Jan 17

Neuroplasticity (src:goconqr)For a long time, the brain of an adult was considered as a rigidly fixed, hard-wired organ. The latest scientific findings, however, show just the opposite, proving not only something that Buddhists have always known, but also illustrating why psychotherapy ‘works’ ‚Ķ and that many of our weaknesses might actually be more changeable than we had dared to hope.

One of the most fascinating areas of research in neurobiology is the one dealing with the so-called ‘neuroplasticity’, or ‘neural plasticity’. This term refers to the ability of synapses, nerve cells or entire areas of the brain to change and adapt depending on their use. Depending on the neural system referred to, it may also be called ‘synaptic plasticity’ or ‘cortical plasticity’. The basis for the discovery of the adaptability of the brain and nerve cells was the research of psychologist Donald O. Hebb (1904-1985).

Researchers at the University of Zurich showed for example that for someone who experienced a right humerus fracture and was restricted to use only his left hand, striking anatomical changes could be proven in specific brain areas after just 16 days: the thickness of several sections of the left brain hemisphere was reduced, while parts of the right hemisphere compensating for the injury increased in size. Also, the fine motor skills of the compensating hand had improved significantly.

Simple, but amazing results in tests confirm that even the basic act of imagination can enlarge areas of the human brain: brain researcher Pascual-Leone, for instance, asked volunteers to practice a simple piano piece and then analyzed the motor areas of their cerebral cortex. He found that the area which is responsible for controlling the finger movements had increased in size. So it appears that the popular comparison by teachers to see the brain as a muscle is actually not that far-fetched: if certain areas of our brain are continuously used and ‘exercised’, they seem to develop – and our skills and the information that can be stored in these cerebral areas will increase accordingly.

In another experiment, the subjects should just imagine to play the piano piece for a certain amount of time. The astonishing result: exactly the same areas of the brain had been found changing as in the volunteers who had actually practicioned the piece on the piano. So just by thinking or by mental training alone – by an activation of the involved neural circuits -, physiological changes of the brain can apparently be stimulated.
Quite an amazing story in this context is the one of painter Esref Armagan, who has been blind from birth. Nevertheless, he is able to create realistic images of buildings and landscapes that he knows only from descriptions. Although the visual areas of his brain had never received an external visual stimulus, the associated brain areas are as active as the ones of someone who can see: just by the descriptions of the objects he later paints on paper, his brain is recognizing mental images.

Mere imagination can seemingly have enourmous effects on our brain, and actually we already know such effects from psychotherapy : it’s range of methods allows to ‘try’ new behaviors and mental concepts in the client’s imaginagion or the therapeutic practice. Later on, they can ultimately be implemented in the life ‘out there’. Piece by piece, old and hindering concepts of thinking are replaced by others that can make us happier, more confident and help us to achieve our personal goals and needs in more successful ways than before. It explains why psychotherapy can achieve supportive effects even with severe mental illnesses and neurological disorders.

To Buddhists experienced in meditation, all this will not sound new at all: if someone is able to concentrate on one thought for a long time, negative thoughts can gradually be overcome. By overcoming those thoughts that cause mental suffering, however, a physiological and permanent adaptation of the brain circuits may be achieved that had caused these negative thoughts before. What can be achieved by the external and professional guidance of a trained psychotherapist, Buddhist monks can reach only by themselves through years of meditation practice.

Therapeutic effects of neuroplasticity have been documented after strokes, in pain treatment, in autism, for symptoms of paralysis, learning difficulties, phantom pain and many more (many of which are mentioned in detail in the videos and the bibliography linked below). Just as epigenetics, neuroplasticity seems to be an evolutionary factor by which humans can gradually adapt to the demands of the environment they live in.

Resources and links:


The Brain That Changes Itself – short documentary: Canadian psychiatrist and psychotherapist Norman Doidge about the adaptability of the human brain.

Neuroplasticity and Rehabilitation   by Sarah A. Raskin
The Brain That Changes Itself   by Norman Doidge
The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force   by Sharon Begley
Books about Neurobiology   (german)

(Sources: N. Langer et.al, Effects of limb immobilization on brain plasticity in: Neurology, Jan 17, 2012;
Image sources: goconqr.com, persoenlichkeits-blog.de)

Blog entry first released in 08/2010 in german language (‘Neuroplastizit√§t’); continuously updated, last update: Jan 18, 2012)

Jan 12

A test checking for traits of the following personality disorders has just been put online:

  • Psychopathy / Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder

Even among professionals, there is confusion about the meanings and differences between psychopathy, sociopathy, antisocial and histrionic personality disorder, and much more so amongst persons who sense problems in their relation to others but need orientation on where these problems might derive from. This test tries to assist in checking for traits of each of these disorders separately and then giving separate results for each of them.

http://www.counseling-office.com/surveys/test_psychopathy.phtml

To achieve as accurate results as possible, this self-assessment combines screening methods based on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (used in contemporary research and clinical practice to assess psychopathy) and clinical markers for narcissistic personalities and histrionic personality disorder according to the diagnostic manuals DSM-IV and ICD-10. The test thus has a relatively high potential to achieve reliable results even when done over the Internet – however, it has to be mentioned that particularly for the personality disorders tested, the quality of the result might be lower if the person doesn’t answer honestly or is delusional, both parameters that are actually potential traits of a psychopathic or antisocial personality.

(Image source: 2.bp.blogspot.com)

Dec 27

Andropause is an onset of hormonal changes in men – mostly between the ages of 40 and 50 -, which is triggered by reduced testosterone levels.

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and is produced in the testes. It affects all body cells and is responsible not only for sexual development, but also for the specific skin, bone and muscle structure of men. It is equally important for the production of red blood cells, which supply the body with oxygen. And after all, testosterone also plays a significant role in providing sexual pleasure and emotional balance. At around one’s middle years, however, the production of this hormone gradually drops, and so do the testosterone levels in the blood. This reduction causes problems for many affected men: in German language, the saying “die Fitness ist kraftlos und die Lenden sind saftlos” (freely translated as ‘no gas in the muscles, no fluids in the loins”) expresses the feeling when the so-called andropause kicks in: depression, irritability, loss of concentration and vitality.

Possible symptoms of the andropause include:

  • Mood disorders such as anxiety, irritability, aggression
  • Tendency to depression
  • Increased weight and body fat, increasing abdominal girth
  • Increasingly poor short-term memory
  • Decreased concentration and attention span
  • Sleep problems and / or stronger daytime fatigue than before
  • Reduced desire for intimacy and lower sex drive..
  • ..or rational desire for sex, but still, sexual apathy
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Less frequent and intense ejaculation
  • Osteoporosis
  • low self-esteem
  • Hot flashes and night sweats

There are, however, considerable differences of opinion among experts as to which of these symptoms actually indicate a so-called ‘male menopause’ or andropause and were initially caused by testosterone deficiency, because for each of the symptoms in the list, there could be other root causes, even if a reduced testosterone level would actually be detected in a patient. Thus, in a way, the so-called ‘testosterone replacement therapy’ is often not much more than a ‘shot in the dark’.

Testosterone replacement therapy – yes or no?

Some doctors and hospitals today offer testosterone replacement therapy without much hesitation to men, often with the particular aim of helping them to regain their desire for a satisfying love life. Even with impending cardiovascular diseases, this hormone is sometimes used for prevention, because studies have shown that testosterone has a protective effect on arteries and veins, so there are good, potential reasons to say ‘yes’ to this kind of therapy (usually in the form of tablets, gels, patches or nose sprays). However, it is important to know that a hormone replacement therapy does not help at all if one simultaneously depletes his bodies’ health and resources. It is remarkable and perhaps not entirely coincidental that many men who are looking to start a hormone replacement therapy are also often frivolous users of¬† ‘fitness booster medication’ (self-medicated).

Ideally, taking on an artificial testosterone substitution should increase muscle mass, bone density, libido and performance. Under certain conditions, the ‘extra dose’ testosterone may also accelerate the development of an existing prostate cancer. A preventive control (PSA control) is therefore highly advisable.

But there are also proven health tips for men, which in contrast to the artificial feeding of testosterone reliably pose no health risks and are also very well suited to raise the testosterone levels:

  • Development of more self-discipline for a healthy lifestyle – something that many men never achieved in their lives
  • Balanced nutrition (vitamins: more fruit and vegetables; low-fat: greasy, oily foods and refined carbohydrates lead to weight gain, but: obesity appears to influence the production of testosterone!)
  • The waist circumference should be less than 100 cm (see BMI test on this website)
  • Enough sleep – at least 6-8 hours per day
  • Care for a balanced mental state – if something brings you out of your balance on a reglar basis, seek necessary support through psychotherapy or coaching: optimism and a balanced state of mind help to reduce stress. On the other hand, if men are overloaded (perhaps even chronic), endocrine glands will produce significantly less amounts male sex hormones.
  • Smoke and drink less
  • Natural resources: oats and ginseng have a testosterone-like effect, and an extra portion of zinc also helps the testosterone levels: lobsters, oysters and shrimp, soybeans, wheat bran and pumpkin seeds. Casanova was known to eat 40 oysters a day!
  • Exercising also stimulates the production of testosterone: best results are achieved with intense strength training with sets of 10-15 reps, peppered with breaks of 60-90 seconds (intervals of 15-30 sec will stimulate the production of growth hormone).
  • Good sex: sexual excitement and ‘games of desire’ help to raise our hormone levels over a period of up to two days and thus counteract the natural way of deficiency. Even erotic fantasies will stimulate testosterone production in the short term, falling in love raises our testosterone for up to many months.

Men have the luxury of being able to affect their hormone levels through their lifestyle more than women, because their hormonal situation does not change so abruptly and radically with age.

In the “self test” on my website you will find a self-test for testosterone deficiency, which can allow an initial self-assessment. In case of doubt, a medical examination with blood test is recommended.

(Initially published in German language (‘Testosteron-Spiegel erh√∂hen’) in 10/2010. Image source: understandinglowt.com)

Dec 19

Burnout or Boreout – in the last issue of the ‘counseling Corner’ / this blog I have already mentioned that people being ‘bored out’ often show similar symptoms to people suffering from high amounts of work-related stress.
Interestingly, on a physiological level, the neurological and hormonal changes are quite similar between both of them, and their consequences are as well. Just as burnout, being ‘bored out’ is seen as a cause for diseases of the cardiovascular system (heart, veins and arteries), the digestional system, and it also might raise the risk for autoimmune diseases.

Here are 3 typical indicators for a burnout dynamic:

  • Physical, Mental and/or Emotional Exhaustion: Free time snaps away in a blink without any feeling of recovery or relief (burnout) or it seems to be never-ending with eating being one of the few highlights of the day (boreout).
  • Depersonalisation / Cynicism: Unfeeling and impersonal attitudes and reactions towards others, particularly with people you are dealing with on a regular basis. The goal of this behavior is seen as an effort to create distance between oneself and the ones who are causing discomfort.
  • Reduced Appraisal of Accomplishments: You might feel that you don’t achieve anything remarkable anymore, wasting your time. A feeling of failure and insufficiency is indicating an increasing loss of trust in our abilities.


The main problem in dealing with progressed forms of burnout is that we don’t have access to our usual resources of energy, creativity and a positive mindset anymore that could help to gain ground again. Instead, you as a ‘burned out’ person might make your situation even worse by trying harder to succeed or to gain control again.

Basically, every strategy to deal with the burnout process must relate to reducing the workload and to find balance again. But for that, quite dramatic turns might be required, like to take some time off or maybe even a ‘sabbatical’ leave.It might also turn out that organizational changes or adaptations to one’s self-management might be required in order to avoid ending up in the same situation again. Often enough, it doesn’t help to blame a company or a ‘situation’ for one’s burnout since to a very high extent, it is actually our own psyche that makes us vulnerable and causes us to have a tendency to drift towards boreout or burnout. It is also us who have to find means to find back to happiness again. From a professional standpoint, it is essential to do that as soon as possible (instead of waiting for irreversable damage to one’s health), and ideally, to get professional support for it as this can remarkably reduce the time required to regain stability and to find balance again.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011; Image credit: thelocal.de)

Dec 19

“Burnout in Thailand? Impossible!”

That’s probably what most of us would think. But symptoms of ‘burnout‘ are not always linked to high workload alone, they can also have other causes. I have identified 3 groups of people that are vulnerable to symptoms of burnout, even in a sunny, tropical country like ‘mai bpen rai’ (‘everything up to you’) Thailand, but of course also other tropical countries abroad:

First, there are the foreigners who try to make a living here and who are employed by foreign or local companies. Often, they have to face high amounts of work-related pressure and stress right from the beginning of their assignments, while having arrived completely unprepared for the cultural changes they would have to face. Many are surprised and overwhelmed by how hard it can be to ‘juggle’ giving up the old life, finding and adapting to a new home, new colleagues and their work ethics, and learning how to get around and at the same time, to meet all the expectations they put on themselves.

Then, there are foreigners who try to start their own business in an Asian country like Thailand. These expat entrepreneurs are completely on their own, having thought that their experiences as tourists should have prepared them well enough. Soon, however, they face all kinds of obstacles in building up a successful business venture here as foreigners. Many things don’t work out as they would have back home with the same effort and money put into the project. Many little annoyances might gradually not only take the fun out of their dream of working in an Asian country, but lead to outright frustration and the feeling of never reaching a point where everything runs smoothly. And I haven’t even mentioned dealing with governmental institutions and paperwork.

Finally and probably surprisingly, even retiring in Thailand (but just as well in any other tropical country) can lead to ‘burnout’. I already mentioned the huge changes a migration to another country involves, and even if everything started happy and smoothly, after some time, the excitement might gradually fade away, perforated by disturbing or even annoying little experiences, social isolation or conflicts with other people. Also, many Westerners suffer from a lack of challenge and communication: they are bored out by the daily routine that kicks in after a while and feel stuck between meals, drinks and hanging around without any kind of challenge. Even finding someone to talk to at a certain nouveau level might prove difficult. But being ‘bored out’ has many physical similarities to burnout and might gradually make us just as sick and depressive. So it is important to take these signs seriously and fight them at an early stage before one gets overwhelmed by his or her own negativity.

In an followup entry of my blog, I will write a bit more about typical symptoms of burnout and boreout, and also outline strategies on how to deal with them.

(This short article is the blog-adapted version of an article dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues that was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011; image credit: Shiho Fukada, NYT)

Oct 31

Have you recently experienced someone acting completely out of line or losing control over themselves?

In Psychiatry, patterns of repetitive behavior during childhood and adolescence where the social norms or boundaries of others are violated are called ‘conduct disorder‘. I am not a particular fan of this term as it reminds me a bit of authoritarian teachers and governments. But what it actually describes if being used by psychiatrists and therapists, is a symptom range of over-aggressive behavior, bullying, lying, cruel behavior toward people and pets, destructive behavior, vandalism and stealing, that should give you an idea of what it actually means.

Often, affected children come from a difficult family background with abusive, aggressive or addicted parents. If the underlying problems aren’t resolved, these children might develop more serious personality disorders as adults: particularly antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorders or psychopathy . All of these increase the risk to cause or experience physical injuries, to suffer from depression, addiction, incarceration or even homicide and suicide, as they often intimidate others or initiate physical fights.

Antisocial persons don’t feel much of an inhibition to use weapons, and they have a tendency to deceit, con, steal or destroy property. While their behavior might seem confident and decisive at the outside, they can in fact feel very alone, anxious and hopeless, which often leads to alcohol abuse, depression or other problems.

One cause of the aggressive behavior of antisocial persons can be that they developed a ‘proactive’ but in fact mostly inappropriate, extreme form of self protection or need it as a valve to get rid of the emotional tensions they feel, not only inside themselves but also towards others. Unfortunately, in the case of psychopathic personality traits, this particular kind of relief is often combined with a lack of empathy and sympathetic concern for others, which reduces the hurdles to impose emotional or physical force on others. Thus, it is usually a good idea to avoid any open conflict with such aggressors. They would be unable to empathize with their victim or keep the conflict on a verbal level, let alone resolve it in a constructive manner. The best approach is usually to let them cool off and give them space and to give it another try at another day.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011; picture credit:www.corrupt.org)

Oct 31

There is a weakness that is particularly frequent among people in service professions, causing burnout and depression rates in the service industry to be some of the highest.

The ‘Helper Syndrome‘ describes a strong drive to make other people feel better. In some cases it is done to ease or divert the helpers from their own pain. But by no means you have to be a ‘professional’ helper to behave this way, it can be a friend, neighbor, associate or yourself who is vulnerable to getting pulled into responsibilities and tasks that others wouldn’t even think about taking at the first place.

The Helper Syndrome can contribute to outright abusive forms of relationships: the ‘helper’ might increasingly experience signs of burnout or feel exploited, and their highest efforts might increasingly be taken as a matter of course with little gratitude for their support – no matter how much energy the helper invests, he might never get to a point where everyone is satisfied.

Another unhealthy aspect of the helper syndrome can be a lack of self-awareness and abuse of the responsibility a helper has towards the helped. This is because a helping relationship is typically unbalanced; people are not on equal footing. A good helper will be sensitive to the imbalance, while an abusive helper will ignore or even seek it. Instead of supporting the other in becoming stronger or looking for additional (often: professional) means of support, the helper tries to keep them dependent, and focuses on reaching their very own goals. To achieve their goals they might even abuse their power, or the trust of the recipient.

So whether the motives for such behavior are altruistic (‘I want to give something back‘, ‘I don’t want them to do the same mistakes I did‘, ‘I want to share‘, ‘I can do it!’) or driven by dubbing their own psychological issues, it is always a sign of emotional imbalance and exploitation, of oneself or others, if someone ignores their own limits and tries to ‘fix’ everything only by themselves.

Typical forms of ‘helper’ relationships are: long-term relationships of non-addicts with addicted, aggressive, selfish or controlling personalities or relationships defined by a strong imbalance (with one partner being the ‘teacher’, ‘the sugar-daddy’ or ‘the boss’). They are functional for both, but quite resistant (and vulnerable) to change, which prevents at least one of the partners from achieving greater self-esteem and realizing his or her full potentials. While professional helpers can use supervision to reflect their work, in our private lives we can just try to take care for ourselves to avoid getting entangled in dysfunctional helping ambitions.

(Picture credit: http://westallen.typepad.com; This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011)

Oct 26

Almost everyone has seen it or even have personal experiences with what is commonly called ‘addictive relationships’. These are the forms of relationships where everyone around a particular couple might raise their hands in disbelief over why both partners are still together.

There might be a strong and obvious imbalance between both of them, sometimes aggressiveness or jealousy of one partner towards the other or blackmailing, but still, for some reason, the ‘addicted’ partner can’t find a way to ultimately break up or might even excuse their loved one’s behavior. Others are highly indifferent to the unhealthy aspects of their relationship as they are hard to see, especially if one is in the middle of it.

I have helped numerous clients get rid of their addictions over the years, and in working with couples (another major field of my work), I couldn’t help but notice certain patterns in chronically difficult relationships that resemble problems of addicts that their partners or family members have to fight with.

An addictive relationship thus is unthinkable without one partner who is emotionally unstable and would in most cases require professional support to successfully deal with their problems for one. This person might also be very self-centered and look very independent and self-confident – or very needy on the other hand. But this since they are not ready to do that or because they are delusional, it needs someone who is ready to ‘support’, or in better words: invest their time, energy and often enough money to take the edge off the other’s imminent issues and to keep not only themselves, but also the relationship going, hoping for things to get better in the near future.
But often enough, it just keeps a vicious circle going – a circle the partner might actually already have experienced during their entire life, sometimes extreme behavior endured by helpful souls who took care for them along the way.

7 Signs of Addictive Relationships:

  • Dishonesty. Both partners don’t communicate openly about their real intentions, needs or worries.
  • Unrealistic expectations. Both partners hope for the other one to ‘fix’ their problems, be it their self-esteem, body image, family, or existential problems. They believe the ‘right relationship’ will make everything better. Yet, they’re in a disastrous addictive relationship.
  • Instant gratification. One of both expects the other one to be there for him whenever he needs her; he’s using her to make him feel good, and isn’t relating to her as a partner – well, because she’s like a drug.
  • Compulsive control. Imminent threats of one partner to leave if the other one doesn’t behave a certain way, and anxious worries of the other one if this idea comes up. Both might feel ‘stuck’ together – for good or for evil.
  • Lack of trust. Neither partner is 100% certain about being ‘truly’ loved by the other one as sometimes they can sense the feelings of hate or desperation their partner is experiencing.
  • Social isolation. Nobody else is invited into their relationship ‚Äď not friends, family, or work acquaintances. People in addictive relationships want to be left alone and can react harshly if someone is asking about the status of their relationship.
  • Cycle of pain. Often, couples living in a relationship determined by addictive patterns regularly experience cycles of pleasure, pain, disillusionment, blaming, and (often emotionally or sexually¬† loaded) reconnection. The cycle repeats itself until both partners seek professional help or one partner breaks free of the addictive relationship.

Unfortunately, there is no simple ‘recipe’ on how to help such partners effectively, as the one who suffers most is often very resistant to all efforts aimed at helping them get back on their feet again. Often, someone with a neutral viewpoint as a counselor can help, but if both partners feel determined enough, have strong self-control and are able to accept mutual accountability they might also find back to a fulfilling, balanced relationship.

Strategies for Overcoming Addictive Relationships:

  • Make your ‘recovery’ the first priority in your life.
  • Courageously face your own problems and shortcomings.
  • Cultivate whatever needs to be developed in yourself, i.e., fill in gaps that have made you feel undeserving or bad about yourself and/or get rid of the problems that turned you into an addict in the first place.
  • Learn to stop managing and controlling others; focus more on your own needs for a while and improve your self-esteem to become more independent
  • Find out what brings you peace and serenity and commit some time to that endeavor on a daily basis.
  • Learn not to get ‘hooked’ into the games of relationships; avoid dangerous roles you tend to fall into, e.g., ‘rescuer’ (helper), ‘persecutor’ (blamer), ‘victim’ (helpless one).
  • Find a support group of friends who understand and share your experiences.
  • Consider getting professional help to speed up the recovery process.

Many of you will know firsthand how many times friends or acquaintances entangled in an addictive relationship end up emotionally damaged, financially weakened or even physically injured. What you as a fellow friend can do is to avoid getting sucked into the ‘black hole’ of such an relationship yourself and to push both of them to seek professional advice.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011; Image source: bhaskar.com; Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, Counselor; Hints on how to overcome AR based on Robin Norwood’s book ‘Women Who Love Too Much‘)

Aug 20

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) – besser bekannt als Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) – betrifft rund eine Million Menschen in den USA und noch mehr in Europa. Dennoch gibt es viel zu wenige intensive Forschungsinitiativen, kritisieren Experten in einer Aussendung. Die Zahl der Patienten steige an, aber das Wissen √ľber m√∂gliche Behandlungsmethoden fehle.

Im Krankheitsverlauf zeigen sich meist neurologische, immunologische und endokrine Auff√§lligkeiten. Die Ursachen sind – trotz einer Vielzahl von Studien, die vor allem auf biologische und Umweltfaktoren abzielen – bis heute ungekl√§rt, es gibt nicht einmal laboratorische Tests oder Biomarker, die Hinweise auf bestimmte organische Komponenten geben k√∂nnten. Zu den h√§ufigsten Symptomen von CFS geh√∂ren Muskel-und Gelenkschmerzen, kognitive Schwierigkeiten, chronische geistige und k√∂rperliche Ersch√∂pfung bei vorheriger Gesundheit und normaler Aktivit√§t. Zus√§tzlich m√∂gliche Symptome sind Muskelschw√§che, Hypersensibilit√§t, Verdauungsst√∂rungen, Depressionen, reduzierte Immunabwehr sowie Herz-und Atemwegserkrankungen – bemerkenswerterweise alles Symptome, die auch beim Burnout h√§ufig sind. Es ist jedoch unklar, ob diese Symptome einander gegenseitig verst√§rken oder nur das Ergebnis der “eigentlichen” CFS sind. Um die Diagnose CFS zu rechtfertigen, d√ľrfen die Symptome nicht durch andere Erkrankungen verursacht werden.

Das Resultat der schlechten Forschungslage und Information ist wohl, dass die Krankheit oft jahrelang undiagnostiziert und unbehandelt bleibt. Das Vorkommen der Krankheit und ihr Einfluss auf das Gesundheitswesen sei höher als besser erforschte Krankheiten wie Multiple Sklerose oder HIV, so der belgische Forscher belgische Kenny De Meirleir. ME/CFS ist ihm zufolge eine chronische Krankheit, die die Lebensqualität der Betroffenen enorm einschränke.

Professor Luc Montagnier – Nobelpreistr√§ger 2009 f√ľr Medizin – meint, dass das Wissen, das √ľber das Syndrom bereits existiert, medizinisches Personal aber entweder nicht erreicht oder es zu wenig ernst genommen wird. Montagnier, einer der Mitendecker des HI-Virus, unterst√ľtzt einen neu gegr√ľndeten Think Tank zur Erforschung und Bewusstmachung der Krankheit. Die mit diesem verbundene Organisation “European Society for ME” (ESME) hat das Ziel, das Bewusstsein und die Forschung f√ľr die ernst zu nehmende Erkrankung interdisziplin√§r zu sch√§rfen.

(Quelle: European Society for ME)

Aug 10

Eine der h√§ufigsten in meinem Online-Forum gestellten Fragen ist die, ob es sich bei den eigenen Stimmungstiefs bereits um eine Depression handelt – oder, und diese Hoffnung schwingt h√§ufig zwischen den Zeilen mit, ob das “nicht alles wieder einfach vorbeigeht”.

Und das ist gar nicht untypisch: 33,4 Millionen Europ√§er leiden an einer depressiven Erkrankung – doch gem√§√ü einer Studie des Marktforschungsinstituts Harris Interactive, die in 5 L√§ndern (Deutschland, Frankreich, Kanada, Brasilien und Mexiko)¬†mit 377 depressiven Patienten und 756 √Ąrzten im Auftrag der World Federation of Mental Health durchgef√ľhrt wurde, vergehen durchschnittlich rund elf Monate, bevor Menschen mit einer Depression √ľberhaupt √§rztliche Hilfe in Anspruch nehmen. Diese Untersuchung zeigte auch, dass die √ľberwiegende Mehrheit der Patienten (72%) mit mittelschwerer und schwerer Depression nicht wusste, dass neben den klassischen Depressionssymptomen wie Niedergeschlagenheit, Interessenverlust und Antriebsmangel auch k√∂rperliche Beschwerden (z.B. chronische Kopf-, Muskel- oder R√ľckenschmerzen) h√§ufige Symptome einer klinisch manifesten depressiven Erkrankung sein k√∂nnen. Erst wenn solcherart die psychische St√∂rung bereits somatisiert ist, suchen 79% der befragten Patienten Hilfe.

Was Depressionen “sind”, l√§√üt sich in der einschl√§gigen Fachliteratur, heutzutage nat√ľrlich auch im Internet, problemlos nachlesen. Ich m√∂chte deshalb im folgenden nur die wichtigsten Punkte kurz erw√§hnen:

Als wesentlichste Symptome gelten:

  • eine mangelnde F√§higkeit, auf positive Erlebnisse emotional zu reagieren
  • Verlust von Interessen, allgemeine Freudlosigkeit
  • gedr√ľckte Stimmung
  • verminderter Antrieb und Energie
  • vermindertes Selbstwertgef√ľhl und Selbstvertrauen
  • verminderte Konzentration und Aufmerksamkeit
  • Gef√ľhle von Schuld und Wertlosigkeit
  • negative und pessimistische Zukunftsperspektiven
  • psychomotorische Hemmung oder Agitiertheit
  • Zwangshandlungen, Verfolgungsgef√ľhle
  • Schlafst√∂rungen, fr√ľhmorgendliches Erwachen
  • Morgenpessimum (Anlaufschwierigkeiten oder “Durchh√§nger” am Morgen)
  • verminderter Appetit (fallweise bereits mit Gewichtsverlust als Folge)
  • Libidoverlust (sexuelle Lustlosigkeit und Antriebsschw√§che)
  • Suizidgedanken oder -handlungen

Wie sich eine Depression aber ansp√ľrt, kann man wohl selbst am besten empfinden – meist wei√ü man als Betroffener sehr genau, wenn man darunter leidet…

Besonders h√§ufig werden kreative oder auch sehr intelligente und reflektierte Menschen von Depressionen ereilt, dies ist aber keine Generalregel: Depressionen k√∂nnen sowohl h√∂chst rationale und in ihrer Gedankenwelt komplex strukturierte, aber auch sehr “einfache” Menschen haben. Ebenso unterschiedlich sind die m√∂glichen Ursachen f√ľr Depressionen: von Unf√§llen √ľber Drogenmi√übrauch, altersbedingten Ver√§nderungen, Trennungen etc. etc. ist der Bogen an denkbaren Ursachen schier unbegrenzt. Die sogenannten “endogenen” Depressionen werden als Sonderform klassifiziert und vor allem mit neurologischen Abweichungen vom “gesunden” Normalzustand erkl√§rt. Ebenso wie den neuerdings in der Bedeutung hochgespielten genetischen Erkl√§rungen stehe ich als systemischer Therapeut diesen Modellen eher ‘differenziert’ gegen√ľber, denn letztendlich beantworten sie noch nicht die Frage, warum eine Depression gerade bei den Betroffenen tats√§chlich ausgel√∂st wurde und in welchem Umfeld sie “gedeihen” oder sich sogar verst√§rken kann (also in Folge auch, wie sie l√∂s- und heilbar sind – eine pharmakologisch verursachte Aufhellung des Gem√ľtszustandes werden wohl die wenigsten, nicht mal die tendentiell eher biologisch denkenden Mediziner, als Heilung betrachten).

Helfen k√∂nnen – jedoch nur bei sehr einfachen und vor√ľbergehenden¬† “Stimmungstiefs” – positive Selbstsuggestionen und alles, was mit Selbstkontrolle zu tun hat. Ich habe in einem meiner dzt. auf diesen Seiten aufgelisteten Artikel n √ľber Depressionen einige M√∂glichkeiten daf√ľr angef√ľhrt.
Bei länger anhaltenden, wiederkehrenden und vor allem schwerer belastenden Formen von Depression sollte in jedem Fall psychotherapeutische Hilfe gesucht werden, die darauf spezialisiert ist, bei diesem Problemkreis weiterzuhelfen.
Die zus√§tzliche Einnahme von Psychopharmaka wird von einem Psychotherapeuten empfohlen, wenn eine Depression so schwer ist, da√ü andernfalls der Therapieerfolg gef√§hrdet w√§re. Ziel ist, m√∂glichst gute Symptomentlastung f√ľr die erste Phase der Therapie, bis eine gewisse grundlegende psychische Stabilit√§t erreicht ist, zu erreichen.

Weiterf√ľhrende Links:
Selbsttest auf Depressionen auf dieser Website
The painful truth Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, 2006

Terms Cloud:
06.01.16