Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Return Of #Anxiety Or #Depression

Recovery from anxiety or depression comes after sustained efforts.The road may be tortuous but the rewards are truly worth the toil.You are finally free of that feeling of foreboding and melancholy.Unfortunately recovery from depression or anxiety is sometimes not permanent.About 50% of the depressed persons achieve permanent cure while others may suffer a relapse or one more recurrences.

"Depression relapse" happens when a person slides back into depression during recovery from an earlier episode. Relapse is most likely to occur within 2 months of stopping treatment for a previous episode.
"Depression recurrence" happens when symptoms return months or years after a person has recovered from the last episode. This is most common within the first 6 months. Around 20 percent of people will experience a recurrence, but this can rise when depression is very severe.

Why this happens is worth examining:

1-Temperament:Recovery from a mental disorder signals that the sufferer must have incorporated  certain effective changes in his lifestyle along with medicine or psychotherapy-as the case may be-,which gave him relief.Whether it was the matter of confiding his worries to someone,discarding pessimism and negative self-talk,junking Cognitive Distortions,not overthinking about anything or adapting to and accepting the changed circumstances-something did click.

We are creatures of habit.We modify our behavior when our health is at stake but when life begins to run on an even keel we tend to slip into old habits.We discard the remedial measures which do not appeal to us but had been taken up under duress.A lethargic person will give up physical activity,exercise or meditation once he thinks he is cured,a workaholic may again ignore his personal life,while a person who tends to ruminate excessively will magnify even paltry problems. 

If someone sinks into the mold of behavior patterns which had earlier ignited the whole imbroglio,problems are bound to surface.The consequences are not apparent in the beginning but slowly the old symptoms return.In short,the changes which were adopted when the outlook was bleak are sometimes discarded after cure,thereby triggering a relapse or a recurrence. 

2-Premature cessation of treatment:Psychiatric medicines often have disagreeable side effects and some people discontinue the treatment before full remission.Even psychotherapy is sometimes junked as being too costly,time consuming or of little use.This too can cause a relapse of the disease.
It is necessary to differentiate between withdrawal symptoms due to abrupt cessation of medicine or a recurrence of the disorder.Psychiatric medicines should not be discontinued abruptly-this can give rise to withdrawal symptoms.It is best to phase them off under a doctor's guidance.

3-Hormonal changes in body:Hormonal changes because of puberty,pregnancy,child-birth,menopause,thyroid or some other condition sometimes precipitate the return of a mental disorder.

4-A major traumatic event:Any tragedy like death,disease,sudden loss of job or a painful breakup can also cause the recurrence of a mental ailment.But it is also possible that a person's sorrow after such an event may merely be a reflection of that event and may subside after a period of grieving which necessarily follows a major trauma.If that is the case then you only need some time and emotional support to reorient yourself. 

Whatever be the cause,it is important to be aware and accept that your mental health has deteriorated.Only then will you be ready to take remedial measures.Identify the red flags at the earliest so that the disease can be tackled before it digs deep roots.Remove the most glaring cause of your stress and also pinpoint that element in your behavior which is aggravating your depressive emotions.Scrutinize your lifestyle and identify what you are doing wrong.Easier said than done?Yes!But it will save you a lot of anguish if you can stem the progress of a mental disorder at the very beginning.

*Think back to the first episode.
*How did it start?
*What triggered it?
*Are the conditions similar today?
*What helped you shake off the symptoms then?*Take it up again.
*Assess your circumstances rationally.
*Close the door through which anxiety is trying to barge in.
*Maintain a healthy lifestyle comprising of a wholesome diet,regular exercise,enough sleep,a stable routine consisting of enough activity and connectivity with your family and friends.
*Take up again,the activities which you used to  enjoy.
*Steer clear of alcohol or illegal drugs.
*Go in for professional help if these self-help measures do not give you relief but don't just let the water flow beneath the bridge due to apathy or lethargy.

These are simple initiatives which can easily be adopted.Mental disorders have to be tackled proactively in order to obtain relief.A depressed mind itself sends contrary signals that this cannot be done but you have to choose judiciously between what is good for you and what is not.Rational choices will help you along and you will be home free.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Playing The Victim

Being a victim is no fun.We all know that.Yet some people do self-victimize.They blame external factors for their troubles and failures,proclaim to all that they are victims of circumstances or others' machinations and refuse to take responsibility for the way their life is going.

We can divide them into two categories.First we have genuine victims who have low self worth and a weak fighting spirit.Perhaps their early experiences or their genetic make up are responsible for this,but it does make them easy targets of predators.You will find them whining but making no attempts to fight against those who victimize them.They firmly believe that they are destined to live like this for ever.They may repeatedly get into abusive relationships and do nothing to protect themselves,whereas they should be setting boundaries and asserting themselves. The truth is,they enjoy the care and sympathy which is bestowed upon them because of their sorry state.They tend to go overboard with self pity.

The second kind should better be known as manipulators who will use their sob stories to influence others' thoughts,feelings and actions.In fact they are out to manipulate others in the garb of a victim.They bank on others' altruistic feelings to get what they want.

Or they may play the victim to justify their abuse of others.Some shirks project a picture of "poor old me" so that the most cumbersome tasks are shouldered by others while they enjoy an easy life.But these tactics have a short life.Eventually people see through them and leave them to their own devices-or to pick up other gullible souls.     

In fact playing the victim is not productive for anyone.Even if you are the first kind you cannot advance in life if you are always harping upon your bad luck.Your public image will be that of a weakling who is for ever lamenting about this or that.You will lead a substandard,lonely life,your potential undiscovered.

And as far as the second kind is concerned, this kind of manipulation is detected very soon.It is enough to push away friends and family and you are on your own after that.What's more,you will also be labeled as a selfish,conniving exploiter.

How to deal with the self-victimizers?On one hand it is inhuman to ignore someone who is going through a bad phase,on the other hand, that someone could be faking it to con you.Besides,giving empathetic support has a shelf life.It can be very draining.You cannot interminably listen to some one's complaints without neglecting your own schedules or being distressed yourself.A better approach is to guide the real victims to see how they are neglecting their own safety and welfare,and support them while they fight their demons.

Self-victimization is antithetical to a  rich fulfilling life.It deprives the 'victims' of the joy of victory,of overcoming hurdles and making progress.It only gives them temporary solace,self pity,stagnation and derision in return.Ultimately it boils down to this:-
Why play it then?

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Seven #Mantras Which Drive Me

We imbibe certain ideas of right and wrong through watching our parents since the day we are born.As we grow up the extended family,teachers and peer group add to that list.Subsequent experiences prompt us to refresh this list according to our own judgement and requirements.We discard the principles which we think are spurious or won't help us advance in life and continue to deploy those which hold value or utility for us.These become our life mantras.They hold us together.Abiding by them adds to our sense of self-worth,a satisfaction of having done the right thing.

Let me share a few of my life mantras:--
Honesty is the best policy
I imbibed this from my father,he did not have to say it in so many words.I saw how upright he was and how it fetched him respect and insulated him from unnecessary complications and decided that it was the best policy indeed.It also obviates the necessity of having to lie left,right and center,which incidentally,is something I dislike immensely.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be
This too was my father's dictum.It included not only borrowing from friends or family but also taking loans from banks.I know the latter is totally against the current ethos but it is what I believe in.When we desist from taking loans we try to live within our means.We learn to curb reckless consumerism.This also entails saving and neither wasting nor splurging.As far as lending is concerned I prefer giving charity to needy persons.Lending money to friends or family can spoil the relationships.
Respect all humans
When we do well in life,attain a notable status,a kind of superiority permeats our thinking.We look down upon those who are below us.It boosts our ego but it hurts those whom we disparage.If ever I am tempted to spurn someone I remind myself that "There,but for the grace of God,go I." Those who are low in hierarchy have to put up with enough ignominy without us adding to it.The true test of anyone's character is how s/he treats those who are below them.
Duty first
This principle is important for me because as I see it,I enjoy many rights and privileges for which I should be thankful to individuals far and near;consequently I too must fulfill my responsibilities and do what is expected of me.If everyone did this,relationships would bloom and ease of living too,would improve.In the context of family of course this principle is of inestimable value.
The law of karma
This dictum has religious sanctity as we all know,but it also makes sense from a practical point of view.The fear of having to reap the consequences of our actions,impels most of us to refrain from committing willful misdeeds.It is an inbuilt mechanism which promotes good behavior.
Superstitions and elaborate rituals
I lean towards logic therefore if any superstition crosses my mind I scrap it then and there.As far as elaborate rituals and external symbols of faith are concerned I don't consider them important.Going to temples and holy places too does not enthuse me.God is omnipresent,I can connect with him at any time and place.I care more about ethics and morality.
Whatever happens,happens for the best
Any setback,catastrophe,disaster or misfortune naturally causes a lot of distress and turmoil.But such events do have some hidden benefits.They help us to evolve,which I believe is the sole purpose of life.We analyse what went wrong,where we erred,and remove our shortcomings.Adverse circumstances promote stoicism and teach us how to overcome our difficulties.This is how we become strong,skillful and resilient.There is lesser frustration and more of action.

These seven principles have become an inseparable part of my thinking.Early experiences plus existential needs have a huge impact on what we believe in and your mantras might be different from mine.I would love to know them.Do share.