Brain and Behavior

Why I Prescribe Pokemon Go for My Patients

This week, the parent of one of my patients asked me about Pokémon Go. She was concerned with her child’s obsession and felt like this could lead to social or emotional problems.

Electronics, as with most things, are good in moderation -- but Pokémon Go isn’t your average video game. Unlike games that keep people glued to the couch, Pokémon Go requires people to get up, move around, and interact with others. What that means to me as a child psychiatrist is that it comes with a variety of health benefits. Exercise is as good for the brain as it is for the rest of the body. I’ve seen people walking, riding their bikes, and finding more excuses to get outside because of Pokémon Go.

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Anxiety and Panic

A Perfectionist’s Creed: When Perfect Is Far from It

I am a perfectionist. Hunched over my laptop, my body tenses up. I am searching my mind’s deep labyrinths for the perfect word.

The problem: the perfect word doesn’t exist. And my frenzied search is more exhausting than empowering.

As perfectionists, we strive for the perfect word, perfect relationship, and perfect life. But our quest for perfection is inexorable. Crumpling under the weight of our internal expectations, perfectionism can degenerate into sputtering relationships and self-flagellation.
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Anxiety and Panic

Waiting for an Autism Diagnosis

Tommy was having trouble growing up.

He wasn’t talking at age 2. We waited it out for a bit, but, at 3, when he was still barely communicating, we sought out professional speech therapy. We found a great therapist at our local children’s hospital. With help, Tommy began to communicate more. The therapist worked on his vocabulary and eventually on one-step commands.

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Anger

Moving on from Dysfunctional Relationships

Not so long ago, I joined a Facebook group for abuse survivors, in hopes of finding support and encouragement. While I was encouraged and supported in the best way an anonymous person on the Internet could be, I felt there was too much reliance on the word “narcissist.” As I tried to find intelligent solace in reading members' posts, I discovered many people playing the martyr. (I had observed that behavior in my own mother). Many of these people seeking and offering advice probably suffered from some mental or personality disorder as well.

I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I have also been told I have low self-esteem. Despite my plethora of issues, I am still able to see myself and others through a clear lens.

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Brain and Behavior

The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own

It doesn’t take an encounter with a bear or a threatening gun to trigger symptoms of the fight or flight response. I experienced similar phenomena when undergoing a consultation with a surgeon for an elective, life-altering surgery.

Her bedside manner exuded a cold, indifferent and detached attitude. With barely a glance at me, she entered the consulting room and settled into her chair. A few perfunctory questions and she did her due diligence by rattling off the risks involved with a robotic monotone that had been programmed into her. A few hasty and superficial parting words and the meeting ended abruptly.

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Anxiety and Panic

Banished From the Bed: How to Overcome Sleep Cravings

“Just let me lie in bed for another five minutes,” I groan to my mother.

She mumbles before acquiescing. I turn over, spooning the pillow. We have had this conversation before.

For the anxious and depressed, sleep is our salve. It is a temporary reprieve from uncomfortable memories and feelings.

As I crawl into bed, I justify my sleeping patterns. “Well, lounging in bed may be counter-productive. But at least I am not abusing alcohol or drugs,” I rationalize.
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Anxiety and Panic

How to Cope with the Stress of High School

"Remember that awful feeling that last day of summer vacation before the first day of school?" His question was like a fart at a funeral and roused me from my previously relaxed summer drowse.

A long slumbering dragon in the cave of my gut, released a combination of indigestion and a feeling that can I only describe with the word “blech.” Only in all caps and much longer.

The end of lazy hot long days and the beginning of what seemed like just like long days... trapped in a windowless classroom.
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Anxiety and Panic

Breaking Up with My PTSD: The Reality of Recovering from Haunting Trauma

My almost life-long companion and I are actually breaking up. I should be more specific. What I’m breaking up with is more exactly known as C-PTSD, a form of PTSD. I think we’re in the final stages of our separation. It’s been a long and drawn-out breakup because that’s how it goes with C-PTSD. Once you get to know it well, you practice breaking up with it every day. Some days require more sorting out and negotiation than others.

It’s been around a long time for me. My children have all become very familiar with it even though they didn’t know what they’re really seeing. Most people outside of our home never even knew it was around.
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Bullying

Fighting Depression at Work

“Fighting depression” does not appear on any job description.

Conducting job duties -- no matter how menial or how daunting -- has never been an issue for me. In one job, I faithfully took a former boss’s clothes to and from the cleaners. In another, I had the pleasure of demonstrating a business solution for those who run a global corporation. Due to past traumas that occurred during previous jobs, however, I constantly fight an inner war against depression.
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

There’s a Best Time to Talk to Your Therapist — And That Time Is Specific to You

You’re likely aware that your energy and your mood shift throughout the day. Have you ever noticed you also have preferences for certain activities at certain times? You like to wake around the same time in the mornings. Exercise feels best at the same time, day after day. Your appetite follows a daily pattern, too, as do your desire for sex and physical intimacy.

The body’s bio rhythms regulate much of how we feel and what we do. The bio clock that keeps these rhythms in sync runs a little differently from one person to the next. These individual differences in bio time result in preferences for morning or evening activity, or something in between. (That’s why you like to rise with the sun and your partner hits the snooze button five times. Or vice-versa.)
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Habits

Taking the Judge Out of Judgment: Overcoming Your Critical Voice

My computer screen and I have been embroiled in a staring contest for the past 15 minutes. Strike that -- 30 minutes.

I have writer’s block.

Let’s evaluate my typical response. I belittle my mind, slink around the apartment, and ransack the empty refrigerator. My cheerful disposition devolves into a caustic impersonator.

Returning to the scene of the crime, the words trickle out like a leaky faucet. I have an overwhelming desire to hurl my MacBook Pro into the Puget Sound.
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