Coming to Terms with a Chronic Illness

It can be difficult to deal with a diagnosis of a chronic illness. News of a long-term or lifelong condition can take its toll on both your physical and mental health. It can also affect your relationships, home, career and finances.

Each person diagnosed with a chronic illness likely will react differently. There will be challenging times ahead, but adopting certain strategies and knowing that you are not alone can help you cope in the best way possible.

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Brain and Behavior

Silence is Golden

The old song by Simon and Garfunkel was so right: silence really is golden, but maybe in more ways than we realize. In our urban, busy world we don’t get enough outer silence. There’s always the sound of traffic, TVs, other people in their apartments and the general buzz of the city as we go about our daily business. These days we have to hunt out the quiet spaces, but they are there as I discovered just the other day.

I’m selling my apartment, so we have the bi-weekly ritual of having to go out with the dog for 45 minutes during house viewing and find somewhere to be. As my dog is a bit old and grumpy (he’s 85 in human years), we try to seek out places that avoid other dogs and small children, which is hard in a café-obsessed beachside suburb of Sydney. As we took a walk up the road we discovered a small nature reserve that had been recently restored. Pristine bush tucked away in the city, green, tranquil and no sound, that’s bliss.

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Mental Health in America: A Shakespearean Tragedy

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 16 million adults in the United States experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2012. Major Depressive Disorder is defined as “Depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least two weeks and symptoms that cause clinically significant impairment in social, work, or other important areas of functioning almost every day.”

Along with diagnostic criteria for depression, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V is also notorious for a whole doctrine of pathologies under which the field of psychiatry preaches its creed; a grim gospel for any ardent disciple to follow. Social factors, environmental triggers, and increased stress in modern life all influence mental health, including the onset of depression. With healthcare expenditures approaching $3 trillion, our disorders and diseases are helping to keep the U.S. economy rolling.

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Brain and Behavior

Old-School Interventions for Today’s Stresses

We are so busy being busy we approach the day with a vengeance. Today is not a marathon; it’s an Ironman triathlon. To stay ahead we cut corners: skip breakfast; work through lunch; eat frozen dinner while glued to a digital screen. And we wonder why we are tired (but can’t sleep), sickly (yet can’t quite pinpoint the malady), and unfulfilled (in spite of the sacrifices, things are still not coming together).

There are a few old-school interventions that can help to get your head back in the game:

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Psychology Around the Net: October 17, 2015

Happy Saturday, Psych Central readers!

This week's Psychology Around the Net brings you the latest on therapy and your sex life, the effects of alcohol use on the economy, what exactly counts as creepy behavior, and more.


The Psychology of Sex: How Therapy Can Save Your Sex Life: Sometimes, physical conditions such as low testosterone and diabetes can lead to intimacy and sex problems; other times, mental health help such as talk therapy might be just what a couple needs to strengthen their relationship and boost their sex life.

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Learning Resilience from Elite Athletes

Did you ever see young athletes who had great potential? They seemed to have all the gifts. You knew they were going to excel, maybe turn professional -- they were that good. But later, to your surprise, you learned they never realized their potential. They were good, but they never made it to the next level.

You may have dismissed it as "bad luck" or bad coaching. Often there is something else missing: an intangible factor. I call it "FACTOR R," for resilience.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. In athletics, adversity usually comes in the form of defeat, failure, injury, or even extreme situational stress and pressure.

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Bipolar Disorder and Drug Abuse

It’s very common to find people with bipolar using drugs of one kind or another. If you were to experience the constant interference, disruption and pain that bipolar brings about, you would understand why one would resort to using drugs. Bipolar disorder makes it hard to get up in the morning, hard to hold a conversation and almost impossible for many to hold down a job. With problems like these it’s no wonder that medication is abandoned in favor of street drugs.

You see, medication doesn’t always quite hit the spot. Medical teams and patients spend years trying to find the right balance of medication. In the meantime, the patient suffers emotionally and psychologically. Often there is little support during this period as the patient is half better and looks okay -- so they must be okay, right? Wrong. That’s not the case at all. We can look fine and feel horrendous.
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Why Nature is So Good for Your Mental Health

Where did you go on your last vacation? If you live in the city or the suburbs, there’s a good chance that you spent it in a natural setting, perhaps at a national park, the beach or a cabin in the mountains.

Most of us have felt the inexplicable pull of the outdoors, even if it’s simply prompting us to take a neighborhood walk or sit in the backyard watching the clouds or the squirrels. Nature holds a special kind of energy: it is pure and wild and spirit-renewing.

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7 Healthy, Beneficial Reasons to Let Loose and Cry

Sometimes a good cry is the best thing EVER!

"Unhappiness can't stick in a person's soul when it's slick with tears." - Shannon Hale, Princess Academy

Ever feel so stressed out, so overwhelmed, or so mad at your partner (or at life) that you just wanted to cry?

Of course you have! We all have! But unfortunately, most of us don't let ourselves actually cry in those moments.

There's a good chance that no matter how horrible you're feeling, you probably don't often succumb to that lump in your throat. Instead you find yourself hoping the moment -- and those uncomfortable feelings -- just pass on their own. (Just focus on "positive thoughts" and happiness, right?)
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5 Physical Signs You May Be Depressed

Do these questions sound familiar?

Are you tired or fatigued?
Do you have trouble falling asleep?
Do you have little interest in doing things you once enjoyed?
Do you feel sad, depressed, or hopeless?

They are typical questions asked by a doctor (psychiatrist, general practitioner, gynecologist) or provided in a questionnaire to screen for depression. However, you could be snoozing like a baby, performing at work just fine, and training for a marathon only to have some really bad back pain that won’t go away.
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Grief and Loss

How to Find Spiritual Strength During Times of Illness

Some people awaken spiritually without ever coming into contact with any meditation technique or any spiritual teaching. They may awaken simply because they can’t stand the suffering anymore. -- Eckhart Tolle
Sometimes in life, we face pain so great that we must focus on surviving one day at a time, or even by the hour or the minute. During these moments, it feels as if our hearts naturally gravitate toward the spiritual, as there is only so much sadness, fear, bitterness or grief a human heart can hold before it cracks.

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