Addicted to Facebook?

I hear people say this a lot: “I am soooo addicted to Facebook!”  I think they typically mean to say that they like Facebook and spend a lot of time on it.  But as one of my readers recently asked, is it possible to be really and truly addicted to Facebook?   As in, bad things start happening in life because of a user’s Facebook time?  This is a great question and one I have been thinking a lot about since my reader asked.  So, first things first:  What does “addiction” really mean?  According to the DSM-IV, ONE of the following things need to be present in order for one to qualify for a diagnosis of substance abuse (and let’s just assume for a moment that Facebook can be considered a substance):

  1. Recurrent use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household). This one is definitely possible when talking about Facebook.  Again, this isn’t going to apply to the vast majority of Facebook users, even the die-hards.  But for those who find themselves constantly checking their friends’ statuses, playing games, searching for new friends – to the detriment of their other duties in life – they may indeed meet this criteria.
  2. Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by substance use). At first I thought this point wouldn’t apply to Facebook use, but then I thought of Facebook-ing while driving.  In very extreme cases, it would be possible for folks to have gotten into legal trouble because of Facebook-ing while driving and yet continuing to engage in the behavior.
  3. Recurrent substance related legal problems (e.g., arrests for substance related disorderly conduct). I don’t know about this one.  Can one get into legal trouble on Facebook?
  4. Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication, physical fights). This is one I have actually seen in real life.  Husbands complaining that they never see their wives anymore because they spend so much time on Facebook.  Wives complaining that their husbands won’t stop playing Facebook games long enough to engage with their families.   Perhaps these things can be warning signs of troubled Facebook use, and the possibility of more serious problems down the road.

So, what’s the conclusion; can we become addicted to Facebook?  I think the answer is yes.  While Facebook is not a mood or mind-altering substance (like alcohol or drugs), its overuse can cause “clinically significant impairment or distress.”  Concerned about your own Facebook habit?  Try curtailing your use – or totally abstaining – for the next week or two.  Set specific “Facebook time” in which you can enjoy checking up on your friends, but declare Facebook off limits during other times of the day.




Mental Health’s Little Known Secrets

Mental Health Blog Party
In honor of Mental Health Month and the American Psychological Association’s Blog Party, I thought I would share some little-known areas of life affected by mental health.  These are also areas and topics in which psychologists often help their clients.  Perhaps you, or someone you know might benefit from seeking the services of a psychologist for one of the following:

  • Bullying.  Bullying happens for lots of reasons: anger, sadness, or feeling out of place.  Mental health concerns are not always the reasons a child (or adult) bullies, but they certainly can be.  And mental health can be negatively affected when one is bullied.  Psychologists can help kids, families, school, and communities prevent and cope with bullying.
  • Managing chronic disease. Managing chronic diseases like diabetes, and coping with chronic pain is tough no matter who you are.  If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or another mental illness, it can make the process even more difficult.  Psychologists can help these folks learn to manage their mood and anxiety, as well as adjust to their medical condition.
  • Financial stability. Sometimes overspending is just overspending.  Sometimes, however, it can be the result of a larger issue with setting limits, delaying gratification, and even overall unhappiness with life.  If you’ve tried sticking to a budget and it just isn’t working, a psychologist may be able to help you understand why adopting new financial behaviors is so difficult – and then assist you in making changes that work.
  • Improving your tennis game. Concentration, focus, physical performance, motivation – anxiety can wreak havoc on our performance.  Thanks to the publicity given to sports psychologists by athletes like Ron Artest, more and more people are understanding the positive impact psychologists can have on performance (whether it be athletic, musical, etc).
  • Coping with divorce. We all know divorce is hard, even in the best circumstances.  But did you know that psychologists (together with other professionals) can help couples divorce with dignity through a process called collaborative divorce?  Something to look into.


CREATE Mental Health Week – Edible Sugar Flowers

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Rachael Teufel. Rachael is the owner of Intricate Icings, a cake design studio in Erie, CO.  Perhaps you’ve seen Rachael’s work on the Food Network’s Cake Challenge. Welcome, Rachael (and thanks for letting me eat the samples shown here – DELICIOUS!!)

Sugar has always been my stress reliever. Well making art with sugar that is, although I have been known to eat sugar in times of stress as well (not quite as healthy for you though). So I thought I’d share an easy way to make your cupcakes super cute in a quick and easy fashion, while hopefully releasing a little stress.

First bake some cupcakes and ice them with your favorite buttercream. If you’re not so much into the baking thing, it’s okay just buy some premade cupcakes and top them with your own edible flowers.

Here are the things you will need:

  • Flower shaped cookie cutters and a small round cutter or piping tip
  • A rolling pin
  • 2 colors of Fondant or modeling chocolate (Fondant can be found at your local craft store)
  • Paint brush
  • Water (in very small amounts!)

First start by rolling out one color of fondant on a smooth work surface lightly dusted with powdered sugar. You’ll want to roll the fondant as thin as you can, about 1/8 inch thick. Using your cookie cutters, cut out a large and a small blossom. Apply a small dab of water to the center of the blossom and using the tip of your finger; securely attach the small blossom to the center. Repeat this process until you have the desired number of flowers. You can cut multiple flowers at one time, just be sure to work quickly as fondant does dry out fairly fast.

Roll out your second color of fondant and using your piping tip or small round cutter, cut out the centers of your flowers. Apply a small dab of water to the center of the blossom and using the tip of your finger or the end of a paint brush; securely attach the center to the blossom. Then transfer your beautiful flower to the top of the iced cupcake and serve.

This most certainly is a very basic flower, but be creative and you can find other fun ways to embellish them. For instance… use a textured mat to imprint a design on the fondant before cutting out the blossoms. You can use a paint brush and gel food color to paint designs on the petals. Or you can form a lady bug, bumble bee or butterfly out of fondant and place them on the flower. The options are endless. Whatever you choose, just remember to have fun!

Glee and OCD

Did you see last night’s Glee? As you know I am a huge Gleek, so I think all episodes are awesome, but this one was particularly good. I especially liked the way they addressed Emma Pillsbury’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

OCD is an easy disorder to make fun of. Furious hand washing, repeated checking of light switches, constant organizing of canned goods – the possibilities for showing the disorder in a “humorous” light are endless. Thankfully, Glee has chosen not to take the easy path of humor, but has instead chosen to seriously discuss the disorder.

OCD is a type of anxiety disorder (which was nicely pointed out on the show) that can affect people in many ways. Obsessive, constant thoughts and worries; Compulsions to engage in certain behaviors over and over; A combination of both; OCD is expressed in many ways. However one’s OCD is expressed, a common point is that it is disruptive to life in some way. OCD can make performing one’s job difficult, maintaining relationships a struggle (as in the case of Ms. Pillsbury), or simply enjoying things you used to impossible.

Luckily, there is treatment for OCD. As the psychiatrist on Glee pointed out: a combination of medication therapy and psychotherapy are typically the best bet for effective treatment. It takes work and time to enjoy a relief in symptoms, but it is possible – and in fact likely – that with consistent treatment the disorder will become less severe.

Some resources:

International OCD Foundation

American Psychological Association

National Screen Free Week!

Today marks the start of one of my favorite weeks of the year – Screen Free Week.  This is a week when families are encouraged to get off the couch, turn off the TV, computer, and video games and do something different.  Engage with each other, get active outside, try something new!  Last year I pledged to remain screen free for the week and I (almost) made it.  Read about my experiences here.

This year I am going to try it again – will you make the pledge with me?

Some thoughts via National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There program:

“The tolls of an indoor childhood include:

  1. Declining creativity, concentration, and social skills
  2. Doubling of the childhood obesity rate with an incremental $100 billion annual cost to our public health system
  3. Alarming increase in prescribed antidepressants for American children over the past 10 years

Outdoor play offers physical, emotional and health benefits:

  1. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 60 minutes of daily unstructured free play to improve children’s physical and mental health
  2. National Association for the Education of Young Children cites that play is an active form of learning that unites the mind, body, and spirit
  3. Children who play outside are more physically active, more creative, less aggressive, and show better concentration”

Want more information about the Be Out There program, or want to sign a pledge? Check them out here:And check back here throughout the week for ideas of new, fun things to do with your family while you spend the week screen free!

Photo by: Sha3teely


Tax Weekend – Are You Stressed?

3 more days and counting until Tax Day!  How is your stress level?  I contributed to an article written on LiveScience that came out today on tax day stress relief.  I thought I would write a bit more about my comments here.

I think there are a couple of main points about managing Tax Day Stress (and most kinds of stress for that matter):

Keep on Keeping on. Most of us already have at least one good coping skill on board already: walking, deep breathing, weekly book club, watching Days of Our Lives.  Whatever it is – keep doing it this weekend.  Resist the urge to try another, unhealthy way to cope (drinking too much, pick up cigarette smoking, go on a shopping spree).

Ask for help. Trouble figuring out the tax forms?  Reading your W-2?  Turning on Turbo Tax?  Don’t hesitate to ask for help.  Whether it’s your mom or your accountant, there’s no shame in getting assistance – this is tough stuff.

Want more ideas? Read the American Psychological Association’s tip sheet on managing Tax Day stress.

Photo by: RudeCactus




Who Are You?

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and she asked me: “Who are you?”  I was about to answer when she added a rule:

“When you answer,” she said “you can’t mention any of the roles you have.  For example, you can’t say mom, psychologist, friend, daughter.  It has to be who you are not what you do and/or who you do it for.”

Yikes.  That’s a tough one.  I have to admit, it has been a long time since I have thought of myself separate from the roles I play.  I used to think about it all the time.  Some examples:

  • When I was 8 I was someone who loved swimming and Kirk Cameron
  • When I was 15 I was someone who loved hippie clothes, crystal necklaces, and doing things on my own (read: not with my parents)
  • When I was 20 I was was someone who had a love of fitness activities and traveling
  • When I was 25 I was someone who had a passion for working with people, was committed to my studies, and was a huge University of Denver ice hockey fan

So who are we now? Now that we are not the pie-in-the-sky, anything-is-possible children we once were?  Think about it.  What makes you happy?  What makes your heart race with excitement?  What do you look forward to?  Being able to answer these questions will help you answer the question: “Who are you?” Good luck!

…and with some thought, I’m thinking I am now someone who loves watching videos new:

and old: