Addiction

Are You Sabotaging Your Brain?

It does not take much to rob your brain of its essential vitality. Dr. Daniel Amen, a renowned psychiatrist, has spent his entire career trying to understand the ways we can preserve or sabotage our brain health.

In his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, Amen explores the root of these essential brain robbers. The good news is that because the brain is highly plastic, any good habit that forms over time can replace short-term damage.

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Brain and Behavior

A Painful Appreciation

Give thanks for the soul-crushing anxiety. Say amen when the sinking depression floors you. Raise your glass for repetitive negative thoughts.

“What?” you screech. “My mind teases me, toying with my emotions for sheer pleasure. And you -- you of all people -- are saluting my mental brain tricks. Are you happy when my mind twists me into a human pretzel?”

Hardly. I do not take perverse pleasure in another person’s suffering. But as your taunting mind ridicules you, let’s express gratitude. Before spewing invective in a berating email, hear me out.
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Anxiety and Panic

Calling All Perfectionists

In my obsession with perfection, I forgot a valuable life lesson: pretty good can be perfection too.

Adventurous and fun-loving and driven and studious, I have sought it all. The dreamy vacation, the fulfilling career, the steamy romance. But the mind has always craved more.

Growing up, I would spend hours poring over an essay. I rehearsed clever rejoinders before dates. I would analyze events from 2002. I am laughing and cringing at these memories.

I was comfortable in my skin as long as I met my own exacting standards.
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Brain and Behavior

Could There Be One Cure for All Mental Illness?


"One treatment to cure them all, one technique to find them, one network to bring them all and in the heterogeneity bind them."

Imagine: A cure all for ALL mental illnesses... sounds illogical, perhaps impossible, something straight out of fantasy, no? Well, at the SharpBrains Virtual Summit, Monitoring & Enhancing Brain Health in the Pervasive Neuroscience Era, where presenting cutting-edge innovative research was the norm, I was lucky to be witness to a truly tantalizing talk by psychologist Dr. Madeleine Goodkind that will likely change your perspective.

The current problem with finding a treatment that works for everyone is that each person’s presentation of mental illnesses is different, no one’s full set of symptoms and experiences are the same. And neither are their responses to treatment.
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Books

Psychology Around the Net: May 21, 2016


They're at the tailend of the U.K.'s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) across the pond!

Similar to October's Mental Illness Awareness Week here in the U.S., the U.K.'s MHAW, supported by the Mental Health Foundation, is all about educating people about mental health and helping people learn the importance of taking care of their mental health.

Thus, you'll see some U.K.-related information in this week's post, including news about the royal's latest mental health campaign and new information about psychedelics and depression. Also catch up on the latest about relationships and mental health, strategies for better sleep, and the importance of doing things by yourself.

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Aging

Going Back to School Later in Life

This past September my mother, at age 70-something, returned to graduate school after a 40-year career in interior design.

Going back to school brought great joy to her life. She loved learning and being part of a collegiate community with its accompanying youthful energy and enthusiasm. But she also experienced high anxiety about grades, keeping up with the workload, reading small print with her failing eyesight, and getting to class in bad weather.

When I went back to school at age 39, I also remember feeling both excitement and fear. My mind raced with questions: will I be able to study and do well while maintaining my family responsibilities? Will I be the oldest in my class? Will I still have the focus to study after all these years? Will the classes be interesting? Is it worth the money that school costs? Will it lead to a better life? I had many hopes and dreams but also the fear of failure, dread of embarrassment, and anxiety about all the unknowns.

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Anger

How to Manage Overwhelming Feelings

How many times a day do you mutter the “F" word? During stressful situations, maybe during your commute, or following a heated argument with a loved one, the four-letter word slips out. It strikes an emotional nerve, paralyzing you and antagonizing family and friends.

Feel. What “F” word did you think I was referencing?

Are you a feeler? Do pangs of guilt and bursts of excitement define your day? I know your pain. As a self-admitted sensitive soul, my feelings rise and ebb like a cresting wave.
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Brain and Behavior

10 Flimsiest Excuses for Not Taking Action

When a decision needs to be made and work must be done, instead of springing into action and doing what’s necessary, too often the temptation is to offer an excuse. More often than not, the excuse is a lame one, such as the following:

I don’t know how.
Did it ever occur to you that you might have been given this task or project as a way to expand your skills, gain new insights, or expand your abilities? Don't push it aside because you are unfamiliar with it or lack experience in doing it. Doing so makes you look weak, ineffective and possibly lazy. Ask for help if you need it. That’s a more proactive approach when you need to take action.
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Aging

How Failure Breeds Success

Our weaknesses are the source of our strengths; our failures are the roots of our successes.

This is not another motivational cliché, this is a fact of history and science. Evolutionary theorists long ago concluded that the power of the human species lay in its weaknesses. Aware of their bodies' fragility compared to that of other animals, human beings had to compensate for their powerlessness in order to survive. Individuals were too weak to hunt by themselves, so they collaborated and hunted in groups. Collective activity emerged, communication evolved, tools were built, and the human species ruled all others.

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Anxiety and Panic

A Husband’s Guide to Understanding Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Approximately 20 percent of all postpartum women experience a perinatal mood disorder such as postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety. These are medical conditions which can be successfully treated. Knowing the risk factors and understanding the signs and symptoms are important for a spouse in order to get his wife the appropriate care and help.

Any new mom can develop a perinatal mood disorder; however, there are some risk factors to be aware of:

Personal or family history of depression or anxiety
History of severe PMS or PMDD
Chronic pain or illness
Fertility treatments
Miscarriage
Traumatic or stressful pregnancy or birthing experience
Abrupt discontinuation of breastfeeding
Substance abuse

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Brain and Behavior

Surviving the Traffic Jams of Life

The shrill horn startles you. “Hey, jerk, pay attention,” a flat-chested trucker shrieks at you. Waving in his direction, you respond with your own blue streak. Sadly, your vulgar mouth moves faster than the gnarled traffic. The 7 a.m. commute is a fitting metaphor. Stuck in an unfulfilling job and crumbling relationship, a catnap is a futile reprieve from your sinking life.

In the U.S., we face snarling traffic, time-sucking commutes, and soul-sucking jobs. In 2015, Los Angeles commuters wasted 81 hours rotting in traffic. Even in cities regarded for their quality of life (I am looking at you Denver, Seattle, and Minneapolis), choking traffic is the norm.

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