Thursday, September 28, 2017

Why Doesn't my Pain, Anxiety, Depression GO AWAY?

We ask these questions again and again: Why doesn't my pain go away? Why do I still feel so much anxiety? Why can't I pull myself out of the dumps? How can I ever get better?

Too often, our doctors and other health providers assume that chronic symptoms of pain, anxiety, depression, and illness are here to stay. We are told, “you just have to live with it.” Or “I’ve tried everything.” Or even, “there’s nothing I can do for you.” At best, we are prescribed medications that may give only partial relief, along with side effects, and are referred to programs, classes, or groups that help us “manage” our pain or other symptoms.

The answers to these questions can actually be found by understanding the brain and how it changes. We used to think that after a certain age the brain never changes. We now know that the brain actually changes throughout our entire lives — until we take our last breath. The brain changes from every bit of experience we have, and it changes the most when we have repeated experiences.

When we have persistent symptoms such as pain, anxiety, depression, and symptoms of chronic illness, this repeated experience creates changes in the brain that actually tend to perpetuate the symptoms themselves. Regardless of the original “cause,” which may have been healed or resolved, the brain itself now keeps us experiencing these symptoms.

Once we understand how our persistent symptoms are related to the way the brain changes itself, we can learn how to induce changes in the brain that can eventually help us feel better. Because this understanding is based on relatively recent brain science, most doctors and health providers don’t know about it yet.

Dr. Michael Moskowitz and Dr. Marla Golden are two pain specialists who developed a neuroplastic method, based on how the brain changes itself, that can change brain pathways and decrease or even eliminate symptoms of persistent pain. I have found that this method can be adapted to reduce other symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and symptoms of chronic illness. This work is revolutionary in that it is about reducing or eliminating symptoms, rather than merely “managing” them.

I have been using this method myself for my long-term chronic pain for more than five years, and have been teaching it to individuals and in my support and educational groups, A Change of Mind: Neuroplastic Tools for Healing, along with many techniques, or “tools,” that are important in changing the brain.

What is my own experience? Life-changing! I feel unbelievably better. I keep doing more and more activities I hadn’t been able to do for years. I have energy all day long. When I have pain, it’s mild, temporary, and inconsequential to me.

It’s important to understand that it takes time to change the brain. We need to persist in noticing every symptom in order to counteract it by creating new experiences in the brain. Each of us has had many experiences of learning something new that takes a long time to master. We can be experts at patiently practicing what we need to do in order to change our brains and change our lives.

New sessions of the support and educational group A Change of Mind: Neuroplastic Tools for Healing are beginning in October 2017. Each group meets eight times, for two hours each.

Group A – Monday evenings 6–8 p.m., starting October 2, 2017
Group B – Tuesday mornings 11 a.m.–1 p.m., starting October 3, 2017

New:
Online Group – Sunday afternoons 4–6 p.m., Starting October 1, 2017

For information and to apply, please see: http://medicalcounseling.net/groupenrollpage.html 

Contact me — I'd love to hear from you! 

Danielle Rosenman
510-701-0134
drosenman@medicalcounseling.net




Friday, September 22, 2017

What Is Neuroplasticity?

A Change of Mind: Neuroplastic Tools for Healing is the name for my groups and classes designed to help you feel better, work toward eliminating pain and discomfort, reduce anxiety, and get more done. Obviously, neuroplasticity is the core principle we use. What exactly does that mean?

When I was younger, we were taught that the brain doesn’t change in adulthood, except to lose cells in injury or disease. We now know that isn’t true at all. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change itself.

The brain changes itself constantly throughout our lives. The brain changes as our experience changes.

What does that mean, specifically?
  • Everything that we experience, think, feel, believe, and learn changes the physical structure of the brain, the chemicals in the brain, and electricity in the brain. 
  • This ability of the brain to change is called neuroplasticity.
Having pain, discomforts of illness, anxiety, and depression also changes the brain — because these are part of our experience.

  • Usually, those symptoms only last a short time and then go away, so the brain doesn’t change very much.
  • However, sometimes symptoms last a long time, and happen over and over.
  • With repeated experience, the brain “learns” those symptoms, and builds them into pathways that remain active in the brain.
  • Once the brain has established strong pathways leading to those symptoms, they keep going and going, even if the initial cause has been resolved.
  • At that point, if we want to stop the symptoms, we must work directly with the brain to “unlearn” the pathways that keep manifesting symptoms of pain, illness, anxiety, and depression. 


Image of tree branches superimposed on a brain representing neuroplasticity as taught in Dr. Danielle Rosenman's online group and in-person groups
Artwork by D┼żoko Stach
We can use the principles of neuroplasticity in many ways. Neuroplasticity lets us learn through our entire lives. The more often we repeat a task, the better we learn it. Repetition helps us learn things like reading, adding numbers, or playing a musical instrument. We often call this type of learning practice. Repeated practice creates strong pathways that make it easy to repeat learned behaviors.


When we understand how neuroplasticity works, we have the opportunity to change symptoms of pain, illness, anxiety, and depression. In my Medical Counseling practice, and in my support and educational groups, A Change of Mind: Neuroplastic Tools for Healing, I teach people how we can change the brain ourselves by understanding:
  • more about how the brain works;
  • the principles of neuroplasticity;
  • the neuroplastic brain-retraining method adapted from Dr. Michael Moskowitz and Dr. Marla Golden; and
  • a variety of techniques or tools.
New sessions of the Change of Mind groups begin in October 2017. Each group meets eight times, for two hours each.
New:
  • Online Group – Sunday afternoons 4–6 p.m., starting October 1, 2017
For information and to apply, please see: http://medicalcounseling.net/groupenrollpage.html 

Contact me — I'd love to hear from you! 

Danielle Rosenman
510-701-0134
drosenman@medicalcounseling.net