Sunday, November 15, 2015

It's SAD,... But It Can Be Fixed.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) effects quite a few people at this time of the year. Such people often have symptoms of depression that seem to be triggered by the late fall and winter seasons. This is especially people who live in the northern climates, and are effected by the colder weather, shorter days, longer nights, and overall less sunshine. Often people who have relocated to sunnier climates continue to be effected by SAD at this time of the year. Symptoms typically include withdrawal and isolation (the bad weather makes it easier to stay in a lot), depression, negative and pessimistic thinking, no enjoyment in life, excessive sleeping and/or insomnia, decreased romantic interest. Sometimes it gets so bad the person is unable to function and care for themselves. Then by springtime, it all gets better.

People also suffer from SAD at other times of the year. This could be determined by seasonal changes in a person's life growing up. For example, if you spent the summer in a stressful environment growing up, the distressing feelings can return at that time of the year. Or the feelings related to a tragedy, or significant loss that occurred can be "relived" at that particular time of the year. Also the symptoms can be different. Some people report feeling manicky ('hyper', obsessive, grandiose or rapid thinking, increased gambling or drug/alcohol use, pursuit of superficial relationships, excessive spending ). If you experience such symptoms to the extent that they interfere with your life (and it can get pretty bad, sometimes requiring hospitalization), i.e. your relationships, job, overall happiness, then you do need to fix it.

Light therapy is recommended as a treatment based on the theory that the decreased exposure to light in the winter influences certain brain chemicals that trigger depression. Even exposure to increased sunlight (like at the beach) can be helpful. I often suggest that people try St. John's Wort, which is an herb used to treat mild to moderate depression, and symptoms of stress. Some have had good success taking this in tea, or pill form. Psychotherapy helps, as may medication. To "fix it" long term, you should consider some lifestyle changes. Preparing for that time of the year (winter or other times) is very helpful. Try to reduce your overall stress levels at that time; have supportive people and relationships in your life; exercise; plan enjoyable activities; be aware of early signs rather than waiting until you're in the middle of a depression before taking action. Don't miss out on the happiness that you deserve, and is so important in our lives, not even for a few months.

Friday, October 23, 2015



EVAN AND PAT (these are fictional characters)

Evan is 47 years old.  Pat is 44. They've been married for 12 years, after having lived together for 5 years (together a total of 17 years). Both agree that the last 3 years have been the worst of their lives.  Certainly the worst 3 years of their marriage.

They've been discussing separation and divorce.  Evan wants a "trial" separation.  Pat says if they separate, they should divorce.

Pat says that Evan is mean and verbally aggressive when they argue.  That it has gotten worse in the past 6 months.  Sometimes Pat feels physically threatened.  Evan has never hit Pat, and adamantly denies ever considering it.  Says it would never happen.

Evan accuses Pat of being "too sensitive" lately, too emotionally needy.  That Pat shuts down when Evan is trying to "communicate".  Both say they love each other, but are no longer "in love".  Pat also feels that Evan is having an "emotional affair" with a coworker, and Pat brings this up when they argue.  Pat saw some messages in Evan's Facebook Messaging that were suspicious.  Evan denies any infidelity; and is resentful of Pat's invasion of Evan's privacy.

Pat found this Marriage Repair Kit on-line.  They agreed to give it a try.

If you or someone that you care about could use some help fixing their relationship, then you should get (My first Ebook) The MARRIAGE REPAIR KIT Book.  Purchase it today  for $4.99 by going to :


Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Unfortunately many of us have given up on our dreams. Not only our dreams, but we've stopped dreaming. While growing up most of us had ideas about what would make us happy. We dreamt.  Many of the dreams we had as kids may not be appropriate for us now as adults. But we still deserve to be happy.

Take time now to assess how happy you are in your life and how happy you would like to be. Identify what you would like to have in your life that would help you achieve your happiness. Be specific. Identify the types of family and personal relationships you would like to have in your life. What would you like to be doing for work? For play? Where would you want to be living? What do you want your health to be like? Where do you want to be spiritually?

Write this stuff down, and don't limit yourself. Dream.

These dreams become achievable goals once you start working towards them. So, for example, you will begin to form the relationships you really want rather than feeling stuck in relationships that are not working for you. You will be more aware of how and what you eat. You will be more conscious of your habits, the ones you plan to keep, and those you need to break.  You can determine if exercise fits into your plans. You will be more aware of possible job opportunities that you might even enjoy.

This process helps you focus your life activities towards reaching your goals. Towards fulfilling your dreams. Now is the best time to figure out where you're headed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Communication: Learn How To Fight (reprinted)

Resolving conflict safely is key to maintaining a happy healthy relationship. It is not so easy sometimes. Your partner may not understand what you're trying to say. Your teen may not want to hear it.  And  you may not feel like having the same argument YET AGAIN!  Don't do it. Try these suggestions (adapted from

1.Stay Focused. Stay on the topic in the present. Don't bring up old issues or future possibilities. That will distract you from the issue at hand, and makes the discussion more stressful.

2. Listen carefully. We often think we're listening when really we're waiting for them to finish so we can say what we want to say. Try to really pay attention to what your partner (or child) is saying. Show them that you understand by repeating back to them what you heard. Have them do that too. That way you can be sure you're both on the same page.   Also don't interrupt, and don't get defensive. 

3.Try to see their point of view.  Try to see the other person's side of things, even if you feel they're wrong.  Look for what might be true in what they're saying, that can be good information for you.  They'll also be more open to understanding your side of things.

4. Respond to criticism with empathy. Criticism is hard to hear sometimes.  It's often exaggerated or colored by the other person’s emotions. Listen for the other person’s pain or fears, and respond with empathy for their feelings.  Consider their feelings in how you respond to them.

5. Own what's yours. Both participants usually share some responsibility for the conflict.  Admit when you're wrong.  It diffuses the situation, sets a good example, and shows maturity.  Often the other person will do the same.

6. Use "I" messages. Rather than blaming the other person for your feelings, begin statements with
"I", and make them about yourself and your feelings.  Rather than "You make me mad." Try "I feel frustrated when you do that." They'll feel less attacked, less defensive and more cooperative. 

7. Look for compromise. Instead of trying to "win" the argument, look for solutions that meets both parties' needs.  Healthy communication involves finding a solution that both sides can be happy with.

8. Take a time-out.  If you see the discussion turning into a heated argument, take a break to cool off.  But you have to get back to the discussion to resolve it, so you're not having the same argument repeatedly.

9. Don't give up. This one should have been first.  If you care about the person you're disagreeing with don't give up on them (nor yourself). Good communication makes better relationships, and good relationships are fun.

10. Ask for help if you need it.  If you guys aren't getting anywhere., or if you or your partner have trouble staying respectful (or have anger management issues),  see a therapist.  He can help you develop good communication skills, and help remove obstacles that you may not be aware of.

Remember: You don't have to attend every argument you're invited to.

Monday, August 10, 2015


I have written about optimism and positive thinking before (see How About A Little More Positivity...1/1/11; When Life Gives You Lemons, 8/28/08; The Glass Is Not Empty, 3/11/08), so I'll try not to be repetitive.  However there are some subjects that need to be revisited from time to time.  If we don't take a few minutes to reflect on certain ideas, they can easily be lost.  In the case of positive thinking it seems there's a lot of things fighting against it DAILY!  Not only in our personal lives, but all around us.  And the media and internet often treats negativity and the sad events in the world like entertainment.  Serving it up to us 24/7/365.

You have got to make room for optimism, or you can't help but get depressed.  We need to find things to smile about, that make us feel good. things that make all of our hard work living from day-to-day, worth it.  I don't mean to live in denial.  Yes, there is bad stuff going on in the world.  Force yourself to acknowledge the good things in your life also.  Allow yourself to expect good outcomes, and you'll have more of them.  It's not magic (though it can feel magical).

When you are optimistic you are happier.  You tend to consider more choices as possible, and thereby have more successes.  And it's not that you're making things up to be positive about, there are actual things in the world, in your life, to be positive about.  So make room for it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

It's Not Where You're From, It's Where You're Going.

           I heard this in a song recently. I know it may sound strange for a psychologist to suggest that you don't need to focus on your past in order to fix things in your life. I believe this is absolutely true. As you know, I do believe that we all carry some baggage. And I do sometimes explore relevant past issues with clients, to help them understand how they got to where they are. But often, rather than explore painful past events which can interfere with personal progress, we can focus on fixing things in the present and moving forward from there. One may say, "But the things that happened in my past, make me do the things I do now. They're causing me problems today." Very probably they are. And since we can't go back and change things, let's change what we're doing. Definitely things that may have happened to us as children, directly influence our current behavior, thoughts, and feelings. As children we had little or no control over what happened to us. We were powerless. Our environments (including the people around us) impacted us and our lives. As adults that has changed. We can have a lot more control over our environment, including where we work, live and play, and the people with whom we do those things. Also much more control over what we think and believe.

The idea is to break the bad habits that we've developed (I previously discuss "habits" in my previous postings, PSYCH 101: OCD, 2/21/08; and ANGER MANAGEMENT, 9/17/07). Yes, the childhood influences, often reinforced as we mature, are very strong. Habits are hard to break. But you can do it if you are highly motivated and focused (and get help if you need it).

           This applies to relationships too. Many of the couples that I work with come in focused on their past problems in the relationship (not even the current ones). I consider past problems as symptomatic of the bad relationship then (usually communication and trust issues), and suggest leaving that behind as we look forward and build towards a happier, more loving relationship. Typically some forgiveness is required in order for this to work (see my postings on forgiveness: 5/22/08, 10/1/07, and 7/15/07). The bad habits we develop with each other in relationships are often as bad (unhealthy) as bad personal habits, and may be more difficult to break. So get going, and don't look back!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Take A Moment, ... BREATHE (And RELAX)!

Take a minute, now while you're reading this, to take a breath. Slowly into your stomach. Your lungs extend down about to your navel, so to fill them with air you expand your stomach. This type of breathing is different than how we usually breathe. What I call Relaxation Breathing (more formally called diaphragmatic breathing), fills your lungs causing them to expand. Breathe slowly and deeply into your stomach. You push your belly out when you inhale, and then flatten it as you exhale (pushing the air out out of your lungs). This type of breathing forces your body to relax.

I do this as often as possible, because I, like most people don't usually use our lungs much when we breathe. I recommend it to people whenever I can. It helps counteract the effects of stress. I mean, it slows down your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, gets more oxygen to your brain, and generally improves your health. This Relaxation Breathing helps you control anxiety (and anxiety attacks), get to sleep, manage your anger better, improve focus and concentration, get rid of headaches and helps fix the symptoms of some of those more serious stress related ailments (including obsessive thinking, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, hypertension, pain, ADHD, and more).

It seems to me to be one of the simplest things to do to improve your health, and your life. But you have to practice it. I know you breathe all the time (hopefully), but daily stress causes us to restrict our breathing. Notice how an infant breathes when asleep, as if their whole body is expanding and contracting. This is how we all started out. Try it whenever you can. It's one of those easy things like drinking water (to clean out body toxins) and walking (exercise) that there really is no excuse for not doing. Go ahead, BREATHE. And if you happen to yawn afterwards, that's your body thanking you!

Here is a video demonstration:

Thursday, January 29, 2015


First thing you have to know is that you can't do it by yourself. For this Marriage Repair plan to work your partner HAS to participate. Just like they did in helping you get to this point. It would also help (a lot) if you still love each other.

1. Establish a time frame within which each of you agree to work hard to fix the marriage. 3, 6, 12 months. Whatever works best for you. Of course you'll monitor progress during that time.

2. No arguing. It's Ok to disagree. But discuss, and not fight. End the discussion if it looks to be turning into a fight.  Revisit and resolve the problem at a less heated time.

3. You both identify 3 things: (1)what you like that your partner does and want them to keep doing, (2) what you want them to do more of, and   (3) what you want them to do less of. Then do what your partner asks.

4. Commit 100% to the plan.

5. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Assume each other is trying their best, even when it feels like you're trying harder.

6. IMPROVE COMMUNICATION. Yes, this is the most important part of your plan. It may be the most difficult. Not arguing will help. Listen, listen, listen. Repeat back to your partner what you heard them say before you respond.

7. No mind-reading. Even though you "know" what they're thinking. This will give them room to change.

8. Overdo the attention, affection, and appreciation. Say 'thank you' more. Say 'I love you' more. Even if you have to fake it until you feel it.

9. Date night (or day) at least once a week. This helps remind you of how much you can enjoy each other.


SPECIAL NOTE: Passionate, loving, mutually satisfying sex can help facilitate the relationship repair.

It's always best to be focused on the present, and on your happiness moving forward. Leave the past behind, and consider forgiveness (for yourself and your partner) as needed.

Please feel free to comment, or ask questions here or on Facebook

Also with Valentines Day coming (February 14th), you'll want to get started on your repair work.  Just sayin'...