Are you suffering from phone addiction?

By | Addiction, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Counselling, Depression, Mindfulness, Psychotherapy | No Comments

I was inspired to write this post after a recent conversation with a friend, who was recounting how she’d been driving on a busy road, and found herself behind a car which was going hazardously slow . When she overtook the car, she saw the driver was texting on her phone and paying very little attention to what was in front of her, putting her own life and other people’s lives at risk.

Really dangerous behaviour but is it so uncommon, and why was this woman putting her own life and other people’s a risk for the sake of texting someone?  According to the Department of Transport ‘s statistics the biggest in-car cause of fatalities is motorists texting,  tweeting and taking calls.

Use of our phones is infiltrating every aspect of our lives and often to the detriment of our mental health and our relationships with others, with ourselves and the world itself.  In fact studies show our excessive phone usage and our increased usage of social networking sites is leading to higher depression rates and insomnia, as well as erratic driving.

Driver texting whilst driving

Disturbingly children and young people are at high risk of doing irreversible damage to their brain development, due to over usage of their phones and the internet.

Dr Spitzen, a Geman neuroscientist, coined the term digital dementia’, a condition that is being seen widely in South Korea, where heavy usage of smartphones and game devices is commonplace. It describes a deterioration in cognitive abilities, that is more often seen in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness. Moreover, research shows that in 15% of these cases could lead to the onset of early dementia.

 “Over-use of smartphones and game devices hampers the balanced development of the brain,” says Byun Gi-won, a doctor at the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul. Read More

Living with Free Floating Anxiety and how to overcome it

By | Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Counselling, Meditation, Mindfulness, Psychotherapy | One Comment

Anxiety is, in fact, a healthy biological mechanism which enables us, and the rest of the animal kingdom, to anticipate and react quickly to dangerous situations ; this ultimately keeps us safe, and without it, our very survival would be threatened. However, it can become destructive and harmful when we experience anxiety where no dangers are present, and there are seemingly no triggers for it. This is free floating anxiety, also known as  Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

woman with anxiety

What are the possible emotional, mental & physical symptoms of free floating anxiety?

  • Racing thoughts
  • Loss of concentration
  • Distorted self image
  • A pervasive sense of fear and worry
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Sweating
  • Hot flushes
  • Breathlessness
  • Rashes
  • Stomach problems

Read More

Signs that a therapist may have poor boundaries

By | Boundaries, Counselling, Depression, Psychotherapy | 2 Comments

In my most recent blog, I talked about the dangers of therapists who may not have properly addressed their own psychological wounds, and may even be in denial about that. Perhaps they did a counselling or psychotherapy training, where they were told it wasn’t necessary to undergo their own personal therapy,  or just felt that they were not in need of it.

Man in a therapy session

For clients, what are maybe some of the potential signs to look out for to indicate that a therapist may have poor boundaries, or is not adhering to the ethical framework of whichever accrediting body they hopefully belong to  ? Read More

When a therapist’s wounds are too great to heal others

By | Boundaries, Counselling | 3 Comments

It is undeniable that many people who are drawn to working in the helping/caring professions do so because of their own personal  journey in overcoming certain challenges that might have been blocking them from their true potential – often  they have  first hand experience of how powerful and life changing counselling or psychotherapy can be.  Certainly in my own life, therapy helped me to find a more fulfilling and happy path and to accept myself and to grow as a person, so I know it can work.

Carl Jung , a Swiss psychotherapist, came up with the concept of the’ wounded healer’, and by this he meant that many therapists ( and members of other caring professions ) feel compelled to treat clients,  because of their own psychological wounds. British counsellor and psychotherapist Alison Barr’s  research, showing that 73.9% of counsellors and psychotherapists have experienced one or more wounding experience in their own life, supports Jung’s theory.

This is by no means a bad thing ; in fact someone who has suffered at some stage in their life and managed to look at what Jung called his or her ‘shadowy side’ head  on,  is likely to have empathy and compassion for those who need help with their own struggles in life. However it is when a therapist hasn’t properly faced up to or acknowledged their own demons, there is the danger of empathy slipping over into sympathy and the boundaries getting blurred.  In other words, therapists need to have real insight into their own wounds in order to heal others. Read More

The rise of Orthorexia in young people – when healthy eating becomes an obsession

By | Anxiety, Counselling, Depression, Eating disorders, Psychotherapy | 2 Comments

I remember back in the day when I was at university, I lived mainly on a diet of fast food, chips, copious cups of tea and last but not least, pints of diesel ( a potent concoction of lager, cider and blackcurrant squash) at night, down the student union.

This was pretty much standard fare for young people of my generation, and apart from the Rugby and Hockey club members, I can’t recall me or any of my friends ever setting foot in the gym. However there is now a massive trend in young people under 23 to embrace a very health conscious lifestyle.   So isn’t it a good thing that they are more aware of what they are eating, whether it is genetically modified, whether it contains saturated fats, sodium or sugar, whether it is processed or non processed, whether it is organic and so on ? Well, in some respects yes. The world has woken up to the fact that sugar is only healthy in moderation and can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease; that it is highly addictive and has also been linked to depression. Food intolerances do exist, and, speaking from personal experience, having a greater awareness of what nutritionally works for you can really improve overall physical, mental and emotional well being.  Read More

When it feels bleaker than Winterfell and your world is full of dark thoughts and duvet diving ; could it be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

By | Anxiety, Depression, Lethargy, Seasonal disorders | No Comments

As Autumn turns to Winter, the beautiful blanket of leaves in the parks turn into a soggy mush and we prepare ourselves in mid October for the onslaught of Xmas jingles and forced jolliness, it can understandably feel like a testing time of year for many of us; it may be a catalyst for some general grumbling and mild irritation, although, let’s face it, bemoaning the British winters is something of a national pastime.

However for about 3% of the population, there is an altogether more serious decline in their mood, which is caused by a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), thought to be caused by a change in body clock and decreased melatonin and serotonin levels. Read More

Why spring can be difficult for some depression sufferers

By | Anxiety, Depression, Seasonal disorders, Suicide | 5 Comments

Many of us may sigh with relief when Spring is around the corner, the crocuses and the daffodils are emerging, there is the prospect of longer lighter days and warmer weather. Having hunkered down with our box sets of Game of Thrones or Mad Men (or whatever ticks the box for you!) during the long winter months, we can finally think about getting outside more and generally it feels like the start of a more sociable time of the year. Extra sunlight can increase levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which also can improve the mood.

For some, winter is an especially tough time as a combination of change in body clock, decreased melatonin and serotonin levels triggers a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) ( See my blog specifically on SAD for more information and types of treatments for it) also known as “winter depression.” Read More