Wide Asleep Slumber no more…

Wide Asleep Slumber no more…
Excerpt from book “Wide Asleep Slumber no more (Available at Amazon and Bookstores everywhere)

Why as human beings with so much untapped potential do we go through our everyday lives without even noticing a smile from a stranger?
How is it that we accept whatever happens as the norm and how is that we are so busy making a living instead of designing a life.
I hope to assist you in answering these questions and others throughout this book.
Let’s start with the obvious question? What makes me an “expert” or “specialist” on these subjects? Well, for more than 10 years I have studied my behavior along with countless others who have stumbled along the road most often traveled going where the masses go and doing what the masses do and the result was more often than not ending up in the same rut as the masses.
I found out that whether we like it or not we become the environment that we choose to be in. We accepted other B.S. (belief systems, thanks Tony). We followed the herd for fear of rejection. We are bombarded daily with mindless dribble from radio, TV and print advertising. The “weeds” in our subconscious feed off of the drama set forth from the previous examples. The weeds will grow regardless. We must learn to pull them.
We have a “gatekeeper”. It is our conscious minds ability to choose what we want to focus on. Believe me if you focus on anything with laser like precision you will bring it to you. This means success or failure.

When you Visualize, Crystallize
and when you Crystallize
you will Materialize.

What do you really want? Ask 100 people this question and 98 will not be able to give you an answer. I mean a deep down gut check, this is what I want, and this is how I’m going to get it and this is who I’m going to help so I can make it happen. The clearer the picture becomes in your mind the closer you are to achieving your goals. Write it down, cut pictures out of magazines, draw pictures, see yourself already achieving what you want. First you must know what it is.
It’s not what we want it is the feeling we get from it. I am here to tell you now that you can have that feeling anytime you want it.
Someday will never come, trust me. The average life expectancy on this earth is 25,500 days, that’s it 25,500 days. What gets you fired up and juiced with a burning passion that nothing can stop you.
If there is no passion in your life, simply put, you are not following your bliss and not doing what you are supposed to be doing. Ouch, hurts don’t it. This will help you move from pain to pleasure. This is what we do whether we wish to recognize it or not. Every action we take is an attempt for us to move from pain to pleasure from discomfort to comfort.

How to Use Binaural Beats for Maximum Effectiveness

There are no hard and fast rules on how to use binaural beats. However, at Ennora, we do have a recommended code of conduct that will help you get the best from the experience. The reality is that you can use binaural beats anywhere, as long as you have headphones. That said, it seems somewhat pointless trying to relax the brain while driving in rush hour traffic. Remember, using binaural beats is essentially meditation, and to achieve the best from meditation you must put the mind in a neutral state. The mind should be free of distraction and stress.

Settle into a Mindful State

Before listening to your recording, try and settle into a mindful state. Find an isolated space, ideally in a neutral environment that isn’t usually associated with stress or high-energy activity. Your environment should be free of disturbances, so be sure to turn off your phone, and let those likely to disturb you know that you won’t be available for the duration.

Sitting among nature is ideal, for example in the park, by a lake or in a spacious field. If this isn’t possible, then try your conservatory, your garden or a room in the house that makes you feel warm and content. Be in the moment, be present, be spacious and let go. If you find this difficult, close your eyes and concentrate on the rise and fall of your breath for a few minutes before starting.

Take up Your Binaural Position

If you can sit in the traditional mediation position then do so (Lotus Position). If you find this uncomfortable or are yet to master sitting cross-legged then lie down or sit on a comfortable seat. If at home, use your couch or bed. Whatever you do ensure you are comfortable. Don’t sit slouched over or with your head to one side. Sit or lie straight with your head perfectly centered.

Use Quality Headphones

It really is worth investing in some good headphones to get the most out of your recordings. We personally recommend closed back headphones for optimum binaural beats listening. If you don’t know the difference between the two let me explain.

Closed headphones have a closed, or sealed, cup. Open headphones are open behind the driver. Basically this means that closed headphones will keep you from hearing outside sounds and also keep people around you from hearing your headphones – this is referred to as “leaking.” Cheaper closed headphones with a sealed cup will have reflections and resonances, however, higher end models from the likes of Bose, Sennheiser, and Sony deal with those issues very well.

Setting the Volume

You don’t want to give yourself earache, but at the same time you don’t want the recording to be too low. Have it loud enough so that you can’t be disturbed by outside noise like passing traffic or people talking within the vicinity of your meditation area.

So there you have it, the perfect way to use binaural beats. Remember though, as long as you have headphones and you are in a relaxed position, you will feel some positive effect. This means you can use binaural beats on the bus, in the back of a car on a long journey, on the train or even just going for a stroll.


10 Thoughts that May be Stressing You Out

By Christy Matta, MA

Much of the strain and conflict that causes stress in relationships occurs when your wants are consistently side-lined by your internalized sense of how you should behave.
Are you stuck “doing the right thing” while sacrificing what you want? Often, we’re stressed out not because others are expecting things from us, but because we expect them from ourselves. These internal “shoulds” may have originated in external expectations, moral codes or rules that you internalized long ago that have now become pressures you place on yourself.
Do you relate to any of the following thoughts:
  1. “I should solve problems on my own (not doing so is weak, needy or means I’m inadequate)”
  2. “I shouldn’t make requests from other people (it’s selfish and self-centered)”
  3. “I should just deal with it.”
  4. “I should sacrifice my needs for others.”
  5. “I shouldn’t feel the way I do.”
  6. “I should change my attitude.”
  7. “I should have done better (at work, in a relationship, on a task)”
  8. “I can’t fail (failure would be disastrous)”
  9. “I can’t handle criticism.”
  10. “I should never need to be criticized (I should behave perfectly so that there is no need for criticism)”
When you carry around a heavy load of internal rules—”shoulds”– you become worn down and burdened by your own expectations.
Try picking one thought that you’re willing to let go.  Look over the list or identify a thought of your own that contributes to your feeling overburdened and overwhelmed.
With that thought in mind, try one or all of the following:
  • Notice the thought, when you have it, and imagine it drifting in and out of your thoughts, like a cloud drifts across the sky. You might watch the thought “I should sacrifice my needs to others” come into your mind, drift by and float out.  Don’t push the thought away or try to engage with it. Just notice it is there.
  • Think the thought, but change the word “should” to “could.”  If it’s a thought with the word “can’t” change it to “I feel sad, disappointed, anxious, when I.”  Notice if the word change has an impact on how you feel. For example, you might change “I should just deal with it” to “I could just deal with it.”  This subtle shift can increase the flexibility of your thoughts and expand your sense of having options.
  • Imagine doing the thing you “should not” do and in your image, imagine a positive outcome.  For example, if you tend to think “I should not need help,” you might imagine asking a neighbor for help.  Now imagine that while the neighbor helps, you begin chatting and end up developing a new friendship.
You can find more strategies to improve how you feel in my new book, The Stress Response and by clicking here to sign up for more of my tips and podcasts using DBT strategies to improve how you feel.
Worried woman photo available from Shutterstock.

Overcoming Self-consciousness and Inhibition

Overcoming Self-consciousness and Inhibition

Social anxiety symptoms often begin during adolescence. For most people, the teenage years of life are filled with self-conscious focus on how we look to our peers. It’s a developmental process that creates profound psychological change, especially in terms of how we relate to others. One of the most frustrating aspects of the adolescent years is the tendency for self-focus to decrease the amount of focus we have left for the feelings and needs of others.
While these changes are fairly universal, those of us who were born with a shy temperament can carry the fears of adolescence into adulthood. An anxious temperament (meaning inborn personality traits that cause us to be more anxious and sensitive) causes our brains to react with greater force when exposed to the stress of sudden awareness of our peers and how we come across to them. Because we experience those fears at a heightened level, our brains label the fear of exposure or embarrassment as highly dangerous. The result is what you have experienced for many years: excessive self-consciousness and inhibition when you feel you are being observed.
Without sounding condescending, and without oversimplifying the problem, I would like to challenge you to strive for increased focus on other people, in place of your excessive focus on yourself. Yes, I know, this is easier said than done. The fear causes your mind to feel as if it is practically glued to the thoughts of losing control or making a fool of yourself when you are in the spotlight. But if you begin to build a new response, or habit, in reaction to your fears, you will gradually build up a stronger response than the inhibited fear response that currently dominates your neural circuitry (habits of your mind).
Here’s what you should do. When you are NOT anxious and feeling self-conscious, try to increase the amount of attention, time, and focus you place on observing other people. I know of a psychologist who spent some time studying treatments for Social Anxiety Disorder in London. One of the things that was very helpful to her patients was the instruction to go into a pub with the assignment to come out fifteen minutes later with details about the people they talked with. They were told, “I want you to tell me what color their eyes were, what they were wearing, what emotions they wore on their face, and what signs you saw of energy or fatigue in their face. Did they have wrinkle’s under their eye? Did they seem to be in a good mood?” These questions led the social anxiety sufferers into a different sort of mental focus than they would typically have upon entering a pub. The effect? Less self-consciousness, which leads to an automatic decrease in feelings that lead to inhibition of social energy. Spend some time thinking about how you could apply this technique in your own life.
Be Courageous!
Dr. Todd Snyder 
 Click Here!

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Women in their 50s more prone to PTSD than men

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rates peak in women later than they do in men. Researchers writing in BioMed Central‘s open access journal Annals of General Psychiatry found that men are most vulnerable to PTSD between the ages of 41 and 45 years, while women are most vulnerable at 51 to 55.
Ask Elklit and Daniel N Ditlevsen, from the University of Southern Denmark and Odense University Hospital, Denmark, collected data from 6,548 participants in previous Danish or Nordic PTSD studies in order to investigate the gender difference in the lifespan distribution of PTSD. According to Elklit, “People now live for an increased number of years compared to that of previous generations, and as a result individuals have more years in which they can be affected by the negative consequences that can follow traumatic experiences. It is therefore important to pay attention to the risk of PTSD in relation to different stages in the lifespan”.
The researchers found that the total prevalence of PTSD was 21.3% and, as expected, PTSD was twice as common in women as in men. Most importantly, men and women peaked in the risk of PTSD a decade apart from each other during their respective lifespan. Elklit said, “This difference is of particular interest and needs to be investigated further in future research in order to develop more thorough explanations for the effect”.

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10 positive actions to combat PTSD

“Who’s the Boss?” 10 ways to start taking control

At first glance, it would seem that positive thinking and Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) have nothing to do with one another. But many of us with PTSD develop negative thinking patterns because we become frustrated by our challenges and frequent feelings of being overwhelmed. This negative outlook then makes it even harder for us to manage those challenges and move forward.

Practicing positive thinking allows people with PTSD to focus on our strengths and accomplishments, which increases happiness and motivation. This, in turn, allows us to spend more time making progress, and less time feeling down and stuck. The following tips provide practical suggestions that you can use to help you shift into more positive thinking patterns:

1. Take Good Care of Yourself
It’s much easier to be positive when you are eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest.

2. Remind Yourself of the Things You Are Grateful For
Stresses and challenges don’t seem quite as bad when you are constantly reminding yourself of the things that are right in life. Taking just 60 seconds a day to stop and appreciate the good things will make a huge difference.

3. Look for the Proof Instead of Making Assumptions
A fear of not being liked or accepted sometimes leads us to assume that we know what others are thinking, but our fears are usually not reality. If you have a fear that a friend or family member’s bad mood is due to something you did, or that your co-workers are secretly gossiping about you when you turn your back, speak up and ask them. Don’t waste time worrying that you did something wrong unless you have proof that there is something to worry about.

4. Refrain from Using Absolutes
Have you ever told a partner “You’re ALWAYS late!” or complained to a friend “You NEVER call me!”? Thinking and speaking in absolutes like ‘always’ and ‘never’ makes the situation seem worse than it is, and programs your brain into believing that certain people are incapable of delivering.

5. Detach From Negative Thoughts
Your thoughts can’t hold any power over you if you don’t judge them. If you notice yourself having a negative thought, detach from it, witness it, and don’t follow it. (I silently say the word “cancel”)

6. Squash the “ANTs”
In his book “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” Dr. Daniel Amen talks about “ANTs” – Automatic Negative Thoughts. These are the bad thoughts that are usually reactionary, like “Those people are laughing, they must be talking about me,” or “The boss wants to see me? It must be bad!” When you notice these thoughts, realize that they are nothing more than ANTs and squash them!

7. Practice Lovin’, Touchin’ & Squeezin’ (Your Friends and Family)
You don’t have to be an expert to know the benefits of a good hug. Positive physical contact with friends, loved ones, and even pets, is an instant pick-me-up. One research study on this subject had a waitress touch some of her customers on the arm as she handed them their checks. She received higher tips from these customers than from the ones she didn’t touch!

8. Increase Your Social Activity
By increasing social activity, you decrease loneliness. Surround yourself with healthy, happy people, and their positive energy will affect you in a positive way!

9. Volunteer for an Organization, or Help another Person
Everyone feels good after helping. You can volunteer your time, your money, or your resources. The more positive energy you put out into the world, the more you will receive in return.

10. Use Pattern Interrupts to Combat Rumination
If you find yourself ruminating (spinning your wheels), a great way to stop it is to interrupt the pattern and force yourself to do something completely different. Rumination is like hyper-focus on something negative. It’s never productive, because it’s not rational or solution-oriented, it’s just excessive worry. Try changing your physical environment – go for a walk or sit outside. You could also call a friend, pick up a book, or turn on some music. Motion creates emotion, act your way into “right” thinking.

10a. Buy my new book Wide Asleep (shameless plug)

Peace Be With You

Timothy Kendrick

Timothy Kendrick International

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Lingering Depression By Laura L. Smith, Ph.D.

I read a well written, moving article in the Sunday NYT magazine section about a woman with severe, unremitting depression. Although the ending offered a small bit of hope, the piece induced in me the feeling that depression has a life of its own, and that those of us who try to help people with depression are mostly powerless bystanders. Daphne Merkin, the author writes, “What’s more, after a lifetime of talk therapy and medication that never seemed to do more than patch over the holes in my self, I wasn’t sure that I still believed in the concept of professional intervention.”
At first, I thought that writing about that piece could be dangerous, that anything I wrote would be construed as me not understanding the depth and darkness of real depression. But then, I thought that stance would be cowardly and fighting depression takes courage. So here goes.
I find myself wondering why people who live in New York City (and write about depression) seem to have such poetic yet intractable depressions. Okay, some of my favorite people live in or come from NYC; but really, sometimes it seems to me that those that venture west appear more able to plod through life than those remaining in the dark canyons and gray skies of NYC.
On a more serious level, I also wonder why so many people persist in getting therapy that does not seem to be working. If you are in therapy for a “lifetime” and are not getting better, ask for a referral! Do so again if the new therapy doesn’t seem to be doing you any good after a few months. There are literally thousands of practitioners, especially in New York that offer empirically validated treatments for depression such as cognitive behavioral therapy. And finally, if you are getting medications that are not helping you, talk to, and yes, complain to your doctor (but please don’t abruptly discontinue without talking to your doctor).
I write this because I have studied many hundreds of research articles that show people who receive cognitive behavioral therapy for depression, whether mild or severe, can and usually do recover. Other successful treatments for depression or even severe personality disorders (which commonly accompany prolonged depression) include interpersonal therapy, schema focused therapy, and mentalization based therapy.
I have witnessed many people who suffer from severe, protracted depression get better. And I know that pessimism (often caused in part by the disorder of depression), is not a helpful stance to take. So, don’t totally discard rose colored glasses. My message is one of hope. Please, if you are feeling depressed, hopeless, or helpless, there are treatments that work. Look for them and keep looking if need be.
At the same time, my heart goes out to the author of the article in the New York Times. Clearly, she has suffered from a deep seated depression that to date has lingered in the background of her entire life. I only want to say to her and you, “Don’t give up; keep plugging away. There are powerful reasons to maintain hope.”

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How To Eliminate Intrusive Thoughts

In almost all cases of general anxiety‚ the driving factor fuelling the sensations is anxious thinking. Without addressing these intrusive thoughts‚ there can be little success in eliminating the root of the anxiety.

People who experience anxiety and panic attacks frequently have to deal with the negative side–effects of unwanted thoughts that creep into their minds. These thoughts can range from worries about health‚ concern over loved ones‚ or even fears that do not make any rational sense at all but continue to linger in the mind.

Sometimes‚ the unwanted intrusive thoughts come from previous experiences; other times they are simply bizarre‚ leaving the person worried as to why such strange thoughts are occurring. In all these cases‚ the person is upset by the anxious thoughts because they are causing distress and worry. I will guide you through a simple two–step process that is in part related to the One Move which I teach but tailored specifically to dealing with anxious thinking.

Anxious Intrusive Thoughts
Tackling anxious intrusive thinking effectively requires a two–pronged approach. To eliminate the negative thinking patterns‚ there needs to be a shift in attitude along with specific visualization tools.

The Attitude Shift

It is not the intrusive thoughts in themselves that cause you distress. It is how you are responding to those thoughts. It is the reaction you are having to the thoughts that enables them to have influence and power over you. In order to better understand how unwanted thoughts come about‚ it helps to paint a playful visual picture of how this happens. This is a fictional example and will help you better understand how to deal with the issue.

Imagine yourself standing on a street and all around you thoughts are floating lazily by. Some of the thoughts are your own‚ other thoughts are from outside sources you access such as newspapers‚ TV‚ magazines‚ etc. You notice that when you pay attention to a thought it gravitates nearer. The thoughts you ignore float on by.

When you focus and examine a thought up closely‚ you notice how it connects to another similar thought‚ and you find yourself jumping from one thought to the next. Sometimes these are practical‚ day–to–day thoughts such as bills‚ chores‚ etc.‚ or the thoughts can themed by the past or a fantasy/daydream.

In our imagined scenario‚ you unexpectedly notice a thought hovering in front of you that scares you. This thought is called “Fear X.” X could be panic attacks‚ ill health‚ or something bizarre. You find it impossible not to look at the thought‚ and as you give it your full attention‚ this causes it to come closer and closer. When you examine the thought‚ you begin to react with fear as you do not like what you see. You further notice how that initial scary thought is connected to more worrying “what if” thoughts that you also examine in detail. The more you try to escape from the thought by pushing it away‚ the more it seems to follow you around as if it were stuck to you. You try to focus on more pleasant thoughts‚ but you find yourself continuously coming back to the fearful thought.

Intrusive Thoughts…

There is an expression of “thoughts sticking like glue.” The very act of reacting emotionally to the thought glues the thought all the more to you‚ and the more time you spend worrying and obsessing about the thought‚ the more that glue becomes hardened over time. The thought and all its associated connected thoughts are there in the morning when you wake and there at night when you are trying to get some sleep. The thought becomes stuck to your psyche because your emotional reaction to it is its sticking power. Thoughts are a form of energy‚ neither good nor bad. It is how we judge those thoughts that determines how much impact they have on our lives. Thoughts need firstly to be fed by attention‚ but what they really love is a good strong emotional reaction to make them stick!

Thoughts that stay with us are first attracted to us by the attention we pay them and then stuck firmly in place by the level of emotional reaction we have to them.

This is an important point. A thought–even negative intrusive thoughts–can only have an influence over you if you allow it to. The emotional reaction from us is a thought’s energy source. What’s interesting is that either a positive or a negative emotional reaction is fine for the thought. Energy and attention is what it is attracted to. Once you are having an emotional reaction to a thought‚ you will be regularly drawn to that thought until the emotional reaction has lost its energy and faded away.

For example‚ if someone you know pays you a very positive compliment‚ you may find yourself unintentionally drawn to that thought anytime you have a spare moment. You probably find it improves your overall level of confidence and mood throughout the day. Sadly however‚ we tend to focus less on the positive and more on the negative. We seem to forget those positive compliments all too easily and are drawn more frequently to what might upset us. Taking the opposite example‚ if someone you know insults you‚ I am sure that you find the emotional reaction to that thought much more intense and probably very long–lasting.

So the basic pattern of thinking is as follows:

If you are not engaged with an activity or task‚ your mind will tend to wander to any thoughts that you are having a strong emotional reaction to. In general‚ as they are the ones that you are probably reacting most strongly to‚ angry or fearful thoughts seem to surface quickly.

What I am suggesting is that the most ineffective way to eliminate intrusive thoughts is to try and suppress them. Thought suppression studies‚ (Wegner‚ Schneider‚ Carter‚ & White‚ 1987) have proven that the very act of trying to suppress a thought‚ only results in a higher frequency of unwanted intrusive thoughts occurring. This reoccurrence of the thought has been termed the ‘rebound effect’. Simply put: the more you try suppressing a thought‚ the more the unwanted thought keeps popping up (rebounding).

So how do we begin to tackle this problem of intrusive thoughts?

There needs to be a change of attitude. By a change in attitude‚ I mean a change in the way you have been reacting to the intrusive thoughts. A change in attitude will quickly disarm the emotional reaction you are having to the fearful thoughts. Once the emotional reaction has been significantly reduced‚ the anxious intrusive thoughts will dissipate. In the past you have probably tried to rid yourself of the thoughts by attempting to struggle free of them.

The trick‚ however‚ is not to attempt to be free of them but to have a new reaction to them when they run through your mind. We can never fully control what goes through our minds‚ but we can control how we react to what goes on there. That is the key difference between someone who gets caught up in fearful thinking and someone who does not.

The thoughts that terrify us are not fuelled by some unknown force; they are our own. We empower them and equally we dismiss them. When you have an uncomfortable thought you would rather not be thinking‚ your first reaction is usually to tense up internally and say to yourself‚ “Oh no‚ I don’t like that idea. I don’t want that thought right now.” The very act of trying to push these intrusive thoughts away and then understandably getting upset when that does not work causes the thoughts to become more stuck to your psyche.

It’s like saying to your mind over and over again “whatever you do‚ do not think of pink elephants‚” and guess what? You can’t get a single thought in that is not related to pink elephants.

As long as you struggle with the thought‚ your mind‚ like a bold child‚ will keep returning to it. This is not to say your mind is maliciously working against you. It is better to compare the mind to a radar scanner that picks up on thoughts within us that have high levels of emotional reaction connected to them.

To not react emotionally to intrusive thoughts you need to learn to disempower the “fear factor” of the thought; then you must accept and be comfortable with whatever comes to mind. Don’t hide from or push the anxious thoughts away.

So to take an example:

Say you have fear “X” going on in your mind. That fear can be virtually anything your mind can conceive. You know the thoughts are not a realistic fear‚ and you want them to stop interrupting your life.

Next time the fearful thought comes to mind‚ do not push it away. This is important.

Tell yourself that that is fine and that the thought can continue to play in your mind if it wishes‚ but you are not going to give it much notice and you are certainly not going to qualify it by reacting with fear. You know in your heart that the thought is very unlikely to happen. You have a deeper sense of trust and will not be tossed around emotionally all day by a thought. Say to yourself:

“Well that thought/fear is a possibility‚ but it is very remote and I am not going to worry about that right now. Today I am trusting that all is well.”

What is of key important is not to get upset by the thoughts and feelings as they arise. To avoid any fearful emotional reaction to the fear/thought give the fear some cartoon characteristics.

Imagine‚ for example‚ it is Donald Duck telling you that “Something awful is going to happen. Aren’t you scared?” Give the character a squeaky voice and make it a totally ridiculous scene. How can you take seriously an anxious duck with his big feet? This use of cartoon imagery reprograms the initial emotional reaction you might have had to the thought and eliminates any authority the thought may have over you. You are reducing the thought’s threat. When that is done‚ move your attention back to whatever you were doing. Remember‚ you are not trying to push the thought away or drown it out with some outside stimulus.

This takes practice in the beginning‚ but what will happen is that you will find yourself checking how you think/feel less and less during the day‚ and as it does not have a strong fearful emotion connected to it‚ your mind will not be drawn to troublesome intrusive thoughts. To put in another way‚ the thought becomes unstuck and fades away because the emotional reaction has been neutralized. In fact‚ that is the first step to moving away from anxious thoughts — neutrality. It is as if your mental energy was spinning in a negative cycle while you were caught in the anxious intrusive thoughts. Now‚ you are learning to stop the negative cycle‚ and move into neutral (see illustration below).

From this new position of neutrality‚ you will experience a much greater sense of clarity away from the confusion of an overanxious mind. Moving into this mindset of neutrality is your first step. Thoughts generally lead us in one direction or another — a positive cycle (peace/sense of control and order) or a negative cycle (anxiety/ fear/ disorder). The next step is to adopt a relaxed peaceful state of mind and move your energy into a positive cycle of thinking.

You might have wondered why it is that some people seem more susceptible to worries and unwanted intrusive thoughts than others. You now know the answer to that. The difference is that the people who seem carefree are the ones who are not reacting with a strong fearful emotion to an anxious thought. These people see the same array of thoughts as an anxious person‚ but they do not make a fearful thought a part of their lives. They dismiss the thought or laugh it off and have a sense of trust that things will work out fine. They see no point in reacting with fear to these thoughts‚ and that ensures the thought has no power or authority over them.

You may feel that you are by nature an anxious person and that you will always react with fear to these thoughts because you have done so for years. That is not the case. Continuous or obsessive anxious thinking is a behavioral habit‚ and just like any habit it can be unlearned. I have outlined the quickest and most effective way to do this by using a unique shift in attitude. You can undo years of anxious thinking and reduce your level of general anxiety very quickly. All it takes is practice.

The “Panic Away” Program:
Proof At Last that Panic Attacks and Anxiety
Can be Eliminated For Good!

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Agony and Ecstasy and PTSD

By Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D.

The anxiety disorder called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur when a person witnesses or is involved in a traumatic experience. In most cases, the person is present at the trauma, but other times the trauma happens to someone very close. The event generally involves a serious threat of death or injury. The person feels intense horror, fear, and helplessness. Here are three examples of PTSD.Although most people don’t have all of these, symptoms of PTSD which occur after a traumatic event include:

  • Intrusive and distressing images, thoughts, perceptions of the event
  • Recurrent Dreams
  • Flashbacks of the event
  • Intense distress when reminded of the event
  • Over reactive psychological symptoms
  • Avoiding talking about the trauma
  • Avoiding activities that bring back memories
  • Attempts to repress or forget the trauma
  • Less interest in life activities
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Belief that the future is limited
  • Increased arousal
  • Problems with sleep
  • Angry outbursts
  • Irritability
  • Problems with concentration
  • Hypervigilance
  • Easily startled

For those with PTSD, cognitive behavioral therapy is a very good therapeutic choice. Like those with OCD, exposure to the feared event is part of the treatment. The problem in the past has been that many people with PTSD avoid getting help because of a strong desire to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma–and exposure certainly does that.

A few recent studies have introduced a new way to perform exposure. The patient is given 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) during the exposure. Although the studies are preliminary, it appears that MDMA may facilitate exposure.

MDMA, aka, Ecstasy, is known for its positive effects on mood and empathy. The behavioral treatments with exposure and MDMA take no longer (usually 10-12 sessions) than standard behavior therapy. The drug is given under medical supervision only during the session and is discontinued after exposure is complete. Considerably more research is required before we can wholly endorse this approach. However, we thought you might find it interesting to know what’s in the pipeline of possibilities for treating PTSD.

Finally, this should not be tried at home! Nor are we recommending MDMA for other purposes. And we recommend that you avoid Raves as well.

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New PTSD Program Answers Need

by Capt. Bryan Lewis

LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Germany – Symptoms of combat stress and post-traumatic stress disorder include continual nightmares, avoidance behaviors, denial, grief, anger and fear.

Some Soldiers, battling these and other symptoms, can be treated successfully as an outpatient while assuming their normal duties. For others, however, returning to work and becoming their old selves again were challenges recognized by several mental health professionals across the European theater.

“We were looking at how we can best meet the needs of our clientele, and we were identifying that a lot of the Soldiers needed more than once-a-week outpatient, individual therapy and probably needed more than once- or twice-a-week group therapy,” said Joseph Pehm, chief of Medical Social Work at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

The solution came in the creation of an intensive eight-week therapeutic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Day Treatment Program called “evolution” that began in March 2009 at LRMC. During the eight-hour days, patients enrolled in the program participate in multiple disciplines and interests, including art therapy, yoga and meditation classes, substance abuse groups, anger and grief management, tobacco cessation, pain management and multiple PTSD evidence-based practice protocols.

“I am a great believer in the kitchen sink, meaning I throw everything, including the kitchen sink, and something will stick,” said Dr. Daphne Brown, chief of the Division of Behavioral Health at LRMC. “And so we’ve come with all the evidence-based treatment for PTSD that we know about … We’ve taken everything that we can think of that will be of use in redirecting symptoms for these folks and put it into an eight-week program.”

Brown, Pehm and Sharon Stewart, a Red Cross volunteer who recently received a doctorate in psychology, said the program is designed from research into the effects of traumatic experience and mirrors successful PTSD programs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as programs run by psychologists in the U.S.

“We are building on the groundbreaking work that some of our peers and colleagues have done and just expanding it out,” said Brown.

During treatment, patients begin the day with a community meeting where they discuss how well they feel and any additional issues or concerns since their last meeting. The remainder of the day depends on the curriculum scheduled for that week.

The first few weeks focus on learning basic coping skills such as how to reduce anxiety and fight fear, as well as yoga and meditation for relaxation. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, an evidence-based practice for treating PTSD, is also conducted during the early phases of the treatment program.

“The concept behind EMDR is that, essentially, memories become fixed in one part of our brain and they maintain their power and control over our emotions as long as they are fixed there,” said Brown. “And if we can activate a different part of the brain while we’re experiencing that memory, we can help to remove some of that emotional valence from it. So we use physiological maneuvers to activate both sides of the brain.”

The goal at the beginning of the PTSD program is to provide patients with a number of tools they can use to help them calm down when feeling overwhelmed, especially before more intense therapy begins in the latter weeks. Cognitive processing therapy is used throughout the program. EMDR and prolonged exposure therapy are also available on an individual basis at the Soldier’s request. All three techniques are research-based treatments.

When life-changing events occur, Brown said perceptions about the world may change. For example, before Soldiers experience combat trauma they may think the world is safe. Following combat, a Soldier’s perceptions may change – a majority of the world may now seem unsafe. Cognitive processing therapy attempts to re-address experiences and reshift a Soldier’s perceptions.

Prolonged exposure therapy is behaviorally based and addresses a Soldier’s fears, which are seen as reflex reactions to a stimulus. To decondition the reactions, a patient is continually exposed to the stimulus by retelling the story repeatedly, minus the negative outcome. Brown compared it to riding a roller coaster over and over again to overcome a fear of roller coasters.

“So they’re getting EMDR, they’re getting cognitive processing therapy, they’re getting individual therapy, they’re getting group therapy, they’re getting education, anger management, self-esteem, relationship issues, grief and loss, yoga, meditation exercise, skill building — a little bit of everything across the board,” said Brown. “Not everything’s going to resonate with everyone who comes through, but something’s going to resonate for everyone who comes through.”

In addition to the overall core curriculum, Brown and her staff have programs such as pain management, relationship enrichment and tobacco cessation to help individualize treatment.

“The core of the group and individual education is consistent for everyone,” said Brown. “But we recognize that every patient is different, and we have to tailor-make it to give an individualized treatment plan. We don’t keep people in pain management if they’re not in pain. We don’t give them tobacco cessation if they’re not smoking. So we do try and tailor as much of it as we can.”

Spirituality, relationship enrichment and gender-specific issues are also areas of focus.
“The program is holistic,” said Pehm. “It looks at people from different spheres, not just the medical model, because everything is impacted when someone has combat stress or PTSD – not just the individual Soldier, but everybody who comes in contact with them.”

The intensity, length and “kitchen sink” qualities are not the only aspects that make this program unique, said Brown. It is a joint military and civilian effort accomplished entirely by volunteers. The staff is as diverse as the therapy options, and includes chaplains, social workers, Red Cross volunteers, psychiatrists, a nurse practitioner, enlisted psychiatric technicians, and graduate students. Brown said having a sundry of personnel keeps the program fresh and the staff excited.

“The patients get perspectives from people from a number of different backgrounds,” said Brown.

Thus far, the staff outnumbers the program’s participants.

“By design we started out small, and we were able to establish a really good working relationship with the local Warrior Transition Unit people … It’s been a wonderful working relationship with them,” said Pehm.

Evolution is currently on it second eight-week course, with five patients enrolled. The first class had four. The goal is to keep the class size small in order to benefit from the program’s intensity. Thinking small also helps keep the impact large by successfully returning Soldiers to their units, while also expanding access outside the WTUs. However, Pehm said they would like to expand the program to include patients from throughout the European Command.

“Ideally, we’d like to max it at about 10 because it is so intensive,” said Brown. “These are folks we hope to remediate and return to the Army to be functional members again. Also, if they go back to their communities and their providers or spouses see the changes that have come about, that will increase the willingness or desire of more people to be here.”

Though few have completed this young program, signs of success have already started to surface.

“With the last group, the shift from ‘I have to be here’ to ‘I’m so glad I came’ was really phenomenal,” said Pehm.

“One of them said that he didn’t think he was getting anything out of the program,” Brown said. “It was about week six until he saw himself react differently to a situation that came up, and watched himself do it differently using skills that he didn’t know he learned. He went ‘Wow,’ maybe I am getting something out of this.”

It is too early, and the numbers are too small, to generalize the early trends, but self-completed PTSD checklists showed a significant decrease in reported symptoms for three of the four patients in the first cohort. Additionally, anxiety and depression symptom measures decreased.

“The whole idea is that we know all the changes aren’t going to take place here,” said Brown. “But we hope we give them enough learning to send them in a different direction. My hope is that we can build a program to provide valid, effective treatment to folks who have put themselves in harm’s way at the request of their country, and help them live happier and better lives.”

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