The Grief Girl

Is Your Sadness Normal?

February 26, 2016

Welcome to the first episode of The Grief Girl with your host Kristi Hugstad! Here are our show notes you can use to guide you as you listen.

0:00 – Introduction to Kristi Hugstad and her mission to abolish the stigma of depression, mental illness, and suicide. She’s an advocate for anyone who is suffering a loss of any kind – including divorce, breakup, health, job, faith, trust, and identity – all different things that we grieve. You can come here for comfort and be reminded that you’re not alone. This is a place for sharing and healing, and nothing is off limits or too tough to talk about!

2:08 – Introduction to today’s topic: Is Your Sadness Normal? with Dr. Hoffman, who is a doctor of addictive disorders and hypnotherapist specializing in helping people move through loss.

3:18 – Kristi and Dr. Hoffman discuss how to identify whether your bouts of sadness are unhealthy. Depression is a process – not a life sentence.

4:26 – Is there a formula for the duration or intensity of your sadness that correlates with depression? Dr. Hoffman explains that it’s a spiritual answer....

5:28 – What are the real symptoms of depression?

6:33 – Dr. Hoffman explains what dopamine is, how it affects your brain when dopamine is low, and how to increase it in healthy ways.

8:20 – How is dopamine different from serotonin?

9:21 – Kristi and Dr. Hoffman discuss how your diet plays a major role in solving your depressive problems. Kristi recommends the “Dopamine Diet” from Bruce Wylde.

10:15 – The significance of neuroplasticity and how it can help us. Your brain CAN grow new connections and change behavior. Dr. Hoffman recommends an article in Biological Psychiatry by J. David Creswell of Carnegie Mellon University regarding mindfulness meditation and functioning neurons.

12:08 – What are things a stressed, depressed individual avoid? Dr. Hoffman explains how the wrong kind of sympathy will harm you, and the significance of resilience.

14:47 – Paul Roberts, OC Talk Radio’s manager and sound engineer, asks how big the problem of “grief” is. Kristi explains that we tend to associate “loss” with “death,” but loss is so much more – and we don’t have the tools that should have been taught to us as children to know what to do when we lose something or someone. Dr. Hoffman brings up the “family of origin” theory, whether DNA plays a part in depression, and how we can learn resilience.

19:45 – Kristi, Dr. Hoffman, and Paul discuss depression in men, and the stigma of asking for help. 80% of all suicides are completed by men. Men are not expressing how they feel and therefore are not getting help. Kristi explains her own journey and the difficulty in helping her husband, who committed suicide three years ago: she was confused by the medley of prescription drugs given to her husband, and the lack of help from his doctors.

24:24 – Dr. Hoffman discusses the revolution of dispensing pharmaceutical drugs without helping the patient find real therapy. He refers to Joanna Moncrieff’s Myth of the Chemical Cure, which demonstrates that antidepressant drugs alone are not valid – they also need the support of a real therapist.

25:30 – Dr. Hoffman explains the differences between psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and various kinds of therapists. Paul discusses his own experiences seeking help. Dr. Hoffman recommends and – both of which question the validity and proof that psychiatric medicine by itself is a valid cure for anything. A lot of these medications haven’t been around long enough to have a proven history.

28:15 – Dr. Hoffman brings up the fact that techniques that the medical community calls “alternative,” such as yoga, meditation, and reiki, have actually been around thousands of years but in reality they are perhaps medication should be deemed “alternative."

29:52 – Are pharmaceuticals good or bad? The group agrees that medication isn’t necessarily bad, but patients need to look into what’s being prescribed and understand that medications should be used in conjunction with therapy.

32:00 – Should a patient go to a psychiatrist or a therapist? Dr. Hoffman explains that your health insurance tells you where you can and cannot go, and that it can often prevent patients from finding the right help outside of psychiatric drugs and pharmaceutical options. Alternative help is often not permitted by health insurance. Dr. Hoffman also points out what to look for in a good therapist.

34:13 – Kristi asks Paul about his previous battle with depression, and he describes his insights from therapy. As a society, we don’t allow ourselves to feel sadness, and we constantly and mistakenly seek an “instant pill” that will cure everything. Dr. Hoffman explains the clinical name for the inability to feel: alexithymia.

36:51 – Kristi’s recap of the big six topics and things that actually work outside of pharmaceuticals: exercise, diet, sleep, therapy, remaining socially active, and being outside in nature. Dr. Hoffman recommends learning about “green exercise” by Jules Pretty.

42:16 – Kristi asks Dr. Hoffman about meditation – people don’t really understand what it is or how to practice it. Dr. Hoffman explains that meditation and prayer are very close, and he advocates vipassana meditation: sit quietly, close your eyes, and focus on the breath...and as thoughts come up (as they inevitably will), allow them to pass and return your attention to the breath – repeatedly. You will eventually train your mind to let go, and over time the effects are dramatic. 

47:25 – Don’t allow what society pushes on us to keep us from improving our mental health. We are always on the go and don’t take the time needed to take care of ourselves. Dr. Hoffman refers to Paul Levy’s Dispelling Wetik: Breaking the Curse of Evil.

48:38 – The importance of breath: you can only be as anxiousas the depth of your breath.

50:39 – The group concludes with the power of positive thinking,and emphasizes that medication is sometimes necessary but it does requireadditional support via therapy. Dr. Hoffman brings up that Steve Jobs andEinstein were lifelong meditators, and Kristi emphasizes that self-care needsto start early.

55:20 – Dr.Hoffman may be reached at 949.212.4149 or Kristi may bereached at, andif you have topics you’d like Kristi to discuss on The Grief Girl show, go toher site and leave her your comments! 

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