Anxiety and Panic

Psychology Around the Net: June 25, 2016


Happy Saturday, Psych Central readers!

Whew, I've had a stressful week. I've been juggling everything from major work deadlines to doctor appointments to preparing our guestroom for entertaining company all weekend, and honestly, the only thing that's helped keep me focused is my to-do list.

That's right. I am a huge advocate of to-do lists. I know some people avoid them, but, not I. I can't even explain the sheer elation I feel each time I mark off a...
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Depression

Don’t Be Afraid to Be a Difficult Patient

One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is the one where Elaine snoops inside her medical chart and reads “patient is difficult.”

The doctor takes a look at her rash and says, “Well, this doesn’t look serious,” and writes something in the chart.

“What are you writing?” she asks.

He sneers and walks out the door.

Wanting a fresh start, she goes to see another doctor, and realizes her chart follows her there. The new doctor greets her warmly until he reads the comments.

He glances at her arm and says impatiently, “This doesn’t look serious.”

“But it really itches,” she complains.
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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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Children and Teens

Helping Adult Children of Mentally Ill Mothers

I’m not a psychotherapist. But I’ve sat in front of one. It took me decades to find the chair in front of the psychotherapist and maybe that’s got something to do with me being the adult child of a schizophrenic mother.

I think it took me a long time to sit facing a psychotherapist because adult children of seriously mentally ill mothers are trained since they were young to believe three things:

Chaos and crises are normal.
The focus is not on me. The focus of care is on my mother.
Don’t speak too much about what goes on at home -- people don’t like it, it’s too much for them.

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Disorders

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Misunderstood But Effective & Powerful Treatment

Today, psychodynamic psychotherapy tends to get dismissed or outright rejected. It’s seen as ineffective, unscientific and archaic. It’s associated with Freud and some of his “outlandish” theories -- many of which have become caricatures. If you’ve ever learned about psychoanalysis or psychodynamic psychotherapy in college or even grad school, it’s likely your professors got it wrong.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy arose out of psychoanalysis, but it’s since evolved. A lot. As psychologist Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D, writes in this fantastic, myth-busting piece: “The development of psychoanalytic thought did not end with Freud any more than the development of physics ended with Newton, or the development of the behavioral tradition in psychology ended with Watson.”

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is depicted as inferior to other interventions, namely cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
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General

Making History with The National Museum of Psychology & How You Can Help

The history of psychology is filled with famous and inventive figures, significant discoveries and fascinating research -- everything from Sigmund Freud and talk therapy to the birth (and demise) of dementia praecox to Phil Zimbardo’s prison experiment to Stanley Milgram and the shock heard around the world.

At first glance, these might seem like highly specific subjects only relevant to people in the psychology field. After all, who really needs to know about antiquated illnesses, decades-old experiments and psychology theories?

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Could Depression Be an Allergic Reaction?

Most people are still locked into the theory that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain -- a shortage of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin that deliver messages from one neuron to another. That explanation works well for public consumption because it’s simple and it makes for great pharmaceutical commercials.

But depression is a whole lot more complicated than that.

For starters, there’s faulty brain wiring. On functional MRIs, depressed brains display lower activity levels in the frontal lobes, responsible for cognitive processes, and higher levels of activity in the amygdala region of the brain (fear central).
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Addiction

Psychology Around the Net: April 2, 2016


Happy Saturday, sweet readers!

I'm hoping you all ended your week with some funny April Fools' Day shenanigans, and are ready to start the weekend with some of the latest developments in mental health!

Read on for news on how men are more vulnerable to developing stress-related depression, how people with mental health issues fit in when it comes to physician-assisted suicide, ways you can effectively help another person cope with anxiety or depression, and more.

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Bipolar

Is Depression Always a Disease?

Like most mental health writers, I have compared depression to illnesses like diabetes in the past, and stressed the biochemical aspect of mood disorders in my efforts to reduce stigma. Somehow talking about the gene G72/G30 located on chromosome 13q (that may predispose individuals to depression and bipolar disorder) makes it more legitimate, as if the gene proves we aren’t making it up.

However, the more I read about how abuse, trauma, and chronic stress --unresolved issues of all kinds -- can cause and aggravate depression, the less I want to compare it to diabetes.
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Disorders

How Do Mental Illness Diagnoses Really Compare to Medical Diagnoses?

One of the common complaints I hear about mental illness diagnoses is that they are "unscientific," based upon a bunch of subjective symptoms that are arbitrary. People who dismiss mental illness as not being "real" say that unlike medicine, the mental health profession doesn't have laboratory tests, biopsies or meaningful imaging tests.

I would suggest, however, that the mental illness diagnostic reference manual, the DSM-5, is actually a good compromise based upon our current but limited knowledge of mental illness and its underlying causes. Moreover, most people's understanding of medical diagnosis is often unrealistic and doesn't take into account the messy reality.

How do mental illness diagnoses compare to more traditional medical diagnoses?

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