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Counselor Morgan Randall's blog, bookstore and more. A place to explore the paradigm shift to systems thinking that views body and mind as one

What we resist, persists

As the article below notes, anxiety is normal. And that today, attempts to avoid it make it much worse. It doesn’t mention substance use. Drinking alcohol is relaxing, but ultimately wrecks the nerves. Cigarettes replace a chemical in the nervous system, so every few hours, as nicotine disappears, high anxiety results, so another coffin nail is needed. Benzodiazepine is highly addictive, so ultimately legal anxiolytics make you more anxious than if you hadn’t taken them at all. Cannabis is the worst. While not addictive itself, it causes addiction to the reward chemical in the brain. The withdrawal anxiety from this endorphin is extreme, but fools the user because he is withdrawing from an opioid that was normal and familiar until cannabis took over triggering it at higher levels than the survival behaviors that are supposed to trigger it would have.—MR

Could our efforts to avoid anxiety only be making it worse?

By Jelena Kecmanovic, The Washington Post, July 10, 2019

We live in the age of anxiety. As a psychologist who has studied anxiety and treated hundreds of anxious patients, I see it eclipsing all other problems as a major psychological issue in the 21st century. Each day, I treat people who worry constantly and can’t relax, who feel tense and achy, and who have difficulty sleeping — all hallmarks of anxiety. Survey data confirm anxiety is ubiquitous.

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July 10th, 2019 | Permalink

Silent predator

Mold is a silent predator in the coastal regions from San Francisco to the northern border. If you have unexplained symptoms–mental or physical; symptoms that have difficulty healing particularly with breathing; or just don’t feel very good and don’t know why, you may wish to have your home or workplace inspected for mold during the damp mold season. It can be in the walls, ceilings, window frames or other hard to see places.–MR

Mold infections leave one dead and force closure of operating rooms at children’s hospital

By Hannah Knowles, Washington Post, July 3, 2019

One patient dead. Five others infected. A thousand surgeries postponed and 3,000 people told to watch for infection symptoms.

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July 4th, 2019 | Permalink

You are how you eat

An eating disorder can cause other chronic diseases, disorders and even sudden death. If you suspect your mom, your aunt or your grandma is a victim, for heaven’s sake, please do something! Have her read this article at the very least.—MR

The overlooked crisis of eating disorders among middle-aged woman

By Carrie Dennett, Washington Post, June 17, 2019

You’re an adult with multiple decades to your credit, and you’ve got it all together — or look like you do. You never have a kind word for yourself when you look in the mirror, but who does? Your eating and exercise obsessions, secret binges, and occasional purges can’t possibly be signs of an eating disorder. After all, your friends, family and even your doctor praise you when you lose a few more pounds. Besides, you’re too “old” for an eating disorder — right?

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June 19th, 2019 | Permalink

My purpose is porpoises

It doesn’t matter what your purpose for living is, e.g. saving porpoise habitat, growing traditional iris, collecting blankets for your local homeless shelter, or enforcing leash laws, but having a purpose will make you happier and, therefore, healthier. Living longer may be a side effect, but to me as a mental health counselor, living a more content life is the greatest reason to find yourself a purpose no matter how long or short life lasts. Note: living to watch the next Grey’s Anatomy probably doesn’t count.—MR

A sense of purpose could prolong your life

By Ephrat Livni, Quartz

The meaning of life is a question that has plagued philosophers for millennia, and there is no single correct answer. But increasingly, scientists are finding that having a sense of purpose, whatever yours may be, is key to well-being.

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June 6th, 2019 | Permalink

Buyer beware!

Glad cannabis and CBD are becoming legal to keep people out of jail for using something most likely no more dangerous than alcohol, but as a mental health counselor, I’ve seen adverse responses to these powerful drugs including what appears to be cannabis-induced psychosis, anxiety and depression. Not saying there are not benefits, but am waiting for science to accrue substantial research results before making a professional judgement about something that obviously seriously affects the bodymind and human cognition.–MR

Amid flood of CBD products, FDA holds first public hearing on cannabis extract

By William Wan, The Washinton Post, May 31, 2019

You can buy CBD in oils, supplements, soda, even dog food. But some of it violates federal food and drug regulations, prompting concerns over safety and deceptive marketing. With thousands of unproven products flooding the market, the Food and Drug Administration is convening its first public hearing Friday to wrestle with how to regulate cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis extract already being sold in pills, tinctures, skin lotions,  soda and dog food.

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May 31st, 2019 | Permalink

Brain damage

Your brain is an exquisite, easily-damaged electrical organ. It is the part of you that creates and regulates your mental, psychological, emotional, relational, spiritual and physical health. Damaging it through lack of sleep, poor quality sleep or electrical interference during your teen years may damage it for life, because it is growing so fast. However, at any age, DO NOT SLEEP WITH IT IN YOUR BEDROOM unless it is turned off. Whatever you may think is so important can wait until morning. No wonder memory care centers are filled to overflowing…—MR

Many teens sleep with their phones, survey finds — just like their parents

By Craig Timberg, The Washinton Post, May 29, 2019

Four out of five teenagers with mobile devices keep them in their rooms overnight — and nearly a third of those bring them into their beds while sleeping — according a study Wednesday that offered new evidence that mobile devices undermine the rest necessary for peak health.

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May 29th, 2019 | Permalink

Mind time vs screen time

All ages should strive to regulate and reduce screen time. As time goes by we are learning, there is a direct correlation between amount of screen time and mental, emotional, familial, relational, psychological and physical health. The less screen time, which includes traditional TV, the healthier an individual will be. If you work in front of a screen, take regular breaks and walk it off.—MR

Infants under 1 year old shouldn’t be exposed to any electronic screens

By Rachel Siegel, Washington Post, April 24, 2019

Infants younger than 1 shouldn’t be exposed to any electronic screens, according to guidelines issued Wednesday by the World Health Organization.

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April 24th, 2019 | Permalink

Simple ettiquette

The OKness of touch is a varying cultural value. Sometimes a national culture, a local culture, or perhaps a family culture. If your family was not “touchy feely,” being hugged at all may freak you out, but assuming others are crossing a line by touching is cultural prejudice. That said, hugging without permission is too. Things changed radically after the outset of the AIDS epidemic. Since fear of touch is also a symptom of PTSD, a simple “would you like a hug” or “do you mind if I touch your arm” would be a considerate national social norm to evolve.—MR

Biology loves a gentle touch. Society is less sure what the norm is.

By Mary Jo Murphy, The Washington Post, April 12, 2019

The unwritten rule can be as indelible as any chiseled into a tablet. That’s its genius and its curse. But because norms recalibrate, and today’s are still sorting themselves out, not everyone got the invisible memo that says a person shall not hug, pat, brush, graze, stroke, clasp, rub, squeeze or nuzzle another without first obtaining or at least intuiting consent.

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April 14th, 2019 | Permalink

This IS an emergency!

Over 150,000 Americans died from alcohol (car accidents, overdose and liver failure), drug overdoses (from mostly legal opioids) and suicide (by mostly legal guns) in 2017. The alcohol, pharmaceutical and domestic arms industry are making themselves billions through sacrificing the lives of individuals in our society. Since we do not have the political will to sufficiently legislate or fund assistance for our ailing community members, taking personal responsibility to keep these threats safely stored, little used, or out of the home altogether remains a personal moral choice.—MR

By Adeel Hassan, New York Times, March 7, 2019

The number of deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017 hit the highest level since the collection of federal mortality data started in 1999, according to an analysis by two public health nonprofits, the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust. To reach their conclusion, the two groups parsed the latest available data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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March 8th, 2019 | Permalink

Giving back, not up

Life is excruciatingly short. but if you want it to last a little longer and be a little happier, volunteering during your retirement years has been shown to add years of healthy contentment to your life. Each developmental stage has a set of things we biologically, evolutionarily, should be doing or our bodymind doesn’t stay as healthy. Just as we should learn to walk at age one and talk at age two, and differentiate from our parents at age fifteen, we should be taking care of grandchildren at age 50 plus and/or acting as the wise elder in the tribe.—MR

By Jane Brody, New York Times, March 4, 2019

Encouraged by a grandfatherly professor at Cornell, in my sophomore year I gave a speech asking my fellow students “when you come to the end of your days, will you be able to write your own epitaph?”

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March 8th, 2019 | Permalink

Repeat after me. VERY SLOWLY

Hallelujah! Research is now backing up what I have been saying for decades. When withdrawing from an antidepressant, or frankly any psych med, you’ve been on for over six months, take at least a year to quit. Docs routinely advise patients to titrate way too fast. Then, use their withdrawal symptoms as an excuse to put them back on. But patients who VERY gradually reduced their daily dose of antidepressants over a year, even after years of use, are unlikely to experience any symptoms. I advise buying a metal fingernail file and start with one swipe of the pill across it. Then take one tiny additional swipe across the file every two weeks very slowly reducing the dosage, so your brain doesn’t go into shock making you think you’re actually mentally ill when what you are is in withdrawal. I’ve seen patients who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when, in fact, they had been taken off a benzo, cannabidiol or antidepressant too quickly! Think carefully before you decide to take these drugs. Do your research. And, please, be very careful getting off.-–MR

By Benedict Carey, New York Times,  March 5, 2019

Thousands, perhaps millions, of people who try to quit antidepressant drugs experience stinging withdrawal symptoms that last for months to years: insomnia, surges of anxiety, even so-called brain zaps, sensations of electric shock in the brain.

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March 6th, 2019 | Permalink

Is that all?

Let’s see, this drug, which was a party drug for years, only has these potential side effects: according to the article below, you can pass out, fall asleep, dissociate from reality, commit suicide, get addicted to it, have problems with attention, judgment and thinking, and not to mention hallucinations, tunnel vision and dissociative effects that “make people feel untethered from their surroundings.” Sounds a lot like whiskey, doesn’t it? Its label will carry a “black box” warning – the most serious safety warning issued by the FDA! It was fast tracked through its offices and only required one study instead of the usual two for approval. Gosh, no thanks. There are more natural, less dangerous ways to positively effect glutamate balance in the brain, but maybe Johnson & Johnson just wants to make money. Ya think?-–MR

In biggest advance for depression in years, FDA approves novel treatment for hardest cases

By Carolyn Johnson and Laurie McGinley, Washington Post, March 5, 2019

The Food and Drug Administration approved a novel antidepressant late Tuesday for people with depression that does not respond to other treatments — the first in decades to work in a completely new way in the brain.

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March 5th, 2019 | Permalink

Can’t do Kondo?

You don’t have to go all Marie Kondo to get relief from anxiety by tidying up. First of all, when you do house or yard work of any type, it is a meditative activity that soothes and distracts you from your anxiety. Secondly, it makes you feel like you are a “together person” to see your living space start to be arranged in a more socially-acceptable way. Third of all, it gives your mind less to process when it looks around in an orderly home—you literally worry less. It becomes a lot easier not to lose your keys if they have a spot they always go. The human brain thrives on order. Why not give it some?—MR

Is KonMari a fad? I can say this: It tamed my anxiety as much as my stuff.

By Keri Wiginton, Washington Post, February 14, 2019

When I unpack in a hotel room, it goes from clean to chaos in under a minute. My husband affectionately refers to me as a tornado. He can also accurately assess my mental state based on how disorganized my office is.

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February 17th, 2019 | Permalink

First things first

When it comes to changing your mind—the basic task of psychotherapy—the most effective point of entry to the disturbed system is most often through the body. You just can’t separate mind from body. If you are depressed, anxious, or even psychotic, try helping your body and it will help your mind. A body without enough sleep, sunshine or water or trying to function in a toxic soup of cannabis, nicotine or alcohol, simply cannot be content, so why would your mind? The below article is an example of a body-based intervention.—MR

By Dr. Richard A. Friedman, New York Times, Feb. 10, 2019

Want to fall effortlessly into profound slumber and sleep like a baby? Everyone knows that infants can be lulled to sleep by gentle rocking. Well, now it seems that what works for babies works for adults, too.

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February 11th, 2019 | Permalink

You are growing sleepier and sleepier…

In the screen-lit world of modern life, sleep is expendable. There are television shows to binge-watch, work emails to answer, homework to finish, social media posts to scroll through. We’ll catch up on shut-eye later, so the thinking goes — right after we click down one last digital rabbit hole.

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January 30th, 2019 | Permalink

Dance for joy

Erroneously, we assume that to dance, sing, skip down the street, smile or create art, we first must feel joy. But, while these behaviors may be an expression of joy, forcing ourselves to do them while we are feeling blue fools our brains into feeling great! Our silly brains think, “I’m singing, so I must be happy,” and so we are.—MR

British doctors may soon write prescriptions for dance, art or music lessons

By Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post, January 22, 2019

What if you were ill and instead of — or along with — a prescription for a pharmaceutical drug, your doctor wrote a prescription for a music, dance or painting class?

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January 27th, 2019 | Permalink

Bipolar no more

No matter the segment of reality upon which we gaze, truth unfolds in tints and shades of grey. The world simply is not black and white. This is becoming particularly obvious in gender assignment. Why should an individual who is psychologically and/or physically in the middle of the continuum have to pick one or the other?–MR

By Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling, Washington Post, Oct. 25, 2018

The complexity is more than cultural. It’s biological, too. Two sexes have never been enough to describe human variety. Not in biblical times and not now. Before we knew much about biology, we made social rules to administer sexual diversity. The ancient Jewish rabbinical code known as the Tosefta, for example, sometimes treated people who had male and female parts (such as testes and a vagina) as women — they could not inherit property or serve as priests; at other times, as men — forbidding them to shave or be secluded with women. More brutally, the Romans, seeing people of mixed sex as a bad omen, might kill a person whose body and mind did not conform to a binary sexual classification.

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November 24th, 2018 | Permalink

Made for walking

Human critters are walking critters. After all, we walked out of Africa and perhaps a few other places to populate the entire planet. We feel good from the feel-good brain chemicals that are triggered when we walk 20 minutes. I imagine birds feel good when they fly, monkeys feel good when they swing and fish feel great when they swim. Go for a walk—the cheapest feel-good medicine out there!—MR

By Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, Oct. 24, 2018

Ten minutes of mild, almost languorous exercise can immediately alter how certain parts of the brain communicate and coordinate with one another and improve memory function, according to an encouraging new neurological study. The findings suggest that exercise does not need to be prolonged or intense to benefit the brain and that the effects can begin far more quickly than many of us might expect.

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November 13th, 2018 | Permalink

Your addicted brain lies

There are other ways to reduce or eliminate back pain other than life-destroying opioids pushed by an immoral pharmaceutical industry. Please don’t listen to your addicted brain telling you different. Almost 75,000 Americans died last year from these drugs. If your doctor doesn’t know better, get a better doctor. —MR

A different way to relieve years of back pain

By Lisa Rein, Washington Post, September 27, 2018

In my first Feldenkrais class, we lay on our backs with eyes closed and drifted our eyeballs left to right and back again. We shifted our heads from side to side as our eyes followed in their sockets. Then we changed it up, moving our eyes in the opposite direction from our heads.

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October 31st, 2018 | Permalink

Who are you fooling?

Alcohol is almost everywhere we go. Human society likes to drink and encourages you to do it. But if you do, be aware of the scientific fact that, in any amount, you are doing something that will harm your health. Particularly the health of your brain and your relationships.—MR

Safest level of alcohol consumption is none

By Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post, August 23, 2018

To minimize health risks, the optimal amount of alcohol someone should consume is none. That’s the simple, surprising conclusion of a massive study, co-written by 512 researchers from 243 institutions, published Thursday in the prestigious journal the Lancet.

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October 29th, 2018 | Permalink

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