Saturday, December 20, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Best Description of Depression

"The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment." Andrew Solomon says this about depression in his TEDx talk that eloquently and accurately describes the experience of depression for many.


Does this resonate for you? If you aren't getting help with depression, please seek it. If you're concerned about medications, there are alternatives to consider.

Please ask questions here on the blog or email me.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
Upper West Side Counseling

Monday, July 14, 2014

Urban Green Area Residents are Happier

BBC News article Green spaces have lasting positive effect on well-being says that urban dwellers who move to a greener urban area experience more positive effects than if they get a promotion or a new job.

I know New York City's wonderful parks contribute to emotional well-being. Research has shown that as little as 20 minutes spent in a natural setting improves mood.

I feel fortunate that my office is a five minute walk from both Central Park and Riverside Park. Many of my
clients make a segue through one of the parks on their way to or from my office.

Find some "green time" for yourself. It makes a difference.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
Upper West Side Psychotherapy

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sleep Therapy Seen as Aid for Depression

According to the New York Times article, Sleep Therapy Seen as Aid for Depression, curing insomnia can double the chance that people with depression will recover fully.

Why am I not surprised? Because for more than 25 years that's been my experience treating depression. When sleep improves, everything gets better. Depression can appear to cause sleep loss - the famous 3am staring at the ceiling depression wakeup - and sleep deprivation can trigger depression.

Helping my clients with sleep issues has become an important part of my work.

It's always seemed like a chicken or the egg question to me. I'm really happy to see it being studied.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
Upper West Side Psychotherapy

Monday, April 14, 2014

Is There a Glut on Anti-Depressants?

New York Times writer Roni Caryn Rabin wrote a thought provoking article last fall titled, "A Glut of Anti-Depressants.

Two alarming statistics she cites:
  • One in ten Americans now takes anti-depressants.
  • For women in their 40s and 50s, this rises to one in four. 
Why? Rabin references research led by Dr. Ramin Mojtabai of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She says,
The study, published in April in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, found that nearly two-thirds of a sample of more than 5,000 patients who had been given a diagnosis of depression within the previous 12 months did not meet the criteria for major depressive episode as described by the psychiatrists’ bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or D.S.M.).
Dr. Mojtabai's study indicated that this is particularly true among the elderly.

Given the side effect potential and costs, as well as the possibility that a different treatment would be more helpful or that treatment is unneeded, this is worrisome indeed.

A good counselor can help you determine if a depression diagnosis is right for you - and what could help with whatever got you that diagnosis, whether it's accurate or not.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
Psychotherapy for Change

Monday, March 10, 2014

Talk Therapy May Reduce Biological Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD changes the brain - in the way certain genes express themselves, for example, and in shrinkage of the hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory consolidation.

This Science Daily article, Talk therapy may reverse biological changes in PTSD patients, describes recent Hungarian research using cognitive behavioral therapy. The results demonstrate that these changes to the brain can be reversed by therapy.

The expression of a specific gene associated with risk of developing PTSD, and to a lesser extent the growth of the hippocampus, actually predict symptom improvement. Other positive brain changes were also observed.

This is obviously good news. It validates the anecdotal experience of therapists working with people with PTSD.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
Upper West Side Psychotherapy

Monday, February 10, 2014

Are Herbal Supplements What They Say They Are?

Here's a short summary of a recently published study that, alas, reveals that many herbal supplements don't contain what they say they do. The summary was published in Nutrition Action, a nice, inexpensive newsletter that my mother's doctor introduced me to. It's put out by The Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The name of the article is Are Your Herbal Supplements Really What They Say They Are? This is a concern to me as a psychotherapist because there are many supplements that can be helpful with mood.

The article doesn't really tell you what to do, other than to be suspicious. What I've done myself is ask healthcare professionals I trust - my nutritionist, a holistically-minded psychiatrist I know, for example - what brands they trust. I try to stick to those brands.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
Upper West Side Counseling