Uncategorized

posts displayed by category

Post Natal Depression- When ideals don’t match reality

Posted on November 19, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

By Clinical Psychologist, Erika Fiorenza

Clinical Psychogist, Erika Fiorenza

Clinical Psychogist, Erika Fiorenza

“Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist”.
– Michael Levine

Becoming a parent is one of the biggest life changes a person can undergo.  There are changes to their routine, lifestyle, and relationships, ever while parent and child learn together how to do almost everything. And yet, we often expect to effortlessly and naturally slip into this role.

There are a number of unrealistic expectations and misperceptions that can perpetuate distress in the postnatal period.  Postnatal Depression Awareness Week (17-23rd Nov 2013) is a great time to highlight some of the myths that new parents can get caught up with.

photo-professionalhelp Some of these common thoughts can include:

“This should be the happiest time of my life”

“I should know what to do”

“I wouldn’t have these thoughts if I was a good mother”

“If I’m not doing well, I’m not a good mother”

“My life is good….I shouldn’t be feeling depressed”

When these ‘ideals’ don’t seem to match up to reality, mothers (and fathers) can experience feelings of guilt, shame, and helplessness.

In addition, the stigma connected to even expressing any dissatisfaction or difficulty with parenting can hold people back from seeking help, leading to further feelings of isolation and helplessness. We all have the tendency to ‘compare upwards’.  It is common for new mothers to compare themselves and their baby’s development to that of their peers and conclude that “everyone else is doing well”.

Women with postnatal distress that present for therapy can describe a number of these unhelpful thoughts.  When they become ‘entangled’ or ‘caught up’ with these thoughts, they find themselves moving further away from the parent, partner, or person they want to be.  There are a number of studies suggesting that cognitive processes (such as those in postnatal depression) can impact on a mother’s capacity to respond to her baby and the outside world (Stein et al., 2012).

In therapy, we work on normalising these thoughts, and help people learn skills to manage their thinking, such that it has less influence over their mood and actions.  In addition to dealing with painful thoughts, therapy for postnatal disorders may also include dealing with painful feelings, urges and sensations.

Another critical part of therapy is getting back into activity.  Low motivation (one of the main symptoms of depression) leads to doing less, enjoying less, and consequently feeling worse.

It’s hard to feel ‘normal’ when we don’t do normal things.

If ‘normal’ is having contact with friends or doing daily activities like cooking a meal or going to the shop, then this is where we start.  In therapy we work on helping people identify what it is they value.  Identifying values such as ‘self-care’, ‘challenge’ or ‘acceptance’ can help parents reconnect with what is important, and help clarify goals for moving forward.

There is a lot of great information online about the signs and symptoms of postnatal disorders.  Check out: www.beyondblue.org.au,  www.panda.org.au,  and www.blackdoginstitute.org.au for more information.  Becoming more informed is the first step to seeking help and starting to debunk the myths.

Psychology Consultants have a number of Clinical Psychologists who are experienced in Post Natal Depression treatment. For more information, visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

Sources:

Stein A, Craske MG, Lehtonen A, Harvey A, Savage-McGlynn E, Davies B, Goodwin J, Murray L, Cortina-Borja M, Counsell N. (2012). Maternal cognitions and mother-infant interaction in postnatal depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121, 795-809

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:
Read more

Show Me the Light- Insomnia and Technology

Posted on November 6, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

Clinical Psychologist, Kathryn Smith, explains how technology affects our sleep and shares useful advice on how to cure a sleep delay.  

o-ELECTRIC-LIGHT-SLEEP-facebook

The Age of Accessibility

Most of us are connected to the outside world 24/7. We keep our mobile phones by the bed, respond to emails, check Facebook, do all our banking on line, work and shopping.

We can spend a vast amount of time in front of technology. This is not a problem, except when we begin to use the technology near our sleep time or worse during our designated sleep time.

Often, this technology emits a lot of bright light over a long period of time. When you are exposed to this bright light near or during sleep time, it has the effect of delaying your sleep phase. In other words, it prevents you from falling asleep at your usual time. People then feel that they have an insomnia problem. 

The Circadian World

We have long known in the world of sleep research, that our body is controlled by a circadian cycle that defines a period of time that our sleep will occur.

Our circadian cycle is governed by bright light, which enters our body via our retina to track through to a part in our brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This part of our brain then drives our body clock and the timing of its rhythms including sleep.

Our circadian rhythm responds to four aspects of light: the intensity of light; timing of light; wavelength of light and the duration of light. These aspects neatly fit into the day/night cycle, except when technology begins to interfere.

Kathryn

Clinical Psychologist,
Kathryn Smith

Three useful tips for curing a sleep delay

1. Computer down time.

  • The first step to avoid upsetting your circadian rhythm is to not use technology 1-2 hours before bedtime and definitely not in bed.

Computers, more so than a television, emit a strong light that contains a blue/green wavelength of light. Why is the blue/green wavelength a big deal? Well, we know from scientific studies that if we shine a blue/green wavelength of light into someone’s eyes before sleep time it will delay the onset of their sleep. Conversely if we shine an amber/red wavelength of light into someone’s eyes before bedtime, it does nothing to delay their sleep time.

2. Decrease blue/green light.

  • The second step is if you are working at a computer or you need to use your phone for an alarm, take some steps to decrease the blue/green light coming from these sources.

This can be done in a number of ways. There is now a computer program that can be downloaded for free called f.lux. This program runs according to the time of the day and dims the screen to produce an amber colour after sunset. This amber colour increases during the night and then gradually lightens towards sunrise. 

Alternatively, stick on amber screens are available for computers and phones that are touch sensitive.

You can even pop on a pair of amber tinted safety glasses and have the same effect.

3. Increase bright light in the morning. 

  • The third step is to reduce sleepiness during the day. The best cure for sleepiness during the day or in the morning is the reverse of the above. Exposure to bright light, particularly the green/blue wavelength of light can push back the sleep cycle and increase the feelings of wakefulness and alertness. 

This can be achieved by spending 45 minutes out in the bright morning light.

Alternatively we now have Re-timer Glasses that are readily for sale online through medical supply companies. These glasses are worn just like normal glasses and produce 100% UV-free green/blue light that shines directly into the retina. You can wear these glasses for 45 minutes during the usual morning routine to help your body recognise when to be awake and when to be asleep.

Problems with Sleep? 

If you have experienced chronic problems with getting to sleep, staying asleep or waking early one of the afore mentioned tips might just help.

It may also be worthwhile speaking to a clinical psychologist to define the area of difficulty and its potential causes.

Our team of clinical psychologists have knowledge about sleep and insomnia. We also have a range of products for demonstration. You may also be suited to a group treatment program. We run a group called Towards Better Sleep, on demand throughout the year.

For more information visit www.towardsbettersleep.com.au or www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

Please follow and like us:
Read more

Responding to People's Trauma

Posted on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

distressedTrauma regularly touches our community. Events like car accidents, assaults, hold ups, and natural and man made disasters seem to happen all too often. Experiencing a traumatic event can have a marked impact on people’s lives.

The possible psychological effects of trauma are now fairly well defined. While some people are able to get on with their lives, others may have great difficulty “forgetting” the memory, causing them to develop a number of symptoms that are collectively referred to as posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

If a person has experienced an event in which they were exposed to death or serious injury and felt intense fear, helplessness or horror during the event, then further assessment of their mental state is recommended.

To screen such a person for PTSD, consider the following questions.

Is the person persistently re-experiencing the traumatic event through intrusive recollections, distressing dreams or flashbacks?

Is the person persistently avoiding things that may be associated with the trauma, like certain topics of conversations, places, people or activities, or certain memories?

Is the person persistently experiencing symptoms of increased arousal, like sleeping difficulties, irritability or anger, concentration difficulties, hypervigilance or being startled easily?

Once established, the likely prognosis of the disorder can be determined through assessment of a number of other “risk factors”. Following is a checklist of risk factors that should be investigated:

  • Severe trauma including grotesque injury or death,
  • Comorbid psychiatric disorder present,
  • A positive lifetime history of another psychiatric disorder,
  • A history of separation or abuse during childhood,
  • A family history of psychiatric disorder,
  • Other life stressors present concurrently, and
  • Little social support available.

A person diagnosed with PTSD is likely to benefit from psychological treatment. The aim of this approach is to assist the person to process the event and develop an appropriate interpretation of it. One of the key components for achieving this is, in the context of a supportive therapeutic relationship, to conduct systematic and graded imagined and real life exposure to the trauma related stimuli.

Psychology Consultants can provide assessments, reports and treatment for those who have experienced a traumatic event.

www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

Please follow and like us:
Read more

Responding to People’s Trauma

Posted on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

distressedTrauma regularly touches our community. Events like car accidents, assaults, hold ups, and natural and man made disasters seem to happen all too often. Experiencing a traumatic event can have a marked impact on people’s lives.

The possible psychological effects of trauma are now fairly well defined. While some people are able to get on with their lives, others may have great difficulty “forgetting” the memory, causing them to develop a number of symptoms that are collectively referred to as posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

If a person has experienced an event in which they were exposed to death or serious injury and felt intense fear, helplessness or horror during the event, then further assessment of their mental state is recommended.

To screen such a person for PTSD, consider the following questions.

Is the person persistently re-experiencing the traumatic event through intrusive recollections, distressing dreams or flashbacks?

Is the person persistently avoiding things that may be associated with the trauma, like certain topics of conversations, places, people or activities, or certain memories?

Is the person persistently experiencing symptoms of increased arousal, like sleeping difficulties, irritability or anger, concentration difficulties, hypervigilance or being startled easily?

Once established, the likely prognosis of the disorder can be determined through assessment of a number of other “risk factors”. Following is a checklist of risk factors that should be investigated:

  • Severe trauma including grotesque injury or death,
  • Comorbid psychiatric disorder present,
  • A positive lifetime history of another psychiatric disorder,
  • A history of separation or abuse during childhood,
  • A family history of psychiatric disorder,
  • Other life stressors present concurrently, and
  • Little social support available.

A person diagnosed with PTSD is likely to benefit from psychological treatment. The aim of this approach is to assist the person to process the event and develop an appropriate interpretation of it. One of the key components for achieving this is, in the context of a supportive therapeutic relationship, to conduct systematic and graded imagined and real life exposure to the trauma related stimuli.

Psychology Consultants can provide assessments, reports and treatment for those who have experienced a traumatic event.

www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

Please follow and like us:
Read more

Summer's Coming! 8 ways to keep tabs on your drinking.

Posted on October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

surfshotThe weather is warming up and with that many of us start to increase how much we socialise with friends and family.

Drinks after work, BBQs, dinners, weekend lunches at the local pub, sporting events, and even relaxing at home with a drink or two are common. We all like to enjoy ourselves and in the lead up to the festive season, it’s easy for the amount of alcohol we consume to increase. 

But what happens when the occasional drink becomes a little too frequent?

By Dr Jillian Millar

Clinical Psychologist Dr Jillian Millar

Clinical Psychologist
Dr Jillian Millar

 Australia is well known for its drinking culture and laid-back lifestyle “no worries mate,” “she’ll be right.”

But how do we draw the line between enjoying a few drinks and problematic drinking?

If you find yourself thinking you need a drink rather than simply wanting one, this might be an indication that your drinking is heading towards the problematic side.

Or if you can’t remember the last alcohol-free day you had, things could be getting out of your control and it might be time to reassess your alcohol usage.

Most people think an Alcoholic is someone who drinks all day every day, but this is not always the case. Often people with alcohol dependence issues are those that might wait till they get home from work to have their first drink each day, finishing off a 6-pack of beer or a bottle of wine before bed most nights.

Increasingly, we see the rise of binge drinking problems in which a person may remain alcohol free Monday to Thursday and then drink to excess across the weekend. Not only can this result in a horrible hangover the next day, many binge drinkers make poor decisions which might expose themselves to risky situations and behaviours leading to regrets, accidents, injuries, or even death.

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMR), alcohol is responsible for a considerable number of deaths, diseases, and injuries in Australia each year. However, the harmful impacts are not solely confined to the drinker, it also affects their families, friends, bystanders, and the wider community.

At times, people also turn to drinking to try and manage or avoid their emotions and problems. Unfortunately, alcohol is a depressant and while it produces a feeling of relaxation and tension reduction at a certain level, it can also lead to negative moods and, in fact, intensify unpleasant emotions. Alcohol is also a disinhibitor and many people use it when they experience nervousness or social anxiety.

However, alcohol reduces our reflexes, decreases our ability to concentrate, and makes us less aware of our behaviour, and therefore exacerbates the chances of mis-reading social situations and either embarrassing ourselves or offending others.

Alcohol can also increase aggression and conflict, making some people more prone to physical and verbally violent behaviour when intoxicated. Additionally, the consumption of alcohol is associated with increased fighting and arguing within relationships.

If you’re concerned about your drinking habits, or maybe even concerned about a loved one’s alcohol usage it is best to address it sooner rather than later.

Here are 8 simple steps to cut back on your alcohol usage.

1.Reducing the ease of access to alcohol by not storing it in your house.

2.Only purchase alcohol when you intend to drink it for a specific occasion.

3. Store alcohol out of sight, so as to reduce the visual trigger of seeing it and wanting a drink.

If it’s already stored out of sight, but is still easily accessible, consider moving it to a different location (e.g. in the garage) so that it requires a little more effort to get it. 

4. Change paired patterns.

Rather than opening a beer as soon as you get home from work, or pouring a wine while you prepare dinner, try to do something else that is relaxing (e.g. have a shower, sit in your garden or on your balcony for a few minutes). Do something productive before having your first drink (e.g. put a load of washing on, or check your emails).

5. Increase your exercise.

 Go for a walk, run, swim etc. The more we exercise the less likely we are to feel like drinking.

6. Plan non-drinking activities.

Rather than socialising around drinking by meeting at a pub or BYO BBQs, try organising a day at the beach, a bush walking adventure, or a sporting game in a park. 

7. Ask for help.

Ask your friends or family to help you regain control of your drinking and support you.

8. Don’t be afraid to talk to your GP or Psychologist about any problematic drinking patterns.

 

Please follow and like us:
Read more

Summer’s Coming! 8 ways to keep tabs on your drinking.

Posted on October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

surfshotThe weather is warming up and with that many of us start to increase how much we socialise with friends and family.

Drinks after work, BBQs, dinners, weekend lunches at the local pub, sporting events, and even relaxing at home with a drink or two are common. We all like to enjoy ourselves and in the lead up to the festive season, it’s easy for the amount of alcohol we consume to increase. 

But what happens when the occasional drink becomes a little too frequent?

By Dr Jillian Millar

Clinical Psychologist Dr Jillian Millar

Clinical Psychologist
Dr Jillian Millar

 Australia is well known for its drinking culture and laid-back lifestyle “no worries mate,” “she’ll be right.”

But how do we draw the line between enjoying a few drinks and problematic drinking?

If you find yourself thinking you need a drink rather than simply wanting one, this might be an indication that your drinking is heading towards the problematic side.

Or if you can’t remember the last alcohol-free day you had, things could be getting out of your control and it might be time to reassess your alcohol usage.

Most people think an Alcoholic is someone who drinks all day every day, but this is not always the case. Often people with alcohol dependence issues are those that might wait till they get home from work to have their first drink each day, finishing off a 6-pack of beer or a bottle of wine before bed most nights.

Increasingly, we see the rise of binge drinking problems in which a person may remain alcohol free Monday to Thursday and then drink to excess across the weekend. Not only can this result in a horrible hangover the next day, many binge drinkers make poor decisions which might expose themselves to risky situations and behaviours leading to regrets, accidents, injuries, or even death.

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMR), alcohol is responsible for a considerable number of deaths, diseases, and injuries in Australia each year. However, the harmful impacts are not solely confined to the drinker, it also affects their families, friends, bystanders, and the wider community.

At times, people also turn to drinking to try and manage or avoid their emotions and problems. Unfortunately, alcohol is a depressant and while it produces a feeling of relaxation and tension reduction at a certain level, it can also lead to negative moods and, in fact, intensify unpleasant emotions. Alcohol is also a disinhibitor and many people use it when they experience nervousness or social anxiety.

However, alcohol reduces our reflexes, decreases our ability to concentrate, and makes us less aware of our behaviour, and therefore exacerbates the chances of mis-reading social situations and either embarrassing ourselves or offending others.

Alcohol can also increase aggression and conflict, making some people more prone to physical and verbally violent behaviour when intoxicated. Additionally, the consumption of alcohol is associated with increased fighting and arguing within relationships.

If you’re concerned about your drinking habits, or maybe even concerned about a loved one’s alcohol usage it is best to address it sooner rather than later.

Here are 8 simple steps to cut back on your alcohol usage.

1.Reducing the ease of access to alcohol by not storing it in your house.

2.Only purchase alcohol when you intend to drink it for a specific occasion.

3. Store alcohol out of sight, so as to reduce the visual trigger of seeing it and wanting a drink.

If it’s already stored out of sight, but is still easily accessible, consider moving it to a different location (e.g. in the garage) so that it requires a little more effort to get it. 

4. Change paired patterns.

Rather than opening a beer as soon as you get home from work, or pouring a wine while you prepare dinner, try to do something else that is relaxing (e.g. have a shower, sit in your garden or on your balcony for a few minutes). Do something productive before having your first drink (e.g. put a load of washing on, or check your emails).

5. Increase your exercise.

 Go for a walk, run, swim etc. The more we exercise the less likely we are to feel like drinking.

6. Plan non-drinking activities.

Rather than socialising around drinking by meeting at a pub or BYO BBQs, try organising a day at the beach, a bush walking adventure, or a sporting game in a park. 

7. Ask for help.

Ask your friends or family to help you regain control of your drinking and support you.

8. Don’t be afraid to talk to your GP or Psychologist about any problematic drinking patterns.

 

Please follow and like us:
Read more

Is Compassion Too “Touchy Feely” For This Competitive World?

Posted on September 27, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

Written by Dr Stan Steindl

Dr Stan Steindl

Dr Stan Steindl

I’ve become more and more interested in compassion recently, both in terms of my work with people trying to improve their well-being or make changes in their life, and also in terms of my own personal life. But I can’t help also wondering (and have certainly been asked by others), is a focus on compassion a bit soft, weak or too “touchy feely”?

Compassion is a person’s ability to see and perhaps even feel the suffering of another person and also take action to relieve that suffering.

Compassion involves feelings and actions of kindness, warmth, gentleness and soothing. It means accepting that people are whole, and made up of lots of good bits and not so good bits, and that, in fact, in this way we are all basically the same. And it requires strength, courage and perseverance to do something to help.

And all of this presents further challenges when we consider the importance of self-compassion, in other words being able to acknowledge and accept our own suffering, treat ourselves kindly, and take action to help ourselves.

So, is compassion soft, weak or too “touchy feely”?

Well, reassuringly, a lot of scientific studies in disciplines ranging from psychology to economics, health to chronic disease, and evolution to neuroscience are suggesting that the answer to this question is definitely “no”! Compassion is good for all of us.

Compassion benefits both the people giving and receiving compassion.

Something as simple as offering a smile to a person who looks troubled can have an important positive impact. We can sense when a person feels down. We observe the cues in their facial expression and non-verbal behaviour, and we can feel something of what they might be going through. And the reverse is true as well. If we smile at them, or show signs of kindness and warmth, then they will sense that in return and feel something of what we might be projecting through that smile.

In this way, compassion enhances people’s sense of social connection. Social connection creates well-being. Compassion and social connectedness can help people to feel happier and healthier, even to the extent of enhanced psychological well-being, improving immune function and reducing the risk of sickness.

And it has powerful effects on the compassionate person. One reason for this is that neuroscientific studies suggest that giving to others activates certain “pleasure centres” in the brain. In fact, giving is possibly more pleasurable and more likely to enhance psychological and physical well-being than receiving. An anonymous act of kindness to start the day can leave us with a positive legacy throughout our day and beyond.

As humans, and just like all mammals, compassion is innate to us.

And this is the thing…we are hard-wired to help, sooth and nurture others. Observing toddlers and children demonstrates that we know how to do it and we do it from a young age. And of course, our nurturance of our young, our sense of family, our development of social structures and communities…it is all about how compassion, kindness and helping each other allows our species to survive.

In fact, compassion is the human species’ greatest strength.

I was exploring this topic recently and discovered an interesting point being made by Dr Dacher Keltner from The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. He said that the idea “survival of the fittest” is often misattributed to Charles Darwin as part of his theory of evolution. However, this term was actually coined by Herbert Spencer, a Social Darwinist who believed that evolution explained class and racial social differences.

Darwin actually wrote in The Decent of Man that “communities, which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.”

It seems that compassion is not soft, weak or too “touchy feely” at all, but rather a vital evolutionary strength and that our natural selection is much more likely to be guided by a slightly different philosophy:

“SURVIVAL OF THE KINDEST”.

Please follow and like us:
Read more

Did you know over 1.2 million Australian's suffer from a sleep disorder?

Posted on September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

If you form part of this statistic and would like to do something about it, our Towards Better Sleep group programme could be a dream come true! The next programme commences on 26th September at our Morningside practice. insomnia5

The sleep improvement programme has been effectively treating insomnia and other sleep disorders for over 10 years. It focuses on education, behavioural techniques, relaxation strategies and correcting faulty thinking.

By teaching practical methods and techniques to promote better sleep, past participants have reported significant improvements in their sleep behaviour and the way they think about sleep.

Experienced Clinical Psychologist Kathryn Smith and Sleep Specialist and Psychiatrist Dr Curt Gray facilitate the program that is held in groups of nine people or less.

A group setting has proven to be an effective way to treat sleep disorders by offering participants the opportunity to share their stories, and learn from the experiences and ideas of other insomnia sufferers. The setting still remains private and confidential but allows the therapist to treat patients in a more cost effective way.

A GP referral is required to participate in the programme, which costs $90 per session and is subject to a Medicare rebate.

If you are interested in participating in September programme, please phone our Newmarket office 07 3356 8255  or email tbs@psychologyconsultants.com.au to register your details and speak with your GP about a referral.

For more information visit http://towardsbettersleep.wordpress.com

Please follow and like us:
Read more

Did you know over 1.2 million Australian’s suffer from a sleep disorder?

Posted on September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

If you form part of this statistic and would like to do something about it, our Towards Better Sleep group programme could be a dream come true! The next programme commences on 26th September at our Morningside practice. insomnia5

The sleep improvement programme has been effectively treating insomnia and other sleep disorders for over 10 years. It focuses on education, behavioural techniques, relaxation strategies and correcting faulty thinking.

By teaching practical methods and techniques to promote better sleep, past participants have reported significant improvements in their sleep behaviour and the way they think about sleep.

Experienced Clinical Psychologist Kathryn Smith and Sleep Specialist and Psychiatrist Dr Curt Gray facilitate the program that is held in groups of nine people or less.

A group setting has proven to be an effective way to treat sleep disorders by offering participants the opportunity to share their stories, and learn from the experiences and ideas of other insomnia sufferers. The setting still remains private and confidential but allows the therapist to treat patients in a more cost effective way.

A GP referral is required to participate in the programme, which costs $90 per session and is subject to a Medicare rebate.

If you are interested in participating in September programme, please phone our Newmarket office 07 3356 8255  or email tbs@psychologyconsultants.com.au to register your details and speak with your GP about a referral.

For more information visit http://towardsbettersleep.wordpress.com

Please follow and like us:
Read more
1 / / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)