Brain and Behavior

The Healing Power of Awe

The mountains. The stars freckled across the sky. A fiery sunrise. A rich cup of coffee alongside a piece of flaky pie: These things are awesome.

Though I’ve seen a million sunsets and stared at the oceans for hours, I’m still moved by their wonder and mystery, touched by their beauty, and profoundly grateful that I can experience them again and again.

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Four Ways Spring Rejuvenates Us

Last week, New York was hit with a steady snowfall and blankets of white covered the ground. This winter has entrapped us time and time again. Stuck inside. Icy roads. Frigid temperatures. Plans cancelled. What do they say about March? That it comes in like a lion and out like a lamb?

As I type this, the weather is beginning to change, and I feel inklings of spring -- the start of something brand new, the season for beauty and rejuvenation.

So, how will spring’s gracious arrival benefit us?
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Children and Teens

The Importance of Involving Children in Household Chores

As much as we parents like to protect our babies, we are also responsible for preparing and teaching them about the various realities of life. The ability to cope with disappointments, accept the consequences of their actions, develop problem-solving skills, and become functioning, independent adults depends largely on our parenting choices.

Self-respect, responsibility, and accountability are not things that come naturally to toddlers and young kids. We must repeatedly teach them, show them, and help them to develop these traits and skills through our own actions as well as the expectations that we set for them.
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Good Nutrition is Important in Depression, but Often Overlooked

As anyone who has had depression can attest, your mood isn’t just created by circumstances. How you feel is the result of neurotransmitters sending information through your neurons by binding to receptors. Each neurotransmitter is made of amino acids that are either obtained through food or created by the body.

Deficiency in proper nutrients is one of the key ways a depressive episode can be caused or worsened by...
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

10 Nutritional Deficiencies that May Cause Depression

I’m not sure why more psychiatrists don’t first test for nutritional deficiencies before dispensing Zoloft or Prozac, and especially antipsychotics like Seroquel and Zyprexa. The good ones will send you to get lab work done before upping your meds or adjusting anything. Sometimes we do need antidepressants. But other times we need spinach -- think of Popeye.

In addition to seeing a psychiatrist regularly, I now work with an integrative health physician who tests my nutrition levels every year. If you haven’t ever tested your nutrition levels, you might inquire with either your psychiatrist or primary care physician.
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Brain and Behavior

Infestation Anxiety: The Enemy Within

As Ebola fears wane, don’t be fooled. The next great threat is always upon us.

There is a little-known psychological disorder called "Ekbom syndrome" in which a person believes that insects are crawling underneath their skin. Patients often tear their skin off in an attempt to extract the invisible vermin.

Even though it’s a rare disorder affecting about 100,000 Americans, somehow we can all relate to the maddening anxiety of those afflicted. There is something universally cringe-worthy about the experience of infestation.
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5 Mindful Ways to Protect Against Depression

Cultivating a life of happiness is much the same as cultivating a garden. They both come with pests, and we can choose how we want to treat the pests. Using the example of a vegetable garden, we treat the vegetables and the soil to protect from pests that may interfere with growth and cause damage.

One choice is to spray pesticides. But pesticides also get into the soil, destroying needed nutrients and minerals, and ultimately affect the vegetables' taste and quality.

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Brain and Behavior

The Surprising Facts about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

A cup of hot chocolate. A funny movie. A snowball fight. These are all things that can cure the winter blues. It’s easy to feel gloomy or un-energetic on dark and windy winter days. But it’s often equally as easy to pick yourself with a little physical exercise or a happy movie.

But what if the things that normally make you feel better don’t help?

If you find yourself feeling unhappy for days at a time or losing interest in the activities you once took pleasure in, you may be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

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Moods & Seasons

Football. School supplies. Changing leaves. Cooling temperatures. These are a few of the things I love about fall. I also tend to feel calmer and more relaxed when autumn rolls around. Summer feels so brash, intense and bright. Fall somehow feels softer. Perhaps it’s because of the change in light.

New research led by Alison Jing Xu from the University of Toronto-Scarborough shows just how sensitive we are to bright light. In a brighter space, people in the experiment felt warmer, wanted spicier food, found others more aggressive, and even had a stronger reaction to words.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Foods to Improve Your Mood

Scientists are beginning to recognize the link between diet, levels of inflammation in the body, and mood.

It is a commonly held belief that your gut is in fact your "second brain." In fact, more serotonin (the "feel-good" neurotransmitter) is produced in the gut than in the brain. Eating anti-inflammatory nutrients on a regular basis can help you lower your stress levels, feel calmer, and maintain energy from the inside out. Processed foods, on the other hand, do the exact opposite.
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Green and Environment

Ease Stress and Improve Mental Health with Group Nature Walks

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." - John Muir
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, autumn is finally here -- that time of year when we feel a natural longing to get outside, enjoy the cooler weather and witness nature’s colorful displays. And as if on cue, new research has just revealed that stepping out into nature and participating in group walks can help ease stress and greatly enhance mental health.

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