Shame Attacking Exercises Reduce Social Anxiety

It’s not uncommon to think of treating a problem by introducing a little dose of that same problem to the system. Antibodies are the best example of such interventions. When it comes to anxiety disorders, the same principal applies. Even though the anxious person’s automatic response might be to avoid the anxiety-provoking situation, in the end, exposure to the anxiety making situation is the best treatment. In this link below, you will see a video of someone standing on the corner of the street, singing “Mary had a little lamb” to reduce social anxiety. You will read a few clips about some of the best ways to reduce social inhibitions, such asking a librarian that you are looking for a book on the art of farting!!

Have fun reading.


Published in: on November 17, 2016 at 12:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

When Doctors Don’t Know What is Wrong

by: G. Katie Dashtban, Psy.D.

A small percentage of people experience an array of conditions and symptoms that cannot be grouped in one category to meet any known medical conditions. The illness of these people is often non-treatable with conventional or even un-conventional medicine. The following are often reported as symptoms that occur in conjunction, although not always in an organized manner.

Pain symptoms that persist such as joint pain, headaches, abdominal pain, rectum pain, pain during intercourse or urination or during menstruation. Gastrointestinal symptoms that show up unexpectedly and don’t respond to medicine or medical findings such as nausea, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, and intolerance of several foods. Sexual or reproductive symptoms that are non-responsive to medications such as sexual indifference, erectile or ejaculatory dysfunction, irregular menses, painful intercourse and difficulty achieving orgasm.

Exceptionally unusual neurological symptoms like paralysis or localized weakness, difficulty swallowing, urinary retention, double vision, dizziness and or impaired coordination, and general fatigue and sleep disturbances.

There used to be a name for the above cluster of symptoms in the diagnostic book of mental illnesses, (DSM-IV), it was called Somatization Disorder. Suffering from the above conditions can sometimes be due to psychic pain. Psychic pain is REAL; but its treatment is specific.

In modern psychology there is less mention of psychic pain primarily because such concepts cannot be easily verified by evidence-based research and methods. Most recently however, a different phrase, Hidden Emotions, which was first cited in the research of David Burns, M.D, unveils a lot. Hidden emotions are clearly “hidden” from the conscious awareness, and yet they are the driving force for many behavioral, cognitive and in this case medical symptoms. Patients with history of trauma or childhood adversarial conditions, those with history of sexual abuse and sexual trauma, and those with significant history of drug and alcohol abuse are more likely to fall victim.

In my clinical practice patients who are diagnosed with Somatization Disorder often do report a significant history of struggles with chronic traumatic events or self-destructive coping mechanisms. When left untreated and unaddressed, such struggles can morph into Somatization Disorder over the years. The hidden emotions are often in the form of some type of disappointment over the way things have turned out, or some type of severe grief that has not been healed, but has instead been forced upon the person. It is also a form of maintaining one’s opposition or anger toward someone, something, or some turn of events in the past.

One way to examine if your incurable medical symptoms are potentially due to unresolved hidden emotions is to use a Cost Benefit Analysis (David Burns, where you would examine the advantages and disadvantages of changing your negative feelings such as anger or sadness against your medical symptoms. You might be surprised to notice the number of disadvantages in getting rid of your anger or sadness against your medical conditions. In other words, your somatization disorder is acting as a protective layer against facing those hidden emotions that are particularly painful. Careful psychotherapy can help address those unresolved hidden emotions such as grief, anger, disappointment, despair, fear and sadness. At that point, the psychic pain is no longer un-addressed, therefore it will no longer be poking itself out through un-organized and vague and incurable medical symptoms.

My name is Dr. Katie Dashtban, licensed clinical health psychologist. I have offices in Santa Cruz, Mt View and Fremont, CA, where I am the co-founder of Feeling Good Therapy & Training Center of Fremont. For more information visit: and or call: 510-400-6160

Published in: on June 23, 2016 at 6:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

An Overview of Aspergerian Versus A Neurotypical Mindsets

Persons with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism could list a long list of challenges in their relationships. They often would tell you about their fear and anxieties of not fitting in, of feeling estranged and even unlovable. Likewise, Neurotypicals complain of their relationships with Aspies, often reporting feelings of rejection and being uncared for.

In this article the two mindset are examined. What is highlighted is the way things are Lost in Translation. Through two scenarios I describe what each mindset hears or interprets. I will refer to Asperger mindset as (Aspie) and the Neurotypical mindset as (NT).

Scenario1: It’s the day after a heated argument between a NT and an Aspie.

Typical thoughts of the NT: “I’ll just be cold and dismissive so that s/he can see how much they’ve hurt my feelings, and will come and want to talk about it. S/he will apologize to me.”

Typical thoughts of the Aspie: “By looking at the way s/he is gazing away and pouting, it is obvious they need some alone time. I will just stay out of the way. Besides, I wouldn’t know how to engage them, so might as well wait till they talk.”

Scenario 1: Revisited:

Aspies mindset forgives easily, is free of prejudices, less likely to engage in social manipulations, takes things as they are.

NT mindset needs time to forgive and sometimes cannot forgive without the support of the other person. Is more likely persuaded by prejudices like gender roles, and ageism. More likely to think of social situations in a creative way, therefore more likely to make up scenarios that might not be true, but hurtful to them.

Scenario 2: On a long road trip together.

Typical thoughts of the NT: “We can talk about things, sing songs and choose music together, we can pull over whenever we want and spend time wherever we like.”

Typical thoughts of the Aspie: “I’ll plan the route ahead of time, make sure we make it through our destination with specific number of stops and I’ll be sure we won’t run out of gas or food or get fatigued by carefully arranging our stops and rests.”

Scenario 2 Revisited:

Aspie’s mindset is excellent in planning ahead and taking specific precautions against mishaps. Therefore safety and reliability are Aspie’s forte.

NT mindset calls for spontaneity and readiness to deal with the unexpected. What is considered safety and precision for the Aspie can be translated to overly stuffiness for the NT.

So the take home message here is that the two mindsets have advantages and disadvantages. Those who are struggling with depression and anxiety in their relationships with an Aspie or a neurotypical might benefit from learning about each other’s mindsets. This learning could alleviate many misunderstandings and therefore bring Aspie’s and NT’s closer to one another.

Dr. Dashtban, Psy.D. can be visited on with offices in SC, Mt View, Fremont.



Published in: on April 29, 2016 at 9:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Mood disorders, like diabetes and obesity, found to be risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Are Mood Disorders And Metabolic Syndrome related?

by: G. Katie Dashtban, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Health Psychologist

Metabolic Syndrome is characterized as a cluster of several health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. According to Wikipedia, The word “syndrome” means a set of medical signs and symptoms that are correlated with each other and often with a specific disease. It derives from the Greek language, which translates to “concurrence “.

Patients often don’t know they are candidates for this syndrome, because they are likely to look at each of their conditions as a single problem. For example, most patients are told by their physicians that their blood sugar is at the cusp of being considered a diabetic, and that if they exercised more and ate less sugar promoting foods (starches, simple carbohydrates) they can reduce their blood sugar and be on the good side again. However, metabolic syndrome is not one disease, rather, it’s a combination of different kinds of diseases, including psychiatric mood disorders.

Over the last decade, several bodies of research are showing that there is a strong correlation between mood disorders and metabolic syndrome. Patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder are at increased risk of becoming overweight, and patients with bipolar disorder may have increased risk of abdominal and overall obesity. Conversely obese persons seeking weight-loss treatments may have increased rates of depression and bipolar disorder.

Furthermore, it has been proposed that the central nervous system, very similarly to the pancreas, is affected by chronic abnormalities in metabolic processes. The phrase “Metabolic Syndrome Type II” has been used in the literature as a neuropsychiatric syndrome in which alterations in metabolic networks define the course of the disease.

What all of this means to the general population is two folded. First, recognizing that symptoms of diabetes, heart failure, obesity, and high cholesterol are not independent from one another, but instead each are different manifestations of the same disease. Secondly, mood disorders can and sometimes are part of the same disease and they can increase the risk of fatal heart disease and stroke.

In conclusion, seeking professional help for the treatment of depression, anxiety, unexplained irritability and similar mood issues might prove to not only improve your quality of life, it might even help save your life.

I am Dr. Katie Dashtban, Licensed Clinical Health Psychologist. I am co-founder of Feeling Good Therapy and Training Center and the founder of Medical Psychology Services, with offices in Santa Cruz, Mt View and Fremont. Visit or like my Fb page at


Published in: on March 22, 2016 at 7:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Identify Your Self Defeating Beliefs

Identify Your Self Defeating Beliefs
by: G. Katie Dashtban, Psy.D.

It is quite common for most of us to have a set of commonly held core beliefs about ourselves, about the future and about people in our lives. These core beliefs are often so deeply embedded in our, where else, “cores,” to the point that we are not consciously aware of them. In this article I am going to point out 7 common self defeating core beliefs and your job is to pause with each and wonder to yourself if you hold such core beliefs and if so, ask yourself “what is it worth to me to change that core belief?”

1) Achievement
a) Perfectionism. Believing that you must never fail or make a mistake. That people will not love and accept you if you have flaws or show vulnerability. That your worth as a human being is based on your achievements, income, looks, talent, or some other type of status.

2) Love
a) You believe that you must receive everyone’s approval in order to be worthwhile. That you will not taste happiness unless you have someone in your life who romantically loves you. And, that if you receive criticism or rejection it proves that there is something inherently wrong with you.

3) Submissiveness
a) You believe that you should do your best to please others and you are willing to sacrifice anything for it. You are afraid of conflict and think people who care for one another should never be at odds with one another and should certainly not have arguments. And you believe all the problems in your relationships are somehow your fault.

4) Demandingness
a) When in conflict, you put the blame on others. You feel entitled that others should always treat you in the way you expect. And you believe you are right and everyone else is wrong.

5) Depression
a) You believe your problems could never be solved and that you will never feel truly happy or fulfilled. And you believe that you are basically worthless, defective or inferior compared to others.

6) Anxiety
a) You believe that you should always feel happy and confident and in control. That anger is dangerous and should be avoided at all cost, and that feeling intense emotions such as depressed, angry or jealous should be avoided. You believe people are powerful, demanding and manipulative. And, you are under the spotlight; everyone is looking at how you carry yourself and is ready to criticize you. And lastly, you engage in magical thinking: “If I worry enough, everything will turn out okay.”

The above commonly held self-defeating beliefs are strongly associated with most of human suffering. Learning to recognize them can be tremendously helpful.

I am Dr. Dashtban, licensed clinical psychologist with practices in Santa Cruz, Mt View and Fremont California. Call me at 831-621-1150 or post on my facebook page:

Published in: on January 17, 2016 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why Stress Causes People to Overeat and What to Do?

Chances are you have heard of the phrase “stress eating.” You probably know of the comforting effects of “Comfort Foods” such as sugary and high fat foods as well. So, indeed, when you feel stressed out,  certain stress hormones produce higher than normal levels in the body. In the short term this surge of stress hormones actually suppresses the appetite. This is also know as the fight or flight response. This is when you don’t feel hunger in the middle of a crisis. This is when the brain sends messages to the adrenal glands to pump out the hormone known as adrenaline, a revved-up physiological state that temporarily puts eating on hold. But when you are chronically feeling stressed, it is a different story. Then the adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases appetite and may also ram pup motivation in general, including the motivation to eat. So if the stress doesn’t go away or if you don’t know of ways to reduce your bad feelings and your stress response stays stuck in the “on” position, cortisol may stay elevated. High Cortisol level also has been shown to increase the intake of high fat and high sugary foods. Once high sugary or high fat food is taken, they do reduce the activity in the parts of the brain that produce and process stress, in other words these “comfort foods” really are comforting!!!  That is perhaps another reason why people who report having high stress levels crave comfort food, they actually crave not having stress!!

What to do:

1) Psychotherapy. When you notice that your eating is because of feeling bad not because of the need to eat, then asking the help of a psychologist who is familiar with this pattern can be a life savor. They can help you learn what your stress triggers are and they can help you develop skills to get rid of those triggers, hence your emotional eating will decrease by itself.

2) Social Support

Receiving support from a support group, friends, family and even social media can have a buffering affect on the stress that people experience.

I am Dr. Katie Dashtban and I specialize in Medical Psychology, where people’s physical and mental health have both been affected by one another. Let me know how I can help you or someone you know. Go to or Call 831-621-1150 or 408-458-8222.

Published in: on August 23, 2012 at 9:58 pm  Comments (1)  
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