Scientific American discusses the study by explaining the researchers are finding that depression may be an indicator for people to consider their feelings and situations more deeply.  The authors consider that perhaps not all parts of depression are negative, but rather that when studying the minds of those that suffer with depression are able to focus their brain more directly in a differing way on their problems.

What if depression is not completely a negative situation? What if depression is an indicator from our bodies/mind to slow down and concentrate more on situations that we are pushing aside? If you think about other ways the body shows us that we need to think and feel more directly, there is a lot of basic life evidence to support such a theory.

We often talk about how our necks or backs are tense from stress. Is this not the bodies way of saying “Hey! Hold on here… stuff is happening that you are not processing”?  This is not to say that all depression is simply a red flag for not looking close that issues, but many a counselor would tell you such in therapy.

I’m not sure we have answers for depression, yet if there is another element to add to the possibly lightening of the load it is exciting look ahead. Hence if you are feeling low and can try to more concretely think about what situation/event/feeilng is rising up for focus, you may just see more results then pretending it isn’t there.  Depression could be our minds telling us it wants to get better!


What to do when you are anxious?

I came across some interesting research recently in the field of anxiety. A study from the University of California Berkeley has found that trying to numb out while anxious may not be very helpful. Instead engaging the brain in various cognitive tasks can help.  We have for years encouraged people to distract themselves from repetitive anxiety provoking thoughts.  This approach is still valid because we want the brain to calm itself down and recenter. The point is that the anxious feelings will not last forever and that if you are distracted you can slow the mind/body down in a way that helps a person relax and move out of the anxious state.

This recent study Sonia Bishop (you can find the full study here and also another great study by Bishop on anxiety here) looks at how the anxious individuals have trouble accessing a part of their brain that would allow them to be distracted by a regular task. Basically what this means is that if you are experiencing anxiety and look to do a load of laundry to distract yourself, the way your brain is wired may not be as open to using the task as a distraction (which in turn the hope is that it would relieve a bit of anxiety).

So … what should you do? Bishop’s study explore the idea that an anxious individual might do better off distracting themselves with a mind game like chess, sudoku, or some kind of puzzle.  This is because an anxious person needs more stimuli to distract them then a task their brain already knows the answer to.  The brain needs something with a bit more kick to help it regulate in an anxious state than it might if you were feeling calm.  Once the brain is stimulated and activate (by something not routine) then it can jump outside the normal anxious producing thought process.

Next time you are feeling anxious… try challenging your brain. You might just find you are more relaxed, enjoy yourself, and even learned a thing or two. This new research seems like a win-win all around.

A different kind of New Year resolution

It is about that time of year again. You have made it through the first two holiday rounds and the final one is upon us… the New Year. With this celebration comes the tradition of resolutions.

Research by Miller and Marlatt (2005) shows that exercise, dieting, and decreasing in drinking/smoking all are high on the list of things people resolve to change for the upcoming year. These are great and I encourage everyone to make changes towards a happy and healthier lifestyle.

However, there are areas of your life that could also use a bit of a boost.  May I suggest that you consider working towards a goal of more self-esteem, a more loving perspective towards yourself, or even taking a bit more time for relaxation?  It may not appear at first glance that these things are worth setting up as a resolution, but I assure you that you will not regret the effort.

Imagine for a moment that someone is asking you if you made any resolutions for the new year and you smile back saying that you are going to say 10 positive things to yourself everyday. The person asking can’t help but respond in a positive way. There is a cycle of positivity that immediately is created the moment you start sharing you desire for personal growth. It is just how these things work.

And while working out is good for your mind, body, and soul… so is encouraging self consideration. You can always make time and space for kindness towards yourself.  There is no excuse due to weather, feelings, sick, or being busy. You can easily make the positive thoughts habit without much effort at all.

Oh yeah, Miller and Marlatt (2005) also talk about in their research about how if you want to make a resolution stick one of the best tricks is to, “Keep track of your progress. The more monitoring you do and feedback you get, the better you will do.” How nice the researchers agree that you should spread the word on your new choice to be much more loving to yourself.

Go forth and take on the new year with gusto!

Happy and Healthy = Kinky?

A recent study by the University of NSW explores the idea of BDSM among Australians . The study conducted by Juliet Richters and her colleagues wrote in the Journal of Sexual Medicine that, “Findings support the idea that bondage and discipline and sadomasochism (BDSM) is simply a sexual interest “.

I got this link via a friend who got it through Adult Rope Art and it really did not surprise any of us. Does it shock you that someone could be involved in conscious choices of sexuality where there is perhaps some level of physical power exchange?

The average person thinks that BDSM (and most people have heard the term by this point) is either something very serious or very silly. Your friends may joke about wearing leather or maybe you have even thought about going to a Dominatrix but were afraid.

All this is actually good for mainstream America (even if the study took place in Australia). The more BDSM is talked about the more normal it becomes. Don’t believe me? The fact of the matter is that most of us that are sexually active have lightly spanked someone on the butt or held someone down for a passionate kiss.  If you are unsure about if this is BDSM, I’ll tell you… it is!!!

One does not have to dress up, pretend to be someone else, or even do anything extreme to dable in BDSM. The truth is, it is overall much more about sexual exploration, energy exchange, and allowing yourself to go where the moment takes you and your partner(s).  There are no rules as to what is BDSM (even if you hear others tell you so).  If you want to take a specific role, go to play parties, or head out for a special convention on rope bondage that is great. However, you can also cuddle up in bed, playfully tease one another with words,  and nibble on one another’s lips. It is all about BDSM it is just at the other end of the spectrum.

So don’t let these things scare you. You are your own sexual being and as long as there is consent (even non-consensual-consent — another topic for another time) with everyone involved then try something new and see what happens. Before you know it you might realize it isn’t so scary or funny but actually really sexy and someone you enjoy!