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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Addiction

Psychology Around the Net: February 20, 2016


Good afternoon, Psych Central readers!

First, I have to apologize for the late post. Generally, I try to publish these earlier in the day, but, alas. Technology is a wonderful thing, but unfortunately there are some blips along the way -- and I've had a few connection issues over the last couple of days.

Fortunately, that didn't stop me from collecting some fascinating pieces for you over the week, so let's get down to business, shall we?

Read on for the latest about mountaintop removal's affect on mental health, how your personality affects your taste in music, yet another research report on marijuana use and its contributions to mental illness, and more.

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Dreams

Better Sleep for a Better Life

While getting seven to eight hours of sound sleep each night is easier said than done, there are adjustments you can make to improve your odds of a good night's sleep. And what you do in the hours before you go to bed could matter most.

More than 90 percent of Americans use electronic communications in the hour before they go to bed. Allowing such stressors into your pre-sleep time is only going to keep you awake. A 2014 study suggests that late-night smartphone use is bad for your work the following day. This research found that using a smartphone late at night not only leads to poor sleep but also creates fatigue and lower engagement in the workplace.
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Depression

Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Exist? Can Depressive Symptoms Be Seasonal?

In late January, researchers published the results of their study that seem to call into question whether seasonal affective disorder (SAD) actually exists. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of clinical depression that appears to be related in some way to the changing of the seasons (primarily winter and summer).

The new study contradicts dozens of previous studies that have found evidence that seasonal affective disorder does exist. So how do we square the results of the new study with the previous studies?

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Happiness

Psychology Around the Net: February 13, 2016


Happy Valentine's...er, Weekend, my sweet Psych Central readers!

Yes, whether you love it, hate it, or couldn't care less about it, Valentine's Day is officially upon us.

As such, I've compiled a list of psychology-related articles dealing with why memories of our first loves stick with us, how to spread the love even when you're divorced (or single), why the gift of presence might be the best gift of all, and more.

Enjoy!

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Anxiety and Panic

This Simple Task Could Make You More Resilient

When we’re anxious our bodies undergo changes to prepare for a fight-or-flight situation. It’s an evolutionary response. Picture the moment a deer hears the snap of a twig nearby. The deer's heart rate goes up, breathing becomes shallow, and the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released.

Some people recover physically and emotionally much more quickly after a stressful situation -- a trait known as resilience. It’s ideal that our bodies return to normal shortly after an anxiety spike. After all, chronic stress hurts our bodies and our minds.

Becoming resilient in the face of stress could be as simple as paying attention to your own bodily responses, according to a
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Habits

Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist? Your Health May Depend on It

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”  ~ Roald Dahl

Imagine a beautiful painting hanging on your bedroom wall. Every morning, just upon waking, you meditate on this inspiring work of art. You soon find that this daily practice energizes you and affects your entire mindset throughout the day, encouraging you to look for the beauty in life.

One morning, however, as you’re carrying out your morning ritual, you happen to notice a few of the artist’s mistakes.
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Anxiety and Panic

Psychology Around the Net: February 6, 2016


Happy Saturday, Psych Central readers!

I hope your February is off to a great start -- I know mine is! Honestly, I don't know what to make of this winter so far -- one weekend I'm snowed in, and the next it's, well, almost spring out there!

Anyway, I've rounded up some interesting little psychology-related nuggets for you to feast on this weekend, whatever your plans, so sit back and get ready to learn about how a parent's depression...
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General

Trouble Sleeping? Your TV, Computer or Phone May Be the Cause

Sleep is the foundation of good health, including your mental health. A poor night's sleep starts the day off at a deficit. It's like a boxer fighting with one hand tied behind his back.

The problem is that most people don't know what's causing their poor sleep. They may think it's stress, or feeling over-worked, or troubles in a relationship. All of those things could very well contribute to a poor night's sleep.

But an overlooked aspect of poor sleep is the proliferation of computer screens in our daily lives. Your phone, TV or computer may be the cause of your sleeplessness.

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Aging

Love is a Verb: Findings from the Longest Study on Happiness

For decades psychology as a science studied the flaws in human beings. Depression, anxiety and mental illness research and treatment protocols dominated the journals. Looking for causes and treatments, scientists sought to find ways to alleviate suffering for the populace. In spite of all the advances and success, one truth remained: Not being depressed isn’t the same as being happy.

Nonetheless, since 1938 researchers at Harvard have been collecting data about 724 men. The study followed two groups of men for 75 years. Harvard psychiatrist George Vaillant began the study of 268 Harvard sophomores, while law school professor Sheldon Glueck studied 456 12- to 16-year-old boys who grew up in inner city Boston.

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