Episode 80: Unsure, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Mark Hosler, co-founder of the audio-visual group Negativland, tells the story of his depression and grief, after the loss of 6 people he was close to, and how the death of his brother years before gave him some strategies for coping. Sunday, February 18, 2018.
What Is Normal Grieving, and What Are the Stages of Grief?
Grief is a natural response to losing someone or something that’s important to you. You may feel a variety of emotions, like sadness or loneliness. And you might experience it for a number of different reasons. Maybe a loved one died, a relationship ended, or you lost your job. Other life changes, like chronic illness or a move to a new home, can also lead to grief.
Everyone grieves differently. But if you understand your emotions, take care of yourself, and seek support, you can heal.
What Are the Stages of Grief?
Your feelings may happen in phases as you come to terms with your loss. You can’t control the process, but it’s helpful to know the reasons behind your feelings. Doctors have identified five common stages of grief:
Denial: When you first learn of a loss, it’s normal to think, “This isn’t happening.” You may feel shocked or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion. It’s a defense mechanism. Anger: As reality sets in, you’re faced with the pain of your loss. You may feel frustrated and helpless. These feelings later turn into anger. You might direct it toward other people, a higher power, or life in general. To be angry with a loved one who died and left you alone is natural, too. Bargaining: During this stage, you dwell on what you could’ve done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are “If only…” and “What if…” You may also try to strike a deal with a higher power. Depression: Sadness sets in as you begin to understand the loss and its effect on your life. Signs of depression include crying, sleep issues, and a decreased appetite. You may feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely. Acceptance: In this final stage of grief, you accept the reality of your loss. It can’t be changed. Although you still feel sad, you’re able to start moving forward with your life.
Every person goes through these phases in his or her own way. You may go back and forth between them, or skip one or more stages altogether. Reminders of your loss, like the anniversary of a death or a familiar song, can trigger the return of grief.
Episode 79: Talkative, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Brad Poole, tells the story of his depression, starting in childhood, and how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has helped him more with depression than medication or other types of therapy. Sunday, February 4, 2018.
What If You Talk Too Much? The cure for verbosity depends on its cause.
Posted Jan 22, 2015
In the confidentiality of my office, many clients have complained about coworkers, romantic partners, and friends who talk too much.
The cure depends on its cause.
You’d like to talk less but can’t make yourself stop. Use the Traffic Light Rule. During the first 30 seconds of an utterance, your light is green: The listener is on-board with you. During the next 30 seconds, your light is yellow: the person may be wanting you to stop, if only because s/he has something to add and fears s/he’ll forget by the time you finish. After the one-minute mark, your light is red: Yes, you’ll occasionally want to “run a red light,” for example, when telling something important or interesting that would take even a concise person more than a minute. But usually you should stop at the one-minute mark. If your conversation partner wants more, s/he may ask, and if not, you can ask “Would you like more detail?” or “Is there anything more you’d like to know about that?”
If you can’t seem to make yourself follow the Traffic Light Rule, perhaps you’re not good at estimating how long a minute is. Try this: Talk with a friend, setting a timer for one minute each time you begin an utterance. If you’re too talkative, you’ll often find yourself going on for longer.
If you predict an utterance could last more than a minute, before launching in, take just a moment to remind yourself to be concise. That will encourage you to self-edit.
You think that others appreciate your verbosity. Here are signs they’re not so appreciative: As you talk, do people other than laid-back types sometimes do one or more of the following:
tap their fingers
tap their feet
shake their foot
nod impatiently as if saying “Get on with it.”
turn slightly away
take a step away
rarely start a conversation with you? For example, do they tend to walk past your cubicle without establishing eye-contact and in the break room not initiate conversation with you?
Are you the one you usually initiates contact? For example, you’re the one who phones friends and relatives?
Of course, there are many reasons a person would avoid you or feel frustrated with you, but one is loquacity.
You don’t realize you’re talking more than most people want to hear. A conversation isn’t a monologue. It’s a tennis game: back and forth with the ball in each court roughly half the time. Aim to talk between 1/3 and 2/3 of the time, in 5- to 60-second bits. If you’re often outside those ranges, you’ll probably want to change.
An unusually interesting person can make longer utterances. The question is whether you’re unusually interesting. To help assess that, ask an honest, not unduly-talkative person to have a conversation with you. Ask him or her to raise a finger each time s/he feels s/he wishes you’d stop talking.
You realize your loquacity bothers people but you decide it’s worth the price.
For example, you may enjoy talking about your vacation, pop culture, bragging about your family or even about yourself. Or you know you’ll gain clarity on an issue by continuing to talk about it until it becomes crystalline. Talking at length about such matters often comes at a particularly high price.
Being long-winded is a bigger problem than many talkative people realize. Fortunately, there are solutions.
Alas, while these solutions may seem easy to implement, in practice, they require a fair amount of discipline. If only unconsciously, many voluble people, despite paying the price, are heavily invested in their blabbing ways.
Episode 78: Insomnia, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, M, tells the story of his lifelong depression, struggles with addiction, current losses and how love for his sons keeps him from despair. Sunday, January 21, 2018.
If you’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, you may be having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. There’s a reason for that. There is a definite link between lack of sleep and depression. In fact, one of the common signs of depression is insomnia or an inability to fall and stay asleep.
That’s not to say insomnia or other sleep problems are caused only by depression. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the U.S., affecting nearly one out of every three adults at some point in life. More women suffer from insomnia than men, and as people get older, insomnia becomes more prevalent.
Most experts agree that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. But even without depression, according to the National Sleep Foundation, the average American only gets about 6.9 hours. When you add depression to the mix, the problems with sleep are compounded.
What’s the Link Between Sleep Disorders and Depression?
An inability to sleep is one of the key signs of clinical depression. Another sign of clinical depression is sleeping too much or oversleeping.
Having a sleep disorder does not in itself cause depression, but lack of sleep does play a role. Lack of sleep caused by another medical illness or by personal problems can make depression worse. An inability to sleep that lasts over a long period of time is also an important clue that someone may be depressed.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
Normal sleep is a restorative state. However, when sleep is disrupted or inadequate, it can lead to increased tension, vigilance, and irritability.
Physical or emotional trauma and metabolic or other medical problems can trigger sleep disturbances. Poor sleep can lead to fatigue. With fatigue, you exercise less and that leads to a decline in your fitness level. Eventually, you find yourself in a vicious cycle of inactivity and disturbed sleep, which causes both physical and mood-related symptoms.
“Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart. Let go of thinking.” -Rumi
Episode 77: Anger, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Lance Barney, tells the story of his depression and how leaving the Mormon church was a step toward mental health but that co-housing allowed him to keep the community aspects of the church that were such an important part of his childhood. Sunday, January 14, 2018.
The Role of Anger in Depression: Turning anger on ourselves contributes to the severity of depression – by Lisa Firestone Ph.D. (Excerpts)
Sigmund Freud used to refer to depression as anger turned inward. While many people may regard this as an overly simplistic approach to the most common mental health disorder in the world, there is no doubt that anger plays a significant role in depression. As one study from 2016 found, when it comes to emotional disorders in general, the presence of anger has “negative consequences, including greater symptom severity and worse treatment response.” Researchers concluded that, “based on this evidence, anger appears to be an important and understudied emotion in the development, maintenance, and treatment of emotional disorders.” When it comes specifically to depression, science seems to be further supporting Freud’s theory, showing more and more how anger contributes to symptoms. A UK study from 2013 suggested that going inward and turning our anger on ourselves contributes to the severity of depression.
Having worked with depressed clients for more than 30 years, these findings were not surprising to me. Many of the people I’ve worked with who struggle with depression also share the common struggle of turning their anger on themselves. As much as I try to help my clients express their anger rather than take it on and turn it inward, I witness first-hand how hard it often is for people to interrupt this process. It’s a challenge for them to recognize the nasty way they treat themselves; they are significantly more critical of themselves that they are of others.
Ultimately, accepting that anger plays a role in our depression should be an empowering tool in our fight to feel better. When people express anger outwards in a healthy adaptive manner, they feel less depressed. Accessing and expressing this anger isn’t a matter of acting out, being explosive, or feeling bitter toward our surroundings. In fact, it means exactly the opposite. It’s an act of standing up for ourselves and accepting that we are not who our “voices” are telling us we are. It’s a process of facing up to the things that hurt us but also facing off against the inner enemy we all possess that drives us deeper into our suffering. The more we can take our own side and resist our tendency to turn our anger on ourselves, the more compassionate and alive we can feel in facing any challenge, including depression.
Episode 76: Quitting, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Doctress Neutopia, tells the story of her depression and how being diagnosed early with dyslexia led to feelings of isolation and depression, and how anger about the nuclear arms race led to being institutionalized by the State for expressing her opinions. Sunday, January 7, 2018.
Episode 75: Home for the Holidays, by host, Laura Milkins. For this Christmas special, our guests, Sarah Litscher and Cameron Milkins (Laura’s mom and brother), share stories of Christmas, struggles with depression, and healthy ways to make it through the Holidays. Sunday, December 17, 2017.
Why We Get Depressed At The Holidays, And How To Deal
While images of love and joy fill storefronts, TV screens and magazine pages, for many people, the reality of the holidays isn’t so cheerful. Between stressful end-of-year deadlines, family dysfunction and loss, poor eating and drinking habits, and increasingly cold and dark winter days, it’s easy for the holiday season to feel not-so-merry and bright.
Constant reminders of others’ happy seasons can additionally serve as a painful reminder of the happiness and love that’s lacking in our own lives. For this reason, the month of December can be a particularly difficult time of year for those dealing with family conflict, loss, break ups, divorce, loneliness and mental health issues.
Feelings of depression and negative mood affect many people at the holidays, and not just those who have been diagnosed with clinical depression. While there hasn’t been data to suggest an actual rise in depression rates and suicides in December ― research has found that depression and suicide actually peak in the spring ― some experts say that the holiday blues are a very real phenomenon. And of course, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that this is the case.
Here are some of the risk factors of holiday depression, and how you can avoid them:
Setting up unrealistic expectations.
Hoping for a picture-perfect White Christmas holiday is setting yourself up for not only disappointment, but potentially symptoms of depression.
“People have this anticipation or fantasy of the holiday that you would see on TV,” psychiatrist Mark Sichel, author of Healing From Family Rifts, told HuffPost, adding that his practice gets much busier after the holidays. “Actually, it’s never exactly as people anticipate and it’s often disappointing. There’s often strife within families that comes out at holiday times.”
Especially when it comes to family especially, it’s important to manage expectations during the holidays and not hope for things to be perfect. If holidays tend to be a time of conflict in your family, or you’ve recently experienced the loss of a loved one, putting pressure on your family to all get along or to be cheerful could lead to disappointment and additional anxiety.
Being mindful of what you do have to be thankful for ― your sister who always makes family gatherings bearable, getting a week off of work, or just the promise of a fresh start with the beginning of the new year ― can help combat feelings of deficiency and lack.
“Realize that the holidays do end ― and take stock of what you can be grateful for,” says Sichel. “Having gratitude is probably the best antidote against depression.”
Trying to do too much.
At the holidays, the pressure of trying to do everything ― plan the perfect holiday, make it home to see your family, say yes to every event, meet those year-end deadlines ― can be enough to send anyone into a tail spin. And if you’re prone to anxiety and depression, stress (and a lack of sleep) can take a significant toll on your mood.
A heightened pressure and fear of not getting everything done are some of the most common triggers for the holiday blues, according to Sichel.
“Being bogged down by perfectionism” can contribute to feeling down, says Sichel. “Many people feel they just can’t do the right thing, that family members are always disappointed in them.”
Comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides.
Both in real life and on social media, it can be difficult to avoid comparing yourself with others around Christmastime. If you have a less-than-perfect family, a past trauma from this time of year, or just a less-than-full holiday dance card, comparing your holiday experience with other peoples’ is a recipe for increased sadness and isolation.
And as Sichel points out, these comparisons tend to be skewed — and they tend to make us feel bad about ourselves.
“People’s basis for comparison is not based in reality, because most families have issues and most people do not have the perfect Christmas that they would like to have or that they’d remember from their childhood,” says Sichel.
Slacking on self-care.
For many people, December is the busiest time of the year. When work pressures pile up and the calendar gets full with social obligations, the routines that normally keep us healthy and happy — yoga class, morning runs, healthy home-cooked meals, a meditation practice — are usually the first thing to fall by the wayside.
In addition to increased stress, eating poorly and drinking excessively can also exacerbate issues like stress, anxiety and depression.
“Take care of yourself — don’t overeat and over-drink,” says Sichel. “Do your regular routines of exercise and whatever keeps you together during the year.”
Sichel emphasizes the importance of avoiding binge drinking. Alcohol is everywhere during the holidays, and if you’re struggling with feeling down, it may be wise to avoid drinking as much as possible — alcohol is known to worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Experiencing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
If you tend to start feeling down when winter approaches each year, and those negative feelings don’t go away after the holidays are over, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
According to Sichel, many people who think they are suffering from a case of holiday blues may actually be suffering from SAD, a form of depression that’s brought on by the change of seasons. But SAD shouldn’t be dismissed as mere “winter blues” — talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of the disorder to find a treatment that works for you.
Episode 74: Breakup, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Jeff Brennan, tells the story of his depression how having a routine and regular therapy have gotten him through his struggles with depression, drugs and alcohol. Sunday, December 10, 2017.
Life is balance of holding on and letting go. -Rumi
Your Post-Breakup Depression Isn’t About Missing Your Ex (Excerpts)
Understanding the reasons behind what you’re feeling enables you to take control of your emotions. It will help you realize why you’re feeling a certain way right now.
This will then help you to fall out of love with your ex, recover and move on faster.
Here are five psychological things that could be the reasons behind to your post-breakup depression:
1. You’re worried about the future.
One of the major factors that lead to the terrible way you feel after a breakup is concern for the future.
But this pain has nothing to do with your ex or any “love” you think you have for them — it has to do with your own personal worries.
Concerns like this should be isolated from the love you think you have for your ex.
2. Bottled-up emotions are now coming back to the surface.
People in relationships sometimes use the relationship as a way to run and hide from other negative emotions and personal problems. These problems could be family issues, financial difficulties or struggles regarding work or social life.
If this is the case, you will really feel bad after the breakup because you’ve lost your escape from reality.
Again, this element is not related to your ex or how you feel about them.
You’re likely projecting your unhappiness with your life onto your breakup because it’s easier to place the blame on something that’s obviously painful — like a breakup — than it is to admit the problem was within you all along.
3. Your pride is damaged.
When you get dumped, it’s natural for your pride to take a hit. And when your pride gets hurt, you translate it into pain.
Learning how to handle this on its own will enable you to take control of this particular element of the pain you’re experiencing. After all, a bruised ego doesn’t equate to heartbreak.
Some of the pain you’re feeling is your pride’s pain, not your heart’s.
4. You’re having self-confidence issues.
“What is wrong with me? Is there something missing or lacking? Am I not smart or good-looking enough? Where did I go wrong? What else could I have done?”
When you get dumped, it’s normal for you to think something is “wrong” with you. This element of your pain, however, is not related to love or your ex. It’s actually about how you perceive yourself.
It roots from self-esteem and self-confidence issues that should be addressed independently to lessen the pain you’re feeling.
5. You’ve lost your routine.
When you’re in a relationship, you get used to certain routines you did as a couple. This includes traveling together, celebrating anniversaries, having a time of day when you check up on each other, etc.
Any person who experiences a change or loss of such routines will go through withdrawal. This is the last element that contributes to the post-breakup pain you feel that is not intrinsically related to your ex.
You will feel this emotion regardless of who you’re in a relationship with and how much you loved them. It should not be confused with the feeling of love.
It’s the loss of the routine that hurts, not the loss of the person.
The pain you feel after a breakup is not solely related to love, but rather is caused by combined emotions and feelings rooting from personal thoughts and experiences.
Understanding the reasons behind the pain after a breakup empowers you because you can then realize the depression is not always going to be related to love or to your ex. This helps you take control of these emotions and deal with them separately.
To get over someone fast, you need to dismantle false beliefs about love that have been instilled in us by the the movies we see and the music we listen to.
In place of these false beliefs, you need to place the reality of what really causes your pain after a breakup.
Don’t dismiss the heart, even if it’s filled with sorrow. God’s treasures are buried in broken hearts. –Rumi
Episode 73: Hopeless, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Urban, tells the story of his depression and how practicing gratitude helps him maintain hope and good mental health. Sunday, November 26, 2017.
I Feeling hopeless and not sure what to do next? Some days it can be hard to even get out of bed when it feels like there’s nothing we can do to make things better. But there are things we can do. Little steps we can take to help ourselves or someone we know.
Use Your Support Network: A support network doesn’t have to be an army of friends and family. It could be just one person who we can talk openly to about how we’re feeling. It helps to reach out to that person we can be honest with when things are overwhelming.
Challenge Negative Thoughts: A big part of depression or anxiety is those thoughts in our heads that tell us things are bad, we are hopeless and that it won’t get better. The simple exercise of checking those thoughts and challenging them can do wonders for our state of mind. If the thought floats through your mind that things are never going to get better, remember a time when things were bad but did improve. This simple exercise can remind us that feelings generally do pass over time.
Take Care of Yourself: It sounds so simple, but little things like getting enough sleep and eating as healthy as possible can make a huge difference on how we feel emotionally. Lack of sleep can, in and of itself, cause problems with depression and anxiety. Also, exercising has been proven to significantly reduce symptoms of depression.
Use Moderation: We all know that drinking too much or abusing drugs can actually make us feel worse in the long run. Moderation is important when it comes to partying, but it’s also important in other aspects of our lives. If we’re feeling depressed or overwhelmed, we may have to say “no” to certain activities or opportunities. It’s more important to rest and take care of ourselves than it is to do everything.
Most importantly, be proactive and go talk to a counselor in your community if you are worried about your thoughts and feelings. Use our Find Help Now page to get started.
Episode 71: Gray, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Viola, tells the story of her depression and how how having depression has made her more compassionate with her students. Sunday, November 12, 2017.
The Quirky Brain: How depression may alter visual perception
Published: November, 2010
When someone is depressed, the world may seem flat or monochrome, even tinged with blue and gray. For a long time, researchers assumed this was a purely psychological phenomenon. But a study suggests that changes in visual perception in people who are depressed may have a biological basis.
Researchers at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg in Germany recruited 80 people to participate in their study of visual processing. Forty participants were diagnosed with major depression according to criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV); 20 were taking antidepressants at the time of the study, while the others were not. The other 40 participants, who scored in the normal range on two common depression screening tests, served as controls.
Previous studies of the impact of depression on vision have asked participants to report subjective perception of colors and contrasts. To obtain a more objective measure, the German researchers attached electrodes near participants’ eyes to record electrical responses in the retina as study participants viewed a series of checkerboard patterns with varying degrees of black-and-white contrast. The retina contains cells that react to different wavelengths of light and in turn transmit electrical signals that travel along the optic nerve to the brain, where the information is interpreted as color, shape, and contrast.
When compared with healthy controls, the participants with major depression — whether they were on medication or not — were significantly less able to detect differences in black and white contrasts on the checkerboards. The researchers also found a significant association between severity of depression (as measured by standard clinical instruments) and perception of contrasts. The lowest electrical recordings of retinal activity occurred in those participants who were the most depressed.
The study thus suggests that one reason the world may seem gray when people are depressed is impaired contrast perception. Future research is necessary to replicate the findings, and to determine what other factors (such as impaired visual functioning within the brain) may contribute.
Episode 71: Grief, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Daniel Buckley, returns for the 2 year anniversary of The Depression to tell the story of his depression and how working on his current film has been a big challenge to his struggles with depression. Sunday, November 5, 2017.