A Science-Backed Stress Reliever

There is robust scientific evidence establishing a scientific link between spirituality and mental health.

For example, a scientific and medical review of 148 published studies in 2002 with over 98,000 subjects sought to determine a connection between spirituality and mental health.

Here’s the authors’/researchers’ overwhelming conclusion: the more spiritual a person is, the greater the positive effects on his or her mental health.

Also, another study was published in the Journal of Aging and Health in 2009, with 800 enrolled subjects and 8 years follow up.

The researchers found that being spiritual and having church attendance gave people a stronger sense of purpose and lesser tendencies to depression.

The American Journal of Psychiatry backed this up with a 10-year landmark study in 2012, claiming that spirituality has a protective effect – 76% less risk to develop genetic or familial depression.

Noted Harvard psychologist, Dr. Gordon Allport, based on numerous scientific evidences and studies such as these, asserted that spirituality or faith is indeed a psychological necessity for mankind.

From the mental health perspective, spirituality gives a struggling or traumatized individual with supportive life-giving guidelines. To find meaning and direction for his or her existence.

The faith of a person is a science-backed stress reliever.

It allows one to weather all storms while exploring the healing of his or her deepest internal wounds that affect perspective and functioning.

Truly, spirituality is the most natural thing there is.

It’s simply your own conscious awareness of your self to be more than physical or material … that you’ve a soul where your real essence lies.

Is the treatment part of the problem?

In a community group session that I was conducting in QC many years ago, one of the teenage girls attending suddenly dropped to the floor. Trembling. Convulsing. Crying.

I observed she’s very conversational prior to this. I had not known then how she got to a strange point in front of others in the group.

Members of the group pulled her away and brought her home. I was with them. Talking to the teenager. Pacifying and listening to her.

In her home was her mother lying half-naked on the sofa. She just stared at us when we arrived. The father was nowhere to be found. And the other children in the house just appeared unfazed.

Here’s a sad story of a family afflicted with untreated mental disorders. The way it looked, the teenage girl and her family members have been suffering severely for so long.

Recently, the Bill of Mental Health or RA 11036 (National Mental Health Act) was passed into law by the Philippine government.

The new law is traditional, a medicalized bill. With such bill, the poor are now given access to mental health care, which is comprised of psychiatric consultation, drug treatment or even perhaps lobotomy.

In days when I was doing practicum and doing visits in the mental hospital, I witnessed horror. Patients slipped into catatonia or Jekyll-and-Hyde monsters after prolonged drug treatments.

I’m reminded of the popular movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1975, starring Jack Nicholson. That’s the picture of psychiatric and mental health hospital care.

In the US, Dr. Peter Breggin, called the “Conscience of Psychiatry” and other mental health advocates warned of the dangers of psychiatric drug medication and treatment globally (https://breggin.com) (www.psychintegrity.org).

I wonder about that teenage girl and her family as well as multitudes of others in need of mental health treatment in the country.

Does RA 11036 carry the proper and right treatment for them? Or, the unamended law and its treatment will become part of the problem?

Why People Overworry

A few nights ago, I was watching one of Dr. Chuck Swindoll’s public speeches on YouTube.

I liked the the question and theme of his talk: “What is the #1 struggle of people today?”

In my brain, I had several guesses before Dr. Swindoll announced it. Money? Sex? Power? Marriage? Family?

None of those.

Dr. Swindoll pointed to this: WORRY – our #1 struggle.

Agree. Whatever the life issue or breakdown, too much worrying is so common. A frequent resultant pattern in most people’s reactions.

The overworry then produces large doses of anxiety. Paralyzes productivity and problem solving. Causes unnecessary pain in relationships.

Psychologist Dr. Chad LeJeune explains how it works:

When you’re hiking along a cliff, for instance, she says your brain may tell you “I might fall” and you picture yourself falling. She says it’s a helpful thought because you realize you need to be careful in your walks.

However, “when your anxiety is high,” Dr. LeJeune continues, “you’ll experience that image not as ‘I might fall’ but as ‘I will fall’ ”

This shows that, with heightened anxiety, you’re less able to discriminate between the thought of “might happen” and reality.

I’m reminded of a patient, Edward, whom I once invited to the MRT city train station. It’s part of his anxiety panic “exposure therapy.”

Edward retreated. Ran away from the exercise. He had experience being mugged and held up in the MRT many years ago. In his mind, he said it will happen again.

Psychologically, it’s called “cognitive fusion.” A thought becomes fused with what it refers to. The fused thought is experienced as reality … outright an inevitability.

Are you brain-fit?

Mental health has a physiological aspect. Not just psychological, emotional, or spiritual. Its a matter of physical brain fitness as well.

According to scientific and medical evidences, our brain needs certain nutrients to maintain optimum functioning.

Vitamin C, for example, protects the brain from toxins, free radical damage, and aging. It also acts as a natural anti-depressant.

Experts also recommend taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement, which includes Vitamin D, magnesium, folic acid, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin B-complex.

Brain foods should be added to our diet. This includes avocado, eggs, coconut oil, extra virgin coconut oil, green leafy vegetables, salmon, turmeric, among others.

Exercise also plays a major part in getting brain-fit. Moving our body and taking breathers are one of the best things we can do for our brain.

I experience myself another brain-fitness key: getting enough sleep. Several times, I only needed longer sleeps or “power naps” to recover from brain-exhausting days. And I’ll be back kicking!

Some of the most productive persons in history made sleep nap a priority. People like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, and Winston Churchill, among many others.

So, the next time you feel foggy, depressed, or anxious, skip the pharma drugs and take these natural ways to recharge and refuel your brain.

Is Text-Based Therapy for You?

Text-based therapy is a type of online counselling. It uses typed text to communicate. Users take it in turns to type.

Format may be as in Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and other similar programs.

In text-based therapy, you don’t need a microphone or webcam. That makes it one of the most accessible types of online therapy.

Once, I had an American soldier client suffering from PTSD. He was sidelined to an Asian country to recuperate.

Using text based therapy was useful for him in therapy because he did not feel the need for face to face contact.

He found it easier to write his thoughts rather than speaking them. Also, it was good for him who had difficulties with privacy … and was daily at home alone.

Yes you can choose text-based online therapy! It may be a best fit for your current life situation and issues.

Understanding Suicide

Suicide is a uniquely human problem.

In the world as a whole, statistics indicate an increasing suicide rate. According to the handbook of psychiatry by authors Philip Solomon and Vernon Patch – a suicide death occurs about every 20 minutes.

Firstly, the one who did it could not see things realistically. He or she could not realize that the problems he or she is experiencing are just temporary and solvable.

Second, the trauma inflicted on the family and loved ones is devastating. Aside from emotional damage, it sets a negative example to children who will later find themselves in painful life conditions.

And most importantly, just as murder is sin, suicide is sin.

One of God’s ten commandments plainly states, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). To kill one’s self is murder and never God’s will.

In the whole of Scriptures, only 7 suicides are recorded:

Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Samson (Judges 16:30), Saul (1 Samuel 31:14), Saul’s armor bearer (1 Samuel 31: 5), Ahithopel II (2 Samuel 17:23), Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and Judas (the Gospels).

Not even one among these who committed suicide was at the center of doing God’s will.

Clinically, in therapy, psychiatrist J. Motto cites 10 warning signs of individuals most likely to commit suicide:

1. Those with severe depression accompanied by intense emotional pain (depression is known to be a leading cause of suicide).
2. Those with intense hopeless feelings.
3. Singles … over 45.
4. Those with prior history of suicide attempt.
5. Those with severe health problems.
6. Those who experienced great losses – death of spouse, loss of job etc
7. Those who made a specific suicide plan, from fleeting thoughts of suicide to
actual attempt.
8. Those with chronic self-destructive behavior, such as alcoholism, drug
addiction etc
9. Those with intense need to achieve.
10. Those with excess disturbing life events within the last 6 months.

Are You Relapsing?

Many recovering people as well as their family or circle of support tend to believe that if one is in abstinence or stopping a bad habit, his recovery is fine. This is a mistake. The relapse syndrome and process start even long before the addicted person begins using! Remember that addiction or any bad habit operates silently within you. The symptoms of an addictive disease do not stop with abstinence. So, for a certain period of time, a recovering person may not be aware of the progression of relapse because it’s taking place subconsciously.

One patient, David, nearly lost his family because of his shabu and alcohol use. He went into treatment, doing personal psychotherapy and 12 step groups, when his wife and children moved out of the house. They only agreed to return when David agreed to get treatment. For months, he was restless and irritable. He began smoking and drinking coffee heavily, and has since engaged in gambling regularly via the Internet. His wife discovered that David is seldom around and has left again.

David’s is a case of “cross addiction,” one of the warning signs of relapse. Cross addiction to “acceptable legal drugs” such as nicotine, caffeine, or e-gambling, allows the process of relapse – dysfunction in sobriety and abstinence – to take its course. When this progresses, it may be a matter of time before an acute relapse episode occurs. This is the not-so-obvious side of the disease. The abstinence-based side of the disease can be as destructive as the drug-use-based side. And you are even more helpless when the relapse occurs because it’s a generally misunderstood and unrecognized aspect of recovery.

Now if you know how to spot the relapse progression even during sobriety, you can take steps to interrupt it. Constructive rather than destructive options are available. And when you get into this direction, you’ll recognize that you do have choices. According to clinical rehabilitation and addictionology research, there are common abstinence-based relapse warning signs to watch out for.

Here below are some of them:

* increased stress
* change in thinking and feelings and behaviors
* worrying about my self
* denying that I’m stressed and worried
* avoidance and defensiveness
* not putting enough energy into my recovery
* more concerned about the sobriety of others than about my personal recovery
* cross addictions like smoking, eating, gambling, money spending etc
* controlling conversations by talking too much
* “playing therapist” but reluctant to talk about own personal struggles and problems
* making excuses and blaming others for problems
* compulsive about being alone or making excuses to stay away from other people
* loss of constructive planning
* daydreaming and wishful thinking
* exaggerating small problems and blowing them out of proportion
* immature perceptions about being happy
* difficulty in managing emotions
* irregular attendance at therapy and group sessions
* strained relationships with family and friends
* irregular eating habits, difficulty sleeping restfully
* loss of daily structure
* periods of depression
* “I don’t care” attitude
* open rejection of help
* conscious lying
* loss of self confidence
* short term binge or attempted use of chosen “drugs”