BBC radio Berkshire hosts Dr David Purves talking about personality

January 31, 2017 by  
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BBC radio Berkshire hosts Dr David Purves talking about personality

I spend the morning at the BBC radio studio in Reading talking about the role of personality tests in modern life, but I also got to talk a bit more about the ability of psychotherapy to change unhelpful aspects of your personality.

The BBC radio interview is available here for 28 days

Sarah Walker of BBC Radio Berkshire with Dr David Purves of Berkshire Psychology Service.

Sarah Walker of BBC Radio Berkshire with Dr David Purves of Berkshire Psychology Service.

There are vast forests of research papers showing several important things about personality that it’s useful to be aware of. The first is that conscientiousness is a personality characteristic consistent with better health and a longer life. And the second is that neuroticism is a personality characteristic that is predictive of poorer health, psychological problems and shorter life.

It is thought that the link between neuroticism and poorer life experiences is this. If you are anxious, a worrier or pessimistic then you are more prone to catastrophise. This really means that as well as being a glass half empty kind of person, you are also prone to extending your anxieties and worries out before you like a carpet of potential woes upon which to walk as you journey through life; making every step a bit harder than it needs be.

The research I wrote about last week illustrated that the damaging personality trait of neuroticism is something that can be changed through psychotherapy. In the Berkshire Psychology Service I emphasize that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a focused way of uncovering the damaging beliefs that create and maintain anxiety and low mood. While also providing tools to challenge and change them into more useful and adaptive beliefs.  Hence the negative carpet gets rolled up and put away. Making it easier walking through life.

If you don’t have access to face to face CBT and you do want to change your anxiety, worry or low mood. Then take advantage of the Panic Pit Stop Course 7 day free offer. 

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How to retrain your amygdala

January 18, 2017 by  
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How to retrain your amygdala

You can change your experience

This morning I listened to a snippet on the BBC Today program. Dr Liam Mason was interviewed about the role of CBT in retraining the brain in sufferers of psychosis. It was shown that CBT physically changes the brain.

There is robust research using brain imaging techniques showing the change in brain structure connections following CBT. In serious mental health problems like depression and schizophrenia (psychosis) there is of evidence of functional dysconnectivity between brain structures that process facial and social emotional signals. This means that people who suffer these problems are more likely to misinterpret faces expressions and social situations as threatening.

This may sound trivial but in Schizophrenia, depression and in many anxiety disorders there is convincing evidence that many people have a bias that over-interprets facial expressions and social situations as threatening leading to hypervigilance and difficulty in deciding what is a threat and what is not. Of course all of this is going on below conscious awareness. The sufferer is simply aware of feeling threatened and at risk, but without knowing why.

The brain system network that is responsible for this includes the amygdala. In normal circumstances the higher cognitive structures responsible for higher cognitive functions like self- awareness, decision making and judgement and will send information about the world down into the lower parts of the brain including the amygdala so that they can be calibrated to the outside and external ‘reality’ (where normal life is not threatening).

In sufferers of psychosis these connections between the higher cognitive processing systems and the lower ones including the amygdala appear to be weaker. Meaning that it is much easier to misinterpret social situations as threatening and it is easier to develop self-referential ideas about what other people think of you and what they are saying about you. In CBT we call this ‘mind reading’. It is the belief that you know what other people are thinking, are saying and what their intentions are. We all do it by the way but in psychosis it is just magnified to a substantial degree.

When there is poor connectivity between the higher brain structures and the lower ones the casualties are often your sense of empathy, your self-awareness and your insight. Hence it becomes harder to reflect on your own beliefs and to entertain those of others. And it is easier to develop unhelpful and unrealistic beliefs about yourself, others and the world.

Retraining amygdala increases connections and reduces symptoms

After CBT there are stronger connections between the higher and lower brain structures meaning that the sense of reality is stronger and the sense of threat is lower.

Research has shown that CBT causes changes in the functional connectivity between the higher brain structures and the lower ones. For patients in the research study this led to a reduction in arousal which translates to feeling less threatened and less on edge. There is a reduction in the negative bias that leads patients to imagine that others are talking about them or plotting their downfall. There is a greater awareness that the sense of threat and need to be always vigilant is unnecessary and a waste of time and effort. This means that people can relax much more and simply get on with their life without having to be concerned that someone is out to get them. Psychotic symptoms go down and depression improves.

The functional magnetic resonance images of patients after CBT shows that there had been a significant strengthening of connections between a number of brain structures including the amygdala.

From my CBT clinic

In my work with clients, including those with psychosis I have seen that as CBT progresses there is a marked reduction in their sense of threat, (common in all anxiety and depressive disorders) this is correlated with an increase in self-awareness and the sense of being engaged in useful self-development work.

What is CBT?

In my practice,  CBT is the development of a knowledge base and a skills set that you can take with you on your life journey. It is a resource that always rewards your effort in acquiring it.

To experience CBT for yourself and start the process of changing your life for the better you can visit me in my clinic or you can use one of my online programs such as Panic Pit Stop.

At the moment you can try Panic Pit Stop for FREE for 7 days.

I have put the link to the original paper here so that if you are interested you can check it out for yourself.

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Anxiety Busting for 2017: How to Manage Your Amygdala

January 16, 2017 by  
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Anxiety Busting for 2017

How to manage your amygdala

This week the Lancet published a study showing a link between brain amygdala activity and arterial inflammation and disease (cardio-vascular disease). What this research showed was that increased amygdala activity was positively correlated with serious stress related health problems.

Okay, so why do I comment on this now? Well this should be of interest to anyone who has any sort of problem with anxiety or stress. The reason being, in the brain, it is the amygdala that labels events as worthy of fear or not. It is the amygdala that is responsible for giving you that rush of adrenaline when there is nothing obvious to be fearful of. It is the amygdala that makes you anxious, panic and be stressed.

You should be keen to manage your amygdala

You should be very keen to manage your amygdala as best you can, lest it give you something genuinely serious and life threatening to worry about like a heart attack!

Worry, anxiety and panic always start as a heightened perception of threat, whether conscious or unconscious and it is the little amygdala that determines if something is to be labelled a threat or not.

The behaviour or all life is based on approaching what is useful and life sustaining and avoiding what is dangerous. The success of this relies on a rapid and accurate approach-avoidance system. The organism can afford to mistake something that is beneficial as a threat as often as it likes but it cannot afford to mislabel a genuine threat as safe even once. We are all the benefactors of the efficiency of this system.

All sentient life shares this system, from the lizard to the human. It works the same. Hence the fear system connects the most primitive elements of our brain, those we hold in common with reptiles, fish and birds to the higher cortical functions, the things that make us uniquely human. Hence fear can be triggered by the simplest unexpected knock at the door to the ill-defined yet distressing fear of failure.

Natural selection has clearly favoured the organism prepared to run at the drop of a hat. Indeed our neural architecture has been sculpted over millennia to survive. And the amygdala has grown as a consequence. It is now tasked with starting the process of preparing for fight or flight. What you label as emotions and thoughts are the final stages in this process. Long before you recognise the emotion you are feeling or even before you recognise the source of any threat the amygdala has caused the release of a cascade of hormones to prepare your body to deal with possible annihilation.

There are no monsters and there is no threat

Anxiety makes you feel that there are monsters, but along with the threat they don’t exist.

Anxiety is just the conscious part of this process. By the time you recognise anxiety the full system has already kicked in. The amygdala has done its job.

If you struggle with any anxiety related problem it must have become apparent to you that your amygdala is working far too hard on your behalf. It is responding to way more threat than it should be. Look around, are people dropping like flies, is there death and destruction all around you or does life continue for people as if there were no threat at all? Who else is constantly anxious? The kind of threat your amygdala is preparing you for is simply not there on an everyday basis.

Your amygdala has learnt to be over-sensitive

This means that your amygdala has slowly learned to be over sensitive. It can be likened to the sensitivity to an allergy. Your amygdala has become over sensitive and hence responds when it does not need to. For you this is experienced as being anxious.

Retain your mind to let go of anxiety

Go though a course of training and you can let go of anxiety.

However it is in the nature of learning that the meanings of things can be changed. With new learning comes the opportunity to revise previous beliefs about yourself, the world and your place in it. New learning, gives the opportunity create new rules about what is risky and what is not. In short your amygdala can learn to be much less sensitive leading to much less anxiety. And according to the lancet article much less cardio-vascular disease. I have helped thousands of people to re-train their amygdala both through face to face CBT therapy and through my online programs.

Take steps to change anxiety and stress

If you would like to know more about how to re-train your amygdala so that you are much less anxious. Or even not anxious at all! This means no panic, no worry and no anxiety. Then follow this link to learn more about what the Panic Pit Stop Course can do for you.

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Three things to give up to be happy: Part 2

January 16, 2017 by  
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The sheer effort it takes to maintain depression, worry and anxiety is staggering. That same effort poured into constructive activity would really make a difference in your life. If you want to be happier then take the ‘effort’ out of this activity and put it elsewhere.

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Here is why Donald Trump doesn’t get it: Speaking creates your world

October 13, 2016 by  
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Here is why Donald Trump just doesn’t get it.

 Reading based Psychologist Dr David Purves says that Donald Trump doesn't seem to realize that how you think and speak creates the world in which you live.

Reading based Psychologist Dr David Purves says that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to realize that how you think and speak creates the world in which you live.

Reading based Psychologist Dr David Purves thinks that Donald Trump misses the point, as does everyone else who dismisses his ‘locker room banter’, as just meaningless talk. Here is why!

To talk, we have to possess both language and concepts of expression to be able to articulate fluently and coherently. If we lack language or concepts of expression, then no recognisable talk is possible. I can’t talk at all in Chinese because I don’t have the language to be able to do so. Furthermore, even if I could speak Chinese I would still require some understanding of the social concepts, ideas, norms and permissions, regarding what is and what is not acceptable, as well as the local idiom of expression, if I was to be able to have a meaningful conversation. Key to acceptance within any culture is an understanding of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to say.

We have a choice of what we say and how we say it, based on the range of language and concepts we have existing within us. Donald Trump chooses to talk in the way he does because it matches his sense of acceptable things to say. In fact, we never say things that are unacceptable to us, unless we are under extreme duress. Therefore, Donald Trump is only able to express his own beliefs and norms.  So there is no credible way to take back and dismiss what was said, because he was simply expressing what he believes and what is acceptable to him.

You might argue that politicians as a group rarely express their own beliefs because they are holding a consensus party line. But I would argue that their talk is still within the sphere of what they believe is acceptable for them to say.

Depression is wrong thinking and talking practiced until it feels true

Now let’s move away from Donald Trump and focus on you! If you criticise yourself, then you are doing a ‘Donald.’ You are expressing what you believe is acceptable to say about yourself. However, depression is characterised by an abiding focus on perceived personal faults and failings, and on perceived loss and lack of positive experiences. Through practice, these perceived notions about yourself become acceptable to express. However, such beliefs are biased and their repetition only serves to make them seem more true. Repeating a lie does not make it the truth!

Anxiety is equally biased

The abiding sense of threat that underlays anxiety is likewise the result of faulty and biased thought processes that nevertheless gain a patina of truth through repetition and lack of challenge.

If this has a ring of authenticity for you, then you may need to do something about it, particularly if you want things to change. The simple repetition of negative beliefs about you, other people, or the world in which you live, has a corrosive and damaging effect on your internal world. It becomes dark and unhappy, leading to depression and anxiety.

Some years in the future, if and when Donald Trump has stopped blaming everyone else for seeing through the window he opened into his own internal world, he may come to realise that we make the world we inhabit through the beliefs we hold and the views we express. And subsequently, this leads to the things we do. This is a well-known fact. So, if you want to have a more positive experience, the first thing you need to do is change how you think about yourself. Challenge what is not objectively true and don’t accept thinking that is not acceptable!

Cognitive behaviour therapy for life change

If you want to have a different life then you can start with the Panic Pit Stop course. It will give you at least 8 weeks of focused Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Active Self Help activity. This puts the booster pack on your personal development.

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October 10, 2016 by  
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the system is not working for you

Reading Psychologist Dr Purves says that the mental health treatment system is not working for you.

It’s obvious that the system is not working.

When something isn’t working and you can see why it very hard to remain quiet. Especially on World Mental Health Day.

The headline: Mental Health in the UK is getting worse.

Let’s look at first things first. What is the system to which I refer? It is the NHS mental health treatment system. The one that we all give responsibility to for looking after our mental health problems. And it’s the GP’s who prescribe antidepressants, anxiolytics and sleeping pills. Then of course, it’s the lack of treatment when you’re anxious, depressed or stressed. Its the system that makes you wait months to get help.

Different standards for mental health

If you break a leg and you can’t work you expect urgent and effective care to fix the problem. If you can’t work because you’re depressed, anxious or stressed you will have to wait months to get effective treatment. How can that be right? Your mental well-being is the most important thing you have control over; (yes you do).

Go see your doctor

No one wants to be offered an antidepressant and no one wants to have to take them. But that’s what’s on offer. And there has been a steep increasing in prescribing of these drugs over the past decade.

Go see an NHS therapist

Despite pouring tens of millions into training more therapists it’s still hard to see one. Very hard.

So how do I know the system isn’t working? Because poor mental health is increasing. Despite the (up to now) best efforts of the government. The levels of depression and anxiety are overall getting worse with Women experiencing the largest decrease in well-being.

Take control yourself

If you struggle with depression, anxiety or stress take control over it. Don’t simply wait for the NHS to get around to you. I have heard many stories of lack of access that make me want to shake my head in disbelief.

Because it is World Mental Health Day I have created a brief time limited opportunity for you to access the Full Panic Pit Stop Course with a permanent 30% discount offer.  If you struggle with Panic, Worry or Anxiety you can get the complete solution now with a 30% that applies as long as you use the course.  The link will take you to a page where you can get more information about The Panic Pit Stop Course and have the opportunity to do something today to change your life for the better. If the system is not working for you and you continue to give the system control over your destiny then nothing will change.

Use the coupon code: get-help

(only valid until Wed 12th October)

 Take control today. 

Start now and get help.

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Don’t Panic Dr Purves interview for Global Mental Health Day on JackFM radio

October 9, 2016 by  
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Panic Pit Stop is a CBT treatment strategy for panic, worry and anxiety.

Panic Pit Stop is a CBT treatment strategy for panic, worry and anxiety.

I am Dr David Purves and I run the Berkshire Psychology Services which provides CBT treatments in Reading. I gave an interview at JackFM and it is being broadcast today as it is World Mental Health Day.

Please listen to the interview here. Its about half way down the page.

In this interview I talked about Panic, worry and anxiety and how useful and important the CBT treatment is to help people regain control of their lives. For the vast majority of people who struggle with anxiety based problems there is often a lot that can be done to improve things. The Panic Pit Stop app provides a range of tools that can be used on a day to day basis. The app is free and is easy to download and use.

I have also published some really powerful information about how to STOP Panic, Worry, Anxiety and Depression. Click here to access this NOW.

Contact Dr Purves 

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Dr David Purves on the BBC

October 3, 2016 by  
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Dr David Purves on the BBC

Dr David Purves (CBT therapist) was interviewed by Anne Diamond on BBC radio.

I recently launched the Panic Pit Stop App. She was very interested in how the app could help people to recover from Panic, Worry and Anxiety.

Also in the news is the sad fact that common mental health problems in the UK are getting worse not better. The National Psychiatric Morbidity Survey revealed another increase since the last survey in 2007. It is for this reason I promote my Active Self Help programs. As Mulder and Skully (from the X files) used to say. The truth is out there. Well it may be but having it listened to and acted upon is very hard.


Dr David Purves of the Berkshire Psychology Service in Reading UK was interviewed on the BBC about The Panic Pit Stop App.













About Dr Purves and CBT services

Dr Purves runs the Reading based Berkshire Psychology Service. This is a cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and psychology  therapy service.  While being based in Reading it serves Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and parts of Surrey.

We offer psychological assessment and therapy to adults and young people suffering from a variety of psychological difficulties, including: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Depression, anxiety, panic Attacks and PTSD. We also work with a wider range of less common psychological problems within the general mental health field.


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Please don’t miss this great opportunity

September 27, 2016 by  
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