Mental Health

What do I say to a loved one who is struggling with depression?

We live in a world with a lot of negativity. Behind the smiles of the advertising and the apparent fun and laughter of social media there are many people struggling with depressive thoughts and feelings. (See The Scale Of Mental Health Problems And What To Do About Them). Some of it is because of the everyday worries and concerns of life. There are tragedies and setbacks like bereavement, diagnosis of major illness or sudden loss of a job. For others it is more deeply rooted in questions of meaning and
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The scale of mental health problems and what to do about them

According to the Mental Health Foundation, depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. Statistics from the UK indicate that 2/3 of the UK population have experienced a mental health problem at some point in their lives and that only 13% of the population are thriving with high levels of positive mental health. Let’s try to to put this in context. A recent report from the Institute of Directors state that 1 in 6 UK adults experience a common mental health disorder over any given week.
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Podcast #033: Practical ways to find joy through disappointment

Disappointment. We all experience it. We all know what if feels like. We have all at some time or other said and done things when disappointed with our circumstances or other people that we have later regretted. But what are healthy ways to handle disappointment in our lives? On this podcast I continue my conversation with the author John Hindley on his book, “Dealing With Disappointment: How To Know Joy When Life Doesn’t Feel Great“. (Our earlier conversation at Podcast #032 is here). Disappointment can so easily come to dominate
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How a higher perspective empowers you to handle disappointment

One important way to get a handle on disappointment in our lives is to be able to take a higher perspective. Somebody who understood this well was the author C. S. Lewis. In 1942 he wrote the book The Screwtape Letters that has since then been continuously in print. It has been adapted into plays, made into a comic book, and recorded as an audio drama by the actor John Cleese. The Hollywood Film company Fox owns the film rights, and Ralph Winter, best known for blockbusters like “X-Men” and “Fantastic
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Understanding the 3 dangers of disappointment

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Disappointment is an experience we all go through at some time or other in our lives. While disappointment is a form of suffering, it is not the acute, dramatic, heart wrenching extreme painful form like sudden bereavement, or betrayal or torture or persecution. (For more on that type see here). Instead disappointment is more subtle and insidious. But it is just as challenging. Like a hidden cancer under the surface it can eat away and destroy our sense of joy or wellbeing. It is
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How healthy is your brain?

Dr Daniel Amen is an American psychiatrist and director of the Amen Clinics in North America. Amen’s six clinics specialize in the use of brain imaging equipment (Single Photon Emission Computerised Tomography or SPECT) in diagnosing psychiatric disorders. He has also written ten books on his work that have hit the New York Times bestseller list. Below is a 14 minute TED talk given by Dr Amen in 2013 entitled “The Most Important Lesson From 83,000 Brain Scans”. He speaks candidly and openly about his own life journey along with his
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Podcast #031 How can I live with hope today?

Psychologists, psychiatrists, politicians and theologians may differ in their opinion on many things, But one thing they would all seem to agree on is the importance of hope. “Human beings can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.” Do join my co-host Andrew Horton and I as we discuss: Why hope in the true sense of the word is much more than wishful thinking, but instead a joyful expectation about the future. How we can
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Podcast #030 Do you need more sleep?

“If you want to be a billionaire, sleep as little as possible.” Donald Trump. “Sleep is a criminal waste of time. A heritage from our cave days.” Thomas Edison. “Every important mistake I’ve made in my life, I’ve made because I was too tired.” Bill Clinton Sleep. So easy to take for granted, but so essential – especially if you are not getting enough. And yet there is so much bravado and neglect when we think about sleep. Whatever you may think of Donald Trump and Thomas Edison, their opinions
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Do you need to re-connect with nature?

I have to admit when it comes to appreciating nature I have been a slow learner. Perhaps it has something to do with being the son of South Asian immigrant parents and feeling driven to succeed academically above anything and everything else. Or maybe it had something to do with assuming practical aesthetics were only a luxury for rare occasions. However, whatever the reason, appreciating natural beauty and surroundings was for many years not been a priority to me. Much to my own loss. To my shame I have to
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Do you need more sleep?

Russell Foster is a professor of circadian neuroscience at the University of Oxford. In this 22 minute TED talk he very helpfully explains the importance of something we so often take for granted and underestimate the importance of – sleep! Or to put it another way, sleep is the single most important behavioural experience we have. We spend on average 36% of our life sleeping. So for someone living to say the age of 90, they will have spent on average 32 years asleep! When you put it in those
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Are you looking for inner strength?

We all know what physical strength is. But inner mental strength? What is it? Put in the simplest terms mental strength refers to any set of positive attributes that helps a person to cope with difficult situations. Someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about this is Amy Morin. She is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and lecturer at Northeastern University in the United States. In this powerful 15 minute video she very helpfully explores three kinds of destructive beliefs that can derail us and rob us of our
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Podcast #027 Beating Burnout

It’s not necessarily a comfortable subject to talk about, but it is increasingly relevant in the complex and challenging world we live in. Burnout is a state of chronic stress that has profound effects on many aspects of our lives. It covers a wide range of emotions that include physical and emotional exhaustion; cynicism and detachment from others as ell as an overall reduction in performance and levels of effectiveness. In this podcast conversation, my co-host Andrew Horton and I discuss our own personal experiences of burnout. We also explore
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Podcast #026: The search for happiness

I like to cheekily describe my friend Andy Parnham as a happiness guru. He works part of the week for the charity Livability, that serves people with disabilities, while the rest of the time he acts as an independent wellbeing advisor and coach, running amongst other things, The Happiness Course. This is in a variety of settings, including schools, health centres, companies and the voluntary sector. Do join us on this podcast as Andy and I discuss a subject of relevance to every one of us. We discuss and explore: How
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5 lessons I’ve learnt from burnout

Looking back I have burnt out at least three times in my life. The first two times were at the end of my first and third year at university, studying medicine. The challenges of moving away from home, being out of my depth academically, feeling isolated and alone all gradually took their toll. The third time was around 2009. I was juggling being on the leadership team of a church with all its demands while having a growing family and working as a psychiatrist. It  all became too much for me
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The importance of a good night’s sleep

“If you want to be a billionaire, sleep as little as possible.” Donald Trump. “Sleep is a criminal waste of time. A heritage from our cave days.” Thomas Edison. “Every important mistake I’ve made in my life, I’ve made because I was too tired.” Bill Clinton Sleep. So easy to take for granted, but so essential – especially if you are not getting enough. And yet there is so much bravado and neglect when we think about sleep. Whatever you may think of Donald Trump and Thomas Edison, their opinions
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    This information is for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to be personal medical advice. Please ask your physician about any health guidelines seen in this blog, as everyone is different in his or her medical needs.