Brain and Behavior Articles

How to Know if You’re Truly Resilient

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

How to Know if You're Truly ResilientIf there’s a word people in the top ranks of human capital are buzzing about these days, it’s resilience. I get asked all the time what it means — followed by questions about how to get more of it.

I’ve done lots (and lots) of reading and thinking and speaking about resilience. I’ve watched it in action, experienced it myself, and heard more than one person oversimplify it (“The ability to bounce back,” for instance), while hearing others attempt to explain it biologically and psychologically (and go on far too long).

The fact is, resilience in a person is far more than a tough-as-Teflon surface or rubbery resolve that helps you rebound from stress or disappointment.

Yet Again: A Blood Test for Depression? I’m Not Holding My Breath

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Yet Again: A Blood Test for Depression? I'm Not Holding My BreathThe news articles are breathless. “Objective Blood Test Can Diagnose Depression,” “Blood Test Flags Depression, Predicts Treatment Response,” and “There’s A Blood Test That Can Diagnose Depression!”

Wow! That’s just darned amazing. You mean we can draw blood from a patient (in a lab, which is usually some place separate you have to go to than the doctor’s office for many in America), send it off for processing, and two weeks later, get a result to see if the person has depression?

Or, you can take an objective, scientific screening quiz — like this one — in about a minute or two and have an instant result. Which is more amazing again??

Deja vu is setting in… like we’ve covered this topic before. And, in fact, we have. Not just once, but more that a few times.

Managing Anger

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Managing AngerRegulating emotions is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and others in your environment.

Emotional regulation is really about the ability to bring yourself back on even keel, to calm yourself down when you are distressed, to lift yourself up when you are feeling dejected, and to help yourself feel better. It is about being able to restrain yourself from destructive actions and point yourself in the direction of constructing, value-creating actions.

Emotions provide us with information, and by acknowledging them and redirecting them as needed, we become less a victim of our thoughts and feelings and more of a responsible steward of them.

Stigma and Publicity

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Stigma and Publicity#DoubtfireFace Challenge for Suicide Prevention? Never heard of it.

The ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” is undoubtedly one of the most successful and engaging fundraising efforts in recent history. The challenge, which involved posting a video of yourself getting doused by a bucket of ice water, quickly gained popularity and became a social phenomenon. Teens, adults, celebrities, and politicians (including former President George W. Bush) all took part in the challenge, with their videos gaining tens of millions of views.

Suggestions for Parents with Children in Therapy

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Suggestions for Parents with Children in TherapyI greet you in the waiting room, and ask if you need to let me know anything before I bring your child back to my office.

You usually say “no,” and likely wonder what is going on behind that therapy wall for the next 50 minutes.

Yes, parent of my patient, it is my job to keep you involved while still maintaining your child’s confidentiality. Achieving that balance often requires me to offer you general suggestions on the basis of my experience and research as opposed to explaining to you what your child has revealed in therapy.

Quieting the Voice of the Devil on Your Shoulder

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Quieting the Voice of the Devil on Your ShoulderI often equate having schizophrenia to having a little devil on my shoulder that likes to whisper nasty stuff in my ear.

He’s a cunning little jerk, too. If he senses a vulnerability or the potential for anxiety he’ll start screaming.

In the eight years I’ve lived with the illness I’ve come to recognize these triggers and do a pretty good job of avoiding them. You can’t do it forever, though, and eventually the devil is gonna start screaming again.

Psychology Around the Net: September 20, 2014

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

overcome-test-anxiety

Blood tests for depression, happiness in the workplace, and tricking your brain to be more productive — it’s all in this week’s Psychology Around the Net.

Study Diagnoses Med Test Anxiety: Tend to “freak out” when it’s time to take a test? This recent Yale study suggests a possible treatment for what’s known as “test anxiety.”

Key Brain Connection Slow to Develop In Kids With ADHD: Recent studies show that, in children with ADHD, the growth and connections within and between key brain networks lags behind those of children of the same age without ADHD.

How to Let Go of Guilt and Regret and Forgive Yourself: Try these five ways to forgive yourself, despite the guilt and regret you might initially be feeling.

Movie Music and Theory of Mind

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Flickr Creative Commons / anyjazz65Movie music can have a huge impact on our perception of a film. Ever since the days of “silent” movies, filmmakers have recognized that music enhances the movie-going experience.

The earliest movies were shown in halls with live accompanists playing pianos and organs. Some films were even accompanied with full live orchestras. Why would movie companies go to such expense, if not to make viewers enjoy the film more?

Helping Children Avoid Depression

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Helping Children Avoid DepressionToday’s children are at a higher risk for depression than any previous generation. Almost one in 10 children will experience a major depressive episode by the time they are 14 years old, and almost one in five will experience a major depressive episode before graduating from high school. The good news is, there is apparently something that parents and educators can do to decrease the likelihood that children will succumb to this statistic.

Know What Makes You Happy? 3 Tips to Help You Achieve It!

Monday, September 15th, 2014

finding-happiness-cartwheel

You already know what to do to increase your happiness. Now get unstuck and do it!

You know a zillion things you could do to feel better, to increase your happiness and to get more of what you want, and yet you don’t do them.

You want to lose weight but you don’t change what you’re eating. You want to be creative, but you zombie out in front of a computer screen instead. You want a deeper and more fulfilling relationship with your partner, but you avoid talking about what you’re feeling.

How to Love Yourself

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

How to Love YourselfI have a confession to make. I have a reminder on my phone that goes off every morning at 8 o’clock that says simply, “You’re awesome.” This might sound dumb but you’d be surprised how often I forget that fact.

This is just one tool in my arsenal of tricks that I use to combat the depression and paranoia that come with a mental illness.

I’ve been in some pretty dark places and I’ve thought many times about putting an end to things when I’m having a hard time, but then, every day at 8 a.m. my phone vibrates and I’m reminded that I’m awesome.

Low Serotonin Levels Don’t Cause Depression

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Low Serotonin Levels Don't Cause DepressionOne of the leading myths that unfortunately still circulates about clinical depression is that it’s caused by low serotonin levels in the brain (or a “biochemical imbalance”). This is a myth because countless scientific studies have specifically examined this theory and have come back universally rejecting it.

So let’s put it to rest once and for all — low levels of serotonin in the brain don’t cause depression.

Let’s find out why.

Recent Comments
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  • Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFT: Monk, Pretty amazing what silence can do, huh? Thanks for sharing.
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