Is Botox a Replacement for Psychotherapy and Counselling?

Does Freezing our Expressions Mean an End to Psychotherapy and Counselling Exploration?

In March 11th edition of The Guardian Mental Health, Jay Watts wrote the following:

“The publication of a new book, The Face of Emotion: How Botox Affects Our Moods and Relationships, by dermatologist and MD Eric Finzi, together with several recent academic studies on the effects of Botox on mood, have generated a spate of phone calls this week from beauty editors to psychologists like me. Is it true, we are asked, that injecting Botox can actually change the way we feel, transforming not just our body image but also the very emotions we experience within ourselves?

The new studies revive the old “motion is emotion” theory to suggest if a woman cannot make certain expressions – such as frowning – she is less likely to feel discontent or depressed. Her brain, the argument goes, will not read muscular movement associated with anger as present, so she will not feel angry. Aesthetic procedures that freeze our expressions can thus affect our emotional lives. Should the depressed be reaching for the Botox? Can facial filler really make us happier?

When parents threaten their grimacing children “if the wind changes, your face will stay like that forever”, they offer it as a threat. Yet the aesthetics industry would see “staying like that forever” as a good thing, providing the face stuck to is one that does not show any sign of ageing, distress or – in this new wave of propaganda – anger.

Most of us think that our facial expressions reflect our feelings, experiences, age, and perhaps when we last went to buy makeup. We also tend to think people’s faces express their more general take on the world. The comedian Jack Dee, for example, has talked about how his “hangdog expression” is seen by most as saying something about his outlook. “The motion is emotion” theory argues the opposite. It is our facial expression that dictates how we actually feel, rather than revealing an underlying state. If a face is frowning – an expression often associated with anger – we may recognise this association and begin to actually feel angry inside. Others may then react to us as if we were angry, producing a reinforcement cycle where people frown back at us and we are caught in a perpetual spiral of rage.

This theory goes back to the early 20th century, when psychologist and philosopher William James argued that “a man does not cry because he is sad, he is sad because he cries”. Emotion here is seen as a reaction in the body – a set of muscular and chemical events. Recent studies have revived these ideas, claiming that freezing emotional expression through using Botox has a positive effect on depression. Journalists are being briefed that Botox may even prove a universal panacea for depression as a facial motion previously associated with anger is no longer possible, which will make us all happier. Should we throw out the SSRIs and rush to Harley Street?

Maybe not yet. All this is based on a very simplistic understanding of emotion. Within the laboratory, a face with a frown may be read as quickly as an angry one, yet our real-world experiences of each other are nearly always in interaction. Our brains pick up cues of how someone else might be thinking and feeling on a second-by-second basis. We do not see a couple of frown lines, a couple of furrows and process “sad face”, “happy face” but rather pick up cues from a mixture of facial expression, gait, voice cadence, posture, context, eye movement, as well as the fantasies and projections we bring with us to every social exchange.

The new “Botox theory” ignores this complexity, seeing emotion as little more than the awareness of a set of physical reactions. It also neglects something crucial described by writers for centuries: the horror of the uncanny. We experience this when we see an actress or woman of a certain age and feel that something is wrong. Perhaps she has the plumped out cheeks of early youth, the ironed-out forehead of Botox, yet also middle-age crow’s feet. If the work is good, we may not know explicitly what is wrong, but we sense instantly that something is awry. There is a gap between the mask we see and what we expect to be in its place.

This will have an immediate effect on how we then relate to that person. Someone may be telling us the saddest story, but if the facial cues are dissonant, we won’t be quite present either. Colleagues tell me of their feeling “something is really wrong” with new patients because they find it difficult to attune to what is going on for them, only later to find out the patient has regular Botox. And this, of course, generates its own paranoia: “Does he know?”, “Is she treating me differently?”, “Can people tell?”.

The misappropriation of the “motion is emotion” theory by a plastic surgery industry that wants to get rid of our angry faces to make us happier forecloses the real issue. People can tell when something is not right with facial expression, and that will leave women feeling more alienated, more alone, more paranoid than ever. Botox might block us from making the expressions we used to make when angry, but it can never get rid of our internal worlds. If there is anger there, why not think about it rather than try to excise it? The Botox route, fuelled by questionable “science”, denies the legitimacy of a woman’s anger, as if de-ageing and depoliticising had become one and the same thing.”

Just because we do not show an expression does not mean that the cause of depressed or upsetting feelings has gone away. Sometimes help to discover and understand these causes is needed and professional psychotherapy support is required.

The three psychotherapists at The cavendish Psychotherapy Practice at 121 Harley Street, London, are professional, experienced, confidential and ethical and can work with you to uncover the roots of your difficulties.

Men are Less likely to Seek Psychotherapy or Counselling than Women

Men are More Reluctant to Seek Psychotherapy and Counselling help than Women

In a recent article published in the BACP’s monthly magazine, ‘Therapy today’, Colin Penning writes, “Many people think men’s emotional literacy and ability to articulate their feelings is less than that of women. The question then is, do these assumptions about men reflect a stereotype or a reality? This was the question that Relate and the Men’s Health Forum set out to explore in their new report Try to See it My Way.

We know that men are more reluctant than women to seek support and advice when relationships run into difficulties. Far fewer men use telephone advice and helpline services. We also know that men are less likely to access counselling services generally. Men make up just 36 per cent of referrals to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. They are also under-represented in relationship support services: just 44 per cent of Relate’s clients are men.

So why can’t (or won’t) men seek help for emotional problems? The first and most obvious answer is that men are socialised not to admit to vulnerability, which is a prerequisite of securing help. The second is that maybe we aren’t offering the kind of support that men can relate to and that they find helpful.

The report suggests work is a key factor. Men’s tendency to work longer hours can cause relationship problems and conflicts around the life–work balance; financial difficulties can increase pressure on the man, who is often still the primary breadwinner in the family.

One of the key findings of the report is that men and women have very different approaches to communication. Insights generated by two focus groups of Relate counsellors found that men have a tendency to want to ‘solve problems’ while women want to discuss change and understand why things have happened. So men are coming to counselling with unrealistic expectations.

But the Relate counsellors told us that men may have become more open to the idea of relationship counselling in recent years. And they told us there may be things we can do to reach out to and engage men in taking better care of their own emotional health.

Our report makes a series of recommendations. Some are to national Government around raising men’s awareness of the importance of emotional health and making personal, social and health education a statutory requirement in schools. ”

Admitting to finding things difficult and seeking help is not a weakness. The therapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice have many years experience working through issues presented by male patients in order to discover what lies at the root of their difficulties.

The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice is found at 121 Harley Street, London.

Psychotherapy Support for Suicidal Older Men

Need for Psychotherapy and Counselling Support as Evidence Shows the Increase in Suicide of Older Men 

The Office for National Statistics has released data showing that the number of suicides amongst men aged over 55 has risen by 12% over the past decade, whilst suicides by men aged under 34 dropped by 30%. These statistcs are supported by the mental health charity, Calm who claim that men aged 45-54 are the most likely to consider taking their own life.

Jane Powell, the Chief Executive of Calm, also points out that there is a large difference between the number of men who take their life compared with the number of women, the higher number being men. Official Statistics show that 4,517 people in England and Wales killed themselves in 2010, of whom 75% were men.

She speculates, “If you are middle-aged just now and your job and life prospects are diminishing then this is tough. There is work to show that the impact of unemployment hits men harder, and later on in life; that it’s easier for women whose lives are not necessarily defined by work and for whom part-time or temporary work isn’t by definition bad. Our research shows that thinking about suicide is more common than we realise, and that men and women are almost equally liable to feel suicidal. What is significant is that more men actually go on to take their lives.”

Two possible reasons for this could be, “First, because men are by default supposed to be in control, in charge at all times and so therefore needing help is by definition unmanly. And second because all too often men don’t recognise what the problem is, they’ll feel out of control, angry with everything, find that their life is out of focus, not be interested in what’s happening around them, and they won’t recognise that they are depressed. And because as a man they’re supposed to be invulnerable, then suddenly the options they have of getting out of their situation start to look very slim.”

Further statistics in a YouGov survey concerned with adults who have considered suicide illustrate the importance of relationship status. The number of children in a household was also a factor, with 18% of men with one child expressing suicidal thoughts, compared with 27% with three or more children.

Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of Samaritans, said: “There is strong evidence to show that interventions to support people at risk of suicide make a difference”.

Depression and subsequent suicidal thoughts are not uncommon. Recognising these thoughts and feelings and seeking help are important steps to intervene in a possible downward spiral. The professional psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on London’s Harley Street are experienced in working with clients struggling with painful and frightening thoughts and will work with you to understand what lies behind them and help you bear what seems unbearable.

Psychotherapy Support for Actors

Research Shows Psychological Vulnerability in Actors

A recent study by California State University looked at the psychology of the sort of people who choose to become actors. The results imply that these people tend to be imaginative but also emotionally vulnerable.

Paula Thomson and S. Victoria Jaque wrote in the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts journal that “Our study adds to the body of research that suggests there is a psychological cost for participants engaged in the creative arts”.

Their study looked at 41 professional actors living in Cape Town. Toronto and Los Angeles and compared them with people from other artistic groups such as athletes and art lovers.

What they discovered was that, “Even though there was no difference between the two groups for past traumatic events, more actors were unable to maintain narrative coherence when discussing memories of past trauma and loss.” The actors struggled when attempting to discuss past traumas which the researchers felt suggested that they find it harder to resolve these traumas.

The researchers illustrated how the actors had an increased ability to “remain engaged, regulated and coherent during the interview process”, however, they were also more likely to show signs of confusion, prolonged silence or “unsuccessful failures to deny a traumatic or loss event”. Thomson and Jaque argue that this suggests “a greater vulnerability for psychological distress”.

Thomson and Jaque give a note of caution to those thinking of an acting career in therapeutic terms: “Actors may have enhanced their imagination through the practice of acting or they may have entered a career that supports their heightened predisposition for fantasy.”

For those who do choose to become actors, there is psychological support available in the form of talking therapies such as psychotherapy and counselling. This can help develop an understanding of past traumas and resolve feelings surrounding them.

The psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on London’s Harley Street, work with people of all backgrounds, including members of the performing arts who struggle with emotional and psychological problems.

Overtime Linked to Depression

Working Long Hours can Affect Mental Health

A study by researchers from Queen Mary’s College and University College of The University of London, Bristol University, McGill University in Canada and The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health examined the working habits of over 2000 UK civil servants to see whether these contributed to the development of depressive conditions. The subjects were follwed for six years.

The focus was on whether overtime significantly affected the mental health of the subjects that were followed. It was found that those who worked on average an 11 hour day as opposed to colleagues who stuck to a standard 7-8 hour day were associated with a 2.5 times increase of probability of suffering a major depressive episode.

However, although this study demonstrates a link between increased work hours and the chance of suffering a major depressive episode, it had not yet been demonstrated whether the overtime alone causes depression. There are still other factors to be investigated.

The current ecconomic climate and fears asociated with loosing ones job can force people to put in longer and longer work hours, apparently to the detriment of their mental, as well as physical health.

Pursuing a course of psychotherapy can help explore these work related fears and how they may have knock on effects in other areas, such as relationships and family life. Challenging anxieties can lead to a healthier way of being and thereby ward off potential depression.

The psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on London’s Harley Street have worked with people suffering from anxiety and depression for many years, offering a safe, confidential and professional space in which to explore your difficulties.

NICE Recommends Psychotherapy for Postnatal Mothers

According to NICE Guidelines, Mothers Suffering from Postnatal Depression Should Be Referred for Psychotherapy

A survey recently completed by 4Children found that mothers with postnatal depression are being failed by the NHS by not taking into account the international guidelines concerned with the condition.

1 in 10 new mothers suffer from postnatal depression and of those surveyed it was found that, if the condition was diagnosed at all, the greater majority were prescribed antidepressants. This contradicts the NICE guidelines that recommend counselling and psychotherapy for mild and moderate cases of postnatal depression.

The report also demonstrated the inconsistency of record keeping as far as the amount of cases of postnatal depression is concerned. Whereas some health authorities reported 1350 cases, others reported just 1.

Chief Executive of 4Children, Anne Longfield said, “It just reveals so much in terms of lack of empathy and sympathy for these people. It’s a complete disregard for their health and wellbeing…It’s seen as an everyday little personal issue. At the end of the day, no one is taking it seriously…This report shows a massive default towards antidepressants when proper care is within the gift of health professionals”.

The therapists at London’s Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice have worked with mothers suffering from postnatal depression. They provide a safe, non judgemental space for mothers struggling with all the emotions that can come with motherhood in order to explore and understand these feelings better.

The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice can be found at 121 Harley Street, London.

Internet Addiction, Depression and Psychotherapy

Internet Addiction has been linked to Depression. Psychotherapy can Intervene

Research performed by British psychologists at Leeds University have found evidence of a link between excessive internet use and depression. In their psychology journal they say that people within a small group categorised as internet addicts are more likely to be depressed than those not considered to be addicted.

Their research using a questionaire based study and the Beck Depression Inventory and involving 1319 young people and adults reported that of those who took part 1.4% were internet addicts.

Dr. Catriona Morrison, the lead author of the article regarding this research said, “Our research indicates that excessive internet use is associated with depression, but what we don’t know is which comes first – are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause depression?”. “What is clear is that, for a small subset of people, excessive use of the internet could be a warning signal for depressive tendencies.”

The age range of all participants was between 16 and 51 years, with a mean age of 21.24. The mean age of the internet addicts was 18.3 years and 70% of them were men.

They also discovered that addicts spent proportionately more time browsing sexually gratifying websites, online gaming sites and online communities.

“This study reinforces the public speculation that over-engaging in websites that serve to replace normal social function might be linked to psychological disorders like depression and addiction,” Morrison said.

She goes on to say, “We now need to consider the wider societal implications of this relationship and establish clearly the effects of excessive internet use on mental health”.

Internet addiction is a serious issue for the modern age. It can have detrimenntal effects upon one’s relationships and therefore effect all walks of life, work, social, family etc.

At The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on Harley Street in London, the therapists have worked with sufferers of addiction in order to help them gain a better understanding of what lies behind it and support them as they work through it.

Psychotherapy, So You Don’t Have to Cope Alone

Seeing a Psychotherapist can Help if the Stigma of Mental Health Problems Increases Isolation

The mental health charity, Mind, has reported that 17% of Britons suffer from some depression or anxiety. The World Health Organisation has estimated that by 2020 depression will become the second most important cause of disability in the world.

However, despite these revealing statistics, so many people are still reluctant to share their problems with friends or work colleagues?

Sophie Corlett, Mind’s director of external relations said “People find it very difficult to know what they are supposed to do when a friend or colleague says they have a mental health problem”. She goes on to say, “They see it as mysterious, different and requiring a specialised response but actually all people often need is a friendly face, people around them, carrying on making suggestions of things to do and being included. There is also a stigma that people with mental health problems are less capable, less interesting, less intelligent and even dangerous.”

Many sufferers may fear broaching the issue of their depression for fear of  this reaction, or judgement from people close to them and society at a whole. Although society is more accepting of mental healh issues now than at any other time, there is still a stigma attached and a fear of the label, ‘depression’, may lead sufferers to try and cope alone, feeling more and more isolated. The lack of an obvious disability may also allow sufferers to believe they can keep their issues secret.

To compound this, Corlett adds that depression or anxiety means they “have very low self-esteem, feel that no one wants to hear and that they are unlikely to get better anyway”.

Despite a more open attitude to mental health conditions, the cost of ignoring it has an effect upon both the employer and the individual employee. Andy Bell, of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, has estimated that the cost of ignoring mental distress at work is £1,000 for every employee in UK business, whilst Time to Change, a coalition of charities campaigning to end mental health discrimination, says that talking about one’s distress can help the individual keep their job.

Depression and anxiety can have many knock on effects to one’s life. Talking about problems and exploring their origins, looking at repeating thought processes and behaviour patterns with a qualified psychotherapist can help you get a grasp of what is happening, and why, enabling you to gain confidence in order to make the changes you need.

The psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on London’s Harley Street can help explore your issues with you in a confidential and non judgemental environment. 

Suicide Rates Increase as Recession Continues

A report published in the Lancet today suggests that suicide rates have risen in Europe between 5 and 17 per cent since 2007, the beginning of the recession. Researchers of the study suggested that suicde rates were decreasing before the recession and have concluded that it is the financial crisis that is to blame for the increase in number of people taking their own lives.

Earlier in the year the BBC reported that, since the recession, prescription rates for anti-depressants in the UK had risen by as much as 40% – again, a statistic  that  suggests that the stress of living with recession is taking a serious toll on the mental health of the nation. These new trends, reflecting the state of our mental health, need to be taken seriously as a public health issue. The threat of un-employment, loss of homes, business or assets are major modern day stressors and can affect all stratas of society. Finding the right kind of support for dealing with suicidal feelings or depression is not always easy. GP’s are quick to reach for the prescription pad and often have little to offer in terms of therapy or counselling. Talking to an objective therapist or counsellor can be greatly relieving at times of crisis.

The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on Harley Street, Central London offers professional psychotherapy and counselling for those struggling with difficult and overwhelming emotional difficulties.

0207 371 3940.

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Quarter Life Crisis and Psychotherapy Counselling

Psychotherapy Can Help with Those Suffering a ‘Quarter Life Crisis’

The term ‘Mid Life Crisis’ has traditionally been applied to stresses and difficulties experienced by people in their 40’s. Research now shows that young people in their 20’s to 30’s are suffering the same symptoms previously felt by those in their mid 40’s, those of insecurity, disappointment, loneliness and depression and this has come to be termed ‘Quarter Life Crisis’. Often happening soon after the person enters the ‘real world’ of work, educated professionals appear to be worst effected.

“Quarterlife crises don’t happen literally a quarter of the way through your life,” said lead researcher Dr Oliver Robinson, from the University of Greenwich in London. “They occur a quarter of your way through adulthood, in the period between 25 and 35, although they cluster around 30.”

Instead of enjoying the early years of a career or relationships, free from morgages or marriage responsibilities, sufferers find themselves struggling to cope with anxieties about jobs, unemployment, debt and relationships.

A survey undertaken on Gumtree in collaboration with this research highlighted that 86% of the 1100 young pople questioned admitted to feeling under pressure to be successful in their relationships, careers and finances before they reach 30.

In this survey, two in five were worried about money, saying they did not earn enough, and 32% felt under pressure to marry and have children by the age of 30. 6% were planning to emigrate, while 21% wanted a complete career change.

Changes in the job market, finding it hard to find a satisfying career whilst battling many other graduates in a similar situation, house prices and the difficulty in getting a morgage, pressures to maintain sucessful relationships both with friends and romanticly, debt accumulated in order to finance education and accomodation all add to feelings of insecurity and a relentless up hill struggle.

Feelings of being trapped or things being hopeless can feel overwhelming, but talking to a psychotherapist at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice in London about these feelings and what they mean can help you work through  them and gain a clarity and understanding, enabling you to feel more in control.