It's Good To Be Bad: The Psychological Benefit of Dark Humor

Thursday, July 10, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under General

A beautiful woman is standing on an overpass, ready to leap to her death. 

A homeless man approaches her and says “If you're going to kill yourself, would you like to have sex first? It might be a fun way to go out.”

“No! That’s disgusting!” she screams.

The man turns and walks away.

“Wait, is that it?” she calls after him. “You don’t want to tell me that I shouldn’t do it? And where are you going so quickly?"

"I have to get down to the bottom,” he says. “If I hurry, you'll still be warm.”

Humor has long been known for its ability to reduce stress and improve mood. Not only do we get to enjoy physical changes in heart rate and improved oxygen consumption while laughing, but after-giggle effects include slowed heart rate, lowered blood pressure and overall more mellow physiology1. These benefits are likely due to changes in the endocrine system2, and reductions in cortisol and epinephrine3. It’s all about the chemicals. (I was going to tell you a joke about Jonestown here, but the punch line is too long.)...  continue reading

Postpartum Depression Is NOT Postpartum Psychosis: What Women Need to Understand About Infant Harm

Monday, July 07, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) is far too common among contemporary women. While current medical reasoning attributes postpartum depression symptoms to the hormonal fluctuations following childbirth, those fluctuations evolved to serve a specific purpose for our ancestors, one that weighed the benefits of childbearing against the stress in the environment. Postpartum depression in relation to this drive is discussed in detail here, in PPD, Maternal Investment Theory and the Drive to Abandon.

However, after a personal conversation over the weekend, I wanted to make one thing clear for those who suffer before we get into what PPD is. Because whatever it is, postpartum depression is NOT the same as postpartum psychosis, a condition more closely related to actual infant harm. Understanding what postpartum depression is, and what it isn't, may help reduce anxiety in those who suffer from it.  

So what does postpartum depression (PPD) feel like?

Like total, tweaky, sleep-deprived shit. But that's not very technical. Let me try again....  continue reading

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Treatment Alternatives

Monday, June 30, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Trauma

Trauma. It's not just for veterans. It can happen to anyone at any time when the stress response gets stuck in the "on" position, though there is usually a triggering event. Last week, we went over some alternative ideas on trauma, specifically Peter Levine’s theory in Waking The Tiger. He believes that traumatic response may be the result of an adaptive freeze cycle that is interrupted by our huge brain and ability to worry1

But what we do about it may depend on a number of factors, including how much people are able to remember, or whether they recall anything at all....  continue reading

"Knock, Knock. Who's There? PTSD. Oh Shit." One Woman's Struggle with Depression, Suicide and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Friday, June 27, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Mom Stories/Opinion

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a complicated process and can involve a number of symptoms discussed at length in the last post. Today, I was going to run a post on treating PTSD, but I received a number of questions surrounding how these symptoms play out in individuals.

"I see the symptoms, but how do I know if I have it or if I am just anxious?"

"Can I have PTSD without having something traumatic happen to me?"

The short answer is that the way those symptoms come out varies greatly. Not only are the traumas themselves different, but individual tolerance also matters when determining how someone feels.   

So today, I wanted to share a personal story to illustrate how PTSD might feel before we launch into the treatment interventions. This is one woman's story of loss, trauma, strength and survival. See if you can relate....  continue reading

What Causes Trauma? The Evolution of PTSD and the Desire for Control

Monday, June 23, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Trauma

"It feels like being trapped in a cage. You're certain something is in there with you because you can feel it, smell it, but you can't see it. So you just keep frantically looking around this cage, waiting for it to pounce. Except the cage is like...your own brain and everything around you might be the thing that will hurt you. I just want someone to let me out."

My patient understood trauma well. Traumatic disorders are deeply distressing, a constant battle with your own mind and body. While past therapeutic intervention centered on the notion that trauma must involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, most practitioners are coming around to the idea that trauma can result from any situation where someone is overwhelmed by frightening emotions. The more helpless and frightened one is, the more likely they are to be traumatized. 

But, it is more than helplessness. Though some studies are currently looking at possible traumatic responses in domesticated animals, many wild and domestic animals go through life or death experiences on a regular basis without having long-term traumatic reactions....  continue reading

Talk Dirty To Me: But First, Tell Your Husband

Friday, June 20, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

Sometimes, happy couples have shitty sex lives because of a disconnect between what partners are thinking and what they say. 

“I want her to be happy, but everything just gets so…hard. And I never know when it’s going to be hard and when it isn’t.”

“That’s what she said.”

He laughed. 

“No, seriously, sir, that's what she said. You guys need to talk more.”

“That’s what she said” is a phrase I want to say more often. Not because I love a good sexual innuendo (which I obviously do), but because if she actually “said” it , I wouldn’t feel obliged to....  continue reading