Depression

What Will It Take to Make Depression a Good Cause?

Once a year or so, I’m tempted to shave my head like I’m going through chemo to make my depression visible to others. I’m thinking if I pulled a Sinead O’Connor, people would take the illness seriously.

I saw a commercial the other day for some leukemia association and I was jealous. I know that's not the response the advertising team was looking for. But as someone who is now responsible for fundraising for a
Continue Reading

Bipolar

Your Smartphone May (Or May Not) Detect Changes in Bipolar Mood

Some mainstream media outlets over this past weekend told us "How Your Smartphone Can Detect Bipolar Disorder." Based upon new research, one researcher claims to reliably detect changes in mood in people with bipolar disorder.

This must be some fantastic, robust study in which to generalize from, given how diverse the population of people with bipolar disorder is. Can smartphones really do that reliable a job of detecting mood changes in people with bipolar disorder?

Let's find out.

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Genetic Testing for Psychiatric Drugs: Not There Yet

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it. Many of us could drive a bicycle on a freeway, but it wouldn't be a wise thing to do. Many of us could pay money for "brain games," but it wouldn't necessarily help our brains' health.

And so it is with genetic testing for psychiatric drugs. While you could pay for such a test to help you better understand how your body might react to certain psychiatric drugs, you're probably better off not. At least not at this point.

Continue Reading

General

Congress & Policymakers: Stop Scapegoating Mental Illness in Mass Shootings

It's time that the United States Congress and national policymakers stop scapegoating mental illness for mass shootings in America. It's a simplistic -- but entirely wrong -- answer to mass shootings and gun violence in the United States. And it's also time that we hold our representatives in Congress accountable to have them stop shamelessly using another violent shooting to push their own agenda -- and blaming mental illness as the cause.

Mass shootings are generally not committed by people with a mental illness. People who commit violent acts with a gun are far more likely to have no history of mental illness. This includes the nearly-daily mass shootings we've experienced in the past three years.

It's time to have a serious, nuanced conversation about this issue -- and stop the simplistic fear-mongering that politicians and policymakers with their own agendas to push seem to revel in.

Continue Reading

General

What Does the Lack of Reproducibility in Psychology Research Mean?

Last week, the results of the world's largest effort to reproduce results found in psychology research came in. Brian Nosek's Reproducibility Project took a look at 100 psychology experiments' results published in 2008 from just three major psychology journals. It attempted to reproduce the study to see what kind of results they would get.

In an ideal world, one might think that something on order of 75 or even 80 percent of the studies should have reproduced similar results, right? Because the new studies where simply re-conducted on a different population by researchers who carefully followed the original researchers' methods. In most cases, the researchers also had direct contact and cooperation from the original researchers.

But in a finding spun a dozen different ways since published in last week's Science journal, the Project didn't come anywhere close to 75 percent. Only 36 percent of the replications produced significant results -- compared to 97 percent of the original 100 studies.

What does this mean for psychology?

Continue Reading

General

Why Gun Laws Targeting ‘Crazy People’ Would Have Little Benefit

Two days ago, according to FBI crime statistics, approximately 38 murders took place in the U.S. Most of these murders were completed with a gun between two or more people who knew one another.

But people are only talking about two of them -- the deaths of TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by Vester Flanagan (aka Bryce Williams). Flanagan was a disgruntled former worker at the local TV station where the three of them briefly worked at the same time for about 9 months in 2012.

And one of the victims' fathers -- Andy Parker -- has now made it his mission in life to increase common sense gun control laws in the U.S. Targeting "crazy people."

Unfortunately, had his laws been in place, they likely wouldn't have prevented this tragedy -- or most tragedies like this.

Continue Reading

General

Sharing and Shaming: What Has Social Media Done for You Lately?

We all use social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any number of blogging sites. But rarely do we think about how social media leaves us exposed in a way that could hurt us irreparably.

In Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed he studied several people who in recent years have been widely criticized via social media -- some of them for sharing things online they now regret. For instance, Justine Sacco lost her job after she tweeted, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Or Lindsey Stone, who also lost her job after she shared a photo of herself on Facebook which showed her flipping off a sign outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Before they knew it, they were trending online and a social media hammer had come down on them. Something as simple as posting online made them infamous.

Continue Reading

ADHD and ADD

Spreading Misinformation About ADHD

John Rosemond, MS is a nationally-syndicated columnist and parenting expert who's made a name for himself by promoting a lot of old-fashioned parenting skills. You know, like spanking. I suppose there's nothing wrong with ignoring research data and science that's been published in the past few decades (if that's your thing).

But I was a little taken aback by Rosemond's recent answer to a parent's concern that her child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Rosemond starts his reply off with this outrageous claim: "First and foremost, there is no good science behind the diagnosis of ADHD."

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Learning to Accept Our Emotions: Lessons from Disney’s ‘Inside Out’

I recently had the opportunity to see Disney Pixar’s latest animated feature, "Inside Out." I didn’t need much prompting: it's a movie about feelings, and I'm a psychologist. It did not disappoint.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the film’s premise (spoiler alert): An 11-year-old girl named Riley moves cross-country with her family. A move is a huge transition, especially at such an impressionable age, and she experiences a gamut of emotions as she leaves her home, friends, and hockey league behind. Riley's feelings -- the main characters of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust -- provide a glimpse into the workings of Riley’s mind as she navigates this life-changing experience.

Continue Reading

General

We All Agree: Don’t Put a Mental Hospital In My Backyard

Sadly, in many communities across America, people still feel it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate against people with a mental illness.

Now in a small town north of San Luis Obispo, California called Templeton, residents there are saying no to a voluntary inpatient psychiatric hospital that a company would like to build -- adding to the town's tax rolls and job base.

Would they be equally likely to say no to a regular, medical hospital? Or is there something specific about a psychiatric inpatient hospital that the residents of Templeton object to?

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

3 Lessons about Psychological Well-Being from a Social Media Tsunami: Professor Holding a Baby

In the past few weeks I have been swept up in a social media tsunami. A photograph of me holding a baby while lecturing, taken without my knowledge in one of my lectures, went viral.

For those knowledgeable about these things, apparently being number one on BuzzFeed Trending and Facebook Trending is “huge.” The frenzy included mainstream media with articles and interviews appearing in the Washington Post, The Guardian and The Independent, as well as on CNN, Canadian television, BBC Radio 5, South African radio and the list goes on and on. On one site alone the photo received more than one million likes.

Continue Reading

Anger

Anger Is an Appropriate Response to Stigma

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the word “snap” as:

to grasp at something eagerly; make a pounce or snatch
to bark out irritable or peevish retorts
to undergo a sudden and rapid change

I wanted to make sure that is, in fact, what happened yesterday toward the end of my run at the Naval Academy.

My husband and I were talking about my giving up the role of playing a “political correctness” cop on the online depression community I host. Someone wrote...
Continue Reading