Stress, Psychotherapy, and the Paris Rentree

Thursday, August 16th, 2007 8:53am

September in Paris is one of my favorite times of the year because it follows a full month of ‘required’ quiet time as businesses close and most Parisians vacate the city for their favorite vacation spots. August in Paris gives me time to reflect on my life and plan for the future. Then comes September! And, even though I enjoy taking my ‘vacation’ in empty Paris, the sudden flurry of activity and the demands of responding to the realities of living and working in Paris, the energy it requires to follow up on projects that were ‘on hold’ for a month, and the overall feeling that everyone would rather still be on vacation often leaves me exhausted, stressed, and, at times, a bit depressed.

Returning to Paris after a rejuvenating vacation can be traumatic. Personal, family, career, and relationship issues that seemed to have disappeared in the mountains or on the seaside may resurface. Feelings of chronic dissatisfaction with one’s life may return. And, general feelings of malaise or feeling overwhelmed may overcome you as you awake to face the day or at night as you try to fall asleep.

This is an optimal time to invest in professional counseling and psychotherapy in order to grasp and utilize your sense of replenishment and well-being to conquer the various stresses and disturbing feelings associated with your return to your daily life. Massages, spa treatments, books, video & movie ‘therapy’ offer wonderful short-term relief. However, I invite you to consider investing a bit more on your ‘vacation’ by engaging in a  personal and individualized opportunity to explore in a confidential setting how you can utilize your own power to access your own exceptional states of consciousness and well-being to make every day a ‘vacation day’. And, yes, it is possible, and yes, there are gentle psychotherapeutic techniques to assist you in maintaining joy, optimism , and creative problem-solving skills as you face the ‘Rentree’ and beyond.

SYMPTOMS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA

Saturday, July 14th, 2007 3:30am

Certain social and psychological reactions are predictable in the wake of events such as relocation, separation and divorce, loss of a loved one (even a beloved pet), illness or a life-threatening crisis, or even a seemingly harmless event that triggers memories or feelings related to overwhelming childhood experiences.

I would like to highlight the following symptoms and encourage those who may be continuing to experience them more than a week after the stressful event to seek counseling. The sooner a person engages in a supportive dialogue with a helping professional, the less likely long-term symptoms will develop.

These symptoms are adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association.

1) A subjective sense of numbing, detachment, or an absence of emotional responsiveness.
2) A reduction of awareness of your surroundings…being in a daze.
3) A persistent or recurring feeling or sense that your surroundings are “less real” than they used to be.
4) A persistent or recurring feeling of being detached from your own mental processes or body even though you continue to have good reality testing.
5) Occasional or recurring episodes of amnesia or unusual forgetfulness.
6) Recurrent images, thoughts, dreams, illusions, flashbacks, or a sense of reliving the experience or distress on exposure to reminders of the tragedy.
7) Marked avoidance of stimuli that arouse recollections of the tragedy (e.g. thoughts, feelings, conversations, activities, places, people).
8) Difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor concentration, hypervigilance, physical restlessness, being easily startled.

Many of these symptoms are also associated with anxiety and depression. Often people will notice an increase in physical ailments such as migraines, gastro-intestinal problems, unusual fatigue,  non-specific aches and pains that have no medical explanation, and, in the case of anxiety, panic attacks which often mimic heart attacks.

ALL OF THESE PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS MUST BE FIRST EVALUATED MEDICALLY!!!