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What If a Sugar Pill Was Just as Effective As Psychotherapy?

Yum, sugar pills! We talk about them all the time in science, where they have a much more formal and less appetizing name -- placebos.

A placebo is simply something used in research to act as a treatment equivalent, so as to not bias either the research subjects or the researchers themselves in how they perceive and react to the experimental treatment. In research on drugs, this often means giving one group of patients pills that look just like the medicine being studied, but lacking any active ingredient.

In recent years, new research has emerged looking solely at the studies that were used to gain FDA approval of antidepressant medications (some of which were never published). When taken together, the studies found that antidepressant medications may not be as effective as previously thought (but what any patient who's ever tried them could've told us decades ago). This recent research found effect sizes of just 0.31.

Which got some researchers to wonder... If antidepressant drug treatment effect sizes might be lower than we had thought, could the same be true for psychotherapy effect sizes too?

Could, in fact, a sugar pill offer as much change in one's depression as months or years of intensive psychotherapy?

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How to Navigate a Cancer Diagnosis

Unlike many of the most important events in one’s life -- graduation, marriage, having a child -- almost no one anticipates a cancer diagnosis.

This year, nearly 239,000 U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 232,000 women will learn they have breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Over their lifetimes, nearly half of all men can expect a cancer diagnosis, and more than a third of women. (The data does not include non-melanoma skin cancers, the most common diagnosis.)

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Strategies to Help Remove Stress From Your Work Schedule

If you can define the schedule of your workday or week even a little, yet constantly feel constrained by time, try a new path. Get mindful as to what rigid routine or schedule pattern is causing you stress. Even if you can’t figure it out, try injecting some change-up. Here are two such approaches.

Some people get into the office and absolutely won’t feel organized till they listen to voicemail and scan emails. These folks know they can’t operate on all cylinders until they see and organize what has just come over the horizon.

Others, though, get to these two activities only because they’d feel ashamed if anyone knew they had yet to know about a memo or call. They grit their teeth, tighten up their back and sit for the first hour or two doing this task they abhor.

As odd as it may feel, it would help those in the second group to get past any self-induced shame and dive into what they normally only allow themselves to get to once “catch-up” is over.

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The 4 Things That Will Break Up Your Relationship

This guest article from YourTango was written by Dave Elliott.

In any marriage or long-term, romantic relationship, there are a number of challenges that have the potential to completely wreck your relationship. However, if it's any consolation at all, researchers have observed that there are just four behaviors that, when avoided, greatly improve your chances for the long-term health and happiness of your relationship.

Now if you think that's a measurable improvement, consider this: In just 15 minutes of interaction, an expert can predict with a 90 percent degree of accuracy whether a couple will still be together in five years. That's a pretty eye-opening statistic.

Below, you'll find the four things that predict your relationship is heading for the rocks.

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7 Tips for Newlyweds on Avoiding Common Mistakes & Improving Your Marriage

You often hear newlywed life is a breeze. It’s sugar and spice and everything nice. It’s why the first few months of marriage are called “the honeymoon phase,” a period when couples are passionately in love and blissfully happy.

But the honeymoon phase isn’t all sweets and delight. It, too, comes with bitter moments and potential problems, according to Christina Steinorth, MFT, a psychotherapist and author of the book Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships.

Newlyweds have to navigate a variety of sensitive issues, such as finances and family, in their just-married life. And it’s easy to make mistakes. Below, Steinorth shared her tips for managing common mistakes and improving your marriage for years to come.

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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: June 25, 2013

Where Are You Spending Your Energy?

I read in an O magazine article recently about a woman who refused to feel sorry for herself. Why? Despite a row of bad luck and horrible circumstances, she's come to the realization that self-pity doesn't do anyone any good. In fact, she said, it steals away your power.

That doesn't mean we all miraculously feel grateful or positive immediately following trauma or difficulty. In fact, it's quite normal to feel sorry for yourself or to grieve after something bad has happened. It's in our nature to want things to work out, to be happy, to be free of illness. However, since life doesn't always turn out the way we want it to, developing external and internal strengths are vital to our health and well-being.

This week you'll learn it doesn't take much to change our situation for the better. Whether it's gardening or practicing mindfulness, these posts teach us how to grow resilience and heal ourselves. It's all about empowering yourself.

If you need direction on how to get along with your co-workers better or to be more self-compassionate, for example, the key isn't to focus on what's not working, but to spend your energy on what you can do to change your situation. You'll find that with practice, something you once thought of as misfortune or bad luck was the turning point toward self-healing and empowerment.
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Having Feelings is OK

“It’s okay to cry for our losses. It’s okay to mourn the dreams that didn’t pan out. It’s okay to hurt and not have things figured out.”
~ C. De Lima on

I would like to preface this piece by echoing the mantra: things could always be worse.

They really could be. Whenever tragedy strikes, or I hear news that’s paralyzing, that pertinent reminder remains at the foreground.

So while that motif is certainly true, do we need to dismiss our personal feelings when something doesn’t go as planned, a stressor hits, or a heart is broken? No. The worst-case scenario did not occur, of course, but our feelings can still be justified, right?

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5 Decisions That Can Make You Happier

Recent happiness studies indicate that popularity, influence, and money do not make people happiest -- even as our culture suggests otherwise.

Instead, autonomy, life purpose, and relationships are found at the top of the list.

In her new book, The Happiness Choice: The Five Decisions that Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, Marilyn Tam communicates what she learned, in research and through painful experiences, on how to be happy, healthy, and have a balanced life.

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Children and Teens

Discovering Your Teenage Daughter is Pregnant: 10 Tips for Parents

“You’re what?”

It’s not every day your teenage daughter tells you she’s pregnant. That same teenage daughter you thought was only interested in cheerleading and getting good results in school. That same teenage girl who only a few short few weeks ago told you she’s not interested in having a boyfriend.

“You’re what!”

Hearing such life-changing news can be overwhelming to hear. In this situation, if you’re not excited about this news, it’s very easy for the unhealthy emotion of anger to burst forth. In this situation you can go from calm to angry and shocked in a fraction of a second.

When that happens, rational thinking isn't easy and you might find yourself reacting rather than responding.

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Unraveling the Secrets of Our Mysterious Brain

There are many big moments in scientific discovery. Humans have explored our world and learned incredible things. We’ve discovered a giant asteroid belt circling a star 25 light-years from earth. We determined that disease comes from microorganisms.

We’ve explored the structure of an atom. And we can see bones inside our bodies as well as bombs inside suitcases.

Yet the human brain still remains very much a mystery. Recent advances in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have led to great gains in our understanding of the brain and how it functions. 

But even so, scientists have not yet discovered all the types of cells that make up the brain and don’t yet know how they all function together.

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Introducing Living a Balanced Life

Many of us ask, “How can we get our life in better balance?” Between our commitments and responsibilities to family, work, friends, and more, it can sometimes be quite overwhelming.

That’s why I’m pleased to welcome Dr. Michele Brennan to her new blog, Living a Balanced Life. This blog will explore how to achieve a life balance that works better — not only for yourself, but for those around you. You can...
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