PTSD Articles

Top 10 Mental Health Apps

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
Top 10 Mental Health Apps

With so many apps on the market, it’s hard to know which are useful.

Many are designed by software developers instead of psychologists, without scientific testing. They range from beneficial, to harmless but useless, to bordering on fraudulent.

The apps selected for this list make no hucksterish claims and are based on established treatments. Progressive Muscle Relaxation, for example, has been used for a century and is likely just as effective in this new medium. Knowledge from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy enrich two apps on this list. Others mix solid information with ingenuity.

Understanding the Alarming Rate of Suicide Among Soldiers

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Understanding the Alarming Rate of Suicide Among SoldiersA report released by the Pentagon earlier this year revealed a disturbing statistic:  A soldier is more likely to die from suicide than war injuries.

Among active troops, suicide rates increased 18 percent from last year.  Rates among veterans were also at distressing levels, with a veteran dying by suicide every 80 minutes, according to an estimate from the Department of Veterans Affairs and reported in this month’s Monitor on Psychology.

When faced with a problem of these proportions, it is vital to understand what factors increase the likelihood of suicide and which interventions are the most effective.

In response, the Army has prepared training for soldiers and families — to help them recognize signs of suicidal behavior, and to inform them of interventions and ways to access support. And this past August, President Obama signed an executive order that strengthened suicide prevention efforts for service members and veterans.

Can We Learn from the Boy Scouts’ Perversion Files?

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Can We Learn from the Boy Scouts Perversion Files?Last week the Boy Scouts of America released their records detailing the history of sex abuse in the group.  They titled these files the “perversion files.”  The purpose of the files, kept since at least 1919, was to keep a record of pedophiles to ensure they did not re-enter the organization.

However, they show that some abusers slipped through the cracks, others were given a second chance and include evidence of some failures to take proper steps to report suspected abuse to authorities.

The Boy Scouts have issued an acknowledgement that in some incidents their response was “insufficient, inappropriate and wrong” and have apologized for their mishandling of certain situations.

And let’s not forget that generations of boys have had healthy, positive, life-affirming experiences with the Boy Scouts.  This current report, which involves a small fraction of the millions of volunteers over the years, should not discount the positive aspects of the organization, the skills it has taught and positive values it has instilled in many boys

At the same time, are there lessons to be learned from the report?

Depression? There’s an App for That

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Depression? There's an App for ThatJane McGonigal is a world-renowned game developer. She’s dedicated her career to the creation of intricate imaginary worlds and fiercely promotes the power of play. McGonigal encourages daily gaming. She believes that a quick dose of Angry Birds or hours spent plowing the virtual fields of FarmVille is not only relaxing but is actually beneficial to your health.

So beneficial, in fact, that gaming may add up to 10 years to your life.

In her groundbreaking TED Talk, McGonigal presents the research behind her theory.

A Guilt Out of Ignorance

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

A Guilt Out of Ignorance“Just shut up, you epileptic man. You are the cause for my father’s suffering and poverty. In fact, you are the cause for all of us to suffer. You just need to die and leave us in peace. You’re suffering us. Look at me, I can’t even play football with my friends because they think I will give them epilepsy. You are a curse.”

This is my own voice almost eighteen years ago. In 1994, I subjected my late epileptic uncle to inhuman treatment and suffering.

Nearly two decades later, this voice continues to reverberate in my mind and ears. It haunts me like a ghost since I last attended a workshop on mental health and mental illness conducted by the Carter Center and the Ministry of Health & Social Wealth in Monrovia, Liberia.

Epilepsy, I learned, is not a mental illness. However, it is included and discussed as such because it is a brain sickness.

I was born to see my late uncle suffer from epilepsy. Matter of fact, the illness treated him very badly — so badly that I hated him for it.

I meted out the most severe treatment against him because of his condition. Among other things, I ‘drowned’ his head in a calabash of unfiltered water; I even publicly humiliated him. Evidently, whenever I chained him besides a fire or ‘drowned’ him in the water, he became violent. This violent response I understood as a lesson for him to steer clear of me and a motivation within him to want to die earlier to end his suffering at my hands.

Diagnosis Day, Part One: A Lesson in Gratitude

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Diagnosis Day, Part One:  A Lesson in GratitudeNo one wants to be told he or she has cancer.  The initial lack of control and feelings of helplessness are often traumatic experiences. The usual reactions are anger, depression and terror-laced anxiety.

While survival rates for many cancers have improved, there are quality of life issues following the diagnosis, including the emotional difficulty of coping with the anniversary date.  Survival rates are measured in 1-, 5- and 10-year markers.  This often creates an emotional conflict as the diagnosis date approaches.  Each year provides a measure both of success and trepidation.  Diagnosis day is when the war on cancer begins in your body.  It is sometimes shortened to military lingo for the day an attack or operation is launched: D-Day.

As with most traumas, people can tell you the vivid details of their diagnosis. They remember the time, what was said, what they did, and what they felt.  D-day is etched in their psyche, and as the anniversary date approaches, so does the anxiety.

But one woman, Jen Cunningham Butler, has done something different. In honor of breast cancer awareness month I wanted to tell you her story.

Joining the Army? You’re More Likely to Die by Suicide than Combat

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Joining the Army? You're More Likely to Die by Suicide than CombatIn a sad commentary about the state of affairs of a modern army, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on Wednesday that there are “still huge gaps” in the way mental disorders are diagnosed within the military.

With over 150 active military suicides so far in 2012, if you’re in the U.S. military, you’re more likely to have died by your own hand than you were to have died in combat.

This, then, is apparently not a good time to be in the military.

Farah Mohamed, writing for McClatchy Newspapers, has the story.

Your Government TSA: Traumatizing 4 Year Olds in Kansas

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Your Government TSA: Traumatizing 4 Year Olds in KansasThe U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) defended the actions of its agents yesterday, saying they were only following procedure when they insisted on doing a patdown on a traumatized 4-year old girl. I hope the family finds a way to sue the TSA for all of the psychological counseling this little girl is going to need in the future.

The girl, Isabella Brademeyer, had already successfully passed through the security checkpoint at the Wichita, Kansas airport. But then she went over to hug her grandmother — her grandmother — who was still being processed by the TSA. The TSA pulled the grandmother, Lori Croft, out for a pat-down because she apparently set off the metal detector.

But c’mon… the little girl? She’s 4. She didn’t know any better.

That set off a flurry of activity among the TSA agents, who then insisted that the 4-year old also needed to undergo a patdown. Again… because she hugged her grandmother.

Mindfulness and the Military: Does Self-Acceptance Help Veterans?

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Mindfulness and the Military: Does Self-Acceptance Help Veterans?“The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.” 
~Thich Nhat Hanh

 “You have to make the mind run the body.”
~General George S. Patton Jr.

A recently published article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology by Kearney, McDermott, Malte, Martinez, and Simpson (2012) may have broad implications for veterans suffering with symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

These researchers demonstrated that engagement in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) showed significant improvements after six months in reducing soldiers’ symptoms of PTSD, depression, behavioral activation (the ability to engage in activities to achieve a goal in spite of aversive symptoms), and self-acceptance. 

Interview with EMDR Creator Francine Shapiro

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Interview with EMDR Creator Francine ShapiroEMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) helps clients process traumatic experiences and get past their past.

This month we had the pleasure of speaking to EDMR creator Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., whose book, Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy, was recently published.

In our interview, Shapiro shares more about the book along with how she discovered EMDR, how it works and the research that supports it.

Click through to read an excerpt from the interview.

The Mental Health Hope Symposium: Do Not Cut Mental Health Care

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

The Mental Health Hope Symposium: Do Not Cut Mental Health CareConsider these alarming statistics:

* By 2020, behavioral health disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide.

* Of the more than 6 million people served by state mental health authorities across the nation, only 21 percent are employed.

* More than half of adolescents in the United States who fail to complete high school have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.

* Between 2009 and 2011 states cumulatively cut more than $1.8 billion from their budgets for services for children and adults living with mental illness.

* In 2009, there were an estimated 45.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with any mental illness in the past year. This represents 19.9 percent of all adults in the U.S.

*Serious mental illnesses cost society $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.

* The annual total estimated societal cost of substance abuse in the U.S. is $510 billion.

* In 2008, an estimated 9.8 million adults aged 18 and older in the U.S. has a serious mental illness.

With our economy still in the toilet, states and federal government threaten to cut even more dollars in mental health funding, which would result in less or no access to mental health treatment and services for countless Americans. Ultimately the cuts steal the one thing that keeps those of us struggling with chronic mood disorders alive: hope.

Research Update: Childhood PTSD, Perinatal Depression, Anxiety Symptoms

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Research Update: Childhood PTSD, Perinatal Depression, Anxiety SymptomsMeta-analysis is a scientific term that refers to a structured review of a particular topic in the research literature. Meta-analyses look at a bunch of research studies that have been previously published, combine all their data (or look at all of their data in a systematic fashion), and come to some broad, general conclusions from the analysis.

Meta-analyses are helpful to researchers, clinicians and laypeople alike, because they help distill the entire research literature on a specific topic into an easily digested summary.

In this research update, we look at cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for childhood posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), effective treatments for depression in a mother surrounding the birth of her child, and a look at anxiety symptom prevention with cognitive-behavioral interventions.

Recent Comments
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