Friday, 28 September 2012

I’m just not that into you – part II

Following on from our previous blog, here are some other reasons for loss of sexual desire in relationships and things we can do to help.

The sexier one 
One partner may naturally have a higher or lower libido but equally others may be put off by their partner’s lack of energy or technique.

Being open with your partner is important. Talk about what turns you on or off and make suggestions without criticising or making your partner feel inadequate. Appreciate them for the effort they are making. If your partner has a higher sex drive then try to meet their needs to strengthen your bond and if it is lower, try to initiate sex at least once a month.

Anger is a passion killer
Being constantly angry and overly critical of your partner is likely to extinguish those flames of passion and create a stressful and insecure environment which is not conducive for sex. Anger can also be elicited by one partner towards the other if they are withholding sex.

We all have our differences from time to time and conflict, to a certain extent, can be healthy in a relationship. However, it's the way you express these differences that matters. By stating them clearly and respectfully or perhaps adjusting your expectations you can avoid your partner shying away from you. For example, by discussing expectations about the frequency of sex you can avoid resentment and frustration in your relationship. If anger is something you feel unable to control then you should seek professional help.

Give your whole heart 
Unfortunately there is a tendency to take those close to us for granted. We trust they will always be there for us and so begin to neglect their sexual and emotional needs, perhaps reserving our passion for another person outside of the marriage. We think that however we behave they will never leave us and as they become more needy we distance ourselves from them, scorning them for what they have become.

It is important to appreciate your partner every single day. By simply reminding yourself of the fragility of relationships and treating every day in your relationship as potentially the last this will prevent you from taking them for granted.

Need professional help?
If you are having problems with sexual desire or any other relationships difficulties and would like to talk to someone then contact your local First Psychology centre at one of the following locations:
Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Borders: 01896-800-400,
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848,

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

I'm just not that into you – part I

If after being with your partner some time you feel their interest is waning and they just don't seem to fancy you as much as they once did. Here are some suggestions to get their interest.

Take pride in your appearance - living up to the ideal body images portrayed by the media can be hard work and pretty much impossible. However, staying in shape, maintaining good hygiene and making an effort with how you look should improve your confidence and get your partner's attention.

Take time to be friends - living with a partner is made up of three elements: practicality, friendship and sexual intimacy, which should be present in equal measure. Often the demands of everyday life, such as work and children, can leave little time for friendship which is needed for intimacy. Conversely, neglecting practical matters may leave your partner feeling disappointed and not interested in sex. Try to rebalance your home life so there is time for all three elements.

Set aside time when you prioritise your relationship. Go out every week as a couple, share the chores more, turn off your phone during time together and read books to become more creative and proficient in bed. Sex is important as oxytocin released during orgasm helps strengthen your physical bond and, in turn, your relationship.

For more advice on problems with sexual desire in relationships, look out for part II of this blog.

First Psychology Scotland has centres in the following locations:
Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Borders: 01896-800-400,
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848,

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Be kind to yourself

As individuals, we are our own worst critics. Society has taught us to be overly critical about every aspect our being from the way we look to how we behave. Self-criticism is believed to lead to self-improvement and ultimately, success, whereas being kind to ourselves is deemed selfish. But is this really the case?

Not according to researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, who reported that self-criticism is damaging and results in problems such as low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. Self-compassion, on the other hand, is associated with greater well-being, better emotional coping skills and compassion for others.

Self-compassion involves accepting thoughts and feelings, observing life without judgement, being kind and understanding to ourselves in our suffering and when doing so, realising we are not alone.

Being self-compassionate might not come easy at first but here’s a few tips that may help.

  1. Imagine someone else - what would we do or say to someone we cared about who was suffering. 
  2. Look at your language - if we wouldn’t use the words we use when we talk about ourselves to others, we are probably being too self-critical. 
  3. Comfort your body - kind physical gestures, such as putting our hand on our heart or holding our arm, affect our bodies and trigger the soothing parasympathetic system. 
  4. Memorise compassionate phrases - when we find ourselves being self-critical, having stock phrases, which are meaningful to us, can help. For instance, ‘At this moment I am suffering’, ‘Suffering is part of life’, ‘May I be kind to myself?’, ‘May I show myself compassion?’. 
  5. Meditate – practising this can help retrain the brain which makes it easier to perform self-compassionate gestures and makes self-soothing easier. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Suicide prevention – part II

The impact of suicide on the family and wider community is vast. Furthermore, the cost of suicide to the economy is estimated to be billions of pounds a year. However, the fact that suicide attempts far outnumber completed suicides gives us some hope that there are factors at work in protecting against it.

There are things we can do ourselves. Psychologically we can protect ourselves from the risk of suicide by developing resilience (being able to cope with, and adjust to stressful life events), self-confidence, self-worth, effective problem-solving skills, and help-seeking behaviour. Adopting a healthier lifestyle such as a good diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, and abstinence from smoking and illicit drugs can also lower our risk of suicide. Furthermore, religion and social integration, maintenance of good relationships, support from others and access to healthcare can all protect us from suicide and reduce the likelihood that we will attempt it again.

There are also measures that others can take such as restricting access to dangerous methods, using campaigns which promote positive physical and mental health (thereby reducing stigmatisation of the latter and suicide), as well portraying a responsible depiction of suicide in the media, and encouraging help-seeking behaviour.

It is estimated that more than half of those who commit suicide were seen by a primary care physician within the month before their death. Therefore another key preventative measure is early identification, particularly diagnosis and effective treatment of those with psychiatric or substance-related disorders.

If you would like to talk to someone about how you feel, please contact your local First Psychology Centre to book an initial session with one of our experienced practitioners: 

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Borders: 01896-800-400,
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848,

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Suicide prevention – part I

Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide is preventable and to raise awareness of this, we are going to consider who is at risk and what factors can protect us from it in our two part blog.

Suicide is one of the biggest killers across the globe, more so than homicide and war put together. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around one million people die each year by suicide, which equates to one death every 40 seconds. Though suicide attempts are 20 times the number of actual suicides, it is estimated that 5% of us attempt suicide at least once in our lives.

Suicidal behaviour tends to increase with age, being high among middle-aged and older adults, particularly those over 75. However, it is still the second cause of death worldwide among 15-19 year olds.

Although women attempt suicide two to three times more often than men, suicide is more common among men, with three males to every one female taking their own lives. The reason given for this is that men are more aggressive and have higher intent to die so therefore use more lethal means.

Suicide rates are highest in Eastern European countries, such as Lithuania and Russia, and lowest in countries of Central and South America, such as Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

Although anyone can be susceptible to suicide, certain groups are more at risk:

  • Individuals with a history of suicide attempts or self-harm – this is a strong predictor of suicide. 
  • Individuals with a psychiatric disorder and/or substance-related disorders – around 50% of people who consider suicide have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder during their life and up to 90% of people who die by suicide have at least one psychiatric diagnosis. 
  • Individuals who experience stressful life events - relationship breakdowns, financial/job difficulties, bereavement, physical illness, childhood trauma can lead to suicide attempts or suicide as people feel unable to cope. 
If you are affected by any of the information in the above blog and would like to talk to someone about how you feel, please contact your local First Psychology Centre to book an initial session with one of our experienced practitioners: 

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Borders: 01896-800-400,
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848,

Friday, 7 September 2012

A distorted body image

Body dsymorphic disorder (BDD) affects one in 50 people and usually starts in the early twenties or teenage years. Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder are excessively preoccupied with how they look and greatly exaggerate or even imagine flaws in their appearance. BDD sufferers can obsess about any area but tend to focus more intently on the skin, eyes, nose, teeth, buttocks, stomach, hair or chest.

BDD is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder because the obsessions about appearance can become so consuming that they can greatly affect a sufferer's everyday life (preventing them from going to work and socialising) and as a result can lead to other problems, such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Over 25% of people with BDD have a history of attempting suicide. Research from Rhode Island Hospital and Auburn University has suggested it is eating less or restricting food intake in BDD that correlates with more than double the number of suicide attempts whereas excessive exercise, another BDD-related behaviour, resulted in half the number of suicide attempts as those without a history of BDD. Other behaviours associated with BDD such as cosmetic surgery, compulsive skin picking and physical self-mutilation did not show a consistent correlation with suicide behaviour.

The rationale for these findings, published in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, is that individuals who are able to endure physical discomfort, such as the pain of restricting food intake, are more capable of withstanding the physical pain of inflicting self-harm and are more likely to attempt suicide. Therefore when assessing individuals with BDD who restrict their food intake, it is also important to identify suicide risk.

If you, or someone you know would like to book an initial session to talk to one of experienced practitioners about BDD, please contact your local First Psychology centre.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The perfect body – part II

As well as the media, another powerful influence on our body image results from the messages we receive from the people closest to us - our parents, siblings, friends, colleagues and teachers. 

Our parents, in particular, can have a major impact on our body image. This concept has been labelled ‘thin-heritance’ and explores how we may model our parents' negative views of food, unhealthy dieting practices and negative attitudes towards their own or our bodies. This can negatively affect our own body image.

In all our relationships, be it with a parent or partner, we seek acceptance and validation. So an offhand look when asking for a second helping may cause individuals to become dissatisfied with their bodies and increase their risk of developing an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

Sometimes body image can also result from the relationship we have with ourselves and in particular, the qualities we possess. Individuals with the following traits are more susceptible to negative body image than others:
  • Perfectionists – their bodies have to be perfect as well.
  • Impressionable people – who are easily manipulated/controlled. 
  • People who compare themselves to others. 
  • People who worry too much about how others view them. 
  • Younger people - adolescents are more likely to be affected by body image. 
  • People who are far from their ideal body – tend to have more body dissatisfaction. 
  • Girls – negative body image is more common in adolescent girls than boys (although, times are changing) and girls are also more likely to internalise standards set by society for the ideal body and feel pressure to conform to these. 
Sexual orientation, particularly for men, and cultural factors can also play a role in negative body image, as some cultures are more accepting of different body shapes than others.

First Psychology Scotland has centres in the following locations:
Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Borders: 01896-800-400,
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848,