If Depression can Lead to Illness, What Causes Depression?

So much more to learn about the relationships between the mind, emotions and the body!

neurocomic7  Trauma image

Dr. Esther Sternberg’s “groundbreaking work on the link between the central nervous system and the immune system, (explored) how immune molecules made in the blood can trigger brain function that profoundly affects our emotions, (and) has revolutionized our understanding of the integrated being we call a human self.”

Despite that now it is mainstream to believe that our emotions, like depression, can cause illness in the physical body, “we need to ask what the molecules and nerve pathways are that cause depressing thoughts.”

The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions looks fascinating, I just ordered it. If you are interested too,  the latest post at Brain Pickings offers a good summary.



Dark Days-10 Tips to Live Happier till Springtime

Evening GloomWhen the days are short and the nights are long, do you feel like crawling in a cave or at least under the covers until springtime? Do you feel like Lord Byron expressed-“I am always more religious on sunshiney days”?

Mood variation dependent on the amount of sunlight affects many of us, mostly women. Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, as it is called, mimic those of depression-fatigue, lack of interest in things that used to be pleasurable, cravings for carbohydrates and weight gain.

If this is describing how you are feeling, here are 10 Tips:

  1. Get outside even if it’s just to rake leaves or shovel snow at least 10 minutes a day.
  2. Open all the blinds and curtains in the house to let all the sunshine in that is available.
  3. Take your laptop or book to sit by a window.
  4. Make sure you are taking enough Vitamin D.
  5. Replace your light bulbs with full (broad) spectrum ones.
  6. We are mammals. If you are getting sleepy earlier than usual, don’t fight it. Go to bed.
  7. If you must start your day before sunrise, set a timer on your bedroom light to come on a half hour before the alarm goes off.
  8. If possible, plan your vacations in January or February and go south to sunnier climes.
  9. Push yourself out of the cave. Get together with friends and do something fun. Join a Meetup group.
  10. Remember it won’t last forever. Each day from today on will have a few more minutes of sunshine!

3 Steps to a Happier Brain

Did you know that our brains have a preferential bias for the negative? Rick Hanson, Neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson, Ph.D., says that our brains are like teflon for positive experiences, but toBrimming Brain ensure our survival and keep alert for signs of danger, they are constantly scanning for the negative out there and then latching onto it like Velcro. No wonder we get depressed and anxious!

Thank goodness Hanson suggests three steps to overcome our negativity bias-

  1. Turn positive events into positive experiences. When someone compliments us or something good happens, we need to pay attention and not deflect it like teflon like we habitually do.
  2. More than just noticing it, we need to fully experience the pleasure, savoring it and intensifying the good feelings. As we allow our bodies to feel the positive emotion it gives the neurons more time to fire together and actually change the structure hardwiring of our brains.
  3. Now sense and focus intention on bringing this emotion deeply inside of you to the extent that you experience it becoming a part of you, ” becom­ing woven into the fab­ric of your brain and yourself.”

Positive thinking doesn’t just make us feel better, it actually changes our brains in visible ways, changing how it scans the environment and allowing us to see the world around us as kinder, safer, friendlier and happier. Read his interview for his book, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, http://bit.ly/1w559ca.


 Christmas Old Fashioned

Does your chest tighten and heart race, just thinking about the next few weeks? Do you wonder how you’re going to get everything done? Are you already dreading having to spend time with certain people? Are you worried about your finances?

No matter what our religious beliefs, December in America can run us through the gamut of emotions-love, joy and happiness, if we’re lucky, but also loneliness, anxiety, guilt, resentment and frustration. Just when we need it the most, we may also find ourselves not taking the time for our health and peace of mind.

Here are a few suggestions to make sure that you and your loved ones are able to enjoy the love and fun that the season promises and that you have time for spontaneity and to experience truly meaningful traditions.

1.  Take a few minutes to go back in time to 3 of your most beloved holiday experiences. What elements made it so special? Have you had any similar times in the last few years?
2.  Make a list of your top values and desires for this time of year.  To spend time with friends and  family, to show  generosity, to connect with your spiritual community, to have time for reflection  and for renewal?
3.  Now look at your to-do list and your calendar.  Are your desires reflected in your plans? Have you actually booked downtime?
4.  Now cross out everything that isn’t going to help you experience your truest desires.  Add back in time to get outdoors, listen to music, have a massage and visit some friends you haven’t seen for a while.
5.  OK, back to the list. . . of course there are some things that just have to be accomplished, but slow down and instead of viewing the holiday period as one long season, Wayne Dyer, in Holidays: How to Enjoy the Christmas & Hanukkah Season to the Fullest, suggests making every little facet a special experience. Be present and appreciate the acts of gift wrapping, decorating, and baking. Take in the aromas, sounds, textures and colors. Try to see it all again with the wonder and awe of a child.
6.  Don’t expect or even attempt perfection! Enter into the festivities with a light heart. Have you laughed out loud lately?
7.  Show by your example that it is not necessary to do anything for love and acceptance, starting with yourself!


My Gift to You-a Holiday Time Out Stress Relief Session

$25 off a one hour session (usually $85).  Available in my Wheat Ridge, Colorado office or for those of you further away, Skype and phone sessions are equally effective.

Call  720-760-0758 or email Victoria@technologiesoftheself.org  (Use by 12/23.)





Tis the Season to be Grateful, Next Month We’re Supposed to be Jolly

Sea Cliff Driftwood

Saying GraceWhat’s the difference? If you’re jolly, aren’t you grateful? According to Dr. Robert Emmons, the author of THANKS! How the New Science of Gratitude can Make you Happier, while there are many things that we can be happy about, the uniqueness of gratitude is that we realize that we have received a gift that we don’t deserve. It’s “the acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life” and secondly “recognizing that the source(s) of this goodness lie at least partially outside the self.” We can only be grateful to others, not to ourselves, so it brings a sense of humility along with the gift (4-8).

Offering grace at the family table, Bart Simpson prayed,

“Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.”

Donald Trump stated,

“All of the women on The Apprentice have flirted with me-consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected” (148).

Gratitude is knowing, at a deep level is an appreciation that what we have received was “freely bestowed out of compassion, generosity, or love” (7). The International Encyclopedia of Ethics defines it as “the heart’s internal indicator when the tally of gifts outweighs the exchanges” (6).

Emmons’s research found that when people took the time to write in a gratitude journal, not only did they feel more appreciative about things that they normally overlooked, but they reported–exercising more, sleeping better, experiencing few physical symptoms and feeling more optimistic about their lives. They were more likely to make progress toward their personal goals and to have offered emotional support to others.

Other important healing benefits are that-

Gratitude counters our natural adaption to pleasant events.

Gratitude mitigates toxic emotions and states like envy, resentment, and regret.

Gratitude strengthens social ties.

Gratitude increases one’s sense of personal worth.

Gratitude has a direct link to cardiovascular functioning.

In his intro to the workshop that I attended at Loma Linda Medical School, Emmons described it like this-

“You feel a deep sense of peace and internal balance-you are at harmony with yourself, with others and with your larger environment. You experience increased buoyancy vitality and flow. Your senses are enlivened—every aspect of your perceptual experience seems richer, more texture. Surprisingly, you fell invigorated at time when you would usually have felt tired and drained. Things that usually would have irked you just don’t “get to you” as much. Your body feels regenerated-your mind, at last, clear. . . At least for a period of time, decisions become obvious as priorities clarify and inner conflict dissolves. Intuitive insight suddenly provides convenient solution to problems. . Your creativity flows freely. In this state of inner harmony and deep fulfillment, you experience a sense of greater connectedness—to other people, to a larger whole, perhaps to God, or to a higher aspect of yourself. (From Gratitude as a Way of Life: Insights from the Science of Well-Being, Emmons, 2005)

Heading into the challenges of the holiday season, let’s remember to give ourselves a “gratitude intervention.” Positive results were observed with subjects who only journaled once a day, but here’s the perspective of GK Chesterton-

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play. . . and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, and swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in ink.”

Myth-”You Have to Hit Bottom to Be Ready for Recovery”


We’ve all heard it stated, as if it were true, that a person “has to hit bottom” before they are really ready to recover from addiction? Strong evidence shows that “reaching people early, when their problems are less severe and more treatable, leads to better outcomes.  Since 1996, the American Society of Addiction Medicine has recommended starting with the least intensive treatment that is safe.” http://huff.to/1v0G79W

Starting Oct. 15 I will be offering evidence-based support for relapse prevention. There are new effective ways to gain freedom from dependence way before you hit bottom! The program will be individualized to your needs, with 4 different packages with personal one-on-one sessions and coaching calls or group intensives with ongoing support. More information will be posted in the next couple of weeks. Give me a call if you are interested in reserving a space.  720-460-0758.

Man with lowered head

Life beyond/with Cancer Meetup Starting

Life Beyond Cancer

Cutting edge mind/body tools, resources and support

Thursdays at 6:30, Starting June 7

Nourished Health Center, 1740 Marion St.    Denver CO   80218

Research shows that survivors of serious illnesses usually demonstrate these three elements-

1. They have a sense of Purpose.

2. They are connected with People.

3. They feel that they have Power in their lives.

Our group will create connections, while we learn new tools to empower ourselves. We will look at our lives to discover and rekindle passion and purpose and find relief from the burnout from illness, stress and treatments.

When you fully regain your sense of purpose, people, and power, you will look at your diagnosis of cancer as a turning point. It can actually be an enlivening experience with greater freedom and awareness.

We will draw upon cutting edge resources and the following books-

Anatomy of an Illness: as Perceived by the Patient, by Norman Cousins

Anti-Cancer: a New Way of Life, David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD

Cancer as a Turning Point, by Lawrence LeShan, PhD

Guided Imagery for Self-Healing, Martin Rossman, MD

For directions and to RSVP go to-


Having Trouble Sleeping? Don’t Take Pills!

In a recent study, which “compared 10,529 people who received prescriptions for sleep aids with nearly twice as many people with similar health histories who did not take sleeping pills, researchers found that those who had prescriptions were more than four times as likely to have died during the study’s 2.5-year follow-up as those who didn’t take the drugs.” Not only that, but they group had a 35% increased risk of cancer.

I always offer my clients sessions to help them have restorative night-long sleep, but for myself, I have a CD ready. Once in a while I find myself awake at 2 or 3 in the morning, sometimes with worries or a to-do list, but most often with lots of ideas. I like to have a notebook and pen to jot them down while they are fresh on my mind, but after they are down and safe (you know how all those ideas fade when you wake up and start your day!), I love being able to just push a button for a voice that gently guides me back down to a very restful state.

It’s so fun to awaken rested and with some notations to follow up on. Many significant inventions have come to people during the dreamstate, but it’s also when our bodies and minds rejuvenate and experience deep healing.

Find something that soothes you and supports your sleep. There are many non-pill resources on the internet for insomnia and relaxation.

Not only will you enjoy your night more, but your mental clarity and health will benefit!

Sleeping Pills Linked with Early Death | Healthland | TIME.com.

Americans are in More Pain

The Associated Press reports that Americans are in more pain than ever, probably due to the aging of the population, so pain killers are selling like crazy.  The use of oxycodone, found in OxyContin and Percocet has increased 16 times in some areas.

According to Gregory Bunt, medical director at the Daytop Village treatment clinics in New York, as we are getting older, more of us are really experiencing  pain. “Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.”

Some new formulations that are ready for release will have 10 times more  hydrocodone as that found in Vicodin. Some of the increase use is due to many addicts switching to prescription meds for the great sense of well-being, but physicians are much more willing to alleviate pain for their patients than in the past. They definitely increase a suffer’s quality of life, so it’s very easy to develop a dependency quite innocently.

Fortunately, many individuals learn to use their own minds to block the pathway carrying pain messages from the site of injury to the brain, and even affect their brain chemistry, releasing endorphins and serotonin. This is one aspect of my hypnotherapy practice that is especially rewarding.

See also  Pain Relief in Your Own Mind.