HEALING WOUNDED HEARTS
STRESS REDUCTION AND COUNSELING
FOR CARDIOVASCULAR PATIENTS
BRUCE W. GLADSTONE, PH.D
530 W. Ojai Ave, Suite 209, Ojai, CA 93023
Stress reduction and psychological health are crucial factors in the prevention and treatment of most major illnesses including cardiovascular illness. Stress, anxiety and particularly depression have been shown to contribute to heart disease by increasing rapid heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, blood vessel inflammation, cholesterol levels, insulin levels and body weight. If depression and the stress response are not treated soon after a first heart attack, they will significantly increase the chances of having a second heart attack within the following year.
Recent studies indicate that persons who have just had a heart attack or other cardiovascular incident are three times as likely to become depressed as the general population. For this reason in 2008 the American Heart Association recommended that all patients with heart disease be routinely screened for depression and referred to mental health professionals for treatment if necessary. Common signs of depression include: persistent sadness, loss of interest, hopelessness, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, poor concentration, feeling guilty, weight loss or gain, loss of appetite, problems at home or work, and suicidal thoughts.
The good news is that treatment for depression, anxiety and stress is quite successful using a combination of psychological methods like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and anti-depressant medications where they are needed. Recent studies show that heart patients who receive psychological counseling individually or in groups experience significant improvements in their overall health and are much less likely to have future cardiovascular incidents including heart attacks. (See below to learn What is CBT? ).
offers individual and group counseling for persons with cardiovascular illness who are referred by their physician/cardiologist.The goals of the counseling process are both therapeutic and educational. Specific topics include:
Understanding Stress and Your Heart Overcoming Depression & Anxiety
Body Awareness and Relaxation Daily Meditation
Emotion, Beliefs and Thinking Satisfaction in Relationships
Your Personality & Your Health Crafting Joy in Everyday Life
Diet, Exercise & Sleep
Dr. Bruce Gladstone is a licensed clinical psychologist with 30 years experience in behavioral medicine. He also knows from personal experience what it is like to have a heart attack. His private practice is located in
. His program for Healing the Wounded Heart has been recommended by many local physicians. For More information call (805) 646-9724 . Your health insurance may cover all or a portion of the fee for this service.
HEALING WOUNDED HEARTS
WHAT IS COGNITIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY ?
Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT is a method of psychological treatment based on the idea that what we think and believe (our “cognitive style”) plays a major role in how we feel and behave and how healthy we are. The term “cognitive” refers to the mental processes we call thinking, believing and knowing. The CBT approach says that how we think about ourselves, the world we live in and our future is a primary cause of our emotional states and our behavior. In short, we feel the way we think. We can live happier, healthier lives if we think in healthier ways.
We all learn patterns of thinking and believing about our selves, the world and our future from the time we are born and throughout our lives. We acquire patterns of thinking and acting from our parents, our teachers, our peers and our culture. This seems obvious to us. What is not so obvious is that our anxious and depressed feelings and our physical illnesses can be perpetuated by habits of thinking that are distorted, exaggerated or irrational. These habits, or our “cognitive style ,” are usually unconscious, automatic and so frequent that they can generate high levels of stress in our bodies over a long period of time. These chronic levels of stress can cause damage to cells, tissue, and blood vessels, create inflammation, compromise our immune system and prevent healing.
HOW DOES COGNITIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY WORK ?
All psychological treatment, including CBT, begins with an assessment to help the psychologist understand the patient’s personal, psychological and medical history, to identify particular problems, symptoms, diagnoses, strengths and weaknesses and to develop a positive and collaborative connection with the patient. This usually takes two to three hours of interview.
The next step in CBT is to help the patient to define specific goals for improving health and quality of life. Such goals include learning to observe your own thinking and behavior, learning to identify “stinking thinking” and irrational beliefs, learning to distinguish emotion from cognition or thinking, reducing stress, anxiety or depression, learning to meditate, learning to communicate your emotions, and so on. Once goals are defined, the CBT therapist teaches the patient to understand the relationship between thinking, emotion and behavior and to learn specific methods of changing thinking to improve feeling, behavior and health.
CBT is a practical, positive, common sense, solution-oriented therapy. CBT is scientific in two ways. First, the techniques of CBT have been scientifically evaluated in hundreds of published studies that verify their effectiveness. Second, CBT helps patients to do basic science with themselves, treating their own thoughts like hypotheses or “theories to be tested,” rather than as facts, and to collect data to verify or reject those theories. CBT involves observing or studying one’s thinking and behavior, keeping records of events or “triggers,” doing homework, practicing new ways of thinking and acting, and measuring progress. It is a positive, practical and forward moving process. In a short period of time, new constructive ways of thinking become natural and automatic. Most people experience significant benefit and improved quality of life after as few as 12 one hour therapy sessions. CBT is also accepted by health insurance companies as “treatment of choice” for anxiety and depression.