Archives for December, 2012
New Year's resolutions: We have all set them and we have all broken them. Whether it is to lose weight, stop smoking, or spend more quality time with our loved ones, New Year’s resolutions involve behavior change. Achieving and maintaining change can be challenging. After all, behavior patterns develop over time and it takes time to develop new patterns. For those who look ahead to the new year with personal goals, here a few tips for success:
Below, is a nice summary regarding this exciting avenue of treatment by principal investigator and Trichotillomania Learning Center (TLC) Scientific Advisory Board member, Dr. Jon Grant: N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), a dietary supplement and amino acid that affects glutamate levels in the brain, has been studied in the treatment of a number of conditions across medicine and psychiatry. In recent years, NAC has been thought to have the potential to improve symptoms of Trichotillomania (hair pulling). As no medication or other substance to date has shown effectiveness in the treatment of TTM, this finding is one of promise and one that warrants consideration and further investigation.
We've all been there. Sometimes, demands on us exceed our ability to cope and we reach a point of feeling overwhelmed. We feel completely overcome in mind and/or emotion and feel ill-equipped to cope. When we are faced with stressors, good (eustress) or bad (distress), we experience physiological, emotional, and cognitive arousal. Activating chemicals, such as endorphins, cortisol, and adrenalin, are released in order to help us rise to the challenge of meeting the demands of these stressors so that we may effectively manage them and reduce the arousal or tension we are experiencing. This state of arousal is known as the fight-or-flight response. Essentially, it is the sympathetic branch of our nervous system (our alarm system) taking control from our parasympathetic branch (our state of calm and homeostasis).
Words cannot express the sorrow of a nation that grieves the loss of innocent youth and those who gave their lives to protect them. Emotions run deep; from confusion and sadness to anxiety and anger. In the wake of such trauma, it is our natural response to traumatic events, to try to make sense of what we experienced. We search for meaning. Why would such a horrific event happen? What can we do to ensure the safety of our loved ones? And, yet, we are likely to never understand why on December 14, 2012, a 20 year-old, heavily armed man opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing twenty children between the ages of 6 and 8 and six staff members, before turning a gun on himself.
The compulsion to hoard belongings has been likened to addiction; yet there are some important differences between the two. In a previous post, some of those differences were discussed. Most importantly, however, are the differences in treatment approach. I am frequently asked by loved ones, "Can't I just go in and clean the house?" It can be difficult to understand why this is not in the best interest of the individual struggling with hoarding difficulties. Herein lies the reason:
The topic of compulsive hoarding has garnered much attention in recent years in the mainstream media. Compulsive hoarding has been likened to addiction in some discussions of the problem, yet they are very different constructs. Let’s take a look at the what we know about the similarities and differences in order to answer the burning question of why can’t someone clean a hoarder’s home for him/her. For brevity’s sake, let’s look at the two behaviors in simplistic terms (although they are both quite complex):
WHAT IS COMPULSIVE HOARDING? Compulsive hoarding is a disorder that involves the accumulation of belongings to such an extent that the resulting clutter renders parts of the living space unusable. WHAT ARE THE SIGNS/SYMPTOMS OF COMPULSIVE HOARDING? The acquisition and failure to discard a large number of items/possession that are considered by most to be of little or no value These possessions clutter the living space, rendering the space unable to be used in the manner in which it was intended The hoarding behavior causes marked distress or interferes with one’s daily functioning NOT JUST MESSY Clutter is a symptom, not the problem. People who hoard form powerful attachments to objects.
Along with the stress of the holiday season, frequently comes unwanted stress. Whether it's meeting end-of-the-year deadlines at work, hosting holiday celebrations, dealing with family conflict, or added financial strain, holidays have the potential to tax our ability to cope.