Bipolar

Rating Mental Health Apps: Does Self-Monitoring Even Help?

With more than 165,000 health apps available -- most of them monitoring stuff related to your health in some manner -- you might assume there's a ton of research demonstrating the effectiveness of such self-monitoring. But you'd be wrong.

In the world of mental health apps, there's virtually no research demonstrating that monitoring your moods will benefit your treatment outcomes.

So why do so many companies and developers offer apps that simply spit back the data you put into them? Is there a rating organization that can help you make sense of all the mental health apps available?

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Anxiety and Panic

A Bigger Deal than the Freshman 15

I was (Carolina) blue. Unlike my beloved Tar Heel hoops squad, my unstoppable opponent was bludgeoning me into submission. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety nearly toppled me during my college years. The issue is bigger than my beloved alma mater: On university campuses, mental health issues affect 25 percent of the student body.

I bleed Tar Heel blue. I founded a student organization on campus, graduated with a shiny GPA, and studied abroad in Australia. I rejoiced on Franklin Street when the Heels upended Duke. From riveting seminars to proud traditions, Chapel Hill provided the quintessential university experience.

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Caregivers

Separate and Unequal

You have just fallen off your bike. You hit a rock and were thrown over the handlebars onto your back. Ouch.

What do you do now? You go to the doctor. X-rays are taken. Nothing is broken. You get some medicine, you go home.

The next day at work, you are having some trouble with the pain. Your peers ask what’s wrong. You reply that you fell off your bike. They say that's too bad; hope you feel better. Move on. They don’t think too much of it.

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Binge Eating

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Weight Management

Countless people feel unhappy with their bodies. Some have eating disorders, and many others deal with issues surrounding weight management. They may have tried the standard self-help techniques, from exercise and dieting to grueling weight loss programs, without success.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective and widely used therapeutic approach that can be applied to issues including self-esteem, body image, and weight management.

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General

Massachusetts: Third-World Mental Health Care?

There are few states that have a more broken mental health care system than Massachusetts. You'd probably think of poorer, more rural states when you think of low-quality healthcare. After all, Massachusetts is home to some of the nation's best universities (Harvard, MIT) and renowned hospital systems (Mass. General [Partners], Brigham & Women's, Beth Israel).

Yet none of these local institutions, nor the state itself, appear to have given much thought to the mental health care of their most vulnerable citizens. Instead, I live in a state that appears to offer the equivalent of third-world care for those with chronic mental illness.

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Brain and Behavior

Family Constellation Work

For all of us who have experienced family life and its impact, with all of its places of light and darkness, there is a wonderful group process that fosters present-day healing. It is called family constellation work and is a day-long workshop run by a trained facilitator.

Family constellation workshops were started by Dr. Bert Hellinger, a family therapist from Germany, and are now available worldwide. Participants target an area of their present life that needs clarity, resolution, or healing. It does not have to relate to family history, nor are the processes always related to the family of origin.

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Inspiration & Hope

Video: If Therapy Doesn’t Work, Try Again

Going to see a therapist is a little different than going to see a dentist. And not just because a responsible therapist will never dose you with laughing gas.
When you get a tooth pulled, it's generally a one-off thing. You wouldn't shop around at different dentists to see who does the best job pulling out your tooth. If your first dentist botches the job and only gets the tooth pulled out partway, you wouldn't simply head on down the street to the next dentist to try again.
But therapy is more complicated. Getting your psychological "teeth" pulled is more of a drawn-out, imperfect, subtle process. And therapists are professionals, but they're also humans.
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Anxiety and Panic

How Media Shapes Our View of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Most people would consider an abuse victim as a person who experienced “trauma.” However people often don’t view them as potentially experiencing “post-traumatic stress disorder.” PTSD is more commonly thought of as a condition affecting combat veterans, but the number of civilians suffering from PTSD is 13 times more than military personnel, according to a release from Drexel University. So what gives? According to researchers at Drexel, the media plays a large role in what the general population and lawmakers associate with PTSD.

The Drexel study reviewed 35 years worth of articles on PTSD published in the New York Times -- from 1980, the year PTSD was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to 2015. Of 871 articles a little over 50 percent focused on military cases of PTSD. The occurrence of PTSD in veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan is 20 percent. But research shows the condition is far more likely to affect civilians who suffer sexual assault (30-80 percent of survivors), nonsexual assault (23–39 percent), survivors of disasters (30–40 percent), and car crashes (25–33 percent).
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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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General

VA Medication Treatment Outperforms Private Sector

For all of the bad things we hear about the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) system, it seems like it would be easy for good science to get lost in the noise.

We've previously written how bad VA mental health care is and how it's lied about the wait times for patients waiting to receive care. In response, the VA upped clinician numbers.

A new study just published (but based upon data from 2007-2008) suggests that at least in one area, the VA may be doing better than private health insurance plans.

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Anxiety and Panic

Calling All Perfectionists

In my obsession with perfection, I forgot a valuable life lesson: pretty good can be perfection too.

Adventurous and fun-loving and driven and studious, I have sought it all. The dreamy vacation, the fulfilling career, the steamy romance. But the mind has always craved more.

Growing up, I would spend hours poring over an essay. I rehearsed clever rejoinders before dates. I would analyze events from 2002. I am laughing and cringing at these memories.

I was comfortable in my skin as long as I met my own exacting standards.
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Books

Psychology Around the Net: May 21, 2016


They're at the tailend of the U.K.'s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) across the pond!

Similar to October's Mental Illness Awareness Week here in the U.S., the U.K.'s MHAW, supported by the Mental Health Foundation, is all about educating people about mental health and helping people learn the importance of taking care of their mental health.

Thus, you'll see some U.K.-related information in this week's post, including news about the royal's latest mental health campaign and new information about psychedelics and depression. Also catch up on the latest about relationships and mental health, strategies for better sleep, and the importance of doing things by yourself.

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