Anger

The Role of Make Believe Play in Adult Life

“You cannot change the past, but you can change how you feel about the past.”

We often hear how important it is for children to use their imaginations. But did you know adults can strategically use imagination and make believe play to manage their emotions and feel better? In fact the use of fantasy is one way trauma therapists heal psychological wounds.

Amazing scientific fact: The brain cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality.
Continue Reading

Children and Teens

Seasonal Depression & Your Teens, Is It “Just” All in Their Head?

“Tis the season to be Jolly,” right? Well, maybe not so much. Just seeing all the Christmas decorations in the stores before Halloween even arrives can be depressing in and of itself. Think about your own amount of stress when the holidays are approaching. There’s all the parties, gifts that need to be bought, the house that needs to be cleaned, and childcare when the kids are on break. That list for us as parents can go on and on.

On the other hand, think about what might be going on in your the mind of your teenagers. “We never go anywhere for vacation, my family can’t even afford a staycation, much less a vacation. I know I will never get the latest iPhone like my friends. What will Christmas be like this year now that mom and dad are divorced? I’m going to be stuck at the house doing nothing the entire break. It doesn’t seem fair that my cousins always get the good stuff for Christmas…” WOW! I bet their list could be a mile long.
Continue Reading

Children and Teens

How Does Birth Order Affect a Child?

Does being a firstborn, middle child, last-born or only child have an effect on your personality, behavior, or even your intelligence? While the possibility has been challenged, our birth order is believed by many to have an enduring impact on our psychological development and adult relationships.

Firstborns are often described as being high achievers who seek approval. They’re also described as cautious, controlling, and reliable. Firstborns and only children are the only siblings who are allowed to bask in their parents’ undivided attention (for better or worse) with no distractions from siblings. Studies have confirmed that without question, firstborn children are offered more individual and uninterrupted hours of their parents’ attention, which may, in fact, allow for relatively greater gains in intelligence.
Continue Reading

Family

How Far Can Our Empathy Go?

I read this quote today and I had three thoughts almost simultaneously:
“Now, with regard to the people who have done things we call "terrorism," I'm confident they have been expressing their pain in many different ways for thirty years or more. Instead of our empathically receiving it when they expressed it in much gentler ways -- they were trying to tell us how hurt they felt that some...
Continue Reading

Depression

True Story: One Father’s Struggle with Postpartum Depression


Dads get the “baby blues” too.

People might not realize this, but, after the birth of a child, both women and men can encounter symptoms of postpartum depression. I’m speaking from experience here.

After the birth of my daughter, which endures as one of the happiest moments of my life, I found myself struggling with unexpected waves of anxiety, fear, and depression.

It was horrible, and what made it worse, was that I was very uncomfortable talking about it.

Continue Reading

Children and Teens

How Can Childhood Emotional Neglect Make You a Stronger Adult?


All it takes is growing up in a household where your feelings don't matter enough.

With their heads held high but their spirits lower than should be, they walk among us.

"I don't need any help," they say with a smile. But "what do you need?" they ask others with genuine interest.

Loved and respected by all who know them, they struggle to love and respect themselves. These are the people of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN).

Continue Reading

Addiction

Why Do Drugs?

Any casual look at media, billboards, online popups, and banners and signs in stores is enough to show that medications and drugs are ubiquitous. Whether used initially for a legitimate medical reason - with a prescription from a doctor - or socially, drug use can and does morph into something much more serious, including addiction. Why, then, do drugs?

Just as there are many reasons people drink alcohol, there are equally as many why they do drugs. Here are some of the more common:

To feel euphoria, pleasure and empathy, even though temporary
Continue Reading

Books

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Child’s Growing Brain

You drive your child to soccer practice three times a week so she will get the right amount of exercise. You rush through your evening routine to make sure he is in bed on time and gets enough sleep. You engage in an endless battle of wills at mealtime to make sure they eat all of the broccoli on their plates. On any given day, you do all kind of things to make sure your children’s bodies are growing and developing in healthy ways.

Taking care of our children’s bodies means more than just making sure they grow big and strong -- it also means taking care of their developing brains! Recent neuroscience research in the area of child development has shed light on many different strategies you as a parent can use to make sure you are nourishing your children’s bodies and minds as they grow.
Continue Reading

Children and Teens

Psychology Around the Net: October 22, 2016


Once again, my friends, I come to you from behind a computer screen with a box of tissues on one side and a trash can on the other. Tears are running down my cheeks, I can't stop sneezing, and even though I can't breathe my nostrils aren't too stopped up to -- well, I won't get gross.

Wasn't it just a few months ago I was suffering from allergies? Can you even get allergies in the fall? According to WebMD, you sure can, and thanks to a myriad of potential culprits (mold spores and pollen hiding out in fallen leaves and dust mites triggered from turning the heat on for the first time), I am once again down for the count.

Still, that hasn't stopped me from bringing you this week's latest in mental health news! Keep reading for healthy tips for how to break off a friendship, Instagram's new mental health "flagging" feature, ways you can beat election stress, and more.

Continue Reading

Antidepressant

There Is a Place for Antidepressants

When I was six months pregnant, I attended a birthing preparation class with my husband and about 12 other expectant parents. During the fifth session, the instructor asked the mothers whether or not they were going to use medication to get through the pain of childbirth labor.

“Everyone who wants to try for a natural birth, stand over here,” she said. “And everyone who plans on having an epidural or taking other pain medication, stand over here.”

I looked at the two groups, which held about the same number of people. My head went from one to the other, much like a puppet with a tic. Like most decisions in my life (including which dressing I want on my salad), I had analyzed the hell out of this one -- done all the research on both sides -- and still couldn’t commit.
Continue Reading

Children and Teens

ER Beds for Kids Lacking, But School Programs Can Help

Everyone who is a front line clinician in an emergency room (ER) knows the hard reality of the lack of psychiatric services available. Discharging someone from an ER into inpatient mental health treatment is virtually nonexistent for adults. For kids, the situation is usually far worse.

The good news is that if we focus more on preventative care in school -- helping kids and preschoolers long before they have a full-blown diagnosis -- we may be able to stop them from ever having to use an emergency room. All we need do is start making mental health a funding priority for both the states and the federal government.

Continue Reading

Bipolar

Helping Children Cope When a Loved One Suffers from Mental Illness

I have a loved one that suffers with severe mental illness. He's a brilliant, beautiful, creative person who told spellbinding, captivating stories of far away places and taught me to not be afraid of the dark. But just as quick and easy as flicking a light switch on and off, our lives changed from moment to moment.

As a child I didn't understand. I remember thinking everyone's home was just like mine... a place where the stairs turned into an escalator only for the person who knew the magic word and where the cupboards were locked at night to keep out the mischief-making fairies.
Continue Reading