Author Archives: admin

Treat Insomnia with Psychotherapy

Schlaflos mit Uhr in der Nacht.

Can’t sleep? The new recommendations released by the American College of Physicians suggest people with chronic insomnia try psychotherapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), before turning to sleeping pills. CBT involves a combination of talk therapy, behavioral interventions, and education and can help patients reset their normal sleeping patterns. Only when this treatment isn’t effective, patients and their doctors should determine if drug therapy should be added.

“We know chronic insomnia is a real problem that patients present within our [doctors’] offices,” said Dr. Wayne Riley, president of the American College of Physicians (ACP). “We want to get away from the over-tendency to prescribe sleep medications, and clearly CBT can be a very nice tool in the toolkit.”

Research estimates that nearly 10% of Americans experience chronic insomnia. Sufferers have difficulty falling or staying asleep and can experience symptoms like fatigue, lack of concentration, and mood disturbance.

Before recommending psychotherapy to patients, the College asks doctors exclude other medical conditions that can disturb sleep, such as restless legs syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, and prostate gland enlargement. Doctors should also advise patients on behavioral factors that contribute to sleep problems, such as drinking alcohol.

Stuart Macfarlane, a notable therapist, believes psychotherapy benefits chronic sleep sufferers in a number of ways. For many people, stress and anxiety are the underlying cause of their sleep problems. With psychotherapy, patients can get to the root of the problem and tackle it head on. Additionally, CBT provides patients with the skills and knowledge they need to better manage their sleep problems and insomnia symptoms.  And, unlike sleeping pills, psychotherapy has positive long-term effects and doesn’t have the potential side-effects associated with long-term use of medications.

If you suffer from insomnia, talk to your doctor about how psychotherapy can benefit you.


What Is Psychotherapy and How Does It Work?

shutterstock_307284413Sometimes individuals may feel too overwhelmed to deal with their problems, which could result in a whirlwind of psychological issues. In fact, more than a quarter of the American population experiences depression, anxiety or another mental health disorder in any given year according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Even though the prevalence of such psychological disorders seems high, it is something that can be treated through psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy, also known as ‘talk therapy’, is the treatment of a mental disorder through psychological means rather than medical means. While some psychologists and doctors can certainly combine treatment methods with medication, psychotherapy is generally the first step in the treatment process. Through psychotherapy, individuals can lead happier and healthier lives while overcoming their internal struggles by talking out their problems with their doctor and changing their perspective. For instance, Stuart MacFarlane, a therapist, has helped hundreds of patients improve their overall outlook through psychotherapy as the patients develop effective and healthier habits.

Psychologists will apply scientifically validated methods and approaches to treat a patient and it may include cognitive behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy sessions, Jungian analysis and other methods of talk therapy. This type of therapy revolves around open communication and dialogue where the patient is in a supportive environment that allows them to freely discuss what’s on their mind. The psychologist serves as an objective, non-judgmental and neutral party that listens carefully to identify the problematic thoughts and behaviors that are hindering the patient from feeling their best.

Once the psychologist has gathered all of the initial information from the patient, they can provide the patient with effective ways to overcome their internal struggles. They help the patient change their perspective and cognition by teaching them new skills to better cope with the challenges they are facing. They may suggest the patient partake in breathing exercises when they start to feel overwhelmed, they may ask the patient to write down the things that trigger their emotions and they may even suggest the patient to exercise so they can boost their serotonin levels, which promotes the ‘feel good’ hormones.

Every psychotherapy session is different from one patient to the next because their needs are unique, which requires a customized approach to alleviate their specific psychological dilemma. This simply means that every individual who seeks psychotherapy will get their psychologist’s undivided attention because they will cater to their exact needs. Whether someone feels depressed, anxious, angry or overwhelmed, they may benefit greatly from psychotherapy. Additionally, psychotherapy can help individuals who are coping with the loss of a loved one, experiencing emotional turmoil over a relationship and even everyday stress.

Does The Winter Season Make You SAD?

light box shutterstock_181682366Could your depression be seasonal? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that generally occurs during the winter months. Although the winter is coming to a close, many individuals can still suffer from SAD well into the spring season. Experts think SAD may be caused by a lack of sunlight, which can upset your biological clock that controls your sleep-wake pattern and other circadian rhythms. This may lead to chemical imbalances in the brain, specifically problems with serotonin, which contributes to your mood.

SAD symptoms are similar to the main form of depression that include feelings of sadness, loss of interest in your favorite activities, abnormal eating behaviors (binge eating), weight gain, sleeping more but still feeling tired  and having trouble concentrating. Symptoms can occur intermittently throughout the winter season and people begin to feel better as the spring starts to progress. However, if SAD symptoms are weighing you down, therapist Stuart MacFarlane has some tips that can help you spring into a better mood!

Light Therapy

The winter season is known to have short days of sunlight and that can affect your circadian rhythm as mentioned above. Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, may help change the brain chemicals that are linked with your mood. A special light therapy box exposes you to light that mimics natural outdoor light and all you have to do is sit a few feet from the box and turn it on. Some light boxes can be timed to wake you up slowly with increasing light. Some research indicates that it can help alleviate some symptoms of SAD within a few days to two weeks.


Anti-depressants may be a viable treatment method if an individual has severe SAD symptoms. You’ll have to speak with your doctor about your condition to go over the possible medications. Symptom improvements will generally take several weeks to notice and you may have to try different anti-depressants until you find the one that best works for you.


Another beneficial treatment option is psychotherapy as it can help you identify and change the negative thoughts/behaviors that may be making you feel depressed. A psychotherapist can teach you healthy ways to cope with SAD and will provide you with a foundation to openly communicate about your feelings.


Exercising and other types of physical activity can boost your mood and alleviate some symptoms of SAD. As you exercise, your body will release endorphins that interact with the receptors in your brain and trigger a positive feeling in the body.

Even though the winter season is almost over, it can still take some time for SAD symptoms to diminish in the spring, so try the above suggestions so you can boost your mood and get back on track.