Doing Life Together

letters-229725_1920Most of us know the importance of forgiveness, but how well do we do when it comes to forgiving ourselves? As important as forgiving others is, it is also true that self-forgiveness needs to be a part of forgiveness. So why do we struggle so much in this area?

From a spiritual perspective, once we repent, God holds no records of right and wrong. This is often a difficult concept to embrace. Because of guilt and harm we may have done to others, it is hard to believe that the slate could be wiped clean. But let’s consider the stories of Paul and King David from the Bible.

Both men sinned in ways that were extremely hurtful to others and caused harm and even death. Paul murdered Christians in the name of religion and yet wrote much of the New Testament. King David committed both adultery and murder and yet was described as a man after God’s own heart. Both of these men refused to allow their pasts to define their futures. If they had, feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy or even guilt would have preempted them from doing all God had for them to do.

Have you ever thought about that? Not forgiving yourself can keep you from doing the things God has called you to do. Instead, we can be grateful for forgiveness, live in forgiveness and have God’s view–it’s done, gone and even forgotten. Then, we can move forward with the things he has for us to accomplish.

Nothing stops God from forgiving you. Your sin can be horrific, but if there is true repentance, God still forgives. So receive His forgiveness and move forward in your life. Don’t allow accusing thoughts to populate your mind. Don’t rehearse your failures and mistakes and keep them front and center in some skewed view of humility. Instead, receive forgiveness and move on. If not, you can’t live in joy and freedom as you will always be focused on the wrong doing. Then, as Jesus admonished, go and sin no more.

disappointed-2167435_1920Jack has suffered with depression for years. He is one of 5 million people who have what is called treatment-resistant depression. He has tried numerous antidepressant drugs that would work for awhile and then seem to stop working. Recently, he joined a clinical trial using a drug that most people know as a psychedelic one-ketamine. Ketamine has been used by anesthesiologist to put people under before surgery, but it is widely known as “Special K,” an hallucinogen used by club goers to trip. It is an easy drug to abuse.

Now, the drug is being studied to bring possible hope to those suffering from stubborn depression. And because ketamine is legally prescribed for anesthesia, it has been used off label as a possible new treatment. Currently the trials are small and few, but the early results seem promising.

The drug is not yet FDA approved for depression but it appears that the response from those with treatment-resistant depression is hopeful. Patients report that it seems to help with suicidal thoughts and has rapid results.

How ketamine exactly works to fight resistant depression is not exactly known, but it seems to work rapidly in the brain. Because it has not been largely studied as a depression treatment, we don’t know the consequences and potential side effect of using this repeatedly for depression. With anesthesia, one doses given. As a depression treatment, doses are repeated because the effects are temporary. And the drug is costly($400-$800 a treatment) and rarely covered by insurance.

Also, because it is a drug of abuse, people can become dependents on it. Furthermore, it has been correlated with bladder toxicity and cognitive problems in the recreational drug crowd.

A task force of the American Psychiatric Association has said that ketamine is not ready for a roll out to the public. It needs more study despite the fact that private clinics have popped up all over the country and are providing this treatment. A big concern is that this treatment may not be a long term solution and may stimulate opioid receptors in the brain. This could then bring on the problem of potential addiction like we currently see with opioids.

That said, researchers are working on how the drug works, how to dose it and use it as an antidepressant so as to not provide the euphoric effect. So stay tuned on this one. As clinical trials continue, we may see a new treatment for hard to treat depression. More research will be telling.

money-2700212_1920The root cause of anxiety is sometimes easier to spot than others.

Sharon was about to go into her promotions meeting at work, but began to feel her heart race, her palms sweat and her hands shake. She was having trouble breathing and felt sick to her stomach. She just wanted to leave her supervisor’s waiting area and find a place to calm down. So she told the executive administrator that she didn’t feel well and needed to reschedule the meeting. Sharon was having a panic attack.

Anxiety is the most common psychiatric disorder and often unrecognized and untreated. But in Sharon’s case, the panic she felt was about more than her worries regarding promotion. Sharon’s root cause of anxiety was her fear of rejection. Anxiety was prompted by her thoughts and beliefs. But anxiety can rise up in a person’s life from all kinds of problems and may not be related to only related to negative thoughts or beliefs.

We are body, mind and spirit. All three impact each other. Physical problems can mimic anxiety and anxiety can be caused by physical problems. Here are a few other root causes of anxiety that you may not think about:

Cardiac: Anxiety can be a byproduct of cardiovascular disease. It’s symptoms can be similar to Sharon’s, e.g., panic.  Cardiac symptoms may present like anxiety. Examples are angina, arrhythmias, cardiac tamponade, congested heart failure, myocardial infarction and more.

Endocrine conditions: Anxiety can be a symptom associated with endocrine conditions such as Cushing disease, diabetes, parathyroid and thyroid disease, pancreatic tumors and more due to the impact of disease on the body.

Gastrointestinal problems: The more anxiety you have, the more at risk you are for GI problems. Irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer disease and other are more associated with those who have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Posttraumtic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Parkinson disease: It is not uncommon to see social anxiety and panic attacks with those diagnosed with  Parkinson disease and other neurological diseases.

Inflammation: Anxiety can cause changes in the inflammatory response. Thus, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other inflammatory conditions can present with anxiety.

Camouflage:  Anxiety can sometimes mimic a medical illness when symptoms like tachycardia, palpitations, sweating, flushing, dry mouth, dizziness, tremor, muscle tension, headaches, and fatigue occur.

So if you are struggling with anxiety,  consider how your body, mind and spirit play into symptoms in order to address the root causes of anxiety. Addressing the root cause of anxiety makes a difference in the success of treatment.



business-man-2452808_1920Long gone are the days when someone using porn has to wait for a brown paper wrapped magazine to be delivered to his house. Now, thanks to the Internet, the digital world of pornography can be accessed at the click of a mouse. The stimuli of  digital porn is enough to get a rush of hormones going unrelated to any relationship. The brain associates the pleasure of sex with the clicking of digital images. And this can be done alone at anytime.

And when someone clicks away at image after image, sexual behavior becomes boring and more is needed to stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain. This is why digital porn users become more and more deviant in their choice of images. They have built a tolerance to “average” sexual images and need more to kick start the hormone surges of pleasure. The fall out can be erectile dysfunction and intimacy issues when real time sexual opportunities present.

When porn users have their brains scanned, the same pathways involved in drug and alcohol use are being used. The activation of these pleasure centers happens quickly and response times are strong, making addiction possible. The brain wants more and needs more graphic and deviant pictures to be stimulated. The effects are toxic. And those who use digital porn behave like addicts. Watching porn is like an alcoholic watching ads for a drink. But there is still a question as to whether or not porn watchers become addicted or are dealing with compulsive behavior.

Interestingly a 2013 United Kingdom study looked at the personality traits of men who had difficulty resisting the temptation to look at porn websites. The study identified these traits as making those men more vulnerable–neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and obsessional checking behaviors. The conclusion was that their personality traits made the men more vulnerable to compulsive behavior.

Regardless of the classification, porn use can interfere with real-life sex. Porn activates the reward centers of the brain and provides a temporary buzz. It activates a protein that is responsible for turning on long-term cravings, driving the user back for more. And when it is released in the brain, it sticks around for awhile, creating a craving for more. The more you crave, the more porn you view. The brain has learned to seek the reward. And that pull can create compulsive use.