Eight Dates Challenge!

The research is clear: couples who go on a weekly date have better relationships.

That’s why John and Julie Gottman wrote Eight Dates. But reading the book isn’t enough on its own. You actually have to go on the dates and have the experiences, conversations, and follow-up sessions.

The Eight Dates Challenge was designed to help you do that.

The challenge includes:

  • Eight weekly emails guiding you through each date in the book

  • Bonus downloadable handouts

  • Text/ Telehealth/ Virtual Visits with Elizabeth Mahaney

It’s more than just a challenge to go on eight dates. It’s a challenge to reclaim date night in your relationship.

Book an appointment and notate EIGHT DATES to start the challenge! www.southtampacounselor.com/bookappointment

Looking forward to meeting you both!

XxOo Liz

Text or call me: 813-240-3237

Best Friends and Lovers

Happy marriages are based on a deep friendship. In fact, a romantic relationship is really just “friendship plus nudity.”

And even though many people will say “I married my best friend,” it’s hard to think about what that looks like in practice.

What does friendship look like to you? How do you choose the people you stay friends with and how do you treat them?

Do the rules you apply to your friends also apply to your partner? For example, you might have a friend who is consistently 15 minutes late any time you get together and that’s “just the way they are.” Do you treat or regard their tardiness differently than your partner’s?

Friendships are a vital supplement to any romantic relationship, but it’s important not to forget to be a friend to your partner.

How can you be a better friend? How can you be the best friend?

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

1. “Enhance your love maps.” Love is in the details. That is, happy couples are very much familiar with their partner’s world. According to Gottman, these couples have “a richly detailed love map — my term for that part of your brain where you store all the relevant information about your partner’s life.” You know everything from your partner’s favorite movies to what’s currently stressing them out to some of their life dreams, and they know yours.

2. “Nurture your fondness and admiration.” Happy couples respect each other and have a general positive view of each other. Gottman says that fondness and admiration are two of the most important elements in a satisfying and long-term relationship. If these elements are completely missing, the marriage can’t be saved.

Gottman includes a helpful activity to remind couples of the partner they fell in love with called “I appreciate.” He suggests readers list three or more of their partner’s positive characteristics along with an incident that illustrates each quality. Then read your lists to each other.

3. “Turn toward each other instead of away.” Romance isn’t a Caribbean cruise, an expensive meal or a lavish gift. Rather, romance lives and thrives in the everyday, little things. According to Gottman, “[Real-life romance] is kept alive each time you let your spouse know he or she is valued during the grind of everyday life.”

For instance, romance is leaving an encouraging voicemail for your spouse when you know he’s having a bad day, Gottman says. Or romance is running late but taking a few minutes to listen to your wife’s bad dream and saying that you’ll discuss it later (instead of saying “I don’t have time”).

Gottman acknowledges that this might seem humdrum, but turning toward each other in these ways is the basis for connection and passion. Couples that turn toward each other have more in their “emotional bank account.” Gottman says that this account distinguishes happy marriages from miserable ones. Happy couples have more goodwill and positivity stored in their bank accounts, so when rough times hit, their emotional savings cushion conflicts and stressors.

4. “Let your partner influence you.” Happy couples are a team that considers each other’s perspective and feelings. They make decisions together and search out common ground. Letting your partner influence you isn’t about having one person hold the reins; it’s about honoring and respecting both people in the relationship.

5. “Solve your solvable problems.” Gottman says that there are two types of marital problems: conflicts that can be resolved and perpetual problems that can’t. It’s important for couples to determine which ones are which.

Sometimes, though, telling the difference can be tricky. According to Gottman, “One way to identify solvable problems is that they seem less painful, gut-wrenching, or intense than perpetual, gridlocked ones.” Solvable problems are situational, and there’s no underlying conflict.

Gottman devised a five-step model for resolving these conflicts:

  • In step 1, soften your startup, which simply means starting the conversation without criticism or contempt.

  • In step 2, make and receive “repair attempts.” Gottman defines repair attempts as any action or statement that deescalates tension.

  • In step 3, soothe yourself and then your partner. When you feel yourself getting heated during a conversation, let your partner know that you’re overwhelmed and take a 20-minute break. (That’s how long it takes for your body to calm down.) Then you might try closing your eyes, taking slow, deep breaths, relaxing your muscles and visualizing a calm place. After you’ve calmed down, you might help soothe your partner. Ask each other what’s most comforting and do that.

  • In step 4, compromise. The above steps prime couples for compromise because they create positivity, Gottman says. When conflicts arise, it’s important to take your partner’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. Here, Gottman includes a valuable exercise to help couples find common ground. He suggests that each partner draw two circles: a smaller one inside a larger one. In the smaller circle, make a list of your nonnegotiable points. In the bigger one, make a list of what you can compromise on. Share them with each other and look for common ground. Consider what you agree on, what your common goals and feelings are and how you can accomplish these goals.

  • In step 5, remember to be tolerant of each other’s faults. Gottman says that compromise is impossible until you can accept your partner’s flaws and get over the “if onlies.” (You know the ones: “If only he was this” “If only she was that.”)

6. “Overcome gridlock.” Gottman says that the goal with perpetual problems is for couples to “move from gridlock to dialogue.” What usually underlies gridlock is unfulfilled dreams. “Gridlock is a sign that you have dreams for your life that aren’t being addressed or respected by each other,” Gottman writes. Happy couples believe in the importance of helping each other realize their dreams.

So the first step in overcoming gridlock is to determine the dream or dreams that are causing your conflict. The next steps include talking to each other about your dreams, taking a break (since some of these talks can get stressful) and making peace with the problem.

“The goal is to ‘declaw’ the issue, to try to remove the hurt so the problem stops being a source of great pain,” Gottman writes.

7. “Create shared meaning.” “Marriage isn’t just about raising kids, splitting chores, and making love. It can also have a spiritual dimension that has to do with creating an inner life together — a culture rich with rituals, and an appreciation for your roles and goals that link you, that lead you to understand what it means to be a part of the family you have become,” Gottman says.

And that’s what it means to develop shared meaning. Happy couples create a family culture that includes both of their dreams. In being open to each other’s perspectives and opinions, happy couples naturally come together.

What to Expect During a Session with Elizabeth Mahaney, LMHC, MFT, NCC, DCC, Ph.D


Step 1 (To Do): Attune to Awarenesses

Awarenesses may start with researched assessments based on thousands of couples that will recognize cycles of conflict so issues can be stopped and transformed into moments for intimacy and connection. Receive a detailed analysis on your relationship style so you can turn your insecurity into opportunities for a deeper romantic bond. Miscommunication and disconnect happens when the lack of self-awareness could be part of the problem and partners don’t understand each other. My first task is to get you on the same page with yourself and loved ones. Let’s create a game plan and brainstorm agreements about how to start the process. This step can feel overwhelming but my goal is to help you focus and narrow down specific goals. We will approach the problems collaboratively with questions like: “How can life feel better?”, “How can each of you start positive changes intrinsically?”, “You are a subjective human and you can only feel and control you”. Therefore, all change happens intrinsically.

Step 2 (Doing): Attach to Agreements

Learn how to intentionally ask for what you feel and need in a way that gives your partner a way to express love. Create a culture of love and respect that builds trust and sexual passion. We will deal with perpetual problems, heal old wounds, and rekindle the spark of companionship together. Playfully explore ways to create a sexually fulling and passionate relationship. Let’s create more intimacy that brought you together in the first place, create new agreements that make life more enjoyable, and meet each other’s needs. I’ll offer you specific techniques, resources, interventions, tools, or activities that may work for you by brainstorming, collaborating, and developing the treatment plan together. I will also explain how to connect through communication by making specific actionable, immediately do-able, positive requests. Learn how to love your partner without losing yourself.

Step 3 (Done): Accountability for Lasting Change

I give you all the tools you need to understand what changes need to be made, avoid relapse and continue to build a meaningful relationship that gets better with time. I’ll also help hold you accountable for creating, trouble shooting, and maintaining sustainable intentional responses to “This Thing Called Life” and… changes along the way.


Moving Through & Beyond Grief and Loss

In my work as a mental health professional, I have seen many clients dealing with losses of all kinds-loss of loved ones through death and divorce, for instance. These experiences are difficult for everyone.

Personally, the month of May feels like an emotional rollercoaster saturated with sadness from the loss of my nephew and a longtime childhood BFF. Both of them born in May and left us in this same month way too early… My body remembers so much joy celebrating birthdays and also the trauma associated with their deaths. My daughter was also born in the midst of all the chaos that May has to offer which serves as a reminder that amongst the deep sadness, there is so much love and joy to be shared. Although, tears seem to hit me at times during the month, I like to focus on celebrating all of our May babies in any way that seems fit!

Stages of Recovery from Loss
There are some predictable stages that most people pass through after losing something or someone important. In her work on death and dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross outlined five stages of grieving.

Shock and Denial: The first reaction to loss is often the inability to feel anything. This may include feeling numb, weak, overwhelmed, anxious, not yourself, or withdrawn.

Anger: Blaming yourself or others for the loss.

Bargaining: "If you'll just let him live, I'll promise to go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life."

Depression: Feeling deep sadness, disturbed sleep and eating patterns, thoughts of suicide, excessive crying.

Acceptance: Beginning to look for the lessons of the experience.

Kubler-Ross said that the grieving process involves experiencing all five stages, although not always in this order. She also said that people often cycle back and forth through a number of the stages before coming to the stage of acceptance.

Kinds of Losses
Some examples of significant losses are:
*    Loss of a person through death
*   Divorce
*    Job loss
*    Loss of your good health when you are diagnosed with a disease
*    Loss of a body part through accident or surgery
*    Loss of an ability, such as blindness
*    Loss of a friend who has moved
*    Loss of everything familiar when you move away

Each kind of loss affects each person in a different way, but the recovery process usually follows Kubler-Ross's five stages.

Recovering from Loss: Some Key Points
    1.    You are responsible for your own grief process. No one can tell you how to grieve, and no one will do your grieving for you. It is hard work and you must manage the process by yourself.
    2.    The grief process has a purpose. It is to help you learn to accept the reality of the loss and to learn from the experience.
    3.    Remind yourself that your grief will soften and may or may not end. Grief will change. You will not feel like this forever. You will keep healing. You may have good days and sad days…
    4.    Take care of your health. Grief is extremely stressful, and it requires energy to manage the stress.
    5.    Be careful with food and drink. While it may be tempting to numb the pain with food and drink, this can lead to the additional problems of alcohol dependence and weight gain. Also, numbing the pain means you are prolonging denial. This will make your grieving process longer.
    6.    Talk about the person who is no longer in your life. People sometimes avoid talking about the loss as a denial mechanism. However, this prolongs denial and the grieving process.
    7.    Take time to be alone. In the days and weeks following the loss of a loved one, there is often a flurry of activity with many visitors and phone calls. Added to the stress of your loss, this can be completely exhausting. People will understand if you don't answer the phone for an afternoon or go to your room and close the door for a while.
Don't make any important decisions until your life feels more balanced. It can be tempting to make some important changes right after a major loss as an effort to feel 
more in control.
    8.    Maintain a normal routine if you can. You have enough changes in your life right now. Try to get up in the morning, go to bed at night, and eat your meals at the same times you usually do.
    9.    Ask for help. You will need it. If you don't want to be alone, or if you want someone to take you somewhere, it is okay to ask. People don't expect you to be self-sufficient right now.
    10.    Let people help you. People want to help because it gives them a way to express their feelings. Staying connected with people is especially important now, and accepting help is a way of staying connected. As time passes, it is important to be assertive to ask yourself or others to meet your needs. No one is a mind reader. Be clear and specific to ask for what you would like to see happen in a positive way. This way, you will more likely get your need met. Often times, people focus on what is not working, what doesn’t feel good, and what they don’t like. This negative way of thinking and judging almost always guarantees miscommunication. Instead, create what you would like to see happen by asking for what you need.
    11.    Keep a journal of your feelings and experiences during the grieving process. Writing about your feelings helps you express them, rather than keeping them inside. It also gives you something to remember and review in the future, which you will appreciate.
    12.    Avoid making extreme life changes after a major loss. Don't make any important decisions until your life feels more balanced. It can be tempting to make some important changes right after a major loss as an effort to feel more in control. If you can, put off such changes and decisions until later.
    13.    Don't hurry your grief process. People sometimes want to put their feelings and memories behind them because they are painful. But grieving takes time, and there are no shortcuts.
    14.    Remind yourself that although grief hurts, it will not harm you. Grief is painful, but you will survive and even grow from the experience.
    15.    Expect to regress in your recovery process from time to time. This is normal. It may happen unexpectedly, but it probably won't last long.
    16.    Acknowledge the anniversary of your loss by taking the day off or doing something special. Have supportive people ready to be with you. It could be a difficult day and it's better not to be alone.

17. Not everyone in your immediate and extended family will grieve the same way. Compassion and empathy can help you support others while self-empathy and self-compassion will help facilitate your self-care. Try to remember that your whole family and friends are also grieving.

How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving
1.    Don't try to get them to feel or be anything but what they are. Simply hold space for anything that comes up…
2.    Don't reward them for acting cheerful or "like your old self." This teaches them to suppress their feelings around you.
3.    Don't avoid them. They need your support.
4.    Let them tell about the loss again and again, if they need to.
5.    Recognize that unexpected, perhaps inappropriate behavior is part of the grieving process. It means the bereaved person is moving forward.

Judgement, blame, shame, guilt and anger do not help anyone who is suffering. Instead, thoughtfulness, compassionate communication, and meeting your loved one where he or she is, without trying to change her feelings, can be super supportive. Empathy, holding space for one another, and reminiscing can facilitate connection and family cohesion. Try to remain non-judgmental and connected through difficult emotional times. Openness to meeting yourself and other’s where they are without judging the process can help meet everyone’s needs!

Suicide: Warning Signs and Treatment

It is reported that suicide, the act of deliberately ending one's own life, is a cause of death for about 30,000 people (including 5,000 between the ages of 15 to 24 years old) each year in the United States. Since many suicides are not reported as such, the actual number is most likely much higher. Suicide goes unreported because of its stigma or because family members find it too painful to confront the truth.
The rate of suicide in this country is about 12 per 100,000 people, making it the ninth leading cause of death in the United States during the years from 1993 to 1995. According to the American Association of Suicidology (which studies suicide and its prevention), there are between eight and 20 attempts at suicide for each death from suicide. This means that there are anywhere from 240,000 to 600,000 suicide attempts each year. This rate jumps to 200 attempts for every completed suicide when young people (ages 15 to 24) are involved.
Other Facts about Suicide
    In the U.S., Nevada has the highest rate of suicide.
    More suicides happen in the spring than at other times of the year.
    The most lethal days of the week are Monday and Friday.
    Rich people and poor people alike kill themselves. Suicide is an equal-opportunity killer, and is chosen by people from every group imaginable. The most common victims are white males aged 65 and older.
    More men than women kill themselves, but women are more likely to attempt suicide.
    60% of people who commit suicide do so with guns.
Why People Commit Suicide
There are many reasons why people kill themselves, and we seldom know why certain individuals choose this route. The following factors seem to play a role in many suicides, but none of them guarantees that a person will end his or her life. Often it is a combination of factors that seem to interact with a person's circumstances; the factors are unique for each person. Some of these factors include:
Clinical depression. This type of depression is much more than just a simple case of the blues; it is severe and debilitating. It may surprise you to know that people who suffer from depression are at the greatest risk for suicide after they have begun treatment and are beginning to feel better. The reason for this is that when a person is severely depressed, they may lack the energy to carry out suicide. When they begin to recover and feel better, their energy begins to return and they may carry it out then.
Alcoholism and drug abuse are associated with a higher suicide rate because these substances impair judgment. Over half of all adolescent suicides and suicide attempts are associated with alcohol. When a person is under the influence of alcohol, he or she has fewer inhibitions and may also think and act in ways that would never happen when sober. Alcoholism and drug abuse also create additional stresses in the lives of users and may result in depression and a tendency toward desperate behavior.
Mental illness. People who have certain disorders, such as schizophrenia, have a higher risk of suicide.
Physical illness, including terminal illness and the illnesses common as people age, is often a factor that contributes to people taking their own lives.
Feeling hopeless is very common among people who commit suicide. Hopelessness may be part of clinical depression, or it may be the result of an illness or other dire circumstance. When a person feels hopeless, he or she feels trapped, and suicide may seem like the only way out.
Anger motivates some people to commit suicide. After a long, unhappy relationship and years of building anger, these people see their suicide as a dramatic way to send a message of retribution.
A sudden loss may precipitate suicide in some people. The shock and grief of an enormous loss-of a person or a job-may drive a person to such an extreme.
Experiencing a scandal or extreme embarrassment leads some people to feel so trapped in their situation that they can think of no other way out.
Suicide Warning Signs
One expert says that eight out of 10 people who kill themselves have given clear warnings that they were considering suicide. While these warning signs can be evident for almost anyone at some point in their life, it is important to be aware of them and take them seriously when you see them.
    Making a threat of suicide, e.g., "I wish I were dead," "I'm going to end it."
    Expressing hopelessness
    Expressing helplessness
    Expressing worthlessness
    Talking about death
    Having previous suicide attempts
    Seeming depressed, moody, or angry
    Having trouble at school or at work
    Abusing alcohol or drugs
    Taking risks
    Withdrawing from other people
    Behaving differently or oddly
    Sleep difficulties
    Loss of appetite
    Giving away prized possessions.
    Suddenly seeming happy after exhibiting several of the behaviors listed above.
The treatment for a suicidal person varies, depending on severity and the underlying cause. Treatment can range from immediate hospitalization to weekly psychotherapy with a licensed mental health professional. It may also include antidepressant medication or treatment for drug or alcohol addiction.
What to Do if Someone Is Suicidal
Take action immediately. Depending on the urgency of the situation, call your doctor, hospital, mental health center, suicide hotline, or police emergency number (911).

Out-of-Network Insurance Claims Reimbursed with Ease Using BETTER


At South Tampa Therapy & Mediation, we know that dealing with payments and insurance can put a damper on the great work you accomplish during a session. That’s why we’ve partnered with Better, a company that makes it easy for out-of-network clients to get reimbursed.

Better accepts superbills directly from South Tampa Therapy, simplifying the process for both us and our clients. Once clients sign up, they take a photo of their superbill and email it to claims@getbetter.co 

Attachment and Differentiation in Relationships: An Interview with Ellyn Bader, Ph.D.

The idealized relationship where partners are fused at the hip is not a healthy relationship, as it doesn’t allow for the unique differences of each partner. Bader highlights this fusion as a conflict avoidant stance that happens when one partner feels anxious or uncomfortable and attempts to merge with their spouse.

One way of doing this is becoming more like your partner in hopes of being loved. There’s a deep fear that says, “If I express my needs and have different needs than my partner, I’m going to be abandoned.”

The other conflict avoidant stance is loving your partner at arm’s length. The fear in this stance says, “If I become more open and vulnerable, I’m going to get swallowed up and lose my sense of self.”

As Dr. David Schnarch states in his book entitled Passionate Marriage, “Giving up your individuality to be together is as defeating in the long run as giving up your relationship to maintain your individuality. Either way, you end up being less of a person with less of a relationship.”

Fusion happens when a person is fearful of encountering differences. These can be minor differences including how one spends their time or their hobbies, or major differences such as conflict style and desire for togetherness. The opposite of fusion is differentiation.

The Risk of Growth

Bader describes differentiation as an active process “in which partners define themselves to each other.” Differentiation requires the risk of being open to growth and being honest not only with your partner, but also with yourself.

  • If you’re anxious, it could mean realizing that you lean on partner so much that if they become unstable, you both fall down. Your demands on your partner and the way you discuss conflict may be pushing your partner away, which is the very thing you fear.

  • If you’re avoidant, it could mean noticing that you neglect your partner’s needs and prioritize yourself over your relationship. As a result, you perpetuate the loneliness you feel.

To grow in your relationship requires a willingness to stand on what Bader calls your “developmental edge” and differentiate yourself as an individual.

What Differentiation Looks Like

In conflict, a differentiated lover can give space to their partner who is emotionally overwhelmed while also remaining close enough to be caring and supportive, but not so close that they lose themselves emotionally. Instead of reacting with overwhelming emotion, a differentiated partner, according to Bader, expresses curiosity about their partner’s emotional state:

“Can you tell me more about what’s going on?”
“Can you tell me about these feelings?”

The more differentiated you are, the less likely you are to take things as personally. As a result, you can soothe yourself or reach out to be soothed by your partner in a helpful way. Instead of saying, “You’re such a jerk. You never care for me,” a differentiated partner would say, “I’m feeling really overwhelmed and lonely. Could you give me a hug?”

To differentiate is to develop a secure way of relating to your partner. This earned security, as highlighted by Bader, is created both internally and developed within the context of a relationship. This requires being authentic with your feelings and needs.

You can cultivate a secure and functioning relationship by recognizing and taking responsibility for your part in creating unhealthy dynamics in your relationship. When you do this, you can then express your needs, desires, and wishes in a way that allows you and your partner to work together to meet each other’s needs.

When both partners are whole, not only is there more flexibility in the marriage, but there is also more intimacy.

If you’d like to learn more about Ellyn Bader and her Developmental Model of Couples Therapy, you can visit her website here.

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

Do you have ADHD? Have you heard about rejection-sensitive dysphoria? Characterized by a strong emotional response and a fear of certain situations, rejection sensitive dysphoria is a form and symptom of mental illness that is strongly associated with attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder.

So, in this blog post, we’ll cover all you need to know about rejection sensitivity, and how it may affect your day-to-day life!

What is RSD or Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

If you’ve been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD, then you’ve probably experienced episodes of rejection sensitive dysphoria. Well, rejection-sensitive dysphoria is a form of suffering, where a person may experience severe emotional sensitivity and emotional pain.

Generally, this means that people with ADHD will perceive a situation negatively, when in reality the situation may not aim to cause them emotional pain. Let’s look at an example; if a person with rejection-sensitive dysphoria was to receive a delayed “text message response” from a person they are fond of, then that person with RSD may experience symptoms such as anxiety and low-self esteem.

Rejection Definition

By definition, rejection denotes to the action where a person’s ideas, concepts, behavior, etc may be refused or dismissed for a given reason. Generally, rejection can come in the form of social rejection or emotional rejection. This may result in a person developing severe anxiety in a specific situation, loss of self-esteem, and a feeling of hopelessness.

Dysphoria Definition

In general, the term dysphoria comes from the Greek word, dysphoros, which translates to hard to bear. Therefore, dysphoria simply can be defined as a feeling or state of mind that’s hard to bear, or uneasy.

Often people may associate gender dysphoria with rejection-sensitive dysphoria. However, it is important to note that gender dysphoria refers to the idea where a person may be dissatisfied or displeased with the gender they were born with. This was commonly referred to as gender identity disorder and has sparked much debate in the LGBTQ community.

Rejection Sensitivity and Relationships

In 1996, a study discovered that rejection sensitivity can play a major role when it comes to peoples intimate relationship. The study discovered that people with rejection sensitivity experience:

  • insecurity in their intimate relationships

  • satisfaction problems

For example, do you know a person who may be quite emotionally dependent on their partner? Or a person who fears that their partner may leave them? These are all examples of a rejection sensitive person as they have a fear of their partner leaving them.

Now, do you know of a person who seems unhappy in their relationship? Perhaps it’s not their partner’s fault, but rather how the rejection sensitive individual perceives their relationship to be. This example demonstrates that rejection sensitive individuals may experience general dissatisfaction and unhappiness in their intimate relationships.


Rejection Sensitivity and Relationships—It Affects Men and Women Differently!

Men with rejection sensitivity generally tend to be very controlling of their intimate relationships. Men with rejection sensitivity may get more or easily jealous of situations that may compromise their relationship with their partner. It’s been suggested that mean who demonstrate reactive, controlling, and jealous behaviors are at risk of potentially emotionally abusing their partners.

In contrast, women with rejection sensitivity may behave quite differently from men, when in an intimate relationship. In general, women tend to remain a lot more hostile and negative when in a relationship. For example, a woman who feels as though she is not receiving sufficient attention may tend to verbally abuse her partner, or deny them sexual satisfaction.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder aka ADHD is defined as the mental and brain disorder that affects a persons brain activity. ADHD is most commonly associated with:

  • Inattention

  • Hyperactivity

  • Impulsivity

Generally, adult ADHD may present itself a lot differently, than a child with ADHD. For example, children with ADHD may experience increased hyperactivity and an inability to focus. Whereas, an adult may experience more rejection sensitivity and hyperactivity-impulsivity.

ADHD is a form of brain development disorder. This is because people with ADHD generally tend to have a less developed caudate nucleus, putamen, nucleus accumbens, pallidum, thalamus, amygdala, and the hippocampus.  Now if we look at each of these parts of the brain, we would be able to see, how they contribute to our emotions, thoughts, and day-to-day lives.

For example, the amygdala is the part of the brain that is responsible for functions such as memory, emotions, and decision making. An adult with ADHD would then have a much smaller amygdala, thus resulting in their inability to focus, and their rejection sensitivity.

Is Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria the Same As Social Phobia?

Social Phobia is also more commonly known as social anxiety disorder. Social Phobia refers to the idea that people may have a fear of either being placed in a social situation or a fear of being the center of attention.

This form of mental illness generally denotes to the idea that a person may experience overwhelming feelings, anxiety, increased heart rate, and muscle tension as a result of being placed in a social situation. As such, a person with social anxiety disorder may develop symptoms similar to rejection sensitivity. This includes depressive thoughts, low self-esteem, and sensitivity to criticism.

When we look at rejection sensitive people, then there’s no doubt that both mental illnesses look the same! However, the causes of social phobia are generally associated with genetics, past social and cultural experiences. Similarly, the causes of ADHD are often associated with underdevelopment of the brain. Rejection sensitivity is similar in the sense that it becomes one of the underlying symptoms of both social phobia and ADHD

Is Hysteroid Dysphoria a Type of Rejection Sensitivity?

According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, hysteroid dysphoria is a form of chronic mental illness that causes a person to experience episodes of depression as a result of a specific type of stress. As opposed to it being a specific type of rejection sensitivity, hysteroid dysphoria is a subtype of atypical depression that includes rejection sensitivity as a symptom.

RSD Symptoms

Understanding the symptoms of rejection-sensitive dysphoria can be quite complex. This is because RSD is actually a type of symptom for patients with ADHD. However, in general, a person with ADHD and rejection sensitivity may experience the following symptoms:

  • setting high standards for oneself

  • strong emotional reaction

  • Shyness

  • depression or depression thoughts

  • fear of failure

  • rage towards the situation or person that causes them discomfort

  • loss of self-esteem

  • seeking for self-approval from family, friends, and/or partners

  • A feeling of hopelessness

  • The person may criticize themselves a lot

How To Treat RSD or Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

Because rejection-sensitive dysphoria is associated with ADHD, your mental health professional may consider treating the ADHD first. Originally, the conventional method of treatment for rejection sensitivity was psychotherapy. Over time this treatment has shown some efficacy.  Today, however, your mental health professional may also recommend medications such as a combination of alpha agonists guanfacine and clonidine—or, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

 4 Facts About Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

  1. Rejection sensitivity is a difficult concept to understand. Some forms of rejection sensitivity suggest that people may feel their emotions (depression, fear, etc) prior to the stressful situation occurring. As a result, they may find or perceive the situation in a negative manner.

  2. ADHD is often misdiagnosed as either bipolar disorder or Asperger’s syndrome.

  3. Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of debate suggesting that people with ADHD are more at risk of developing mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, this is still a topic that’s currently being studied.

  4. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has become one of the common treatment for people suffering from ADHD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and You

Rejection sensitive dysphoria is a symptom that is most commonly associated with ADHD in adults and children. This form of mental illness often presents as intensive emotional feelings, fears, and outbursts of depression as a result of potential underdevelopment. While there is no cure, rejection sensitivity and ADHD can be controlled through treatment with medication.




How ADHD Ignites Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria


https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170216105919.htm https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2771869/

7 Daily Rituals Intentional Couples Use to Cultivate Lasting Love

Due to the daily pressures, distractions, and dynamics of modern life, a romantic couple doesn’t have to be dysfunctional to grow distant over time. Long working hours and the demands of raising children can push date night, sex, and romantic vacations to last place on the priority list.

Researchers at UCLA observed 30 dual-career couples with young children to understand the daily challenges for finding opportunities to build strong relationships and families. They discovered that these couples: 

  1. Spend less than 10% of their time at home with each other and without their children around

  2. Are career-focused with long working hours (partner one) and a have a double burden of work and childcare (partner two)

  3. Prioritize children and household needs over the needs of their spouse or self

  4. Become more like roommates, drifting apart emotionally and physically

  5. Miss important opportunities to connect emotionally on a daily basis

With high expectations in our careers and relationships, yet little guidance on how to make love last, we are clearly struggling.

Only the intentional couple has a chance to deepen their emotional connection in order to bond over the years of their relationship.

Learning to Stand in Love

When we are falling in love we are often more intentional than married couples might be about going on dates, having intimate conversations to learn about each other, and making time for shared adventures.

It’s easy to fall in love, but much harder to stand in love, which requires intentionally creating moments of connection and intimacy.

Perhaps a look at another realm of life can reveal an analogous secret to making this all work…

Successful business owners often share that their energy and time is far more important than money. It turns out that it’s how they choose to spend their time and energy that determines how much money they make.

The same is undoubtedly true for a person’s love life. It’s easy to let cell phones, TV, and other electronic devices drain our time and energy while we are home. Social media and TV shows are designed to entertain us by strategically offering the most captivating and shocking stories and memes. Mark Manson argues that “Smartphones Are The New Cigarettes.”

Just recently I was on my phone while my partner was talking about something important. I was skimming all the videos, articles, and quotes on my Facebook feed on how to be a better lover.

It wasn’t until my partner said, “You’re not listening to me!” that I realized I was mindlessly sucked into my phone and half-heartedly listening to one of the most important people in my life.

See the irony?

Couples must stand against the urge to take the easy route of just passively letting things happen in our relationships. The sad truth of love is that if we do nothing to actively improve our romantic relationships, even without doing anything that is actively destructive, the relationships will get worse over time. Relationships require active work and maintenance. After all, even when a couple is first dating, things don’t just happen. The active efforts of the couple make them happen.

According to the author of The Intentional Family, we need to focus on two connection killers to make our relationships better: how we spend our time and how we use technology.

  1. Many couples are time-poor. Driving kids to soccer practice after a full day of work, only to come home and cook or do the laundry, leaves very little time for oneself and one’s significant other. A busy couple can first focus on improving the quality of their interactions by truly focusing on each other and the relationship during the time that is available.

  2. Couples fail to intentionally disconnect with the outside world, missing the opportunity to truly connect with each other’s inner worlds. Our electronic devices are always sending us notifications that can interrupt and distract us from enjoying relationship time. The good news is that just making some minor changes in how devices are used can significantly improve the quality of a couple’s time together.

Ritualizing Daily Interactions

One of the best ways to intentionally improve a relationship is to add meaning to the daily habits we already practice, as well as to cultivate new rituals that make the moments we have together, even when we are crazy busy, more meaningful and connecting.

A romantic ritual is an event that is repeated, planned, and, most importantly, designed to be meaningful to both partners.

Intentional Rituals You Can Start Today

In Wired for Dating, Stan Tatkin, PsyD. states that “you can and should be your partner’s best antidepressant and anti-anxiety agent.” The following rituals not only create opportunities for connection but also reduce the stress burdens many of us carry today.

Sit down with your lover and select two rituals below that you’d like to try out in your relationship. Before implementing them, talk together about why these rituals will be meaningful to both of you. If there are prior experiences that come to mind during this discussion, such as childhood memories, take the time to share those in depth. Finally, hash out the when, who, and what of how the ritual will occur to ensure that it is feasible to add the ritual to your lives. Try it for a trial period and then check back in with each other to assess how it went.

Eating Together

At mealtime without kids, you may find yourself plopped down on the couch watching the latest Netflix series, or browsing social media while sitting at the dining table.

With kids, conflicting work, school, and extracurricular activity schedules make it tough to find the time to connect with your lover at mealtime, or to have the energy to cook healthy food.

When meals are eaten together in a space that facilitates conversation, couples often feel more connected and as a result, tend to have fewer petty fights.

Here are 4 tips for enhancing your mealtime:

  1. Discuss who does what; such as who buys the food, who cooks the food, and who sets the table. One couple I worked with has one partner cook while the other partner sets the table before the kids join. Another couple takes turns cooking their favorite dishes.

  2. Think about how you connect. During the cooking process, a few couples would play some light music, pour a glass of wine, and talk to each other before the kids joined for the meal. It’s helpful to consider the environment of where the couple or family eats as well. Does it have a TV playing? Are cell phones allowed? Intentionally think about potential distractions and interruptions and decide in advance which ones both partners are okay with.

  3. Consider what the family as a whole might talk about at mealtime to further strengthen the bond. A billionaire’s father used to ask, “What have you failed at this week?” Other families discuss what they appreciate, or something they have accomplished. It’s also helpful to have clear rules around what shouldn’t be discussed, such as marital conflicts.

  4. Is the start and end clear? What signals the start of the meal? Is it a specific start time or someone telling the family it’s time for dinner? When does the ritual end? Is this when everyone has finished eating? Does everyone help out with the dishes?

If you struggle to find time for a romantic or family dinner each night, think of opportunities during morning and weekend meals, such as a regular Sunday brunch. Maybe on certain nights you can go out to eat, creating a ritual such as Taco Tuesdays.

Waking and Sleeping Together

Couples with mismatched sleeping styles, as in the case of an early bird paired with a night owl, can experience instability in the relationship. This can lead to more conflict, less time for shared activities, less sex, and less connecting conversation. 

Tatkin believes that it’s healthy for partners, even those with different sleep styles, to discover ways to begin and end their days together with rituals. Here are some ways to stay in sync:

The Morning:

  • Get up early and share coffee, or go back to bed after a 15-minute conversation

  • Cuddle for a few minutes before starting the day

  • Tell each other one thing you appreciate about each other

  • Cook breakfast together

The Evening:

  • Pillow Gazing: Look into each other’s eyes and focus on softening the gaze for a few minutes before falling asleep

  • Have some calming tea and talk while in bed

  • Read to each other

  • Express gratitude for your partner

Leaving for the Day and Reuniting at Night:

Home is wherever the relationship is, and how couples part and reunite influences their energy, self-esteem, and emotional connection.

When you or your partner leave for the day, do you embrace each other? Do you kiss? When you reunite, do you hug and tell your partner you missed them?

This study of 30 couples found that the men who returned home later in the day received no acknowledgment from their distracted family members. Being greeted in a loving way is a fantastic start to an evening at home. Here are some ideas:


  • A six-second kiss. Dr. Gottman who has observed thousands of couples for 40 years calls this kiss a “kiss with potential.”

  • A nice full hug that embraces both partners (not a one-arm type hug)

  • Asking your partner what are they most excited about today? Or what are they worried about today? Dr. Gottman calls this building a map of your partner’s daily life.


  • Tatkin suggests a “Welcome Home routine.” Greet your partner and give them a long hug and kiss.

  • Hugging to relax: Dr. Schnarch, a renowned Couples Therapist, encourages partners to hold each other until they relax. This physical connection can help reduce stress and reconnect the couple. My partner and I often embrace for at least 30 seconds when the last partner gets home.

Talking Daily

When a relationship is new, falling in love requires lots of one-on-one talking about the good and stressful parts of the couple’s day and what is meaningful to each of them.

According to Dr. Doughty, the author of The Intentional Family, “Few dating couples would get married if they had as little focused conversation as most married couples do.”

Dr. Gottman’s research highlights that after couple’s therapy, the couples who have a daily stress-reducing conversation are less likely to relapse than couples who don’t talk daily.

Intentionally talking with each other one-on-one, even for just 15 minutes, can be good enough for busy couples. Focus on discussing how your daily events made you feel, rather than just talking about the facts of the events that occurred.

One of the best ways to do this is to tie the talking ritual to enjoying a beverage together. Dr. Doughty has coffee with his wife every night after dinner at the dining table. My partner and I have apple cider vinegar and talk while we sit up in bed.

Having a daily conversation deepens tenderness towards each partner, creates a better emotional and sexual connection, and prevents fights over little things that often arise when a couple lacks meaningful connection on a daily basis.

Exercising Together

Actively maintaining health together is a great way to stay connected.

  • Start or end the day with a walk around the neighborhood

  • Go to a gym class together

  • Head to and leave the gym together

  • Play on a sports team together

Remember, if couples do nothing to actively improve their relationship, even without doing anything that is destructive, the relationship will get worse over time. That’s why it is vital to intentionally cultivate daily rituals that help partners reconnect.

Relationships thrive when couples realize that the seemingly insignificant moments, such as a loving hug and kiss when one partner comes home, are often the most significant of all. By being intentional, couples can transform dull, mindless routines into a source of connection and fun.

Source: Reposted from www.KyleBenson.net

  1. Campos, B., Graesch, A. P., Repetti, R., Bradbury, T., & Ochs, E. (2009). Opportunity for interaction? A naturalistic observation study of dual-earner families after work and school. Journal of Family Psychology, 23(6), 798-807. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015824 

  2. Larson, J.H., Crane, D. R., & Smith, C. W. (1991) Morning and night couples: The effect of wake and sleep patterns on marital adjustment. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 17(1), 53-65. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-0606.1991.tb00864.x