When Eating Takes Over Your Life

Addiction to burgers, fries and soda

How To Beat Food Addiction

Not everybody who is overweight has a food addiction. Some are genetically predisposed, do not exercise and/or eat carelessly. Food addiction is when you cannot stop thinking about the act of eating and must compulsively eat larger quantities more frequently to satisfy your desire.

Some people become addicted to food because they have a low self-esteem or feel depressed. The act of eating may make them feel better because their reward center in the brain is releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine. As with anything that tastes or feels good, the process is repeated.

Some obese individuals do not feel good about themselves when they indulge in too much eating, but continue the process for unknown reasons; they just cannot stop. Their self-esteem plummets because they know that eating large quantities of food is wrong, but they do it anyway. These individuals can benefit from psychotherapy to attempt to get to the root of the problem, which is often psychological.

Some patients with bulimia nervosa may be overweight even though they are suffering from an eating disorder. The difference is that these patients will either purge or excessively exercise after eating, attempting to compensate for their excessive caloric intake. Bulimic patients can benefit from SSRIs and psychotherapy.

Defeating food addiction requires you to be honest with yourself! You need to discover why you are indulging in a destructive behavior; any addiction requires this kind of analytical thinking. If you have trouble with this process, then you may benefit from psychotherapy with a trained professional.

Secondly, you need to eliminate your favorite types of food from your home and replace it with healthy food. This is not so hard: either finish your favorite food or discard it and do not purchase it again. Once you accomplish this, it then comes down to training yourself to enjoy healthy food eaten in smaller portions throughout the day.

You will find that with determination and consistency, eating healthy food in smaller portions throughout the day will become your new norm; you will not even think about it anymore. It takes time and motivation, but with the right state of mind and being honest with yourself, it is definitely accomplishable! This process will help you defeat your food addiction!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Social Media Seriously Harms Your Mental Health

Vehicle besides wall with graffiti about social media

Negative Effects Of Social Media

Ever since the arrival of social media websites such as FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram, many people have wasted precious hours of their life on the internet rather than going out and making friends, socializing, playing sports, exercising, reading and studying.

People who spend more than two hours per day on social media are more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is because social media makes you believe that others are having fun and “living the life” while you are sitting behind a computer screen as a bystander; it is all a mirage. Most people are not living extravagant lives and having as much fun as you think they are.

Social media increases your risk of experiencing cyberbullying. There are people out there who love putting others down and causing them embarrassment and humiliation; Twitter is big for this kind of behavior. Experiencing cyberbullying can make you feel depressed; some people even commit suicide.

FOMO or “fear of missing out” is developing anxiety when you observe others on social media having more fun than you are having; you become scared of missing out on a positive experience or emotion that someone else is experiencing. For example, a college student on FaceBook observes that a bunch of his classmates are attending a party on Friday night, but he was not invited. This will cause him to feel lonely and possibly even depressed.

Social media promotes unrealistic expectations (i.e., Youtube millionaires, Instagram modeling, becoming famous for doing something online) that waste your energy and time and distract you from the more important things in life, such as education and realistic career goals.

Social media can make you believe that you have a negative body image. For instance, seeing famous accounts on Instagram of men and women who are fit, rich and wearing expensive clothes can make you feel insecure about yourself; you start wondering why you don’t look like them. This promotes insecurity, anxiety and makes you feel self-conscious.

Social media can adversely affect your sleep quality. Many people stay up late to chat and browse photos and other people’s accounts, causing them to develop poor sleep hygiene and feeling non-productive the following day. This habit can promote drug use such as stimulants to stay up the next day. In the long run, unhealthy sleep patterns pave the way to mental illness.

Lastly, social media can be very addicting. Most people have to check their accounts at least once a day to make sure that they are not missing out on something. As with any addiction, it affects your mood, choices, beliefs and behavioral patterns.

As with anything in life, moderation is key!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

When Mother Nature Speaks

Person holding white daisy flower after earthquake

Not Letting Earthquakes Rock Your Mental Health

Earthquakes are common phenomena that will never go away no matter how mindful we become of climate change. They are unexpected natural events that tear up cities and instill fear and pain into humanity; they destroy at their own will.

It is important to understand that you must not let natural disasters shape you into a negative and bitter person; whether it be floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes or wildfires. These natural events are meant to bring us closer together, make us more thankful for what we have and provide us with strength and resilience.

Sadly, natural disasters affect many families by bringing injury, pain and even death; but this is how it has always been since the beginning of time. What we can learn from natural disasters is that they teach us one important lesson: never take life for granted because you may lose it in the blink of an eye.

Natural disasters are reset points in our lives; they bring humanity closer by promoting empathy, care and more love for one another. They are signs from mother nature when we venture of course and deviate into wrongful directions. Natural disasters should not be looked upon as punishments against humanity; rather, they are corrections and opportunities for growth and direction.

If you or anyone has been impacted by natural disasters, please share your experiences with The DSM Ready Movement so we can support each other in times of need. We are all in this together!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

What Is Compulsive Buying?

Compulsive buying of shoes and bags in a lit display collection inside a dark room

When Onionmania Strikes

Compulsive buying usually begins at age 18 and is more common in women. It is a chronic condition that involves uncontrolled excessive buying without the ability to stop. Patients do not usually seek treatment until their 20s or 30s when they realize that they have developed serious financial problems; some even declare bankruptcy.

Compulsive buyers usually have many credit cards they use for their urges to buy items. They can go on shopping sprees every hour or as infrequently as once a month. Many try to stop their behavior on their own but are unsuccessful.

Compulsive buyers have a maladaptive preoccupation with buying or shopping. They experience irresistible, intrusive or senseless impulses to buy. They frequently buy items that are too expensive to afford or are not needed. They also shop for longer periods of time than intended.

Compulsive buyers are distressed because their behavior is time consuming, significantly interferes with their social or occupational functioning and results in financial problems. It is important to note that compulsive buyers are not experiencing hypomania or mania during their shopping behavior.

Treatments that have shown some success:

  • Limiting access to shopping, credit cards, home catalogs, the internet and home shopping networks
  • Psychotherapy (CBT, psychodynamic therapy, insight-oriented therapy, supportive therapy and behavioral techniques)
  • Medications such as Luvox (antidepressant), Lithium and Depakote (mood stabilizers)

If you or anyone is suffering from compulsive buying, feel free to share your experience on The DSM Ready Movement, so we can come together and help each other.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Socializing Is Good For Your Mental Health

People socializing beside lake and forest

The Social Butterfly In You

We often become so caught up in our daily routines, that we forget the importance of spending time with friends. Socializing is good for you because it keeps you disengaged from your work and hobbies and allows you to rewind and loosens up your working self.

The benefits of socializing:

  • People with social support tend to live longer than those who are isolated (a general wellbeing is associated with socializing)
  • Your physical and mental health improve (it is associated with a stronger immune system and decreases feelings of depression)
  • You may lower your risk of dementia (it is associated with better performance on tests of memory and other cognitive skills)

Isolation prevents you from growing; all that time by yourself will cap your knowledge on certain life events. Only through social interactions, you can learn certain things in life that you will not find in a book.

We are social creatures by design and we must make an effort to maintain a social life. Go out there and meet people; force yourself if you have to. You will realize that the more you socialize, the better you will feel.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Why Your Complaints Do Not Help

Man holding cell phone that says "stop complaining"

Grow Up And Take Responsibility

Complaining is a negative trait or characteristic that a lot of people carry around; they do not realize how much harm the act of complaining does to their physical health, relationships and mental health.

When you complain, the body releases a stress hormone from the adrenal gland (a small gland on top of your kidney) called cortisol. Repeated cortisol release secondary to complaining can impair your immune system, making you more susceptible to developing high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and strokes. Think of your immune system as your “second brain.” When your “second brain” is impaired, so is your body.

Complaining also negatively affects your relationships. Nobody enjoys hearing a complainer whine about his or her day; it sets off an air of negativity which impacts you and makes you no longer want to spend time with that person.

How about your mental health? You guessed it! Repeatedly complaining can make you depressed, anxious, stressed and miserable. It promotes a vicious cycle: you become stressed and miserable resulting in complaints, and the complaints then result in more stress and anxiety.

When we talk about sharing our experiences and advice on the The DSM Ready Movement, we by no means intend on promoting the act of complaining. DSM Ready is about growth development, taking responsibility for our actions and words and helping each other elevate to the next level.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Opening The Blinds To Suicide

Suicidal man sitting on a chair surrounded by people

Ending The Stigma Of Suicide

Suicide rates are continuing to increase for adolescents and young adults. Between 1994-2014, the rate has increased 24%. Because of the stigma, suicide rates may be underreported, resulting in a higher number than is currently estimated.

The highest suicide rates are in white males above the age of 65. It is believed that this age group suffers from issues such as life satisfaction v.s. despair on not having lived a productive and fulfilling life. The elderly also suffer from depression, loneliness, medical conditions, neglect and abuse! On the other hand, adolescents are committing suicide because of multiple factors: drug and alcohol abuse, strict parenting that results in too much pressure at school, bullying and peer pressure. Adolescents are a particular vulnerable group because their frontal lobe has not finished developing; the frontal lobe is responsible for judgement and decision-making, hence why adolescents tend to get into trouble. They also start identifying less with their parents and more with their peers; this is the time for them to mold their personality and fit into a group of young people that share similar interests. It is important for parents not to lose touch with their teenagers once they enter this time of their life; allowing them to swim too far off shore may cause them to never return.

We need to become open about how we feel inside. We need to become open about suicidal thoughts and feelings. The stigma of mental health is decreasing but not fast enough to keep up with the increasing death rates and mental complications. We need to come together and be honest with each other. There is nothing to be embarrassed about; sharing may save someone’s life.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Complexity Of Impulses

Impulsive woman jumping in a burned down house

Keep The Brake Pedal Handy

The sudden strong and unreflective urge or desire to act is the definition of an impulse. The key word is unreflective. Impulses can protect us, improve our situations and relationships or can shatter us! An impulse usually has a negative connotation; we usually think of bad things happening but that is not always true. An impulse can help you get that next date, give you strength to hit the gym or study for countless hours to get that A on your upcoming exam.

But there is something strange about impulses; they often bring confusion and may even make you self-conscious. Most of the time, we do not like urges or sudden strong feelings; they make us feel insecure and unsure of the situation we are in or getting ourselves in. Impulses can sometimes get us into fights, promote an addiction or even get us into trouble with the law.

My recommendation is that people always take 10-20 seconds to think an impulse through, before acting on it. It is not hard to spot an upcoming impulse; usually you have premeditated on the future action before it happens. When you feel an impulse coming, for instance, pouring yourself an alcoholic drink when you are struggling with alcoholism, take 10-20 seconds to press the pause button and remind yourself “I have a problem with alcohol and I do not need this drink”, rather than jumping straight to the bottle. Those 10-20 seconds may prevent you from pouring another drink, resulting in improved confidence and willpower to abstain from alcohol! What is your opinion on impulses? Share your comments below.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Painful Rollercoast

Man dressed in a shirt experiencing pain

Do Not Run Away From Pain

Pain is part of life. From the time of our birth, to the death of our loved ones, the concept of pain is experienced at all times. But why do we experience pain? What is the role behind it and is there a way to avoid it?

Pain can be physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Because pain is experienced in so many different ways, there is absolutely no way of avoiding it. Therefore, rather than running away from pain, we should embrace it by experiencing its full effect and reaping the benefits: a development of a stronger character, a more experienced perception of life and increased resilience! The concept of pain is not an accidental design in human nature; it is a purposeful experience that humans must go through in order to build character.

When a cycle of pain ends, have you noticed that you come out of the experience feeling stronger and more confident to tackle the challenges of life? Unfortunately, many people remain stuck in a cycle of pain, leading to depression, suicidal thoughts and even death. It can be very dangerous to remain stuck in a cycle of pain and not learn how to deal with it in the moment. Remember that we all are in this together; experiencing the concept of pain during our lives. It is an inevitable feeling that will come back into our lives at unexpected times, but we must not fall shy from experiencing it. Together, via the DSM Movement, we can help each other deal with pain through the sharing of our experiences with pain and how to handle various situations.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Power Of Knowledge

Books on shelves

Why You Need Knowledge

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to garner as much knowledge as possible. This can be accomplished with many different sources, such as reading books, articles, magazines, surfing the internet, watching educational television channels, and learning from people! I believe that the best source of knowledge are books themselves. There is something magical about the process of reading a book; it keeps you engaged and wanting to learn more.

But why am I addressing knowledge and its importance? The reality is that knowledge opens up doors in life; it allows you to sway in different directions and avenues and to meet new people who also have knowledge. Knowledge attracts knowledge. It can also protect you from danger; it provides you with facts, experiences and awareness of different situations and people. I believe that a lot of people underestimate the power of knowledge; especially in this day in age since everyone is so distracted with technology. For instance, Gaming Disorder is now a real psychological diagnosis! Who would have believed that growing up 10-15 years ago?

Gathering knowledge can also help you with your mental illness. For instance, someone who is experiencing the terrible feeling of a panic attack, can prevent it from turning into a nightmare by remembering what he or she read in a book or article about panic attacks: they can be dissolved by taking deep breaths, they can be lessened by not fighting against them, and even distracting yourself by shifting you attention to another thought process or topic at hand can help dissipate them. One of the goals of the DSM movement is to come together and share our knowledge and experience of mental health disorders, so we can learn together and ultimately end the stigma!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)