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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Bipolar

Is Physician-Assisted Suicide Right for Severe Psychiatric Disorders?

Two summers ago, our family grabbed a bite to eat in downtown Annapolis and headed over to the Naval Academy for a parade -- celebrating the end of Plebe Summer, six weeks of rigorous physical and mental training for new midshipmen.

It was late August, and I was horribly depressed, trying out medication combination No. 45 or something like that (in the last 10 years). My inner dialogue sounded like this:

Does everyone want to be dead?
Where do these people get the energy to function?
I wonder if the young plebes would be excited if they had a way of dying.
Don’t all of us just want to die as soon as possible?
Why do we have to wait so long?
I wish I could die today.

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Habits

Psychology Around the Net: May 14, 2016


It's been a great week for me, sweet readers!

Not only have I made great strides in getting back on track living a healthy lifestyle, but I finally took Your Body, Your Mind off hiatus!

For those of you who don't know, I write the Your Body, Your Mind blog here at Psych Central. I took a break from the blog for several months because my "healthy lifestyle" slowly but surely came to a halt. However, thanks to some good talks with good people -- and teaming up with some inspiring friends -- things are looking up!

If you're interested in exploring how exercise and healthy foods can help manage mental health, head on over to my re-intro post, Welcome Back to Health Living!, and subscribe to the blog.

Now, let's get on with this week's news in mental health!

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General

Can Therapy Help for Self-Harm?

The problem of self-harm is growing, especially among teens and young adults. People engage in self-harm -- such as cutting, self-injury, or even self-poisoning -- for a wide variety of reasons. But the real question is how to help a person who is self-harming.

Self-harm also hurts the family, friends, and other people around the person who is engaging in the behavior. Friends and loved ones don't understand self-harm, and they don't understand what they can do to help. People who self-harm are themselves sometimes unable to express their reasons, or the kind of relief it brings to their emotional hurt and pain.

Psychotherapy has long been used to help people with mental illness and mental health issues. Can it help a person who self-harms?

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Aspergers

Gender Bias in Diagnosing Autism: Can We Find Something We’re Not Looking For?

Here's your assignment:

Sort through a large, diverse group of birds and find all the peafowl. You are instructed to select the ones with vivid, iridescent plumage in blues and greens, with extravagant tails that open into huge, shimmering fans.

Oh, you're thinking, I'm looking for peacocks. Problem is, peacocks are the male peafowls. How can you find the plain, gray peahens if you're looking for birds that would rival a glittering Las Vegas dance revue?

Why are we missing the females?
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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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Bipolar

What Bipolar Depression Looks Like — And What Can Help

Sadness. Hopelessness. Loss of interest. Loss of energy. Difficulty sleeping. Difficulty concentrating. Low self-esteem. Weight gain. Weight loss. Suicidal thoughts.

These are some of the symptoms listed for a depressive episode (also called bipolar depression) in bipolar disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But these clear-cut signs don’t exactly capture the complicated course of bipolar disorder or the palpable anguish that people with bipolar depression really feel. They don’t capture the angst or fear or confusion.
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