The Celebrity Therapist

This weekend turned out to be one of those life lessons that when we let go of resisting something, anything and everything is possible.  My husband has wanted to go camping for the longest time with our family and I had been resisting the idea.  Yes, I am a city girl and my idea of a weekend getaway is staying in a beautiful resort overlooking the ocean.  I had not been open to this type of vacation, but finally, I gave in because it was so important to my husband. 

 There were at least 25 of us including my daughter, my husband, my husband’s siblings and our nieces and nephews and their significant others.  I was able to first-hand experience the joy of simplicity.  I noticed how present I became as I walked the camp grounds overlooking the lake, the other campers, and through the trees observing all my senses come alive.  I had resisted camping at first because it was something new and change for people in recovery can be a daunting task.    I wasn’t sure what to expect and to my surprise, I experienced complete and utter peacefulness and contentment.    

I realized that camping doesn’t require a lot of decision making.  When you go to a hotel getaway you have to figure out what sights you are going to see or what restaurants you are going to eat at, but  camping has its own rhythm and routines.   It allows for a sense of community and sharing with the simplest of tasks like heating a tortilla over the open fire.  One person would heat them and the other one would stack them.  So mundane and yet I felt so mindfully engaged in the process.   Sitting around the camp fire going around making our funniest faces seemed absurd and yet, so simple and fun.    Our bellies ached from so much laughter.     

 Focus on the simple things that still exist in our world today. We have trees we can stand under, flowers we can see and smell, and air we can breathe in deeply.   I learned this weekend once again to be open and willing to new experiences especially when I am resisting it.  I realized that much of my life lately has been isolative working endlessly to get my book out.    Perhaps I have been neglecting the simple joys of nature for the computer, cell phone, and fax machine.  I am grateful to my husband for allowing me to experience the essence of camping and renewing my body, mind, and spirit.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in private practice and on Celebrity Rehab on VH1.  Sherry is a frequent contributor to anthologies, blogs, and newsletters, and sought out speaker. Visit Sherry at for information about life-coaching programs, teleseminars, and webinars, and read her other blog at Counsellor Magazine and HCI.

2 Moms and a Mic

2 Moms and a Mic ?

Get Ready as I join 2 MOMS AND A MIC August 18, 2010 at 1400 to discuss your children’s addiction to celebrities.

Depression and alcoholism often go together, but which causes which is a chicken-and-egg kind of question. As I know all too well from personal experience that a couple of drinks can break down your inhibitions and give you feelings of confidence, well-being and even euphoria. If you’re feeling depressed anyway, that sounds pretty good.  However that euphoria can suddenly be followed by complete dread, hoplesness, and self-deprecation.

 But alcohol is a known depressant. The mechanisms by which alcohol causes depression are biological–and therefore inescapable. To start, alcohol temporarily blunts the effects of stress hormones; that’s one reason why we lose our inhibitions. But it also depresses the activities of the brain and nervous system. Studies shave shown that alcohol lowers the serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Both these chemicals are neurotransmitters–chemicals that help nerve impulses travel along the nervous system. Abnormalities in neurotransmitter activity can affect mood and behavior. In fact, there’s a whole class of antidepressant drugs (they’re called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs) that increase the levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the body. Although isn’t not clear exactly why these drugs work, it’s thought that these higher levels of serotonin and norepinephrine enhance neurotransmission and therefore elevate mood. That’s a complicated way of saying that, chemically speaking, alcohol does exactly the opposite of what antidepressants do in the body. One study of alcohol and depression looked at people who had just one drink a day–not all that much. After three months with absolutely no alcohol, their scores on standard depression inventories improved.  That is why it doesn’t matter how much you drink, the question remains, “How does the alcohol effect you when you do drink?”  Without getting caught up in labels, if whether you are an alcoholic or not, if you are continuing to drink when it makes you depressed, that is insanity.  That is why alcoholism is a “thinking disease”.   

Alcohol has also been linked genetically to depression. So people who have a tendency to be clinically depressed also have a tendency to become dependant on alcohol. It’s thought that heavy alcohol use can actually activate a gene that has been linked to depression and other mental health issues.

So, chemically speaking, the deck is stacked against the chances of drinking making you feel less depressed. In fact, it’s going to make you feel more depressed. It’s sobriety that’s going to make you feel better. 

High bottom drinkers have a very difficult time quitting because they truly believe it is the amount or how often they drink that determines if they have a problem.  I never had to drink much to feel depressed.  Is it worth it?  I think not.  Stop fooling yourself and remember, if your life is feeling like it is full or despair, frustration, and emotional pain, maybe it is time to get out of denial, and into a solution.  Try not drinking for a week and see if your mood improves?  Then make the decision is alcohol working or working against you in your life?

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in private practice and for Celebrity Rehab.  She is a frequent contributor to anthologies, blogs, and newsletters, is a sought after speaker and has developed recovery and life coaching packages for anyone who is ready to move forward in their life.  Vist Sherry at for information about life coaching, teleseminars, and webinars.