This is a special edition of “Brandler Bits”. I was interviewed by the Friends in Recovery Podcast about dealing with fear and anxiety particularly during these difficult times. There are many strategies identified in this interview to help you to feel better.
With all the reports of the Corona virus and lots of panic about it, I thought I would add a few thoughts about ways to reduce anxiety and panic.
In the latest edition of Brandler Bits, learn about Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD). SAD is depression which has seasonal components. Many people in the northeast have symptoms of SAD without having the diagnosis. Identify strategies to improve SAD.
This podcast was recorded as an episode in the “Friends in Recovery Podcast” series
The Podfather Mike Miles is away in Fiji leaving Jeff Zeizel and Ed Chionchio Sr to interview Dr. Jeff Brandler about his practice, podcast, and blog at www.changeIsPossible.org. Dr. Jeff uses many tools to help his clients deal with fear and anxiety like hypnosis, acupuncture, and bench marking “What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?” and “How does this situation compare with that?” He reminds his clients that things are “inconvenient not tragic” and that Action alleviates anxiety. Remember you or your loved one do not need to hit rock bottom to get help. Thought stopping Remember you or your loved one do not need to hit rock bottom to get help. If you or a loved one needs help reach out to our panel at Help@FriendsInRecoveryPodcast.com. There are also many ways to help someone that is suffering from addiction. There are professionals here to help you from staging an intervention to getting counseling as a family member. This and every Friends in Recovery Podcast is recorded live at the Studio 21 Podcast Café, is hosted on the United Podcast Network and is brought you by Genesis House.
According to the largest study ever conducted on personality disorders (PD) by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), 6.2% has NPD [Narcissistic Personalty Disorder](Stinson et al. 2008). Of the people meeting the criteria for NPD, 62 percent were men and 38 percent were women (Stinson et al. 2008).
Since 38 percent of NPDers are women, it would be good to know what makes them different.
Here is a nice behavioral list: (Walsh 2010: http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2010/06/28/relationshipstrategies/20-identifiable-traits-of-a-female-narcissist/)
- She dresses provocatively, flaunting sexually suggestive body parts.
- She focuses attention on makeup and hair, even for the most mundane tasks or events.
- She is overly confident about her looks. Research shows that narcissists are no more attractive than other people, but they believe they are much better looking than other women.
- She places high value on brand names, and feels entitled to wear “the best.” She frequently purchases new clothing, and does not distinguish between wants and needs.
- She is more likely to have plastic surgery, most commonly breast augmentation.
- She enjoys being photographed, and often asks others to snap her picture. She enthusiastically shares the best pics of herself on Facebook or other social media sites. She will sometimes invest in a professional photographer for a portrait that she uses on Facebook or for online dating.
- She insists on being the center of attention, and is often the most charming person in the room. Narcissists are very outgoing and excel at marketing themselves.
- She often seeks favorable treatment, and automatic compliance. She believes that she is special, and that she deserves fame, fortune, success and happiness.
- She is highly materialistic.
- She is prone to envy, though she presents as supremely confident. She seeks opportunities to undermine others, and enjoys sharing confidences about how the two of you are better than others.
- She is convinced that others are envious and jealous of her, and often uses this excuse for her lack of real, intimate friendships. When her friends enjoy successes of their own, she finds ways to punish them by downplaying their achievements.
- She lacks empathy, and even common courtesy at times. She puts others down, including you. She does not hesitate to exploit others.
- She is very competitive.
- She believes that she is intellectually superior to her peers.
- She blames others for problems. Narcissists don’t believe that they make mistakes, and lack the ability to process shame.
- She displays a haughty attitude when she lets her guard down or is confronted. She will act impatient, arrogant and condescending. She will often excuse her own shortcomings by claiming that others are pressuring her or expecting too much of her.
- She is dishonest and often lies to get what she wants. She will never admit this.
- She is “psycho:” She engages in risky behaviors, has an addictive personality, and is prone to aggressive behavior when rejected. (Note: This is most common with Histrionic Personality Disorder.)
- She is unpredictable in her moods and actions. You have trouble figuring out what she wants and where you stand.
- She is capable of short-term regret, and will apologize profusely if backed into a corner. However, she will quickly rationalize her behavior and return to narcissistic patterns.
A person does not have to have all 20 characteristics to meet NPD criteria
You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it
Royce White is a professional basketball player. At least he and his current employer, the NBA’s Houston Rockets want him to be one. Royce has yet to play a minute this season in spite of the fact that he was their number one draft pick. You may ask why is this? Royce White is challenging the Rockets and ultimately the NBA’s way of looking at mental illness. White has both Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obesessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD) and wants to have his own mental health Physician to determine if he is fit to play on game days. White sees mental illness and physical illness as the same and has asked the Rockets to see things his way. The Rockets just want him on the floor to shoot, rebound and score, the same traits that they saw in him in last year’s NCAA’s basketball tournament. The conflict between the Rockets and White has led him to be suspended by the team. Mr. White is stuck in a moment that he cannot get out of.
My definition of anxiety is that people with anxiety issues think way too much about things that most people don’t think about at all. On HBO’s Real Sports, White showed us his excessive thinking. He was obsessed with other people’s driving and texting. He shared about his fear of flying, and showed us his excessive organization of his closet. It’s very clear, after the Real Sports segment, that although White may be a great basketball player, it’s his anxiety that has placed him in his current position. This does not make him unique at all. Many clients that I’ve seen over the years are stuck in their anxiety. They have irrational thinking, avoid scary places, and feel terribly out of control. In addition, they are constantly having “what if” thinking about everything. The amazing part about my anxious clients is not their disorder, but how they change. Whether challenging their perceived “safety zone”, changing their thinking, or by taking healthy risks, they manage to step by step feel better and get better. It’s a fascinating journey from stuck to free.
Although he is stuck in a moment that he can’t get out of with his career, Royce White has great goals. He said during the interview that he wants to be a good person because he knows that anxiety can lead to alcoholism, drug addiction, homicide and suicide if not properly treated. I too have seen this phenomena about untreated illnesses leading to bigger problems. Perhaps Bono knew this as well since “Stuck in a Moment” is written about the deceased INXS singer Michael Hutchins who committed suicide. The Royce White’s of the world or any of my clients, need to know that if you are that stuck there is hope. The last line of the song gives us this- “It’s just a moment, this time will pass”
(The original version of this blog was written after Superstorm Sandy. It was a narrative of the events of the storm and the many feelings that were going on. The original was “written’ in my head at 5AM one day as I was hoping and praying to go back to sleep. Making a decision to not get up and write this at 5am in a house void of power and heat would have made a long day, longer. For people in new york, Hoboken, South Jersey and theJersey Shore, Sandy has been nothing but longer days. Although it makes me feel guilty for writing about my lost power and lost heat, these are my reflections and recollections of the “lost week”)
As everyone knows the date of October 29, 2012 will always be with us as the date that Superstorm Sandy (SSS)decimated much o fNJ, created havoc, chaos and unforeseen damage. Sss for people in northern NJ was a long drawn out process creating anticipation and anxiety. The beginnings of the stages of grief started that Monday,–there was denial—“they don’t know what they’re talking about, they’re always wrong”. As the storm progressed there was bargaining “ok the people in NY and in the shore, they’re getting it bad, maybe we’ll just have some rain and a little wind.” There was more denial, more bargaining and then darkness.
The darkness was the onset of many of the feelings we began to feel. Here are some of them;
1)anxiety, boredom, isolation
The darkness brought anticipatory anxiety– When will the power come back? How long will this last? Is there some place to go? The anxiety gave us ultimate powerlessness. We lacked control. Most people are used to structure, control, and predictability in their lives. When the rug gets pulled on these, you get lots of anxiety. This anxiety for many had physiological symptoms which made the anxiety worse. The worsening anxiety led to a decrease in functioning which made for a very bad time. In addition to anxiety, there was an increase in isolation. In the state of emergency that we were in, staying in was the only safe option. However, staying home in cold and dark homes increased the isolation, anxiety, and boredom. Once the state of emergency lifted, the gas crisis hit. The anxiety and isolation were multiplied because people were afraid to go far, fearful of having to be either without gas, or waiting on monster gas lines. So the alternative was to stay home. Staying in the dark and cold also increased our boredom. The boredom increased once 5pm happened since it was darker. The draining of energy due to anxiety, isolation and boredom became a new stressor due to the monotony of life.
2) anger, depression
As the days went on, people’s anger and frustration increased. JCP&L became an easy target. they were the bad guys, they messed up, how could they have dropped the ball again-after Hurricane Irene just one year earlier? Some of us vented this anger at JCP&L customer service reps(sorry) who were overmatched and underinformed.
People began to run out of gas for their generators and cars and searched for gas. People lined up for hours, at times based on only a rumor that a particular station would open. Other people started their search in the early morning trying to avoid the lines. Others sojourned to Pennsylvania where there was less impact by sss. Gas lines brought out the worst in people. There were fist fights, arguments, and more expressions of people’s total lack of control and ultimate panic.
Our lack of electrical power, left our electronic devices as a nice pieces of plastic with little value beyond that. Charging stations opened in all communities and although this should have increased hope, and decreased isolation, it actually increased frustration, anger and depression.
In addition, people spent a good amount of time at home avoiding gas lines, and seemingly increasing their safety and security. However, As the week went on, family members spent way too much time together. This caused frustration and tension and many conflicts within couples and families.
As bad as the anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, and isolation were, oddly, there were also positive things that happened as a result of the storm.
3) increased family connections
Family members talked and talked and talked. There were no technological distractions. People could share stories, events, and history of things that were rarely talked about. Kids played board(bored) games and cards. Some turned the experience into a camping trip using fireplaces and having that “roughing it” experience of camping.
4) people were nicer
As much as some people were short tempered, there was also a sense of community—we were all in this together. Everyone was compassionate about other people’s struggles. We wanted to listen to their stories about lack of power, heat, and water. In one local bagel place, it sounded like group therapy, with everyone sharing their particular issue. In addition, I heard many stories of neighbors helping neighbors with food, gas, tree cutting, running electrical extensions to generators. In the nicest and weirdest story, absolute strangers joining the cause to help others
5) people utilized skills that they typically wouldn’t
Many people used all of their “handy man skills”, especially when typically they don’t use them. Trees got cut, people rigged up ways to continue to survive. For me, I did the unthinkable, I waited on lines. I have a well know “line allergy”. I do not stand on checkout lines. In fact, I hardly go to stores. However in sss, I gratefully sat on a gas line, stood on line at dunkin donuts, waited for a table at a restaurant. I think this metamorphosis of my personality was in part due to a lack of things to do. Since I was unable to work due to the lack of power, these tasks became my new work. My goal for the day—get gas-check. Need warm beverages and food-check. Necessity and survival allow people to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.
The stages of grief—(denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) were all the stages we went through with sss. It was strange when acceptance occurred—all the energy used to fight the difficult feelings went away. It just was a situation that would eventually have an end, And it did. One month later we are all changed in some way by this storm. As 2012 comes to an end for us northern NJ people, we will think about our pain and hopefully be grateful that it’s over. In the other local areas, it will be a long time until their nightmare ends.
I usually associate many memories with music. Many of these songs are storm related, so it will take a while before people hear the following songs in quite the same way:
This one, however, captures my exact feelings and is the one I’ll hold onto for a long time:
Hope all of you have recovered from the storm. Please share your storm experiences.
A great video that explains how people will self-medicate to treat their illness
Frequently Asked Questions on Men’s Mental Health
Is there a connection between sports injuries and mental illness?
Research has shown us that mental illness is often a combination of environment and genetic predisposition. Some Boston University studies on retired athletes found that those who had had three or more concussions had a three-fold higher incidence of depression compared to players with fewer brain injuries.1 While these studies find so much in the physical, there is an important aspect that few are willing to expose: the devastating social stigma that comes with mental illness. This can be even crueler for men than for women, as our society idolizes professional athletes, as well as men in general some argue, for being tough, resilient and infallible.
Why are men less likely to seek treatment for mental illness than women?
Men may not recognize the primary symptoms of depression and may be reluctant to discuss these symptoms due to stigma, concerns for job security and the societal views associated with emotional self-control in men. There is a growing body of research in the United States that suggests that men are less likely than women to seek help from health professionals for problems as diverse as depression, substance abuse, physical disabilities and stressful life events.
Is there a connection between depression and testosterone levels in men?
Research has indicated that low testosterone levels have been linked with higher risk for depression in men.2 Approximately 2.5 million men in the U.S. have low testosterone levels, with about half a million new cases each year. Some of the symptoms of low testosterone, such as fatigue, irritability, decreased concentration and decreased libido, overlap with symptoms of major depression.
Do men experience depression differently than women?
Men can experience depression differently than women and have different ways of coping. Men may be more willing to report fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work or hobbies, and sleep disturbances rather than feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt, which are commonly associated with depression in women.
Do Men Experience Postpartum Depression?
In the past year, research has shown that men are also prone to depression after the birth of a child. The analysis of more than 28,000 fathers determined that up to 14% of dads in the U.S. experience depression after the birth of their child, and that figure escalates to 25% in the period 3 to 6 months after birth.3 Approximately10 percent of new fathers experience post- partum depression, called paternal postnatal depression, or PPND. The strong correlation of paternal postpartum depression with maternal postpartum depression has important implications for family health and well-being. Consideration of postpartum depression in fathers as well as mothers, and consideration of co-occurrence of depression in couples, is an important next step in research and practice involving childbearing families.4
Is there a substantial difference in the occurrence of suicide for men and women?
Women with depression are more likely to attempt suicide but men are more likely to die by suicide. Four times as many men as women die by suicide, even though women make more suicide attempts during their lives. Those at highest risk for suicide in the U.S. are the elderly, and particularly elderly white men who commit suicide at a rate of approximately 31.1 suicides per 100,000 each year. Among white males 65 and older, risk goes up with age. White men 85 and older have a suicide rate that is six times that of the overall national rate.5
How do body image issues and eating disorders play out in men?
Some men feel a lot of pressure to have a strong, muscular physique and may focus excessively on exercise and dieting. These preoccupations can turn to an obsessive nature, causing harm physically, profession- ally, and personally. People with body image issues may feel unhappy with how they look and feel self-conscious about their bodies.Men and women are affected equally, but may focus on different parts of the body. Men tend to worry more about their skin, hair, nose, muscles and genitals.6 An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male. Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are “women’s diseases.”7
1 American Association of Neuropathologists, Inc., Volume 68, Number 7
2 NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee Josee Savard, PhD: The Role of Hormone Therapy and Testoster- one Deficiency in the Development of Depression
in Men with Prostate Cancer
3 Journal of the American Medical Association, 2010
4 Medline.(PMID:14675298 [PubMed – indexed for
5 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
6 Carlat, D.J., Camargo. Review of Bulimia Nervosa in Males. American Journal of Psychiatry
7 National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Eating Disorder Statistics, (American Psyc
- Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Do not put entire focus on just one day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day) remember it is a season of holiday sentiment and activities can be spread out (time-wise) to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
- Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them. Leave “yesteryear” in the past and look toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Don’t set yourself up in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”
- Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some time to help others.
- Enjoy activities that are free, such as driving around to look at holiday decorations; going window shopping without buying; making a snowperson with children.
- Be aware that excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
- Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
- Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends or contact someone you have not heard from for awhile.
- Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share responsibility of activities.