Brain and Behavior

4 Steps to Stop Seeking Approval from Others

Humans share an innate drive to connect with others. We’re evolutionarily wired to crave inclusion. Eons ago, this was linked with our survival; in prehistoric times, rejection triggered fear. If someone became isolated or was ousted from the group, his or her life would be at risk.

Because the consequences of being rejected were so extreme, our brains and behavior adapted to avoid disapproval from others. In fact, research has shown that social rejection activates many of the same brain regions involved in physical pain, which helps explains why disapproval stings.
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Anxiety and Panic

4 Strategies for Helping Your Child Cope with Anxiety

Unlike aggression, impulsivity or hyperactivity, anxiety often goes under the radar in kids, said Elizabeth Penela, Ph.D, a psychologist who specializes in treating anxiety in kids. It might be because anxiety typically manifests as somatic symptoms. For instance, kids might have headaches, muscle tension and a queasy stomach, she said.

They can feel anxious about all sorts of things -- from doing well on a test to what their peers will think of them. They also might worry about everyday issues, such as: “Is Mom going to be late to pick me up? Does our car have enough gas? Will I have enough time to clean my room and do homework?”
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Succeeding in College When You Have ADHD

Navigating the first year of college is hard for anyone, but staying organized and productive is especially difficult for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). My impulsivity and lack of attention caused me to attend four different schools and declare three different majors.

Once I figured things out, though, I graduated with honors and secured gainful employment. Now I’m five classes away from earning a master’s degree.

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Anxiety and Panic

How Bad Is Your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)?

Have you ever wondered how bad your fear of missing out (FOMO) really is?

As a reminder, the fear of missing out is the psychological phenomenon where a person has extreme anxiety whenever they're doing something -- watching TV or a movie, eating dinner out, hanging out with friends -- that there may be something better they're not doing. It was brought on by the always-on access to social networks like Facebook, where a person is encouraged to constantly update their status.

And update we do! Our "news feeds" on Facebook and other social networks are full of what others in our life are doing. So is it any surprise that all of that apparent activity is causing some of us to be stressed out and anxious?

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Children and Teens

The Secret to Successful Family Relationships

Why do you usually talk to someone? You might assume that your discussions are mostly to exchange information. If you think about your dialogues more carefully, you will notice that almost all your talking really has an alternate goal: to create, develop, or nurture a connection.

For example, a father might ask his young daughter how she slept last night. He probably does not simply mean to inquire just how comfortable the bed was or about the temperature in the room. Dad’s real goal is to express his concern for his child. He asks for the facts about her sleeping in order to demonstrate his love and caring for his daughter.

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3 Steps for Tolerating the Pain of Painful Emotions

We can pretend our painful feelings don’t exist. We can ignore them. We can judge and resist them. And so many of us do, because we think that this will soften the blow. This will help us bypass the discomfort of our hurt, sorrow, agony, anger, anxiety. We assume the feelings will just go away (and they might, but only temporarily).

It might not even be a conscious, willful decision. Avoidance might be a habit we picked up throughout the years, and now feels like an old sweater. Comfortable. Reliable. Our go-to security blanket. When we’re cold, we automatically put it on.

But unaddressed pain persists.
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How to Rewire Your Brain for Happiness

We all want to be happy. It’s a desire almost as strong as our need to breathe. Some would rather not be alive than to be alive and miserable. Our instant gratification generation is obsessed with chasing happiness, like it’s some kind of achievement or ultimate goal in life.

With such high expectations for being happy, it’s natural to feel that we’ll get there only through monumental effort. It doesn’t...
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Responding to Humanitarian Crises

According to World Vision, more than 12 million are affected by the crisis in Syria. That is far more than those affected by Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, and the Indian Ocean tsunami combined.

Recent events remind us of a dark time in Europe when other refugees were denied haven and abandoned to fate. Once again, large numbers of people are targets of violence and trauma. After years of suffering, they have left their homes and everything they love and care for because life has become intolerable. They have endured a hellish journey to find safety. And then they have been greeted by faces and hearts of stone.

Thankfully, it seems that voices of compassion are prevailing and refugees are being allowed to proceed to refuge, as international law guarantees civilians fleeing war.

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Anxiety and Panic

Affirmations for Reducing Negativity

"Be the change you want to see in the world.” -- Mahatma Gandhi
Do you cringe a little when you hear affirmations? There’s nothing wrong with them, they just seem to be missing substance. You hear a cliche instead of something meaningful.

“You are much more than your opinions of yourself.” I know I’m definitely the kind of person who would roll my eyes at that statement, although I know it's true. It takes a little untangling...
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Is Your Therapist Helping You Enough?

Is your weekly appointment just a time to vent? What do you do when your therapy seems to be going nowhere?

Chances are you came to therapy because you wanted something you felt you couldn’t achieve on your own. You were unhappy or discouraged; maybe you felt hopeless about your career or relationship. You sought change. So you searched for a therapist, paid your hard-earned money, and started examining your life.
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The Biggest Threat to a Marriage

Someone asked me recently, “How do you know when you’re repressing a feeling or if you’re just letting it go because it’s not really important enough or necessary to bring up?”

I said, “See how you’re behaving later, in a few hours, a month or two, or longer.”

You may have heard of this kind of couple: Their relationship is fine, thinks one spouse -- until the other asks for a divorce, has an affair, or suddenly moves out. Typically, the surprise happens after a long period of silence by the grudge-holding partner who opted out of the relationship.

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Best of the Web

21 Mental Health Doctors & Therapists You Should Be Following on Twitter

There are a lot of fascinating therapists, psychologists, counselors and psychiatrists online today -- a far cry from what things looked like 20 years ago when Psych Central was founded. So we thought we'd spend some quality time culling Twitter for some of the more interesting folks whose Twitter feed is full of good conversation and information.

Below, in no particular order, you'll find what we consider to be some of the best mental health doctors and therapists you should be following on Twitter. We at Psych Central are proud to provide lots of great content, but realize that we can’t be the only source of information on the vast internet. Some you may recognize and already follow, while others will be brand new to you.

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