Total 228 Blog Posts

  • 13 Oct
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    What contributes to drug addiction?

    drug addiction

     

    A lot many teenagers and young people experiment with drugs as they grow up. Exploring recreational drugs is a cultural part of growing up in most countries and it can be difficult to keep tabs on such use. The drug awareness programs at present do not talk about drug use and its effects in the right way and place blame on the users.

     

    There are definite signs of addiction that we need to pay attention to, if we are confused about where on the continuum does our use lie.

    Firstly, the user controls his use if it is recreational, and does not need it to ‘function’ or be okay or think. So each time you need a smoke to use the washroom or to clear your head, although the smoke may do the job for you then, but it’s making you increasingly dependent. That is one of the first signs of the drug getting more and more important in the person’s life.

    Secondly, addiction, dependence or abuse of a drug means you spend a lot more time and money on the drug than you need to or can afford to. It can also mean delays in work and school assignments, your health and social life being affected, and such other impacts felt in areas of life seemingly disconnected with drug use.


    However, this begs the questions:

    • What makes recreational users addicts?
    • Why do some people consume more and others less?
    • Is it just a matter of control?


    Well, the literature on that is quite mixed, because certain people say that it’s more about brain chemicals and genetic vulnerability, while newer research indicates a mix of a lot many factors. One prime example is that when addicts were given a choice between a 5 dollar bill and cocaine in an experiment by Dr. Hart, they chose the money. This and many other experiments show that troubles in a person’s life, or emptiness, contribute largely in making the person an addict.


    Therefore, an important take-away from this is to think about your own social and personal situations.

    Are they unaddressed burdens and emotional baggage?

    Is the drug an escape for that?

    Constant escape surely means that the use is not recreational any more.


    If you do find out that your use of drugs is in fact a way to deal with your troubles, what should you do?


    Firstly, you have to accept that this is an issue and steps are needed to resolve it.

    The first step in order to resolve is to talk to a student counselor or the closest mental health professional available. When you work on your emotional issues with constructive ways, you will not feel the need to rely on drugs any more. That will automatically ensure you of the control that you needed to have with the use of drugs. In fact, research shows that seeking the right help can help you stop the use of the drug altogether.

    Responses 1

  • 13 Oct
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    Do I have an eating disorder?

    One of the most important indicators of today’s times is the continuous talk around weight and health.

    On the one hand, obesity is becoming an epidemic, leading to lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension in the process. On the other hand, body image concerns and eating disorders are also on the rise, for both men and women. There are scores of weight-loss products and professionals, not to mention the entire horde of specialized dieting programs, which can lead to immense confusion.

    In such a situation, how does one know whether one’s approach towards weight loss is healthy or pathological?
    Eating has always been a behaviour that is highly associated with emotions. Some foods make us happy, some not. The consumption of particular food can produce comfort or discomfort and also particular mood states.

    Therefore, we will always have certain emotions attached to food and eating behaviour. Therefore, tracking one’s emotions are a good way of knowing where we stand on the spectrum.

    Do you hate how you look or are you just trying to become healthy but you love your body in the process and would not punish or harm it? The former is more indicative of pathology.


    The DSM diagnosis for:

    #Anorexia Nervosa, one of the more common disorders, is as follows:


    A. Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements, leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health. Significantly low weight is defined as a weight that is less than minimally normal or, for children and adolescents, less than that minimally expected.


    B. Intense fear of gaining weight or of becoming fat, or persistent behaviour that interferes with weight gain, even though at a significantly low weight.


    C. Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of the current low body weight.


    #Bulimia nervosa, on the other hand, has a binge-purge pattern. A person with BN is likely to eat much more than they need or can digest well, and then vomit the food out by inducing puking, because they feel guilty for this eating. Repeated use of laxatives and induced puking tends to really harm their esophagus and digestive track.

    eating disorder


    There are other eating disorders as well, like Pica where a person eats non-nutritive substances like mud or human faeces. Other disorders are Restrictive Eating Disorder and Rumination Disorder. If you know someone who has had drastic weight loss accompanied with cutting or other self-harm behaviour, it is probably an eating disorder or related psychopathology.


    Eating disorders are treatable, and the rate of getting better depends on how soon the treatment is sought. A qualified mental health professional will be able to help you understand this in detail. If you are unsure about the need to go to a MH professional, try talking about it to a counselor or a general physician.

     

    Responses 1

  • 06 Oct
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    Understanding Anxiety Disorder

    anxiety

    Anxiety-related disorders are some of the common disorders that people suffer from. In fact, pathological anxiety is just an expression of normal fear or anxiety when multiplied many times. It is important to understand that some amount of fear or worry motivates us to take the steps needed to deal with a threatening situation. However, when thoughts of worry are constant and prevalent, to the extent that they do not let us function, that is when it becomes a problem.

     

    Anxiety disorders are characterized by consistent irrational beliefs that overestimate threat, danger or likelihood of something going wrong. Anxiety disorders are often referred to as a modern-day epidemic. In fact, ‘neurosis is the common cold of psychotherapy’ was said by Dr. Albert Ellis, one of the most influential psychologists of all time. Neurosis is an earlier term for anxiety related conditions.

    Anxiety has an almost 30 % of life prevalence. It is also comorbid with a lot of other disorders, depression being one of them. Depression and anxiety share 80% comorbidity. Anxiety spectrum disorder includes Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD, Agoraphobia – fear of open spaces, and panic disorder. On the continuum but further away lie OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and PTSD or Post-Traumatic Disorder. Further away on the spectrum are Somatization disorders and so on. This new spectrum system of the DSM 5 allows for a greater flexibility in understanding the expression of clinical disorders.

    Primary physicians are most likely to see these symptoms – chest pains, palpitations, dizziness, irritable bowel syndrome in their patients. Persistent expressions of these can actually indicate anxiety disorders expressed through bodily symptoms.€

    ‘Anxiety = subjective distress + physiological responses + escape behavior’. This is a good formula to understand what happens in all anxiety disorders. Subjective distress means the discomfort a person experiences. Along with this, to are all the physiological syndromes for which patients go to general physicians and this leads to escape behaviour, which makes the person slowly shrink away from more and more instances of daily life.

    Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the most common anxiety disorder. Given below are its  symptoms:

    €Excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not for at least 6 months about a number of activities is a common complaint. Patients can’t control the worry – interferes with functioning, but the thinking is not obsessional – generally they don’t have themes around dirt, contamination, aggression, impulses

    3 of the following for present for 6 months indicate GAD –

    Restlessness

    Easily fatigued

    Mind going blank

    Irritability

    Muscle tension

    Sleep disturbance

    CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy can help to control the repetitive thoughts that a person feels, while the behaviour exercises help to stimulate and relax the person. Together they can channelize their anxiety and control it well and remove escape behaviour. In severe cases, anti-anxiety medication can be used to bring the person down to a level of control of anxiety where he or she can participate in therapy. There is a risk of overuse of such pills and should be used with caution.

  • 05 Oct
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    How To Efficiently Remember What You Read

    How To Efficiently Remember What You Read

    Regardless of field or profession, all of us in formal or organized work sectors and schools have to read quite a bit. Multiple documents, books, PowerPoint presentations and field notes make their way to us. Some of us may also enjoy fiction and non-fiction books outside of regular work and school related reading. Although we do pretty well in remembering the gist of a text, or a striking point or two or the overall effect it had on us, we generally do not fare very well when it comes to remember the important details of long or complex texts.

    Cognitive psychology as a field has done a lot of research into memory, and what is a paramount finding of this is that material is best remembered if it is encoded in our memory using deep processing as opposed to shallow processing. Shallow processing would mean just reciting or mugging up. Deep processing means engaging with the material, so that it’s meaning stays with us.

    There are many ways to engage with the material for deep processing. Some of them are mentioned below:

    Writing: Writing is an age-old technique but it still absolutely works. Note down important bits of information as you read it. An important tip – after this and after the reading is done, write it down again in a flowchart or some other organized manner. This is a full-proof way of remembering what you read.

    Talking: When we talk to our friends and family about the read material, we process the information more and enrich what is stored. They may ask us questions or we ourselves might question ourselves while talking about it, and then filling the gaps in our knowledge makes the information more deeply entrenched in our memory.

    Mnemonics: Mnemonics are clumping of detailed information in a way that is easier to remember. Making an acronym is a mnemonic technique. For example, there four steps to creative problem solving are preparation, incubation, illumination and verification. I would remember these as abbreviated to PIIV and imagine a ghost dog along with it (pet peeve connection). Method of Loci is another method. Imagine a very familiar place and as you take a mental walk through the place, put each aspect of what you want to remember at locations in the place. So I would put the ‘P’ from PIIV on the gate of my building, ‘I’ at the lift, the second ‘I’ at my door and the ‘V’ at my room. So when I imagine going up to my house I will think of PIIV. Remember to note down the mnemonics near the text you are revising.

    Apart from these, skimming through the text for difficult words and concepts and then reading it slowly helps when it’s a long detailed text. Lastly, even these methods will not work if you just do them once. You need to revisit the text once every now and then, and revisit the written notes or mnemonics. Revisit meaning, ‘revise’.

    Please feel free to ask questions and post comments.

    -eWellness Expert

    Responses 1

    • Rashmi R Gupta
      Rashmi R Gupta   Oct 05, 2015 12:42 PM
      That a great article on very important subject for students. Hearing a psychologist's view on this topic is very informative. Can there be some medical reasons also behind poor memory?
  • 05 Oct
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    Social Anxiety and How To Deal With It

    Social Anxiety and How To Deal With It

    Anxiety of all kinds is one of the most common mental health concerns reported by people. Of these, social anxiety seems to be the most prevalent and intrusive. There are many different forms of it, or rather, in a given individual, some components of social anxiety maybe more prevalent than others.

     

    Commonly, there is a fear of public speaking that involves going up on a stage, giving presentations or talks, heading meetings and so on. Another component is general sociability – the person is not able to connect with a lot of people in his life – friends, family and so on. This is different from introversion because there the person willingly chooses to stay away from people. The third kind has to do with attractiveness and romantic partners: the person flusters when approaching someone for a date, alliance or proposal.

    There are many different reasons identified by these, both by social convention and by research: some put genetics to blame, some say that one bad incident has conditioned the fear, while some attribute it to faulty parenting methods. Regardless of what the cause may be, the fact remains that there is a problem and it needs to be countered. There are some ways of thinking and behaving and need to be changed to behaviour and thoughts that are helpful.

    The following techniques and methods are effective for more or less all components of social anxiety:

    • Relaxation: A major component of anxiety which people find stressful is the physical effect of it. There might be fast heartbeat, palpitations, heavy breathing, sweating, shaking, trembling, flushing and so on. Relaxation helps to counter this. Outside of the anxiety provoking situation, the person should think of the situation and try to relax at the same time. This will reduce anxiety in the actual situation. Use progressive muscle relaxation and breathing techniques.

     

    • Rethinking: Our thoughts also add to the problem. If you think that one bad speech or talk means you are a total loser, such thinking adds to the pressure you feel and makes you more anxious. Instead, replace such thoughts with helpful thoughts like ‘I would like to perform the speech well, but it is not the end of the world if I don’t’. By reducing the drastic consequence from your thoughts, you will inspire more confidence in yourself.

     

    • Rehearsal: Since you have to acquire these new skills, it is important to rehearse them. Prepare the speech well in advance, mark out the pauses and breaks. Speak in front of the mirror and then in front of family members. You can also rehearse by yourself, the strategies required to talk to friends and family.

    Apart from these three methods, it is also important to remember that if anxiety has a medical cause then you would have to seek the help of a professional. Sometimes, mild antianxiolytics can help if the techniques are useful or sufficient by themselves. Be sure to go to a qualified mental health professional.

    Responses 1

    • ritesh chaudhary
      ritesh chaudhary   Dec 28, 2015 11:53 AM

      Since social phobia is "the problem to deal with other people", it cannot be solved by oneself alone. There must be someone that can help, be it taking me to a gathering, picking at my behavior, confronting me, or coaching me what to do as a start. Those people are necessary compass, to show me what social relationship is really like.