Archive for the ‘Anxiety’ Category

Six Ways to Avoid Anger, Stress and Depression That Ruin Your Relationships

February 24th, 2015 Comments Off on Six Ways to Avoid Anger, Stress and Depression That Ruin Your Relationships

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships


west los angeles therapy for anger and stress managementJuliette was at the end of her rope

Working as a risk management specialist for a large medical group was getting 36-year-old Juliette down. She was exhausted and had no energy left for her husband, 38-year-old Elliot and their 5 and 6 year old children Aden and Mara. She hated having to work, but was the only breadwinner. The pressure on Juliette made her depressed. All she wanted to do was to sleep. She left the chores to her Elliot who attended to them with pride, seeing them as his contribution to the family.

Even when she was awake, Juliette felt fatigued and disinterested in playing with her kids. She preferred to look on as Elliot engaged them in cycling, swimming and ball games. She was easily upset when things didn’t go right with the family, and felt useless as a mother, sister and wife. Depression had taken hold, and Juliette was steeped in a lack of self-worth. Her anger at having to be the breadwinner was buried in the depression, as was her disappointment and resentment towards her husband for not taking on that role.

west los angeles therapy for anxiety, stress and depression

The happiness Elliot felt taking care of the home and family was tainted by his anxiety about Juliette’s depression. He was scared that if she got worse and couldn’t work, he would be forced to step into the breach! Since losing his sales job three years ago, he had given up looking for other opportunities having had little response and numerous applications rejected. He had settled into being the primary care taker, but Juliette’s depression was stirring up fears again. Frantic efforts to cheer up his wife, and fix whatever problems she talked about didn’t make things any easier. She just got more and more morose and shut down, hoping that he would take up the baton and support the family.


west los angeles therapy for couples who are stressed and depressed

They didn’t talk about Juliette’s depression or about Elliot’s anxiety that he would have to get a job if she didn’t pull herself together. They were caught in a vicious cycle where Juliette’s depression made her more dependent on Elliot to take care of parenting, housework and the children’s school issues. The more dependent Juliette became the more Elliot countered that he couldn’t get a job because he was burdened with all the child care and household management!

Depression promotes stress about not being able to cope, resulting in poor romantic relationship outcomes, says a study reported in Clinical Psychology Review, 2010.

Another study reported in Communication Monographs, 2015 monitored the communication between romantic couples where one partner was depressed.  They found that depressed members of a romantic partnership avoided talking about the depression and how it impacted their relationship, as well as about the relationship itself.  The uncertainty about the status of the relationship was the primary reason for avoidance. Women were less likely than men to talk about the depression, exacerbating the uncertainty in the relationship.

west los angeles counseling for stress and depression

Depressed people like Juliette are motivated to avoid negative outcomes and often use avoidance as a way of managing their relationship problems. Although it may ease the stress in the moment of choosing avoidance, over the long term, there is a price to pay. Opportunities to practice interpersonal skills are removed. Chances to deepen bonds through understanding and empathy are neglected, leading to and interpretation of each other’s behavior in increasingly negative ways.  The threats to their identity as individuals and members of a couple are never faced and resolved, adding to the stress, and deepening the depression, as reported in an article in Clinical Psychology Review, 2011

A depressed partner may take anti-depressants like SSRI’s (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, Cimbalta, Effexor, Celexa etc.) and still not get any better. A recent study reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Feb. 9, 2015 found that stress prevents the medication from doing its job, making the depression even worse. This study described the ‘punishment center of the brain’ (lateral habenula) that rules, making a person feel down on themselves and more depressed.

Put that together with a finding that placebo pills were as good if not better than anti-depressants in affecting mood (Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 2010) we have a perfect storm of bad feeling and estrangement between a romantic couple. Putting Juliette on anti-depressants won’t make her better, nor will it remove the cause for her depression. She needs to be depressed to push her husband into being the breadwinner.



west los angeles counseling for stressed and anxious couplesSo what can this couple do with this awful situation?


Attend couples therapy and begin the process of implementing these 6 essential steps

  • Discuss their expectations of each other.
  • Express their disappointments, fears and anger at one another for the roles they are forced to adopt.
  • Discuss the depression, it’s purpose and impact on the family, including the rage Juliette suppressed, about having to be the one supporting the family when she really wanted to be the one taken care of.
  • Explore coping mechanisms for the relationship stress by noticing the trigger points.
  • Begin the process of sharing parenting and household tasks
  • Shift Elliot from feeling “forced” to get a job, to “wanting” to get a job



copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2015

AUTHOR OF: Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Expressing anger is a pain relief mechanism

Unresolved anger and stress keeps you depressed longer

Depression buries the anger that prevents you from communicating with loved ones


Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond


How a Dream about an Alligator Helped Damien Choose Between His Mother and his Girfriend! Part 2

January 27th, 2015 Comments Off on How a Dream about an Alligator Helped Damien Choose Between His Mother and his Girfriend! Part 2

Dream Analysis To Help With Anger and Stress Management


west los angeles dream analysis

The dream that helped Damien understand the trap he was in, fearing commitment and choices was the first of a series that helped him prepare to propose to his girlfriend and adjust his relationship with his mother. Now he was ready to propose, but how would his mother react?

The eldest of three children, Damien felt responsible for his mother’s welfare. His younger siblings were in college and his father wasn’t reliable. Damien enjoyed getting advice on ‘the right thing to do,’ from his mother, who also took care of him in ways that made their bond special.

He knew his mother wanted him to marry a girl that came from the same ethnic and religious background. There was nothing more important to him than his prospective wife and mother getting along. Would his mother approve of Leila? Would they find a way of relating without making him choose between them? Would Leila be okay with him visiting his mother after church every Sunday? Would Leila be okay with him continuing  to take care of his mother’s car insurance payments?


west los angeles dream interpretation


Then came a dream that illuminated his predicament and helped answered his question, freeing him from his self-imposed dilemmas – just like the teepee cage in the last dream.

“I was walking and saw a baby alligator. It was still attached to its mother with tissue that looked like a placenta. It didn’t hatch out of an egg.  There were zoo keepers and then there was an alligator tail coming out of my chest. It was taken out and even though there was a hole, I felt good.”

Damien associated alligators with hard skin that is Impenetrable” so he can’t get out, nor can others get in to help him. As we explored the image in the dream, Damien talked about the hard skin being a barrier to connecting with others. He noticed that he felt disconnected and awkward in groups. He was also having trouble connecting with Leila, torn between his affiliation with his mother and his girlfriend.

west los angeles therapy with dream interpretation


This is what we made of the dream in his therapy, using the context of is life at that time as the backdrop.

Alligators are reptiles that live in water and on land. Damien’s psyche was showing him that he is operating as a reptile. He can live in a state of unawareness, represented by the water, or he can live on land – but he can’t survive if he is still attached to his mother’s placenta!

Both the water and the placenta show his anxiety about being his ‘own man. Damien feared that without the basic nurturance from the placenta, and the womb like existence of the water he wouldn’t be able to survive successfully.

west los angeles dream analysis

The image of hope came via the image of the bit of alligator tail that was coming out of his chest.

The remnant of alligator tail symbolized the beginnings of his awareness of his own capability and wish to prove it. He is given hope that he can take himself out of his entrenched reptilian mode and live freely making choices and decisions for his life – not just being seduced by care taking and then discover that he has given over charge of his life to others.

This dream stayed with Damien for weeks.

We related his resistance to changing his ways to the ‘hard skin’ of the alligator. We connected his tendency to get carried away with his work, ignoring his personal life with being in the water, oblivious to reality. He also made the link between his growing unease with being treated like a child by his mother.

The image of pulling out the remnants of the alligator tail from his chest gave Damien the confidence he needed to propose to Leila even if it meant he would have to give up the care of his mother. His conflict about having to choose between his mother and Leila (the water or the land) dissolved. He became a fully-fledged mammal, shedding his reptilian self.

Leila accepted his proposal with excitement and much happiness. Damien was relieved and felt like he was finally getting on the path of achieving his masculine identity. He told his parents that he was engaged and welcomed his mother getting involved in the wedding plans. He was fulfilling his manly role and that felt good.

What Damien hadn’t anticipated was his mother would make a last ditch attempt to keep the placenta attached. She began giving him gifts of personal care items- reflecting an intimacy that was inappropriate for an adult male and his mother. He didn’t want to hurt her by refusing them, nor overrule her on the choice of wedding stationary she was ordering.

Reminders of the tail remnant he pulled out of his chest in therapy were immensely powerful in helping Damien find his strength to tell his mother what he wanted and what he didn’t. He cut the placenta and survived. She backed down and he didn’t feel guilty.   

Damien had many days and nights of doubt about his choice of wife. As he became more self-assured and realized that making choices and commitments (being on land without being attached to the placenta) didn’t mess up his life, he approached his wedding ‘knowing’ this was the right thing for him. The hard alligator skin was no longer needed to protect him from taking risks. He owned his warm bloodedness fully. What a gift of a dream from his psyche!


Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

How a Dream Can Help You Overcome Your Fear Of Making Your Own Choices    (part 1 of Damien's story)

How Your Dream Can Free You From Trying to Get Your Parent's Approval

How Your Dream Can Help You Overcome Bad Memories That Keep You Stuck


Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.







How a Dream Can Help You Overcome Your Fear of Making Your Own Choices

January 12th, 2015 Comments Off on How a Dream Can Help You Overcome Your Fear of Making Your Own Choices

Dream Analysis To Help With Anger and Stress Management

making choice

Three months before his wedding 35 year-old Damien came home from working as a lab technician tired, grumpy and dreading the thought of having to propose to his girlfriend or else lose her. He hated the idea of making that decision only to find that there were better fish in the sea. He thought very highly of 32-year-old Physical Therapist Leila, but didn’t want to make that final commitment. It felt like he was imprisoning himself for life. The stress was unbearable.

Earlier that day he had felt pressurized to rush results out of his path lab to the surgeons and doctors in the hospital that demanded instant identification of the tissue and blood samples they sent in truck loads. He was concerned about the accuracy of the results, but also about annoying the medical personnel if he didn’t do things at their pace. He imagined the head of the laboratory being angry with his pace of work, and replacing him. All this anxiety and fear made him wound up in a tight ball, trying to be perfect and please everyone else except himself. He was trapped. Nothing felt good and there was no way out!


clawing out of a cage

Until he had this dream:

“I am in a tavern like in medieval times. I am in a cage that is like a tepee. It’s the day of my execution and I can feel the fire under be being lit. I feel trapped but then I see that the door is open and I step out. There are witches there and the give me a good meal. They say I deserve it because it’s the day of my execution. But I say it’s not going to happen and enjoy the meal.”

Damien’s dream was very disturbing to him, depicting his imminent death.

But then he discussed it with me in therapy and we understood the important message it was giving him about his own ability to feel in control and get out of his trap.

This is what we made of the dream.

The cage is what he puts himself into when he feels he has no choice – no exit strategy. His sense of having to propose and rush his lab work was like the heat of the fire in the dream, pressuring him to act. In real life he can’t see that the cage belongs to him and the door is always open – he can choose to step in or get burned alive.

But the cage is situated in a place of fun, a tavern, where people come to relax and socialize. It suggests that Damien can't allow himself to have fun with people and socialize on an equal basis. He either has to be their slave or take care of them.

Damien has problems in making decisions. It’s hard for him to just have fun – so he has to put himself in a cage to force himself to do more serious things like marry which he wants, but which also involve commitment and no turning back. The witches represent the voices inside him, telling him he has no choice and must accept his demise.

The word witch is also an echo of the word 'which' – depicting choice, that is so hard for Damien.

If he has something nice like the meal the witches offer him, he has to pay the price of death: so the choice is impossible to make. If he chooses the good meal, he gets killed by the fire the witches have lit. If he chooses to get out of the cage his core self gets annihilated by having to please everyone else. When he feels the ‘heat’ from other people to do what they want, the cage feels like a sanctuary. But soon the cage feels oppressive, killing him with its fire. So he wants out – only to find that he is in a different cage of having to take care of others.

pressing reset button and starting afresh

What did Damien learn from this dream analysis?

The idea of choice had always been hard for Damien. His whole life had been prefaced by having to be a “good boy”, doing the “right thing” to be given a pat on the back and accepted into the world of those that mattered. Despite talking about it several times, it wasn’t until his unconscious gave him the image of the open cage and the fire with the threat of dying that he began to own his right to decide what he wanted. He was so amazed that the cage door was open, that he could go out at any time, he kept repeating that part of the dream as if to absorb that it was up to him to walk out or die! It was as if new life had been breathed into him. He was being given permission from his unconscious to take care of himself with feeling guilty, panicked or ashamed.

Within the next few weeks,Damien gave himself permission to leave work at the regular time rather than work late into the night just to please others, or save his job (not get killed). He started to enjoy his time in the evening and looked forward to sharing himself with his fiancé. He was more available for the relationship and proposed to Leila. She accepted. At first Damien was content. But soon he  began to fear that Leila would just take over and make him her slave. He also began to get stressed over his mother's reaction. So tune in to the next blog post and discover how his next dream helped him over this huge hurdle.

copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2014

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Dreams show you how you hold yourself back and sabotage your success

How your dream reveals your inner terrorist that makes your life hell

Is guilt the stick that motivates you into action?

Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond