Anxiety and Panic

4 Ways to Face Your Fears and Overcome Phobias

We all have them -- fears, phobias, anxieties that shorten our breath, quicken our heartbeats, and sometimes can outright disable us. Some of us shut our eyes and hold our breath as we ride the elevator to the tenth floor of an office building, while others pray the Rosary inside that coffin-like enclosure when getting an MRI.

I am afraid of heights -- in particularly driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
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Brain and Behavior

Psychology Around the Net: December 10, 2016


My neck of the woods had its first snow yesterday! It wasn't anything major -- just some steady flurries, really -- but it lasted several hours and made me happy. I love the first snow of the season; it's just...magical to me. It always puts me in a good mood.

According to the forecast, it won't snow any this weekend, but at least I got to enjoy it yesterday.

Anyway, off to this week's mental health news! Get ready for how the 21st Century Cures Act will affect mental health care, a list of essential habits to help boost your everyday life, how training teachers in mental health could help students, and more.

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Antidepressant

Could an Antidepressant Prevent Depression After Traumatic Brain Injury?


The prevalence and functional effects of depressive disorder following traumatic brain injury are significant. Now, sertraline may be effective for preventing depressive symptoms after TBI.

A group of researchers at Baylor College of Medicine evaluated 94 patients aged 18 to 85 years who had been hospitalized for mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Most of the patients (n=92) were Caucasian and more than half (n=56) were male. The research team randomized the patients to receive either 100 mg daily of sertraline (48 patients) or placebo (46 patients) for 24 weeks or until symptoms of a mood disorder occurred.

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Anger

The Role of Make Believe Play in Adult Life

“You cannot change the past, but you can change how you feel about the past.”

We often hear how important it is for children to use their imaginations. But did you know adults can strategically use imagination and make believe play to manage their emotions and feel better? In fact the use of fantasy is one way trauma therapists heal psychological wounds.

Amazing scientific fact: The brain cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality.
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Brainfood

You are what you eat?

Maybe so.

In the everlasting quest for mind health, there is a growling connection to body health. Body health entails more than feverishly pumping weights at your local gym; it means consuming heart-healthy and, more importantly, mind-healthy foods.

“Mind-healthy foods? What are those?” you ask.
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Brain and Behavior

Recognizing & Adjusting Co-Dependent Behaviors

Simply stated, co-dependency describes a dynamic in which one person enables and supports another person’s dysfunctional behavior or poor emotional health like alcohol or substance abuse, immaturity, irresponsibility, and under-achievement.

It’s important to acknowledge that having dependency needs is healthy and normal. In mature and healthy relationships, people are able to comfortably rely on one another for support, understanding, and help while–at the same time–retaining a sense of independence and autonomy. This dynamic is reciprocated, not just one-sided. Healthy dynamics between people fosters independence, resourcefulness, and resiliency, while co-dependent dynamics stifle and limit growth.
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Brain and Behavior

Facebook’s Flimsy Denial of Fake News & Its Impact

Facebook paints a very dichotomous, contradictory picture of itself. On one side, they claim to be the world's largest social network, impacting the lives of over a billion people each month. On the other side, CEO Mark Zuckerberg -- apparently not using his own social network or perhaps living under a rock this past year? -- claims that Facebook has virtually no influence on national elections.

The disconnect is important, because it shows that Facebook doesn't appear to take a leadership position of responsibility for unleashing and reinforcing the technology that has become a part of billions of people's lives everyday. Is fake news an actual problem on Facebook, and if so, what can be done about it?

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Brain and Behavior

Fake News: Facebook Helps You Feel Well-Informed, Regardless of Actual Reading

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook faces the spotlight for spreading fake news stories. There are now hundreds (perhaps thousands) of fake news web sites -- sites that publish news articles that look and seem to be real, but are complete fiction. Unlike older, well-known satirical websites, such as The Onion, many of these sites don't indicate their fakeness.

But even if Facebook is helping spread fake news more than any other service ever, it begs the question -- do people even read the news stories that appear in their Facebook feed? Let's turn to the science...

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Brain and Behavior

How Immune Systems Can Influence Social Behavior


The immune system is our main defense mechanism against disease. Dysfunctions in the immune system are therefore associated with a myriad of complications, including several neurological and mental disorders.

Yet, for a long time the brain and the immune system were considered to be isolated from each other -- it was believed that the brain was not supplied by the lymphatic system (which carries white blood cells and other immune cells through a network of vessels and tissues) because no evidence of lymphatic supply to the brain had ever been found.
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Brain and Behavior

Pillow Talk: You Need More Sleep

“You can sleep when you are dead,” a friend chides.

Offering an awkward chuckle, I was too tired to supply a witty response. In America, we stifle our collective yawn to meet the next pressing deadline. But there is a more important deadline than the latest accounting project: our (sleep) health. For a painful few, sleep is an elusive dream.

In American society, we sacrifice sleep for employment or academic obligations. In competitive academic programs, we brag about the number of all-nighters we pull. Time has chronicled the sleep fatigue of first-year residents and its damning effect on patients.
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