Overcoming Grief

by Brian Jones

During my first year of college a life-long family friend and mentor tragically lost his son. Separated by distance, I assumed that his Christian friends, the staff at his church, and his Sunday school class would step in and wrap their arms around him and his wife. Needless to say I was surprised, one year later, when we were able to finally meet face to face. When I asked him how he and his wife were doing the first words out of his mouth were, “Brian, the church failed us during our greatest time of need.” Knowing first-hand his maturity and emotional soundness, I was taken back. I thought, “If he said the church failed them, the church must have really failed them.”

Those who experience tragic loss, which I’m sure will include all of us by the time we leave this planet, experience sorrow that defies explanation. C.S. Lewis, struggling to put into words how he felt after losing his wife commented,

“No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.” (A Grief Observed , p. 19)

And if there was ever someone besides Lewis that couldn’t put their finger on the depth of their grief, it had to be Naomi.

The Book of Ruth tells us that Naomi was happily married to a man named Elimilech and together they had two strong sons, Mahlon and Kilion. As life goes, business took her family to a foreign country-a place called Moab. But even in that distant land their family blossomed. Life was good. Then, without even the faintest hint that heartbreak was standing at her door, Naomi’s husband didn’t return home for dinner. Who could have known that their kiss that morning would have been their last? Her sons eventually married, but even their weddings and talk of children couldn’t take away the emptiness she felt. Finally, in a cruel twist that even Hollywood wouldn’t script, she lost both of her sons. She was devastated, alone and bewildered. Naomi was so broken that Ruth 1:20 tells us that she began asking people to not call her Naomi (meaning “pleasant”) anymore but Mara (meaning “bitter”).

The bright spot, if there can be a bright spot in someone’s tragic loss, is that there was someone who didn’t leave her. Her name was Ruth, her daughter-in-law. We’re told she didn’t offer any deep theological explanations. There’s no record that she tried to provide the “right word” at the “right time.” All we hear is Ruth’s promise in Ruth 1:16, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay, I will stay.” And that’s exactly what she did.

I never asked my friend what his church could have done differently. I didn’t feel that it was my place.

My guess? Unlike Ruth, there were probably too many words and too few visits.

About the Author:

Brian Jones is the author of Second Guessing God: Hanging on When You Can’t See Plan (March 2006) and the founding Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Collegeville, PA. More information about his writing and speaking can be found at http://www.brianjones.com.

Other Related Links:

When Bad Things Happen to Good People – I personally recommend this book. It’s excellent!

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Death of a Loved One

On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss


What is DBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

by Eileen Parker

DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), evolved out of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), developed by Dr. Marsha M. Linehan. DBT was originally designed for treating people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Now, many people enjoy the benefits of DBT. DBT is also used for people with self-harm behaviors, suicide thoughts, urges to suicide, and suicide attempts. It also helps with binge-eating, depression, suicidal teens, and older clients who get depressed again and again.

DBT was originally designed for treating people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Now, many people enjoy the benefits of DBT. DBT is also used for people with self-harm behaviors, suicide thoughts, urges to suicide, and suicide attempts. It also helps with binge-eating, depression, suicidal teens, and older clients who get depressed again and again.

The goal of the therapy is to create a “life worth living,” such as what the client wants, for example, such as finding a life partner, having children, going back to school, finding the right religion, or changing to a new career. The therapy is based on changing behavior that is based on thoughts. The balance between change and acceptance forms the fundamental dialectic. Dialectics is from a Greek word, meaning a play of ideas bringing together opposites or apparent contradictions and attempting to resolve them to give rise to a truth. Dialectics is about the reconciliation of opposites in an ongoing process of synthesis.

For example, what is a thought versus reality in the here and now? It’s about thoughts coming together in balance. The process flows from the balancing of Zen (Eastern) practice with psychological (Western) practice. It blends validation of thoughts into the patient’s wisdom to create the behavior.DBT is an “empirically-supported treatment,” which means it has been researched in clinical trials as a valid therapy method.

From a practical perspective, the therapy involves individual therapy one time per week and a weekly DBT skills group. The skills group is 1 ½ hours long. The group members learn mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. The individual therapist coordinated treatment with the facilitators of the DBT skills group, to keep track of how the treatment is going to help the client reach desired goals.

From an intellectual perspective, there are major things to learn, thought DBT involves much more. Those with self-destructive behaviors, and those with learned coping techniques for intense and negative emotions, such as guilt, shame, sadness, fear, and anger, feel the emotions much more intensely than others may.

For some, like those with major depression or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), the medications are not doing what is needed, so the client feels deep emotional suffering.The self-destructive behavior and learned coping techniques can lead to emotional vulnerability. Life can feel unpredictable and all over the place when emotions are intense, quick, and difficult to control. And, those with an invalidating environment, in other words, other people are not treating the person with respect, attention, and understanding, can feel emotional vulnerability.

The therapy moves through stages:
First, the client moves from being out of control of one’s behavior to being in control.
Second, the client moves from being emotionally shut down to experiencing emotions fully.
Third, the client builds and ordinary life, solving ordinary life problems.
Fourth, the client moves from incompleteness to completeness and connection.

About the Author
Eileen Parker is the writer/journalist of Mental Illness Blog, http://www.mentalillnessblog.com

Source: ArticlesFactory.com

Other Related Links:

Effectiveness of inpatient dialectical behavioral therapy for borderline personality disorder: a controlled trial

The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step-by-step Program

Treating Anger, Anxiety, And Depression In Children And Adolescents: A Cognitive-Behavioral Perspective

The Facts Behind Ecstasy Use

by: Wendy McLellan

Ecstasy use, gained its popularity in the 1980’s, mostly in the clubs. At that time, they were called “raves”. Now even though it is still primarily used by young white Caucasians, other cultures and races are now using it more regularly as well. Ecstasy is commonly called E, the love drug, Adam, X, XTC. Most users of MDMA use it on a recreational basis, although there have been reports of a man using ecstasy over 40,000 times. This is not the “average” use though.

MDMA (3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a synthetic, psychoactive drug chemically similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and a hallucinogen very similar in structure to mescaline. Ecstasy primarily affects the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin affects mood, aggression, and sexual feelings. There have been numerous studies about the dangers of ecstasy, and whether or not this drug has addictive properties. There have been several studies showing that chronic users of MDMA do have withdrawal symptoms, confirming the belief that ecstasy is addictive. These symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, depressed feelings, and trouble concentrating, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, aggression, impulsiveness, sleep disturbances, thirst and memory loss.

There are possible physical side effects from using MDMA. They are muscle cramping, blurred vision, dehydration, high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney failure, sweating chills and nausea. One of the biggest hazards with MDMA is the rise in body temperature (hyperthermia). This has led to numerous deaths. Most MDMA users understand that they need to keep their body well hydrated by drinking water, to avoid this causality. There have been reports of clubs shutting off the water in the bathrooms so that their clients would have to buy the bottled water at ten times the cost. Symptoms of overdose of MDMA include seizures, fainting, panic attacks, high blood pressure and loss of consciousness. Using ecstasy repeatedly in short intervals can cause an overdose. This is due to the fact that MDMA can interfere with it’s own metabolism and reach potentially fatal levels.

Other drugs that are sold as ecstasy have also led to numerous fatalities. These drugs are MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine); this is the “parent” drug of MDMA, and PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine). Particularly with PMA, there is an increased risk of dying from hyperthermia. Some people who have died from PMA, believing that it was MDMA have reached temperatures of 108 degrees. The other risks involved with MDMA, as with any other illegal drug, is that sometimes there are things added to the MDMA. Chemical reports of MDMA sold on the street have shown to also have properties of caffeine, cocaine, cough suppressants, ketamine and ephedrine. These extra additives place the MDMA user at higher physical risk.

One of the more disturbing facts of ecstasy is the numerous reports that ecstasy can cause brain damage. There have been studies done on rats, mice etc. that have shown that high doses of MDMA can cause irreversible brain damage. There have also been studies completed on habitual MDMA users. In 1998, the National Institute of Mental Health studied habitual MDMA users that have not used MDMA for years. They found that these users had suffered damage to portions of the brain that regulate critical functions such as learning, sleep and emotion.

Every drug that is available whether it be prescription, over the counter or illegal, the one thing they all have in common is side effects. The side effects with ecstasy can lead to irreversible brain damage, long lasting depression and anxiety. In the worst cases, death can result. As a parent, it is important to talk to your kids about drugs. Listen to them, share your hopes and dreams with them, and support them. They are our future.

About The Author
Wendy McLellan is a licensed mental health and substance abuse counselor, with more than sixteen years of experience. She has recently devoted time to the efforts of http://www.safecomputerkids.com in their goal to provide parental internet safety tools and resources to the public.

Other Related Links:

Addiction Free Forever Program

Confidence Building – Internally

The Voices of Ecstacy: Drug-Induced Schizophrenia and the Death of a College Student

Anna’s Story

What Are The Causes of Depression?

by: Jem Meades

What does depression feel like? For most people it’s being unable to deal with something bad that happens. It could be something as serious as the death of a loved one or something less serious – whatever it might be, it is the fact that we are unable to cope that is depression.

Even though depression is now known to have serious effects if it persists for a long length of time, the actual causes of depression are not well defined. It is possible that depression occurs due to a number of reasons which combine to give that feeling of helplessness and inability to cope. These reasons, can involve both internal and external factors.

There are other theories such as the cause of depression arises from genetics. It is considered that it is the family and their behavior that has a predisposition towards depression. There are numerous studies and research that has shown family members who are affected by depression have a genetic makeup that is very different from family members who are unaffected by depression.

It has also been noted that changes in the brain structure or even brain functions may be one of the causes of depression. So, while there is no clear evidence that brain functionality or genetics cause people to be predisposed towards depression, there is ample research data to suggest that this could be the case.

There are many groups of people who could be vulnerable to depression. I have identified:

* people between the ages of 25 and 50, and those over the age of 65;

* women are about as twice as likely as men in the United States;

* people who are unhappily married, separated or divorced.

People within the identified age groups are subject to so many influences and stresses throughout everyday life that is no wonder that many in those age groups could be vulnerable. It is interesting to note that about 20-25% of women and 12% of men will experience a serious bout of depression at least one time in their lifetimes.

Among children, depression seems to happen in equal numbers of boys and girls. Then, as the sexes reach adolescence, girls tend to become more depressed than boys do. This gender imbalance with major depression continues into older age.

Women are both historically more likely to seek treatment for depression and the negative feelings that may be occurring, such as feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, though even more recent statistics show an increasing number of men seeking self improvement therapy sessions. The increase in the number of men may be due to an acceptance by men that they experience bouts of depression and that it is OK to do something about it. It is a fact that the rates of major depression are considerably lower for those who are happily married.

Although people may be identified within the vulnerable groups that fact alone does not ensure that someone will develop a depressive episode. It has to be recognised that everyone has the susceptibility of developing depression from time to time.

Low self esteem and pessimism are thought to be related to the causes of depression. With these mood traits, a person suffering from low self esteem may regard themselves with feelings of pessimism, worthlessness, a desire to end their life and perhaps even attempts at suicide. In this case the person who suffers from low self esteem and depression will only see the negative aspects of life. These low self esteem and pessimistic feelings, together with other factors, create a potential for depression and may indeed invoke a response towards depression.

Being overwhelmed by stress can easily lead a person into a state of depression. The many pressures that we face in our lives and the great expectations that are placed on us contribute to this feeling of stress. Therefore as more stress enters our lives depression begins to set in. Low self esteem, pessimism and stress are considered to be psychological causes of depression. In these circumstances, we begin to understand that depression is not caused by one factor but by a number of diverse factors all intricately woven to make a person vulnerable to depression.

Other causes of depression can include any physical changes that occur to our bodies. Severe medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes can make the individual believe that there is nothing worthwhile living for. The idea that your body cannot no longer do the things your mind expects it to do can create and overwhelming desire to believe that life will not be the same and it becomes easy to slip into a negative spiral of emotions but than treat such situations as positive influences on the changing circumstances of life. By feeling depressed the rate of recovery is delayed.

While it is not completely clear what the exact and precise causes of depression are, there is agreement that certain physical, emotional, and genetic traits can lead towards depression. Whatever the actual causes are, the end result is that the individual who is suffering from depression has a very poor quality of life. Therefore, until we can define what are the real causes of depression, all that we can do is to help them become better.

Rather than look at the causes of depression as though depression were a fully understood condition, let’s look at it in manageable packets. Exploring and understanding potential risk factors related to depression can go a long way toward making decisions about treatment and acceptance of a bout of major depression. The key is to understand how individual circumstances weave together to create very personal circumstances that affect an individual. Those very same physical and emotional circumstances will cause one person to be vulnerable to depression whilst another may treat those circumstances as a positive influence and powerful driving force.

About The Author
Jem Meades at http://ultimatedailyhealth.com discusses a wide range of common health issues every week. Understanding your health needs will increase your confidence and ability to tackle any health issues you or your family experience.

Other Related Links:

Get more information on Focus for ADHD

Get more information on MindSoothe Jr. for Child and Teenage Depression

Helping Your Child Cope with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

A Parent’s Guide for Suicidal and Depressed Teens: Help for Recognizing if a Child is in Crisis and What to Do About It

Third Party Articles

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All other links, in every other post – apart from the posts found in the Third Party Articles category – have been included because I think they will be helpful to anyone reading this website and for those links I receive no commission at any time.