Category Archive Mental Health

ByAnxious Minds

Are attitudes improving? The stigma behind mental health

Tell someone you are suffering from bronchitis and they cluck sympathetically, promising to have the kids for an hour or so to give you a break.

Tell them you are suffering from a mental illness, and their eyes start to move in different directions, their words get stuck in their throat and they can’t get out of the room quick enough. So why, in today’s modern age of open-mindedness and forward thinking, is there a stigma over mental health?

Can you see it?

The problem is, mental health is poorly understand, and badly perceived. While bronchitis is characterized by a cough, fever and tiredness, visualizing a mental health issue is not so clear cut. If you can’t see it, then it’s hard for many to comprehend. Yet according to the Mental Health Foundation 1 out of every 4 people will suffer from mental health problems at some point in their lives, a significant proportion of the population.

Most illnesses affect one or more organs of the body; mental issues are connected to the most important organ in our bodies – the brain. The brain controls how we think, feel and do, and for those suffering from any related conditions it is these three aspects of their lives that are most affected.
Public attitude

So if mental illness is just a disease like any other, why is there still so much stigma attached to the condition? The Stigma Shout survey, carried out by Time to Change, reported that 87% of people with mental health issues have lived with a negative impact at some point in their lives.

This clearly demonstrates that people living with this condition experience discrimination, and one of the biggest concerns is that sufferers are affected badly by outsiders’ perceptions. This in turn can worsen the condition, by impacting self-esteem and confidence. This can lead to the sufferer withdrawing more from society.

Some even impose self-discrimination on themselves; the process of believing in stereotypical examples of mental health, and adopting these for themselves. They then believe they have no self-worth, are not valued and will be rejected.

Media presence

This is not helped by the media. Nursing Times discusses an article by the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (2010) that talked about how those with mental health issues are shown in the media as “violent, impulsive and incompetent”.
Following a review of the scientific literature, it seems the general public see people with varying diagnoses differently, but in general the public feel that this illness makes the sufferers “unreliable” and less able to look after children, for example, as well as being less able to make decisions.

Lack of knowledge

This discrimination boils down to the fact that most people have no knowledge of the facts, or incorrect knowledge. A common misconception is that people suffering from depression should be able to “pull themselves together”, and do something about it for themselves. Yet if these very same people who made such fleeting remarks were to suffer for themselves, they would experience for themselves the difficulties surrounding this misunderstood illness.
The positive

The good news is that attitudes are starting to change – if slowly. Mind.org.uk reports findings from research by the Department of Health that demonstrates these gradual shifts in mind sets towards mental health. Although this is a positive step in the right direction, there is still work to be done, as some attitudes are not improving. A typical example is that many people still believe a person with a mental health problem is more prone to violence.
Work to be done

Another matter for concern is that many people stated that they would not feel comfortable discussing mental health with their employer, and the amount who say they would not feel comfortable talking to a friend has also risen. This may be due to the economic climate, and the uncertainty surrounding employment.

You’re not alone
When you are suffering from mental health, support is a crucial part of your recovery. Attitudes are continuing to improve, but in the meantime surround yourselves with people who understand and appreciate what you are going through. You are never alone.

ByAnxious Minds

Tackling inequalities in mental health outcomes

PHE has a role in supporting local authorities to invest effectively in public mental health services and to create physical, social and economic environments that promote and facilitate good mental health. This includes scaling up interventions that work, to support whole system and place-based approaches that reduce inequalities. There is good evidence of what interventions can lead to improved mental health outcomes and what will also provide a positive return on investment at a population level.

Taking a prevention-focused approach to improving the public’s mental health has shown to make a valuable contribution to achieving a fairer and more equitable society.

The Prevention Concordat programme, coordinated by PHE, has provided guidance, advice and support to all localities to build robust, sector-wide prevention plans and partnerships. The next steps are to refresh the programme, particularly for localities with the most deprived and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic populations, to work with local government, clinical commissioners in Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Integrated Care Systems. PHE will provide guidance for evaluation and quality assurance and support the delivery of integrated planning, to make an impact on population mental health locally.

ByAnxious Minds

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance; these flaws are often unnoticeable to others.In addition to feeling constantly self-conscious, people suffering from BDD often feel defined by their flaws and will believe that others will also think negatively about them and their flaw.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder can vary in severity from person to person and from day-to-day; there may be times where people isolate themselves and are housebound, or it may be that people will seek needless cosmetic treatments.

There is no doubt that the symptoms cause significant distress or handicap and there is an increased risk of suicide and attempted suicide. BDD affects people of any age, but it is most common in teenagers and young adults; it also affects both men and women.

Often people with BDD do not seek help for their mental health because they may be worried that people will judge them or view them as being vain, which means BDD often goes untreated or those who suffer with it are likely to experience it for a long time before seeking support.

Symptoms

There are many symptoms of having BDD, for example, people may:
– Obsessively worry about one or more perceived flaws in their physical appearance
– Develop compulsive behaviours and routines (such as excessive use of mirrors, checking by feeling their skin with their fingers, cutting or combing their hair, picking at their skin.

comparing themselves against models, discussing their appearance with others)
– Feel guilt or shame towards themselves
– Isolate themselves so to avoid other people criticizing them
– Become depressed
– Feel anxious

Have a compulsion to get unnecessary medical procedures, such as cosmetic surgery
– Develop eating disorders
– Over exercise
– Have suicidal thoughts
– Self-harm (including substance abuse)
– Camouflage their appearance by wearing certain clothes or by wearing heavy make-up

These behaviours can start off as coping techniques (for example, camouflaging or isolating themselves), or ways to determine whether they think they look as bad as they think (for example, obsessively checking mirrors). However, they can lead to an increase in preoccupation and distress with appearance which can then lead to depression and other forms of anxiety, such as social anxiety disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.

Obsessive worries about the body will vary from person to person, however, common worries may include them thinking that:
– Parts of their body are out of proportion
– They are too fat or too skinny
– They are disfigured
– They lack symmetry
– Something about their body is abnormal
BDD can affect any area of the body but common worries revolve around weight, skin, hair, nose, lips and genitals.

Causes

The cause of BDD is still unknown, but it might be associate with:
– Genetics (people may be more likely to develop BDD if they have a relative with BDD,
obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or depression
– A chemical imbalance in the brain

A traumatic experience in the past – people may be more likely to develop BDD if they were teased, bullied or abused when they were a child

Some people with BDD also have another mental health condition, such as OCD, generalized anxiety disorder or an eating disorder.

Myths

One myth is that people who suffer with BDD are self-obsessed. However, sufferers tend to be reluctant in seeking help for their issues specifically because they are afraid to be perceived as vain or self-obsessed; for many people who experience BDD, their issues often go untreated and can become very harmful as time progresses. BDD is a chronic form of anxiety that can have a big impact on an individual’s life; BDD shares similarities with obsessive-compulsive disorder, health anxiety and social anxiety.

Another myth is that BDD is a form of eating disorder, and although BDD and eating disorders share similar symptoms (e.g. poor body image, excessive worry about physical appearance, compulsive behaviours etc.), the disorders differ in that eating disorders are mainly concerned with body weight and shape, whereas BDD sufferers are likely to have more of a focus on specific parts of the body, such as facial features. Some people who suffer from BDD may suffer from an eating disorder, however not all people suffering with an eating disorder will have BDD.

Some people may not consider it a real disorder, which is linked in to the assumption that people are just self-obsessed. However, it is not some made up disorder to justify self-obsession, it is an intense form of anxiety where by sufferers spend the majority of their time wither trying to fix what they think is wrong with themselves. The intensity and chronic nature of the disorder is not to be taken lightly.

Additionally, it is a common misconception that BDD only affects women because of the likelihood of women having more concern for their appearance, however, research has shown that it affects men and women equally.

A final myth is that people suffering will focus on a major body part, however, the mind can distort any part of the body, no matter how small; for example, although some may focus on facial features, other people may focus on a small birthmark. It is important to remember that BDD can affect people in different ways.

Treatment
It can feel daunting to seek help for BDD but it is important that sufferers understand the severity of the disorder; people should not feel shamed or embarrassed about seeking help. If untreated, the symptoms are likely to get worse.

A technique often used in CBT for BDD is exposure and response prevention (ERP) which involved the sufferer to gradually face situations that would trigger the anxiety and then the therapist would help them find other ways of dealing with the feeling that are more healthy.

CBT for treating BDD will usually include a technique known as exposure and response prevention (ERP). This involves gradually facing situations that would normally make you think obsessively about your appearance and feel anxious. Your therapist will help you to find other ways of dealing with your feelings in these situations so that, over time, you become able to deal with them without feeling self-conscious or afraid.

Recovery and treatment is a gradual process, therefore it is important that there is an acknowledgement of physical safety. It is likely that by the time an individual seeks help for their issues, they will have already established unhealthy coping behaviors therefore, people suffering must look after themselves in the process.

ByAnxious Minds

Have we lost track of time?

Let me tell you a story. It is the story of a young woman, in her mid-twenties. She lives in a big city, has a stable and well-paid job, and some good friends. She gets along with her family well. She also has a lover. She is very close to him, closer than to anything else.

Every night, before falling asleep, she exhausts her eyes looking at him. He always has something interesting to say always something new. In the morning, as soon as she opens her eyes, she grabs him and looks at him again. She looks at him when she is eating. She looks at him when she is commuting to work. She looks at him when she is running on the treadmill. She even looks at him when she takes a bath.

This lover is a smartphone, and like many people, this girl is addicted to it. Not because it is light and shiny, but because it delivers everything right at the second we ask for it. If you forgot who was president of the United States during the Second World War, your smartphone will be able to tell you right away.

If you forgot how to bake a quiche, your smartphone will also be able to tell you right away. If you want to know what is shown at the cinema, or what the weather will be like tomorrow in the Caiman Islands, your smartphone will also be able to tell you right away. If anything happens in the world, your smartphone will let you know, without you even needing to ask for it! As soon as you hear it buzz, a sense of stress, of urgency is triggered inside.

You have to look what it is right here, right now. You answer messages immediately and you expect people to treat you the same.


Our modern societies are going through a major mutation concerning their relation to time. Everything must be immediate.

Urgency is never really leaving our minds. This shift can be partially linked to the adoption of the capitalist economic model by a significant number of nations on this planet. In this model, profit should happen fast, be almost instantaneous. In the last years, this extreme mentality has been enhanced by the apparition of instantaneous means of communication and has spread not only to businesses, but to every layer of the population.


Unfortunately, this new relation to time has not proven to be beneficial to a high number of people. Instead, more and more people are always in action and do not take the time to rest anymore, leading to a lack of reflection before actions, a lack of knowledge of why we do this or that thing, higher levels of stress and anxiety, and sometimes burn-outs and depressions. However, the sense of urgency that human deduct from this timeless lifestyle is not necessarily real.

Indeed, our society has created fake emergencies, and we do not know how to deal with things in any other way.


Well, it is time to change! If you are looking for a more peaceful existence, if you are aspiring to happiness, you need to slow down. Give time to time. Working fast does not mean that you will work well. It is often wiser to take more time to finish a task than to rush it in and fail.


One of the dramatic consequences of this sense of urgency we constantly live with is the loss of social relations. The big city girl believes she has a lot of friends, because she has 3000 Facebook connections and she speaks to people through her screen.

She is still in the dating game, as she goes to Tinder, the app for meeting new partners, every single day. But the truth of the matter is, she has not been in a real romantic relationship for years, and has not been out for a drink with friends in months. She also has never actually been the cinema in her neighborhood, even though she has been living there for a year and a half now.

Eisenhower’s matrix, that helps classifying things in terms of both importance and emergency, is not so used anymore, as humans’ capacity to take some time for one’s personal developments is only getting lower.


Working and living in a time of permanent emergency makes us believe that we are beating death, as we heroically do an incredible amount of things in the time that has been allocated to us to spend on Earth. It makes us feel powerful. We can even forget about our own finiteness as we are stuck in the present. But while we are running against time, we are losing control over it.

Pressure, the constant morphing of your personal schedule, incessant solicitations make us feel like we are losing control over ourselves, leading to anxiety disorders and depressive syndromes. People have trouble making long-term plans and hobble instead from desire to desire, in a very instantaneous way. The continuity of the self has disappeared. Dreamers are disappearing.

While this might seem like a very dark description of the world we live in, it is nonetheless true to a certain extent. To be successful in life, you will need time to be your ally instead of always trying to run against it. If you can relate to this big city girl, maybe now would be a good moment to look back, stop the clock and think about your real projects, about the real you that you want to build. Take a deep breath and slow down. The emergency is to take some time.

ByAnxious Minds

Are attitudes improving? The stigma behind mental health

Tell someone you are suffering from bronchitis and they cluck sympathetically, promising to have the kids for an hour or so to give you a break.
Tell them you are suffering from a mental illness, and their eyes start to move in different directions, their words get stuck in their throat and they can’t get out of the room quick enough. So why, in today’s modern age of open-mindedness and forward thinking, is there a stigma over mental health?

Can you see it?

The problem is, mental health is poorly understood, and badly perceived. While bronchitis is characterised by a cough, fever and tiredness, visualising a mental health issue is not so clear cut. If you can’t see it, then it’s hard for many to comprehend. Yet according to the Mental Health Foundation 1 out of every 4 people will suffer from mental health problems at some point in their lives, a significant proportion of the population.


Most illnesses affect one or more organs of the body; mental issues are connected to the most important organ in our bodies – the brain. The brain controls how we think, feel and do, and for those suffering from any related conditions it is these three aspects of their lives that are most affected.

Public attitude

So if mental illness is just a disease like any other, why is there still so much stigma attached to the condition? The Stigma Shout survey, carried out by Time to Change, reported that 87% of people with mental health issues have lived with a negative impact at some point in their lives.


This clearly demonstrates that people living with this condition experience discrimination, and one ofthe biggest concerns is that sufferers are affected badly by outsiders’ perceptions. This in turn can worsen the condition, by impacting self-esteem and confidence. This can lead to the sufferer with drawing more from society.
Some even impose self-discrimination on themselves; the process of believing in stereotypical examples of mental health, and adopting these for themselves. They then believe they have no self-worth, are not valued and will be rejected.

Media presence

This is not helped by the media. Nursing Times discusses an article by the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (2010) that talked about how those with mental health issues are shown in the media as “violent, impulsive and incompetent”.


Following a review of the scientific literature,it seems the general public see people with varying diagnoses differently, but in general the public feel that this illness makes the sufferers “unreliable” and less able to look after children, for example, as well as being less able to make decisions.

Lack of knowledge


This discrimination boils down to the fact that most people have no knowledge of the facts, or incorrect knowledge. A common misconception is that people suffering from depression should be able to “pull themselves together”, and do something about it for themselves. Yet if these very same people who made such fleeting remarks were to suffer for themselves, they would experience for themselves the difficulties surrounding this misunderstood illness.


The positive

The good news is that attitudes are starting to change – if slowly. Mind.org.uk reports findings from research by the Department of Health that demonstrates these gradual shifts in mind sets towards mental health. Although this is a positive step in the right direction, there is still work to be done, as some attitudes are not improving. A typical example is that many people still believe a person with a mental health problem is more prone to violence.


Work to be done

Another matter for concern is that many people stated that they would not feel comfortable discussing mental health with their employer, and the amount who say they would not feel comfortable talking to a friend has also risen. This may be due to the economic climate, and the uncertainty surrounding employment.

You’re not alone


When you are suffering from mental health, support is a crucial part of your recovery. Attitudes are continuing to improve, but in the meantime surround yourselves with people who understand and appreciate what you are going through. You are never alone.

ByAnxious Minds

How good is technology for you?

I am currently spending a few days at my grandmother’s house in the mountains. While I undeniably think about the family time and the peaceful quiet time I will get there, there usually is another thought flickering in my mind. You see, in that place, I am disconnected from the world. I have to cross the garden all the way to my aunt’s house to get an Internet connection, and the phone network is virtually inexistent. I have to drop my daily habit of spending at least half an hour just wasting time on my phone just before I fall asleep and when I wake up. I cannot just download a movie when I feel bored. I cannot spend hours on social media.


At first, this situation is usually stressing me a lot: how will I manage to work? How will I speak to my boyfriend? How will I know what is going on in my world? I feel like my need to connect with people and things is strong and is an essential part of my life. What is life going to be without the distraction of technology? But as the days go by, I adapt to the situation, and I eventually find it quite pleasant. I do not feel the rush to check my email inbox every two seconds, and to see what has happened on My Facebook newsfeed every five minutes. I still call my boyfriend every day and I manage my work differently, in a more efficient way. Without the distraction of Internet and its endless possibilities of procrastination, I am more concentrated on what I have to do. I discover the pleasure of reading a book again and I spend some time just soaking up sun in the garden. I can relax, as I know no beeping sound coming from the iPhone will come trouble me. We still have TV in the house, but I barely watch it.

I feel free. I speak more to my family, as none of us is hooked on his phone. I am less isolated.
No one is looking at their phone during dinner.I go to sleep earlier and have a better rest. In my “normal” life, I never close my eyes before midnight at the earliest; here I sleep at 10.30. Not because I am bored and have nothing better to do than sleep, but because I am able to listen to my body more and feel the tiredness when it actually comes – not two or three hours later.


The same effects are visible on the kids. With no iPad and connected games to play on all day, they go outside and play together. They have fun on the swing and marvel at the sight of a mommy cats with its kittens. They enjoy helping with the cooking and happily join us for walks in the nature. The inevitable need to fight with them – usually ending up in tears – to get them away from the screen is gone.


Do not get me wrong, as I know I will probably go back to my old habits as soon as I step out of the village. Still, I enjoy having the possibility to come here a couple times a year and go on a technology detox for a few days. From this experience, I learn that being hooked on the screen of our smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs all day drives us further away from each other. We are losing the simple pleasure of social interaction, of just being there alone with our thoughts, in the middle of nature. During those few days, if I have something to say to someone not physically too far from me, I just get away from my chair and go talk to them. In my everyday life, I do not even count the times I sent a text to somebody standing in the room next to me because I was just too lazy to go talk to them.


With our current use of technology, we have developed a tendency to become anti-social. We are losing the ability to physically interact with each other. Sometimes, in more extreme ways, we are allowing ourselves some behaviors on the Internet we would never allow in real life. Some people do not hesitate to hide behind false identities, to harm others or just because they do not know how to behave socially and feel like they need a mask to protect themselves. If you are not accountable for your actions, you might feel free for a time, but the truth is that it very often just comes back at you in a way or another at some point.


Yet again, technology is a great thing and I probably could not live without it. To be honest, I would not be able to work without it; what would it be like if I had to hand write all my texts and send them by post once they are ready? Nevertheless, it seems important to take some time to reconnect, to realize that we are not alone in this world and that the resources available to us outside of the screen are countless and amazing. Taking time and embracing the moment to re-discover yourself and others might be one of the greatest gifts you could make to yourself nowadays.

So just jump for it. Even if it is only for a few hours, be bold enough to disconnect.

ByAnxious Minds

Women and the lack of confidence

For days now, I have been reading that scientific evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men, women lack confidence compared to men, and that hinders their performances on the way to success. In a word, women, because of their natural lack of confidence, would be less successful than men. Is this true? And if so, how can this be possible? Finally, maybe most importantly, what can we do about it?


Today, in the United States, women earn more college degrees than men do. The same trend can be observed in Europe. Several studies, conducted by organisms such as Goldman Sachs and Columbia University, have shown that companies employing large numbers of women out perform their competitors. And women resources are not scarce, as they make half of the world’s workforce. Still, women remain largely absent from the higher positions, and most of the world’s influent companies are still men. The world of politics is still largely dominated by men.

Furthermore, women still earn less money than men on average.

Why is that so? To some, confidence would be the key.


When you ask powerful women how they made it to where they are today, the answer is usually the same: “I got lucky”, “I was just at the right place at the right time”. Others, like Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, sometimes feel like they should not even be where they are: “There are still days I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am”. As bizarre as it may sound, it appears that there is a confidence gap separating the sexes. Women tend to underestimate themselves more, and doubt more of their abilities to succeed than men. The main problem here being that success depends as much on competences than on confidence. In reality, women perform on average as well as men do. In that regard, women would just be partly refraining themselves from making it to the top.


When it comes to scientific facts, it appears that men and women do not display significant enough differences in the brain that could explain such a confidence gap. However, studies have shown that women tend to activate their amygdalae quicker and more easily than men – amygdalae are sometimes described as the brain’s primitive fear centers. Furthermore, the anterior cingulate cortex, a part of the rain helping recognize errors and weigh options, is larger in women. As a consequence, women are more likely to recognize and respond to threat. In addition, it appears that higher levels of testosterone can be linked to a greater taste for risk taking – testosterone levels are 10 times higher in men than women. Winning yields even more testosterone and keeps the cycle going. Yet, these physical features are not enough to explain the confidence gap existing between men and women.


Our environments have a lot to do with our futures as well. As early as primary school, girls are rewarded for being ‘good girls’, to have good grades and behave properly, not to be energetic or pushy. Young girls usually have longer attention spans and more advanced verbal skills than boys, allowing them to earn better grades. This tends to lead to situations where girls are being rewarded for being perfect, and that is what they will be looking for later in life. However, it also leads to situations where girls learn to avoid taking risks and making mistakes. The problem being that many psychologists believe that risk taking and failure are an important part of confidence-building. Boys, on the contrary, by being scolded more, learn to fail and in the process, build up their levels of confidence.


When girls switch the playground for an office desk, they do not realize immediately that the rules haves changed. While they look forward to being rewarded for their perfect work and their flawless manners, the actual reward actually comes from something different. The realization of this often hits their confidence a little bit more. The other consequence is that, let us be honest, women are not expected to behave assertively and might be badly considered for doing so.


The problem is stuck on both sides. Yet, the fact that the only thing holding women back is their level of confidence and self-esteem has been heavily criticized. Indeed, some argue that if women lack self-esteem it is only because the way society is built is making them so, and even when they are confident, women are all but helped to progress. Take as an example the recent Paycheck Fairness Act, which was defeated by Republicans arguing that women actually prefer lower-paying jobs. In toy stores, engineering and electronics is only made for boys, while girls have to stick with Barbie’s dream house and horse. I have read that “women’s lack of confidence could actually just be a keen understanding of just how little American society values them”. To make women feel more self-confident, the first thing to be changed would then be society and the value given to women and what they do. We need to truly start valuing self-assured women instead of calling them ‘bitchy’ or ‘bossy’. This is the way to success.

ByAnxious Minds

An introduction to positive psychology

Since the Second World War, the science of psychology has taken a new dimension, has embraced a new focus, and concentrates mainly on how to cure people. In that regard, the way the human functions is based on sickness, with damages to be repaired by the therapist. According to Martin Seligman, who is professor in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, the problem with this conceptualization of the science of psychology is mainly the fact that it leaves on the side the blooming individuals and the prosperous community. In 1999, he said that when psychology became a curing science only, it forgot its larger mission to enhance the life of every single person on this planet.


Following the same idea, some authors like Abraham Maslow have chosen to focus on people in good mental health, qualified as “self-realizing”, who are looking to reach personal realization. There, the individual is not the puppet of his internal impulses or the victim of his external environment, but is trying to accomplish himself in self-blooming and his relationships with the other. One has to stay careful though, as thinking in terms of positive psychology does not mean that the world is entirely idealized and that mental suffering is forgotten once and for all.

The main focus is simply shifted to take an interest on what can exist beside pathologic ailments. The process is usually characterized by a good acceptance of oneself and the others, an important openness to experience, a sense of autonomy, a capacity to be resistant to pressure, a richness of emotionality, a mobility of one’s system of values and originality in judgment. This short list is of course far from being exhaustive, and many qualities can be grafted to these ones.


This humanist psychology, led by Maslow in the 1970s, had lost its power and interest until the beginning of the years 2000. New authors like Carl Rogers are now taking over and digging again in a new study current called positive psychology. According to Gable and Haidt, positive psychology is “the study of the conditions and processes contributing to the blooming or to the optimal operation of people, groups and institutions”. Positive psychology can thus take effect at the personal, the interpersonal and the social and political level. It is not a movement based on an egocentric study of one self only. If we want to take some examples of how positive psychology can be manifested in one’s everyday life at the interpersonal level, we could talk about love, forgiveness or altruism. At the social and political level, positive psychology can be expressed through volunteering, conflict resolution or eco-responsible behaviors, among other things.


When you adopt positive psychology as a living style at the personal level, you will quickly notice that positive emotions will bring you numerous benefits in many aspects of your life. One of these aspects is social interactions. Indeed, when you are happier, you are more likely to be willing to interact with others and you will also probably be more appreciated by others, you network of friends will grow bigger. French psychologist Jacques Lacoste established a relation that is similar to a “virtuous spiral” between the happiness of living and satisfying social relations. Going even further, he draws the conclusion that within a social network, a social circle, happiness spreads like a virus. Nevertheless, as much as optimism is advised in positive psychology, pessimism is not completely left out. It is even considered as necessary, for example when anticipating catastrophes or problems so that they can be dealt with properly. The difficulty here is to find the right balance between optimism and pessimism, so that too much pessimism will not come affect one’s self-esteem, make him vulnerable. In other words, anticipating the problems you may have to be better prepared to deal with them is good, but not so much as to develop a disorder of chronic anxiety.


At the interpersonal level, positive psychology focuses on ‘how to’ knowledge. This encompasses a set of skills leading to getting understood by others, as well as knowing how to start an interaction with them. This set of skills also helps acquiring the knowledge of how to manage your emotions in an efficient way, to have a critical and creative thinking pattern and to know how to make decisions. This can have dramatically positive consequences on your daily life, as many studies have proven the correlation between positive social relations and a lower mortality and morbidity rate. Thoughts and emotions do have an influence on the body and its state of health. Nevertheless, this does not mean that negative experiences necessarily have a negative impact on human health and the body. Indeed, it is possible to get the good out of every situation, such as issues arising in your relationship. If you focus on the role you have in the conflict instead of just complaining about the bad fate befalling on you, you will be able to grow stronger and wiser. Even more than that, you will be able to learn from your past experiences in order to not make those same mistakes again. Hey, this is how you learn.


Finally, at the social and political level, positive psychology can help fostering social change. In that regard, you can identify ‘communal psychology’ as a typical example of interaction between the individual and society. This new current emerged during the 1960s in the United States, while the fight for civil rights, led by Martin Luther King Jr,. was thriving. From that situation, a definition of communal psychology emerged: it is the “production of social change through the participation of communities in order to make them depositary of the social power and their environment”. Other striking examples of communal psychology include the power and influence that certain TV shows can have of the masses.

ByAnxious Minds

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance; these flaws are often unnoticeable to others. In addition to feeling constantly self-conscious, people suffering from BDD often feel defined by their flaws and will believe that others will also think negatively about them and their flaw. Body Dysmorphic Disorder can vary in severity from person to person and from day-to-day; there may be times where people isolate themselves and are housebound, or it may be that people will seek needless cosmetic treatments.

There is no doubt that the symptoms cause significant distress or handicap and there is an increased risk of suicide and attempted Suicide. BDD affects people of any age, but it is most common in teenagers and young adults; it also affects both men and women. Often people with BDD do not seek help for their mental health because they may be worried that people will judge them or view them as being vain, which means BDD often goes untreated or those who suffer with it are likely to experience it for a long time before seeking support.

Symptoms


There are many symptoms of having BDD, for example, people may:
– Obsessively worry about one or more perceived flaws in their physical appearance
– Develop compulsive behavior’s and routines (such as excessive use of mirrors, checking by feeling their skin with their fingers, cutting or combing their hair, picking at their skin to make it smooth, comparing themselves against models, discussing their appearance with others)
– Feel guilt or shame towards themselves
– Isolate themselves so to avoid other people criticizing them
– Become depresse
– Feel anxious
– Have a compulsion to get unnecessary medical procedures, such as cosmetic surgery
– Develop eating disorders
– Over exercise
– Have suicidal thoughts
– Self-harm (including substance abuse)
– Camouflage their appearance by wearing certain clothes or by wearing heavy make-up

These behavior’s can start off as coping techniques (for example, camouflaging or isolating themselves), or ways to determine whether they think they look as bad as they think (for example, obsessively checking mirrors). However, they can lead to an increase in preoccupation and distress with appearance which can then lead to depression and other forms of anxiety, such as social anxiety disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Obsessive worries about the body will vary from person to person, however, common worries may include them thinking that:


– Parts of their body are out of proportion
– They are too fat or too skinny
– They are disfigured
– They lack symmetry
– Something about their body is abnormal


BDD can affect any area of the body but common worries revolve around weight, skin, hair, nose, lips and genitals.

Causes


The cause of BDD is still unknown, but it might be associate with:
– Genetics (people may be more likely to develop BDD if they have a relative with BDD, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or depression
– A chemical imbalance in the brain
– A traumatic experience in the past – people may be more likely to develop BDD if they were teased, bullied or abused when they were a child
– Some people with BDD also have another mental health condition, such as OCD, generalized anxiety disorder or an eating disorder

Myths


One myth is that people who suffer with BDD are self-obsessed. However, sufferers tend to be reluctant in seeking help for their issues specifically because they are afraid to be perceived as vain or self-obsessed; for many people who experience BDD, their issues often go untreated and can become very harmful as time progresses. BDD is a chronic form of anxiety that can have a big impact on an individual’s life; BDD shares similarities with obsessive-compulsive disorder, health anxiety and social anxiety.


Another myth is that BDD is a form of eating disorder, and although BDD and eating disorders share similar symptoms (e.g. poor body image, excessive worry about physical appearance, compulsive behavior’s etc.), the disorders differ in that eating disorders are mainly concerned with body weight and shape, whereas BDD sufferers are likely to have more of a focus on specific parts of the body, such as facial features. Some people who suffer from BDD may suffer from an eating disorder, however not all people suffering with an eating disorder will have BDD.


Some people may not consider it a real disorder, which is linked in to the assumption that people are just self-obsessed. However, it is not some made up disorder to justify self-obsession, it is an intense form of anxiety whereby sufferers spend the majority of their time wither trying to fix what they think is wrong with themselves. The intensity and chronic nature of the disorder is not to be taken lightly.


Additionally, it is a common misconception that BDD only affects women because of the likelihood of women having more concern for their appearance, however, research has shown that it affects men and women equally.


A final myth is that people suffering will focus on a major body part, however, the mind can distort any part of the body, no matter how small; for example, although some may focus on facial features, other people may focus on a small birthmark. It is important to remember that BDD can affect people in different ways.

Treatment


It can feel daunting to seek help for BDD but it is important that sufferers understand the severity of the disorder; people should not feel shamed or embarrassed about seeking help. If untreated, the symptoms are likely to get worse.


A technique often used in CBT for BDD is exposure and response prevention (ERP) which involved the sufferer to gradually face situations that would trigger the anxiety and then the therapist would help them find other ways of dealing with the feeling that are more healthy.

CBT for treating BDD will usually include a technique known as exposure and response prevention (ERP). This involves gradually facing situations that would normally make you think obsessively about your appearance and feel anxious. Your therapist will help you to find other ways of dealing with your feelings in these situations so that, over time, you become able to deal with them without feeling self-conscious or afraid.

Recovery and treatment is a gradual process, therefore it is important that there is an acknowledgement of physical safety. It is likely that by the time an individual seeks help for their issues, they will have already established unhealthy coping behavior’s; therefore, people suffering must look after themselves in the process.

ByAnxious Minds

Stressful Moments – How To Cope Rather Than Live in Hope For A Cure

Why do we get stressed is a common question asked when looking for answers behind stressful moments. What a major breakthrough that would be if we could pinpoint exactly what it is that triggers these stressful bouts – but because we all differ in so many ways then trying to decipher what brings these moments to ahead can be very difficult.

Stressful moments can be brought on by many happenings or mishaps. In a stressful situation a sufferer may feel and experience loss of control of their body actions and emotions which they find is out of their jurisdiction. Stress hormones escalate out of control – this then activates an energetic flush of hormone release which speeds up the beat of the heart to pump faster which then causes muscle tension followed by accelerated breathing. These are not unusual reactions when stressful moments kick in

Other painful ailments suffered by a patient suffering from stress is migraine, back ache, palpitations, perspiration and high blood pressure – these symptoms are all common partners of stress. (Not in everyone) You may find a change in personality where you become touchy and irritable. Different reactions for different people – in some people the effects of stress may contribute to why they develop ulcers cold sores, and heart disease. Once again this does not apply to every one.

There are many stress related factors but the two main stressors are the internal an external – the outer one of the two can be brought on by a bereavement, debt or even a break up of a long time relationship. The other stress factor is where you yourself instigate the situation furthermore by forcefully contributing with the intake of certain matters that are not agreeable to the condition. Alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and many more along with environmental toxins are all chemical substances to be avoided because of how they exhaust the body of energy.

Cutting down or cutting out on your intake of these sources is not the cure but most definitely soothes the condition from flaring up to stages of severity. However, there are various techniques used to help combat stressful moments.

If you can label and identify the reason to why your physical and mental doings take place then there is a possibility that you can calm the condition. By ignoring the signs and symptoms of stress you may hamper your chances of ever having peace of mind thus intensifying the pain causing unnecessary suffering.

Proven techniques practiced to today by millions to help with stress relief and pressure is to take up yoga exercise. Exercise therapy controls the build up of stress hormones. Mental exercises like Yoga meditation is a form of mind control exercise. By controlling the nervous system with relaxation classes you claim back control of your life – your emotions – your feelings – your actions and all because you did it the natural way.

Yoga is a natural remedy that is helping people to cope instead of living in hope for a cure. (Depending on the severity of stress or any other illness)

www.anxiousminds.co.uk