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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Heals the Psychological AND Biological Damage from PTSD

Friday, March 28, 2014


Cognitive behavioral therapy heals the psychological and biological damage from post traumatic stress disorderPost-traumatic stress disorder may result from a person experiencing a life threatening experience or witnessing one. Examples of things that can trigger it include being involved in a traffic accident, suffering abuse as a child, experiencing combat, surviving a natural disaster, being a victim of crime or even being a first responder in an emergency situation. It manifests itself with symptoms such as depression and anxiety. And it creates actual physical changes to the body, specifically the brain.


One way the body is altered by PTSD is that the gene that regulates our stress response, identified as FKBP5, is altered. Its function is reduced, causing the stress hormones (cortisol response) to become activated for a longer period of time. This makes a person more susceptible to stress related mental disorders.

Another way the body is altered by PTSD is that different areas of the brain are changed. The Hippocampus, the part of the brain that stores long-term memory, becomes smaller. The Medial Orbitofrontal Cortex, the part of the brain that’s involved in fear conditioning, also becomes smaller. Dr. Daniel Amen, a brain-imaging expert who I deeply respect, writes in greater detail on this topic.

Can a person’s mental and biological health be improved even at the genetic level? Most definitely yes. A recent study published in Biological Psychiatry found that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) not only helps to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but also heals the damage done at the genetic level.

After being treated by CBT, the people in the study experience increased Hippocampus volume and the gene FKBP5 functioned better (called higher gene expression). There wasn’t any significant change to the Medial Orbitofrontal Cortex.

The results of this study are thrilling. Its proof that the brain can be healed physically and psychologically. While medication and surgery have their places, it’s eye opening to see that psychotherapy is a very effective alternative for healing the mind and body. This holistic approach is key to how NET Practitioners help their patients manage PTSD. They teach their patients how to conquer the feeling of helplessness by taking control of their thoughts and emotions. They also teach techniques for relaxation. If you’re ready to get relief from the crippling effects of PTSD and achieve your optimum wellness, please contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office to set up an appointment.

Do you have general questions about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or N.E.T.? Join me on Facebook and we can discuss it.

One Woman’s Inspiring Journey to Wellness

Thursday, March 20, 2014


hope of mental and physical wellness through holistic health approachIf you heard of a woman who struggled with debilitating anxiety, panic attacks and depression, who sought treatment through many medications, ongoing psychotherapy, electro-convulsive therapy, hospitalizations, and yet attempted suicide multiple times, would you hold out much hope that she would get better?

It may sound hopeless, yet her inspiring journey proves that we can change. Gayathri Ramprasad is a mother and homemaker. Her story on CNN proves that where we are right now can be changed to where we want to be. While recovering in the hospital from her last suicide attempt, she made up her mind to take charge of her life and create a life of wellness. She was tired of being chronically mentally ill and wanted to be well.

Despite the fears of many, she weaned herself off all medications under the supervision of her psychiatrist and turned to a holistic health approach as a way to achieve wellness.

First, she explored transcendental meditation. In the beginning, she couldn’t sit still or be calm. In time, however, she acquired those skills. She learned how to become aware of her thoughts and emotions. Instead of letting them control her, she began to control them and to live more purposefully.

Secondly, she joined a health club and started aerobics, free weights, and yoga classes three times a week. She found that exercise energized her and elevated her mood. It also helped her create a social network outside of her family.

Lastly, she learned how cognitive behavioral therapy could transform her life. Her therapist proved to her that thoughts, feelings, moods and behavior are interconnected. To change her world she needed to identify negative, faulty thoughts and replace them with positive, life-affirming thoughts.

While this approach may not work for everyone, I believe you have all the resources within you to make changes that are as dramatic as these. My role as a therapist is to assist you in discovering these inner resources and drawing them out so you can fully utilize them. If you want to achieve your optimum health and wellness, please contact my Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, WA office to schedule an appointment. Do you have non-confidential questions about how cognitive behavioral therapy works? Join me on Facebook and let’s discuss it.

Learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Are We on the Verge of a Drug-Free Cure for Depression?

Friday, February 21, 2014


the cure for insomnia and depression linked togetherResearch is being done on the causal link between insomnia and depression. And the results are very promising. They are finding that treating insomnia will also alleviate the suffering of depression. That is good news!

I was happy to read The New York Times’ report about recent studies that are confirming this. A team at Ryerson University in Toronto found that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia resolved the insomnia for 87 percent of the patients within four treatment sessions.

The bonus to this treatment of insomnia is that these patients also had their depression symptoms disappear, almost twice the rate of those whose insomnia was not cured.

Another study from Stanford University gives us similar hope. The patients all suffered from insomnia plus depression, and they were all taking an antidepressant pill. Sixty percent of those given seven sessions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia in addition to the pill recovered fully from their depression, compared with only 33 percent in a control group that got the standard advice for treating sleeplessness.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy grew out of a need for solving problems that more traditional therapies couldn’t. Depression, for example, can take months of therapy, so many people resort to anti-depressant medication for more immediate relief. Now that we see the link between insomnia and depression we can use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to teach people to establish and stick to a regular wake-up time, avoid daytime napping, spend less time in bed, and reserve bed only for sleeping – not watching TV, snacking or reading.


As the studies above reveal, this treatment may not take very many sessions, but the results are spectacular. NET practitioners like myself have known for some time that the mind/body must be treated in a holistic mannerIf you think insomnia is playing a role in your depression and you want to get to the root of your health problems, perhaps it’s time to look into Cognitive Behavior Therapy. If you are looking for a holistic approach to your mental health issues, contact my office in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington, and set up an appointment.

Do you have questions about how therapy works? See my FAQ page for the answers.

Will Insurance Companies Finally Make Mental Health More Accessible?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


health insurance to cover mental and physical health equallyFor years those with mental health issues have struggled with getting adequate insurance coverage or have been denied insurance coverage when their mental illness is diagnosed. As a psychologist I’ve had a front row seat – watching people struggle to use their mental health benefits, if they were fortunate to even have mental health benefits. I’ve written articles exposing the sometimes life-threatening situations that have been created by a broken system.

So I was happy to see the recent CNN article, Feds Boosting Mental Health Access, Treatment. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced new rules that, “Finally put mental health and behavioral health on equal footing.” Of course this has been in the works for years. President George W. Bush began the move to greater equality with The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which has made mental health care more accessible, but it hasn’t been enforced up to now.

Insurance companies have often limited the coverage for mental illness, which makes it tough on those seeking help. If you had coverage often times you were limited to five or ten visits with a counselor. If the problem cannot be resolved in five or ten sessions, you had to pay out of pocket if you could afford to do so.

The new rules require insurers to cover co-payments, deductibles, doctor visits, outpatient services and residential treatment equally for physical and mental illnesses. This is very good news for those with chronic mental health issues.

There are so many changes going on in healthcare right now that it can be difficult to keep up. Here’s a word of advice, stop looking for someone to take care of your every health or emotional need. There will never be a perfect healthcare system. Instead utilize your good old common sense and decide for yourself, with the help of professional advisors such as your trusted doctors, just what is the best psychological or medical treatment for you, your loved ones and your employees.

If you interested in scheduling an appointment with my office please take a look at Therapy FAQ page for answers to questions regarding insurance. Read more about the benefits of psychotherapy on my website – Psychotherapy Treatment Options.

Sleep Therapy Can Help Treat Depression

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


sleep therapy can help treat depression“Get a good night’s sleep. Things will look better in the morning.” It’s cliché advice, however according to recent studies, sleep therapy can help treat depression. The New York Times article, Sleep Therapy Seen as an Aid for Depression, reports on studies that are utilizing a type of talk therapy for insomnia.

The research team at Ryerson University in Toronto found, “87 percent of patients who resolved their insomnia in four biweekly talk therapy sessions also saw their depression symptoms dissolve after eight weeks of treatment, either with an antidepressant drug or a placebo pill — almost twice the rate of those who could not shake their insomnia”. This agrees with a pilot sleep study conducted at Sanford.

Does it matter which comes first – depression or insomnia? Not really. The important point is that they both be addressed and treated at the same time. In this recent study this duo-treatment routine produced a full recovery for about 40 percent of patients.

Sleep therapy or cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) teaches people to establish and stick to a regular wake-up time, avoid daytime napping, and reserve bedtime only for sleeping, not watching TV snacking, reading and so on. Dr. Carney, lead author of the Ryerson report, said, “Curb this idea that sleeping requires effort, that it’s something you have to fix. That’s when people get in trouble, when they begin to think they have to do something to get to sleep.”

I’m thrilled that doctors are beginning to investigate the effects of treating sleep problems and mood disorders together. While this still isn’t a part of standard treatment, NET practitioners like myself have known for some time that the mind/body must be treated in a holistic manner. If you think insomnia is playing a role in your depression and you want to get to the root of your health problems, perhaps it’s time to look into cognitive behavior therapy. If you are looking for a holistic approach to your mental health issues and would like to see a NET Practitioner in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington, contact my office and set up an appointment.

Do you have questions about how therapy works? See my FAQ page for the answers.

Shining the Spotlight on Women Suffering from Concussions

Monday, December 09, 2013


female athletes suffer from concussions tooWhen the news reports on sports concussions, often it discusses male football players. Seldom, if ever, are female athletes mentioned. Yet they suffer concussions as well. Katherine Snedaker, MSW of PinkConcussions.com and Dr. Jimmy Sanderson and Dr. Melinda Weathers, two researchers from Clemson University, are gathering applicants for a national study of female athletes 18 years and older to research the past and present affects of concussions. These can be sports or non-sports concussions. Also being researched is why these incidents are being underreported. This is important research and I encourage you to check it out to see if this research is appropriate for you or someone you know.

Brain trauma can cause dementia, headaches, light sensitivity, memory loss and encephalopathy. It can also be responsible for changed behavior, such as irritability, anger, depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, learning problems, poor decision-making skills and subsequent substance abuse. But you don’t have to accept that this is what you have to endure for the rest of your life.

Much of the damage caused to the brain can be rehabilitated. If you or someone you love is experiencing mental side effects after a concussion, speak to your doctor immediately. A holistic approach to the health of the mind and body can put you back in control of your life. You can learn how to use your own natural healing power to regain health. Couple this will good nutrition, regular exercise and changing negative lifestyle behaviors and you’ve begun your journey to optimal health and wellness.

The mind and body are in a state of constant communication. What the mind thinks and experiences is sent from the brain to the rest of the body and vice versa. If you want to improve your mind-body communication, consult a NET practitioner who can remove the blocks so your body can repair itself. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, contact my office and set up an appointment so your healing can begin.

Learn more about Mind and Body Health on my website – Holistic Health.




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