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Author: Shernide Delva
*Trigger Warning* This piece discusses trigger warnings. Please avoid if you are uncomfortable with the idea of questioning whether or not trigger warnings should exist.
The use of trigger warnings has become more mainstream. Now, some are wondering if this generation has taken it too far. Are we overdoing the trigger warnings?
In case you do not know, a “trigger” is something that triggers a negative or uncomfortable reaction. “Trigger Warnings” work to warn people the content they are about to see or read could make them uncomfortable. Trigger warnings give people the option of avoiding content that could cause emotional distress.
Recently, many have observed that society has become more socially conscious or “politically correct.” Whether or not that is a positive thing is a manner of opinion. However, the use of “trigger warnings” have undeniably increased in use.
Initially, trigger warnings spawned from post-traumatic stress disorders. Those who suffer from PTSD benefit from these warnings because they are more sensitive to sensory input. Anything from a film or piece of media might trigger a person with PTSD and cause them to suffer PTSD symptoms. It could be as simple as a sound or smell, physical space, a particular object, or a person. Anything that reminds the mind of a past trauma can result in PTSD symptoms. A person with PTSD may find trigger warnings helpful because it helps them avoid situations that trigger their PTSD symptoms.
The problem with trigger warnings is that everyone is affected differently. Even arbitrary things can be triggering for someone. It is natural for people to be more sensitive to things than others. We all come from a diverse background and upbringing. The question is whether protecting people from possible triggers is beneficial. Everyone is different. If everyone has one, should they all be accommodated? Are we becoming overly sensitive to other people’s “triggers?”
Do Trigger Warnings Help Those With Mental Health Issues?
An article in The Atlantic thoroughly questions whether or not trigger warnings are beneficial to those who have mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. The author argues that trigger warnings create a “fortune telling” society in which people prepare for the worse every time they speak. The act of “fortune telling” involves “seeing the potential danger in an everyday situation.”
On some college campuses, students demand trigger warnings for classic novels like The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. They argue that the sexually explicit content, violence, and language of these books should come with a trigger warning. As an avid reader, I find the concept of this unusual. While it is true that some students will react more to the content than others, are trigger warnings helping or hurting these developing students?
PTSD and Anxiety: Do Trigger Warnings Benefit Them?
For those who suffer from PTSD, like Molly Miller, trigger warnings have prevented her PTSD episodes and have helped her live a more manageable life.
“Some people feel like trigger warnings coddle sensitive people. I don’t see it that way. I see trigger warnings as a common courtesy to help prevent sufferers of PTSD, like me, from reliving our trauma. I recognize it is not fail-proof, and getting upset by our memories is a part of life. But what is so wrong with making an effort?” She wrote.
On the contrary, author Samuel Barr described his experience with PTSD. At the age of ten, Barr was abused by an older boy. He was left emotionally devastated and suffered PTSD because of the experience. He talks about how he spiraled “downward into a deep depression.” Still, Barr does not believe his mental health condition should warrant a trigger warning. Until he learned to stop seeing himself as a victim and finally received helped, he was forced to tip-toe in society. He says he believes this trigger warning mindset is not beneficial.
“Trigger warnings are one of the latest fads in an ongoing cultural obsession with glorifying victimhood, and as a former victim, I can confidently say there is nothing glorious about it. Contrary to the noble intentions of its supporters, trigger warnings do more to harm people with trauma backgrounds than help them.”
Should We Embrace Them?
Furthermore, Barr believes people should face their trauma rather than run away from them. These warnings will only continue to get out of hand and affect those who produce content in the first place.
“If you start warning, for one thing, you have to decide which unpleasant thing is worth a trigger and which isn’t. That isn’t a position an editor should be in,” stated Jessica Coen, editor at Jezebel magazine.
Johnathan Heidt, the author of “The Coddling of the American Mind,”says we are entering a climate where we presume the worse about the fragility and vulnerability of others. He describes this as vindictive impulsiveness which is “ a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up.”
Does this help anyone? Once again, that question can be debated, however for some mental health conditions, it can cause more harm than good:
“According to the most-basic tenets of psychology, helping people with anxiety disorders avoid the things they fear is misguided,” he continues.
Trigger Warnings and Addiction Treatment
When dealing with addiction treatment, addicts who seek treatment come from all types of background and find they are more sensitive to certain things than others. Professionals in the addiction field work to help those seeking treatment develop the tools to lead a healthy life in recovery.
In treatments, clients learn what triggers could result in a relapse. When It comes to addiction, triggers are a very real thing. A person, place, event, or unresolved mental health are triggers in addiction. Therapists help addicts understand what their triggers are. Ultimately, each person has to decide whether to avoid all their triggers or try to overcome them.
For those early in recovery, facing triggers can be a very dangerous idea. Therefore, trigger warnings appearing before photos or content that could raise temptation might be helpful. However, years into the recovery, triggers may not be triggering at all.
Everyone should play an active role in helping others feel comfortable and safe. Sometimes it is good to be aware of how you affect other and what types of things affect you emotionally. You may have to navigate life avoiding triggers and paying more attention to the positives. In recovery, you learn the tools you need to succeed. Take it a day at a time. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
In the past, eastern medicines, theologies and practices have been observed by the western world with a heavy hint of speculation. There was a time science was limited as to what it could and could not prove through technical studies what scriptures like the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali or the Bhagavad Gita, both sacred and valued text in connection to Indian and Hindu philosophy, told us about the mind, body and spirit. However as time and science has caught up with the claims made in the ancient manuscripts we have discovered more of the remarkable catalogs of evidence to support eastern medicines and practices… especially yoga.
Yoga has become more mainstream over the last decade plus, and it would seem that since its inception into western culture there have been compiling examples of how gurus from hundreds or even thousands of years ago have actually been telling us all along about the healing power in the science of spirituality.
Today, health and human service providers across America have shown a mounting interest in using yoga as a form of holistic healing, especially as an option for treating people with mental health problems. There is a multitude of reasons why the aspects of yoga would benefit those struggling with depression.
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Exercising physical health promoting mental well-being
- Emphasis on detachment from negativity and connection to higher self
The list goes on and on… let us make a few points about how yoga can be amazing medicine for depression.
UNC Yoga Study
A recent study published in the journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found there are some exceptionally encouraging benefits to using yoga to help address mental health disorders, specifically when coupled with other forms of holistic healing and intervention.
Rebecca Macy is a researcher who works with violence and trauma survivors. She also helped lead the study at the UNC School of Social Work on utilizing yoga to treat mental health disorders. In a statement about the study Macy said she was especially interested to really know what the evidence said; is yoga something healthcare providers should be suggesting to people who struggle with various mental health problems, such as:
Overall, the researchers determined that yoga holds a high potential for helping improve anxiety, depression, PTSD and/or the psychological consequences of trauma.
Depression, Posture and the Heart Chakra
Truthfully, any asana (posture) from the yoga practice has the potential to make a drastic difference when trying to overcome depression. Yoga engages the physical body to focus the mind and create space for intuitive introspection or spiritual reflection. Every pose can make a strong contribution to rewiring the patterns in the brain, while systematically utilizing an individual’s biology to alter their mindset.
That being said, I will promote one of my favorite types of asana when it comes to changing the mood- Heart Openers!
Research does show that sudden emotional stress can actually release hormones in the body that prevent the heart from pumping normally, which of course has an adverse ripple effect. So if we can scientifically say that emotions affect the body so acutely, it would only seem logical that the body could in fact be used to influence our emotions. If you open your heart, give it space to breathe and be beat, it might just surprise you.
Back-bends are some of the simple heart-opening poses that ease breathing and reduce stress by releasing tension held in the tissues of the whole chest and lung region of the body. A variety of back-bending postures are great heart-openers, here are just a few examples:
- Bhujangasana- Cobra
- Ustrasana- Camel
- Anjaneyasana- Low Lunge
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana- Upward-facing Dog
- Dhanurasana- Bow
Physiology has a very real impression on our psychology, and it has been said that opening the heart in some yoga poses has a way of letting positive energy make its way into our system. Warm up your body, warm up your heart and start to change the language of your life by engaging in yoga that heals.
Of course a yoga teacher and a believer in the power of yoga, I am a little biased… but that’s besides the point…
In yogi traditions the heart chakra, Anahata in Sanskrit, is located in the center of the chest at the heart level. Anahata is thought of as the wellspring of love, warmth, compassion, and joy that moves love through our lives. It is said to act as an integrating focal point of energy and as love is often thought of in most spiritual practices as the ultimate element of healing, the heart chakra is thought of as the healing center of the body. So when we talk about opening the heart we are tapping into the healing inside us all.
Mindfulness is Medicine
There has also been past research suggesting that mindfulness and meditation could be considered as alternatives to anti-depressant medications, or could also be used to combat the side-effects of medications.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) may now offer a welcome alternative for people wishing to avoid long-term use of anti-depressants, and mindfulness and meditation are bread-and-butter with the practice of yoga.
The list goes on and on as to the benefits of practicing yoga for the individual struggling with mental health disorders such as severe anxiety or depression, and I could sit here and write all day about studies and strategies closely connecting yoga to incredible outcomes in recovery from mental health and addiction issues.
My personal experience itself can support the idea of using yoga to overcome depression, as I am someone who has struggled with anxiety, depression and addiction chronically in my lifetime. As someone now in long-term recovery I can say that one of the most amazing experiences I have been given is to practice yoga and cultivate an intimate understanding with how unifying the mind, body and spirit has helped me dramatically reduce anxiety attacks, overcome suicidal ideation, and even helped me find new passion and serenity while rebuilding a life devastated by drugs and alcohol. My testimony is just one of countless accounts of how yoga transforms lives in recovery, so if depression is an obstacle in your life yoga can be a means to overcome it.
At Palm Partners, we believe in treating and healing the mind, body and spirit as equally important and unified parts that make up the whole person, and yoga is one opportunity offered as part of an innovative and restorative personalized treatment plan to creating lasting change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Nearly 20 years after California became the first nation to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would provide clear regulations on the multibillion-dollar industry. Now, California will move away from their unclear gray marijuana marketplace to a more state-law-regulated medical marijuana regime.
In the past, California had really loose regulations on medical marijuana use and production. Furthermore, these new bills mean California will be getting the “robust regulations” the federal government requires from the states.
The bills collectively known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) were passed by the legislature in late September. Lawmakers considered the action crucial since measures to legalize the recreational use of marijuana will likely be on the 2016 ballot.
The legislature’s biggest concerns were:
- The Impact of Marijuana Businesses on Communities: Establishing clear regulations and tracking methods.
- Edibles: How to sell, market, and distribute the infused products.
- Youth Access to Cannabis: How to properly regulate marijuana to prevent easy access.
Just a few weeks ago, I talked about how the lack of regulation of the marijuana industry in California was contributing to California’s water crisis. Many marijuana farms were using astronomical amounts of water due to lack of clear regulations and policies. As the marijuana business continues to boom and shift in different directions, it results in an increased necessity to establish clear regulation and tracking methods.
The lack of regulations has been an issue since the beginning and was frustrating to growers, dispensary operators, law enforcement and patent group since the Proposition 215 was enacted in 1996. The regulations will send a “clear and certain signal to our federal counterparts that California is implementing robust controls not only on paper, but in practice,” Gov. Brown stated.
There are three bills that are part of the MMRSA:
- AB266: Will establish the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation. It will establish licensing regulations on pot growers, makers and retailers. The bill will allow for-profit businesses to obtain operational medical marijuana licenses from the state. It will set forth guidelines when it comes to deliveries and implement business inspection guidelines among other regulations.
- SB643: Deals with handling felony convictions, security measures, record keeping, tracing and safe product handling. This bill will clamp down on clinics who irresponsibly issue medical marijuana to people who lack valid health needs. Too many people are getting access to medical marijuana licenses without actual health issues. It will also create licensing and other regulations that monitor the industry.
- AB243: Will establish guidelines and regulation for medical pot growers but on an environmental level. So, the “marijuana caused California’s drought” articles and criticism will finally be addressed among other environmental issues. This bill will give authority to nine regional water quality boards in the state to regulate the discharge of water, chemicals and sediment into the environment.
The regulations will create a much needed framework for governing virtually every aspect of the medical marijuana business in California from licensing to quality control, shipping, packaging, and pesticide standards.
The Price to Pay
Many are concerned that these new policies will increase the cost of doing business and therefore increase the price of marijuana. However, Jim Wood, assembly member and author of bill AB243, states that the regulations are crucial if the marijuana industry wants to be a part of the legitimate marketplace.
“There’s a price to pay, and part of that is the regulatory structure that goes along with that,” he explained.
Despite these regulations, many aspects of the marijuana industry remain unclear. California rule making authorities still need to fill in the blanks left by these three bills.
There are a few areas that need further clarification which include:
- How exactly edibles and infused products will be regulated
- Fees associated with licensing and renewals
- Residency and investment regulations
- Clear guidelines on how medical marijuana businesses will (or will not) conduct promotion of their products and services.
These issues and more will be address through state agency rule which won’t take place until at least January 2018. So although the policies were approved, the bills are not scheduled to go into effect until 2018. However, some may be phased in earlier.
These policies are a step in the right direction in clarifying regulations when it comes to the booming marijuana industry. Only time will tell the effect they will have on California’s marijuana industry and marijuana reform policies throughout the country. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-561-221-1125
Author: Justin Mckibben
Mindfulness meditation has been practiced by Buddhists for thousands of years, and cultivating mindfulness is often considered the key to overcoming suffering and recognizing the natural wisdom of both ourselves and others. It is typically sought through the practice of meditation, and mindfulness meditation is unique in that it is not directed toward getting us to be different from how we already are, but it helps us become aware of what is already true moment by beautiful moment.
In this modern age of electronic stimulation and digital distractions many would believe these ancient practices would be lost in the clutter of social media and constant connection to the online world. But it seems that meditation is having an unlikely moment of trendiness.
In fact it has become so popular that it’s the focus of a new app designed to help establish what it describes as ‘meditation made simple.’
Healing with Headspace
The new meditation app has been cleverly called Headspace and it claims by emphasizing attention on the present moment a regular mindfulness practice achieved through meditation is an effective treatment for various everyday concerns including:
As much as most would look at this kind of claim and label it some half-baked pseudoscientific sales pitch, there is actually quite a bit of scientific evidence that some of these claims are very authentic.
The site claims that 163 different scientific studies have shown mindfulness meditation practices have a positive effect on people struggling with anxiety disorders, with 90% of people with stress levels reaching clinical anxiety issues experiencing a significant decrease in their anxiety while meditating.
The sites main page also makes the boast that according to neuroscientists, meditation actually allows the brain to reshape itself without you even knowing.
Specifically they say neuroscientists have found practitioners had structural changes in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is a part of the brain involved in monitoring our focus and self-control, and they saw this after just 11 hours of meditation (not all at once, but all together).
The Headspace Program
The first step the app developers explain in their tutorial video is a 10 day trial program where you are taught the basics of meditation with daily sessions set for 10 minutes.
Once someone chooses to subscribe to the rest of the program, they are given access to “hundreds of hours of original Headspace content” which is said to include:
- Guided meditation exercises lasting from 2 minutes to 1 hour
- Special meditation series collection for specific areas of focus
- S.O.S. feature for quick moments of meditations in case of emergencies
The app also comes loaded with other helpful features to try and provide incentive for continued meditation and mindfulness such as:
- Tracking progress and stats
- Connecting with friends on their profiles
- Bonus points for meditating several days in a row
One other awesome thing that the Headspace site has committed to is that for every subscription purchased, they will donate one to someone in need. For me that seems like a pretty cool selling point. The fact a tool that develops mindfulness and promotes better mental health would add in some charitable action and help those who could benefit but can’t afford it seems like a pretty self-aware attribute in my opinion.
So far it seems Andy Puddicombe, the man behind this exciting new app, has now become a global phenomenon with his invention being valued at a worth of £25 million. Andy himself narrates the app, and so far it has been downloaded by people in 150 different countries and even has an army of celebrity devotees including Emma Watson and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Any Puddicombe is a man who says he did everything from teach English in Russia to work as a videographer on a cruise ship to sustain himself financially for 10 years while training to become a Buddhist monk, and now he has turned one of his greatest passions into a million dollar idea that is helping people all over the world.
Meditation can reshape and reform the mind in the most incredible and cathartic ways, and it is often one of the best medicines for people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. While we can a get long lasting benefits from meditation and mindfulness, but sometimes the recovering addict or alcoholic overlooks the usefulness of this practice.
Now you have the option of combining your love for all things smartphone with a spiritual practice that changes lives.
Being mindful is just a piece of the intricate puzzle that puts us back together once we have survived our addiction, and the whole process starts with the willingness to change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Depression is a mood disorder that most people know to be characterized by extreme fits of melancholy, grief or despair. It can come at random or be developed over time, ranging from moderate to severe, and it can also manifest itself in physical afflictions. Recent science has even suggested that there are blood markers that can identify depression, and there is a suspected genetic pattern to the problem.
There have been several strategies established to combat depression, and anti-depressant medication is a pretty general tactic. But is there a form of mental training that can help people recognize the onset of depression, help them control it, and that actually works as well as anti-depressants in preventing relapse?
The Magic of MBCT
Mindfulness can be defined as the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment. Mindfulness is practiced in Buddhism, and while it is not the easiest practice, it can be achieved through meditation and improve drastically on your mental health. So it is no surprise that mindfulness is being considered such a powerful tool for fighting depression.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) may now offer a welcome alternative for people wishing to avoid long-term use of anti-depressants. According to a study in The Lancet medical journal such kinds of medication can have unpleasant side effects such as:
- Sexual problems
Not to mention the risk of substance abuse. Prescription drug abuse has become a huge issue in recent years, and avoiding the negative impact from developing any kind of dependence on a drug (legal or not) can mean a world of difference to a lot of people. MBCT proposes another route.
Testing the Impact of MBCT
To better understand the effectiveness and usefulness of mindfulness for those battling depression there was a two-year trial conducted in England with 424 people suffering from depression. This study claims to be the first-ever large-scale assessment concerning the efficiency of MBCT as it stands up against the anti-depressant medication method. During this study period researchers found that MBCT users faced a “similar” risk of relapse to those on anti-depressants.
The volunteers for the survey were divided into 2 groups at random.
- Half continued taking their medication while the rest were tapered off the drugs in favor of MBCT training.
- The MBCT training had participants attending 8 group sessions, each session was 2 hours and 15 minutes.
- MBCT participants were instructed to also use daily home practice.
- MBCT participants were also given the option of follow-up sessions over the following 12 months.
Using a diagnostic tool used to measure the mental state called the “structured clinical interview” all of the 424 volunteers were assessed for a period of two years. Once the data had been collected the researchers determined:
- The MBCT group had a 44% relapse rate
- The group taking anti-depressants had a 47% relapse rate
Due to these numbers being so close many we disappointed that the MBCT did not technically prove to be more effective than medication. However the study leader Willem Kuyken, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford said that this information still suggested an effective alternative to those trying to get away from drugs.
Then again, mindfulness does not come with any adverse side-effects, it has no potential to be abused or toxic to your system, and practicing being mindful has got to be a whole lot cheaper than prescription medications. So maybe it is better than anti-depressants when you consider all its benefits.
Meditation is not just an alternative to medications, it can be also be used to combat issues with medications. Back in December of 2014 one associate professor at the University Of Utah College Of Social Work stated in a press release that the desensitization of opioid drug users can actually be reversed through mindfulness, and that it may even be able to keep them off the drugs.
So when talking about depression, it seems like instead of people relying too heavily on drugs (illegal or prescription) maybe they should consider the vast variety of benefits they can ultimately be rewarded with through practicing mindfulness. Learning to appreciate the present moment instead of measuring it against others is vital. Overthinking and stress can be faced head on with non-judgmental reflection and observation of the present moment. Depression can be very serious, and it is easier said than done to simply ‘think’ it away, but learning and engaging in MBCT can be a powerful influence.
Mindfulness is not only an alternative to drugs, but can also be a way to work through your issues with substance abuse and defeat your depression. Meditation and mindfulness are often promoted in a holistic healing setting, so if you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135