Revisiting Topics in Psychotherapy-Article

Article

June 24, 2024 / by Ligia Hamada

No More Shame in Revisiting Topics in Psychotherapy

If you have ever left your psychologist's office thinking: "Oh my goodness! I can't believe I talked about that very same thing again! What's wrong with me?" I want to invite you to put your shame aside and join me for a few minutes in this reading, and I am confident that you will be surprised by the outcomes.

So, Why Revisiting Topics Matters

When you first begin psychotherapy, it might feel like the discussions are merely skimming the surface, focusing on current events or immediate concerns. However, as we revisit these topics, patterns begin to emerge, revealing deeper, underlying issues. This shift is crucial as it moves our conversations from general discussion to targeted, meaningful exploration.

Memory also plays a vital role in this process. Each time a memory is recalled, it’s not simply replayed but reconstructed. This reconstruction is shaped by your current emotional state, insights, and the therapeutic environment we create together. Thus, revisiting a memory repeatedly in psychotherapy can significantly alter its emotional impact and the meaning you attribute to it.

But there’s more, much more that revisiting topics in our sessions provides, such as:

* Offering you a safe space for processing and integrating emotions.
* Enabling us to identify and reframe your negative beliefs.
* Strengthening our therapeutic relationship, building trust and safety over time.
* Helping you recognise and reinforce positive changes.
* Assisting in normalising your experiences and breaking the cycle of shame and isolation.

What Studies Say

Research, including a study by John Norcross and colleagues in 2019, supports the effectiveness of revisiting core themes in psychotherapy. Their findings highlight how repetition helps both therapists and clients drill down into subconscious motivations and unresolved conflicts that dictate behaviour patterns, thereby enabling deeper understanding and more sustainable change.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) emphasises that understanding and modifying deep-seated beliefs requires us to repeatedly scrutinise the thoughts and assumptions guiding your behaviour. By revisiting these topics, we can help you identify automatic thoughts and challenge the validity of such beliefs, promoting cognitive restructuring.

Now, let me reassure you: there's nothing wrong with you or your therapeutic process. Revisiting certain topics is actually the best way to go, so you can unravel deeper layers of understanding of complex personal issues. This approach allows you to gain deeper insights, process emotions, reshape negative beliefs, recognise your progress, build trust, and feel less isolated. No space for shame in this, right?
As a psychologist, I will never get tired of listening to what's important to you. In fact, it delights me to be here to support you through this process with empathy, understanding, and technical expertise. Given that it is clear there is no sign of failure in it, I have to ask you:
Are you ready to jump into this rewarding journey with me?

References

Clinician’s Guide to Evidence-Based Practices: Mental Health and the Addictions. Oxford University Press.

Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond. Guilford Press.

Emotion-Focused Therapy for Depression. American Psychological Association.

 

Alliance in Individual Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, 48(1), 9-16.

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Inside-the- anxious-mind-article-cover

Article

May 28, 2024 / by Marcella Peixoto

Inside The Anxious Mind: How does the brain work?

Anxiety is way more complex than many people know. Neuroscience has provided significant insights into the mechanisms underlying anxiety, revealing how certain brain structures and neurochemical processes contribute to this heightened state of worry and fear.

The Role of the Amygdala

The amygdala is central to the experience of anxiety. It is responsible for detecting threats and triggering emotional responses. In individuals with anxiety, the amygdala is often hyperactive, meaning it overreacts to potential threats. This hyperactivity can lead to excessive fear and worry, even in situations that are not truly dangerous.

Studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have shown that people with anxiety disorders often have increased amygdala responses when exposed to stressors or anxiety-inducing stimuli. This overreaction can result in a constant state of alertness, as the brain continually signals that there is danger present, even when there is none.

The Prefrontal Cortex and Regulation

While the amygdala generates fear responses, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) helps regulate these emotions. The PFC, located in the front part of the brain, is involved in higher-order functions such as decision-making, problem-solving, and controlling impulses. In a healthy brain, the PFC works to moderate the amygdala’s responses, ensuring that fear and anxiety are kept in check.

However, in an anxious brain, the connection between the PFC and the amygdala can be weakened or dysregulated. This means the PFC has a reduced ability to calm the amygdala, leading to prolonged and intense feelings of anxiety. Individuals with anxiety disorders often have less activation in the PFC when faced with stress, making it harder for them to rationalise their fears and manage their anxiety.

Neurotransmitters and Anxiety

Neurotransmitters are the brain’s chemical messengers and also play a crucial role in anxiety. Key neurotransmitters involved in anxiety include:

1) Serotonin: Often dubbed the "feel-good" neurotransmitter, serotonin is essential for regulating mood and anxiety. Low levels of serotonin are commonly associated with anxiety and depression.
2) Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA): GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps reduce neuronal excitability. It has a calming effect on the brain, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.
3) Norepinephrine: This neurotransmitter is associated with the body's "fight or flight" response. Elevated levels of norepinephrine can increase arousal and alertness, contributing to the physical symptoms of anxiety such as increased heart rate and sweating.

The Impact of Chronic Anxiety

Chronic anxiety can lead to structural and functional changes in the brain. Prolonged exposure to stress hormones like cortisol can damage the hippocampus, a brain region involved in memory and learning. This can impair cognitive functions and exacerbate anxiety, creating a vicious cycle.

Additionally, chronic anxiety can lead to neural plasticity changes, where the brain’s neural pathways are altered. This can make the brain more prone to anxiety, making it harder for individuals to break free from anxious thought patterns and behaviours.

The anxious brain operates through a complex interplay of hyperactive threat detection, weakened regulatory control, and imbalances in key neurotransmitters. Understanding these mechanisms is crucial for developing effective treatments and interventions. By targeting the specific brain regions and neurochemical processes involved in anxiety and using the right strategies to deal with.
....

References

The Pain of Worry: The Anxious Brain, link here

Neuroanatomy of Anxiety: A Brief Review, Published online 2018 Jan 12. doi: 10.7759/cureus.2055

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Restoring Wholeness-ADHD-Article

Article

Restoring Wholeness for Women with ADHD

May 13, 2024 / by Ligia Hamada
Living with ADHD can feel like trying to find your way through a maze filled with hidden barriers. Women facing this condition often encounter obstacles stemming from norms and underlying prejudices. Dr. Patricia Quinn, an authority, in the field of ADHD, among women illuminates these challenges and offers insights into reclaiming a sense of Wholeness.


The Impact of ADHD on Women's Self-Esteem

In Understanding Women with ADHD, Dr. Quinn explains how women with ADHD often internalise negative feedback, leading to poor self-esteem. As a result, they tend to mask their symptoms, striving for perfection while feeling deeply inadequate.

“Girls tend to suffer silently for many years, developing poor self-esteem early on,” says Dr. Quinn. Their symptoms often sneak up on them, creating a cycle of anxiety and compensatory strategies that can lead to depression and perfectionism.

Women frequently feel anxious about meeting work expectations due to the fear of making mistakes or forgetting something important. This anxiety can manifest as behaviours where women spend excessive time organising and checking tasks repeatedly to avoid criticism. The pressure for perfection often drives them to overcompensate for their perceived flaws until it becomes overwhelming.

In college, women with ADHD often struggle with inattentiveness and organisation, which can lead to poor grades and, most likely, self-doubt. Have you ever felt like you were always playing catch-up with your classmates? Comparison with seemingly more organised peers can be disheartening, and the fear of rejection often causes women to withdraw socially, compounding feelings of loneliness and making them afraid to approach new people because of irrational thoughts like, “What if they find me weird?”

The challenges don’t end after graduation. In the workplace, women with ADHD often experience imposter syndrome, doubting their achievements and attributing success to luck, frequently feeling like they don’t deserve it. Balancing work, family, and personal life often feels like an impossible juggling act, leading to feelings of failure in both work and motherhood.

Restoring Wholeness

Despite the challenges of ADHD, restoring wholeness for women involves recognising their unique strengths and embracing their true selves. Dr. Quinn emphasises the importance of self-understanding and acceptance. By recognising how ADHD impacts their lives and challenging negative beliefs, women can shift their self-perception and rebuild confidence. Accepting oneself as they are, quirks and all, is a crucial first step towards restoring self-esteem.

Reframing internal dialogue is also essential. Replace self-criticism with affirmations like “I’m capable and strong,” and challenge perfectionist thinking by focusing on progress rather than perfection. Learning to show oneself kindness of striving for perfection is key to reducing feelings of inadequacy.

Creating a support network is another vital aspect of restoring wholeness. Surrounding oneself with people who understand and offer support can significantly boost self-esteem. Finding a community of like-minded individuals through ADHD support groups or counselling offers a secure environment for exchanging experiences and coping strategies.

Aligning one’s life with their strengths is also crucial. Choose roles and activities that complement natural abilities, and consider ADHD coaching to identify career paths that align with those strengths. Shifting to roles that allow the use of ADHD superpowers can make a world of difference.

Additionally drawing inspiration from role models can be empowering. Exploring the stories of women with ADHD who have embraced their attributes can serve as a source of encouragement. Learning about women, with ADHD instills self belief. Reinforces the notion that thriving despite challenges is achievable.

Restoring wholeness as a woman with ADHD requires self-acceptance, a supportive network, and embracing one's unique strengths. By changing internal dialogues, prioritising self-care, and finding inspiration in others, women can rebuild their confidence and live more fulfilling lives.
Looking for professional support to restore your sense of wholeness?

References

Understanding Women with ADHD: How They Feel and Why They Do What They Do. Advantage Books, 2002.

“Update on Girls with ADHD: An Interview with Dr. Patricia Quinn”, link here.

“Women and Girls with ADHD” by Patricia O. Quinn MD, link here

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Understanding-Anxiety-Article

Article

Understanding Anxiety

April 29, 2024 / by Marcella Peixoto
Anxiety is normal and can even be beneficial in certain situations, such as motivating us to prepare for challenges. But when we talk about pathological or excessive anxiety, it can have detrimental effects on mental and physical wellness, including simple daily tasks. It is very important to remember that each person experiences it in a different way.

Worldwide Effects:

Anxiety disorders are a health issue worldwide as noted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) affecting approximately 301 million individuals globally in 2019. This statistic highlights anxiety disorders as the prevalent, among all health conditions. Despite treatments being available, only one in four people with anxiety disorders seek treatment. Indicating a gap in mental health care provision on a global scale.

Recognising the types of anxiety disorders, investigating their causes and understanding the available treatment options is essential for promoting early intervention and effective management. Anxiety disorders can be a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors. Traumatic life experiences, chronic stress, imbalances in brain chemistry and family history of anxiety disorders can all be contributors to the development of anxiety.

Categories:

Let's explore the 11 specific types of anxiety disorders as classified by the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR):
1) Separation Anxiety Disorder - More than just missing someone, this is excessive anxiety over being away from home or loved ones.
2) Selective Mutism - Not just shyness, this is when someone consistently does not speak in certain social situations where they are expected to.
3) Specific Phobia - Intense fear or dread of a specific object or scenario that goes beyond general worry.
4) Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) - Feeling overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations.
5) Panic Disorder - Characterised by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and an ongoing fear of more episodes.
6) Agoraphobia - The fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or that could lead to panic.
7) Generalised Anxiety Disorder - Excessive, uncontrollable worry about everyday issues.
8) Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder - Anxiety directly triggered by drugs, medications, or exposure to toxins.
9) Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition - Anxiety that is a direct physiological result of a medical condition.
10) Other Specified Anxiety Disorder - Anxiety that doesn't fully align with any specific disorder but still significantly affects well-being.
11) Unspecified Anxiety Disorder - Anxiety that presents with symptoms typical of an anxiety disorder but does not meet the full criteria for any of the disorders.

Remember, anxiety is a universal human experience, manifesting in various forms and intensities. It is a natural emotional response characterised by feelings of worry, nervousness, and unease, often accompanied by physical sensations like sweating, nausea, muscle tension, and increased heart rate.

Strategies:

Taking charge of your anxiety requires you to not only understand and deal with your thoughts and feelings, but also managing how your body reacts, especially your nervous and vagal systems. The vagus nerve plays a role in the “rest and digest” system of your body (nervous system) which can be utilised to soothe both your mind and body, ultimately reducing anxiety. Methods like breathwork, mindfulness and grounding techniques can activate the vagus nerve promoting a sense of peace and relaxation, reducing anxiety signs and improving overall well-being.

Seeking guidance can be especially helpful in this situation. A mindset coach can aid you in creating strategies to effectively manage your physical reactions to stress. I will offer you support, in incorporating practices that stimulate the system into your life nurturing a healthier mental state and more adaptive coping mechanisms.
By using these methods and considering teaming up with a mindset coach you have the potential to change how you deal with stress, moving towards a lifestyle marked by stability and decreased anxiety signs.
It would be my pleasure to guide along and provide you with tools to manage your anxiety, moving towards a fulfilling life. Excited to embrace this guided journey with me?
Click the link below to get started.

References

Mental health. WHO. Retrieved April 29, 2024, from here.

Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed., text rev.). APA.

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Emotional Dysregulation_Article

Article

Understanding Emotional Dysregulation in Adults with ADHD

April 15, 2024 / by Ligia Hamada
Living with ADHD involves more than dealing with inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Emotional dysregulation, which is often overlooked, presents a challenge for adults with ADHD. So, let’s delve into the reasons behind this phenomenon, how it shows up, and some practical strategies to manage it.

The Likely Trigger of Emotional Dysregulation in ADHD.

Did you know that the way our brains are wired can make handling emotions a bit trickier? Studies suggest that emotional dysregulation in individuals with ADHD may originate from how the frontal lobe operates. This brain region plays a role in regulating emotions and impulses. In ADHD cases, it may not communicate effectively with other emotion-processing areas. This can complicate our ability to control our feelings and reactions.

Illustration of Emotional Dysregulation and ADHD among Adults.

Picture yourself stuck in traffic or dealing with a slow computer. For someone with ADHD, such situations can evoke frustration that disrupts their functioning at that moment. This intense emotional reaction can strain both personal and professional relationships. It's not just about being irritated by the delay—it feels like your entire day is unravelling.
Have you ever felt deeply hurt when a friend cancels plans at the last minute? Individuals with ADHD might experience an intensified version of this emotion. Rejection sensitivity is when you view the world in a way that amplifies emotional pain, often influenced by experiences of real or perceived rejection.
Let’s discuss those moments when anger suddenly erupts without warning. For adults with ADHD, this can occur unexpectedly. Whether triggered by a bill notice or a missed appointment, the reaction can be swift and intense. Recognising this can aid in finding ways to express frustration healthily.
Impatience can lead to demanding behaviour that may appear unreasonable to others. This often originates from a perception of time linked to ADHD, creating a sense of urgency that others may not share.

Achieving Balance.

Achieving balance begins with introspection. Understanding your patterns, triggers, and signals is essential. Here are some key areas to focus on:
Recognise your feelings without projecting them onto others.
Attempt to view situations from other perspectives, reducing conflicts.
Practise delaying emotional responses.
Explore techniques like deep breathing or mindfulness for self-calming.
Engage in activities that uplift your spirits, such as listening to music or expressing gratitude. These approaches go beyond navigating tough times; they focus on reshaping your interactions with the world around you.
Addressing emotional regulation challenges often entails a combination of medication, psychotherapy, psychoeducation, coaching, mindset coaching, or a good mix of these approaches to provide the support for developing coping strategies crucial for achieving harmony in a neurodiverse life within a neurotypical society.
If you are looking for support, click below to schedule an appointment with one of our experts who can assist you in moving forward on your mental health journey.

References

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed., American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013.

Emotion Dysregulation is a Core Component of ADHD. Guilford Press, 2015.

“Emotion Dysregulation in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. no., 2014, Link here

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Article

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Comprehensive Insight with a Focus on Integrated Treatment Approaches

October 22, 2023 / by Broad-minded

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

As the seasons change, many adjust seamlessly to the shifting weather patterns and varying lengths of days. However, for some, these transitions are far from effortless. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a psychological condition that arises due to seasonal changes. It is a type of depression that emerges at particular times of the year, typically during the shorter daylight periods of autumn and winter. Summer-onset SAD, which affects individuals in the spring and summer, is a lesser-known but equally impactful variant. This condition is not merely a fleeting case of “winter blues” or “summer slump” but a clinically recognised disorder with profound effects on daily functioning.

SAD’s Impact in Ireland

Ireland’s unique geographical location and maritime climate provide it with a distinct seasonal light pattern. The country’s northern latitude leads to significant variations in daylight. During winter, days can be extremely short, with only about seven hours of daylight in some regions. Conversely, summer offers extended daylight hours, which can be challenging for those with summer-onset SAD.
Research suggests that regions with pronounced seasonal light changes, such as Northern European countries – including Ireland – experience a heightened prevalence of SAD. Although the Irish climate is mild, it often has overcast days and frequent rainfall, leading to reduced sunlight exposure, a known trigger for SAD symptoms.
Moreover, the cultural and social landscape in Ireland can amplify the effects of SAD. Festive winter months, characterised by family gatherings and celebrations, might exacerbate feelings of isolation in those affected by SAD, as they may find it challenging to participate with the same enthusiasm.

The Integrated Treatment Approach: Psychologists and Nutritionists Collaborating

Addressing SAD holistically requires an interdisciplinary approach. Specifically, the collaboration between psychologists and nutritionists offers a comprehensive strategy:
* Comprehensive Assessment: A joint examination can provide a detailed overview of a client’s mental and physical health, forming a solid foundation for intervention planning.

* Integrative Intervention Plans: After assessment, a joint action plan can be devised. While psychologists employ techniques to address negative thought patterns, nutritionists recommend dietary adjustments to support mood regulation.

* Regular Monitoring and Feedback: This ensures real-time adaptation of strategies and interventions, based on the client’s progress.

* Educational Workshops and Group Sessions: These sessions delve into the science behind SAD, the link between nutrition and mental health, and practical techniques for managing symptoms.

* Reinforcing Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Emphasising a balanced lifestyle that melds mental wellness strategies with a nutritious diet is pivotal for holistic well-being.

* Client Education: Informing clients about SAD and its connection to nutrition equips them to manage their condition proactively.

* Collaboration with Other Healthcare Professionals: A well-rounded care approach can be achieved by integrating insights from Nutritional Therapists, GPs, Psychiatrists, and other relevant professionals.
Broad-minded, as a dedicated mental health provider, emphasises the importance of a comprehensive approach to mental wellness. In this spirit, Broad-minded collaborates with Marcela Ferreira, an esteemed Holistic Nutritional Therapist. Marcela’s expertise in nutrition complements the therapeutic strategies employed by our distinguished psychologist, Ligia Hamada.
- To find more about Marcela

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