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Memorial Day, 2010

Another Memorial Day here in the , and another year that we commemorate and remember those who've given their lives for our freedom and our nation.

Those who have died did so that, in the future, our country might be safer. They died so that great evils could be done away with in WWII (and WWI). They died so that politicians could wage endless, unwinnable wars for political ideals (Vietnam, Korea, and now Iraq). They...
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8 Ways to Overcome Jealousy and Envy

I know that the fastest way to despair is by comparing one's insides with another's outsides, and that Max Ehrmann, the author of the classic poem "Desiderata," was absolutely correct when he said that if you compare yourself with others you become either vain or bitter.

Or, as Helen Keller put it: "Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged."

But Helen and Max don't keep me from going to the land of comparisons and envy. Before long, I'm salivating over someone else's book contract, or blog traffic numbers, or "Today Show" appearance. Then I have to pull out my set of directions -- these 8 techniques -- that will lead me out of the continent of jealousy and home, to self-acceptance.

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Now What? Depression at Graduation (Or Any Transition)

I read somewhere that a large number of Nobel Prize winners become depressed after receiving their honor because their sense of purpose has been taken away. They have to grieve their pre-Nobel Prize life and find a new way of being, something to get excited about that will get you out of bed in the morning.

The same is true, to some extent, when you graduate. With Commencement often comes an emptiness, a sense of loss. Much joy and relief, yes. But also a "what the hell do I do now?" response.

For highly sensitive persons like myself, every kind of life transition -- be it graduation, a new job, a baby -- comes with a few challenges and their offspring. How to gracefully maneuver between point A and point B? Like you would with any other mourning process. Because you are, in essence, grieving a kind of life-style. Even though there is no funeral involved, it's helpful to process the stages of grief.

Here are the five steps.

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Best of Our Blogs: May 28, 2010

There are just a handful of days left until Memorial Day. How are you celebrating this three day weekend? For me, the holiday signifies the start of summer and all that the warm season brings. Superficially, I'm reminded of the things I love like barbecues, tank tops and flip flops and the things I could do without such as termites, cockroaches and hot weather.

But on a deeper level, the summertime brings me back to new beginnings and a fresh start. The hope of facing old fears, the courage of tackling new inner battles and the ever present possibility of a better me, one that's closer to loving and accepting who I am warts and all. It's something about the season, more than at the beginning of a new year (maybe it's the shedding of our outer coats) that brings me closer to my authentic self.

As you shed your outer layer, I hope you too will not only enjoy the summer season and this upcoming holiday to its fullest, but that you will grow closer to who you are truly meant to be. May these top five posts help get you there!

3 Ways to Get Things Done Today!

(Mindfulness & Psychotherapy) - Ever feel overwhelmed by that pile of paperwork sitting atop your desk? Those post-its and reminders of things you still need to catch up on? Then this is the post for you. Mindfulness & Psychotherapy breaks down your task list into 3 simple steps. Look out summer, here you come!

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Brain and Behavior

Aspirin for Schizophrenia?

Could inflammation be a contributing factor to some symptoms in schizophrenia? And if inflammation is a significant factor in schizophrenia, could ordinary aspirin help?

Researchers (Lann et al., 2010) from the Netherlands (I love researchers from the Netherlands!) set to find out.

They looked at 70 inpatients in ten psychiatric hospitals who were already taking antipsychotic medications to help treat their schizophrenia (or a related schizophrenia disorder). They randomly divided the 70 patients into two groups -- a control group that received placebo, and another group who received 1,000 mg of aspirin per day.

Patient functioning and psychopathology was tested with a common assessment, the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). The researchers also looked at cognitive functioning and side effects of both groups.

Their findings?

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Brain and Behavior

Do You Think You Smell? Olfactory Reference Syndrome

Do you think you smell?

Well, if we assume for a moment that you actually don't smell or emit some sort of stinky odor, you're like most people. In this modern world where many don't think twice about showering each and every day, our bodies often have little chance to work up any kind of odor.

However, if you're amongst a small group of people who think they smell even when they don't, then you might be suffering from Olfactory Reference Syndrome. Olfactory Reference Syndrome is a "new" syndrome coined by researchers who've discovered that amongst people who think they smell bad -- even when they don't -- suicidal thinking and behavior is rampant.

And it's no wonder -- if you think you smell bad and others are noticing the bad smell, and no amount of bathing helps (because the smell is all in the person's head -- it doesn't actually exist), you might be driven to the edge of hopelessness. Olfactory reference syndrome is thought to be a specific sub-type or related to obsessive-compulsive disorders by some researchers.

The researchers presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association this past week.

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Brain and Behavior

Email Not That Effective with College Depression

I'm always on the lookout for how technology can better help people with mental health issues. But some uses of technology leave me scratching my head. Take, for instance, this one:

If you email a depression assessment quiz to college students, some will take it. Some of those who take it will have depression.

Those are the astounding findings from a research study presented the other day at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

But few of the students who received the email at four different colleges bothered taking the quiz -- only 691 students -- suggesting that it remains an ineffective way of reaching students (except those who may already believe they have or may be at risk for depression).

Worse yet, the email quiz did nothing to encourage students to seek out treatment for depression...
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Children and Teens

On Losing a Child

Cindy Haines, Chief Medical Officer of HealthDay and Managing Editor of Physician's Briefing recently remarked that "Grief is an inevitable component of life lived fully. It is a rare soul, indeed, who passes through unscathed. But losing a child ranks at the top of the hardest to bear."

I have thought about this so often: What I would do if one of my kids died before me? I can't begin to appreciate the pain, the heartache, a bereaved mother or father must feel, and the reserve of strength and determination that is needed to forge ahead.

I know that many of my readers have mourned the loss of their children. Several have asked me to write on this topic. However, as I am a mental-health blogger with two healthy children, I thought it best to get some help from a woman I do know that has lived through this and emerged on the other side successfully.

I sat her down for coffee the other morning and interrogated her.

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Doc, Am I Normal? Yes.

Once in awhile I wish that everyone in the world could spend a week in my chair, listening to people describes their lives. What I think they would find, besides a real chance to help others, is that things they believe are “wrong” with them, are really completely normal.

Our culture does a pretty terrible job educating us about normal human functioning. In fact, after 12 years of school, and then 10 more years of college and graduate school, I never once had a single full lecture on “normal” or “healthy” functioning. That fact alone helps me understand some of the questions or fears my clients have.
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Proof Positive: Chicken Little Goes to Resilience Therapy

"Today is a new day!" — Chicken Little
Ms. Little released the following transcript with permission.

Therapist: Let me make sure I understand this. So you initially believed the sky was falling?
Chicken Little: I know it seems ridiculous now, but I was convinced it was happening.
T: What made you think so?
CL: I was hit on the head.
T: By the sky?
CL: Well, yes, I thought it was.
T: What made you think it was the sky?
CL: Well, it came from above my head, and I thought it was the end of the world.
T: But you started to think there might be other explanations.
CL: Yes, but I always think the worst. If I sneeze, I have swine flu. If I call my boyfriend and he doesn’t answer, I think he is with some other chick.
T: Literally?
CL: Yes, there are a lot of good-looking chicks in my area of the woods.
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Best of Our Blogs: May 25, 2010

Life is about beginnings and endings. As one season ends, for example, another one begins. While it's difficult to let go of our beloved television shows (Lost) and our favorite season (spring), there is always something new and exciting just around the bend. The challenge is to have a bit of faith as we make our way blindly through the unexpected and unseen twists and turns in our path.

One thing I've been doing recently is rereading old journals and diaries. It has taught me is that the answers to my questions would reveal itself with time. All of my frustrations, goals, and uncertainties were just a handful of pages away. I just needed to stop fretting and start trusting that my needs would be met and my prayers would be answered.

As you head off into a brand new season of summer, I hope you'll bring patience, compassion and faith to yourself and your life. Here's hoping this week's top posts will help get you there!

Depression and Spirituality - An Unavoidable Mix

(Light, Laughter & Life) - Speaking of journals and having faith, this week's top post discusses both in light of the big D or depression. There's no denying the difficulty depression brings, but is there a silver lining? This blogger admits there is and it's a spiritual one.

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