Your Personal Action Plan to Depression Treatment

The troubling fact is that 37 percent of adults and 60 percent of adolescents suffering from depression receive no treatment of any kind.  In many cases that’s because access to care is limited for geographic or financial reasons. But just as often, people don’t get the care they need because they don’t seek it out, or refuse it when offered.

Some people have suffered for so long that they are convinced healing depression is impossible, so why bother trying?  For these people, living with depression has become the new normal, with the assumption that they’ll always feel miserable, so it’s best to accept it and muddle on.

If you are one of these people suffering from depression, healing is not only possible, but it’s probable if you are willing to look deeply at all the puzzle pieces that may be currently out of place in your life. Ask yourself, how can you gain control of your diet or your sleep habits?  How can you confront your fear, anger, and guilt? Why not examine how a lack of forgiveness is making you ill?

When searching for effective ways to treat and heal from depression, the whole-person model will challenge you to give up false hope in “magic bullets.”  It will ask you to work hard, dig deep, and above all, become an active participant in your journey to wellness.


Professional Tip From Dr. Gregory Jantz…

Here are five ways to get started today:

  1. Begin the process of self-assessment by taking inventory of your life.  Look for habits, lifestyle choices, circumstances, emotions, attitudes, and medical conditions that will need more attention as you move deeper into whole-person treatment.  Make a word picture of your life. Be honest and courageous. Write down everything that comes to mind.
  2. Educate yourself.  There are ample sources of good information about the merits and pitfalls of common treatments for depression and the value of an integrated approach to healing.
  3. Talk to your current caregivers.  Inquire about the relative strengths and weaknesses of various treatment types.  Let them know you are interested in broadening your approach to healing.
  4. Pay attention to your thoughts and beliefs.  Carefully assess what can work and what can’t. Do you secretly scoff at the idea that diet affects mental health?  Are you already convinced that other possible addictions—like imbalanced use of technology or shopping or pornography—have no role to play in depression?  If so, you’re unlikely to give those things the attention they need in the pursuit of lasting healing. Make a list of such limiting thoughts. About each one, ask yourself: Why do I think this way? Is this the truth? How is it holding me back?
  5. Write out a history of things you’ve tried already to help you heal from depression. Chances are you’ll see how each attempt to feel better stands apart from others, rarely working together. You’ll also notice all the things you haven’t yet tried, which is great news! It means you’re not out of options after all. 

When it comes to your health, you’re in charge. No one knows what you are experiencing as well as you do, and you are also the person with the greatest access to the decisions and behaviors that can have the most significant impact on how you feel. No one can do this for you.  By accepting responsibility for your wellness, you will be on your way to optimizing your physical health, and your mental and emotional health too. 

For more than thirty years, my team and I have seen the whole-person approach work time and time again, largely because people have taken the responsibility and summoned the courage to ensure their healing and wellness.

The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in the treatment of depression and has been voted a Top 10 U.S. Depressions Treatment Center.  We use a whole-person approach that allows you to discover what is truly going on in your mind, body, and spirit. Contact us today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.

Creating a More Physical Lifestyle and Altering Your Attitude

In addition to doing wonders for your brain and body, physical movement can be a game-changer when it comes to your overall attitude. Exercise is the perfect tool for reprogramming a depressed prefrontal cortex. It can reprogram how you think and cope too. 

Here’s what else regular movement is going to do for you:

Increase your confidence. There’s a confidence that comes from having a body that is fit and healthy, and there is also confidence that comes from doing something every day that you know is good for you. Either way, regular physical movement empowers you to feel better about yourself.

Boost your creativity. Research conducted at Stanford University showed that something as simple as casual walking improves creativity by boosting convergent thinking (solving a problem) as well as divergent thinking (coming up with original ideas). [1]

Help you cope. We’ve already talked about the fact that the endorphins released while exercising serve as your body’s natural painkillers while helping to reduce anxiety and stress. That makes exercise the perfect go-to activity when you’re looking for a healthy coping strategy. Unhealthy coping techniques (such as misusing alcohol, overeating, and excessive TV viewing) may provide a temporary release or escape, but they are expedient at best and cause more harm than good in the end. Physical movement, however, is a coping strategy that not only provides relief at the moment, but it also offers innumerable lasting benefits for a healthy brain and body.

Increasing your activity level for one day is a great start, but the most powerful benefits will come from consistency. Once you get moving, how do you keep moving, day after day, week after week? 

Here are five ways to reap the long-term benefits of a more active lifestyle:

  1. Keep a journal. Write down what your thoughts and feelings were like before, during, and after exercising. Write about any improvements you feel in your body, attitude, or emotions. 
  2. Be consistent. Especially as you get started, remember that consistency is more important than intensity. As you gain strength in your body and mind, you may naturally want to increase the intensity of your workouts. In the beginning, however, make consistency your number one goal, and the rest will follow.
  3. Ban all-or-nothing thoughts. Consistency and commitment are indeed essential for an effective activity regimen, but don’t be hard on yourself if you slack off a bit. Perfectionism is the enemy of progress.
  4. Enlist the help of fitness apps. Downloading a fitness app on your phone or purchasing an activity tracker isn’t necessary (so don’t put off your fitness goals until you have one) but can be motivating for some people. If counting steps or reaching activity goals by using an app or tracker feels rewarding, do it!
  5. Create a favorite workout playlist. Music and movement are a powerful combination. Creating a playlist of lively tunes that make you want to move is always a great idea.  

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 39 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.

[1] Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz, “Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 40, no. 4 (July 2014): 1142–52, http://psycnet.apa.org/record /2014-14435-001.

Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide. For many of us, it is an uncomfortable topic to discuss. But ignoring this serious issue will not help improve it.

By now, most of us are aware of the sobering increase in depression, anxiety and suicide rates in the United States. Depression will be the #1 health issue in the world in 2020 according the the World Health Organization. Suicide rates have increased about 30% in the United States in just the last 18 years. In many areas the numbers are much higher. Kansas, for example, has seen a 49% increase. Men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women.

We must acknowledge that these are a result of a society and culture we have collectively created over generations. While it is important for us to have frank discussions on how we can adjust and improve in each of these areas, it is also important to understand that each of these areas is treatable.

How To Help Someone Who You Believe May Be Suicidal

It is normal to feel uncomfortable when speaking to someone for whom you believe may be considering suicide. Just remember, the goal is not to take on the person’s problem or to have all of the right answers. The goal is to show honest compassion. If you do not know how to approach someone, you can call a suicide prevention hotline or a treatment center and get advice from them. Please see resources at the end of this article

If you are truly concerned about someone, do not wait. It is better to approach your friend or family member with compassion and caring, than to hope that their pain goes away.

According to the American Counseling Association, here are some key points you can make when discussing with your friend or family member.

  • “We all go through tough or scary times.” It can be common for an individual to believe they are the only ones who struggle with life’s challenges. Reminding them that all of us, including you, struggle at different points in life, lets them know they are not alone in their feelings. Acknowledging their concerns are legitimate can reduce the stigma of reaching out for help.
  • “It’s OK to ask for help.” By saying this, you normalize the help-seeking process. You remind them that we all need help sometimes.
  • “I’m here for you.” It is important to let your friend or family member know you are available to LISTEN without judgment.

Professional Health Tip from Dr. Gregory Jantz…

Avoid the temptation to give advice. Sometimes we all just need to feel heard. If they request advice, a good response can be, “I know I love you, and I want to make sure I help you you get through this. Let’s consider professional counseling or treatment.”


Are You Depressed?

Take this A Place of HOPE online evaluation and receive immediate feedback

A whole person approach to care has proven to be powerfully effective. It takes commitment, for sure. Treatment can involve weeks of work with trained professionals. But the results can be dramatic and beautiful. Treatment is effective for depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and combinations of the three. 

Important Notes on Helping Those With Suicidal Thoughts

We often get asked whether a loved one should talk about suicide with the individual who may be suffering. We believe the answer is yes. Do not wait to see if it subsides. But importantly, start by being a good listener. Let them tell their story. Do not try to fix their situation with immediate feedback. Acknowledge their pain and express your sadness that they are not feeling well.

There are many things that should not be said. It is important not to try to minimize their pain, or make them feel guilty or “selfish”. Do not try to scare them away from suicide. Their pain is real, and they need understanding and love. Most importantly, they may need help to regain their strength, balance, and ultimately their happiness.

If you are concerned about someone, encourage them to get help. Encourage them to talk to a professional; you can even have an initial call yourself with a professional to learn how best to be helpful. Know that treatment can be very effective for those considering suicide.  

Resources

  1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800.273.8255
  2. Crisis Text Line – 741-741
  3. To learn about treatment programs for those suffering from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, please call The Center • A Place of HOPE Admissions  – 888.771.5166

 

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 37 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.

When Faith Provides a Source of Truth in Depression

Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? These are deeply personal questions that I, as a Christian, believe are also deeply spiritual. These are questions most people wrestle with over the course of their lives.

By answering these questions, people come to accept their own identities, understand their value in the world, and define a purpose worth striving for.

Depression distorts those questions and blocks healthy answers. Depression instead asks:

  • Where is joy?
  • When will this be over?
  • Why is this happening?
  • How did I get this way?

The answers depression provides weaken a person’s belief in life and the future. Depression says you are alone in your misery. Depression says nothing is ever going to get better. Depression says you’re not worth anything. In contrast, faith strengthens a person’s belief in life and the future. Faith argues that you are not alone, and faith assures that there is a Father who values and loves you.

When life doesn’t seem worth living, when there doesn’t seem any truth or joy or even answers in the world, the spiritual connection of faith provides a source of truth, joy, and answers outside of you. This spiritual reservoir can spring up and replenish parched souls.

When you are in the midst of depression, you must stop listening to the voice of depression and concentrate on God’s truths:

GOD DOES LOVE YOU.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”—John 3:16

GOD WANTS YOU TO EXPERIENCE JOY.

“Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”—Isaiah 51:11

THROUGH GOD’S STRENGTH, YOU CAN LEARN AND GROW EACH DAY.

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”—2 Samuel 22:33

GOD’S DESIRE IS FOR YOU TO KNOW CONTENTMENT IN LIFE.

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”—Philippians 4:12

WITH GOD’S HELP, YOU CAN RESPOND TO YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES INSTEAD OF REACT.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”—Romans 12:2

In the midst of your depression, listen to God instead of your despair. Fill your mind with promises and hope from his Word. Always measure against the truth in Scripture what you are told by any religious group. And don’t let others tell you what the Bible says; read it for yourself. There are reasons for your depression, but God’s desiring you to be unhappy and miserable is not one of them.

If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with an admissions specialist today.

 

 

Feelings Are in the File Cabinet

When you woke up this morning and prepared for your day, do you remember everything you did? You may remember that you showered, dressed, had breakfast, and went to your car. Do you know how many seconds you washed your hair or if you washed your ears first or your elbows? Do you remember what contributed to the decision of which cereal to eat (or whatever)? My guess is probably not. Most day-to-day, trivial, or familiar thoughts, actions, and feelings fly under the radar in the “non-conscious” zone.

Just as we can be unaware of our routines, we can also let negative feelings or self-defeating thinking slip by unnoticed. You may occasionally notice them, but you will likely also have a list of reasons they belong there. Most of the time, you go back to your daily routine, feeling low, but at some point, you stop questioning these thoughts and feelings. Over time, your self-esteem erodes. You may even struggle with anxiety or depression, but it all feels true and right.

Let me encourage you to question such things. Ask yourself why you feel so bad.

To understand a common reason for our negative self-image, picture your brain is a file cabinet. These files are tagged either with words or emotions. In the frontal lobe of your brain, in the place right between (and behind) your eyes sits someone called the, “Executive Assistant” – the EA. The EA runs the office and works with millions of little couriers. Some of them go on their own and the EA has no control (such as the ones who run the heart). Others can be told what to do to a point (such as the ones who can make you hold your breath). Others are fairly easy to manage (the ones who want the same thing the EA wants). Finally, there are some couriers you have to pretty much kick into shape (the “but I don’t want to clean and organize my garage this weekend” couriers, for example).

You may have read about “Brain Babble” – the thing that happens when automatic, but inappropriate or inaccurate thoughts run the show. Did you know a similar phenomenon can happen with emotions? Emotions can also be filed incorrectly.

Imagine you observe a classroom of six-year-olds. Ten minutes before class is to end for the day, the teacher announces that everyone can spend the time coloring. At the end of the time, little Jay-jay comes to show the teacher his picture. Jay-jay is smiling ear-to-ear and the teacher beams as she congratulates him on his good work. How do you think Jay-jay feels in that moment? What do you think will happen the next time he is given time to color?

Now imagine the same scenario, except this time when Jay-jay proudly displays his masterpiece, the teacher replies with, “What is wrong with you? Don’t you know by now that frogs are green and not purple? Goodness! Go try again!”

How do you think the little guy would feel then? Pretty terrible. What do you suppose he will do next time he is faced with a pack of crayons and blank paper? Can you hear what his little brain would say to him? “Give it up, Jay-jay – you can’t color right!”

Is that true? Did Jay-jay do anything wrong? NO! Where was the problem? With the teacher who put down his work. But, what did Jay-jay end up feeling? Deflated and inept.

Emotions experienced in such situations are intense and are tagged into the brain with “danger signs” attached to them. They feel real and unless you are aware and can access your wise mind, the temptation to believe these types of false messages may seem too great.

If you find yourself struggling with overwhelming emotions, a poor self-image, or even numbed-out feelings, or if you fear that you may be believing lies about yourself, extend compassion to yourself the same way you would to someone else who believed untrue things about themselves and go on a quest to find the truth. If you cannot seem to do this on your own, then consider taking time away in the supportive environment of The Center • A Place of HOPE. The staff knows how the file cabinet works and have helped many people in their pursuit of truth as they take the journey to build a healthier life.

Written by Hannah Smith, MA LMHC CGP, Group Therapy Program Coordinator, she is a Neuroscience-informed, Licensed Therapist and International Board-certified Group Psychotherapist. Hannah’s passion is to see people reach their potential and find lasting, positive change. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, and more.

Known Contributors to Depression

Feeling depressed is not just a mental state. Depression is a debilitating whole-body condition that must be addressed physically as well as mentally. The whole- person approach accepts the body as a complex organism and looks for systemic reasons for depression. As Dr. Robert A. Anderson, founding president of the American Holistic Medical Association, says: “A definitive diagnosis of depression should not be made until physical conditions have been surveyed.”[1]

The Importance of Physical Health for Depression Treatment and Recovery

The body is not merely along for the ride into depression. The body is an active participant, with the capacity to aggravate or improve symptoms of depression. The first stop on the road to recovery from depression for many people is a physician’s office. After all, they feel bad. Whatever the factors leading to their depression, many will attempt to obtain a medical diagnosis for physical symptoms.

There are studies showing that addressing physical conditions can have a dramatic effect in overcoming depression. Psychiatrist Richard Hall has found “evidence [of] dramatic and complete clearing of psychiatric symptoms when medical treatment for underlying physical disorders was instituted.”[2]

The body holds its own special key to overcoming depression. Physical illnesses as well as physical conditions that may not be diagnosed or readily apparent can contribute to depression. Yet even when blood work and medical examinations are done, the physical culprits involved in depression can be overlooked. Like a detective, you need to be informed and persistent to discover the truth. To begin, let’s examine several known contributors to depression.

Medical and Health Conditions

HYPOGLYCEMIA – Hypoglycemia can cause weakness, mental dullness, confusion, and fatigue. All of these symptoms, when taken together, can exacerbate depression.

HEART DISEASE – Research shows that one out of every five people who suffer a heart attack will become depressed.

ANEMIA – Symptoms of anemia, similar to depression, include fatigue, weakness, and lethargy. It is difficult to experience mental alertness, optimism, or energy when your body is physically run down.

SLEEP APNEA – Those who suffer from sleep apnea fluctuate between gasping and suffocating. This pattern severely strains the body and makes getting a good night’s sleep impossible. The resulting symptoms are fatigue, mental confusion, and lethargy—all associated with a state of depression.

DIABETES – The constant up-and-down stress of elevated versus low blood-sugar levels can compromise the body’s ability to regulate important nutrient absorption and hormonal levels, which provide protection from depressive mood swings.

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD) – SAD sufferers experience periods of moderate to intense depression during the winter.

HEREDITY – Depression appears to run in families. Educate yourself on the health background of your family, especially of parents or siblings who have experienced depression, whether clinically diagnosed or not.

DEHYDRATION – Dehydration impairs the body’s ability to perform vital functions, causing fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and mental dullness.

ENDOCRINE DISORDERS – When the endocrine system (comprised of the thyroid and adrenal glands) is not working properly, depression can result.

PUBERTY – The onset of puberty in both girls and boys can result in depression.

POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION – Also known as “the baby blues.” Many new mothers experience mild depression after the birth of a child. This is due to the drop of estrogen and progesterone levels after delivery, with symptoms usually fading within a week.

PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME – This syndrome is linked to certain depressive symptoms: despondent mood, irritability, exhaustion, and bouts of crying.

MENOPAUSAL PHASES – Progesterone and testosterone production can decrease at a faster rate than estrogen, upsetting the proper balance, causing estrogen dominance. With this imbalance, mood changes can occur and depression may result.

LOW TESTOSTERONE – During the natural aging process in men, testosterone production decreases. Higher testosterone levels are known to produce vitality, lean muscle mass, lower body fat, and enhanced sexual performance. The lowering or loss of these functions produce depression in men as they age.

ALLERGIES AND SENSITIVITIES – Research reveals a link between depression and allergies. In one study, 70 percent of patients with a diagnosis of depression reported having a history of allergy.[3]

Professional Depression Treatment Can Help

If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with an admissions specialist today.

[1] Robert A. Anderson, Clinician’s Guide to Holistic Medicine (NY: MacGraw-Hill Publishing, 2001), 243.

[2] R. C. W. Hall, E. R. Gardner, M. K. Popkin, and S. K. Stickney, “Unrecognized Physical Illness Prompting Psychiatric Admission: A Prospective Study,” American Journal of Psychiatry 138, no. 5 (May 1981): 629–35.

[3] I. R. Bell, M. L. Jasnoski, J. Kagan, and D. S. King, “Depression and Allergies: Survey of a Nonclinical Population.” Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 55, no.1 (1991): 24–31.

 

Traits and States

We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in this country.  We hear it everywhere we go. “Happiness” is often portrayed as the epitome of life, the ultimate, and often only, goal for which we are encouraged to strive.  If one is not happy, one begins to feel something is amiss. Ever been there? Is there a difference between a “trait” and a “state”?

The truth is, to make this one’s soul focus is generally self-defeating and often, the surest way not to find it. Why this irony?

Happiness is an emotion.  Emotions are a biological “signal system” that connects brain and body. By their very nature, they are transient and circumstance-dependent.  One way to think of emotions is as a state (or state-of-being). States can change in an instant.  Remember that time you were excited and wanted to tell someone only to meet a person you care for who was “down in the dumps”? What happened to your excitement?  At least momentarily, it slipped away, instantly replaced with concern, sadness, anger, or any number of other “emotional states”.

A trait, on the other hand, is more enduring.  When describing a state, one might say, “She is sad.”  However, if it was a trait, we would hear, “She is a sad person.”  Those seeking professional depression treatment often feel as though their trait is living in a continual state of sadness or numbness.

One way to think of it is to call the temporary state, “happiness” and the enduring trait, “joy” – just for ease of communication.

A lasting outlook that would empower joy in your life might require

  • Perspective – How does the current situation fit into the big picture? Even if this moment is difficult – if you can see it serves a purpose and will lead to health and wholeness, an underlying feeling of contentment, peace, and enthusiasm can remain.
  • Perseverance – Remember that childhood adage, “When at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”?  This is a fundamental and profound truth that is all too often overlooked. In fact, in our present world, giving up quickly can even be discouraged. Most people expect that step one of the road to their dreams should be success…but that is rare. Many of the greatest accomplishments of life – medical and technical advances, for example – “failed” many times before they finally worked.  Knowing this can keep depression and disappointment away.
  • People – No one reaches their full potential all alone. We need others to provide insight, guidance, resources, and support along the way. But, what if you don’t have anyone you feel you can count on for these things? You may feel alone, but the truth is you aren’t. Think about your favorite Barista, the one who smiles at you every time you come in – maybe even knows your drink before you order it. What about people who do TED talks or other helpful podcasts? Authors, teachers, pastors, neighbors, grocery store clerks, these are all examples of people we might not originally think of as “part of our tribe” – but they are.  We all desire close, intimate relationships – and we need them…but until we have them, there are others out there who can add to our lives. You are not alone.

We at The Center know the frustrations that come from struggling with the transient nature of emotions and we have tried and true ways to help you find the lasting traits of peace, joy, and optimism. If you tend to describe yourself with enduring traits that are troublesome – angry, depressed, or lonely, for example – and if you do not feel you have the life worth living that comes from having the trait of joy, consider coming to The Center.  Here, you will find a group of caring professionals who exhibit these traits on a daily basis. We want to walk with you on the road to find joy for yourself.

Are you struggling with anxiety or feeling depressed?  Do you feel that you have lost your energy, focus and joy? The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. Call us today at 1-888-771-5166 to speak with a n admissions specialist.  There is hope. You can regain your life.

Written by Hannah Smith, MA LMHC CGP, Group Therapy Program Coordinator, she is a Neuroscience-informed, Licensed Therapist and International Board Certified Group Psychotherapist at The Center • A Place of HOPE. The Center, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, co-occurring disorders and more.

When Breakdowns Become Breakthroughs

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that addiction blinds people to the truth of consequences. Addiction causes people to misinterpret these negative impacts across a wide spectrum, including emotional consequences, intellectual consequences, physical consequences, and spiritual consequences. Because we treat the whole person at The Center, we see and work with these multiple impacts daily.

Brandon came to us professing to feel nothing. When Brandon was asked in group sessions how he felt about a story or concept, his stock response was to shrug and say, “I don’t know.” If asked to describe how he felt about a memory he shared, he would seem puzzled by the question. As we worked with Brandon, we soon suspected that when he said, “I don’t know,” he desperately was trying to achieve “I don’t care.” Brandon did care; he cared deeply. But caring, he’d learned, made you vulnerable and susceptible to pain.

I’ve found, for some people, addictions can act as emotional dams, holding back pain. The addictive behaviors create a structure behind which disturbing emotions are kept contained. The illusion is these emotions are being kept under control, but that is not the case. The floodwaters of pain continue to build and apply tremendous pressure to the structure of the addiction, requiring continual fortification.

Because of the perceived danger of any sort of release, these emotional dams hold back pleasure as well as pain. Happiness, gratitude, interest, empathy, desire, and delight are walled off too. In my line of work, a person who is emotionally damming is said to have a flat affect. The blank face of their emotional dam is, quite literally, their own face, which displays little or no emotion. That was certainly true in Brandon’s case.

Emotional content being held back will continue its destructive pressure unless that pressure is released. In an odd way, one of our jobs at The Center is to burst emotional dams. We act as professional spillways, allowing that pent-up emotional pressure to be expressed within a supportive environment.

Tears, therefore, in my business, can be incredibly cleansing. When Brandon finally broke, he did so with a torrent of tears. He kept apologizing, choking out that he couldn’t stop crying, as if that was somehow unacceptable. He seemed genuinely shocked at the intensity of what he called his “breakdown.” I suggested he jettison the word breakdown and consider his experience a breakthrough. Weathering that flood of emotion was difficult, but it allowed him to begin the slow process of learning how to “feel” again—apart from the emotional suffocation of his addiction.

Some people come to us suppressing all emotions, and they are a challenge to open. Others are just the opposite. They are a challenge to contain because they scatter their emotional states, which are almost always negative, indiscriminately in every conceivable direction.

Are you struggling with addictive behaviors and feeling depressed?  Do you feel that your life is not in your control? The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Contact us today at 1-888-771-5166 and speak with a confidential specialist.  Begin the healing process and have confidence that there is hope, and that joy is attainable.

What Hobbies Make You Happy?

What are the loves of your life?  I’m not talking about people here but rather about the things you truly love to do – your hobbies and interests.  It may be your personality, your ability to keep them laughing for hours with your gift of humor, your skill at conversation.  Perhaps it’s your compassion for those in need.  It may be how your relate to children, to the elderly, to the homeless.  These are all part of your emotional DNA – the unique twists and turns that make you the special person you are.

Perhaps you’ve been emotionally exhausted for so long that you’ve put your loves on a shelf.  Depression may have kept you isolated and afraid.  You may have actually forgotten what once got you excited about life.  Perhaps the model train you used to have on display for the neighborhood kids to enjoy is gathering dust in your attic.  At one time you loved photography but now you don’t even know where your camera is located.

You may once had a smile as broad as all outdoors, but your life’s circumstances have taken your smile away.  It’s not that you don’t want to smile, but rather you feel you no longer have much about which to smile.

My grandfather, a miner who owned silver and gold mines in Idaho, loved to pan for gold and to use the nuggets he found to make necklaces for the women in our family.  These were handmade, pure gold nugget-laden necklaces – beautiful, personal works of art.  But more than that, they were labors of love and gifts straight from my grandfather’s heart.  From the day he gave one to my wife as a present, I have never seen her without it.  The day he died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, my mother sat singing to him at his bedside, the gold nugget necklace around her neck reflecting the light from an open window.  Today that heartfelt gift keeps on giving, bringing joy to the water and to all who see and appreciate this love-made piece of jewelry.

I tell you this story to encourage you to look deep within and beneath the mountain of hurt that may have buried some of your great loves.  You certainly don’t have to be a wood carver or a gold miner.  That’s not the point.  It’s not the cleverness of the gift but the attitude of the heart that gives the gift that matters.  I’m confident there is something you may have put aside – a real love of your life – that you may not be ready to revisit, bring to the surface, and share with others.

Expressing the loves of your life again will help steady your course, because it will take your eyes away from yourself and focus them on others.  This is something you must decide to do because it’s the right thing for you to do – not as an ego trip or to impress someone else.  When you give the gift of yourself freely, without thought of the cost – anything from your great smile, to baking a cake for someone, to making a gold nugget necklace — you will be edging closer to finding the inner healing.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.

 

Ten Questions to Ask About Your Virtual Relationships

Ironically, the very thing we turn to for increased connectivity with others is proving to be the biggest disconnection point in our lives.  Not only are we distracting ourselves from face-to-face interactions, but the virtual relationships we’re prioritizing are often lacking in the most important connection point of all–the intimacy of in-person warmth and sincerity.

To detect the presence or extent of your virtual void, ask yourself the following ten questions:

  1. How am I connecting with others online?
  2. What is the content of that connection?
  3. Would I be willing for my spouse or members of my family to view all of my online activities and content?
  4. What emotional needs are being met through these online relationships?
  5. How would I feel if I were unable to connect online for a day, a week, or even a month?
  6. How many non-family relationships do I maintain?
  7. Of those relationships, how many do I keep strictly online, meaning I don’t talk or visit but only connect online?
  8. Are there any online relationships or activities that pose a threat or provide competition to my in-person relationships?
  9. Am I willing, within the next week, to modify, limit, or sever any online relationship or activity that poses such a threat?
  10. If I’m not willing, what is holding me back?  Be specific.

As difficult as it may be to face your answers to these questions, do not underestimate the power of these truths to naturally lend themselves to your transformation.  Simply observing and accepting your behavior as it exists now will naturally inspire you to make more informed, and healthier, decisions in the future.

Do not be afraid to examine your virtual relationships and reevaluate the role they’re playing in your life.  Through an honest assessment, you can come to better understand why you are seeking online connection.  And if there are barriers you need help overcoming, do not hesitate to seek professional help.

If someone you know is suffering from technology addiction, depression, or anxiety, remember that there is HOPE.  There are professionals ready to help.  For more information about treatment call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today. The Center • A Place of HOPE.  The Center was recently ranked as a Top 10 facility in the country for the treatment of depression, and our team is standing by to help you and your loved ones.