Brain and Behavior

Psychology Around the Net: June 4, 2016

Last Friday, I went to another Dave Matthews Band concert. I know what you're thinking: "Three DMB concerts in one month?!" Well, considering they're my favorite band and they're going on a break next summer, I have to get it while the gettin's good, right?

However, last Friday's trip wasn't planned; it was completely spontaneous. While I was finishing up some work, I received a message from a friend who couldn't make the show and had two free tickets for me if I wanted them.

The show was almost five hours away, meaning I had about an hour to get ready, get packed, and get on the road.

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Are You Sabotaging Your Brain?

It does not take much to rob your brain of its essential vitality. Dr. Daniel Amen, a renowned psychiatrist, has spent his entire career trying to understand the ways we can preserve or sabotage our brain health.

In his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, Dr. Amen explores the root of these essential brain robbers. The good news is that because the brain is highly plastic, any good habit that forms over time can replace short-term damage.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

A Recipe for Recovery: Ingredients for Good Mental Health

I believe mental health self-care starts with the right medication. The right medications are crucial for recovery. Personally, I have realized finding the right combination of drugs really makes the difference between being well or unwell.

Medications, while imperfect, are the leading treatment for mental illness and could make the difference between being high-functioning or going through a lot of pain. There are a few principles that help when choosing to take medication. Do not go off prescribed medication without consulting your doctor. Psychotropic medications are powerful, with serious side effects. Withdrawal can cause, at the very least, a flare in mental health symptoms.

Secondly, when making medication changes, work with a doctor, do it slowly and pay attention to the warning signs of relapse. Third of all, do research on medications. Know the side effects, in particular how to detect them and how to reduce them. 
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Psychology Around the Net: April 23, 2016

Earlier this week, a recently unemployed friend of mine began a round of several interviews for a new job that, if all goes well, potentially could be the perfect fit for him. During the first interview he was asked, "What is your strongest attribute and how would it benefit our company?"

My friend is a quick thinker and delivered an answer that, after talking about it later, we both decided indeed summed up his strongest attribute; however, the interviewer's question made us both start thinking more deeply about our attributes -- especially as they relate to employment and personal relationships.

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Brain and Behavior

Hit By a Wave of Depression: It’s Sink or Swim

The blue tidal wave crests, pummeling you with dreaded hypotheticals and faulty, circuitous logic. It is unrelenting, plunging you into a numbing despair. The resolve to fight is shelved; you are searching for any elixir to latch onto.

Dramatic? Sure. Accurate? Yes. Besieged by depression, the numbing pain hollows you. Hours turn into days and days turn into months. Some grimly press on; for others, the blue wave is incapacitating.

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Living in a Mixed State

You thought depression was tough. You thought mania was exhausting. Well, get ready for something really awful -- the mixed state. Depression and mania mingle to produce an excruciating, unending, torturous feeling.

The mixed state has got to be the worst feature of bipolar illness. You feel both hopeless and electrified at once. One’s body and mind do not know how to process the mixture. One is miserable, and one is also miserable to live with. You’re moving so fast mentally that you have no patience, zero tolerance for anything. If any little thing goes wrong, you fly off the handle and never seem to find your equilibrium again.

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Paying Attention to Triggers

Depression can hit at any time when you have bipolar disorder. Last night, I couldn’t sleep. Even with all the medications I take at night, my brain would not shut off. I lay awake in bed until close to 2 a.m.

I didn’t think I was manic yesterday. I knew I had written many articles in one day and I normally can only do one a day. Yesterday, though, I had completed five before 3 p.m. I hadn’t missed any medications, though, so I thought I just must be doing really well. Writing is my passion, after all. Maybe I have been compliant for long enough that my mind is finally coming around to being used to the medications and now I am able to concentrate on my writing fully.
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Lesser-Known Schizophrenia Symptoms Which Actually Have a Great Impact

When people think of schizophrenia, they often think of hallucinations and delusions. And these are debilitating for many people with the illness. Imagine that you can’t trust your own mind to tell you what’s real and what isn’t.

One of Devon MacDermott’s clients asked her to think of an image and then to imagine that the knowledge that she’d conjured the image herself was erased. Which would leave MacDermott to question: Is the thought really my own or a symptom of schizophrenia?

“In that moment I realized that it must be terrifying and extraordinarily frustrating to be in the mind of someone with schizophrenia,” said MacDermott, Ph.D, a psychologist in private practice in New York City, who has worked extensively with people with schizophrenia in inpatient settings.
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Should Doctors Treat Depression Like Diabetes?

Depression is a mental disorder that impacts between 7 and 8 percent of Americans. But most people in the United States seek out treatment not from a specialist -- as they would readily do for cancer -- but from their primary care doctor.

Recently, a study in the journal Health Affairs complained that primary care physicians don't treat depression like they would other chronic diseases, like diabetes.

But is depression always a chronic condition? Should doctors treat it more like diabetes? Or should they instead treat it more like a serious condition in need of specialist care?

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Anxiety and Panic

Psychology Around the Net: March 19, 2016

Happy Saturday, sweet readers!

I hope you've had a fantastic week -- better than mine, anyway. We're having a new roof installed and, well, when you work from home, let's just say it's a bit difficult to concentrate with all the banging, hammering, and stomping. (However, the contractors at least chose some of my favorite classic rock hits to blast, so, there's that!).

Despite all the distractions, I managed to scour the Internet for some fascinating information on new research and reports regarding the happiest countries on the planet, the lesser-known postpartum bipolar disorder, the five different personality types, and more.


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Happiness in a Bottle?

Popular commercials depict mental health consumers gleefully picking daisies on a sun-splashed day. Happiness is achievable, if only you insert this pill, embrace this diet regimen, or add this supplement. The sterile blueness -- or is it an overcast Seattle grey? -- is a temporary inconvenience.

Daisies, mimosas, and sun-kissed days in your future? Not so fast, my friend. In our instant gratification society, we expect to feel good. We glance at loved ones, colleagues, and friends and assume they are faring better than us. Try this cognitive distortion on for size: emotional problems, relationship difficulties, and financial concerns snare them, too. Life is a four-letter word.
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