Brain and Behavior

The Blue Whale Challenge is Real, Sad, & Frightening

A "game" played on social media called the Blue Whale Challenge tests teenagers' and young adults' ability to follow a set of steps that eventually leads to them dying by suicide. The #bluewhalechallenge has been questioned by some authorities as to whether it really exists, but it's clear that some teens are taking their own lives due to the game.

What is the Blue Whale Challenge and how can you stop your child or teen from taking part in it?

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Feeling Frazzled? The Cure Might Be in Your Kitchen

A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology late last year found that individuals who frequently take a stab at small creative projects, report having a higher state of mental health and functioning. In a more recent study, it was discovered that little bursts of creativity each day can go a long way towards preserving your happiness and satisfaction as you hustle and bustle in your daily life.1

Cooking and baking ranks as one of the most satisfying and creative outlets, even if you have never stepped foot in the kitchen You need not be a baker, or a chef to reap the health benefits listed below. Making something homemade, or even semi-homemade for a friend, family member, or a special someone, can go a long way towards keeping you happy and mentally sound.
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Are You Keeping Busy to Avoid Your Feelings?

Something really upsetting happened yesterday. But you have too much to do to think about it.

In fact, it always seems like you have too much to do. Naturally, you refocus on your to-do list. Maybe you even add another seemingly necessary commitment. After all, that networking event is important.

So is the charity function. So is coaching your friend’s summer soccer league. So is helping to plan your colleague’s retirement party. So is that speaking gig and writing an article for that newsletter. So is baking cookies for your book club. So is working an hour later on most days.

In the midst of all of this, you also decide to start a new project. You’ve been thinking about it for a while, and now seems like a good time.
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How to Make a Decision When You’re Depressed

Paper or plastic?

For here or to go?

Cash or credit?

These are simple questions that most people don’t think twice about. But to a person in the midst of a depressive episode, answering any one of these queries can be utter torture. I've sat there looking at a grocery cashier like a deer in the headlights, tormented by the choice between a paper bag and a plastic bag -- as though the rest of my life depended on the decision between which kind of material would transport my eggs and granola to my car.

The inability to make a decision is one of the most infuriating symptoms of depression.
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When You’re Having a Hard Day

Today, nothing is going right.

You receive disappointing news. You're late to work, of course, after spilling coffee all over your clothes. You didn’t get much sleep because you’re thinking of everything you needed to do yesterday. You're also late paying your bills. You pick a fight with your partner.

The rain pounding on the pavement feels like it’s pounding directly on your head. You fall down the Facebook rabbit hole, and don’t emerge until an hour—let’s be honest, several hours—later. You realize that everyone’s lives are better and brighter, and you’re kind of a loser. The smallest tasks feel like rocket science. Walking feels like slogging through mud.
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What’s More Important: Speaking Your Truth or Maintaining Safe Relationships?

We often hear that it’s important to speak your truth -- to express your honest feelings, thoughts, and perceptions. But how often do we create rifts in our relationships following this dictate too rigidly?

We want to be true to ourselves and live with authenticity and integrity. We don’t want to be codependent and conceal our true feelings in order to protect or placate others. Intimacy cannot thrive in a climate of emotional dishonesty and inauthenticity.
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How One Therapist Sets Meaningful, Compassionate Goals

Marriage and family therapist Ashley Thorn got tired of setting resolutions she’d never see through. So she started setting goals around her mental and emotional health instead. Goals that meaningfully contribute to her well-being. Goals that are flexible and compassionate and based on her values.

For instance, in 2016, Thorn’s goal was to face her fears. Another year, after moving to a new area and realizing she was in a social rut, she wanted to make more adult friendships. The year after that, she decided to deepen the relationships she already had with longtime friends and family.
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Using Journaling to Cope with Sadness

Sadness is a difficult emotion to experience.

Usually, we ignore it. We pretend it doesn’t exist. We distract ourselves by staying busy. Or we berate ourselves for feeling too sad or not sad enough. We judge ourselves, as if certain situations require certain amounts of sadness -- and clearly, we’re coming up short (or long).

We misunderstand our sadness, because we’re so eager to sweep it away or annihilate it.

This is why it’s important to have healthy coping tools at our disposal.

Journaling is one of those tools. It’s a powerful way to process any emotion. It “is a way to get emotions out of our heads so we can see them, and therefore deal with them more clearly,” said Laurie Blackwell, a creative journal guide and teacher.
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Free Tool to Assess Mental Health Apps

Digital health tools like smartphone apps have been exploding in popularity, and there are now thousands available in the App Store and on Google Play.

Trouble is, most of them have been developed without research, and lack scientific evidence to prove they are effective.

It can be daunting to browse through available mobile apps to choose one that fits your needs and isn't made by an disreputable developer who maybe didn't use evidence, collaborate with clinicians, or co-design the app with people with lived experience. It's equally hard for a therapist or other clinician to recommend apps to clients, not knowing which are trustworthy and popular with users.
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Anxiety and Panic

Cinematherapy: The Healing Power of Movies and TV

A picture may very well be worth a thousand words. A motion picture? Maybe even more than that.

In a March 2016 article for Counseling Today, Bronwyn Robertson, a counselor and member of the American Counseling Association, writes: 1
Barely able to breathe, a young man battling a panic attack hesitantly enters the group room and makes his way to an empty chair. He and a dozen others “check in” and are then guided through a simple, calming breathing exercise. The lights are...
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Seeking Perfection—Even Though We Know It’s Impossible

A teenage boy is an exceptional baseball player. Every time he pitches a perfect game, his parents praise him. Every time he doesn’t, his parents lecture him on what he did wrong (and he berates himself). They encourage him to train long hours.

A young woman is convinced she’s too big. Her mother and grandmother regularly shame others for their weight. And they shame her, too. The young woman’s mom sticks to a strict number of calories and only eats “clean” foods. Soon the young woman starts doing the same. She and her mom “bond” over counting calories. Her mom praises her for adhering to a rigid diet and doing endless cardio. She praises her for losing weight. The young woman is terrified of stopping the diet and exercise.
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