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Introducing The College Spill

Mental health issues affect everyone, but some populations are more vulnerable than others.

Most people might not think that college students rank high up there on that list, but they would be wrong. College is a vulnerable time for many teens and young adults, especially since many students are leaving home for the first time. Young adulthood is also a prime time that personality development is solidifying -- and when most people are involved in...
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Anxiety and Panic

How to Overcome Being Anxious About Being Anxious

Do the physical twinges of anxiety make you even more anxious? For instance, for some people, even though the sweaty palms, racing heartbeat and shaky limbs are a result of exercise -- and not an impending panic attack -- they still experience intense anxiety about their anxiety.

This is called anxiety sensitivity. According to authors and clinical psychologists Margo C. Watt, Ph.D, and Sherry H. Stewart, Ph.D, in their excellent book Overcoming the Fear of Fear: How to Reduce Anxiety Sensitivity, anxiety sensitivity is “the tendency to respond fearfully to bodily sensations associated with fear and anxiety.” Put simply, it’s “the fear of fear.”

People who are prone to anxiety sensitivity tend to catastrophize, or automatically assume that the worst will happen. For instance, you might fear that your trembling might catch the attention of others or a racing heart might mean a heart attack.

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Brain and Behavior

How Does ECT Work in the Brain?

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an uncommon treatment for severe, chronic depression. It is used sparingly, partially because our understanding of why and how it works is still in the dark ages. It also doesn't help that it can cause memory loss in many patients who undergo it (usually confined to just memory around ECT treatments, but occasionally also around older, longer-term memories as well), as well as increasing attention and concentration problems in a minority of people who try ECT.

However, a new study sheds light on the possible mechanism for how electroconvulsive therapy works, based upon one theory of how depression works in the brain.

The theory goes like this -- depression isn't caused by too little brain activity. It's actually caused by too much brain activity, an overactive brain that has accidentally "hot-wired" multiple brain networks together. (How and why this hot-wiring occurs is still a mystery.)

So how can ECT undo this hot-wiring?

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Best of Our Blogs: March 20, 2012

How we interact with the world is largely based on the way we perceive it. It sounds like common sense doesn't it? But in reality, how many of us go about our day saying things like, "the economy is just getting worse," "I'll never find a job" or "I'm just not good enough?"

It's the tapes we play in our head that direct our attention, energy and attitude. Yet, we tend to downplay them and blame our bad luck, misfortune or failures on external events instead. We forget the possibilities life offered to us in the form of play, imagination and faith when we were kids. And as we grow into adults, we let fear and these negative tapes dictate our every action.

When you feel stuck, why not learn to bend in the wind of the unknown? Instead of assuming you already know the end of the story, why not flex your creative muscle and recreate your own? This week our posts will help you to get unstuck creatively and emotionally and improve your state of mind and even your sleep with a few powerful strategies listed here.
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Video: Building Resilience

We all know that having resilience in life is tied directly to one's happiness. In general, the more resilient a person is -- that is, the more easily they can bounce back from life's downs -- the happier a life they will lead.

So the question then becomes, How does one build resilience? Can we nurture it like we nurture our creativity or intimacy?

In this video, Psych Central's Ask the Therapists Daniel J. Tomasulo, Ph.D. & Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. discuss the issue of how does a person make their relationship work. What goes into making a relationship successful? Find out by watching the segment below:
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History of Psychology Round-Up: From Psychoanalysis’s Birthplace to Britain’s Last Rites

Every month I share the most interesting articles I’ve come across while writing about the history of psychology.

This month, you'll find everything from the birthplace of psychoanalysis in America -- hint: it’s not New York City -- to the founder of cognitive psychology to an entire series on mental illness and last rites.

Let's get started...

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7 Things Women Wish They’d Known Before Marriage

This guest article from YourTango was written by Dr. Laurie Weiss. 

The New York Times reported that over half of the births to US women younger than 30 occurred outside of marriage in 2009. Most of the ongoing rise of births to unmarried women occurred to couples living together but unmarried. So why don't these young women want to get married?

New York Times experts speculate on a number of economic reasons in a follow-up article in the Motherlode section. They reported that many young parents said “they would like to be married but not now and not to each other.”

The research I did for my forthcoming book, 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Saying I Do: Your Guide to a Successful and Fulfilling Marriage suggests other important reasons that young women don’t feel ready to marry.

Here are seven of the areas that the women who answered my question, “What is the most important thing you wish you had known before you were married?” mentioned most frequently.

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Self-Esteem Boost: Throw Away Someone Else’s Trash

Self-esteem is a topic that has generated a fair amount of controversy over the last few decades, but one thing seems clear: you don’t get healthy self-esteem from constantly telling yourself how great you are, or even from other people telling you how great you are. You get healthy self-esteem from behaving in ways that you yourself find estimable.

For instance, you feel better about yourself when you keep a difficult resolution, meet a challenge, solve a problem, learn a skill, or cross something unpleasant off your to-do list. And one of the best ways to feel better about yourself is to help someone else. Do good, feel good.

I had a friend who went through a period of tremendous rejection: she was fired from her job, she didn’t get into the graduate program to which she’d applied, and her boyfriend broke up with her. Everything worked out fine, and I asked her how she got through such a tough time. She said, “I was practically addicted to doing good deeds for other people. It was the only way I could make myself feel like I wasn’t a total loser.”

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SXSW: Online Therapy… Naked? Post-Mortem

I recently had the pleasure of appearing on a SXSW panel organized by Dr. John Grohol called "Online Therapy... Naked?"

Joining me were Audrey Young and Julie Hanks, along with Dr. Grohol. The topics discussed ranged from the kinds of clients we're all seeing online to the software we use to the differences between in-person and online therapy to the details of my practice, Naked Therapy.

Besides describing their own online work, there was a vibe from my co-panelists that Naked Therapy, while cute, had come from another planet. And in a way they are right -- it has come from the Internet planet with a history very different from their psychotherapeutic backgrounds.

The current definition of NT (now just over a year old) is a form of talk therapy in which the client and/or the therapist gets naked. This is a new kind of therapy bred from new ground and I am in the early stages of assessing its possibilities.

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Siri: I Couldn’t Find Any Suicide Prevention Centers

If you're feeling suicidal, don't rely on Siri.

Today, I decided to play around with my fiance's new iPhone. Siri, the iPhone's "digital assistant" is capable of handling all sorts of tasks: sending text messages, scheduling reminders, determining directions, searching Google for answers to questions, and using Wolfram Alpha to compute math problems.

She's clever, though. Ask her if she's male or female and she'll answer frankly: none. Ask her about the meaning of life and she cracks a snarky joke about writing a "very long play in which nothing happens." Ask her about which religion is correct and she'll mention something about being a "Siliconist."

But try to ask her about suicide, and you might as well consult a freshly-mined chunk of elemental silicon instead.

I sat down with Siri for twenty minutes and pretended to be suicidal. Here's what she had to say: Transcript follows.

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Best of Our Blogs: March 16, 2012

As we get older, it's easier to succumb to disappointment and negativity. What was once a minor upset, becomes intolerable. When dreams get overlooked, abandoned and replaced with a sense of hopelessness everything becomes a big blow. It's our scoop of ice-cream that fell off the cone before we took the first bite all over again, but times a hundred.

We often don't realize that there is no way to avoid disappointment and failure. We can attempt to escape it temporarily by isolating ourselves or by denying our expectations of happiness. But all that does is increase our pain when an unexpected bout of disappointment shows itself. And it will. That's hardly living, but living in fear of our next failure.

The trick to growing older with ease is to strengthen our emotional muscles. And remember that we survived through worse before and will again. This week you'll discover new ways to be happy and help those you love seek the help they need. Truthfully, the only way to deal with disappointment is to actually deal with them. Being alive means we will always encounter disappointments, but confronting, not avoiding them is our best shot at truly living our lives. Once we've garnered the courage to overcome these obstacles, we'll learn to stop crying over spilled ice-cream so we can get up faster and move on.
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Introducing Therapy Case Notes

Psychotherapy remains a mysterious process to many. In society’s collective unconscious psyche, we often slip into believing modern psychotherapy resembles something from early Freudian days -- the patient lays on a couch and the therapist sits out of sight of the patient while they recount their day or week, and earliest childhood memories. There is often a mistaken belief that therapy is never-ending.

But modern psychotherapy doesn’t much resemble that stereotype any longer. Today, therapy is often...
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