Health & Wellness Blog

Healthy Boundaries in Marriage

Written by Dr. Lee Hildebrand

What are Boundaries

Boundaries are important both personally and in relationships. They are limits that we set for ourselves as individuals in terms of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in regard to how others relate to us. They protect our personal sense of individuality and sense of "self" so that we are not overrun by the demands and expectations of others. A sense of yourself as an independent person with freedoms, responsibilities, and limits is essential to engaging in a healthy relationship. In marriage, it is crucial to be a whole and complete person in order to engage in a mutually interdependent relationship with your spouse.

Understand Misconceptions about Intimacy

In the 90s movie, Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise gives the famous line to Renée Zellweger, "you complete me" proclaiming his view about their relationship. This is an inspiring movie line and can seem like the ideal for many of us in regard to romantic love. However, believing or expecting that another human being will complete us emotionally can be an unhealthy and unrealistic expectation. A healthy marriage consists of two complete and independent adults who seek to share all of what life has to offer together. If you seek the other person to complete you, that each emotion that your spouse has must be yours too, that when your spouse is upset that you must be upset too, that it is your responsibility to make them happy, then an enmeshed relationship is the result. Marriage partners that are "too close" and completely rely on one another for their well-being have an enmeshed relationship with little room to breathe. In contrast, marriage partners that have no awareness of the other person's needs, few mutual hobbies, little time together, and little sense of emotional connectedness are on the opposite end of the spectrum in an estranged relationship.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Written by Dr. Lee Hildebrand

Feeling Down in the Winter: You May Have Seasonal Affective Disorder

Do you feel a bit down during the winter months versus the warm weather months? You may be feeling the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. During the months of winter, people can experience the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a condition which can lead to periods of depression. The underlying cause of SAD is not entirely clear. However, researchers speculate that variations in a hormone called melatonin may be related to the condition. Melatonin assists in sleep cycle regulation and mood. The lack of light during winter months can have a direct effect on melatonin levels and result in symptoms of depression.

Who Is Prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect from 1 percent to nearly 10 percent of the population. People living in northern climates within the US may have a higher risk because of particularly short days. The symptoms of SAD can consist of depressed mood, low energy, and difficulty with concentration. Women have been shown to be more prone to the disorder than men and people with SAD usually have at least one family member with a history of depression.

Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Full-spectrum light therapy has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of SAD. Light therapy was first identified as a potential treatment for this condition in the 1980s. Since, light boxes have been designed that mimic sunlight by emitting full-spectrum light (light with a variety of wavelengths). These boxes have been utilized and shown to be effective in the treatment of depression related to SAD. Often, 30-minute daily sessions of light therapy result in measurable positive outcomes. This can be done in a comfortable chair and include reading, watching TV, or other activities that can be enjoyed while sitting beneath the full spectrum light. Light boxes can be obtained by numerous companies online and the treatment can be self-administered in the comfort of one’s home environment. A psychologist or counselor can assist with the accurate diagnosis and distinction of SAD from other types of depression.

 

Helpful Strategies for Parenting Adolescents

Written by Dr. Lee Hildebrand

Why is Adolescence so Emotionally Challenging for Parents?

Many parents find the transition to adolescence with their children to be emotionally daunting as their teens begin the process of deindividuation. As children enter the teen years, this is the beginning of establishing their own identities and pulling away from their dependence on parents. This transition can be very difficult for parents as they feel a strong connection with their children. Parents may be wondering who hijacked my child who showed enthusiasm and affection and replaced her with a doppelgänger twin who is more distant, irritable, and doesn't want to be seen with mom or dad in public. Even though a parent’s primary responsibility is to be supportive to their children, parents are human too and this distancing can be painful.

What are Some of the Characteristics of Adolescent Change?

There are many aspects of this journey which become challenging and perplexing for those of you who are parents with teens. Let's acknowledge it, even though you intellectually know the changes were coming, adapting to the shift in the relationship can be very challenging. First, the child who used to hang on your every word now doesn't want to hear what you have to say. The child that wanted to tell you everything now has moved into the "one-word response zone.” “Fine,” “good,” and “no’ become the most often used responses in their lexicon. The child that wanted to spend time with you all the time is now embarrassed by you, your cloths, your mannerisms, and your Facebook posts. In their minds, beginning at 12 years old, your intelligence level as a parent starts to dip from their perspective and reaches its lowest when they are 17 or 18 years old. Fortunately, your IQ will make a rebound in their minds when they're in their 20s. Furthermore, teens can become more resistant to direction. You may offer what you believe is a “helpful” suggestion and get the response, "I know, I can do it myself, I'm not a moron." These changes can, even in well-adjusted children, seem like quite a contrast from their disposition at younger ages.

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Porn Addiction: Crippling our Fathers and Sons

Written by Dr. Lee Hildebrand

How do you protect your family from one of the greatest epidemics in the 21st century?

Pornography, once relegated to the limitations of the pages of magazines and VHS tapes, has become available at our fingertips on any device. In the past, adolescent boys might accidentally be exposed to porn through a dad’s magazine, maybe seeing 8 to 10 pictures and hopefully moving on to the park after the giggles to play a round of baseball with neighborhood friends. Today, in a matter of days or weeks a young man can be exposed to literally thousands of nude pictures and videos, including any conceivable fetish with the twitch of his finger on any device. Statistics indicate that 9 out of 10 boys are exposed to pornography online before the age of 18. The first exposure to pornography among boys is 12 years old, on average. I have families with 13-year-old boys come to me for help with full-fledged pornography addictions. For adult men, statistics indicate 60 to 70% of men view porn, and 45% of men view it at least weekly.

Why is porn addictive and so dangerous to the individual and the family?

Seeking and viewing pornography images activates a neurotransmitter in the brain called dopamine which brings about a heightened state of arousal. Over time, the reward center in the brain will become habituated to this dopamine infusion and a person will continue to seek out the same high. Further reinforcing the potential addiction, the self-stimulation that goes along with the pornography and ejaculation create a secondary brain drug response which is like an opiate. This combination of neurochemicals creates a poly drug response in the brain which is incredibly powerful and addictive. Over time, the brain will become habituated to certain levels of stimulation and need new and different types of stimulation to obtain the same dopamine high. In turn, this can lead to the user seeking more unique and even sadomasochistic types of video stimulation. Many of the adolescent porn addictions that I treat involve some kind of picture or video fetish beyond the norm due to the need for increased stimulation. For both fathers and sons, this pattern of brain stimulation can result in a loss of interest in other experiences in daily life that used to bring pleasure. This progression eventually leads to depression, difficulties with concentration, and strong feelings of shame about a habit which is often kept in secret. For fathers, the brain can become so habituated to this activity that it becomes difficult to respond to ordinary sexual activities with a real person. Even very young men are experiencing erectile dysfunction due to porn use.

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The Discipline of Work: How to Reach Beyond the Limits of our Natural Talents

Written by Dr. Lee Hildebrand

One of the great mysteries is why one person when encountering hard things will work intensely to accomplish the task and another will pale in lethargy. Why can some people face hard tasks with such focus and others of us feel daunted by the effort required in these situations? Many gifted people have amazing intelligence, aptitude, and creativity. However, if they neglect the development of what I term "the Discipline of Work," they will find it very difficult to be successful in manifesting their talents. In fact, they may even find it difficult to function in very basic ways, such as completing a homework task or paying the bills.

My definition of the Discipline of Work is the development of the progressive ability to do some undesirable act in the present in order to gain future benefit. This concept clearly has an aspect of delayed gratification in its framework and is crucial to most worthwhile endeavors.

In my work with gifted learner's, defined as those with an IQ of over 130 and other commensurate qualities, I have found some as children and adolescents are able to get by for some time during their development exclusively on their natural talent. In fact, some of these students will report never studying at all during high school and obtaining respectable or notable GPAs. Over time, they admittedly become habituated to avoiding really challenging situations and "getting by" in most situations with their intellectual and/or athletic gifts. What often happens, unfortunately, is that at some point in their development they reach a challenge in late high school or early college which requires more than natural talent to accomplish. This challenge requires work, effort, focus, and consistency which can lead to extreme anxiety for the individual who has not learned these behaviors. In fact, with an underdeveloped Discipline of Work, these students may even flunk out of a semester of college because of these challenges and the absence of the scaffolding that their parents offered during high school.

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