Clients often ask me how they can overcome addictive behavior to pornography. They want to know how they developed a drive to this behavior in the first place. Did something happen to them when they were younger? Were they born this way? Will it ever go away?
These can be difficult questions to answer, but are worth exploring. In my counseling center I often help clients understand what is called the ‘addiction cycle’. It might feel, to some clients, that they go on auto-pilot when seeking out or viewing pornography, masturbating or other performing other compulsive sexual acts. They can feel as if they are drawn into it without a choice.
The addictive cycle starts with a preoccupation. There is an intense mental focus and an obsessive search for pornography or other sexual stimulation. It is almost as if the addict is in a trance in this step. The second step is called ritualization. The addict goes through a special routine leading to sexual behavior. This step can include, for example, the act of getting on the computer to ‘check your email’, even though the addict knows that this will only lead to viewing pornography. The third step is called compulsive sexual behavior. This is where the sexual act is played out. This act feels as if it is uncontrollable by the addict. This can be something that they feel is easier to finish and complete than fight to overcome or get out of. The last step is called despair. There is an incredibly strong feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness that the addict feels. This is where they seem to snap out of it and come to realize what they have done. These uncomfortable and difficult emotions can often lead them back into the cycle, only to repeat it the same way they played it out the first time.
Dr. Patrick Carnes, a well-known sexual addictions specialist, described this addictive cycle as a process that addicts go through again and again. Each time through the cycle it becomes more powerful and intense. There is a seemingly never ending and insatiable nature about this cycle that takes a toll on addicts and their loved ones.
I often work with clients in my Utah therapy practice to recognize the addiction cycle. Through this recognition, clients are empowered to make more deliberate choices instead of going on auto pilot. It seems strange at first for my clients to go through their routine, as I call it, step by step in great detail. But if they are able to honestly lay it all out there, they will be able to recognize the steps before they become too powerful and before they get to the point of no return.
Dr. Triston Morgan, LMFT
When couples call me for marriage counseling they often site the reason as ‘communication problems’. I’ve heard this hundreds of times as a family therapist. This phrase has come to be a catch phrase for many different issues – known or unknown to couples. As I do therapy with these couples in my Provo counseling center, I often find that these couples actually communicate very well, but have not built the positive connections that successful couples have. There is more to marriage therapy, then, than just helping couples ‘communicate well’. Simply learning how to do reflective listening, or practicing ‘I statements’ is not sound couples counseling. John Gottman, a renowned marriage researcher, has devoted his professional life to understanding what makes some marriages work, while others fail. I will be outlining much of his incredible work in the coming months along with anecdotal evidence that it works.
Dr. Gottman’s proposes that there are three types of happy, stable couples: volatile, conflict-avoiding and validating. Each approach is right and works! This is if couples are able to maintain a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. This is the ratio that Dr. Gottman has found to be important to maintain for successful couples.
The volatile couple can be heated, passionate, emotionally expressive and loud. They can call each other out and disagree. They are direct and don’t beat around the bush. This isn’t bad! These couples also show a lot of humor, affection and interest in each other and have been found to be the type of couple that stay romantic after years of being together.
The validating couple will engage in emotional expressiveness to a certain degree and only around main issues. They emphasize the togetherness and partnership of their marriage and strive to honor each other. They might start an argument softly by validating the others point of view and perspective.
The conflict-avoidant couple will often ‘agree to disagree’. They will never, or at least rarely, say to their partner that they are wrong and that they disagree with them. This types of confrontation is uncomfortable for them and they avoid it. They emphasize their strengths as a couple, their commitment to each other, solidarity and philosophical optimism.
Which couple are you? No matter which category you fall in, you can still have a happy and successful marriage. I have done counseling with many couples who fall in each of those three categories. If you have concerns that it’s not working for you and your partner, call me to see if therapy is right for you.
Here’s to happy marriages!
Triston Morgan, PhD LMFT
A car accident. A bullying episode in school. Sexual assault. Getting trapped in your bedroom while your house is burning down. Being caught in the crossfire of an actual shoot-out. Surviving a plane crash. Being a victim of physical abuse. A killing happening right before your very eyes. Fighting in a war. Getting divorced. The death of a loved one.
These are some very stressful experiences which can leave an indelible mark in your mind and emotions. Often, it can engulf you with fear and anxiety, so much so that you lose your ability to cope physically and emotionally. If these issues and anxieties are left unresolved, the emotional injuries may fester and lead to psychological problems.
Trauma and How It is Caused
Trauma, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is defined as “severe emotional shock and pain caused by an extremely upsetting experience”.
People cope with trauma differently. One can move on from a particularly traumatic experience while another will have recurring nightmares and other psychological effects. It actually depends on how a person reacts internally to a situation. This is because we all have different personalities, coping skills, experiences and emotional makeup and stability.
Psychological trauma happens when there is a stressful or painful event and the person’s internal coping mechanisms are too overwhelmed. The person who has difficulty coping with the traumatic event may need some help. A traumatic experience can be a single event or a repeated event happening over a long period of time. It can be caused by a natural disaster, was or by another person’s deliberate acts.
Trauma and Its Symptoms
Persons who suffer from severe emotional trauma can have physical, emotional and psychological symptoms. Depending on the severity of the trauma, they may be marked by:
– Recurring nightmares
– Extreme anxiety
– Social isolation
– Recurring anxiety attacks
– A hard time focusing and concentrating
– Absent mindedness and memory deficits
– Overwhelming feelings of shame or guilt
– Problems sleeping
– Eating disorders
– Chronic fatigue
– Short-temperedness and irritability
– Propensity to abuse alcohol or drugs
– Issues with sexuality and self-esteem
How counseling can help
Utah counseling for a victim of trauma is more than just “talking it out”. With the help of a Utah counselor, you can learn how to pinpoint the negative emotions and the steps towards coming to terms with these. Rather than attempting to suppress these negative emotions, counseling can help you channel these emotions.
When the trauma victim is more able to cope with the overwhelming feelings, this engenders feelings of personal control. An experienced Provo counselor can also direct the victim towards these positive coping actions. This can include:
– Providing a place of safety and structure. Provo counseling can provide a non-threatening and non-confrontational sanctuary in which one can process his experience. It is a place he can safely discuss, examine and explore his feelings and fears. Counseling also provides the structure and “balance” by making one face expectations and beliefs that may in fact be irrational and unrealistic.
– Education. Family counseling in Utah may help the victim become more aware of the situation, his behavior, as well as its impact on himself and others. Sometimes, the trauma victim cannot see the situation objectively. As the trauma victim becomes more aware of the presence of the problem and how one’s behavior contributes to it, one can then start planning the steps on how he can move on. Another area where the person can be more aware is how the crisis itself can be used for that person to grow and uncover his capabilities to resolve the crisis.
– Help towards breaking free from negative behavior. A traumatized person can develop addictive behavior and vicious cycles that may be harder to break free of as time goes by. Often, to find relief from the effects of a trauma, a person turns to drugs, alcohol, risky sexual behavior and so on. Counseling can help one face the need to change habits and negative behavior.
– Support for facing what the person fears. At one point or the other, the person will have to face what he fears in order for him to break free of it. It may be hard to face emotional pain but it is a response that can start the process of healing. An experienced counselor can help empower and support the trauma victim towards a healthier outlook and behavior.
The economic downturn has, more and more, produced a lot of victims. Today’s economic challenges do not only produce jobless workers, but workers who are scared of losing their jobs and will do anything to keep their job. Aside from those who are in fear for their livelihood, possible candidates for job burnout include those who have a high level of job dissatisfaction, who have a problematic family life, who have poor work prospects and those who feel unfairly treated and discriminated against.
Reading through this list, can you consider yourself a candidate for job burnout?
Burning both ends of the candle can result in serious consequences – not just physically but also psychologically and emotionally. While you can blaze hard and fast and gain a lot of headway in your career, if you’re not careful, the long days of work and the accompanying stress will take its toll on you eventually. Aside from its effects on your health and well-being, it can also have negative consequences on something that you have sacrificed so much for in the first place – your job performance. Eventually, this will spill into your personal life and social life.
Burnout is not just something physical. It also is emotional, mental and psychological. There is a feeling of helplessness and being overwhelmed by your job responsibilities.
Job burnout: Identifying the Red Flags
It can help to identify the signs of career burnout to start seeking Utah counseling as early as possible.
– Poor enthusiasm for work. When in the past, you used to look forward to getting out of bed to prepare for work, you now fear the prospect of clocking in. Even doing the easiest of tasks is a struggle. Your usual set of responsibilities feels dull and mind-numbingly boring. Typing an email feels like weights being tied on your hands. Finishing that project can be a struggle.
– Depression about one’s work situation. The future (at least career-wise) looks bleak and disenchanting. And work engenders feelings of hopelessness.
– Poor work performance. Because of a lack of enthusiasm for your job, your work will start to deteriorate. You start missing deadlines, turn in poor quality work, get in late for work, miss whole days of work and not care about the possible consequences.
– Being weak and sickly. You will start having backaches, headaches and other physical problems. There can also be a marked lack of energy. This can be a result of the stress of performing the job or the stress of starting to hate the job.
– Poor relationships with colleagues and bosses. There is suppressed anger and this can be marked by spurts of temper. Your irritability may affect your relationships with other people in the workplace.
– Poor sleep patterns. The stress of being overworked can lead to restlessness and sleeplessness.
– Substance abuse. Often, the likely choice of escape would be the abuse of substances such as alcohol and drugs. The stress can also lead to a compromised immune system, leaving you prone to colds, flu, ulcer and other illnesses.
Counseling for Job Burnout
To stop your work life from fizzling out, you can start by seeking the help of a therapist in Utah. If you notice the above symptoms, it is advisable to act towards rectifying the possible long term consequences to your health and work life. Provo counseling can start the road towards a healthier view of work and of life in general.
Provo therapists can help by equipping you with coping tools to help put balance in your life – work, family and social connections. This includes:
– Relaxation techniques. This can include deep breathing exercises, enjoying a hobby, learning yoga or meditating. This can also include learning to “disengage” from technology. Learning how to relax can help mitigate the stress that can threaten to overwhelm.
– Assertiveness training. Sometimes, the piles of work can be because one is unable to say no to bosses and colleagues. Therapists in Provo can provide training for becoming more assertive in setting limits to the level of demands your work makes on you.
– Learning to take good care of yourself. The awareness of what stress and job burnout is doing to the body can help a person be more motivated to engage in healthy life habits. This includes eating healthy food, having a regular exercise regimen and getting enough sleep.
– Stress and anger management. Counseling can help provide you with tools to manage and express your stress and anger in positive ways.
– Goal and priority-setting. Your counselor will help you rediscover your life goals and to see how these are working out in your current situation. Your sessions can delve into knowing your priorities in life and how these can help change your direction.
Having a healthy work-family-social life balance is difficult. Juggling a lot of balls on air can be quite a challenge – but it can be done. With a proactive mentality and help from your counselor and loved ones, you can enjoy life to the full – and this includes your job!
Substance abuse does not only affect the addicted person. It’s like throwing a pebble on a calm lake – the ripples will be far-reaching. The first layer of those affected would be loved ones, particularly ones living with the addicted person. This includes his or her spouse, as well as children.
Sometimes, the behaviors and reactions developed by those living with an addicted person can be so that it revolves around the problem and results in a dysfunctional way of life for the family involved. Without the help of family counseling in Utah, the codependency will perpetuate, to the detriment of the family. Problems are not properly threshed out and family members respond to the problem by developing risky attitudes of their own.
What is Codependency?
Here are some quotes from experts that give a picture of what codependency is like:
“We begin tolerating abnormal, unhealthy, and inappropriate behaviors. Then we go one step further, we convince ourselves these behaviors are normal.” –Melody Beattie
“A set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members to survive in a family experiencing great emotional pain.” The Johnson Institute
When a Parent or Sibling is Addicted
The living conditions of a family with an alcoholic or drug addict is changed drastically. As such, codependency is called a “family disease”. It can be passed on even to the next generations. The way each family member acts and deals with the situation is also changed drastically. They can be characterized as:
– Compulsive: Their brand of “caring” for their addicted loved one becomes compulsive, rather than a function of choice. He can’t help but encourage the individual to continue with his addictive behavior even when he knows that his actions are to the detriment of his loved ones.
– Maladaptive: This condition prevents the codependent person to grow and develop the behaviors that meets not just their emotional needs but also the emotional needs of others.
– Causing pain and stress. These coping and survival mechanisms are developed as a way to escape and relieve pain. However, they themselves are a source or pain and stress! Those who have codependent relationships can be perfectionists to being people who seemingly live without standards, driven towards gaining prestige and status symbols, gaining high authority and a compulsion to acquire control or material possessions. This can manifest itself in eating disorders, sleeping disorders and even a propensity to also abuse substances themselves.
– Stunting relationships. Because a person with codependency issues have a pattern of behavior that seeks to put the needs of the addicted loved one before his or her own, that person will have problems forming relationships that are healthy and balanced.
Further, those with codependency issues may be in denial, in compliance, seeking control or seeking avoidance. They can also have issues of low self-esteem. Codependent individuals seek validation from others to the point that their measure of worth is based on what other people think. They also do not see themselves as worthwhile individuals and have difficulty accepting love, affection and praise. They have difficulty making decisions and perform important tasks. They would rather lie than look bad.
Denial patterns. A codependent may find it hard to admit his feelings and see that there is something wrong in the family situation. He may also be attracted to a person and yet not see that person fails to reciprocate the feelings. He also tends to project his own weakness and negative qualities on others. He may also act in passive-aggressive ways – masking what he feels with the use of social isolation, anger and humor.
Controlling patterns. This type of codependent will try to compensate by taking on the role of the “strong” caretaker. He may use gifts, charm and even sexual favors to curry approval or influence. He also seeks to establish control, is pushy and temperamental when others don’t “toe the line”. He feels validated if he is needed by others; however, he also seeks to exploit others by demanding that his needs be met. He may resent the recovery of the addicted family member since that means that the member will not need his role as caretaker anymore.
Compliance patterns. This type of codependent is malleable and remains “faithful and true” till the end, even though this means tolerating and supporting addictive behavior. A compliant codependent will put others first to the point of sacrificing his own needs and interests. He shies away from expressing his feelings and opinions, if these are contrary to other people’s feelings and opinions.
Avoidance patterns. This type of codependent pushes other people away when he feels that they have come too close for comfort. He may be very critical and “allergic” to any form of intimacy, be it physical, sexual or emotional. He avoids displays of affection or any other emotion and avoids feelings of vulnerability by holding back his own feelings.
Breaking free from the Codependency Bond
Codependency is draining in family relationships. One step towards breaking free of codependency would be to seek Utah counseling, as well as looking for support groups who also face the same issues and concerns. The family can also do well to seek the help of an experienced Utah substance abuse counselor.
Family counseling in Utah can help you become more aware of the situation and the presence of codependency. To try to combat this, a Utah therapist will help equip you to be more assertive, more aware of your needs and how you and your family can effectively and lovingly deal with an addicted family member.
An experienced counselor will be aware to set good boundaries in order to also protect against being in a codependent relationship with his clients. For instances like this, it is also a good idea to seek a counselor who is also an experienced Provo substance abuse counselor.
Beware: Alcoholism and substance abuse is not an adult problem. Teens can also fall victim to the lure of alcohol. In fact, teens may be particularly vulnerable, since the teenage years is a trying and confusing time. There is the added pressure from peers and the need to be accepted and to “look cool”.
Alcohol is a teenager’s substance of choice. Teenagers often have the misconception that being able to handle one’s alcohol makes one more “grown up”. Alcohol is also attractive since teens like the way alcohol makes them feel – invincible, fearless and happy. According to statistics, 14% of teenagers have experienced being drunk at least once in a given year. In addition, around 8% of adolescents have tried binge drinking, or drinking five or more alcoholic drinks in a row.
Parents should not disregard signs of alcohol abuse, thinking that this is just a phase where the teenage child is experimenting. Rather, there are strong indications that early experimentation of alcohol can result in adverse consequences for the child’s future.
According to a study made by Dr. Avshalom Caspi and Terri Moffitt of Duke University, preteens who regularly indulged in substance abuse, especially alcohol and drugs, are more likely to experience:
– Unwanted pregnancies (with a high probability of getting pregnant before a teenage girl reaches 21 years of age).
– Failing grades and behavioral issues in school
– Contracting a sexually transmitted disease, including HIV
– Conviction of a criminal act
– Drug dependency
This is regardless of whether the teen comes from a home where members also indulged in substance abuse or not. In addition, teens may be addicted to alcohol and other substances more easily than adults. The younger a person starts drinking, the higher the possibility they will develop alcohol abuse problems.
Aside from the possibility of alcohol addition, the use of alcohol during the teenage years may result in:
– Problems with concentrating and remembering
– The propensity of abusing other substances (i.e. marijuana) along with alcohol
– Indulging in risky behavior that may put the teen and others in danger. Statistics indicate that more than 2,000 people ages 21 and below die annually in car crashes caused by underage drinking and driving.
– Higher probability of suicide attempts
– Higher risk of indulging in risky sexual behavior (.e. having sex with multiple partners, having unprotected sex, having sex with strangers)
Challenge for the Parents
The challenge is for the parents to act accordingly to prevent their teen from being addicted to alcohol. The family setup and environment can do a lot to keep a child on track (such as going for Utah counseling) or to enable the child to veer off towards alcoholism. Preventing alcoholism or recovering from teenage alcoholism will require efforts not just from the teen but from the whole family as well.
Here are some things you can do:
– Preventing alcohol use. Parents can help minimize the harmful effects of alcoholism by:
o Having close communications with the teen. This includes discussing how alcohol can negatively affect him and how he can deal with the pressure peers may exert for him to try drinking. Parents should also discuss expectations with regards to alcohol use. If your child has the sense that you will tolerate alcohol use, chances are, he will be more likely to give it a try.
o Supervision. Parents should supervise the teen and be aware of his activities and whereabouts. Parents should also do well to get to know their child’s friends.
o Keep the teen occupied. Simply saying “don’t” is not enough. Parents should also give alternative activities to keep the child busy. This can include being involved in sports, the arts, or programs in church.
– Recognize the red flags. There are some warning signs that point towards alcohol abuse in your teen and it will be useful to recognize these signs early on so that you can take appropriate action. Here are some signs:
o Problems at school. This includes truancy, discipline problems and falling grades.
o Changes in peer group and hang-outs. The teen may shift to a peer group that shares this propensity to abuse alcohol and other substances.
o Changes in activities. The teen may give up activities that he used to enjoy and that used to be important to him.
o Problems with the law
o Physical symptoms, including dilated pupils, slurred speech, red, bloodshot eyes, rapid weight loss, memory lapses and lack of physical coordination. The teen may also complain of headaches in the morning. Other symptoms include lethargy and pasty, dull skin.
o Changes in habits and behaviors. The teen may become more careless with his hygiene and may disregard his appearance. Other symptoms also include breaking house rules, such as the curfew, borrowing (or stealing) money from you or from friends, lying and having alcohol-related paraphernalia. The teen may also prefer to spend more time inside his room, rather than socializing with the rest of the family. He may also have mood swings, appear sullen, or even verbally or physically abusive.
– Admit that there is a problem.Acknowledging that there is a substance abuse issue is a big and difficult step for parents to make. This is especially true if the parents’ behavior may have also contributed to and sustained the problem. However, recognizing the problem will lead towards helpful and productive steps, such as going to a Utah substance abuse counselor.
– Going for Family Therapy. Since the problem will need the cooperation of all the family members, it will be helpful to seek family counseling in Utah. This will help the teen make the necessary steps towards recovering. In addition, the family will also be able to recognize enabling and denying behaviors that may actually have made the problem worse.
Indeed, the help of an experienced Provo substance abuse counselor will first assess the family dynamic and help each member cope and deal with the problem appropriately. You see, even after a teen recovers from his substance abuse problem and has made the necessary changes for the better, the family may not be equipped to act and react in a way that will support the teen’s recovery. Family counseling in Provo provides the tools needed for the entire family to make healthy changes.
For some, food is a good source of comfort. We each have a go-to food for when we feel depressed or stressed out. We also have times when we help ourselves to more of our fair share of food – when we go out on a buffet, or during special occasions such as Christmas or Thanksgiving. However, for binge eaters, the compulsion to overeat is something that happens regularly.
What is Binge Eating?
Binge eating or compulsive overeating is when a person regularly gorges himself with food. Even as he does, he feels that he is powerless to resist the compulsion and cannot stop even when he is already full or already feels sick because of all the food ingested. There may be feelings of stress or disgust during the eating binge. By binge, it usually means eating rapidly without enjoying or tasting the food.
Binge eating is often a response to the pressure caused by going on a major diet. This disorder usually begins during one’s late teens or early adulthood. The binge episodes are characterized by feelings of distress (for not being able to control one’s urge to eat), disgust with one’s self, guilt and even depression.
Binge eating can be a vicious cycle – where a person is driven on an eating binge because of stress. As he binges, he gets some measure of comfort, but feels bad about it afterwards. These negative feelings (about his inability to stop himself from going on a binge coupled by low self-esteem and dissatisfaction about how one looks) can drive him into further bingeing episodes. It may also be rooted in the pressure from society to look a certain way (i.e. thin = sexy and attractive).
According to Utah counselors, there are indications that binge eating is rooted in physical abnormalities. The brain may not be able to release enough serotonin to deal with feelings of depression. Or, the brain does not send the necessary signal to tell the body that it is no longer hungry.
Those who suffer from binge eating disorder are obese, as there is usually no effort made towards ridding one’s self of the food ingested through vomiting or over-exercising (as the case is with bulimia). The symptoms may include:
– Feelings of being out of control. This includes self-disgust, guilt and embarrassment.
– Eating even when one is not hungry or when one is already full
– Eating normally in the presence of others but going on a binge when one is alone
– Having a secret food stash
– The binges are regular
– The binges may last for one or two hours or may go on sporadically throughout the day
Aside from obesity, there are a number of medical, social and emotional complications associated with binge eating. These include:
– A higher likelihood of suicide
– A higher likelihood to also abuse other substances such as prescription medicine, alcohol and drugs to cope with the depression and stress
– Physical problems such as diabetes, heart problems associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, gallbladder disease and sleep apnea.
Getting help for Binge Eating
Getting into a healthier relationship with food can be a struggle. If you or a loved one is suffering from binge eating, you may need to go for Utah counseling. If the binge eating disorder is also accompanied by substance abuse problems, you may also need to seek the services of a Utah substance abuse counselor.
Here are some things you can do to help you triumph over binge eating:
– Maintain a regular meal schedule. This should include 3 meals plus snacks, if necessary. Never skip meals, especially breakfast, since doing so will make you hungrier and have stronger food cravings. At this point, stop any diet you’re on. When you deprive yourself of food, you will actually crave for more.
– Don’t stock your cupboards with unhealthy food. Take away the temptation. If you don’t have ready access to food, it will be more difficult for you to yield to the temptation to go on an eating binge.
– Keep yourself busy. Sometimes, people eat not out of hunger but out of boredom. When all you do is watch TV or sit in front of the computer, it is easy to fall into binge eating. Keep yourself busy with activities such as planting a garden, learning a new craft, making a scrapbook or taking walks.
– Keep on moving! Get plenty of exercise. Exercise gives off feel-good substances that can help ward off any oncoming depression. As you feel good about yourself and your body, you are more able to resist eating on a binge.
– Keep a journal on your eating patterns. This will help you keep track of the amount and the kinds of food you eat. The journal will provide you with key information about how your eating is related with your mood.
– Get help. Getting into Provo counseling will help you get to the bottom of your binge eating (feelings of depression, fear and stress) and will keep you equipped with coping tools to manage your appetite. You should also get the support of friends and loved ones.
– Educate yourself. You should educate yourself about a well-balanced diet and losing weight the healthy way.
Utah therapists can do a lot towards fighting compulsions and getting equipped with healthy eating habits. Therapy can also help recognize the triggers for your binge eating and how to avoid them, as well as manage the stress that can contribute to binge eating.
A friend had to go through the painful experience of watching his mother suffer the effects of colon cancer. The mother had cavalierly treated her health, didn’t go to the doctor to have her condition checked and the colon cancer was shown to be asymptomatic, so no serious treatment was made until it was too late. My friend saw his mother suffer from the cancer and die. As a result, he went to the other extreme – being too preoccupied with his health and convinced that he, too, will contract the same disease. Small aches and pains will drive him to demand a room in the hospital, even though his doctor has reassured him that he’s okay.
What is hypochondria?
Hypochondria is marked by an extreme preoccupation with one’s health. Simply put, it is an exaggerated health anxiety, despite the fact that thorough medical evaluation has ruled out any serious disease. The number of people suffering from hypochondria is difficult to pin, since people with hypochondria tend to go to their doctors instead of therapists in Provo or a mental healthcare practitioner. Nevertheless, approximately 1% of the American adult population has hypochondria.
According to Utah therapists, the preoccupation can be unhealthy due to the fact that it has already interfered with the person’s ability to lead a normal life. He is unable to deal with the needs of his family, relationships and work because his schedule is peppered with visits to the doctor or hospital stays.
Please take note that it is normal to worry and be concerned about one’s health, to learn to listen to your body and determine whether there are symptoms of a disease. However, a hypochondriac has taken this normal concern to an extreme.
Hypochondria can be marked by:
– Physical “symptoms” include nausea, dizziness, numbness, fatigue, stomachaches, headaches, soreness of the body. Usually, the pains are subjective, something that cannot be absolutely quantified by lab tests, MRI and CAT scans.
– Simple aches and pains, a cut, a cough, a runny nose or minor physical aberrations are seen to be serious diseases. (i.e. a stomach ache can be considered stomach cancer.) In some cases, even normal body functions (sweating, falling hair, bowel movements) can be seen as warning signs of a serious health condition.
– The symptoms are sometimes vague (“My liver feels sore.” “My joints feel achy.”), sometimes specific.
– Indulging in exploratory surgery or complicated diagnostic exams such as CAT scans or MRIs
– The selected disease is usually something that is serious and life threatening.
– The tendency to self-diagnose. When the disease of choice is ruled out by his doctor, he immediately researches the possibility that the symptoms can match another serious disease.
– The tendency of research about perceived symptoms excessively.
– Obsessively watching out for changes in the body to see whether there are problems or the problem has “worsened”.
– Switching doctors frequently, especially if the previous doctors have already given him a clean bill of health and is not “listening to him”.
– Talking about his illness and its symptoms to anyone who will listen.
Hypochondria can be debilitating and harmful to one’s health. There is a propensity to take medications without the doctor’s prescription or to abuse substances and drugs in an effort to alleviate the “symptoms”. The anxiety over getting seriously ill can also result in depression or other anxiety disorders. The unnecessary medical examinations, exploratory surgeries and medical procedures can also pose a serious threat to one’s health.
Hypochondria and the Internet
The access to ready information about symptoms and matching diseases has fueled more anxiety. This isn’t helped by the fact that minor ailments and major diseases can often share similar symptoms. If one continues searching for an illness that matches one’s perceived symptoms, chances are, he will find a serious illness he can get anxious about.
Treatment for hypochondria
Therapists in Utah can help with alleviating the symptoms and problematic behavior caused by hypochondria. Regular Provo counseling can help the patient come to an understanding that his symptoms are not caused by a physical disease, rather, it is a health anxiety problem. This understanding can help lessen the anxiety.
Hypochondria can be treated by Utah counselors with the help of cognitive-behavioral treatment. Those suffering from hypochondria can deal with it and overcome the anxiety about their health with the help of medications, therapy or counseling.
Drama queen. Diva. Recluse. Fanatically paranoid. Do any of these words describe you or anyone you know? That may point towards what is called a personality disorder.
Understanding personality disorder
Our personality makes us who we are. It outlines a pattern of beliefs, behaviors, feelings and thoughts that showcase our individuality as persons. In normal situations, our personality changes as we grow and mature. We learn how to better relate with people, express our feelings and opinions so that we can more effectively connect with people around us – loved ones, friends and colleagues. Our growth and maturity help us adapt to our situation and cope with life in general.
However, those with personality disorder have a distinct difficulty being flexible and changing and learning. Instead, the thought patterns, belief patterns and behavioral patterns are inflexible and deeply ingrained. They tend to hold tightly onto their beliefs and behaviors, plus their narrow view of society and the world.
As a result, they are less able to relate with the people around them and they find it more difficult to cope with everyday life. Those with personality disorder have difficulty maintaining relationships and may need the help of Utah counseling to become more self-aware and to grow and mature.
Those with personality disorder can be characterized by the following:
– Impulsive outbursts of temper
– Repeated and frequent mood swings
– Difficulty controlling impulses, making him prone to substance or alcohol abuse
– Seclusion from others or withdrawal from social situations
– Difficulty bonding with others
– Excessive suspicion of situations and other people
Utah counselors can point out to a number of personality disorders, which can be grouped into three major categories (odd or eccentric, emotional and impulsive, and suspicious or anxious):
Odd or Eccentric Personality Disorders
– Paranoid Personality Disorder. Everything and everyone is treated with suspicion and mistrust. People close to them and around them are constantly seen as condescending, unfaithful, manipulative, threatening, deceitful or malicious. Because of their suspicion, they tend to be on their guard, hostile and emotionally withdrawn.
– Schizoid Personality Disorder. Those with this personality disorder have difficulty forging relationships with those around them. Social relationships (as well as intimacy) tend to be seen as annoyances and are avoided at all costs. According to Provo counselors, schizoid personalities can be characterized as being distant, emotionally cold and withdrawn. They can be considered socially inept and can’t understand or grasp normal social cues.
– Schizotypal Personality Disorder. These can be classified as “weird” or overly eccentric – in the way they dress, act or speak. They also miss normal social cues and don’t react as expected. Forging close relationships will be difficult as they have difficulty holding a conversation. They may also make use of “special powers” such as the ability to control other people’s actions, read their minds or see the future.
Emotional or Impulsive Personality Disorders
– Narcissistic Personality Disorder. With these, it’s all “me, myself and I”. Those with narcissistic personality disorder are overly self-absorbed, selfish and have entitlement issues. They may also oscillate between feelings of grandeur (exaggerating one’s ability and attractiveness) and insecurity (feeling that others are not “admiring” enough”). They tend to get resentful and angry when people don’t toe the line with them.
– Borderline Personality Disorder. They can be characterized by frequent mood swings, impulsive actions, behavioral instability and self-destructive behavior. Emotions can be intense and the world can be seen as “all bad” or “all good”. Persons with this personality disorder may be suicidal.
– Antisocial Personality Disorder. These can be called the “renegades” – those who flout rules and tend to disregard social expectations. They take on a rebellious, impulsive and aggressive attitude. As such, they are prone towards shoplifting, stealing and substance abuse. They may need the help of a Utah substance abuse counselor. They have difficulty feeling remorse and may be a hazard to others and to themselves.
– Histrionic Personality Disorder. There are the “Drama Queens”. They feel that all the attention should be directed to them or else they will get too emotional to get that attention. These are characterized by unstable moods, a deep dependence on the approval of others and the need to act or behave provocatively.
Suspicious or Anxious Personality Disorders
– Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. These are very methodical and organized to the point of being extremely inflexible. They have difficulty adapting to changes in their situation as they always expect and strive towards perfection.
– Avoidant Personality Disorder. Those with this personality disorder can be deemed social recluses – where they are so afraid of rejection that they try to withdraw from others at all costs. They have strong feelings of inferiority and shy away from social activities because they are worried that they will act in an embarrassing way in public. Even though they desire to forge relationships with others, they tend only to be close within circles they feel close to, particularly their family.
– Dependent Personality Disorder. Those with this personality disorder are afraid of taking responsibility for their decisions and actions. They allow others to make key decisions for them. They are afraid of being alone and the end of a close relationship can mean disaster and devastation. Similarly, they are unable to function properly without other people’s help.
Therapy for Personality Disorders
Treatment for personality disorders can be provided by therapists in Provo. The treatment can be long and challenging, as the therapy aims to change behavioral and thought patterns that may be deeply rooted in a person. The therapy will usually be aimed towards being more aware about one’s behavior and emotions, as well as finding ways of dealing with and controlling them. Cognitive behavior therapy will teach one to challenge ideas and beliefs that are the root of the personality behavior. With help from therapy and with constant support, a person with personality behavior can emerge and live a full and abundant life.
The show Fear Factor is about fighting your fears. In the show, you can see people leaping from tall buildings, grab unimaginable stuff (dead rats, pig intestines, etc) using your mouth, being enclosed in tight spaces and eating all manner of gross objects. The toughest and the fastest contestant wins the grand prize. And people do their best to get through the stunts and the tests for the prize, usually amounting to $50,000.
However, there are people who can’t face their fears even if you offered to pay them a million dollars. To a person with a phobia, the fear just debilitates.
More on Phobias
With a phobia, the fear is intense, persistent, excessive and often unfounded or illogical. Although fear is a natural (and healthy) defense mechanism that can warn us of dangers, those with a phobia have taken fear to a higher level. The fear they feel is often disproportionate to the actual situation and the danger it presents. The fear is often illogical because it is caused by things that will not happen, things that have happened already and can’t be changed or things that are insignificant and not truly dangerous.
There is a long list of things people have phobias with: spiders, rats, snakes, thunderstorms, riding in planes, heights, and the number thirteen. Sometimes the fear is about relating to other people in social situations. And the list goes on…
Here are some interesting phobia facts and figures:
– Roughly 6 million Americans have a specific phobia while some 11 million suffer from generalize phobia such as social phobia or agoraphobia (fear of open spaces).
– Females are more likely to develop a phobia than males.
– Social phobia is one of the more common phobias, as well as fear of speaking in public and fear of death.
When a person with a phobia is exposed to the thing he or she fears, he can suffer from intense distress. Some symptoms may include:
– Excessive sweating and shaking
– Shortness of breath or the feeling of being choked
– Nausea or dizziness
– Breathing problems
– Palpitations and chest pains
– Heart palpitations resulting in panic attacks or heart attacks
– Hot or cold flashes
The fear is debilitating in that it interferes with the person’s ability to live a normal life and perform day-to-day and work activities. For instance, a sales person cannot successfully do his duties when he is afraid of flying. Or, a person who is afraid of heights may simply refuse a position just because the office is situated at the top of a high rise. Another example would be a person who would prefer letting his teeth rot because he is afraid of going to the dentist.
Therapy for Phobias
Learning relaxation techniques. Being able to relax can help ward of anxiety that may be welling up as a result of exposure to your phobia. You can learn to breathe deeply to slow your heart rate down and minimize the adrenaline that aggravates the “fight or flight” mechanism in you.
If you suffer from a phobia, it is best to go to a Utah therapist earlier on. Over time, the phobia becomes more complex and debilitating because of extreme measures one performs in order to avoid the source of his fear.
Utah counselors can help those with a phobia to come to terms with their fears and be able to face them so that they eventually do not produce the same level of anxiety and panic in them. In fact, therapists in Utah consider specific phobia as highly treatable among the anxiety disorders. Usually, exposure therapy is utilized. With this, the patient is exposed to the thing he fears under controlled circumstances.
Provo counselors can provide ways for an individual to cope and process their situations. With constant visits to therapists in Provo, one can eventually unearth the underlying causes for the fear and learn how to deal with the cause themselves.