An article in the New York Times health section today, entitled “Lotus Therapy,” describes the increasingly prevalent use of mindfulness techniques in psychotherapy over the past ten years. The article describes the state of research on the use of mindfulness meditation as “thin,” and indeed the evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness’ use for anxiety and depression is not as substantial as the evidence for cognitive-behavioral therapy or antidepressant medication. However, the research that has been conducted to this point paints a picture of mindfulness meditation as [Read more…]
A recent New York Times article highlighted the difficulty many people face in deciding whether or not to seek help for emotional problems. The article describes a recent privately conducted research study that concluded that 19% of the 1.6 million members of the American military who have recently served in Iraq or Afghanistan have symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder or major depression. Of the 19%, however, only slightly more than half have sought help.
There are many reasons that people are reluctant to seeking help for emotional difficulties. One reason is the commonly held belief that [Read more…]
For many sufferers of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other types of anxiety, deciding to seek help can be a difficult decision to make. Once that decision is made, another choice is required: what kind of help is best for me? Two of the most researched treatment options available are pharmacological treatment (medication) and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Many people will prefer one or the other, saying, “Oh, I would never want to take medication unless I had to,” or alternatively, “Just give me the pill, what’s the big deal?” This is a very personal choice that each person must make [Read more…]
A recent meditation study out of California has recently garnered significant publicity.
I will take this example as an opportunity to comment on media coverage of current brain research. It should be no surprise to anyone that the brain is the most complex organs in the body, and the most difficult to understand. Despite the frequent headlines about scientific advances, researchers have only a relatively primitive understanding of how the brain works. Some areas are well understood as very important to, say, breathing or balance. However, [Read more…]
ERP and ExRP are kinds of psychotherapy used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). ERP stands for Exposure and Response Prevention. Innovations in this psychotherapy over the past ten years resulted in its being given a new name: Exposure and Ritual Prevention (ExRP). The two therapies are similar, and both build on core behavioral therapy concepts. The purpose of this article is to provide information about what these therapies involve, and how they might be helpful to people suffering from OCD.
OCD is a psychological disorder that has been documented for thousands of years. OCD is characterized by the presence of either obsessions, compulsions, or both. Obsessions can be thought of as intrusive thoughts that cause anxiety. They are difficult to get rid of, despite one’s best efforts. Compulsions are activities, often performed repetitively. We often experience anxiety when we are not able to perform the compulsion.
For several decades after the early psychoanalysts wrote about obsessions (starting in the late nineteenth century), treatment for OCD would typically involve psychoanalysis that strove to root out the unconscious cause for an obsession. [Read more…]