6 Things Adults With Childhood Emotional Neglect Need to be Happy

Author Article

Funny thing about people who grow up with Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN): they go through their entire adult lives with a set of requirements for happiness in their minds. But sadly, those requirements end up keeping them from being happy.

CEN folks don’t know it, but the things they think will make them happy have little to do with their actual happiness. In fact, their notion of happiness is mostly about protecting themselves.

Growing up with your feelings unvalidated (Childhood Emotional Neglect) sets you up to feel that there is something wrong with you for simply having normal human feelings. Then, moving through your adulthood, you then feel you must not only protect yourself from your own feelings and needs but also hide them from others.

The 6 Things CEN People Think They Need to be Happy   

  1. To be 100% self-reliant: The child of Emotional Neglect looks to his parents for emotional support and validation but, too often, no one is looking back. This is how he learns that asking for help is wrong. This is why the child, once a CEN adult, believes that his own happiness depends on his own self and no one else, and feels very vulnerable about asking or accepting help. From anyone.
  2. To never, ever, ever appear emotional or needy: Yes, the CEN adult judges her own feelings and emotional needs as a weakness. So she naturally assumes that everyone else will judge her the same way. I have seen CEN people try to hide their desire to find a spouse, conceal the warm feelings they feel toward a friend, or try hard to conceal their hurt feelings from the person who hurt them.
  3. To make no mistakes: CEN folks are highly tolerant of other people’s mistakes, but when it comes to themselves, the opposite is true. I have told many of my CEN clients that they expect themselves to be superhuman and never make mistakes.
  4. To not be asked about their feelings: The CEN man or woman lives in dread of their spouse asking them what they feel. To them, that question seems intrusive, impossible, and perhaps just plain wrong. “As long as no one asks me, I’ll be happy,” they tell themselves.
  5. To have no conflict: CEN people tend to avoid conflict. Conflict feels threatening because it requires skills they don’t have enough of, like identifying their own feelings and expressing them with an awareness of the other person’s feelings too. It’s not the fault of the emotionally neglected child that he did not learn those complex skills. His parents simply didn’t teach him.
  6. To keep most people in their lives at a distance: Deep down, the CEN person harbors a fear that something is wrong with her. She’s not sure what it is, and she can’t put it into words, but one thing she does know is that she doesn’t want anyone else to see it. So she keeps herself shut down, or walled off, to prevent anyone from getting too close. “As long as no one sees my flaws, I’ll be happy,” she tells herself.

What CEN People Actually Need To Be Truly Happy

  1. To ask for help, and accept it: To really be happy, you can learn the beauty of mutual dependence, and the empowerment of accepting support from others who care. Taking the risk to ask for help and accept it opens doors to validation, comfort, and solace that only makes you stronger, not weaker as you have always believed.
  2. To accept your own needs as valid and real: Your parents taught you that you have no right to have emotional needs. But when you try to deny or hide them, you are denying and hiding your deepest self, and this can never make you happy. Accepting your feelings and needs will allow you to honor and express yourself in a way that can lead to true happiness.
  3. To learn the voice of compassionate accountability, and use it: “It’s OK, nobody’s perfect,” you might say to a friend. And now, it’s time to turn your compassion toward yourself. You can learn to talk yourself through mistakes so that you grow from them, while also holding in your mind the reality that everyone makes errors. This is the voice of compassionate accountability, and it will set you free.
  4. To become comfortable identifying and sharing your feelings: Learning these skills gives you a new way of managing difficult feelings. That’s because naming a feeling immediately takes some of its power away. It also gives you the ability to think about that feeling, begin processing it, and finally, if needed, share it. The better you can do this, the deeper and more rewarding your relationships can be.
  5. To view conflict as a normal part of life: Conflicts are the opposite of avoidable, because when you avoid them, they only fester, making matters worse. When you view conflict as an opportunity to work out problems, you can start addressing problems directly when they occur. This gives you the ability to make your relationships stronger, and make you overall happier.
  6. To let the people in your life get closer to you: Research shows that human connection is one of the life factors that contributes the most to human happiness (and perhaps even the top one). So the harder you work on these six areas of your life, the more you will notice that instead of draining you as they always have, your relationships are now actually giving you energy.

These 6 Things Are Not as Hard as You Think

The most difficult thing about these six things boils down to three things: taking risks, tolerating making yourself vulnerable, and doing things that feel, on some level, wrong. But it’s important to recognize that you’ve been walking the path your parents set for you for years. It’s not your fault; it just is.

To make these changes, you will need to make a choice to take a new and different path. A path that feels unfamiliar, yes. Vulnerable, yes. Wrong, yes.

But it’s a path that will heal the effects of the Emotional Neglect you were raised with and offer you the true, connected happiness that you’ve always deserved.

Childhood Emotional Neglect can be difficult to see and remember. To find out if it affects you, Take The CEN Questionnaire. It’s free.

For help learning how to identify, name and process your feelings, see the book Running On Empty. For help with improving your relationships, see the book Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships.

5 Thoughts That Are Making Your Work Day Harder Than It Needs To Be

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PHOTO: ALEXANDER MILS

Whether you work in a traditional office environment or in a more freeform professional atmosphere, the way you personally frame interactions and activities in your mind contributes enormously to your overall career satisfaction. According to Inc. journalist Jessica Stillman, 5 particular thought patterns can interrupt your progress and stifle your ability to find fulfillment in any situation, including in the workplace.

Here, you’ll find the mental scripts to avoid at work and what to do instead.


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1. “It’s about me.”

To a certain extent, we as human beings take every interaction personally. That’s natural and normal. But in the workplace, it’s important to remember that your individual thoughts and feelings aren’t always central to professional discussions. So if your colleague responds to a question more brusquely than you’d like, don’t assume that she dislikes you or that you’ve done something to upset her. She may just be stressed and overworked in ways that have little or nothing to do with you. Keeping perspective on these circumstances will go a long way toward keeping you centered and focused.

2. “This has to be perfect.”

If you constantly strive for excellence at work and feel disappointed if a project turns out less-than-perfect, you may fall victim to an “all or nothing” mentality that can ultimately undermine your professional progress. Remember that there’s no such thing as a flawless triumph, and as long as you’re investing effort and resources in your job-related tasks, you’re setting yourself and your company up for success.

3. “I’m not happy, so it’s not worth it.”

In her piece, Stillman mentions the current cultural fixation on “happiness,” “wellness,” and “joy,” positing that many Americans see these emotions as the be-all-and-end-all of satisfaction and dismiss anything that doesn’t fall into those categories. However, difficult situations and challenging scenarios come with the territory of almost any professional workplace. If you can accept those not-so-fun realities and handle them with aplomb, you’ll be well-positioned for future happiness at work.

4. “Becky is right, this all stinks.”

We’ve all worked in atmospheres populated by dramatic colleagues and tactless managers. These make for a tough office climate, but telling yourself that you won’t fall victim to the negativity of others will keep you motivated and will allow you to focus on the parts of your job that bring you satisfaction.

5. “I’m too stressed to exercise/eat well/sleep more.”

When in the throes of work-related chaos, it’s easy to let your health fall by the wayside. Sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, too much caffeine…that’s all part of the deal, right? Well, it shouldn’t be. Keeping yourself as strong and physically healthy as possible positively affects every aspect of your life, including your work performance. Make these goals the priorities they deserve to be.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.

5 Ways Bosses Can Reduce the Stigma of Mental Health at Work

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Experts tell us that one in four adults will struggle with a mental health issue during his or her lifetime. At work, those suffering — from clinical conditions or more minor ones — often hide it for fear that they may face discrimination from peers or even bosses. These stigmas can and must be overcome. But it takes more than policies set at the top. It also requires empathetic action from managers on the ground.

We count ourselves among those who have wrestled with mental health challenges. One morning a few years ago, in the midst of a successful year, Jen couldn’t get out of bed. As a driven professional, she had ignored all the warning signs that she was experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But her mentor, Diana, could see something was wrong, and when Jen couldn’t come to work, the gravity of the situation became even clearer. In the ensuing weeks, we worked together to get Jen the help she needed.

Diana understood Jen’s struggles because she had been there, too — not with PTSD but with anxiety. As the mother of adult triplets with autism and a busy job, she’d often had difficulty managing things in her own life.

Throughout both of our careers, we have moved across the spectrum of mental health from thriving to barely hanging on, and somewhere in between. What we’ve learned through our own experiences is how much managerial support matters.

When bosses understand mental health issues — and how to respond to them — it can make all the difference for an employee professionally and personally. This involves taking notice, offering a helping hand, and saying “I’m here, I have your back, you are not alone.”

That’s exactly what Jen said when a coworker told her that he was grappling with anxiety; it had gotten to the point where it was starting to impact his work and his relationships at home. He came to her because she’d been open about her own struggles. She listened to him, worked to understand what accommodations he needed, and told him about available resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs. Then she continued to check in to see he was getting support he needed and make it clear that she and others were there to help.

How do you learn or teach the people on your team to address colleagues’ or direct reports’ mental health issues in the same way? Here are five ways managers can help drive a more empathetic culture:

Pay attention to language. We all need to be aware of the words we use that can contribute to stigmatizing mental health issues: “Mr. OCD is at it again — organizing everything.” “She’s totally schizo today!” “He is being so bi-polar this week — one minute he’s up, the next he’s down.” We’ve heard comments like these, maybe even made them ourselves. But through the ears of a colleague who has a mental health challenge, they can sound like indictments. Would you open up about a disorder or tell your team leader you needed time to see a therapist after hearing these words?

Rethink “sick days.” If you have cancer, no one says, “Let’s just push through” or “Can you learn to deal with it?” They recognize that it’s an illness and you’ll need to take time off to treat it. If you have the flu, your manager will tell you to go home and rest. But few people in business would react to emotional outbursts or other signs of stress, anxiety, or manic behavior in the same way. We need to get more comfortable with the idea of suggesting and requesting days to focus on improving mental as well as physical health.

Encourage open and honest conversations. It’s important to create safe spaces for people to talk about their own challenges, past and present, without fear of being called “unstable” or passed up for the next big project or promotion. Employees shouldn’t fear that they will be judged or excluded if they open up in this way. Leaders can set the tone for this by sharing their own experiences, as we’ve done, or stories of other people who have struggled with mental health issues, gotten help and resumed successful careers. They should also explicitly encourage everyone to speak up when feeling overwhelmed or in need.

Be proactive. Not all stress is bad, and people in high-pressure careers often grow accustomed to it or develop coping mechanisms. However, prolonged unmanageable stress can contribute to worsening symptoms of mental illness. How can managers ensure their employees are finding the right balance? By offering access to programs, resources, and education on stress management and resilience-building. In our marketplace survey on employee burnout, nearly 70 percent of respondents said that their employers were not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout. Bosses need to do a better job of helping their employees connect to resources before stress leads to more serious problems.

Train people to notice and respond. Most offices keep a medical kit around in case someone needs a bandage or an aspirin. We’ve also begun to train our people in Mental Health First Aid, a national program proven to increase people’s ability to recognize the signs of someone who may be struggling with a mental health challenge and connect them to support resources. Through role plays and other activities, they offer guidance in how to listen non-judgmentally, offer reassurance, and assess the risk of suicide or self-harm when, for example, a colleague is suffering a panic attack or reacting to a traumatic event. These can be difficult, emotionally charged conversations, and they can come at unexpected times, so it’s important to be ready for them.

When your people are struggling, you want them to be able to open up and ask for help. These five strategies can help any boss or organization create a culture that ceases to stigmatize mental illness.

I spent six years learning to be the perfect, proper young woman I was told I would always grow up to become. The desire to conform never wavered. I came into the school a 15-year-old girl who was instantly mesmerised by the way the girls would shout across the aisles on the school bus. Everyone…

via Things I Wish Someone Told Me In High School — Thought Catalog

Here’s Why Your Job Is Causing You Stress And What You Can Do

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Americans are collectively dissatisfied with their professions.According to a recent Gallup study, 51% of US workers don’t feel any kind of meaningful connection to their careers – with 16% outing their dejection as the author of their poor performances.

Because we devote so much time to the thing that pays our bills (92,120 hours over the course of a lifetime to be exact)  our sense of self-worth has become beclouded. Of course, a delusion of purpose operates with a great many other components.

Let’s dissect.

Aimless and undervalued

A general crisis of professional identity has been brewing for some time. Ladders has previously reported about how “a lack of recognition” is one of the primary factors that seduce many young workers into a perpetual state of career readjustment:

“The 2017 Mind the Workplace report, released by the nonprofit group Mental Health America (MHA) and The Faas Foundation, surveyed more than 17,000 U.S. workers in 19 industries and found that 71% were either “actively looking for new job opportunities” or had the topic on their minds “always, often or sometimes” at work.”

On balance, Millennials believe their wages to be a poor representation of the work they put in–this poses a huge problem. Validation rivals most monetary incentives from where I sit, especially to those of us being compensating for doing the things we’re passionate about. A failure on the employers part to satisfy pangs of ego (not that they ought to) seems to be resulting in workers miserably submitting to mediocrity in the fields they’re falling out of love with.

recently wrote about the effect the college myth has had on our evaluation of meaningful careers. The erroneous equivocation of degrees and wages, caused many people to lose sight of what it was they needed to feel satisfied at work – when education becomes a means to economic stability, identity tends to get lost in the exchange.

There is a wealth of reasons to be miserable at work outside of the existential ones, of course. Factors like the commute, stagnation, your coworkers, your boss, long-hours,  also play crucial roles over time.

Performative workaholism and pervasive career malaise have melded, giving way to the most depressed labor ecosystem in decades. In a recent study, 63% of Americans said that their job caused them to engage in unhealthy behavior, like crying and or drinking. Work-related stress also rivals diabetes as a heart disease risk factor.

Care about your job, Be passionate about yourself

According to and 

The book mentions 7 key authors of our daily work anxiety, Fosslien and Mollie call them the “7 deadly stresses:” obsessing about email on vacation, the scope creep (continuous arbitrary growth in a project’s scope), unpredictable schedules, the information firehouse, sleep deprivation, unrealistic deadlines, and social isolation.

On the subject, they state: “Letting your job consume you is unhelpful and unhealthy. It makes small problems seem exceptional and places too much emphasis on casual conversations and interactions.”

They believe that caring less is not only personally relieving, it also makes you less likely to produce panicky incompetent work. The same impulse that will see you turn off your phone so that you can be more engaged in your life outside of work, will dually foster a clear and level headed mind ready to be productive the following morning. They emphasize that being “less passionate” about work doesn’t mean not caring; you should simply care about yourself more.

When you leave work, they suggest you ensure you truly “leave” by adhering to these helpful stipulations: only touch email once, allow one day a week to be completely dedicated to catching up (don’t take on any new task), make room for mini-breaks, and establish an after-work ritual, like bike riding home – something that can serve both mental and physical stimulation.

Unwanted Thoughts? Don’t Try to Suppress Them

Author Article

Consider every long song you hear on the radio. How many begin or end with the lyrics, “I can’t get you out of mind”? The human brain is conditioned to obsess — its negative bias makes us worry and fret. Despite our valiant efforts to shift our thoughts, they follow us into the shower and to work meetings.

The Untamed Thought

It’s time to accept the good/bad news: Thought suppression doesn’t work. The harder you try to eliminate something from your mind, the more likely it will stalk you.

1943 study published in the Social Science Research Council Bulletin, for example, found that people instructed to avoid making color associations with stimulus words were unable to stop the associations, even when threatened with shock for doing so.

More recently, Gordan Logan and Carol Barber published a study in the Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, detailing an experiment to determine whether a stop-signal procedure is sensitive enough to detect the presence of inhibited thoughts. Their results showed that the stop-signal can, in fact, pick up on inhibited thoughts, even when a person is immersed in a complex task.

The White Bear Study

By far the most famous and fascinating study on thought suppression was the one led by Daniel Wegner in 1987, published in the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. Wegner, a social psychologist, wanted to test a quote he came across in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Winter Notes on Summer Suppression,” which said, “Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.”

Wegner conducted an experiment where he asked participants to verbalize their stream of consciousness for five minutes, while not thinking of a white bear. Every time a white bear popped into their thoughts, they were to ring a bell. How many times did the participants ring a bell? On average more than once per minute. That’s a lot of bears.

They then did the same exercise but were asked to think of a white bear. Interestingly enough the group that was originally told not to think of a white bear had far more white-bear thoughts than the group that was never given the first instructions. Apparently the act of suppressing the thought in the first exercise stimulated the brains of the folks in the first group to think of white bears even more often.

Strategies for Unwanted Thoughts

From that study, Wegner went on to develop his theory of “ironic processes” that explains why it’s so hard to tame unwanted thoughts. He conceded that when we try not to think of something, part of our brain cooperates while the other part ensures the thought won’t surface, thereby causing the thought to be even more prominent. While presenting his theory to audiences across the country, people would ask him, “Then what do we do?” In response, he compiled a few strategies to tame unwanted thoughts. Among them:

  • Choose a distractor and focus on that. If you’re given two things to think about, your concentration is fractured, and will give your brain a small break from focusing on the unwanted thought. For example, think of a white bear and a zebra at the same time and see what happens.
  • Postpone the thought. Set aside an “obsession time,” whereby you allow yourself to think about the forbidden thought all you want. Theoretically, this frees up your other minutes. I found the strategy helpful for mild-to-moderate ruminations, but not with severe.
  • Cut back on multitasking. Studies consistently show that multitaskers make more mistakes. However, Wegner asserts that multitasking also leads to more unwanted thoughts. More specifically, his studies show that an increased mental load increases thoughts of death.
  • Think about it. Like the “postpone the thought” strategy, this is a form of exposure therapy where you allow yourself to face your fear in a controlled way. According to Wegner, when you allow yourself the freedom to think the thought, your brain doesn’t feel obligated to check in on removing it, and therefore doesn’t send it to your consciousness.
  • Meditation and mindfulness. Whenever possible stay in the present moment, connect with your breath, and try to calm yourself. However, don’t make the white bear angry by forcing meditation and mindfulness.

The next time a white bear or any other unwanted thought pops into your noggin, don’t fight it. Consider its soft fur, sharp claws, or clumsy run.

Thought suppression doesn’t work. May this truth set you free.

Here’s What Household Clutter Does To Your Brain And Body

See Author Article Here
By Libby Sander

Many of us have started the year determined to be more organised: no more drawers full of plastic containers with missing lids, or lone socks.

The decluttering craze is led by Japanese tidying aficionado Marie Kondo, author of a New York Times bestseller and Netflix show Tidying Up.

Marie Kondo

@MarieKondo

My @netflix show, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” premieres today! I hope the series sparks joy for you all and inspires a tidy start to the new year.

Add the show to your Netflix watch list here » https://www.netflix.com/Kids/title/80209379 

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Charity groups such as St Vincent de Paul are reporting a 38% increase in donations, year on year, as we get rid of the clothes, books and household items that don’t “spark joy” or have a place in our future.

And there is good reason to get on board, whether it’s via the KonMari method, or just having a good clear-out. Clutter can affect our anxiety levels, sleep, and ability to focus.

It can also make us less productive, triggering coping and avoidance strategiesthat make us more likely to snack on junk and watch TV shows (including ones about other people decluttering their lives).

My own research shows our physical environments significantly influence our cognition, emotions and subsequent behaviours, including our relationships with others.

Why clutter is bad for your brain

Bursting cupboards and piles of paper stacked around the house may seem harmless enough. But research shows disorganisation and clutter have a cumulative effect on our brains.

Image: The Journal of Neuroscience

Our brains like order, and constant visual reminders of disorganisation drain our cognitive resources, reducing our ability to focus.

The visual distraction of clutter increases cognitive overload and can reduce our working memory.

 Look familiar?

Look familiar?
Image: Phossil/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

In 2011, neuroscience researchers using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and other physiological measurements found clearing clutter from the home and work environment resulted in a better ability to focus and process information, as well as increased productivity.

And your physical and mental health

Clutter can make us feel stressed, anxious and depressed. Research from the United States in 2009, for instance, found the levels of the stress hormone cortisol were higher in mothers whose home environment was cluttered.

A chronically cluttered home environment can lead to a constant low-grade fight or flight response, taxing our resources designed for survival.

 We produce more stress hormones when we’re surrounded by clutter.

We produce more stress hormones when we’re surrounded by clutter.
Image: Jason Leung

This response can trigger physical and psychological changes that affect how we fight bugs and digest food, as well as leaving us at greater risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Clutter might also have implications for our relationships with those around us. A 2016 US study, for instance, found background clutter resulted in participants being less able to correctly interpret the emotional expressions on the faces of characters in a movie.

And surprisingly, it doesn’t go away when we finally get to bed. People who sleep in cluttered rooms are more likely to have sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep and being disturbed during the night.

Could clutter really make us fat?

Multiple studies have found a link between clutter and poor eating choices.

Disorganised and messy environments led participants in one study to eat more snacks, eating twice as many cookies than participants in an organised kitchen environment.

Other research has shown that being in a messy room will make you twice as likely to eat a chocolate bar than an apple.

Finally, people with extremely cluttered homes are 77% more likely to be overweight.

Tidy homes have been found to be a predictor of physical health. Participants whose houses were cleaner were more active and had better physical health, according to another study.

Hoarding can cause physical pain

Buying more and more things we think we need, and then not getting rid of them, is an actual disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). According to DSM-V, those with hoarding disorder compulsively acquire possessions on an ongoing basis and experience anxiety and mental anguish when they are thrown away.

A Yale study using fMRI showed that for people who have hoarding tendencies, discarding items can cause actual pain in regions of the brain associated with physical pain. Areas of the brain were activated that are also responsible for the pain you feel when slamming a finger in a door or burning your hand on the stove.

People who suspect they have hoarding disorder can take heart: cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment.

Tidy house, happy life?

Participants in Marie Kondo’s Netflix show Tidying Up report that her decluttering method changes their lives for the better. Indeed, her first book was called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Research does indeed show cluttered home environments negatively influence the perception of our homes, and ultimately our satisfaction of life. The study authors note the strong effect is because we define “home” not just as a place to live, but as “the broader constellation of experiences, meanings, and situations that shape and are actively shaped by a person in the creation of his or her lifeworld.”

But it seems clutter isn’t always bad. One study showed messy desks can make us more creative. The findings suggested neat, ordered environments make us more likely to conform to expectations and play it safe, while messy ones move us to break with the norm and look at things in a new way.

If You’re Often Angry Or Irritable, You May Be Depressed

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By

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Registered nurse Ebony Monroe of Houston recently went through a period of being quick to anger about every little thing. She didn’t realize then what it might mean for her health.

“If you had told me in the beginning that my irritability was related to depression, I would probably be livid,” Monroe says with a laugh. “I did not think irritability aligned with depression.”

She’s not alone. Many people — including physicians — associate depression with feelings of hopelessness, sadness and a lack of motivation or concentration, but not anger. Some researchers say that’s a problem, given that there appears to be a strong link between irritability and depression.

If you pick up what is often called the “bible of psychiatry,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you’ll find that the list of core symptoms for major depression doesn’t include anger.

“It’s not included at all in the adult classification of depression,” says Dr. Maurizio Fava, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School.

But he points out that irritability — a reduced control over one’s temper that results in angry outbursts — is listed as a core symptom of depression for children and adolescents. It has never made sense to him that it’s not included for adults. “Why would someone who happens to be irritable and angry when depressed as an adolescent suddenly stop being angry at age 18?” he asks.

Anger is an emotional and physical feeling that makes people want to warn, intimidate or attack a person who is perceived as threatening. Fava says a depressed adult with lots of anger is often assumed to have bipolar disorder or a personality disorder.

“We see in our clinics patients who are labeled as having other diagnoses because people think, ‘Well, you shouldn’t be so angry if you are depressed,’ ” says Fava. The diagnosis matters because it affects the kind of treatment people get.

Back when he was trained decades ago, Fava says, he was taught that in depression, anger is projected inward — that depressed people would be angry at themselves but not at others. That didn’t match what he was seeing in a lot of his patients with depression.

“I would say 1 in 3 patients would report to me that they would lose their temper, they would get angry, they would throw things or yell and scream or slam the door,” says Fava. Afterward, these people would be filled with remorse.

Fava thinks these “anger attacks” may be a phenomenon that is similar to panic attacks. His research found that this kind of anger subsided in the majority of patients treated with antidepressants.

Psychiatry has carefully studied how anxiety and depressed mood are experienced by patients, notes Fava, but anger has been relatively neglected. “I don’t think that we have really examined all the variables and all the levels of anger dysregulation that people experience,” he says.

That view is shared by Dr. Mark Zimmerman, a professor of psychiatry at Brown University. “The field has not sufficiently attended to problems with anger,” says Zimmerman.

“The most frequently used scales to evaluate whether or not medications work for treating depression don’t have any anger-specific items,” he notes.

Yet Zimmerman says clinicians frequently see increased anger in people who come to doctors seeking help. “Irritability is not that much less frequent than sadness and anxiety in patients who are presenting for psychiatric treatment,” he says.

Zimmerman and some colleagues recently surveyed thousands of patients who were making their first visit to the Rhode Island Hospital’s outpatient psychiatric practice. All were asked about the level of anger they had felt or expressed in the preceding week.

“Two-thirds of individuals reported notable irritability and anger,” he says, “and approximately half reported it at a moderate or severe level.”

Another large study by a different research group looked at more than 500 people who had been diagnosed with major depression. It found that more than half showed “overt irritability/anger,” and that this anger and irritability appeared to be associated with more severe, chronic depression.

Monroe, the nurse, was lucky enough to have a concerned friend who gently suggested that maybe she should talk to someone. “The way that she approached me decreased that wall of anger and anxiety,” says Monroe, “and that’s when I decided to seek the help.”

Monroe came to realize that traumatic events from her childhood had left her depressed and full of unresolved anger. With nowhere for that anger to go, she was lashing out at loved ones like her sister and husband. “So they caught the back end of my irritability when, in fact, they had nothing to do with the source of it,” she says.

After about a year of counseling, her life has improved a lot, Monroe says. She now works with a group called Families for Depression Awareness to help others recognize the signs of depression. Its list of symptoms that families should watch for includes “picking fights, being irritable, critical, or mean.”

Still, people with depression can have a hard time recognizing this in their own lives.

When I called up the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance to ask about anger, I reached its communications person, Kevin Einbinder. He initially thought to himself, “I’m sure somebody else certainly deals with anger, but I don’t have anger issues associated with depression.”

Then he started reflecting on his life with depression over the past three decades. “I thought of all the people in my life who have interacted with me — my family, the counselors, psychiatrists, even employers, significant others,” he says, “and I realized that anger was an underlying factor in all those relationships.”

For example, he used to use caustic, sarcastic humor to put people down. “This really drove people away,” says Einbinder. He also recalls sending angry emails late at night after lying awake and ruminating about things that had happened during the day. A counselor helped him see why this wasn’t such a good way to handle problems.

Overall, though, he and his caregivers never focused on anger.

In hindsight, he says, he really wishes they had.

“I think that would have provided a tremendous amount of context for what’s adding to my depression and in helping me, early on in my life, with more effective coping mechanisms,” Einbinder says.

With medication and therapy, he is doing much better now. Einbinder hopes that sharing his experiences will help people understand that if they’re dealing with depression and anger, “they’re not alone and there’s loads of resources out there.”

Life Sucks When You Are Too Anxious To Socialize

See Author Article Here
By Holly Riordan

When you are too anxious to socialize, you sit around waiting for a text message to come through your screen because you are too nervous to send the first text yourself. When no one reaches out to you, you feel isolated. Alone. Abandoned. While staring at a blank screen, the little voice in the back of your head mocks you. It convinces you no one likes you, no one cares, no one notices when you are not around. The longer you spend on the own, the more you convince yourself you are always going to be alone.

Of course, if someone does happen to text you, you are going to be smacked with stress. You are going to waste time trying to come up with the perfect reply, trying to find the right emoji, trying to figure out how to strike a balance between being friendly and clingy. Since you only have a scattering of social interactions throughout the week, each one seems like a big deal. If one goes wrong, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. You won’t be able to handle the embarrassment.

When you are too anxious to socialize, the idea of being invited to a party is as horrifying as the idea of being the only one not invited. You are never satisfied. You are either alone in your bedroom, wishing you were out with friends. Or you are surrounded by people, wishing you could crawl back underneath your covers.

You are a living contradiction. You cannot stand the boredom of being alone — but you cannot stand the stress of being around other people either. You do not want to spend the weekend all by yourself — but you do not want to spend it at a crowded bar or a noisy party either.

When you are too anxious to socialize, you become your own best friend. You spend most of your time finding new ways to keep yourself occupied. You distract yourself with books and movies. You try to ignore your growing loneliness. You tell yourself you are better off on your own as a way to protect yourself, as a way to stop feeling so miserable about having no one to invite over on weekends or text after work hours.

When you’re too anxious to socialize, it’s easy to start thinking less of yourself. It’s easy to start wondering whether you are worthy of love or friendship. It’s easy to allow your insecurities to get the best of you. However, you have to remember no one is judging you as harshly as you have been judging yourself. No one is going to examine the words you type in a text or the facial expressions you make in a conversation as deeply as you have been. No one is going to care about your ‘mistakes’ as much as you think. Most people will not even notice them.

When you’re too anxious to socialize, you need to break out of your comfort zone in order to achieve happiness — otherwise you are going to stay stuck in your routine forever, wishing you had the courage to make a change.

A Surprisingly Easy Way To Become Happier

See Forbes Article Here
By Peter Ubel

GETTY

What makes people happy? A load of studies tell us that human interaction is key to our happiness. But what kind of interactions matter?  And does interaction increase everyone’s happiness, or is it something primarily beneficial to extraverts?

A fantastic study set out to answer these questions. In the study, researchers audio-recorded random times in people’s daily lives, and had research assistants figure out how often people were either: (1) alone; (2) engaged in small talk; or (3) engaged in substantive conversation. They also measured people’s life satisfaction.

They conducted the study in four groups of people: college students; people with cancer and their spouses; adults who were in a meditation trial; and recently divorced or separated adults.

Want to guess what makes people happy?

It’s not being alone. The more time people were alone, the less satisfied they were with their lives:

Posterior Bayesian point estimates for the associations between life satisfaction and spending time alone

It’s not small talk. Being engaged in such conversations wasn’t associated with an increase in life satisfaction:

Posterior Bayesian point estimates for the association between small talkPSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE

On the other hand, holding substantive conversations was associated with a significant increase in life satisfaction, in virtually every group of people they studied:

Posterior Bayesian point estimates for the association between substantive conversationPSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE

I expect some of you are thinking that social interaction is fine for the happiness of extraverts, but probably won’t work for introverts. But here the researchers found a result that might surprise you: substantive conversations predicted higher life satisfaction in introverts just as much as it did in extraverts.

This jives with my anecdotal experience. Many of the most introverted people I know are extremely social – they’re just social with a smaller number of close friends. Social interaction, meaningful social interaction, is just as important for introverts as it is for extraverts.

If you want to be happy, try to find a way to spend more time holding real conversations with close friends.