Coping with the First Weeks of Grief

 

Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D.
Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D.

For many years, Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D., has been a practicing psychotherapist in Rockville, Maryland. Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D., has treated numerous individuals struggling with the effects of grief and loss.

When a loved one dies, the bereaved person’s mind often goes into a state of shock and detachment, which serves to separate him or her from the reality of the loss. To many people, this feels like numbness or living in a fog. Sometimes, they feel that they are moving through the world on autopilot, making final arrangements without fully experiencing what is going on.

Many people find this period of numbness extremely frustrating, as it causes them to struggle with daily tasks, to focus on work or school requirements. It is important to remember, however, that shock functions as an adaptive mechanism that allows the reality of the situation to set in slowly. Many people find that the pain of loss descends gradually as the numbness dissipates so that the full experience of grief does not arrive all at once but in manageable stages.

Experts recommend that a grieving person make his or her way through numbness and detachment slowly and with plenty of self-compassion. For some it may be necessary to take some time away from the world to rest, though most people find it more soothing to actively participate in funeral arrangements and proceedings or partake with post funeral bereavement rituals in a group to the best of their ability, so that when the fog lifts, they feel others understood and supported them, that they did not forget their loved one and had a chance to share their grief with caring family and friends.

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – Symptoms and Treatment

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder pic
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Image: webmd.com

A Maryland-based psychologist with more than three decades of experience, Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D., assists couples, children, families, and groups by way of his private practice in Rockville. Over the course of his career, Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D., has helped patients work through a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, emotional dysregulation, and identity issues. He also invested much work with people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD).

As the name suggests, OCD is a disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Although many people will experience overly focused thoughts and deal with repetitive behaviors from time to time, this does not mean that they have OCD. Those who do have the disorder encounter obsessions and compulsions so extreme that they alter their daily lives and suffer distressing feelings such as fear, doubt, disgust, and anxiety.

While obsessions and compulsions usually go hand-in-hand, it’s important to note that people with OCD may experience only obsessive symptoms or only compulsive symptoms. Common obsessions among those with the disorder include unwanted or extreme sexual or religious thoughts as well as fears of contamination, imperfection, losing control, or harming others. In many cases, these obsessions lead to compulsive behaviors such as constant cleaning, repetitive talk or actions, continuous ordering and arranging, and persistent checking.

Symptoms of OCD typically manifest fully for the first time in adolescence or early adulthood, but many with the disorder begin to experience symptoms in childhood. Typical treatment may include a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. OCD patients often have other co-existing conditions that also require treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – A Brief Overview

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy pic
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Image: cogbtherapy.com

An experienced licensed psychologist, Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D., has been working with patients in Maryland for over three decades. Skilled in helping children, couples, and families, Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D., works to address anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health issues using methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Developed in the 1960s by psychiatrist Aaron Beck, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a goal-oriented psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients explore the ways that thoughts and feelings influence their behavior. The initial goal of CBT is to help patients identify and acknowledge the patterns of thinking that are contributing to their difficulties. Then, patients can work with their therapist to reshape negative thinking and set goals toward ultimately changing the way they feel.

Although CBT is a short-term treatment method, it involves a progressive and gradual process that requires patients to play an active role in changing their behavior. In addition to participating in regular face-to-face sessions with their therapist, CBT patients are often asked to read, journal, and participate in other activities outside of therapy sessions. An effective psychotherapeutic treatment, CBT has been shown to help individuals overcome a range of issues, including phobias, addictions, and relationship problems.

A Brief Introduction to the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder pic
Bipolar Disorder
Image: webmd.com

Since earning a Ph.D. and licensed as a psychologist following a graduate program at the University of Maryland, College Park, Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D. has spent more than three decades providing psychological support to individuals throughout the Rockville area. Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D., treats clients for a number of psychological issues, including trauma-related stress and reactions, PTSD, and bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is primarily a disorder involving Depression, a psychological condition that is characterized also by excessive mood swings or at least a single manic episode. It is usually known to the public as excessive mood swings disorder that carries an individual from the lows of clinical depression to the extreme highs of mania. However, many of Bipolar patients do not suffer from the mood swings on a regular basis or even frequently, showing instead mostly symptoms of depression. Because of the mood swing aspect, the disorder was previously known best as manic-depressive illness. However, we now recognize that episodes of unexplained or confused elation could also be a sign of the disorder even without frank mania. Untreated bipolar disorder can result in erratic, sometimes psychotic or dangerous behavior, sometimes leading to suicidal tendencies and frequently to major disturbances in social, family and work situations.

It is best to treat bipolar disorder medically and psychologically as soon as possible. Individuals with a mild form of the disorder, called Hypomania, should, therefore, remain vigilant for the advancing symptoms of the disorder. Common symptoms of bipolar depression range from long episodes of crying to suicidal ideation. Physical clues may also include insomnia and oversleeping, low energy levels, fatigue, and changes in appetite or strong agitation, mild depressing hallucination, and delusions.

Mania is most commonly signaled by periods of euphoria and impulsive, selfish disorganized gratification seeking behavior, such as a need for constant stimulation, travel, gambling, promiscuity. Manic episodes are usually very unsettling for the family and the individual. A manic individual can become irritated and angry, or may behave like a hungry addict, not only for drugs, and may report beautiful hallucinations and delusions, flashing colors or ‘visions’. It should also be noted that individuals dealing with bipolar disorder may struggle with depression and mania at the same time. As the reader might have noted, extreme symptoms might be classified as psychotic.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D.
Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D.

Child and adolescent psychologist, Dr. Uzi Ben-Ami provides an educational program, counseling and therapy services for all ages, children and young adults, parents, and groups. His training as a cognitive behaviorist using CBT, DBT, and Future Facing Trauma Therapy, lead Dr. Uzi Ben-Ami to practice Cognitive Behavior Therapy flexibly, treating generalized anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and trauma reactions such as PTSD, which usually involves disruptive obsessive thoughts and fearful reactions.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common presentation in therapy. OCD is usually considered a symptom of anxiety, a condition characterized by repetitive symptoms such as frequent disruptive thoughts or obsessions and/or compulsions. Sometimes, to control disruptive and disturbing thoughts, the individual reacts with repetitive behaviors that are known as compulsions. For example, with OCD, individuals may have an irrational fear that a loved one will be in an accident if they do not turn the light switch off and on four times. Occasional repetitions are considered a mild ‘superstitious behavior’ and may not necessitate intervention because they may not disrupt and disturb a person’s normal life activity or might even enhance it, such as becoming very neat and organized. However, when the behavior repeats itself in high frequency it may disturb normal life activity and may increase obsessive preoccupation which in turn may increase the frequency of compulsions or cause depression and additional anxiety. Life may become difficult to bear for the individual, and bring concerns to family, friends or colleagues. OCD may force someone who is dealing with the disorder into a stressful life. A person having fearful thoughts and compulsive rituals frequently tries unsuccessfully to ease disruptive thoughts and behaviors. It should be noted that compulsive behaviors may appear without obsessions but might become just as disruptive and difficult to bear.

Although there are different approaches to managing OCD, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is usually considered the preferred, evidence-based, research-supported intervention. With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, disruptive thoughts and behavioral patterns will be altered through supportive guidance, educational explanations, habit-reversal efforts, and by teaching how to evoke parasympathetic tension-reducing reactions. Therapeutic interventions are never cold and clinical. Therapy must always involve friendliness, hope, and a strong rapport, which must be established first before a cooperative successful intervention starts.