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What Do Psychologists Do? A 10-Year-Old’s Answer

Friday, February 7th, 2014

What Do Psychologists Do? A 10-Year-Old's AnswerI’m not a big one for entertaining, but once a year my husband and I invite a boatload of family to spend the day with us. I usually invite them for noon, but since they feel totally comfortable with us, they arrive… whenever. After the hugs and kisses, we catch up on what’s new, munch down as much unhealthy food as we can, and when all are gathered, the children participate in our annual scavenger hunt.

To augment the hunt (these kids are so clever, they find things too quickly), there is also a Q&A section called “Things to Know about your Family.” That way the kids can find out interesting stuff about their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Typical questions: Who is on their school’s track team? (Answer: Cousin Dylan) Which of Aunt Naomi’s many talents makes Uncle Brian a happy man? (Answer: Gourmet Cooking) Which two people in the family are psychologists? (Answer: Aunt Linda & Uncle Ron) What do psychologists do? (Answer: Help Crazy People!)

Lawmakers: Don’t Pass New Involuntary Commitment Bills Without Funding

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Lawmakers: Don't Pass New Involuntary Commitment Bills Without FundingNothing angers me more than when the media — and the public — come down on those with a mental illness when we hear of another violent mass shooting. The vast majority of shootings and deaths in America are due to the ease-of-access to a handgun, and simply knowing the person you’re going to kill (as most murders are conducted by people known to the victim). Mental illness does not enter into the picture in most homicides.

Well, wait a minute… There is one thing that angers me more than attributing a higher rate of violence to someone with mental illness. And that’s feel-good but idiotic lawmakers across the country passing a new round of involuntary commitment bills in their state — but leaving out any additional money to help fund these efforts.

Apparently common sense doesn’t enter into a lawmaker’s head when they author or lobby for the passage of such bills.

Newly Diagnosed? What You Need to Know About Depression

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Newly Diagnosed? What You Need to Know About Depression

This new monthly series reveals tips and insights for individuals recently diagnosed with a mental illness. Future pieces will cover everything from anxiety to bipolar disorder.

Depression is a serious, debilitating illness that’s also one of the most commonly-diagnosed mental disorders. When you’re first diagnosed, you may feel both relief (finally, a name for your pain) and overwhelmed (what the heck do you do next?).

Below, two psychologists who specialize in depression reveal what you need to know about the illness and how to get better.

Challenge: How Do You Add Mental Health into Retail Clinics?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Challenge: How Do You Add Mental Health into Retail Clinics?One of the offshoots of our odd healthcare system in the United States is the development of quick healthcare clinics, usually located within pharmacies. These retail clinics can help you check your blood pressure, give you a flu shot, and help you figure out if you need to see a doctor for that skin condition. It’s usually pretty quick (depending upon how busy they are), and inexpensive (since you’re paying out-of-pocket).

Now the Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation — a foundation that’s been around since 1943 — has announced its 2014 design challenge to help add mental health to the retail clinic equation.

It’s a design challenge whose time, perhaps, has come.

Social Rhythm Psychotherapy for Bipolar II

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Social Rhythm Psychotherapy for Bipolar IIWhile most mental health professionals and doctors turn to medications first to treat bipolar disorder, they miss an opportunity to treat it naturally, through the use of psychotherapy. And while medication may be an appropriate first-line treatment for bipolar I disorder, where the mood states are more well-defined and severe, it’s less clear that it is as beneficial in bipolar II disorder.

It’s probably most accurate to describe bipolar II as a condition of complex mixed mood states. Sadly, because bipolar II isn’t as easily recognized as bipolar I, it is often misdiagnosed and goes untreated. People present most often with clinical depression while suffering from bipolar II, leaving the hypomanic episodes undiscovered unless a person is specifically asked about them.

Psychotherapy can be a beneficial, effective treatment method for bipolar II, with or without the use of adjunct medication. Here’s how it works.

Latuda: A New Treatment Option for Bipolar Depression

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Latuda: A New Treatment Option for Bipolar DepressionThe depressive episodes that accompany bipolar disorder have often perplexed both people who have bipolar disorder and the professionals who want to help treat them. People with ordinary clinical depression — at one time called unipolar depression — often have a few treatment options to choose from, usually starting with psychotherapy or antidepressants.

But using antidepressants in the treatment of depression of someone who has bipolar disorder can have unexpected — and unwanted — effects. Studies of antidepressant use in bipolar disorder have been decidedly mixed.

So it’s always welcome news when a new medication — or a new use for an existing medication — has been approved. Such is the case with Latuda (lurasidone).

Will the New DSM-5 Over-Diagnose?

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Will the New DSM-5 Over-Diagnose?Positive psychology emphasizes individuals’ strengths, and focuses on obtaining optimal mental development (as opposed to just diminishing negative symptoms), which is why I’m drawn to the field. For instance, positive psychologists not only seek to lift depression, but they encourage clients to explore their sense of happiness and resilience as well.

While not a student of abnormal psychology, I’m obviously aware that there are those who suffer from very serious illnesses. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) is published by the American Psychiatric Association to provide a standard classification and common language for mental illness. It’s used by clinicians and researchers of various orientations and backgrounds.

And with the advent of the latest edition, diagnoses run rampant, encouraging us to pose the infamous question: are mental health professionals a bit too ready to diagnose disorders?

The Biggest Lessons I’ve Learned in Managing My Anxiety

Monday, January 13th, 2014

The Biggest Lesson I've Learned in Managing My AnxietyPriscilla Warner, author of Learning to Breathe, used to think she was alone in her struggles. Then she discovered the stats: Six million Americans have panic disorder. Forty million have an anxiety disorder.

So, if you’re struggling with anxiety, you’re absolutely not alone. “We all need to learn from each other,” she said.

Knowing how others manage their anxiety can be helpful. Below are the biggest lessons individuals have learned over the years.

4 Quick Tips for Helping Someone with Depression

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

4 Quick Tips for Helping Someone with DepressionMost people understand the ripple effect of all mood disorders. Depression, in particular, lurks into all corners of a home, into every aspect of a relationship. Not only does it make the person who has depression feel hopeless and, sometimes, worthless, its effects impact everybody around that person too. Family, friends, loved ones — everybody feels some part of a person’s clinical depression.

So it’s no wonder that I’m often asked what a person should do for a depressed loved one.

Here are four quick tips that help answer that question.

8 Medications that You Didn’t Know May Contribute to Depression

Monday, January 6th, 2014

8 Medications that You Didn't Know May Contribute to DepressionAwhile back, a review in the journal “Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience” highlighted certain medications that may contribute to depression.

These medications may cause depression by altering levels of neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. Or they can trigger depression indirectly, by causing fatigue, diminished appetite, sedation, or other side effects, leading to subsequent frustration, demoralization, or a full depressive episode.

So what’s on the list?

The Differences Between Normal Worry & General Anxiety Disorder

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

The Differences Between Normal Worry & General Anxiety DisorderYou’re worried about X, Y, and Z. You obsess about them for hours every day, maybe for weeks.

How do you know whether this is typical worrying, a normal way of processing something that’s important to you, or if you have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?

Karen Swartz, M.D., the Director of Clinical Programs at the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center, says the main difference between worry and GAD is that the symptoms are more frequent with GAD. In a Depression and Anxiety Health Alert, she mentions one study that found that people without GAD tended to worry an average of 55 minutes a day, while those with GAD worried for 310 minutes each day. That’s one hour compared to five.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment: Let’s ‘Assist’ Patients By Forcing Them

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Assisted Outpatient Treatment: Let's 'Assist' Patients By Forcing ThemAssisted outpatient treatment (AOT) is a marketing term for involuntary commitment, but in an outpatient setting. AOT is like putting lipstick on a pig and calling her a princess. Experts on AOT sometimes like to pretend AOT is something different than forced treatment:

“Forcing [a person] to take medication is assisting him to make the choice we think he would make if he had a normally functioning brain.”
~ E. Fuller Torrey, MD & Jonathan Stanley, JD

Let’s delve into the twisted logic here of assisted outpatient treatment.

Recent Comments
  • Demetria: Stay connected? No one wants to be around a depressed person. Most do not understand and right now my...
  • Nanie: “The average mental health patient probably wouldn’t read or understand this bill.” Wow! I have to...
  • Logan: This article is very well written and poses excellent points, such as keeping a relationship log and focusing...
  • @Work: In your opinion, is watching Spongebob, or any other show, actually beneficial? My 6 year old tends to get a...
  • Good Anxiety: Family I think is the answer. One thing that helped me a lot handling my depression issue is my family....
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