Doris Bersing, PhD

Depression Hurts and Robs You of Your Life

Copyright by  Piotr Marcinski

Copyright by Piotr Marcinski

We have written about people dying of depression, which can be an ultimate fact for those who shut down and decided to go on a suicidal path, for those, that is the end. However for others, who go with untreated depression, death perhaps is not an option but a less than pleasant and meaningful life is. Having the blues or being sad after an important loss in your life, it is not depression but a normal and healthy response to events in life but when the blues become more purple than blue (so-to-speak), we are perhaps looking at a different situation.

Many myths regarding depression revolve around being stronger, like getting a grip on the particular situation one faces, or working harder to “get it out of your head…”or believing the prolonged sadness is just normal and not perhaps an illness; even thinking it is only one’s self-pity instead of a treatable condition add insult to an already deep and painful injury.

Sometimes, we are worry that treating the depression will mean being labeled as a mental patient, being on drugs forever, and seeing a therapist several times per week. Despite what the best seller “Prozac Nation” depicts (although some passages are right) about medication is only one of the tools used to lift depression. And looking for help does not mean you will be on psychotropic drugs forever. In fact, studies suggest that psychotherapy in any of its modalities (talking therapy, drama therapy, expressive arts, cognitive behavioral, deep brief oriented or others) work as well as prescription drugs to treat depression. Moreover, even if you are prescribed some drugs, chances are that it will not be a lifetime solution.

Feeling sad, hopeless, and helpless, is true, does not help to lift the by now purple instead of blues but do not fool yourself, the hopelessness is part of the illness, not a part of daily life and for sure not an unchangeable reality. When treated, positive thinking gradually replaces negative thoughts. In fact, most people (up-to 70% as by the National Institute of Mental Health) who seek for help to deal with their depression become symptom-free by combining medication and psychotherapy.

The bottom line is that if you have been feeling down and/or sad for what it seems to be too long, you should seek for help. Trying to diagnose yourself or going through the list of symptoms after a goggle search can confirm your suspicion but can mislead you as well. A reliable source on how to seek for help can be found on the WebMD or Psychology Today.

Whatever you do, remember you do not need to lose your mojo, being purple all the time, or miss out on all the fun and meaning of your life.

Depression Kills

Free Wallpapers by Karl

Free Wallpapers by Karl

Still after few days, the news about Robin Williams’ apparent suicide shocked me beyond what I expected my own reactions to this phenomenon would be. Few months ago, Philip Seymour Hoffman saddened me when dying of a drug overdose yet another consumed suicide. What has become apparent to me after these events is how much depression is underestimated by the general public and even by professionals and how, sometimes, it’s plays down as a personality fault, like not trying hard, being lazy.

How many times had we said to somebody who expresses feeling depressed…”comm’on …try it this or that…eventually it is about trying and you will be out of it…’ Well, the true facts show us that sometimes like in Williams; case or even Hoffman’s one, it is not that simple.The suffering created by mental illness is misunderstood by some people and the lack of empathy and support can be lethal for those affected by it.Millions of U.S. adults struggle with depression. Often, medication and psychotherapy help their moods and outlook. That said there is an optimal time to deal with the issue and a far-gone time when all hopes are over. Then we need to try to act upon the right timing and provide the help the person is looking for. Yet when depression kills, who is to blame, then? Is it the system, the therapist, the lack of willingness to work on the issues from the patients’ perspective, the despondence after trying tons of times?

Let’s face it, there is not a one size fits all answer and it is difficult to blame only one factor on why depression turn deadly for some and others seem to overcome it. Although they can be many factors affecting how bad depression can go like chronic mental illness, physical illness, untreated depression, feelings of hopelessness and emptiness, depression can be conquered. We need to continue talking about it and being alert and attentive to the signs of profound depression among us to support people affected by and encourage them to seek help.

Not all therapists are the same but if you are ready to do the “work”, therapy and the right therapist will help tremendously. Treatment works when done right. Medications help but alone it is just a palliative intervention and without diving into the deep waters of your mental issues, you are just masking the real reasons for your hopelessness. Look for someone who is a licensed therapist, with expertise in the area in which you are seeking help and combine it with supportive medication and be ready to walk through the dark night of the soul with the conviction that there is alight at the end of the tunnel.

Lord Buddha had already said 2,500 years ago that life is full of unpleasant moments and experiences and that there is pain in the world and it is unavoidable.
“Each life is filled with 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows.” But suffering, he said, is the response, “the relationship” we maintain, to the pain. He stated that one could experience pain without experiencing suffering. Even physical pain seems to reduce if we don’t resist it. Thus, there is hope, if we change the way we approach our suffering, we change the results of it. One valuable resource is mindfulness practice, used these days to work with pain, people with dementia, ADD, an other conditions and it teach us to breath and being in the moment, which, can help with the feelings of despondency and depressive thoughts. The breath calms the body and calms the mind. Mindfulness is about being aware of all this. It’s about stepping back and taking a different view of things, as the observer, rather than the participant. Of course, easier said than done and yet, we should have hope and seek professional help.

Diving into the deep sea of your issues is not comfortable or easy but very rewarding once you close some of the unfinished business that originate your current issues while gaining awareness of how your life became what is today. Yes, we are the product of the past but gaining that awareness here and now, helps us take the reins of our lives and make the changes we need to make to keep going in a different path from now on. Appreciate the opportunity to immerse yourself in anew path, one of change and hope. Start anew!

Understanding Fear: What Are Phobias?

Understanding Fear: What Are Phobias and How Common Are They?

Phobia: From the Greek: φόβος, Phóbos, meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”
Phobias: a persistent (and often irrational) fear of an object or situation.
Greek physician Hippocrates (470-410 B.C.E.) first described phobias; 500 years after Hippocrates, Roman doctor, Celsus used the word hydrophobia for a patient who feared water.

NOW:  400 different types of phobias recognized by the medical profession.


Top 10 Phobias: Percent of US Population


1 Fear of public speaking – Glossophobia 74 %
2 Fear of death – Necrophobia 68 %
3 Fear of spiders – Arachnophobia 30.5 %
4 Fear of darkness – Achluophobia, Scotophobia or Myctophobia 11 %
5 Fear of heights – Acrophobia 10 %
6 Fear of people or social situations – Sociophobia 7.9 %
7 Fear of flying – Aerophobia 6.5 %
8 Fear of confined spaces – Claustrophobia 2.5 %
9 Fear of open spaces – Agoraphobia 2.2 %
10 Fear of thunder and lightning – Brontophobia 2 %

3 Categories of Phobias

Specific Phobias

Persistent fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation. (examples: Spiders, Flying, Water, Heights, or contracting a specific illness)
Typical age of onset: 7
Affects: 19.2 million American adults age 18 and over.

Fear and Worry Statistics

Percent of things feared that will never take place 60 %
Percent of things feared that happened in the past and can’t be changed 30 %
Percent of things feared that are considered to be insignificant issues 90 %
Percent of things feared in relation to health that will not happen 88 %


AKA Social Anxiety Disorder: a persistent fear of being judged, watched and criticized by others, or of public situations leading to embarrassment or humiliation.
Typical age of onset: 13
Affects: 15 million American adults age 18 and over.
The lifetime prevalence rate for developing social anxiety disorder is between 13 and 14 percent.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
People suffering from social anxiety disorder can experience significant emotional distress in the following situations:
• Being introduced to new people
• Being in large groups of people
• Being teased or criticized
• Being the center of attention
• Being watched while doing something
• Meeting authority figures
• Most social encounters, especially with strangers
• Going around the room, or table, in a circle and having to say something
• Eating or drinking in front of others
• Writing or working in front of others
• Being the center of attention. Interacting with people, including dating or going to parties
• Asking questions or giving reports in groups
• Using public toilets
• Talking on the telephone

Physiological Symptoms
The physiological symptoms that can accompany social anxiety may include:
• Constant and intense anxiety
• Intense fear
• Racing heart
• Turning red or blushing
• Excessive sweating
• Dry throat and mouth
• Trembling
• Swallowing with difficulty
• Muscle twitches
• Panic attack


Agoraphobia: intense fear and anxiety of any place or situation where escape might be difficult, leading to avoidance of such situations. (example: Traveling in a car, bus, airplane, elevator, or being in a crowded area)
Typical age of onset: 20
Affects: 1.8 million American adults age 18 and over.

Diagnostic criteria for agoraphobia include a severe fear or anxiety about two or more of the following situations:
• Using public transportation, such as a bus, plane or car
• Being in an open space, such as a parking lot, bridge or large mall
• Being in an enclosed space, such as a movie theater, meeting room or small store
• Waiting in a line or being in a crowd
• Being out of the home alone

Celebrity Phobias

Scarlett Johansson: Ornithophobia – The fear of birds.
Orlando Bloom: Swinophobia – The fear of pigs.
Megan Fox: Bacteriaphobia – The fear of germs and bacteria.
Billy Bob Thornton: Chromophobia – The Fear of bright colors.
Madonna: Astraphobia – The fear of thunder and lightning.
Oprah Winfrey: Chiclephobia – The fear of chewing-gum.
Nicole Kidman: Lepidopterophobia – The fear of butterflies.

Phobias You May Not Have Heard Of

Anablephobia- Fear of looking up
Anuptaphobia- Fear of staying single.
Bibliophobia- Fear of books.
Cathisophobia- Fear of sitting
Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers.
Genuphobia- Fear of knees
Hellenologophobia- Fear of Greek terms or complex scientific terminology.
Helminthophobia- Fear of being infested with worms
Logizomechanophobia- Fear of computers.
Meningitophobia- Fear of brain disease.
Omphalophobia- Fear of belly buttons.
Phobophobia- Fear of phobias or fear.

Good or Bad for Patients to Know What Therapists Think of Them?

Copyright : Steven Frame

Copyright : Steven Frame

About 700 patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are participating in a novel experiment. Within days of a session, they can read their therapists’ notes on their computers or smartphones. It seems like open notebook study aims to improve trust, communication between patient, doctor. Some professionals oppose such an idea :…Sounds like a great idea. But when rules were changed about academic job referee reports some years ago so that the candidates could read them, all information about candidate shortcomings disappeared and only praise (sincere or not) remained. The reports became useless and appointments committees quickly learned to ignore them. The candidates who were disadvantaged were those who would have received honestly favorable reports.

One can expect an analogous effect on therapy notes that are released to the patient. Some therapists may resort to a second set of “honest” notes, the existence of which will remain secret. Or, worse for the patient, rely on their memory of the sessions. Read the article and the comments by Jan Hoffman in the New York Times