What Is Psychotherapy?

Beautiful attractive blonde girl sitting on the couch

Dive Into The Mind With Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the treatment of mental disorders by psychological rather than medical means. There are many forms of psychotherapy, each with its different school of thought and techniques for helping patients achieve more order in their lives. Did you know that you do not need a mental illness to undergo psychotherapy? Some people attend sessions just because they want to improve their lives; it can be very therapeutic and help one rediscover their ways, thought processes, intentions, motivations, problems, etc.

There should be no shame seeing a psychotherapist. Think of it as reorganizing the files on your computer (your mind); after years of use, it can get messy in there. Psychotherapy can be performed by a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist trained in mental health. Who you see does not matter as much as whether you actually start the process of psychotherapy itself.

What is psychoanalysis? This is a form of psychotherapy founded by Sigmund Freud – one of the greatest minds the world of psychology has ever seen. This form of therapy aims to treat mental disorders by investigating the interaction of your conscious mind and your unconscious mind, and bringing repressed fears and conflicts into your conscious mind by techniques such as dream interpretation and free association.

You might have seen free association in movies, where the patient lays down on a couch with his or her back to the therapist and speaks whatever is on their mind; this helps facilitate a natural flow of thought and allows the therapist and yourself to understand why you think of the things you do. Freud called dreams “the royal road to the unconscious.”

He believed that dreams provided images, clues and information about your unconscious mind, but because of the difficulty of interpreting a dream’s meaning, it has to be carefully deciphered. This is a little harder to do because many people don’t attempt to recall their dreams. Often, a dream diary is required for this process.

Overall, psychoanalysis needs to be performed 3-4 times a week for a patient to reap its benefits. The total duration of therapy is based on each individual case. And lastly, it can get expensive. Usually this form of therapy is sought out by people who have time and money on their hands. One recent famous example is Howard Stern; he was recently on CNN talking to Anderson Cooper about how he has benefited from psychoanalysis. And boy, did he look like a changed man!

What is cognitive behavioral therapy? CBT is a type of psychotherapy in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged in order to alter unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders such as depression. This is less time consuming than psychoanalysis because this allows a patient to meet once a week with the therapist. This form of therapy does not attempt to analyze your unconscious, nor does it attempt to get to the root of the problem. Oftentimes, the root of the problem is very difficult to discover.

For example, you might have a fear of flying in airplanes which started 6 months ago. Prior to that, you never had that fear. CBT does not attempt to analyze why you developed this fear in the first place, because it might have developed from a multitude of factors, which can take years to arrive to or maybe never. Secondly, arriving at the source of the problem will not fix your present fear of flying.

So what CBT does is provide you with a set of tools and techniques to help you comfortably fly again. The therapist might advise you to attend a flight simulation laboratory where you experience the act of flying in gradual steps. Think of CBT as “I recognize your problem, I’ve seen five others patients in my career with your problem, here are a set of tools that have worked for them and which I believe will work for you.”

There are many other forms of psychotherapy. The important point to understand is that some people can benefit from talking more than they can benefit from medications alone, and that there should be no shame or stigma of seeking someone to talk to about your mental health concerns.

The DSM movement is about promoting an open community where people feel proud to share their mental health concerns, and are loving and caring with each other.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Importance Of Exercising On Your Mental Health

Attractive woman jogging on stadium bleachers in blue spandex

Exercise Helps You Escape Reality

There is something magical about putting your body in motion. If you learn to be focused during your exercises, whether that is through music or socializing, you will find out very quickly that you enter a “fitness tunnel” that keeps you motivated to push harder during your workouts. This results in endorphins or “endogenous opioid neuropeptides” or “feel-good hormones” to be released by your Central Nervous System and Pituitary Gland into your system to help you feel good.

Your body literally interprets the intense exercise as fatigue and injury, and so it rewards you with natural painkillers to feel good. And guess what happens when you feel good? You keep exercising because you want more. And guess what happens when you keep exercising? You are distracted from depression, anxiety, worries, stress, work, relationships, etc.

Exercising is a natural remedy for treating mental health issues. Your body and mind click during exercising like two pieces of puzzle; they are both preoccupied with the workout. But when you are suffering from a mental illness, your mind is preoccupied with the symptoms and your body is just there, not really doing anything – see the disconnection?

Now that is not to suggest that you should no longer take psychiatric medications if you start exercising. It’s always best to talk to your psychiatrist about any changes in treatment, but I believe exercise and medications is better than medications alone.

Is exercising hard? Sure it is. You have to maintain your motivation, establish a routine, actually step outside your home and perform the activities. But is going to work or school hard? Just because you don’t get paid during exercising doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

With exercising, you reap the benefits that same day: your circulation (blood flow) is increased, your LDL (bad cholesterol) goes down and your HDL (good cholesterol) goes up, your glucose (sugar) is burned, your muscles start breaking down and rebuilding into a more fit and lean structure, and lastly: you are taking care of your mental health; you feel happier! The DSM movement is all about excellent mental health and proper fitness!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Dating, Mental Health And The Impact On Millennials

Millennials sprayed in skin paint taking a group picture with a cell phone

The Emotional Epidemic

Loneliness rates are increasing at an all time high and dating has turned into superficial hookups and one-night stands. Burnout was just recently classified as a mental health disorder by the World Health Organization. Depression and anxiety are increasing, not decreasing. Friendships and relationships are becoming more superficial; no one has time for anybody.

People are marrying at a later age and divorces are still at an all time high. Student debt is plaguing the country with unhappiness; one report tells the story of a student who attempted to import Cocaine from Panama to try to pay his student debt. It is evident that the millennial generation is facing a unique time of hardships not experienced by prior generations.

What is behind this rise in hardships and why is our generation experiencing it? The culprit, unfortunately, might be technology itself. We have become so hooked and dependent on laptops, cell phones, television, social media, Instagram and Facebook, that it has caused us to become detached from one another.

Back in the day, the lack of technology forced people to interact with each other on the street, work and school way more frequently than present day; that was the only opportunity for socializing. Nowadays, if millennials go out, they may attend a bar which again involves superficial relationships that either lead to an intimate rejection or an overnight quickie, only to never see the person after the next day.

Is there a solution to this madness or are we doomed? I believe the solution involves deleting dating apps, spending as little time as possible on social media websites, watching television at a bare minimum, and in return, spending more time exercising, meditating, praying and getting involved in hobbies. Even psychotherapy can be beneficial; a mental health diagnosis is not required.

I think most importantly is changing our mindset: lowering our expectations, being more loving with each other and being forthcoming regarding our mental health issues; putting an end to mental health stigma! We need to lose our selfish mentality that everything is “about us.” We need to form a cohesive alliance again, and tackle these hardships together. The DSM movement is about prevailing together!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Will Psilocybin Help With Mental Health?

A man's hand holding magic mushrooms

The Resurgence Of Psychedelics In Medicine

Psilocybin is the hallucinogenic chemical in “magic mushrooms.” It is converted to psilocin within 45 minutes after ingesting the mushrooms. Users start to feel “mind loosening”, increased perceptual awareness, heightened senses, and expansion of consciousness. Psilocybin has been studied for years in clinical trials at John Hopkin’s as well as a recent clinical trial in terminally ill cancer patients at NYU.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has been studying hallucinogenic compounds for years; their famous study shows MDMA proving to be helpful for patients with PTSD. The MDMA helps the patients become very relaxed and empathic with the therapist, to the point of feeling extreme comfort reliving their traumatic experiences, and working through their traumatic experiences to help avoid being affected by them. But is there evidence that mushrooms and psychedelics can help the medical field, in particular, psychiatric patients?

Psilocybin and LSD actually used to be utilized in psychiatry in the 1950s and earlier on patients with schizophrenia, anxiety, depression and even alcoholics. Alcoholics were given LSD and the trick was to induce a frightening experience or “trip” similar to delirium tremens; a naturally scary hallucinating experience experienced during alcohol withdrawal.

It was shown that after their experience with LSD, many alcoholics refused to consume a drink even two months after the experience; a much better result than any medication assisted treatment present in 2019. Psilocybin has been shown to be effective in terminally ill anxious cancer patients who are afraid of dying; the chemical delivers a profound experience, resulting in increased self-acceptance of their fate, as well as drastically reduced anxiety.

Many people have experienced mystical and profound experiences on psychedelics. They come out of their trip reporting “being a new man”, “having rediscovered myself” and claiming to have their ego dissolved. One famous actor in the past even reported “young women are now very attracted to me.” Will psychedelics be utilized in the near future to help heal all the depression and anxiety which people are suffering from in modern day times? Let’s hope!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Addiction Epidemic Of K2

A man lighting up a k2 joint

K2: A Parasite Of The Brain

K2 or Spice is a drug sold in convenience stores across the United States. It is made up of synthetic cannabinoids that bind to the same receptors in the brain that THC in Marijuana binds to. It is mass produced by chemists in China and other countries, resulting in mass-importation on the black market.

However, this garbage of a drug causes seizures, bizarre behavior, psychosis and even death. This is because the chemists alter the chemicals after the DEA bans the last batch’s chemical properties. In return, users never know what they are inhaling.

The drug continues to remain easily accessible because of the changed chemistry of new batches that enter the market. It is very unfortunate that people lower their standards and use drugs that are chemically manufactured and which serve no purpose. Supposedly, the high is similar or more intense than Marijuana, but why do people choose to smoke a fake version of Marijuana that can cause them to have seizures?

The answer is because addiction comes in many shapes and forms; it is like a demon creeping in the alleyway, waiting for its next victim to terrorize. That is why we must come together and better understand how to defeat addiction. Consciousness may be universal, and by coming together, we can create a better and more thorough understanding of our thoughts; sort of like a “world wide consciousness.”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

What Is Gambling Disorder?

People gambling on a poker chip table

When Casinos Hijack The Reward System

Imagine coming from a successful family: your dad is a lawyer, your brothers are physicians and you’re spending endless nights in Atlantic City gambling your life away, hoping to earn more money . . . deciding at 5am that you no longer have energy and you run back to your hotel to crash, only to wake up at 6pm and start all over again. In addition, you consume alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine; anything that can give you that extra edge. Welcome to Gambling Disorder.

Gambling Disorder is a real diagnosis experienced by millions of people worldwide:

1) Gamblers need to gamble with increasing amounts of money to experience a desired excitement. $100 dollars no longer does it. $1000 dollars no longer does it. $10,000 is the next magic number, until they crash and burn.

2) Gamblers become restless and irritable when they crash and burn. They attempt to stop but can’t. The loss is on their mind. They believe that next time will be different. And so they return back to gamble more hours of their life away.

3) Gamblers have made many unsuccessful attempts to cut back. The virus has struck their mind and their circuity has been hijacked: they need to win more money so they can feel good again. Not gambling actually makes them sad.

4) Gamblers think of ways of obtaining money for which to gamble with. Some forge checks, some steal, some use all their money from their jobs. It’s a never-ending cycle.

5) Gamblers gamble when distressed: anxiety, guilt, helplessness, depression. Their mental health takes a toll; they will sacrifice their well-being for the hope of winning money.

6) Gamblers “chase one’s losses.” They will return the next day to make up for what they lost. Say goodbye to your job, your family and your friends.

7) Gamblers lie. They cannot reveal to people that they have an issue. The only people who know at first is the employees at the casino. But they don’t care. It’s a business.

8) Gamblers lose relationships. Their friends and families give up on them. They have a failed marriage, a failed career. Their addiction as taken over them.

9) Gamblers have desperate financial situations. They ask others for money. They do anything to go back to the casino. They have lost it.

This is the life of a person with Gambling Disorder. We must come together and help these people live a normal life again. Stigma and pointing the finger are not the answers. This is a mental disease that needs grave attention. We are in this together.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Time To End Mental Health Stigma

A female leaning her head against a man's shoulder

Stigma Prevents Progress

Why is there disgrace associated with mental disorders? Because someone is suffering from depression, anxiety, personality disorders, psychosis or addiction, society attaches stigma to the symptoms the person is experiencing? This no longer can go on, if we want to help society be open about mental disorders and their corresponding treatments.

Stigma halts progress; it is a barrier that stands before us and keeps many people hidden in the shadows; hidden from seeking treatment. The more we come together and share our experiences, the sooner mental health will be normalized and accepted.

There should be no shame to one experiencing depression, anxiety or even suicidal thoughts; the brain is undergoing neurochemical changes and needs help reestablishing order. Just like any sick organ in physical disorders, the same applies to mental illness. The key is coming together and sharing our experiences. Let’s learn why we feel depressed, anxious or experiencing hallucinations.

All of these experiences are frightening, but imagine how much more frightening they are for someone who cannot share them due to fear of stigma? This person can commit suicide due to stigma; his or her emotions will literally bury them if they cannot live in an open society, free to share their mental health concerns.

Let’s come together and put an end to stigma. I encourage everyone reading this post to share it as much as possible with your friends and family! Spread the word: we will end mental health stigma.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Mental Health Involves Consistency

A woman with makeup holding a piece of white paper with a smile drawn on the paper

Consistency Involves Determination

The daily stress we encounter can take a huge toll on our mental well-being; jobs, errands, relationships, tasks, etc. All of these can add up and influence our genetic makeup – it’s called epigenetics. Our genes can be turned on or off, resulting in depression, anxiety and for some, unfortunately, psychosis. So what do I mean by consistency?

You have to maintain a certain mindset where you remain happy and content with your life, preventing stress from influencing your behavior and emotions; this must be done on a daily basis. This does not mean that you shouldn’t shoot for the stars as in my previous post; you still want to remain motivated for success. But do it in a way where you don’t get bogged down in worry, stress and anxiety.

But you have to be determined to remain in a consistent state of mind. Determination means it has to come from your heart and mind; you are motivated to be consistent and mentally-healthy. And if you are not determined, you must find a way to become determined: look back at how you felt when you were once happy, content, joyful, glad and excited! When you can tune in with those positive emotions, it will become easier to remain consistent and determined to maintain a positive state of mind.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Power Of Being Thankful

A wooden sign on a palm tree stating "thankful"

Being Thankful Will Deliver You More Positive Results

We are so bombarded with work, education and distractions that we forget one important thing: being thankful for everything we have. Depression and anxiety can stem from being overstressed, but did you know that by reminding yourself everyday of all the things you have to be thankful for, can lower your chances of developing a mental illness?

This is because by being thankful on a daily basis, you force yourself to recognize all the good things you have in your life, which uplifts your mood and stabilizes your mind; stabilization takes you down the right path in life.

But one mistake people make is that they are not thankful enough. Being thankful once in a blue moon is like trying to lose weight by exercising once a month; it’s not going to happen. The key word is “daily.” Everyday, from morning to night, you should be thankful in your heart and in your mind.

Remind yourself of all the great things you have: the job you have, your family who is still around, the roof above your head, the good health you are in, etc. This is called positive reinforcement; you are self-delivering encouragement for the life you lead.

Being thankful helps to keep negative thoughts away. Remember that your mind is like a garden; weeds (negative thoughts) don’t take effort to grow, but flowers (positive thoughts) must be carefully planted and taken care of on a daily basis; otherwise, they rot.

Rotting is equivalent to poor mental health: depression, anxiety and even hallucinations. It’s time for you to forget about yesterday, and start being thankful for today.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Turn Your Addiction Into Self-Love

Two addicted burned out females smoking

Your Antivirus Is The Power Of Love

That bottle of Jack, that pack of Camels, that hit of a Fattie . . . all tempting compulsions that have been integrated into your daily habits as a source of pleasure; your brain releasing increasing amounts of the neurotransmitter called dopamine. Your consciousness suddenly enters the state of mind that you have been waiting for; you’re on Cloud 9! Now you ask yourself, “which enjoyable activity do I proceed to?”

The above statement is a typical mindset of a user abusing substances. And this pattern repeats itself for years, even decades for some. The problem is that the mind of the user, the brain per-say, has been hijacked; the reward system of the brain called the Nucleus Accumbens is in love with this new source of pleasure called “drugs.”

It wants you to keep using, and in return, it gives you dopamine which makes both your brain and you, the user, feel good. But as I talk about in my other post, this relationship is not healthy and will never last, and if it does, it will last at a low depressing level.

So how do we work on dissolving an addiction? Remember that thing called love? Sure you do; it trumps everything because the source is from God our creator. By calling on God to give you energy and love, he will help you curb your addiction. But first things first: you must work really hard to love yourself.

No human who is addicted can possibly say that they love themselves, when they deliberately proceed with their drug addiction; you are basically hurting yourself. Once you tap into that source of love, you will discover that love will now reach the Nucleus Accumbens and naturally stimulate it to be happy without any substances; as it was intended in the first place when you were born.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)