Let’s get to the myths:
Want to read the rest of the article? Check it out:
Let’s get to the myths:
Want to read the rest of the article? Check it out:
I was recently interviewed for an article about myths vs. facts of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Most people who suffer from SAD experience symptoms in the winter months, and it being the dead of winter (at least here in Colorado), this can be a really tough time of year.
But how do you know if you have SAD, or if winter is just long, annoying and unpleasant?
Here are some of the symptoms of SAD:
These symptoms come at a certain time of year with some predictability and regularity. Most people with SAD experience these symptoms in the winter months when there is less sunlight. But SAD also exists in the summer months when sunlight is plentiful.
SAD is NOT simply a dislike for winter, or a desire to drink hot chocolate and watch Friends reruns. It is a syndrome that has significant impacts on the the sufferer’s quality of life.
Check back in for SAD myths busted.
Did you know that psychology is one of the top 5 most popular college majors?
There’s a lot you can do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology:
In short, psychology is a great foundation for lots of careers. But what about if you want to take your education in psychology further and become a psychologist?
I recently wrote an article over at HealtheCareers about what to think about before taking the plunge and entering graduate school to become a psychologist.
Here’s one tip that might come as a bit of a surprise:
I was recently interviewed for an article over at:
…about what to say and what NOT to say to a friend/family member/co-worker who is struggling with depression. I love being a part of these kinds of articles because it really gives me a chance to air my annoyances out loud! And someone is actually listening!
Anyway, the article is actually really helpful – giving lots of ideas about how to approach someone who is feeling depressed. My favorite useless (and potentially harmful) piece of advice that’s often given to depressed folks?
and here’s why I don’t like it:
A similar piece of advice is to focus on the positives and be grateful. “These are pretty good ideas in general, but for someone struggling with mental illness, hanging a motivational poster in their room, and starting a gratitude journal isn’t going to cut it,” said Stephanie Smith, PsyD., a psychologist in private practice in Erie, Colo. “In fact, trivializing depression by assuming that a clever-sounding phrase can cure it, can do much more harm than good.”
Check out the entire article (including advice from one of my favorite psychologists, Dr. Deb Serani) here:
If we’re being completely honest about mental health care, and what prevents people from getting the care they need, we have to talk about the embarrassment factor. Even those of us who “know better” than to be ashamed and are aware of the “stigma” around mental health issues, can suffer from some embarrassment around seeking treatment for ourselves. We know therapy is OK for others, but for us? Hmmm…not so sure.
I was recently interviewed by Mainstream Mental Health Radio about the embarrassment factor when it comes to mental health care. I discussed who is susceptible to feeling some shame around starting therapy, including:
…pretty much anyone. But those of us who know a little (or a lot) about psychology and mental health might find ourselves thinking the following:
In the interview I also talk about how all the public education that’s been done in the last couple of decades around mental health awareness has been fantastic. But we’re still not out of the woods in terms of understanding that mental illness has nothing to do with weakness or inferior character.
To listen to the interview – which also contains information about the mental health benefits of martial arts (who knew?!), check it out on Mainstream Mental Health Radio:
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like food and mental health would have much to do with each other. But actually, they go hand in hand. Appetite changes (eating more, or eating less) can be an important red flag, or symptom, when it comes to diagnosing mental illness. For example:
Psychiatric medications can also change appetite and eating habits. Stimulant medications, anti-depressants, mood stabilizers and other psychiatric medications used to treat mental illness all come with possible side effects. For this reason, mental health providers and patients often keep a close eye on eating habits when a new medication is started, or dosage changed.
Want more information about food and mental health? Check out my recent article at:
And for recipes, stories and other ways food and mood go together, check out my Food and Mood page.
Diagnosing mental illness is difficult. There are no blood tests for depression; no urine tests for panic attacks; no cheek swabs for schizophrenia. And sadly, online questionnaires aren’t accurate diagnostic tools either.
I recently got to be a part of an article over at Psych Central about conditions and illnesses that mimic mental health disorders. It’s an interesting topic because at its core, it means that we – as health care providers – need to be extremely careful and thorough when making diagnoses. Here’s a quote from the article:
Having the correct diagnosis is vital. It leads to a more precise, effective treatment plan…If we don’t know what we’re dealing with at the beginning of treatment, our interventions can be like shooting arrows in the dark; not very accurate and possibly dangerous.
Another point is:
Depression is a condition almost everyone is familiar with, so it can easily become a catch-all phrase or diagnosis. But there are literally hundreds of other mental health disorders, one of which may better capture the symptoms you are experiencing.
One of my favorite psychologists is Dr. Deborah Serani. She is quite the mover and shaker in the field of psychology. She’s a professor, a clinician, an author – and she has also struggled with depression since childhood. Dr. Serani recently gave a TedX Talk at Adelphi University. Check it out:
Dr. Serani’s talk is incredibly moving. She gives a touching description of what it’s like to be depressed as a child. And also a very detailed account of her suicide attempt as a very young woman. Dr. Serani offers expertise on how to best manage mental illness, including “consistency, consistency, consistency” when it comes to psychotherapy and medication. I also appreciated the way she describes how self-care plays a part in managing her mental illness, including vigorously guarding her sleep, and being selective in who and what she lets into her life.
Dr. Serani concludes her powerful talk by offering words of encouragement to those suffering (and treating) mental illness:
“There is hope, there is healing.”
I really wish I knew how many people think about starting therapy, but don’t actually do it. Because my hunch is that it’s a whole heck of a lot.
We hear people talking about the stigma around mental illness and mental health treatment all the time, and honestly I think the one who suffers from this stigma is often ourselves. Here’s what stigma against mental health treatment looks like when we use it on ourselves:
The fact is, public education about mental health has been so good in recent years, that most of us wouldn’t dream of saying any of the above statements to a friend, loved one, or stranger. We know mental illness isn’t:
But yet some of us still say these unhelpful, untrue things to ourselves. Why? Because the stigma around mental illness still exists. It’s fading for sure, but it has a long way to go. So if you find that you are talking yourself OUT of getting mental health treatment, label those thoughts for what they are: junk. Then pick up the phone and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
To find a psychologist near you, check out APA’s Psychologist Locator service. It’s a free, easy place to start.
Panic attacks are fairly common. In fact, NIMH estimates that Panic Disorder (a disorder characterized by recurrent panic attacks and persistent worry about future attacks) affects about 6 million Americans. Wow. And anyone who has ever experienced a panic attack will tell you they’re no fun at all. In fact they can be downright terrifying.
The tough thing about panic attacks is they can strike anytime – from right before a big presentation, to when you’re watching your favorite movie on your couch at home. And to make things worse, t they feel like lots of other, unpleasant things (like heart attacks, for one).
So what does a panic attack feel like? Here are a few things folks can experience during a panic attack:
Sounds awful, doesn’t it? And to top it off, panic attacks can last 30 minutes or more. Luckily, we know there are effective treats for panic attacks and Panic Disorder. Psychotherapy – particularly Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy – has been shown to be and effective treatment. There are also medications that can be helpful. For more information on treatment for panic attacks check out this information at NIMH.