Archive for January, 2012

Will Depression Include Normal Grieving Too?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Will Depression Include Normal Grieving Too?It’s been heating up now for the past few weeks as a charge led mainly by professionals. And it has caught the eye of the mainstream media. I’m talking about the revision process for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM-5), the reference manual mental health professionals and researchers use to treat patients and design reliable research studies examining mental illness.

The latest upset? The fact that the new DSM-5 suggests that depression could co-occur with grief. Critics see the changes as suggesting the DSM is trying to “medicalize” normal grieving. Anyone who experiences grief after a tragic or significant loss will now be at risk for receiving — heaven forbid — mental health treatment and a diagnosis.

We’ve covered this ground here on more than one occasion, but it appears time to talk about whether depression can occur at the same time as grief or not. My first reaction was — grief is grief, depression is depression, and the two never really co-occur. But a few years ago, I read a piece here on World of Psychology by Dr. Ron Pies which completely changed my perspective.

Introducing Addiction Recovery

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Introducing Addiction RecoveryRecovering from an addiction is probably one of the most difficult tasks a person can do in their lifetime. There is a whole industry that specifically addresses helping people overcome an addiction, whether it be from a drug, alcohol, or now, even a behavior.

Drug and alcohol addiction remain a serious problem in this country, as well as many others. Surprisingly, nearly 75 percent of all adult illicit drug users are employed, as are most binge and heavy alcohol users, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In the United States, it’s estimated that companies and organizations lose up to $100 billion a year due to employee alcohol and drug abuse, according to the The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information. The destruction to a person’s private life, relationships, friends and family is often immeasurable.

Substance abuse and alcohol abuse treatments are effective and do work. Not only does it help the abuser, it also begins the recovery process to help them repair their relationships with others.

Want to Be Happier Right Now? The Think Positive! Experiment

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Want to Be Happier Right Now? The Think Positive! Experiment This guest article from YourTango was written by Larissa Rzemienski.

Every once in a while, I like to do a quick quasi-experiment with my psychology classes. I hand out slips of paper to everyone in the class. It appears to the students that all of these papers are the same, although they in fact are quite different.

Half of the class has just received a slip asking them to name the three best events that happened to them over the past week. The other half of the class receives a paper that asks them to list the three worst events that happened to them during the past week.

I ask my students to work on this activity quietly so they do not accidentally ruin the secret. After making their lists, my students are asked to rate how their week was overall on a scale of 1-10.

We then regroup and I share the secret that half the class received one set of papers, while the other half received a different set.

Hospital Stonewalls After Woman with Schizophrenia’s Accident

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Hospital Stonewalls After Woman with Schizophrenias AccidentFamily members with schizophrenia, one of the more frustrating mental illnesses to treat, often face a bumpy treatment road filled with potholes and setbacks. Many people with schizophrenia believe there’s nothing wrong with them. Or the medications they take often have significant, negative side effects.

So even though schizophrenia can often be treated fairly effectively with medications and psychotherapy, it often is not because medication compliance becomes a significant ongoing issue.

This results in many people with schizophrenia going in and out of inpatient care. Because inpatient psychiatric care is virtually non-existent in most states any longer, this means a primary treatment point for people with chronic, serious mental illness defaults to the local hospital emergency room (ER).

While most ERs are setup to handle people with a serious mental illness fairly well, ERs aren’t exactly known for their warm-fuzzy, emotionally-supportive environments. So people slip through the cracks.

In this case, the woman with schizophrenia who slipped through one hospital ER’s cracks was Cindy Ciarafoni, a mother of two, who died when she apparently wandered out of the ER and tried crossing a busy highway. She was struck by a car and later died from her injuries. Now her family wants to know what happened, but the hospital is being tight-lipped.

Are You Thin or Thick Skinned? Knowing Your Emotional Type

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Are You Thin or Thick Skinned? Knowing Your Emotional TypeI am often told that I should grow a thicker skin. I’m too sensitive. I let things get to me too much. Most people who struggle with depression are the same. We are more transparent and therefore absorb more into the gray matter of our brain than our thicker-skinned counterpoints.

In his book, Your Emotional Type, Michael A. Jawer and Marc S. Micozzi, Ph.D. examine the interplay of emotions, chronic illness and pain, and treatment success. They discuss how chronic conditions are intrinsically linked to certain emotional types.

I found the boundary concept they explain in the book — first developed by Ernest Hartmann, MD, of Tufts University — especially intriguing.

9 Common Myths about Clearing Clutter

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Packing-boxesOne of my key realizations about happiness, and a point oddly under-emphasized by positive psychologists, given its emphasis in popular culture, is that Outer order contributes to inner calm. More than it should.

After all, in the context of a happy life, a messy desk or house is a trivial problem — yet I’ve found, and other people tell me they feel the same way, that getting control of the stuff of life makes me feel more in control of my life generally. (Even if this is an illusion, it’s a helpful illusion.)

But as much as most of us want to keep our home, office, car, etc. in reasonable order, it’s tough.

Here are some myths of de-cluttering that make it harder than it needs to be.

Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: An Interview With Tamar Chansky, PhD

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: An Interview With Tamar Chansky, Ph.D.Anxiety.

Do we know anyone without it?

I mean, yes, some people don’t admit to having it. But it is assumed these days that if you have a pulse, you have anxiety.

One of my best teachers on this topic is Tamar Chansky, a clinical psychologist and one of the nation’s leading experts on anxiety disorders. She is the acclaimed author of several books, including Freeing Your Child from Anxiety, and the founder and director of the Children’s and Adult Center for OCD and Anxiety.

I am a huge fan of her work. I think I was introduced to it by my therapist, when I was terrified that my son would end up with a brain like mine. And then, through blogging, I came to know Dr. Chansky on a personal level, and she has impressed me even more so, because she communicates in a language I can understand! It’s great!

Her first few books were geared toward children’s anxiety and negative thoughts, but the same wisdom she offers for kids works for adults too. In fact, I have always applied her kids’ advice to me.

“I LOVE ME!”: A Q&A About Narcissism

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

How does someone become a narcissist, or are they born that way?

It depends, children, especially newborns, demand constant attention but that is a process of survival. Eventually, as they mature, they should learn that they are not the only ones on earth with valid needs. That is where patience, consideration, and other valuable social traits are developed.

In my personal opinion, I see two options a person can take. When there are parents who are extreme narcissists, they will tend to be inattentive to the emotional needs of their child. Those needs might get ignored, ridiculed, shamed, or attacked. In the end the child is hungry for love and attention. Having a love deficit may cause a child to do one of two things:

1) Become an actor in order to get the admiration and attention the child needs. The parents are not safe. They disdain showing neediness and pain. The parents live for appearances. The child is emotionally bleeding and trying to survive because of experiencing emotional neglect. As a result, the child cannot find safety in parents and thus starts to hide to survive. The child experiments with playing false impersonations. They soon find that they can manipulate their parents and others by acting. With this foundation, they embark on the path of wearing all kinds of disguises and masks in order to get anything they want, especially from persons who have love-hunger and seek to please to get it. They become incredibly selfish, unfeeling, and expert manipulators.

5 Strategies to Soothe Stress

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

5 Strategies to Soothe Stress Stress affects everyone in varying degrees. And what’s stressful to me — paying the bills, writing a great article, organizing and cleaning the house, having a mile-long to-do list — may not be stressful to you.

But regardless of what ruffles you, it helps to have many stress-relieving options on hand to either stave off stress or minimize it when you feel the tinges of overwhelm.

To get the scoop on ways to deal with stress, we spoke with Dr. Darlene Mininni, Ph.D, the author of The Emotional Toolkit and a contributor to Dr. Drew’s TV show Lifechangers. Here, she shares a list of quick and even unexpected strategies that can help.

Following these tips you’ll also find additional pieces on minimizing stress.

Soldiers: The War Within

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Soldiers: The War Within“Guilt is a part of the battlefield that often goes unrecognized,” writes Nancy Sherman, a professor at Georgetown University, in her book The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds and Souls of Our Soldiers. But along with profound guilt comes a variety of emotions and moral issues that tug at soldiers, creating an inner war.

Sherman, who also served as the Inaugural Distinguished Chair in Ethics at the Naval Academy, delves into the emotional toll war takes on soldiers. Her book is based on her interviews with 40 soldiers. Most of the soldiers fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, while some fought in Vietnam and the World Wars.

She poignantly looks at their stories from the lens of philosophy and psychoanalysis, using these frameworks to better understand and analyze their words.

Therapy Animals: Companions or Consumption?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Therapy Animals: Companions or Consumption?This guest article from YourTango was written by Faith Deeter

On November 18, 2011, it became legal to slaughter American horses for human consumption in the United States. What?! Americans don’t eat horses. We ride them, groom them, love them, use them in therapy, and make movies about them. Imagine sitting through two hours of War Horse, only to watch “Joey” get slaughtered after his brave and heroic service. Unthinkable? Think again.

During a closed-door-session, a few members of Congress slipped language into an appropriations spending bill which reversed a five-year ban on horsemeat inspections. With the pressure of a government shutdown looming, and despite his 2008 campaign promise to ban horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughtering, President Obama signed it. There was no media coverage until ten days later.

How could this happen?

Best of Our Blogs: January 20, 2012

Friday, January 20th, 2012

It’s dark and gloomy outside. But I know that the weather, like the colors of a rainbow, is just one layer affecting the spectrum of my moods. I know that what I’m feeling on the inside about myself can take precedence over what others think of me. And I know that the situation I’m in matters less than my perspective of it. I’m aware that it’s not always what I’m going through, for good events (getting married) can be as stressful as bad ones (losing a job). And mini moments (hearing the sound of birds) can be as life changing as grand ones (watching the birth of a baby). On most days, I’m conscious of these things.

I know this because I once was stuck in traffic and surprised by a surge of gratitude. I know this because being witness to a falling star seemed as beautiful to me as climbing a mountaintop. I’ve seen this time and time again when I realized that my external life was showing me through relationships, events, etc. what was really going on inside my mind. And I’ve been amazed by how a mere moment can change everything.

Our posts this week beautifully capture this. You’ll read about how being emotionally sensitive and experiencing stress, and how anxiety, ADHD and significant moments of mindfulness can impact your perception on life. It’s a great way to end the week, whether you’ve got a stunning sunny view out your window or a cloudy one like mine.

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