Love is like Cocaine: The Remarkable, Terrifying Neuroscience of Romance – Part 4

Yes, you really are addicted to love.

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Addicted to Grief

The emotional responses to a thorny breakup can resemble the responses to the death of a loved one. You feel weighed down by the memories, the longing, the wistful tears, the chest pain and the aching throughout the whole body. Or you are so outraged that you are lucky not to have a semi-automatic weapon. Or you are ready to go on a secret mission aimed at reversing the terrible outcome. It’s no coincidence that breakups can resemble the death of a loved one. When a loved one dies, you grieve. But death is not the only trigger of grief. Grief can occur after any kind of loss: the loss of a job, a limb, a breast, a home, a relationship.

According to the Kübler-Ross model of grief, also known as “The Five Stages of Grief,” first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book,”On Death and Dying,” grief involves five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. After the loss of a loved one, you may first deny that the person is gone, simply refuse to believe it. Once the truth dawns on you, you may feel outraged and attempt to convince the beloved to come back or beg God or the universe’s spirits to reverse their decision. Once you realize things are not going to change, sadness sets in. Over time you may finally accept what happened. These stages need not occur in this order, and each stage may occur several times. The different emotions can also overlap. You may be angry and in a bargaining mode at the same time, or deny what happened and still feel sad. Philosopher Shelley Tremain captured the complexity of grief well when she wrote on her Facebook site, “Today  would have been my father’s eighty-first birthday. Some days, I think time is on my side, that it’s getting easier to live with losing him. Then, it happens. Sometimes, it’s a figure of speech he was fond of, at other times, I am shaving him, or I look in the mirror and see the features of my face that are his, or we are sitting together holding hands. Just sitting there.”

Sometimes it is nearly impossible to let go of grief. When you continue to grieve a loss for a very long time, your condition is called “complicated (or pathological) grief.” The love story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is a heartbreakingly beautiful illustration of complicated grief. Alexandrina Victoria was eighteen when she became Queen of England. Her Uncle, King William IV, had no surviving legitimate children. So Victoria became his heir when he died in 1837. When Prince Albert, her first cousin, visited London in 1839, Victoria immediately fell in love with him. Initially Albert had doubts about the relationship, but he eventually fell in love with her too. The couple got married in February 1840. During the next eighteen years Queen Victoria gave birth to nine children. She loved Albert deeply. Albert was not only a dutiful husband and the father of Victoria’s children, he was also Victoria’s political and diplomatic advisor. For twenty-one years they lived happily together. But the bliss came crashing to a halt when Prince Albert died of typhoid at Windsor on December 14, 1861.

Albert’s death completely destroyed Victoria emotionally. She was overwhelmed by grief and refused to show her face in public for the next three years. People began to question her competence, and many attempted to assassinate her. Victoria finally appeared in public but she refused to wear anything but black and mourned her Prince Albert until her own death in 1901. Victoria’s forty-year-long state of mourning earned her the nickname “The Widow of Windsor.” She never again became the happy and cheerful woman she had been when Albert was alive. In preparation for her own death she asked for two items to be in her coffin: one of Albert’s dressing gowns and a lock of his hair.

Complicated grief is so severe that psychiatrists now consider it for inclusion in the psychiatric manual for diagnosing mental disorders. If you have complicated grief, you have been grieving for six months or more. You furthermore satisfy at least five of the following criteria:

  1. You have obsessive thoughts about aspects of the lost relationship or the person you were with.
  2. You spend a significant amount of time every day or almost every day, thinking about your lost relationship or the person you were with.
  3. You have intense emotional pain, sorrow, pangs, or yearnings related to the lost relationship.
  4. You avoid reminders of the loss, because you know that reminders will cause you pain or make you feel uncomfortable.
  5. You have problems accepting the loss of the relationship.
  6. You have frequent dreams that relate to your lost relationship.
  7. You frequently suffer from deep sadness, depression, or anxiety because of the loss.
  8. You are angry or feel a deep sense of injustice in relation to the lost relationship.
  9. You have difficulties trusting others since the relationship ended.
  10. The loss of the relationship makes it difficult for you to find pleasure in social and routine activities.
  11. Your symptoms make it difficult for you to function optimally on your job, as a parent or in a new relationship.

Complicated grief is emotionally and chemically similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, some psychiatrists argue that there is no need to include complicated grief as a separate psychological condition. They are variations on the very same disorder, they say. Posttraumatic stress disorder can occur as the result of any traumatic event. The most common traumatic events discussed in the literature on posttraumatic stress are events of war, terrorist attacks, brutal physical and sexual assaults, and traffic accidents. It is not commonly noted that unexpected breakups and other traumatic relationship events can also lead to posttraumatic stress.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a condition in which you keep reliving the traumatic event— for example, the breakup—avoiding situations that are similar to the one that led to the trauma. You furthermore have difficulties sleeping, you feel angry, you have difficulties focusing, and you suffer from anxiety. To be a clinical case of posttraumatic stress disorder, the symptoms must last more than a month and lead to difficulties functioning socially, on the job, or in other areas of life. Posttraumatic stress disorder is more likely to occur if the adrenaline surge at the time of the event was very intense.

A study published in the May 2008 issue of Neuroimage suggests that complicated grief sometimes occurs because a normal grieving process turns into an addiction. Led by neuroscientist Mary-Frances O’Connor, the team looked at images of the brains of people who satisfied the criteria for complicated grief and people who weren’t grieving and found significantly more activity in the nucleus accumbens of the people with complicated grief. Activity in the nucleus accumbens is associated with addiction.

It may seem strange that you could actually become addicted to emotional pain and a longing for a person who is no longer with you. The researchers suggest that your yearning and sadness may give you some type of pleasure or satisfaction.

Perhaps the turmoil of emotions does really provide some kind of gratification. Perhaps this emotional overflow is addictive. But it is also possible that the increased activity in the nucleus accumbens signifies increased dopamine levels of the sort found in certain anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The classical case of this disorder is one in which the afflicted is obsessed with thoughts of disease and germs and compulsively washes his or her hands after being near other people or anything that could possibly carry microbes. This disorder is associated with low levels of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin and fluctuating levels of the motivator chemical dopamine. The low levels of serotonin cause anxiety that involves obsessive, jazzy thinking and the dopamine “reward” motivates the afflicted person to behave in compulsive ways.

As people ruminate obsessively over the events leading up to the loss in complicated grief, the condition may turn out to be similar in this respect to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Low levels of serotonin may trigger obsessive thinking, crippling anxiety, and a visceral yearning for the absent person or the irretrievable relationship. The dopamine response elicited by this kind of obsessive thinking and longing may motivate the grief-stricken person to engage in begging and bargaining and it could also ignite anger fits and a ferocious denial of the loss of the relationship.

 

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What It’s Really Like to Be Sober Curious: When an Alcohol “Break” Becomes Permanent

In the spring of 2018, 42-year-old Kim Banks found herself in a lonely place. Struggles with anxiety and depression interfered with life as a wife, mother of 5-year-old twin boys, and her work in public relations. Despite self-improvements like daily exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits, Banks wasn’t happy.

“I was feeling lots of anxiety and depression, along with irritability, even though I was trying to do all the right things,” she says.

In the back of her mind, Banks describes a nagging thought, “Give up the alcohol.”

“I was in a constant, daily argument with myself,” she says. At the root of was the question: “Should I drink tonight?”

Photo credit: Instagram/@kimbanks_reset
Photo credit: Instagram/@kimbanks_reset
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Banks ended each workday with a few glasses of wine. On weekend nights out with her husband, she describes “going a little hard,” and leaving a wave of bad feelings for the next day.

“I knew I needed to eliminate alcohol, but it was the last thing I wanted to eliminate,” she says. “I really enjoyed wine, and I definitely bought into the idea alcohol enhances experiences,” she continues. “Tell me to give anything else up but the wine.”

Initially, Banks describes a curiosity around “taking a 30-day-break” from alcohol. She researched online for information about what impact alcohol has on the body. “I mainly searched for success stories from people who gave up drinking for 30 days or more,” she explains.

Her online searches turned up first-hand accounts of people like herself, who hadn’t suffered major life-altering consequences from drinking, but saw their drinking as problematic all the same. Others identified as “alcoholic” but blended traditional 12-step recovery with other support among fellow “sober curious” followers.

Banks made the decision to go alcohol-free. “I was thinking, ‘This isn’t making me happy anymore, but it’s ingrained in my daily habits,'” she says.

How Giving Up Alcohol Became a Wellness Trend

Ruby Warrington’s 2018 book Sober Curious is something of a guidebook for this less-threatening, label-free, booze-less trend. The book describes Warrington’s “gray-area problem drinking.” Uncomfortable with the label “alcoholic,” she developed a following of like-minded non-drinkers via her book, podcasts, and social media. Banks is one of many who either gave up drinking altogether or drink more mindfully.

Sober coach Rae Dylan lives in New York City and sees the trend up close. Cities like New York City and Chicago are seeing a rise of sober-free bars and events. Instagram and Facebook pages devoted to alcohol-free living boast followers in the tens of thousands.

“I see it as part of what’s happening all around us,” says Dylan, who works with recovering addicts and alcoholics requiring protection from the press, nutritional guidance, mental health issues, medication, and detox. “People are more interested in a healthy lifestyle and part of not-drinking is part of this healthy culture which recognizes it’s not healthy the way Americans drink,” she adds.

In particular, the idea of not drinking in what some consider awkward social situations, like a bar atmosphere, is encouraging, Dylan believes. “It’s a good thing; the movement gives younger people, who may feel pressure to drink or do drugs, another outlet,” she says.

“Instead of feeling pressure to drink,” Dylan continues, “the focus comes off labels like ‘alcoholic’ and, instead, people focus on having a cool virgin mojito with maybe organic cane juice.”

Finding Like-Minded Non-Drinkers

Banks admits her first steps into a sober lifestyle weren’t easy. Friends and family didn’t object, but they had difficulty supporting what they couldn’t understand.

“I was surrounded with casual drinkers who didn’t understand why someone would choose to give up alcohol without being an alcoholic,” she says. “I wasn’t a rock-bottom alcoholic, so it wasn’t a black-or-white issue for me.”

Instead, the issue, like Warrington describes, was more of a gray area. “I was tired, my skin was breaking out and I had tried everything else,” she continues. “I knew in my heart what I needed to cut.”

Finding support from other non-drinkers meant turning to the internet and social media. At first, Banks was unaware she was part of the sober curious movement. Her first steps going wine-free centered on setting up an Instagram page to record an initial 30-day break from alcohol. “I would post things like, ‘This is my second day without alcohol!’”

Today, Banks has nearly 6,500 Instagram followers celebrating her alcohol-free experiences. She credits this early support with her sober lifestyle today. “There were so many supportive people on Instagram,” Banks says. “I felt like I had these online pen pals who really got what I was going through.”

She describes the connections as uplifting without shame. Followers celebrate her victories and help her navigate rough days. Plus, she knows she has 24-hour access to a community of support. If she and her husband go out for the evening, she’s only an Instagram away from others who are also abstaining from drinks on a weekend night.

Trend vs. Lifestyle

Living in Greenville, SC, Banks doesn’t have the luxury of countless, trendy sober bars to visit. But, time away from drinking has made it easier and less appealing to go backward. She says she focuses on the reality of drinking versus the fantasy.

During a recent family vacation, Banks said the idea of having a drink sounded tempting. She reminded herself, however, of the reality behind the “one drink,” which included, for her, likely more than one drink, a bad night’s sleep and heavy anxiety in the morning. “In the beginning it was so hard, but now I’ve had so many experiences under my belt, and I feel more confident,” she explains.

“I think through the drink,” she explains. “I admit to myself I have the urge, but I know the ‘idea’ is way better than any glass of wine.”

The days of pushing through moments of temptation are fewer and further between. If she needs support, she knows her Instagram followers are always nearby, along with other sober curious friends she’s made on the journey.

Her friends and family are still casual drinkers, but Banks has been abstaining from alcohol for the past year and a half, and has no intention of going back to her evening wine. “I love waking up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning without a hangover,” she says.

Enjoying sober experiences has left Banks feeling healthier, more focused, and more present for her husband and children. In addition, her family’s finances have improved without the steady purchase of wine. She says her husband is proud of her accomplishment, and her children are enjoying a more active family life with hiking and trips.

“There are so many physical and emotional benefits from intentionally taking a break from alcohol,” says Banks. “It opens a whole new world. I’m a better friend, wife, and mom,” she adds. For now, she remains alcohol-free, one day at a time.

 

 

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10 Agonizing Truths Depressed People Never Talk About

There’s no reasoning with it. So don’t even try.

Here’s a great post from one of my readers. Thought it was worth sharing.

When I was 16, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. After the diagnosis, my uncle slapped me on the back and said, “Welcome to the family kid,” while my family all compared drugs around the kitchen table. At that time, I didn’t know how to deal with depression, but I’m extremely lucky that my family not only accepted that depression is a real, serious issue, but they understood it.

They were mindful to make sure that my depression wasn’t used as a crutch or an excuse, but thankfully, I never once heard the unhelpful, “Just suck it up and deal with it,” and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

What causes depression? It can be a number of factors, but depression is different for everyone. And over the years I’ve noticed a few things that don’t seem to waver. They hold fast in their level of suckiness and they seem to apply to most everyone I’ve talked to that’s dealt with depression.

1. You don’t choose to be depressed.

This isn’t a choice I’m making. My cat dying or my car being totaled aren’t the reason I’m depressed. Those things are tipping points, they push me over an edge I was already standing at.

Depression is a chemical imbalance. Yes, there are things I can do and medications I can take, but at the end of the day this isn’t something I’d choose for anyone and certainly not myself.

2. Your brain is the enemy.

For me, having depression is like walking around with a mean, petty, awful little friend in my brain all the time. It’s constantly telling me how awful I am, how I’m not good enough and how nobody likes me.

And just like the negative comments on a blog post, those thoughts stick. Trying to convince yourself that your brain is wrong is no easy feat.

3. Telling you to “suck it up” will never work.

Don’t tell me to “suck it up.” Don’t tell me to watch a sunset or exercise or appreciate the joy that is being alive. That’s about as effective as me telling you to go walk it off after you’ve broken your arm. It isn’t going to fix anything.

Depression isn’t logical. You can’t reason with it or apply coconut oil and suddenly be better.

4. Nobody can fix it.

And that sucks. There are medications and there are things that I can do that will help mitigate my depression, but they won’t fix it. There’s nothing anyone can say or do that it is going to fix my brain. I wish more than anything that there was a magic cure-all that would tip the scales back to center for my brain, but there isn’t. What works for one person might not work for another.

What works for you might suddenly stop working. That’s the thing about depression: it’s an ever-evolving disease. Once you think you’ve got things under control, it’ll contort and poke at a tender spot you didn’t even know existed.

5. It’s going to suck for the person dealing with the depressed person, too.

I’ve been on the other end of things, and not being able to help someone I love when they’re in the middle of a depressive episode is awful. Just know that there’s nothing anyone can say that a depressed person will believe or that will pull them back to surface where reason lies. This reality is very tough.

6. Relying on a pill is awful. 

I came to terms a long time ago that every night I’m going to have to take a little white pill. Having to rely on medication for anything is hard but relying on it to make you feel normal, whatever “normal” is for you, is extra difficult.

7. Finding the right meds might make you feel like a science experiment.

Finding the right medication, or in some cases medications that work, is daunting. I’ve had to switch meds a handful of times and every time left me feeling like a husk of my former self.

Even with proper weaning, coming off some medication is like detoxing. Outside of the physical effects, there’s just something about the whole process that makes me feel like a high school science experiment.

8. Depression makes you selfish.

This was one of the first things I noticed after I was diagnosed. I spend so much time in my own head thinking that I rarely have the ability to look out and think about others. It’s also one of the things I hate most about my depression.

I have a damn good group of family and friends, and not being the friend they deserve is hard. But learning how to deal with depression means coming to terms with this.

9. You take away the things you love when you’re depressed.

Everyone has signs when their depression hits. For me, I start taking away the things I love. I stop writing. I stop picking up my camera. Depending on how deep it is, I’ll stop feeding myself or bathing as often as society would like me to.

There’s no point in my mind. Everything sucks and it’s going to continue to suck whether I write about it or take a picture of my cat.

10. Sometimes not being here sounds like a great option.

The reality is, most people who’ve dealt with depression, especially long-term, may consider suicide. Some will form a plan and think it over for months. Some will decide on the spot.

For me, there was never any plan. I never wanted to die, per se, I just wanted to not be here. I just wanted to stop constantly feeling like I was feeling.

Because the thing about depression is, you can’t escape it. You can’t set it down in the morning, go to work, and pick it back up when you get it home. It’s everywhere. It’s at your best friend’s wedding. It’s at your desk at work. It’s at the gas station when you’re pumping gas. You take that little terrorist everywhere with you and sometimes you just need a break.

Note to our readers: If you ever need to talk to someone about depression, please call 1-800-273-8255. Someone will always be on the line. You are loved.

 

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Young women who are forced to endure sexism are ‘five times more likely to suffer from clinical depression’

‘I dreaded going to work every morning, and it took its toll on both my mental and physical health, and I became a shell of the person I once was,’ says respondent

Young women subject to sexism are five times more likely to suffer from clinical depression, a new study has found.

The report, carried out by the Young Women Trust and University College London, looked at the mental health of women who have suffered sexism and those who had not.

Researchers found the 16-30 age bracket is most likely to experience sexism at school, in the workplace, on public transport, in cabs and beyond the home – as well as enduring it at higher rates than other ages.

Some 82 per cent of those who had battled against sexism said they were victims of street harassment.

Sophie Walker, chief executive of Young Women’s Trust, said the study shows a “clear and damaging link” between sexism and young women’s mental health.

She said: “What too often is dismissed as young women lacking confidence is, in reality, a crisis in mental health caused by a sexist society. Sexism is deeply affecting young women’s lives, their economic freedom and their health.

“That is why the next government must take urgent and concerted action to prevent yet more young women from experiencing sexual harassment and abuse, and the long-term harm this can cause. It’s not just about recognition of the damage sexism inflicts.

“We need mainstream services supporting young women experiencing mental ill-health from having sexism thrown in their faces day after day to be able to sensitively ask them about their experiences of sexist discrimination, abuse and violence, and then provide appropriate support and signposting. As one of our Advisory Panel Members highlighted in the report, ‘sexism sits in the core of you and if you try and ignore it and don’t address it, it rots away and the problems permeate to other areas of your life’.”

Ms Walker argued mixed sex adult mental health services are often not accessible or suitable and called for more specialist young women’s mental health services coupled with investment to tackle violence against young women and girls.

One of the young women surveyed, who chose to remain anonymous, said: “In my personal experience, I have struggled with both stress and anxiety in part as a result of the sexism I experienced within the workplace.

“I dreaded going to work every morning, and it took its toll on both my mental and physical health, and I became a shell of the person I once was.”

Those women aged between 16 and 30 who had endured sexism reported higher levels of psychological distress even four years later – with researchers saying this demonstrates the “devastating impact” on mental health over time.

Vicki Nash, of mental health charity Mind, said: “We know that discrimination, harassment and trauma of any kind can lead to someone developing mental health problems. This report shows how specific experiences of sexism can have a real, detrimental impact on mental well being and should be taken into account when women seek support.

”This is also why it is vital that people are able to access the mental health services they need when they need them. We hear every day from women with mental health problems who have struggled to get the right help even though one in five women experience a common mental health problem, such as depression, and experiences of sexism can increase the likelihood of this.”

Ms Nash argued there were too many women in the UK who were “not having their needs met” by mental health services – adding it was vital women are not “re-traumatized” by being placed on a mixed-sex ward.

Gemma Rosenblatt, of women’s rights organisation Fawcett Society, said the findings of the research show the “shocking impact” of sexism on the mental health of young women.

She added: “Sexism should not be laughed off as insignificant or banter. When young women report, as they do here, feeling unsafe, threatened or physically attacked because of their sex, it is time for society to act. Treating the consequences of sexism isn’t good enough – we need to stop this happening in the first place.’

 

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.

 

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What Happens To Your Body When You Are Unemployed

Losing a job is one of the most stressful events you can experience in your career, especially if the loss is sudden. Losing a job during the coronavirus pandemic can really compound that stress. When you get laid off or fired, you not only lose a steady source of income, but you can also lose purpose, a routine and a community of co-workers. It can even impact your physical health.

“Oftentimes, people think, ‘How can they be feeling so sad, so depressed, so grief-stricken about a job,’ but we’re losing a lot of pieces that we’re not recognizing… that do constitute pretty significant loss,” said Lisa Orbé-Austin, a licensed psychologist who focuses on helping professionals through career transitions. “People feel a sense of heartbreak, especially if the loss was sudden.”

Your mind and body can be sending you signals that job loss is impacting you more than you consciously know.

You can’t sleep or you sleep too much.

Challenges with sleep are one sign that the job loss is impacting your health.

You might have trouble falling asleep, have trouble staying asleep, or find yourself getting up earlier than planned, said Kristin Bianchi, a Maryland-based licensed psychologist at the Center for Anxiety and Behavior Change.

One or two nights of sleeplessness are OK, but if it’s a pattern, it’s concerning. “Those start to become worrisome, if that’s happening over a long period of time,” Bianchi said.

The stress you felt in your job may stay with you even after you lose it. Patricia Haynes, an associate professor in the University of Arizona’s Department of Health Promotion Sciences, conducted research on how workplace stressors may leave a lasting impact on long-term health outcomes after unemployment. In one study, she and her fellow researchers found that individuals experiencing hindrance-related stressors like job insecurity and organizational politics were more likely to report insomnia after they lost their job.

“The more barriers, like political barriers or barriers that have to do with promotions, the things that keep people from doing well in their job ― we found that those types of stressors are associated with increased likelihood of continued insomnia even after the job is gone,” Haynes told HuffPost.

Your mental health gets worse.

The longer you go without a job, the more likely you are to report having depression, according to a Gallup survey of 356,000 Americans. One in five Americans unemployed for about a year or more were more likely to report that they have been or are undergoing treatment for depression.

Bianchi said two hallmark features of depression for unemployed professionals are when they lose interest in activities they used to enjoy and when they start to experience a low mood more often than not over a two-week period. “It might look like sadness, feeling down,” Bianchi said. “It can also manifest as anger or irritability.”

Your personality changes as you become less agreeable.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that unemployment can cause basic personality changes.

Of the 6,769 German adults in the study, who spent four years completing personality tests, those who lost their jobs during the experiment experienced significant changes in their levels of agreeableness compared to the adults who remained employed. Women became less agreeable with each year of unemployment. Meanwhile, men reported being more agreeable during the first two years of unemployment, but got increasingly less agreeable after that.

The researchers believe these changes can be due to how your outlook can change once you become long-term unemployed. “In early unemployment stages, there may be incentives for individuals to behave agreeably in an effort to secure another job or placate those around them, but in later years when the situation becomes endemic, such incentives may weaken,” the authors of the study wrote.

Your body aches, and you get migraines and an upset stomach.

When your body is stressed, your muscles tense up to guard you from a perceived threat. It’s part of the body’s fight-or-flight response. Over time, being on high alert all the time can result in chronic stress-related problems like migraines. The American Psychological Association notes that pain in the low back and upper extremities has been linked to job-related stress.

Our brain is in constant communication with our gut, and job loss stress can also lead to gut discomfort. “With anxiety, it’s not uncommon to see [gastrointestinal] symptoms emerge. People may report frequent stomach aches, or other GI distress,” Bianchi said. “We tend to see headaches and muscle aches when we are anxious.”

Your appetite significantly changes.

Stress may cause an increase or decrease in an appetite, according to the American Psychological Association. Those appetite changes “may or may not be accompanied by weight loss or weight gain,” Bianchi said. “Changes that are marked from what people are used to.”

When you feel like you can’t count on much — like ‘I don’t have a paycheck coming in, I don’t have a job’ — having a routine creates something that you can count on. Psychologist Lisa Orbé-Austin

What You Can Do To Support Yourself During Unemployment

Make a routine. When you lack the built-in structure of a work day, schedule a new routine that can get you out of your pajamas and is something you look forward to, Orbé-Austin said. That can include physical exercise, lunch dates and breaks from your job search. Because of social distancing, meeting up with your friends may not be possible right now, but you can schedule online social dates like virtual game nights.

“When you feel like you can’t count on much ― like ‘I don’t have a paycheck coming in, I don’t have a job’ ― having a routine creates something that you can count on,” Orbé-Austin said.

Getting up at the same time every morning, making sure you have consistent meals and developing your own daily routine can be beneficial for people who have lost their jobs, Haynes said.

Try mastering an activity. When you lose your job and your job search stalls, you can develop learned helplessness where you feel like no matter what you do, nothing changes, Bianchi said. To counteract that loss of agency, try scheduling activities that bring you a sense of pleasure, mastery or self-efficacy, she said.

“In part, it helps [your] mood. But it also instills in us a sense of one’s capability and capacity to continue living even if we are out of work at the moment,” Bianchi said. “It helps us to be more resilient.”

Watch out for all-or-nothing thinking. Bianchi said that when people are down and demoralized, they can overlook the positive. “We’ll see people tending to dismiss the positives… and over-focus on negative experiences and disappointments that they’ve had,” she said.

One concrete way to push back against these distorted thoughts that can lead to feelings of helplessness is to keep a credit list where you track any actions you’ve taken that you are proud of, Bianchi said. “Those can be actions [you’ve] chosen, or you can also include in that positive feedback,” Bianchi said, like compliments or the fact that someone called to check in on you, which is a reflection of a positive relationship you’ve created.

By reminding yourself of all the good in your life and all the actions you are taking, these reminders can “strengthen our sense of self and maintain it in the absence of what tends to be a major source of identity,” Bianchi said.

 

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How To Deal With Sadness Around The Holidays, According To Experts

“Hey, We’re all here for you.”

If there were ever a time of year that energy hangs heaviest and most potently on humanity, it would probably be the holiday season. If you feel sad during the holidays, even knowing that it’s a common experience doesn’t always make the ache dissipate. But there are simple things you can do to cope that might make the twinkling lights and constant carols easier to bear if you’re in the midst of a rough time internally.

“Holidays may serve as a strong reminder that things in our life are not quite where we want or expect them to be,” Dr Victoria Chialy Smith, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice, tells Bustle. “We may feel a wide variety of emotions including longing, regret, anger, sadness, and depression.”

Smith says the unresolved feelings the holidays can evoke are understandable. Perhaps you’ve experienced loss that feels particularly hard this time of year, or the financial expectations of the season leave you feeling you stressed and self-critical. Smith says to first and foremost give yourself permission to feel the sadness and heavy feelings. There is no need to get on your own case about not being full of cheer and serenity.

“Meet all of these difficult emotions with compassion,” Smith says, and think about doing that by staying grounded in the present when you start getting a wave of old memories, regrets, longings, or difficult emotions. “Try to stay connected to the peace of the present moment by tuning into your breath or what is immediately going on around you,” she says.

Dr. Jo Eckler, a chronic illness coach, clinical psychologist, and author of I Can’t Fix You Because You’re Not Broken: The Eight Keys to Freeing Yourself from Painful Thoughts and Feelings tells Bustle something similar. Don’t squash down the feelings you’re having, and don’t feel the need to act like your blood is made of glitter when you’re actually feeling bummed. You don’t have to pretend.

Eckler also points out that this time of year is “a ripe time for the comparison trap.” Disengage from compare and despair behaviors, though, friends, be it on social media, in conversation, or just in your own head as you walk through the holiday markets, feeling a bit glum.

“We see images of families laughing together in handmade matching PJ’s and frolicking, or super lovey-dovey couples,” Eckler says. “And even though we might have good families or partners ourselves, it’s hard to live up to a posed picture.”

 

As for the expectation to get on board the holiday activity train? Well, especially if parties, gatherings, and celebrations feel triggering, there is certainly no need for you to be the belle of each holiday ball. But that said, isolation is something you want to avoid when you’re dealing with sadness or symptoms of depression, Dr. Rebecca Cowan, of Anchor Counseling & Wellness, LLC, tells Bustle.

“When people become sad and depressed, they tend to want to isolate, and this only worsens these symptoms,” Cowan says. “Balance is key, and so is implementing a self-care plan.”

That means things like sleeping, eating enough, sharing with friends, doing things that make you feel relaxed and happy, and Cowan says, getting some sunlight. At least 30 minutes a day.

Counselor Jessica Eiseman, based out of Texas, tells Bustle that it can also be helpful to begin to create your own traditions, to make the holidays something you can enjoy. She brings up the term “un-holidays.”

“Maybe you don’t fit into traditional standards or expectations for the season,” Eiseman says. “Maybe you don’t celebrate at all or you take a trip by yourself. The most important piece being that you create some meaning based on what you enjoy and brings a little peace, if not happiness.”

Eiseman also says that if you aren’t already, visiting a therapist can be really helpful. And if the feelings seem to be worsening, or they are affecting things like your appetite and ability to sleep, do reach out for professional help as soon as possible.

And remember, it’s really OK to feel the heaviness this time of year. It’s palpable, and we are sensitive creatures! Just do what you can to take care of you. Consider it a holiday gift to yourself.

 

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Kita – Chapter 23 – Anxiety and Depression

Kita’s was having terrible anxiety and depression after her first love broke her heart. Her mom put her on Escitalopram. Poor thing. I’ve lived with anxiety and depression my whole life, but instead of raging out or becoming mentally paralyzed, I just soldiered through if for the last half century.  I’m much better now, because I’ve rewired my mind to become friends with my anxiety and depression without ever taking a single drug for it. You feel that way for a reason. I believe as long as you’re not self destructive, you need to work on yourself and walk towards the things that frighten or hurt you and work through those feelings, over and over again. Worked for me but these days it seems when someone has a feeling they get prescribed a drug to block that feeling. I’m not a fan. Don’t get me wrong, some people really need medicine and therapy to function, but not everybody. You’re supposed to feel sick when your heart is broken. It’s human emotion. It teaches and trains your brain how not to get destroyed and shredded next time. The mind and body is a wonderfully complex machine.

Anyway… Let’s look a the uses of the drug.

Escitalopram is used to treat depression and anxiety. It works by helping to restore the balance of a certain natural substance (serotonin) in the brain. Escitalopram belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). It may improve your energy level and feelings of well-being and decrease nervousness.

How to use Escitalopram Oxalate

Read the Medication Guide and, if available, the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking escitalopram and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once daily in the morning or evening. The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, age, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

If you are using the liquid form of this medication, carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.

To reduce your risk of side effects, your doctor may direct you to start taking this drug at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase. Take this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day.

It is important to continue taking this medication even if you feel well. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Also, you may experience symptoms such as mood swings, headache, tiredness, sleep changes, and brief feelings similar to electric shock. To prevent these symptoms while you are stopping treatment with this drug, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Report any new or worsening symptoms right away.

It may take 1 to 2 weeks to feel a benefit from this drug and 4 weeks to feel the full benefit of this medication. Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.

 

Side Effects

Nausea, dry mouth, trouble sleeping, constipation, tiredness, drowsiness, dizziness, and increased sweating may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor promptly.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: decreased interest in sex, changes in sexual ability, easy bruising/bleeding.

Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: bloody/black/tarry stools, fainting, fast/irregular heartbeat, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, seizures, eye pain/swelling/redness, widened pupils, vision changes (such as seeing rainbows around lights at night, blurred vision).

This medication may increase serotonin and rarely cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. The risk increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin, so tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take (see Drug Interactions section). Get medical help right away if you develop some of the following symptoms: fast heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of coordination, severe dizziness, severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, twitching muscles, unexplained fever, unusual agitation/restlessness.

Rarely, males may have a painful or prolonged erection lasting 4 or more hours. If this occurs, stop using this drug and get medical help right away, or permanent problems could occur.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

 

Holy shit! The side effects seem worse than the actual ailment! How could her mother put her on this crap?

Well, now I know and so do you. I don’t want my little Kita to suffer. She seems fine even though she’s going through it all right now after the loss of ex boyfriend JR.

 

 

 

Tales of Rock – Kurt Cobain Kills Himself Twice

“Like Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, he was 27 years old when he died.

And let us not forget Amy Winehouse who also died at age 27.”

Few musicians’ experiences with drug abuse have been as complex and intense as Kurt Cobain’s. For proof of this, see the index of Charles Cross’ 2001 Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven. If you check, “Cobain, Kurt Donald; drug use of…” you’ll basically be instructed to read the entire book. He started off heavily averse to heroin; during his formative years, a friend suggested they try it and he stopped hanging out with him in response. He eventually tried the drug; when asked how it was by Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, he shrugged, “Oh, it was all right.” But his habit escalated.

By the time Nirvana appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1992, Cobain was so deep in heroin addiction that he was vomiting and barely able to stand right until the time came to perform. He somehow pulled it together long enough to play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Territorial Pissings” on live television. In March 1994, Cobain attempted suicide for the first time by washing down a large dose of flunitrazepam with champagne while in Rome. He nearly died and ended up in a coma for a day (Novoselic claimed that, mentally, he was never the same after this).

Within weeks he was back in Seattle, crashing on his daughter’s junkie nanny’s girlfriend’s couch and popping out occasionally to purchase speedballs and burritos. Cross quotes the girlfriend as saying, “He’d sit in my living room with the hat with the ear coverings, and read magazines. People came and went; there was always a lot of activity going on. Nobody knew he was there or recognized him.” By the end of the month, Cobain was given an intervention and packed off to rehab in California. But he soon escaped the facility by scaling a six-foot wall and, improbably, found a seat on a flight back to Seattle next to Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan.

Despite beef between Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses, the two bonded, finding a great deal of common ground as famous musicians from the Pacific Northwest with heroin problems. Once back at his house, Cobain reattempted suicide and this time he meant business. He injected a lethal dose of heroin and then blasted himself in the head with a shotgun, effectively killing himself twice. Like Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, he was 27 years old when he died.

And let us not forget Amy Winehouse who also died at age 27.

Another sad rock and roll tragedy. Showbiz is the only industry that eats it’s young.

Check this out:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27_Club

A footnote from phicklephilly: “I never understood suicide. You get one chance to be here, why leave early if you don’t have to? Suicide’s for quitters. I’ve suffered with anxiety and depression my whole life. I’ve beaten the shit out of them both (without drugs) and now we’re all on the same side. Suicide is always a long term solution to usually a temporary problem. I just don’t get it, Kurt. I was in a band when I was younger. It was an amazing experience. Kurt, you play music for a living. You’re in a famous genre inspiring band. You’re surrounded by a gaggle of moist women. Your bank account is full and your nuts are empty. WTF?”

 

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Wildwood Daze – Summer of 1979 – Moving the Family to North Wildwood

My father was fed up with living in Philadelphia and wanted to get out of the city and out of the Provident National Bank in center city. My family was focused on getting my sister Janice into Franklin Marshall because she was a good student.

I remember it was Janice that drove my mother and other two sisters to the shore that summer. With Janice out of high school and in college, Dad decided to move the whole family to the shore house. I liked living in Philly. I was in a band called Renegade then. (See: Renegade – My First Band) All my friends were there. I liked that I was going to be a senior at Frankford High next semester.

But all of that was ending for me. I would vanish from Frankford and end up taking my Senior year at Wildwood High School. I knew no one. Wildwood is a resort/retirement community. The place rocks hard from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but then it becomes a ghost town. At the time I knew what anxiety was. I had it since I was a small child. But I would really get to know what severe depression was very soon.

They didn’t give a shit about my life because I was always a poor student in school and was a nobody. So After 11th grade we moved to Wildwood NJ for good. I had to leave my band Renegade behind and all of my friends, and move to the shore.

My father had no coping skills so ripping his son from his peronal and social life meant nothing to him. Everybody had to be hunky dory and happy with his move. His dad died, (My grandfather) and left him enough cash to build up on the shore house and it was beautiful. (Biggest house on the block)

But after the summer at the shore, Janice went off to college. My dad was all teary eyed losing his love and I was left to take my senior year not knowing anyone in a town that was dead during the winter. It’s a resort town. There is NOTHING going on there in the winter. They turn the traffic lights off and roll up the fucking sidewalks. This is a perfect dark depressing environment to be dropped off in. Yea, that will work out great. But as long as Dad is out of Philly and has his family all set up down there, he’s all set.

I remember falling into a depression after the summer and my father ripping me a new one because I wasn’t on board with where I had been sent. God forbid anybody would put a chink into daddy’s plan. He always hailed himself as a planner. It was just his mad OCD and anxiety that made him so insecure that he had to control everything because he was never the favorite beloved son like his brother Jack. He was forced to man up his whole life. He worshiped his father like he was Superman and his dad never gave two shits about him. Brother Jackie was the smart one and Dad was just the elder that had to handle all of the shit his mother was to cowardice to do. He was the one that had to go to his father and tell him that they weren’t coming back from the shore because they were getting divorced. I have this guy completely mapped out. My sister Janice loves and worships him, but I know the real deal.

Fuck. I didn’t think I was going to go there.

(Update: This opinion of my dad as a diety has changed for Janice.)

 

 

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Sun Stories: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Tanning Salons

“The problem is primarily caused by the lack of sunlight. It has been scientifically proven that sunlight favors increase in serotonin levels and favors vitamin D accumulation. Besides having anti-osteoporotic, immunomodulatory, anticarcinogenic, antipsoriatic, antioxidant properties, vitamin D is also a mood-modulator.”

UV rays exposure favors vitamin D synthesis in the skin. That’s why people who go to tanning salons have noticed mood improvement and keep the habit in order to maintain the state of well-being.

Now that we’re heading into winter, we’ve had a few people come into the salon saying they want to hop in a sunbed to help combat SAD. People suffering from seasonal affective disorder report feeling better after a visit at the tanning salon for a tanning bed session.

With the arrival of the cold season, besides cold-driven nuisance, some people experience drawbacks regarding the general state, lack of energy and depression of unknown origin. It was scientifically ascertained that the lack of light favors the production of melatonin by the pineal gland, a hormone inducing sleep. That’s why, during the cold seasons when days are shorter and the sunlight is scarce, we often feel sleepy or drowsy. Also, even during spring and summer, if the tendency is to keep most of the time indoors at home or at the office, the effect may be similar, though not as severe.

Well, if drowsiness were the only impact generated by season changes, things would be easier to solve (with a little coffee maybe!). The problem is that melatonin secretion is synchronized with the production of a neurotransmitter, serotonin, which is involved in several physiological processes such as temperature, blood-pressure regulation and in neuropsychological functions such as appetite, memory and mood. The two do not work together at the same time. When melatonin is secreted, serotonin production is inhibited. Lack of serotonin causes disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome and reflects its effects on mood also, triggering depression in some persons.

Melatonin is active at night and serotonin is active in the daytime. Also, there is the age factor that contributes to the balance of the two chemicals: the secretion of melatonin decreases with age. There has been established that the link between serotonin and melatonin along with their dependence on the body clock may explain the depression experienced by the people suffering from the disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD. Depression, sleep problems, weight gain, anxiety, joint pain, irritability, stress, headaches are some of the symptoms that may appear when we suffer from SAD.

The problem is primarily caused by the lack of sunlight. It has been scientifically proven that sunlight favors increase in serotonin levels and favors vitamin D accumulation. Besides having anti-osteoporotic, immunomodulatory, anticarcinogenic, antipsoriatic, antioxidant properties, vitamin D is also a mood-modulator.

UV rays exposure favors vitamin D synthesis in the skin. That’s why people who go to tanning salons have noticed mood improvement and keep the habit in order to maintain the state of well-being.

Light therapy represents a way to treat SAD. Light operates on the body in two ways: through skin impact or by entering your eyes. Only UV light has effects on the skin, while the light that has effects by entering your eyes needs not be UV, it just has to be bright. Its energizing effect comes from the fact that it stimulates the production of serotonin. The simplest way to get enough bright light is to spend an hour a day or more outdoors, where the light levels range from 1,000 to 50,000 lux or more, compared to room lighting, which is about 50-200 lux.

If your schedule or the weather does not permit it, an alternative is to purchase a light therapy device. For optimum effects, the light source either has to be very bright – 5,000 lux or more – or it has to be in a particular spectrum – around 460 nanometers, which is in the blue range. According to new research, blue range light will provide benefits even if at a dimmer level. Most companies producing light bulbs make full spectrum lights that may successfully replace sunlight.

Yet, there are side effects that bright artificial light may induce, namely it may interfere with sleep (especially when exposure is made in the evening hours) or even trigger in some people a mania – condition called bipolar disorder (known as manic depression).

The safest remains the natural outdoor light, on condition that UV protection is used.

 

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