Five Things You May Not Realize Can Affect Your Mental Health

Did you know diabetes affects your mental health? From depression to relationship problems or mood swings, too much or too little glucose (sugar) circulating in the blood can trigger behavior and thought patterns that may seem unrelated to how much insulin is released by your pancreas. Out of control glucose levels influence how you feel and make decisions, your beliefs and, yes, your attitude, a very necessary component of your overall care. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states less than half the number of people with diabetes who have depression get treated, which leads to worsening states of mind that could include suicidal thoughts. Treatment, however — therapy, medicine, or both — is usually very effective in this group. That’s good news because diabetics are two to three times as likely to have depression that people without diabetes, and when one condition improves, the other is likely to improve, too. 

My roundup of the top five crossover issues affecting mental health include the following. 

  1. Physical illnesses of all kinds can affect your mental health and behavior (and vice versa) like diabetes does because the human body works with integrated symptoms of vast complexity. You cannot make changes to one network without causing changes to the rest. Complications can range from additional stress and anxiety to reduced chances for healing or, as with diabetes, heart disease, amputations, nerve damage, or death. Cancer centers often integrate the concepts of wholeness and multidisciplinary teams of experts in scientific treatments, and mental health professionals use coping techniques that include biofeedback, meditation, soothing music and more. Treating only the symptoms or even the root cause of a disease should be partnered with a whole-body plan to help you handle every issue you might encounter.
  2. Medications, of course, can have side effects, whether they are prescribed or bought over the counter. Reading the lists of every possible problem is daunting, but talking seriously with your doctor about the most likely ones and how to deal with them can help you make informed decisions. Other medication choices could be available, and alternative treatments might help. Make sure your doctor is aware of anything you take that did not require a prescription as drug interactions can occur. The important thing is to work with your doctor or doctors to make sure you get the best treatment possible with the least negative effect. If a medication is known to be associated with an increase in suicidal thoughts, addressing this fact helps you evaluate your course of treatment and plan how you will handle such problems. A good pharmacist can help with general questions, but always notify your doctor of any changes.
  3. Available care might come with issues of its own. Where you live, costs, how easy your medical professionals are to work with, as well as local support options, affect your choices and can add to your worry and frustration or help your treatment work better. Stress damages the body in ways that complicate treatment, especially if it goes on long-term. One thing is certain, however. Staying calm and learning about your condition aids both you and your doctor in designing recovery or management strategies. 
  4. Harmful substances may seem to help you feel better or to improve your life initially, but illegal drugs and alcohol do far more damage than you might think. Other substances we use everyday can have chemical effects that are harmful to the brain, depending on dosage and how they are handled; these can be found in beauty products, toothpaste, pesticides, foods, and more. Consumers can check products for safety with the plethora of information available online.
  5. Survival requirements dictate the use of common sense in most cases. Glucose, for example, cannot be eliminated totally from the diet. The body needs some (complex) carbohydrates, and your liver manufactures sugar as an important energy source. It is possible to minimize the effects of stress, but impossible to eliminate it from your life. Even positive stress has an effect. And the earth is home to all of us. What other people do will continue to affect the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink.

Far from being a hopeless situation, all this can be managed. There are many things you can do to improve your health by treating the systems that make up your wonderful body as partners in your care. Like the car you drive or the computer you use, consistent care will reward you with longevity and better quality of life. Take one issue at a time to avoid overwhelm and manage what you cannot change the best way you can. Remember, how you approach a problem is important to success. 

Five Things You May Not Realize Can Affect Your Mental Health syndicated from

Psychology Around the Net: May 30, 2020

This week’s Psychology Around the Net highlights the current telehealth boom (and how some mental health professionals feel about it), ways to turn your self-criticism into self-compassion, the unique mental health challenges mission-driven work can bring, and more.

Stay well, friends!

Online Therapy Having Its Moment, Bringing Insights On How to Expand Mental Health Services Going Forward: Nicholas Joyce, a psychologist and counselor at University of South Florida, weighs in on his professional colleagues’ attitudes toward telehealth services in the past, how those attitudes are changing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and what it would take for telehealth to work effectively long after the coronavirus crisis is over.

Your AI Chatbot Therapist Isn’t Sure What It’s Doing: “How do AI-powered mental health programs compare with face-to-face treatment, or to digital therapy administered by a human? Do they answer to the same regulatory bodies as other mental health providers? Moreover, what are the risks of outsourcing something as sensitive as mental health care to Silicon Valley startups?”

Change Self-Criticism Into Self-Compassion: “You’re so fat.” “I can’t believe you’re going to wear a swimsuit in public.” “Oh, my god you look awful in those jeans.” Have you ever noticed you can easily say things to yourself you wouldn’t dare say to someone else? That you willingly bully yourself? The bottom line is that if it’s not OK to say it to someone else, it’s not OK to say it to yourself. It’s past time to replace your self-criticism with self-compassion. Here’s how.

Managing Mental Health When Working for a Mission: When you engage in mission-driven work, such as the non-profit world, you can face specific emotional challenges. Your success doesn’t always bring bonuses or accolades like it would in other career fields, and sometimes you won’t see any success or reward because the problem might be too complicated for just you or just your organization to handle. For this episode of HBR Presents, Morra Aarons-Mele talks with Poppy Jaman OBE, the CEO of City Mental Health Alliance, about what it’s like to work a mission-driven career and care for your mental health.

Designing Technologies That Interpret Your Mood From Your Skin: Skin conductance is the measure of how much someone sweats, and can indicate both emotional and physical reactions to something (technologies like lie detector tests have their roots in skin conductance). Now, researchers from Sweden and the UK have developed a way to interpret the biological signals our skin conductance produces in the form of wrist-worn sensor that could tell you about your stress levels, help you track your emotions, and more.

Getting On the Same Page About How to Discipline Your Kids: When a child’s caregivers aren’t on the same page about discipline, the child can end up pulled in all sorts of different directions without a clear idea of what’s actually “right” and “wrong.” It’s important for parents and other guardians to figure out the behaviors that need addressed, how to address them, and what the consequences will be — and to stick to it.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash.

Psychology Around the Net: May 30, 2020 syndicated from

Getting Unstuck: Do You Want to Be the Agent of Change or its Victim?

Everybody changes in life. You can’t live your life without changing over time, because it’s a natural byproduct of life itself. A 1,000 year-old redwood tree doesn’t look or work much at all like a young sapling.

So that leaves you with a choice. Would you rather be the agent of your own change, or just an unwilling victim of it?

I suspect most people don’t look at life this way. They just merrily stumble along in their lives, unaware that they actually have a lot more control about things than they realize.

Sure, we’re all a product of our upbringing, our horrible (or great) parents, and our genetics. But despite all those things, everyone still has free will and the ability to exercise it whenever and however they would like. Once you’re an adult, continuing to lay blame and avoid responsibility for your choices means that you are relegating yourself to something odd — having your life determined by something other than yourself.

I know I don’t like the idea that my life is outside of my own control.

Which is good, because that is an illusion. Our lives are 100% completely within our own control. The choices we make, the hard decisions we come to, these are things within our power and our responsibility.

So Many Reasons (Excuses)

We delegate way too much control — and responsibility — for how our lives are turning out to others. We blame other people, other things, other situations — anything just as long as we don’t have to accept the responsibility for making the best out of a bad situation.

  • “My parents couldn’t afford the school I wanted to go to, so that’s why I’m doing so badly at college.”
  • “My partner doesn’t support my career choices, that’s why I’m in a dead-end job.”
  • “My parents never loved me, that’s why I have such a hard time with trust.”
  • “He didn’t want to have kids, that’s why I’m so lonely now in our relationship.”
  • “I never knew half the things I could do because my parents never showed me.”
  • “My boss hates me, I’ll never get to where I want to be in my career.”
  • “My siblings never helped me, that’s why I didn’t get the support I needed in my family.”
  • “I was an only child, so I never learned how to get along with others or do things for myself.”

Do You Want to be a Victim of Change?

But blame will only get you so far in life. If you spend so much of your energy and time blaming others, you’re not focused on change and making that change happen.

Remember, change happens whether you’re paying attention or not. But if you’re paying attention (and actually expend some effort), you can work to make the change in your life benefit you for the best.

It’s like this:

  1. Change happens in your life, whether you want it to or not.
  2. You can either be a hapless victim of it, letting it direct where you go in your life.
  3. Or you can be the controlling agent of it, molding change to your needs and your will.

Which would you rather be?

Getting Unstuck: Take Back Control… And Responsibility

Taking back control of the change that occurs in your life means also taking responsibility for your decisions. Rather than relying on others to make decisions for you (or be the pawn in other people’s decisions), it means taking a proactive stance to make the decisions that will impact your life. You cannot just stand still and hope life takes care of you. It won’t.

That means figuring out what your needs are right now, in the moment, and in the near-term future. Do you need to get out of a messy relationship or a horrible roommate situation? Then maybe you need a job (or a new job), to make that happen. Figure out the pieces needed for you to get to that goal.

“But it’s really hard and I’m not sure I can change!” I hear you. Most of us have been there. And you know what helps (outside of the bended ear of a friend)? Psychotherapy. A therapist can help you make these changes in your life, some of which will not be easy. People are complex. Their situations are complex. And sometimes we all just need a little help to understand how to move forward, how to become unstuck in our lives, and get to the next stage in our development.

Change is hard, even when you want to take on the directorial role of your own change. It means examining your own thoughts and behaviors, and figuring out new thoughts and behaviors that are going to help you get to your goals. It means learning to stop bad habits, unhelpful ways of thinking, and all the other behaviors that are sabotaging those efforts.

And more often than not, it means taking one step forward and two steps back. It means learning to live with some frustration and compromise, since not everything may be achievable (at least not in the moment). It means learning to live life not only to its fullest, but also to recognize when sometimes life is just going to suck for awhile, and you’ll have to do the best you can with what you have.

If you want to be the agent of your own change, you got this! You can do it. But you need to take those first steps today, because time waits for no person. And wouldn’t you rather be that better you sooner rather than later? Good luck.

Getting Unstuck: Do You Want to Be the Agent of Change or its Victim? syndicated from

How to Engage in Mindful Social Media During Challenging Times

How each of us carries ourselves in this world greatly affects our experience together. And with news and social media occupying such a central part of our daily activity, it’s easy to forget to investigate our own behavior. We are so impulsively quick to post and tweet about the issues of the day that we often leave love out of the equation. Why does this matter? Because there is nothing more important in human life than love.

We need to take a good look at the news and social media today. Listen to what’s dominating our conversations, even within our like-minded circles of friends. Anxiety. Worry. Fear. Anger. The love we all need is muted or missing.

It can be satisfying to call out those we do not agree with. Yet in another sense, it just perpetuates the hierarchical paradigm. In all of our social media discussions and media reporting, where is the love? Why does love take a digital back seat?

How many of us have deeply contemplated our own participation in creating a world that produces such anxiety, worry, and fear?

When fear becomes familiar, and anger so close to the surface, what can we, as individuals, do to protect both ourselves and our world? Railing against what is wrong or championing an alternative at the expense of others keeps us stuck within the same disparaging mindset that got us into this situation to begin with.

Since engaging reactively with news and social media creates polarization and precludes possibilities of personal realization that we, too, have contributed to this mighty mess we see ourselves in, we can humbly chart a new path forward. This path is led by compassion for every single human being on this earth, regardless of social standing, race, sexual identity, religion, politics, or any other variable we have used to divide us or to justify our own positions in this world.

Love can be glimpsed at times, in the social media post that shares without judging or trying to convince, or in the news story that resonates deeply in the heart, with a message that reveals beauty and harmony. Love can be found in our hearts when we manage our news intake carefully enough to be aware of what is happening in the world, but use that awareness to redirect our focus on how we are being in the world.

So when we look at the news and social media or listen to our conversations, we need to observe carefully, not just the content we are taking in, but our own inner thoughts and feelings. We need to notice our own assuming and judging. This is the starting place for cultivating a new choice on how we respond, if we really need to respond at all. For there is a healing power in taking time, not engaging, being quiet, finding calm.

Healing asks us to observe courageously and inquire within ourselves for our own inner truth and wisdom. I submit that we are perfectly capable of knowing for ourselves how to live with respect for all and, ultimately, to feel love for all in our hearts.

How each of us carries ourselves in this world greatly affects our experience together, even the physically distant experience of one another on social media.

Think about this the next time you are drawn to post, to tweet, to comment. The choice you make is a choice that can make the world a better place for others — and for yourself.

How to Engage in Mindful Social Media During Challenging Times syndicated from

Feeling Trapped or Abandoned: When Relationships Run Hot or Cold

By nature, humans are wired for connection. We seek out others to share our lives with, with the goal of forming lasting and intimate bonds. So feeling trapped or abandoned in an intimate relationship shouldn’t be a common thing, should it? Actually, these experiences are common for partners who wind up repeating cycles within intimate relationships that they may be unaware of. Feeling trapped or abandoned are commonly seen in the push-pull dynamic found in unhealthy relationships; both styles often represent two sides of the same coin.

Engulfment and Abandonment Defined

Fear of being engulfed, or trapped, is often indicated as feeling smothered, or in losing one’s autonomy within the relationship. People who report feeling trapped may try controlling their partner through hostile withdrawal, emotional indifference, cheating or otherwise punishing the partner, up to and including, abandoning them.

Fear of being abandoned is often indicated as being afraid to be alone, or fearing being left behind or forgotten. Those who report feelings of abandonment or perceived abandonment may use desperate measures (self-harm, alcohol or drug use, etc.) to prevent being abandoned, which often reinforces the very abandonment they fear. With this type of relationship dynamic, each partner is feeding into the other partner’s biggest fears, often at the expense of unraveling the relationship. It is common to see both partners vacillate between the two dynamics, and potentially strengthening a traumatic bond between them. 

Some may seek out emotionally unavailable relationships or settle for a shallow or unfulfilling relationship because it is seen as “safe.” However, emotionally void or shallow relationships lack the very emotional intensity and dramatic flair that these personalities crave, leaving them feeling bored and aloof, and looking to find a way out of the relationship. In time, a cycle replays where feeling engulfed (trapped) or abandoned within the relationship resurfaces. Partners who were once put on a pedestal may now find themselves being devalued, held to unreasonable standards or unappreciated. For example, a partner may express that the person they’re now with is not the same person they started dating. Idealized relationships or the “The Grass is Greener Syndrome” are commonly reported, keeping them feeling trapped or fearing abandonment. 

Feeling trapped or fearing abandonment has its origins in insecure attachment styles, early life trauma, PTSD, personality, and unhealthy habit formation. These push-pull dynamics are often blamed on the partner with little accountability for one’s own patterns replaying within the relationship. However, because of a lack of object constancy, projective identification or splitting, intimacy and closeness within relationships triggers feeling trapped or feeling abandoned; the resulting behavior is to abandon the relationship to prevent themselves from being abandoned.   

Signs of Feeling Engulfed or Abandoned

Many times, a history of feeling trapped or abandoned in relationships is met with these key symptoms:

  • Fear of being alone or can’t be alone with themselves.
  • Confuses being alone with feelings of loneliness.
  • “Chasing” or “Running” from relationships; cyclic relationships.
  • Constantly distracted; a need to be busy all the time.
  • Idealization and devaluation of partner.
  • Denying or rationalizing a partner’s behavior.
  • Unable to ask for personal space when needed.
  • Seeks shallow or impersonal relationships to prevent being alone.
  • Boredom or disillusionment in relationships.
  • Feeling trapped or unable to leave the relationship.
  • Emotional volatility or emotional numbness.
  • Self-identity tied into the relationship or relationship roles.
  • Traumatic bonding within the relationship.
  • Feelings of emptiness, loneliness or indifference.
  • Cycles often repeat within relationships.

Stopping the Cycle

Getting out of the relationship is often your healthiest choice to focus on your personal goals and healing. If a partner is unwilling to address their own improvement goals, the relationship will continue the push-pull dynamic.

Take time to be alone and address core issues. Recognize the differences between being alone and feeling lonely in increasing awareness and in establishing a healthy sense of self. Work with a therapist who specializes in relationship dynamics and self-empowerment who can help create healthy habits and individual goals in fostering personal growth.  

References

Pervin,T., & Eren, N. (2019). Psychodynamic formulation in borderline personality disorder: a case study. Psychiatric Nursing, 10(4), 309 – 316. 

Toplu-Demirtas, E., et al. (2018). Attachment insecurity and restrictive engulfment in college student relationships: the mediating role of relationship satisfaction. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 11(1), 24 – 37.

Feeling Trapped or Abandoned: When Relationships Run Hot or Cold syndicated from

Preserving Cyber Hygiene During COVID-19

This article is copyrighted strictly for Electronic Health Reporter. Illegal copying is prohibited.

By Grant McCracken, head of security operations, Bugcrowd. For some time now, COVID-19 has dominated every aspect of civilian life. The global workforce, healthcare systems, and international news cycles have all been impacted by the […]

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