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Brain and Behavior

Your Government TSA: Traumatizing 4 Year Olds in Kansas

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) defended the actions of its agents yesterday, saying they were only following procedure when they insisted on doing a patdown on a traumatized 4-year old girl. I hope the family finds a way to sue the TSA for all of the psychological counseling this little girl is going to need in the future.

The girl, Isabella Brademeyer, had already successfully passed through the security checkpoint at the Wichita, Kansas airport. But then she went over to hug her grandmother -- her grandmother -- who was still being processed by the TSA. The TSA pulled the grandmother, Lori Croft, out for a pat-down because she apparently set off the metal detector.

But c'mon... the little girl? She's 4. She didn't know any better.

That set off a flurry of activity among the TSA agents, who then insisted that the 4-year old also needed to undergo a patdown. Again... because she hugged her grandmother.

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Is Thyroid Dysfunction Driving Your Depression?

Hypothyroidism -- known as low thyroid -- may cause depression. Hypothyroidism is a “condition in which the body does not get enough thyroid hormone for optimal brain and body functioning,” according to Gary S. Ross, M.D., in Depression & Your Thyroid: What You Need to Know.

Research has found a link between hypothyroidism and depression. For instance, there’s some evidence that people with depression tend to have higher rates of hypothyroidism than the general population (such as this study). A 2004 study found that 38 percent of older patients with hypothyroidism also reported symptoms of depression.

Unfortunately, hypothyroidism often goes undiagnosed. Some people simply aren’t tested for thyroid problems, while others are, but their lab tests come back “normal,” Dr. Ross notes.

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Are We Lonelier on Facebook, Online?

A year can't go by now without some pundit, writer, or researcher weighing in on how the more technology infiltrates our lives, the lonelier we've become.

Stephen Marche, a novelist writing in the May 2012 Atlantic, weaves together a bunch of anecdotes to suggest that Facebook is making us lonelier.

Renowned MIT researcher Sherry Turkle, who bases her conclusions on an endless stream of in-vitro interviews with teens and young adults, suggested over the weekend in the New York Times that technology is certainly making us more connected... but those connections are more shallow and less rich that traditional face-to-face connections.

These are interesting observations, but are they offering us a false dichotomy? Or suggesting a causal relationship where none has yet been established?

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8 Quick Facts on Sex Addiction

This guest article from YourTango was written by Dr. Joe Kort. 

While some people are inappropriately labeled "sex addicts" — providing a blanket excuse for all kinds of irresponsible sexual behavior — others truly suffer from uncontrollable sexual impulses, or sex addiction.

Someone with sex addiction isn't just someone who loves sex. The main symptoms of sex addiction include a loss of control, failed attempts to stop unwanted sexual behavior, and a pattern of negative consequences from anxiety to depression and legal problems.

Here are some quick facts about sex addiction you may not know...

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History of Psychology Round-Up: From Alan Turing to Carl Jung

Every month I share five fascinating articles or podcasts I’ve recently come across while researching the history of psychology.

This month you’ll find everything from information about Alan Turing to Phineas Gage to Carl Jung to the infamous Robbers Cave Experiment.

Alan Turing

This year marks a century since Alan Turing’s birth. A mathematician and code-breaker, Turing also was the founder of computer science and artificial intelligence. Nature has a variety of articles and a podcast on everything from Turing’s famous 1936 paper to his other interests. Also, here’s another podcast that explores Turing’s tragic life and his incredible contributions.

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VA Lied About Wait Times

Up until Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claimed that 95 percent of the vets are seen within 14 days after contacting them for mental health issues if not in crisis. We now know that's a lie.

Federal investigators revealed yesterday that half the veterans who seek out mental health care in the VA system waited about 50 days -- not 14 -- before receiving a full evaluation. That's not just a tiny lie. That's a lie covering up a wait time that is 350 percent greater than the VA's original claims. A wait time that clearly demonstrates that demand is outstripping supply of qualified mental health professionals.

But wait, it gets better. Because that's not the only thing the VA has been fudging the numbers about.

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Best of Our Blogs: April 24, 2012

I can barely remember the pain of losing a loved one, getting my heart broken or any physical injury I've had to endure in my life. But I can describe to you in vivid detail the dessert I had almost 4 years ago while honeymooning in Santorini, Greece. I remember the velvety texture of the dark chocolate, the cocoa powder dusted on top and how the combination of sweet honey drizzled on white eggplant comfit delicately played on my tongue.

I doubt my husband will forget it either. But for him, it wasn't the dessert that was memorable as much as my reaction. He remembers how long it took me to finish it, the permanent grin on my face and the intensity with which I savored every bite. I hadn't even realized I was audibly expressing my satisfaction until he laughed and said, "You do realize people can hear you right?"

I think the reason why the memory was so memorable is explained in one of our posts this week. When we can find moments to savor, when we pay attention to the things that bring us joy, we have more delight, happiness and zest for life. That single moment so many years ago still brings back feelings of complete wonder, sensory overload and joy. If you want to start adding more of those moments in your own life, read our first post below.
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Depression Awareness Week in the UK

It's depression awareness week in the UK. The Depression Alliance hosts the week-long effort to make people more aware of the facts about depression, one of the most common mental health issues facing people in the UK and around the world.

They host the week in an effort to try and end the stigma and prejudice associated with depression. They say you can help "by raising awareness, holding a fundraiser, donating or joining Depression Alliance." You can also share your story with them on their website.

Depression is the feeling of being sad all the time for no reason, having no hope for the future, being unable to enjoy things in life you used to enjoy (friends, hobbies, etc.), and is often accompanied by problems sleeping, feeling lethargic, and taking no pleasure in anything (specific depression symptoms). It is a complex disorder -- not a pure disease -- that has significant underlying biological, psychological and social components in most people who have it.

Feeling more aware yet? Good, then we're half-way there.

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History of Psychology: Asylums for the Wealthy

Money may not buy you love. But in the 19th century, if you were well off, it could snag you a “home-away-from-home” private hospital. These rich-only places were a far cry from the overcrowded and filthy public asylums of the day, according to this article in March's issue of Monitor on Psychology.

The terrible conditions of public asylums that prompted physicians to open their homes to wealthy psychiatric patients. Rich patients could expect tranquil, scenic environments and -- for that time ­-- state-of-the-art treatments. Boris Sidis was one of the physicians who established a private hospital.

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VA Ups Mental Health Clinicians by 1600, But Is It Enough?

I applaud the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) decision last week to increase its mental health staffing in facilities by nearly 10 percent across the board, adding up to 1,600 new clinicians -- psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and more. (My sources within the VA indicate most of these positions will be LPC and Master's level clinicians -- not psychologists or psychiatrists.)

It's a good step forward as the military struggles with the hundreds of thousands of returning vets who have increasing mental health needs. Most of the new hires -- about 1,400 -- will be clinicians that work directly with vet patients.

But let's also put this into some perspective, too. According to its website, the VA operates 172 hospitals across the United States, and 837 outpatient clinics. That's 1,009 places where a vet can go to get help. That means that, on average, each clinic or hospital will get 1.4 new clinicians.

One and a half new clinicians per facility? Not nearly as impressive.

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5 Ways to Promote Inner Peace So You Can Create

“Too much stress is a creativity choker,” writes Gail McMeekin in her book, 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women: A Portable Life Coach for Creative Women. But some days, doesn’t it seem like stress comes with the package of living? Like it stalks you as you walk from room to room, out the door to run your errands and back into the car again?

Some days, maybe even most days, the overwhelm sets in like a sweat-soaked stranger sitting oppressively close to you on the subway -- suddenly, there's not enough air, and it quickly gets unbearable. And that kind of state doesn’t exactly support your creativity.

While you can’t completely eliminate stress from your days, there are ways you can create a tranquil environment so you can focus on your craft -- whatever that might be.

According to McMeekin, creativity thrives in tranquility. She writes, “Your inner peace and connection with your internal whims and spontaneity allow you to recreate the landscape of your mind and invent the new.”

Here are five ways from McMeekin’s book to promote inner peace and make creativity a priority.

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Video: More on Building Resiliency

Psychological resilience and resiliency are important because the more resilient a person is, the happier a life they will lead. Resiliency is all about how some people seem to bounce back readily from life's challenges, while others get bogged down in stress, anxiety, and even depression.

So the question then becomes, How does one build resilience? Last week, Psych Central's Ask the Therapists Daniel J. Tomasulo, Ph.D. & Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. walked through some basics about resiliency, and this week they take it another step further:
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