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WTVF Nashville - TouchPoints Feature

TouchPoints on WTVF-TV in Nashville, Tennessee

This Mother’s Day, why not give Mom tech gifts she’ll love? From smartphones to wearable technology to TouchPoints, WTVF explores the latest technology trends that are finding a place in every home.

Click the link above to watch TouchPoints featured on WTVF, virtual channel 5, a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Nashville, Tennessee, United States.

TONIC (Vice) - How to Get Yourself to Exercise if You're Depressed

How to Get Yourself to Exercise if You're Depressed

Psychologists gave us 7 ways to motivate yourself to work out when it's the last thing you want to do.

I remember waking up one spring morning about three years ago agitated from multiple efforts to extract the most aggressive of running shorts wedgies. I had slept in full running gear, boob-smashing sports bra included, and my sneakers were on the floor directly next to my bed, per instructions from my therapist. She was trying to get me to go outside for a jog as soon as I woke up in the morning and this seemed like the path of least resistance.

Let me back up. I went through a phase of mild depression in 2015 after moving to a new city where I knew no one except for the partner who had just broken up with me. Depression feels different to everyone, and mine was basically sad movie-sobbing plus fear intertwined with anxiety—a fun combo platter. So on top of being too exhausted to do much (a common physical symptom of the weepies), I would get really angsty and negative in the morning. I had a bomb ass therapist though, who rocked with me to and through this phase, and one of the things she pushed was exercise.

Exercise is not a cure for any type of mental illness, but it really helps for a lot of people. It made a huge difference for me. “Just getting activated, behaviorally, is a useful treatment for depression,” says Nicholas Forand, assistant professor of psychiatry at Zucker School of Medicine at Hoftsra/Northwell Health. “The act of getting out and engaging in some goal directive behavior and getting some positive feedback—that can help shift the tide a little bit in terms of feeling depressed.” Forand also tells me that aerobic exercise (a.k.a. cardio) has been shown to help people with depression feel better.

Here’s the thing, and I can testify: It’s really hard to get a depressed person to work out. In my mind, exercising was a lot of work and I couldn’t fathom why or how it would enhance my life, which at that point was basically an early Adele album. But my therapist—like any worth their co-pay—was adamant. And her calculated strategies got me out, moving around—even if only for a few minutes—and feeling like a more familiar version of myself. So if you ever find yourself in the situation I was in, here's a little hope in the form of seven ways to get yourself to work out, starting with the running-shorts-to-sleep technique that proved successful for me.

Make it as easy as possible for yourself.

“The hardest thing is task initiation—to get started,” Forand tells me. Give yourself a chance to succeed by setting up your environment in a way where it makes it easier to do the hard thing.” Hence, wearing the running attire to bed. If I’m already dressed, all my depressed, sluggish ass needs to do is to walk out the door. Do whatever you need to do to eliminate all obstacles that could make you want to give up and go back to bed, he says.

Be extremely realistic.

“People often say they’re going to wake up at 5:30 and go to the gym when there’s a zero percent chance that that’s actually going to happen. You set yourself up to fail,” he says. And that failure can be incredibly demoralizing. Achieving goals is something that’s crucial to your self-esteem at this time, so don’t play yourself like this. “Set realistic expectations for yourself. What would be a better time to go to the gym? Maybe you feel a little better when you’re coming home from work, or maybe at lunchtime. Arrange it around that instead of doing it at a time where you’re already working against yourself.”

Going to the gym for an hour may feel impossible, adds Amy Serin, neuropsychologist and chief science officer of the TouchPoint Solution, a healthcare tech company, but walking for five minutes outside may feel doable. “Exercise doesn’t have to be a heart-pounding, sweat-dripping experience to be effective,” she says. “Even small amounts of moderate activity can go a long way toward lifting someone out of a depressive funk. And once the first small step is taken, it’s easier to add on to the behavior.”

Reinstate an old exercise habit (if you had one).

“It’s easier to build a habit off of old neural pathways that are already established rather than forging new ones,” Serin says. “So if you used to do a kickboxing workout regularly, for example, start with that because the habit can be reactivated easier than starting something totally new. Use your neural networks to your advantage.” Serin assures me that if you weren’t active beforehand, you can still implement exercise into your routine now, but it might take longer.

Make your workout something you actually want to do.

“If you’re telling yourself the only way to work out is to go to the gym and run on a treadmill for an hour—which sounds horrible to me—of course I’m not going to want to do it,” Forand says. “I like riding my bike. So instead of going to the gym and torturing myself, I ride my bike on the weekend.” There’s no wrong way to be active, he adds, especially if you’re not working out at all. “Any kind of exercise is better than nothing, so you might as well make it interesting to you.”

Treat yo’self (after you actually exercise).

“You can create short-term motivation by using psychology’s Premack Principle—equivalent to ‘eat your broccoli and you’ll get dessert,’” Serin says. Make a deal with yourself to do something pleasurable or treat yourself if you exercise; the reward can be small or can even be something that’s a regular part of your day (e.g.: “I will walk this morning for at least 15 minutes and then I can text my friends”).

Hold yourself accountable.

Putting it in your phone’s calendar or setting a realistic plan is an accountability thing, Forand says. What’s even better, though, is to be accountable to someone else. “Sign up for a class and pay money for it. They expect you be there and you’ve got a little bit of skin in the game,” he says. If you can find a workout buddy, that’ll make you less likely to bail since you’d be disappointing someone else. “Or even tell somebody you’re going to do it. Tell someone to hold you accountable.”

Record your triumphant moments.

“Even simple things can feel like they are impossible when someone is depressed and conjuring up motivation can be really, really difficult,” Serin says. So treat exercising like an experiment and you can potentially use the results to fuel you, since your brain might be predicting that exercising will suck. “Approach it with curiosity,” Forand says. “I’ve asked people to write out their predictions—which are usually negative—and then go try it for a little while and see how accurate their predictions were. Often times, the exercise is pretty self-reinforcing and you feel better afterwards." Serin adds that it's hard to remember the positive when depression strikes, so it’s good to keep a reference to remind you that after exercise your mood really did improve temporarily.

*This article first appeared in TONIC (Vice) on May 23, 2018 by Rajul Punjabi. To read the full article, click here.

ABC15 Arizona - Arizona-Invented TouchPoints, Formerly Buzzies, Now Helping 100,000 People With Autism

Arizona-Invented TouchPoints, Formerly Buzzies, Now Helping 100,000 People With Autism

PHOENIX - One out of every 59 people in the US is diagnosed with autism, according to the CDC.

In Arizona that number is one in 64, says Paige Raetz, the director of employment services for SARRC, the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center.

It's a condition that can make it tough to get a job, go to school or even connect with family.

In 2017, a Valley neuropsychologist developed a device, now called TouchPoints, to help those with autism overcome the sensory overload which often is part of their daily lives. Initially called "Buzzies," Dr. Amy Serin says more than 100,000 people are now using the devices. She says they can calm you down and help you focus by altering your body's fight or flight response.

The small devices, about the size of a wristwatch, are worn on both arms and create a gentle alternating buzzing sensation. The technology is known as Bi-Lateral Alternating Stimulation. 

Jacob Holma has been using them for years, in both high school and now college and at home. For those living with autism, those accomplishments are not easy to reach.

"Of the individuals who graduate high school, about 20 percent are actually working in the community after [graduation]," said Raetz. "That is a low rate, and means 80 percent are not." 

TouchPoints are sold online at http://ILoveTouchPoints.com. One set runs about $160. 

*This video first appeared on ABC 15 Arizona on May 22, 2018, by Fay Fredricks. To watch the full video, click here.

Product Watch - TouchPoints: An Easy Way To Reduce Stress And Anxiety

TouchPoints: An Easy Way To Reduce Stress And Anxiety

by Chasen Banks

Just like everyone else, I get stressed. Trying to meet deadlines, sitting in a traffic jam caused by everyone deciding to slow down and look at a car with their hazard lights on, navigating interpersonal relationships, and a myriad of external pressures that I’m expected to deal with.

Naturally, I was curious when I saw a product on Indiegogo called TouchPoints which made the bold claim to alleviate stress with the press of a button. These are noninvasive wearable devices that are worn on the user’s wrists. They connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth where one can either make adjustments or use settings already built into the app to help with various forms of stress.

How does it work?

On their website, Touchpoints are described as “wearables that are placed on both sides of your body and give gentle, haptic micro-vibrations that interfere with your body’s stress response.” This is in reference to their BLAST technology, which stands for Bi-Lateral Alternating Stimulation-Tactile thereby overriding the body’s nervous system when it’s stressed and overwhelmed, allowing the body to relax. Dr. Amy Seiren, a neuropsychologist, and co-founder of the TouchPoints states that when we are stressed our Sympathetic nervous system takes over. Our Parasympathetic nervous system sends signals to the body causing to calm down, and as a result, we have the ability to show more empathy. TouchPoints elicit a stress-reducing response allowing us more easily tap into our Parasympathetic nervous system.

 

I tend to be very skeptical when companies make claims similar to those made by TouchPoints, but after the 30-second TouchPoints challenge, I will admit I did notice a drop in my stress levels and felt an immediate release in tension throughout my body. This is no mere placebo effect, according to this peer-reviewed study, the BLAST technology used by TouchPoints, “has been shown to modulate the electrical activity of brain networks that mediate the stress response, resulting in a stress-reducing effect in individuals with high reported levels of anxiety, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.”

I continued to use TouchPoints for a couple of weeks and indeed noticed some changes. My stress levels went down and my focus increased. I remembered an incident specifically where I was having trouble getting through a chapter of a book. I found myself reading the same page over and over again. I used the focus setting and once again noticed an improvement in being able to concentrate on the task at hand. As for my stress levels I tend to get anxious when sitting in traffic. I’ve been using the touchpoints and have caught myself in the middle of getting anxious at times, telling myself to relax; something I rarely ever did before.

I was very curious and had a couple of my colleagues use TouchPoints, they all claimed to recognize a significant and swift change in their mood. I can definitely see how this could greatly provide relief to someone in the middle of a panic attack. This truly is a remarkable product and while I would not recommend it replace people who use medication for different anxiety disorders, it could be used in conjunction with medication to greatly help those in need. In fact, TouchPoints even has some case studies of helping kids with ADHD and Autism.

This screen shows how the vibrations can be adjusted via the TouchPoints app available on Android or IOS. One vibration is felt on one wrist, followed by the other. The app comes with settings to help with sleeplessness, anxiety, lack of focus, anger, and certain cravings. These can all be adjusted by:

frequency: how fast the vibrations move from one wrist to the other

intensity: how strong the vibrations can be felt

overlap: the length of time the vibrations can be felt on both wrists

Stress is something that is becoming all too common in our ever-growing society, so it is nice to see that there are people out there trying to make a difference. The touchpoints are very easy to set up and they work instantly. The one problem I had was the aesthetic of the two wristbands. Due to the way the technology works, it is a necessity to have them on both wrists, but as someone who likes to wear watches, it felt strange having something on my wrist that mimics the shape of a watch, maybe in the future there can be a new model with a watch on top.

We interviewed TouchPoints for even greater understanding

Q: What was the original motivation behind TouchPoints?

A: Stress is responsible for 80% of chronic disease. It inhibits our daily functioning by causing a lack of focus, poor sleep, unhealthy eating habits and so much more – but it is rarely given the recognition it deserves for wreaking havoc in our daily lives.

That’s why serial entrepreneur Vicki Mayo and neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin are on a mission to challenge the status quo in the way stress is understood and managed. Traditional methods of managing stress require a significant financial and time investment (therapy, medications, yoga, etc), so finding a way to regulate it while you go about your day represents a profound shift in the way we all can live more productive lives. Dr. Serin believes that managing stress on an ongoing basis is the key to preventing PTSD and other chronic physical and mental illnesses and is committed to improving the world with this neuroscience technology.

For the past decade, Dr. Serin was practicing neuropsychology and therapy. She found out EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapists treating PTSD in war-torn communities and often reported that after therapy people are less likely to get PTSD a second time. Unfortunately, many people don’t get any immediate or ongoing treatment after trauma, as one-on-one therapy is expensive and time-consuming. This was the inspiration behind TouchPoints — how do we bring this type of therapy to the mass market in an affordable, easy-to-use way? With advances in neuroscience, we were able to isolate a component of EMDR therapy (bilateral stimulation) into a consumer wearable (TouchPoints) so that people can be empowered outside of the doctor’s office to live a healthy, stress-free life.

Q: Can you explain to the layman what EMDR therapy is and how it relates to BLAST Technology?

A: EMDR Therapy is a comprehensive, 8-phase form of therapy that integrates bi-lateral stimulation in different forms along with the processing of upsetting memories. BLAST technology is a component of the therapy and Dr. Serin’s revolutionary research quantified using electroencephalogram data that the technology could be used to treat general stress anytime rather than being confined to therapy appointments. Many therapists use TouchPoints in session and people all over the globe are now using TouchPoints to relieve stress, improve sleep, improve performance, and reduce irritability.

Q: How expensive are the alternative treatments to TouchPoints, and how effective are they in comparison?

A: The cost of EMDR therapy can range depending on the therapist credentials and location. In our area, therapy ranges from $120-$250 per session. Other ways of managing stress include taking medication, which usually costs a monthly co-pay and may have side-effects. Meditation is generally free or can be done in conjunction with an app that has a monthly subscription and yoga classes can be free online or cost per class. TouchPoints are not a medical device and are not a cure for specific conditions, but can be used in conjunction with other therapies and a healthy lifestyle. We haven’t found a substitute that helps people de-stress while they go about their day, so this is a major advantage of TouchPoints

Q: Is it more effective to leave the TouchPoints on all day?

How you wear your TouchPoints is completely dependent on how much anxiety a person has. Stress is highly personal based on a complex set of risk factors (genetics, internal emotions, external environments) so some users ‘spot use’ TouchPoints for just a few minutes several times a day, and other users wear TouchPoints many hours during the day. They are more effective when turned on and should be left on during prolonged stressful situations such as giving a presentation, taking a test, or during a heated conversation.

Most TouchPoints users wear their TouchPoints preventatively or on-the-spot for 15 minutes before, during or after a stressful situation. However, we also have many users with Autism, ADHD, or Generalized Anxiety who prefer to wear their TouchPoints all day while in class or at work to regulate their central nervous system. TouchPoints are just as effective if worn for 15 minutes or all day and are actually helping your brain to create new neural pathways – so the next time you experience that same type of stress, it doesn’t feel so bad.

Q: Are there any other products on the market like this?

Most other wearables simply track and report your progress, whereasTouchPoints actually actively reduce stress non-invasively. Having the ability to think rationally without an associated body sensation helps the brain create new neural pathways that are net positive, and this has a lasting effect on your brain. Biofeedback products can help remind people to breathe or pay attention to their stress, but rely on the person to try to bring their stress levels down themselves and stop what they are doing. TouchPoints do the work for you.

Q: Can someone become so accustomed to the sensations of the touchpoints that they stop working?

A: The BLAST technology delivers gentle, non-invasive stimulation that is received by the brain – so becoming accustomed to the stimulation on your body does not alter the efficacy of the treatment. It’s just like listening to a song over and over- your brain may recognize the song but you are still able to hear it no matter how many times you listen to it.

Q: What would you say to people who think this is just a placebo effect?

A: Double-blind placebo-controlled research is used to distinguish placebo effects from real effects of a treatment. Our double-blind placebo-controlled research is showing a spike in cortisol levels (a stress hormone) in the placebo condition vs. no significant increase in cortisol in the active conditions when TouchPoints are on and synchronized. This rules-out the placebo effect. Generally, the placebo effect can account for a 30-40% success rate and our success rate and significance in several samples of thousands of people show a much higher rate of success and between a 62-74% reduction in stress in 30 seconds.

Q: What plans are in store for the future of touchpoints?

A: We are expanding our message of hope for people to #PressAndDestress with TouchPoints and going global with our products. We also have a new app (available on iOS and Android) where users can take their “Personalized Stress Profile” quiz to determine which type of stressful personality they are, read lifestyle tips on how to manage that type of stress, and determine best ways to use their TouchPoints. We continue to innovate and improve based on customer feedback and are adding exciting functionality to our app in the coming months.

The touchpoints are available for sale on their website. The Original model runs at $250, while the basic model runs at $160. The basic model comes with three basic yet popular settings: Sleep, Calm, and Anger. The Original runs a bit higher but gives the user more control when it comes to the settings. Our readers get a 10% discount on orders of $99 or more when they enter in the promo code ‘PRODUCTWATCH’.

*This article first appeared in Product Watch by Chasen Banks. To read the full article, click here.

Healthy Way - Am I Depressed Or Just In A Funk? Here’s How To Tell The Difference

Am I Depressed Or Just In A Funk?Here’s How To Tell The Difference

Most people think of depression as being sad all the time, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Here’s how to tell whether you’re depressed or in a funk.

When I was in my first year of university, I couldn’t figure out if I was miserable or depressed. I cried often, I struggled with my sleeping patterns, my immune system was weak, and I felt irritable and unmotivated all the time. Am I depressed? I wondered. Or am I just moody?

While I felt sad, it eventually became clear that it wasn’t a bad mood or a response to one specific life change—I had depression. And while help was available, I needed to acknowledge that I was depressed before anything could get better.

We often associate depression with sadness, and we often use the word depressing or depressed to mean very sad. Some people even use it to talk about relatively normal life events: “I’m so depressed he canceled our date!” or “This history class is so damn depressing.” For this reason, it can be difficult to tell whether you’re truly depressed or simply upset. Like me, you might be asking yourself, Am I depressed, or am I feeling sad, hopeless, or unmotivated?

Here’s what you need to know about the difference between depression and general sadness.

Am I depressed or am I sad?

Depression is a mental illness—a mood disorder, to be specific—while sadness is a mood or feeling. This distinction might seem simple, but if you’re struggling with a low mood, it can be hard to tell the difference.

That said, there are a few notable differences between depression and sadness or lack of motivation.

“In sadness, there are mostly feelings of emptiness and loss. In depression, there is a persistent depressed mood and inability to anticipate happiness or pleasure,” says Danielle Forshee, PsyD, LCSW, a practicing psychologist.

“Feelings associated with sadness are likely to decrease in intensity over the course of a few days or weeks and occur in waves,” Forshee adds. “These waves tend to be associated with thoughts or reminders of what it is that is making you sad. The depressed mood of depression is more persistent and not tied to specific thoughts. Usually thoughts in depression are associated with self-criticism or pessimism.”

In other words, when you’re sad, your sadness is associated with a specific issue. When you’re depressed, on the other hand, it’s chronic: It’s a lens that obscures the joy around you. Depression makes you struggle to find happiness or joy in your surroundings.

Something else to note, Forshee says, is that your self-esteem is usually relatively intact when you’re sad. With depression, on the other hand, it’s common to feel worthless or self-loathing.

If you’re asking yourself Am I depressed? consider which of those scenarios applies to you.

What causes depression?

Another key difference between sadness and depression is its cause. Sadness is usually caused by a certain event or issue, and while depression can be triggered by a specific situation, the true cause of depression is extremely complex.

You may have heard that depression is caused by a “chemical imbalance” in the brain. Many experts have pointed out that while this explanation isn’t exactly wrong, it’s a little oversimplified. “Depression isn’t likely caused by just one thing, but rather a complex interplay of many things such as genetic predisposition to having low moods, trauma and negative experiences, levels of concentrations of certain neurotransmitters, nerve cell connection function, and nerve circuit functioning,” explains neuropsychologist Amy Serin, PhD, founder of the Serin Center.

“There is a difference between sadness, which is often a temporary acute reaction to a difficult life situation,” says Serin, “and depression, which is a longer-lasting state in which a person can experience a loss of pleasure in life, fatigue, sleep changes, physical symptoms, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, and even suicidality.”

There can also be significant physiological differences between people who feel sad but are not struggling with depression and those who are depressed, including hormonal differences. “Stress plays a role in modulating depression,” Serin explains. “Individuals with emotional or physical stress produce more corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), a hormone that is often elevated in depressed individuals. When CRH returns to normal levels, mood states improve and depression lessens,” she says.

It’s important to remember that there are a number of physiological factors that come along with depression. An effective treatment program will address multiple facets of your experience to make depression more manageable, and professionals who are qualified to help treat depression know it isn’t as simple as changing your attitude, which is important for you to keep in mind too.

I think I’m depressed, but I don’t feel sad all the time.

A common misconception about depression is that depressed people only experience sadness, all of the time. In reality, depression can include a range of negative emotions and even physical feelings including anger, numbness, lethargy, or irritability.

“Depression is a complex condition which may present differently across a range of people,” explains Lekeisha A. Sumner, Ph.D., a board-certified clinical psychologist. “Sadness may not be the most prominent symptom. For example, for some people it may present with more physical complaints or irritability than low mood.”

So, while depression is often accompanied by sadness, it’s certainly possible to feel other negative moods—annoyance, apathy, or demotivation, for example—more than sadness.

Instead of crying constantly, you might find yourself struggling to function and complete day-to-day tasks, or you might be easily annoyed or upset, or you might struggle to find the joy in the things that previously brought you pleasure.

Depression isn’t just about how you feel—it’s also linked to a number of physical symptoms. “Many people with depression show up in their doctor’s offices with vague pain that can include chronic joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and appetite changes,” Serin notes.

Serin explains that while most people believe there’s a strong division between mind and body, mental illnesses like depression—and even moods, like sadness—can affect the body profoundly. “We know that invoking even a small amount of sadness will increase someone’s level of perceived pain, so it makes sense that individuals with depression literally feel more physical symptoms than non-depressed people, even in the absence of other medical causes,” she says.

This might feel very overwhelming, especially since depression is linked to such a wide array of physical, mental, and emotional effects. But it’s important to remember that there’s a lot of hope for those who are depressed, and effective treatment will address your physical and emotional symptoms.

How is depression diagnosed?

If you find yourself asking Am I depressed?, the best person to help you work your way toward an answer is a trained expert.

“A professional can determine the subtleties among symptoms of major depression, dysthymia, grief, and normal sadness,” Sumner explains. “If you have been experiencing persistent sadness for at least two weeks, you would likely benefit from a professional evaluation,” she says.

According to Forshee, to meet criteria for major depressive disorder, symptoms of depression must have been present every single day for at least two weeks. The symptoms are:

  1. Depressed mood most of the day (feeling sad, empty, hopeless)
  2. Little or no pleasure in almost all activities that previously you derived pleasure from
  3. Significant weight loss/decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
  4. Sleeping way too much or not sleeping at all
  5. Feeling physically slowed down
  6. Feeling very fatigued or having a loss of energy nearly every day
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive and inappropriate guilt nearly every day
  8. Limited ability to think/concentrate or indecisiveness nearly every day
  9. Recurring thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts without a plan, or a suicide attempt, or having a plan for committing suicide

Other types of depression include:

Even if you don’t consistently experience all the symptoms associated with major depression or don’t think you’ll be diagnosed with another type of depression, you should still talk to a professional if you’re struggling with your mental health. You don’t need a diagnosis in order to receive help; therapy can benefit people whether they have a diagnosed mental illness or not.

Many people think they can simply cure depression on their own if they just have a positive attitude. While staying positive is a great start, depression is a medical condition and it should be approached as such. We all need a little help sometimes, and there’s no shame in seeking help if you think you may be depressed. Just as you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) attempt to cure appendicitis on your own, it’s important to look for professional help if you have depression.

If you think you may be depressed, your first port-of-call should be a therapist of some kind. If you have health insurance, you should be able to search in-network providers online through your insurer’s provider directory. (Note that they may be listed as behavioral health professionals.) If you’re unsure which therapist to visit, look for reviews online, ask for a recommendation from your general physician or friends, or try an online therapy portal like BetterHelp or Talkspace. Psychotherapy—that is, talk therapy—is a great way to improve and maintain your emotional health, whether you have a mental illness or not.

Sumner says that one of the most effective treatments for depression is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). “CBT is based on the premise that maladaptive cognitions, such as beliefs or paradigms about one’s world, surroundings, themselves, and the future, contribute to automatic thoughts that lead to distress,” she explains.

With CBT, a therapist can help you recognize these problematic beliefs, thought patterns, and behaviors so that you can change them. Changing your thought patterns and behaviors might help relieve your depression. Serin points out that CBT has been shown to literally alter the hippocampus in the brain, which provides further evidence that CBT is an effective treatment for those who are depressed.

So I’m depressed. What else can I do?

“It is important to note that neurochemicals associated with depression can be altered with treatments that are not medication,” Serin says. In other words, while medication can be necessary and life-saving for many people with depression, there are other treatment options that you can explore.

“Meditation, improved sleep, exercise, and other healthy behaviors have also been shown to reduce depression in many studies,” she says. Serin also recommends getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and creating social connections with supportive people to maintain your mental health.

Of course, maintaining a healthy diet can be tough when you’re struggling with depression. Depression can affect your appetite, causing you to eat too much or too little. And even if you have an appetite, depression often means you don’t have the energy to cook healthy, filling food, causing you to resort to eating what the internet has lightheartedly dubbed “depression meals.”

When you have the energy to do so, you might find it helpful to stock your cupboard and fridge with easy-to-make food: tea, whole-grain bread, nut butter, protein shakes, fruit, and frozen veggies can all be your allies when it comes to addressing your depression. Try to freeze leftover soup and keep it in your freezer for emergencies. Don’t feel bad if you need to call for delivery, pick up takeout, or buy ready-made food: Eating anything is better than eating nothing at all.

If you find yourself wanting to focus on your feelings, Sumner recommends trying expressive writing through journaling, which can help you express and process your emotions. Some studies suggest that gratitude journaling can be used to boost one’s self-esteem and general well-being, not to mention writing your feelings down is a great way to remember what to discuss in your next therapy session!

In addition to all of these suggestions, Sumner recommends engaging with positive, supportive people. She also suggests you increase the pleasurable activities you engage in throughout the day. Take time to do the things that make you feel relaxed, happy, or excited. This could include taking a walk, reading, or watching a funny show. It can be hard to get yourself out of the house or even respond to texts when you’re in the throes of depression, but if you’re feeling up to it, these small things can help lift your mood.

While depression sometimes seems impossible to deal with, it can be treated effectively. Many people who have depression still manage to have happy, full, exciting lives—they just need to take extra good care of their mental health.

*This article first appeared in HealthyWay on May 1, 2018, by SIAN FERGUSON. To read the full article, click here.

AZ India - A Valley Tech Start-Up's Answer to Stress-Free Life

A Valley Tech Start-Up's Answer to Stress-Free Life

AZ India May Edition 5

*This article first appeared in AZINDIA on May 1, 2018.

CTA It Is Innovation (i3) Magazine - A Tipping Point for Life-Changing Technologies

A Tipping Point for Life-Changing Technologies

CTA - It Is Innovation (i3) Magazine

Electronic technology has taken colossal leaps in the past 40 years since I first began covering tech, and it now impacts just about every human activity. This year’s CES included the introductions of many technologies and devices that provide a vision of what the immediate future will look like. Thanks to developments in 5G, AI, VR and IoT, 2018 will be a tipping point for a host of societal changing technologies. Here are a handful of the companies I visited at CES that, at the very least, will educate consumers about the technological revolution that is happening now. 

BrainCo was founded three years ago less than a mile from Harvard University and develops “brain-machine interface (BMI) platform technologies for the education and healthcare markets.” The Focus headband is said to accurately monitor, analyze and visualize brainwaves. “Together with neurofeedback training techniques, this product is used in the education market to help teachers understand student engagement and also help students increase their study habits,” BrainCo explains. It may sound like science fiction, but the technology is being used today.

TouchPoints, founded by neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin and child advocate Vicki Mayo in 2015, brings relief to people who suffer from stress and anxiety. TouchPoints devices can be worn on wrists or clipped to clothing and use Bi-Lateral Alternating Stimulation Tactile (BLAST) technology, transferring alternating vibrations to alter the body’s response to stress and to restore homeostatic nervous system functioning. TouchPoints are said to overcome anxiety, focus issues and sleep problems, and have been reported to help cope with conditions like Parkinson’s, Autism and ADHD.

Transdev developed i-Cristal, an electric and fully autonomous shuttle designed for “tomorrow’s shared mobility.” The 16 passenger vehicle uses Transdev’s Universal Routing Engine adapted for fixed-line services and is fully charged in 90 minutes. By mid-year Rouen, France will be the first location in Europe to deliver an “on-demand mobility service” operated using five fully electric and autonomous vehicles on open roads thanks to Transdev. The service will serve three routes totaling 6.5 miles and 17 stops. The fleet will include four Renault Zoe cars — two with Renault’s and two with Transdev’s autonomous driving technology.

HiberSense is a personalized climate control system which provides homeowners with HVAC automation and control for individual rooms, using a mobile app that lets users set their preferences and view system usage. It analyzes data from wireless vents to control room temperature and the airflow to each room while the HiberSense thermostat controls the HVAC system. HiberSense says it can save up to 40 percent in heating and cooling, and it is an “easy retrofit” with homes that have a forced-air HVAC.

L’Oreal USA is introducing UV Sense, “the first battery-free wearable electronic UV sensor,” and a limited-edition My UV Patch to provide consumers with “crucial information about their individual ultraviolet (UV) exposure levels.” According to global VP Guive Balooch, the goal was to “create something that blends problem-solving technology with human-centered design.”

There are many more examples of ways that technology is transforming society. Products you never thought your company would sell, manufacture or use to operate your businesses — and as a consumer you thought you’d never use — may soon become part of your everyday life. In an industry that thrives on innovation and disruption, this year may turn out to be the most innovative and the most disruptive ever.

Steve Smith

*This article first appeared in the Consumer Technology Association's It Is Innovation (i3) Magazine on May 17, 2018, by Steve Smith. To read the full article, click here.

Project Entrepreneur - Where Are They Now? Updates From Our PE Alumnae

Where Are They Now? Updates From Our PE Alumnae

#PEACCELERATORFEMALE FOUNDERSPE ALUMNAE

We just wrapped two amazing days with 200 female founders from our #PEClassOf2018 at the PE Intensive in New York City, so we decided to check in with five of our PE Alumnae to find out how their time in the PE Intensive helped them take their businesses to the next level. Read the rest of the post to hear updates our 2016 and 2017 Alumnae in their own words and learn more about what they’ve been building since participating in the PE Accelerator.

Photo credit: Andrew French

Jennifer Grove, Founder, and CEO of Repeat Roses, an eco-friendly company that recycles wedding and special event flowers to deliver a spot of joy to those in the community:

“Since the 2017 PE Accelerator, Repeat Roses has added a new revenue stream developing custom Corporate Social Responsibility partnerships and employee engagement experiences. UBS is one of our first corporate clients to book a national series of Repeat Roses workshops that will demonstrate their commitment to social impact and sustainability. Since then, we’ve partnered with Hilton Worldwide and other global brands to provide interactive, educational and team-building experiences for brands that care about meaningful and measurable environmental social governance.

“Standing side-by-side with the #PEClassOf2017 to ring the New York Stock Exchange bell was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my career. It had a profound positive impact on how I envision the trajectory of Repeat Roses and what’s possible when you dream big. I lean on my PE cohort for both hands-on help and invaluable guidance, as well as brutal honesty. We push each other to do better, and we’re not afraid to challenge one another’s strategies in search of the best outcome. We are truly each other’s biggest supporters because we know each other’s businesses intimately after going through the PE Accelerator together. A win for one is a win we can all share.

“For example, when Repeat Roses repurposed the flowers from multiple marquis name Oscars soirees this year, including the CFDA, Swarovski, and Vanity Fair Oscars parties, it was a proud moment to see my West Coast sales and service team succeeding across the country and watch the Los Angeles market take off. Tina [Hedges of LOLI Beauty] and Bimla [Picot of Reboundwear] showed up at my apartment armed with champagne to celebrate. Being a CEO can be lonely at times, so these are the fellow female founders you want in your corner.

“During the course of the Accelerator, one of my mentors helped me pick apart a ‘buy versus build’ software decision. We ranked my needs and performed a cost-benefit analysis to weigh the pros and cons. It was clear it would be more efficient to hire people and invest in SaaS at that stage versus the cost of building custom. My piece of advice to the incoming PE class is to focus on innovation where it counts: solving the world’s greatest problems. If you’re not a tech company, there’s something to be said for not reinventing the wheel given the number of working SaaS solutions available. Making the wrong software decision could have serious financial consequences an early stage startup can’t necessarily weather. A year later, and I’m still grateful for that cost-saving exercise because I know my business even better now and what software we actually need to aggressively scale.”

Photo credit: NewView.Media

Suelin Chen, Founder, and CEO of Cake, a digital platform that makes it easy to do advance care and end-of-life planning:

“We raised angel funding and then an institutional seed round last year, which was oversubscribed, and have been working with companies including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim, and Massachusetts General Hospital.  Since the PE Accelerator, we have actually stayed fairly consistent with our business model and our mission remains the same: to ensure that all people can live in accordance with their values, all the way to the end. We were selected for PULSE, a digital health accelerator, and have been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, and on the front page of the Boston Globe.

“During the PE Accelerator, I most enjoyed interacting with other founders (including Jenn and Jenny, the Co-Founders of Rent the Runway). Regardless of what your company does, early-stage companies face so many of the same challenges and I loved that we were learning from each other—and we still keep in touch!

“I also learned so much from Jenn and Jenny about founding and growing a business—there are few role models for women founders, and we are incredibly fortunate that they have put together this program.  One of the most helpful pieces of advice I got was from Jenn on hiring: she encouraged us to think about what values and characteristics are non-negotiable for our team, and if someone does not have those values, then they are probably not a good hire, even if they have perfect skills and experience on paper. Holding out for the best people is so hard, but I look at my team now and it was absolutely worth it. It is never too early to think about company culture!”

Photo courtesy of Vicki Mayo

Vicki Mayo, Co-founder of The Touchpoint Solution, a wearable device that alleviates stress in as few as 30 seconds:

“I truly enjoyed my time at the Accelerator. Through the [shared] lessons learned and the sessions we attended, we made lasting connections. Our cohort became very close, and I have friends for life that understand this unique entrepreneurial journey.  The growth was not only at a personal level. Since the PE Accelerator, our company has more than doubled in sales. I can confidently attribute much of this growth to the lessons learned during the PE Accelerator.

“One of the biggest lessons I learned during the Accelerator was to listen to your customer. This was demonstrated time and time again through various sessions, but especially with the Rent the Runway’s CTO. He shared that his team’s primary focus was to improve customer experience. I learned from that example, and I asked TouchPoint customers what they wanted. Our customers told us they wanted more tools so they could better understand their stress response. They also wanted more tailored feedback on how to integrate the TouchPoints stress relieving wearable devices into their daily lives.

“Fast forward to today, and people can download the free TouchPoints app and get a personalized stress profile complete with lifestyle tips. Listening to our customers was a key element to our exponential growth. The PE Accelerator was also instrumental in helping us win the Brainnovations Competition, being named in the 2017 Top 50 most innovative products by Innovation and Tech Today and winning an Edison Award.”

Photo courtesy of Christine Moseley

Christine Moseley, Founder, and CEO of Full Harvest, which helps growers get the most out of a harvest and food companies save money by bringing farm excess to market:

Since we participated in the PE Accelerator two years ago, Full Harvest has experienced 15x growth. The Full Harvest platform has expanded into a full end-to-end online solution for farms to sell imperfect and surplus produce to food and beverage companies; our platform connects some of the most prominent farms in the U.S. to large national food brands. To date, we have saved 4 million pounds of produce that would have otherwise gone to waste, saved 250 million gallons of water (enough drinking water for over 1 million people for a year), and prevented 1.5M kg of CO2 emissions from being released into the environment. Since the PE Accelerator 2 years ago, we have grown by over 15x.

One of the most valuable aspects of the accelerator was the mentorship. Everything Jenn and Jenny said was pure gold in terms of advice. They prevented me from making some mistakes, especially with regards to hiring. Jenn taught us how to hire a team based on your values. It’s imperative that each new team member share the same values as the founders and be assessed for them during the hiring process. Josh and Ricky, our investor advisors, were awesome in terms of advice on fundraising. Getting to know the other entrepreneurs and expanding my network of founders was also a huge support. Startups are 24/7 and it’s crucial to have a strong support network for the ups and downs. That is one piece of advice I give all entrepreneurs starting out. Looking back at the Intensive Weekend, I gained more confidence and practice on my pitch, which helped me to win several pitch competitions afterward and raise $3M. While at the PE Accelerator, I also met two of my current investors, BBG Ventures and Joanne Wilson. The experience as a whole was invaluable.

Photo courtesy of Bimla Picot

Bimla Picot, Founder, and CEO of Reboundwear, an apparel line of post-surgery clothing and physical therapy athletic apparel to help individuals recover in style:

Meeting and building a close relationship with my fellow cohort was an unexpected aspect of the Accelerator. Startup founders are typically obsessed with their inventions and businesses, and after a while, as much as your friends and family love you, they get tired of hearing about it. My cohort and I are in touch weekly. Sometimes it’s just a text, or other times we hop on a group call. Three of us live in the [same] city so we are able to get together for dinner. We share information, resources, advice and lots and lots of stories.

The most helpful thing I learned from the Accelerator was that no matter what kind of business one launches these days, tech will be at the center of it. We had the opportunity to meet with people at every level of tech, which gave us a sense of how we will incorporate [technology] into every level of [our] growth plan. Reboundwear is comfortable and fashionable post-surgical clothing—we are a consumer product that straddles both the fashion and healthcare industries but our marketing materials and website felt very clinical. As I sat in many of the workshops [during the Accelerator], I learned how to use branding and web design to create a more appealing consumer brand.

One of the things I learned about being an inventor, is that sometimes, when you are ahead of your time, you have to be patient as the rest of the world catches up. Intuitively, I assumed that hospitals are the best place to sell our clothing. But after going through the Accelerator, we quickly understood that hospitals are in the business of taking care of medical issues and not in the business of selling clothing. We knew that there was (and is) a large market and a genuine need for Reboundwear in the healthcare sector, so since the Accelerator, we’ve decided to launch as an e-commerce consumer brand. Now the rest of the world is catching on, and we receive calls from hospital supply companies and senior facilities that want to carry the clothing for their patients and residents.


Project Entrepreneur (PE), Rent the Runway Foundation’s first program with Founding Partner UBS, is breaking down barriers facing women building high-growth companies by supporting early-stage female founders with bold visions. The PE Intensive, taking place each April, brings together the top 200 female founders from the PE Venture Competition for hands-on workshops and mentorship in New York City. Winners of the Venture Competition receive a $10,000 grant and a spot in the PE Accelerator hosted at Rent the Runway headquarters. Please visit projectentrepreneur.org/apply for more details.

Header credit: Amanda Gentile Photography

*This article first appeared on Project Entrepreneur. To read the full article, click here.

Hello Giggles - Can Stress Make You Sick? We Asked Doctors For The Truth

Can stress make you sick? We asked doctors for the truth

Most of us have experienced stress in our daily lives. With work and other personal responsibilities, it seems inevitable. Because April is Stress Awareness Month, it’s helpful to not only be aware of how you can manage stress but to also be aware of why you should do so in the first place. 

As you may have heard, stress is known for being the silent killer that can affect you both mentally and emotionally. If you’ve ever been so overwhelmed to the point that you can’t think straight, you know what that’s like. But can stress make you sick? According to Dr. Amy Serin, PhD., neuropsychologist and founder of The Serin Center, absolutely.

How stress can make you sick:

It’s important to know that stress is actually responsible for about 80% of all chronic diseases, according to Dr. Serin.

"When stressed, an individual's body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode, which releases a complex mix of hormones and chemicals in order to prepare the body for physical action," she tells us. "Some of these physical involuntary reactions include restricting blood flow to muscles and shutting down some necessary bodily functions, such as digestion. While this is helpful in dangerous situations, the challenge is when the body goes into this mode during inappropriate times. This results in inflammation and fatigue."

Since blood flow gets restricted, things like your brain function can become limited, which explains why many of us can’t think clearly during stressful times. According to The American Institute of Stress, it can also cause your pupils to dilate, your bowels to slow down, an increase in blood pressure, and muscle tension. Stress can even cause your heart to beat harder and faster, which can be damaging to the organ if it gets too overworked.

“During stressful situations, cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’) is released throughout the body, and as a result of the increased hormones, the immune response can be weakened,” Dr. Katherine Miao, Medical Director at CityMD tells HelloGiggles. “With a diminished immune response, people are less able to fight off all types of infections, including the common cold and flu.” 

So although stress doesn’t directly cause you to get the flu, it can make catching it much easier. That’s why it is so important to be mindful of how you respond to stressful situations.

How you can recover:

Stress can cause you to become physically ill. The good news is, you can recover. “The best way to recover from stress-related illnesses is to first remove the underlying stressor,” Dr. Miao says. While many of us deal with stress in our lives, it’s important to acknowledge when it happens. Knowing when you’re overwhelmed or ill can help you determine when it’s time to give your body a chance to slow down and recuperate.

“This is just as important as resting and making sure to get proper nutrients,” she says. “Not reducing or removing the stressor can mean that it takes a person longer to recover.” In other words, first, recognize you have a problem and go from there.

Managing it by practicing self-care is also key. It may seem cliché, but according to her, there is evidence supporting the role of exercise, particularly yoga, in decreasing your overall stress levels. “Even 10 or 15 minutes a day is better than nothing and will have some benefit,” Dr. Miao says. If you don’t have time to go to the gym, a brisk walk around the block when you’re feeling overwhelmed can be beneficial as well.

It’s also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and making sure you’re well-rested. “With all of the distractions in modern society, we tend to skimp on sleep,” she says. “Take a break and unplug from your phone and recharge your own batteries! A minimum of eight hours of sleep every day will help cut down both fatigue and stress, which can go hand in hand.”

Stress can do a number on your health. But if you find ways to manage it, you can limit the negative physical effects it can have on your body.

*This article first appeared in Hello Giggles on April 19, 2018, by KRISTINE FELLIZAR. To read the full article, click here.

Hello Giggles - What Does It Mean If You Get Chest Pains From Stress? Experts Have The Answer

What does it mean if you get chest pains from stress? Experts have the answer

It's no secret that stress can affect you in some pretty alarming ways. If not managed properly, stress can mess with you mentally, emotionally, and physically. It can even aggravate any medical conditions you may already have. If you’ve ever been so overwhelmed to the point that you’re clutching your chest in pain, it’s not uncommon to automatically assume the worst.

But just how bad is it really?

“As a cardiologist, one of the more common questions I get from my patients with chest pain or palpitations is, ‘Do you think it could be stress?’” Dr. Todd Hurst, center director for Cardiovascular Health at Banner University Medical Center Phoenix, tells HelloGiggles. “The answer is typically, ‘It’s possible.’” 

According to Dr. Hurst, it’s been long recognized that stress impacts health, and this is particularly true when it comes to cardiology. “We know that sudden emotional stress can be a trigger for serious cardiac problems, including heart attacks,” he says. That’s why people with chronic heart problems need to avoid acute stress as much as possible. In general, learning how to manage life’s daily stressors as much as you can is key.

Because April is Stress Awareness Month, it’s important to be aware of the effects stress can have on your body, so you can find ways to manage it in the best way that works for you. But beyond that, it’s just as important to know why stress causes these physical reactions in the first place. 

So what do chest pains from stress actually mean?

When you experience something stressful, it’s common to get an associated body sensation like butterflies in the stomach or tightness in the chest. According to Dr. Amy Serin, PhD., neuropsychologist and founder of The Serin Center, this is absolutely normal. 

“Chest pains are just one kind of physical stress symptoms that signals your body has shifted into the stressful nervous system,” Dr. Serin tells HelloGiggles. “Mistaking chest pains for a cardiac event causes many stressed out people to go to emergency rooms, only to find out that their heart is completely fine. There is no emergency, it was just their nervous system activating the fight or flight response (i.e. panic).”

This, of course, applies to the average person who doesn’t have any issues with their heart. The only way to know for sure is if you consult a doctor. But once you’ve been cleared, Dr. Serin says the best way to deal with chest pains is to simply de-stress and manage it accordingly. Some suggested ways to manage stress include getting some physical activity, getting a good night’s rest, practicing breathing techniques, and adopting a gratitude mindset. 

“Being thankful is a surprisingly effective method to reframe our challenges and put things in perspective,” Dr. Hurst says. “It’s human nature to focus on our problems rather than our blessings. As little as 60 seconds a day (I do it first thing in the morning before I get out of bed) spent thinking about the things you are grateful for can be life-altering.” 

Life can get super overwhelming sometimes. It’s good to know that chest pains from stress don’t necessarily mean anything too serious. But when it happens, your body is trying to tell you something. So listen to it, take deep breaths, and don’t let it consume you. 

*This article first appeared in Hello Giggles on April 19, 2018, by KRISTINE FELLIZAR. To read the full article, click here,

Healthy Way - Can You Manage Social Anxiety Disorder? Psychologists Share Their Insights

Can You Manage Social Anxiety Disorder? Psychologists Share Their Insights

Social anxiety disorder is difficult to deal with. It can affect all areas of your life, from your career to your schooling to your relationships. Fortunately, it can be treated. Here’s what you need to know.

Many of us get nervous when it comes to public speaking. We might feel slightly frazzled or shy in social situations. We might even avoid large gatherings or unfamiliar social spaces.

But what does it mean if you have a constant fear of social situations? What if you worry about events for days or weeks before they take place? What if your avoidance of social situations affects your career, schooling, or relationships? What if your anxiety is affecting you on a physical level, causing you to become sweaty or nauseated around others?

If you have experienced these symptoms, you’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, recent statistics suggest about 12.1 percent of U.S. adults experience social anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. There are a few risk factors that increase your chances of having social anxiety disorder, including being divorced or widowed and experiencing stressful life events. Women and girls are more likely to experience social anxiety disorder.

“Having negative social experiences and growing up in stressful environments are two environmental factors that can contribute to the development of social anxiety disorder,” says Amy Serin, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist, and founder of The Serin Center. “As with most diagnoses, there is a dynamic interplay between genetics and environment that can determine the eventual development of a disorder.”

Fortunately, Serin notes, social anxiety disorder can be effectively treated. Here’s what you need to know.

What exactly is social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety disorder isn’t simply about being shy or introverted, although a socially anxious person may appear that way to others. Social anxiety disorder typically leads people to avoid social situations entirely or to have great difficulty in those situations. In some cases, the anxiety stems from being afraid of how people perceive them.

“Introverts simply recharge their energy during solitude but can have no anxiety when dealing with others. There is a preference for being alone versus being with others,” Serin says. “Shyness may be a less severe form of social anxiety and occurs when a person may clam up or prefer to avoid social interaction in general.”

Social anxiety disorder, on the other hand, includes severe stress responses to social situations. “Social anxiety disorder typically presents as marked fear in social situations, above and beyond what one would typically expect given the situation,” says Jana Scrivani, PsyD, a licensed psychologist with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of social anxiety.

Before a psychologist diagnoses someone with the disorder, certain criteria must be met. Psychologists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria to inform their diagnosis.

“In order for a fear of social situations to be considered a disorder, it must interfere in someone’s life,” says Scrivani. In other words, the social anxiety must make it difficult for someone to function to be considered a disorder. “Additionally, the distress needs to persist for at least six months, and not be attributable to something else,” she says. For example, if someone avoids school because of a long-term illness or an unpleasant encounter with a particular teacher or classmate, that’s not attributable to social anxiety.

Anxiety disorders can also be accompanied by a number of physical symptoms including heart palpitations, excessive sweating, shaking, hot and cold flashes, shortness of breath, dizziness, and lightheadedness, and trouble swallowing. These might seem like symptoms of the flu but are often linked to anxiety. Anxiety results in these physical experiences by producing a flight-or-fight stress response in our bodies, which in turn affects our hormonal system and ultimately impacts our physical health.

Can social anxiety disorder be treated?

Social anxiety disorder is difficult to live with, but it can be treated successfully, says Scrivani. “I’ve worked with many people throughout the years who have made significant strides in overcoming social anxiety!” she says. “The first step would be to look for a provider who is experienced with social anxiety disorder.”

Seeing a therapist is often the first step in managing social anxiety. One of the most effective treatments for social anxiety disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), says Lara Fielding, PsyD, EdM, a Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist, and author. CBT is commonly used because numerous studies have shown that it’s an effective treatment for social anxiety disorder. CBT teaches people different ways of thinking, understanding, and reacting to situations.

Another effective form of therapy for social anxiety disorder is acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT. This involves linking the client’s values with the necessity to persist through the anxiety. Their values are used to motivate them to work through their anxiety.

Exposure therapy is usually used in combination with CBT to treat social anxiety disorder. Fielding explains that during CBT, a therapist might encourage their client to create a hierarchy of feared social situations. These situations range from mildly anxiety-inducing to unbearably anxiety-inducing.

The therapist might then guide them to gradually expose themselves to those situations, starting with the least worrisome situation. “The client must stay present to the anxiety until the peak has passed, without engaging in any reassurance-seeking or other safety behaviors, until the anxiety begins to extinguish on its own,” Fielding says. After repeated exposures, the anxiety begins to subside and the client starts to feel more in control.

Fielding also notes that mindfulness-based CBT is incredibly effective for the treatment of social anxiety disorder. With anxiety disorders, you experience primary reactions and secondary reactions. The secondary reactions involve you fearing your anxiety and wanting to avoid that discomfort. “In mindfulness, the aim is to practice letting go of the reactivity in such a way that the primary pain is accepted, so the secondary reactivity does not take hold,” Fielding says.

You’ll take note of your heart pounding, your instinct to run away, and so on. You’ll accept this discomfort and learn that it doesn’t have to dictate your actions. “Mindful awareness of the relationship between the thinking, feelings, and action impulses begins to paradoxically reduce the secondary reactivity,” she says.

There are other forms of therapy for social anxiety, such as psychodynamic therapy. However, Fielding says these forms haven’t been studied thoroughly enough. “This type of therapy has little or no evidence for being effective with serious anxiety disorders,” she explains. “CBT and ACT have multiple randomized controlled trials—the gold standard of science—showing them to be effective.”

Serin reiterates that social anxiety disorder can be treated. “At Serin Center, we have treated hundreds of individuals with social anxiety disorder with a combination of neurofeedback, therapy, and bilateral alternating stimulation,” she says. Neurofeedback involves mapping brain activity and then using that to inform therapy, while TouchPoints are wearables that vibrate on alternating sides of the body, altering the body’s flight-or-fight response. This soothes the wearer when they’re feeling anxious.

Anxious about seeing a therapist? Do some research first to put your mind at ease. Ask for referrals from friends. Consider online therapy options like Talkspace or better help if the idea of a face-to-face conversation is too intimidating. Remind yourself that it’s an investment in your life: You are worth your own effort.

Other Ways to Manage Social Anxiety Disorder

While therapy should be your first port-of-call when it comes to addressing social anxiety disorder, it’s great to have other stress management techniques, too. These coping skills can help you in between sessions or while you’re still looking for a therapist, but they can’t replace a professional healthcare provider altogether.

Here are some techniques to consider.

  • Practice deep-breathing exercises to help you manage your anxiety. This skill can help you soothe yourself in seconds, whether you’re at home, in the bathroom at the office, or in a quiet room at a party.
  • While alcohol or drugs can seem like great social lubricants, relying on them should be avoided. “Resist the urge to use alcohol or other non-doctor-prescribed drugs to manage social anxiety,” Scrivani suggests. “Those coping mechanisms only serve to mask the anxiety, and instead of realizing that you can face a particular situation, you’ll attribute your ability to cope to the alcohol or drug.”
  • While your intuition might tell you to avoid social situations, this avoidance makes it worse. “Avoid the avoidance trap!” Scrivani says. “The longer you avoid an anxiety-provoking situation, the more fear, and anxiety that situation will elicit the next time you’re faced with it.”
  • Remember that, in most social situations, people aren’t scrutinizing you. Gently remind yourself that people are usually self-conscious—they’re thinking about themselves, not you, Scrivani says.
  • Consider joining support groups for social anxiety. These groups could be online or in-person. Yes, it seems ironic to suggest a meetup to people with social anxiety, but it can sometimes be comforting and healing to speak to those who have the same fear as you while dealing with that fear. Try meetup.com to find a local support group.
  • If you’d like to talk to someone, consider calling an anxiety hotline. A trained responder can listen to your concerns and help you manage your anxiety. Here’s a helpful list of international hotlines, including some that are anxiety specific.
  • In some cases, medication might be prescribed as a treatment for social anxiety disorder.

While having social anxiety might make you feel hopeless, it can be effectively managed. “It’s important to understand the diagnosis is not a life sentence of anxiety, avoidance, and narrowing down of potential to avoid social interaction,” Serin says. “It’s important to understand that there is hope for people with social anxiety disorder and there are many professionals who can help.”

How to Support a Child Who Has Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can manifest at a young age. Some statistics show that about 9.1 percent of U.S. teenagers ages 13 and 18 have social anxiety disorder.

It’s important that parents are aware of the signs so that they can support their children who might have the disorder. Young children can experience significant struggles to reach out for help, as they might not have the vocabulary to explain how they feel.

The most notable sign of social anxiety disorder is if your child tends to avoid social situations. Another is if they seem particularly uncomfortable or noticeably quiet in social situations. Fielding says that the child might even become angry when they have to engage socially, especially in environments outside their comfort zones.

“The most important and effective thing anyone can do to help a loved one struggling with social anxiety (or any mental health struggle) is start from a position of understanding and validating the difficulty the other person is having,” says Fielding. “Loved ones can often invalidate the person struggling by telling them to just relax or trying to reassure them too often.” In other words, you might want to remind your child that there’s nothing to be worried about—but if you do this too often, it might come off as dismissive and invalidating.

Another thing you shouldn’t do is contribute to your child’s avoidance of social situations, Fielding says. The more someone avoids an anxiety-inducing situation, the scarier the situation can become. While avoiding anxiety-inducing situations seems like a quick fix, it can wind up reinforcing the anxiety.

Instead, Fielding suggests responding compassionately to your child and helping them habituate to social situations—that is, helping them get used to interaction by gradually increasing their exposure. If you’re going to a family event, for example, don’t expect them to socialize for hours right away. Go for only an hour or two. Afterward, point out how they were able to handle it. Use this achievement to praise them rather than to invalidate their initial fears.

If their anxiety seems severe, consider taking them to see a counselor or a psychologist who works specifically with children and adolescents. The counselor can treat your child while giving you helpful pointers for supporting them.

The most important thing to remember about social anxiety disorder is that it’s treatable. It is totally possible to manage the symptoms of social anxiety disorder so that you can live a full life without anxiety interfering. And, while therapy can be a difficult experience, it’s worth it—after all, your mental health is worth the investment.

*This article first appeared in HealthyWay on April 14, 2018, by SIAN FERGUSON. To read the full article, click here.

Well Connected Mom - Relieve Stress in Minutes Without Medication

Relieve Stress in Minutes Without Medication

Last year we introduced to our readers ReliefBand.  ReliefBand uses proprietary programmed pulses to send a signal to relieve nausea.  It really works and I don’t travel on boats/ships without it. 

Today we’d like to introduce TouchPoints to you.  TouchPoints is a similar device in the sense that it uses using neuroscientific technology, involving electrical pulses, to relieve stress by over 70% in as little as 30 seconds.

In fact, to be more specific, “TouchPoints uses Bi-Lateral Alternating Stimulation Tactile (BLAST) stimulation to give the user a gentle vibration that affects the brain and alters the body’s fight, flight or freeze response.”  

Wow, is that even possible?  Yes, it is, we tested it.  In fact, I wore the TouchPoints bracelets during the Consumer Electronics Show in January.  Why? With over 4,000 exhibits to see and 185,000 people, let alone all of that exciting technology and accessories, your blood tends to pump a little.  I used TouchPoints to help settle me. Did it work? 

Can TouchPoints Really Reduce Stress in Minutes?

 

Yes.  I felt calmer.  But to drive the point further, when I stopped by the TouchPoints booth at CES (when I wasn’t wearing them), they had me sit down and they took my blood pressure.  My blood pressure was 131/99 with a heart rate of 66.  My blood pressure is usually 120/78 and my heart rate is normally 65.

I then put on my TouchPoint bracelets for several minutes and my blood pressure went to 121/88 and my heart rate slowed to 64 beats per minute.  Now mind you, all the chaos was still going on around me – thousands of people around, loud talking, people in the TouchPoints booth asking questions, waiting for their turn to have their blood pressure read.

An interview was going on in the booth, showing TouchPoints to TV show videographers.  Things were happening, yet I was getting calmer.  The CES Show is no place for peaceful blue skies, chirping birds, a placid lake, or other calming cues.  So to be in the midst of chaos and obtain a state of calm is near impossible.  But it is possible with TouchPoints.

So, What are TouchPoints?

TouchPoints are sold with two bracelets that you slip on each of your wrists.  You need two of them to tag team each other and work throughout your body. Although I should note, that they do not need to be on your wrists. You can also clip them to your clothing or keep them in your hands, they just need to be on opposite sides of your body.

TouchPoints will send alternating pulse BLAST vibrations on your wrists which can actually calm your brain, thus calm your heart rate and pulse.  The vibration is noticeable and audible, but it does not hurt or tickle.  If you purchase the TouchPoints Original, you will sync your TouchPoints to the app to choose between six presets:

  1.  Sleep
  2. Focus
  3. Craving
  4. Calm
  5. Performance
  6. Anger

Or you can customize your own sensations by altering the Frequency, Intensity, and Overlap of the alternating pulses and even create your own favorite settings (up to 3).

TouchPoints Help Children and Adults in a Number of Ways…

Stress

As you could see from my blood pressure results above, TouchPoints have an almost immediate way to reduce your body’s response to stress. 

In fact, case studies conducted by TouchPoints that people using TouchPoints with generalized stress showed a 90% reduction in headaches while increasing the quantity and quality of their sleep.  They also improved their productivity.

ADHD

There are over 6 million children diagnosed with ADHD in the United States.  Although TouchPoints cannot make ADHD disappear, they can do a remarkable job in helping children (and adults) focus and reduce their normal activity impulses. 

Does your child have trouble completing simple tasks in the morning to get to school?  How about focusing on tasks?  Can s/he stay in his/her seat during school?  TouchPoints can help.

In this ADHD case study, a 14-year old boy wore TouchPoints in the morning for a 1/2 hour while getting ready for school and things became much easier…for him and his exhausted mom.  She couldn’t believe the difference.  Her son also wears them in school to help him stay in his seat.

After one month of the daily use of TouchPoints this 14-year old boy achieved…

  • A 45% reduction in anxiety
  • A 25% reduction in hyperactivity
  • A 36% improvement in attention
  • His 2.3 GPA rose to 3.1 GPA
  • More self-confidence
  • Improved relationships with parents

Oh, and the average hours of homework he used to spend were reduced by an hour a day.

Autism

Does your child or a child you know have autism?  One in 68 people is diagnosed with Autism.  Typically, a child with autism can be obsessive, hyperactive, irritable, angry, reactive, has little eye contact with others, and can refuse to do their work.  That was the case with the 10-year-old boy in this Autism case study.

He would come home exhausted each day from sensory overload at school and his teacher, I’m sure exasperated.  TouchPoints changed all this.  No, TouchPoints didn’t cure him, but after regular use, he had…

  • A 60% reduction in leaving the classroom
  • A 50% reduction in angry outbursts with lower intensity
  • Easier transitions
  • Better sensory integration
  • Improved eye contact
  • Less hyperactivity

In fact, his teacher was so impressed with the difference that she requested that the school has extra TouchPoints on hand in every classroom to use as needed.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Over 24 million people are living with PTSD.  They have had experienced traumatic events in their lives that they can’t get over.  They experience immense stress, negative thoughts, hyperarousal, and can’t get past re-experiencing or reliving the traumatic event over and over again.

TouchPoints can be used to help manage panic attacks, decrease or prevent angry outbursts, diminish unhealthy cravings, and improve their quality of sleep.

Sleeplessness

Over 50 million people suffer from a sleep disorder.  Do you, your child, or other family member have trouble falling asleep or waking up numerous times during the night? The quality of your sleep has A LOT to do with how productive your day is going to be.

Using TouchPoints 15 minutes before falling asleep can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.  You’ll notice the difference right away.  If you’re one who stays up at night thinking about all the things that need to be done in the morning, TouchPoints will help you immensely.

So Why Haven’t You Heard of TouchPoints?

One of the founders of TouchPoints, Dr. Serin, used quantitative electroencephalogram data, existing neuroscientific research, and archival data to see the impact BLAST technology can do with just a few seconds of use. 

BLAST has been used in doctor offices for years, but after seeing the immense benefits, Dr. Serin teamed up with entrepreneur Vicki Mayo to bring this amazing technology to the masses in 2015.

The TouchPoints company isn’t backed by a huge company with deep pockets.  It’s a smaller company with a mission to reach families and adults who either can’t afford such treatments in a doctor’s office or most likely never knew this technology existed.  Dr. Serin and Mayo’s mission is to make it affordable and available.

TouchPoints Original is rechargeable and comes with an app for customization.  At careful glance, you’ll see they are made of plastic; they do not look like a suped-up fitness watch or even possess the style and glamor of a Samsung or Apple watch.  It’s not the cover of the book that possesses the beauty, but what is on the inside that counts.

The TouchPoints BLAST technology can rock your world.

TouchPoints Come in Two Versions:

  1. Original has 6 settings to help with calm, sleep, focus, anger, performance, and cravings.  In addition, TouchPoints Original comes with an app, offering additional customization.
  2.  Basic, offered at a reduced price, has 3 settings to help with sleep, calm, and anger and does not need an app to begin working.

TouchPoints Basic kit for $160 or the Original kit for $260, pre-order them directly from the TouchPoints website.  Wristbands are also offered in assorted colors, starting at $20.  TouchPoints sent me a pair of the Stainless Steel Mesh wristbands (offered for $10 more) and I highly recommend them.  They are magnetic and super easy to slide on and off.

A Mom’s Perspective

TouchPoints work through the use of Bi-Lateral Alternating Stimulation – Tactile (BLAST) which send alternating vibrations through your body to alter the Fight, Flight, or Freeze response to stress.  With as little as 30 seconds, your homeostatic nervous system can return to normal, giving you clarity and a calmness not thought possible minutes before.

Once you begin TouchPoints, you will hear them working…unfortunately, others can hear them too on your wrists. You also need to recharge them after every use. But they do work and can help with stress, focus, and performance.

Believe it or not, one in three Americans suffer from extreme stress.  TouchPoints can help with this.  But you can benefit from TouchPoints even when not feeling stress.  Use it daily for preventative measures to start your day more calmly, improve your focus and performance, and even reduce anger.  Use them before bed to prepare yourself for sleep.

Is your child anxious before a speech or test?  Let him/her use them.  Your husband has too much on his plate?  Perhaps he needs to try them too.

We were really excited to learn about TouchPoints and how they can remarkably change a state of mind within as little as 30 seconds.  We can’t wait to hear your stories of how TouchPoints has changed your family life (or personal life) for the better!

*This article first appeared in Well Connected Mom on April 6, 2018, by . To read the full article, click here.