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Sep 29

by Melanie A. Greenberg, Ph.D. in The Mindful Self-Express

Parenting is one of the most challenging, yet meaningful life tasks. Unfortunately, popular wisdom and misconceptions about how to raise responsible kids can lead to ineffective communication and power struggles Some parents use authoritarian parenting strategies that do not allow the child an independent voice or sense of efficacy. Other parents overcompensate with overly permissive parenting that doesn’t teach kids about limits and self-control. Research shows both extremes can interfere with kids’ ability to regulate emotions and form healthy relationships as adults. The best type of parenting is fair, flexible, respectful, and has learning, rather than submission as its goal. Hearing and respecting feelings, allowing choice, yet setting fair and clear limits on unacceptable behavior is the healthy balance that we should all strive for. This article will teach you how to avoid ineffective ways of communicating that lead to noncompliance and power struggles, or damage self-esteem.

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(1) Talking Too Much
When parents go on and on, kids tune them out. Researchers have shown that the human brain can keep only four “chunks” of information or unique ideas in short-term (active) memory at once. This amounts to about 30 seconds or one or two sentences of speaking.

Ineffective Example
“I’m not sure what we should do about ballet and softball this semester. You know, you really probably can’t do both because softball is on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 4, but then you have to change and put your hair in a bun, so that won’r be enough time, unless you pack all your ballet stuff on Monday night, which means it has to get washed on Sunday…….”

There are so many different ideas in this message that the kid will get confused and tune the parent out. Also, the message has an overall negative, anxious tone that can cause the kid to react with doubt and anxiety. It is not necessary to tell the kid all of the information at once. Rather, break it up into separate steps to be more digestible. Let the kid express his/her overall preference first, before bringing up all the obstacles.

Effective Example
“If you do both ballet and softball this semester, you’ll have to go right from one to the other some nights. Let’s sit down and figure out if this makes sense for both you and me.”

In this example, the parent is limiting the conversation to two sentences, which makes it easier for the kid to absorb the information. She is also also being clear about the overall goal (make it work for both), and the next steps she is requesting (sit down and discuss the issue). Finally, she is communicating a willingness to collaborate and consider the kids’ needs as well as her own.

(2) Nagging and Giving Multiple Warnings
Most parents are familiar with the early morning rush to get everybody out the door on time, along with their lunches, gym clothes, musical instruments, signed homework, and so on. The child who gets distracted and seems unmotivated to get ready on time is the greatest challenge to a busy parent. Many parents feel out of control and try desperately to control the situation by nagging or criticizing. The problem with nagging is that you are actually training kids to ignore you because they know there will be more reminders down the road. While very young kids, may need more assistance and instruction, effective parents allow the kids to take increasing responsibility as they grow older.

Ineffective Example (to a 10-year-old kid)
“I’m waking you up an hour early because you are never ready on time. You need to get dressed right now. Do you have the homework for me to sign? “

Ten minutes later.

“I told you to get ready and you’re still lollygagging. You’re going to make us all late. Go and brush your teeth and put your clothes on.”

Ten minutes later.

“Where is your homework? I asked you to bring it for me to sign? And you’re not finished dressing. We are going to be late.”

And so on.

This parent is taking way too much responsibility and indirectly communicating to the kid that she doesn’t trust him to manage the situation without extensive instruction and interference. This so-called “helicopter parenting,” can lead to unconfident, overly dependent kids, according to Dr. Carol Dweck, a best-selling author and researcher on parenting and motivation. The tone is also negative and intrusive, which is likely to create resentment and resistance or passive-aggression.

Effective Example
“We will be leaving for school in 45 minutes. If you don’t have everything you need, it’s up to you to explain it to your teachers.”

These instructions are brief and convey a clear expectation, with a consequence for not complying. They are free of judgment, anxiety, and attempts to control. The parent allows the kid to learn from the natural consequences of his/her own behavior.
3) Using Guilt and Shame to Get Compliance
One of the biggest lessons one learns as a parent is that young kids don’t naturally have empathy and consideration for your needs. They develop empathy slowly as they mature, by experiencing your empathy for them. That’s why the expectation that young kids walk in your shoes and see things from your point of view may not be reasonable. The failure to do so does not mean they are a bad or uncaring kid. They are just being a kid — focused on having fun in the moment, and testing their limits to learn about what is acceptable. Most parents are stressed multi-taskers who often forget to take care of themselves. This can lead to resentment when kids don’t seem to be cooperating. It is important to take some time to connect with your own feelings and calm down using deep breathing or self-talk before letting these emotions leak and derail your communication with your kid.

Ineffective Example
“I have asked you repeatedly to tidy up your toys and here they are, strewn all over the living room floor. Don’t you care at all? Can’t you see that I’ve been on my feet all day taking care of everybody’s needs. Now I have to trip over your toys or waste my time cleaning them up. What’s wrong with you that you’re so selfish?”

This parent is creating a lot of negative energy. While we can all empathize with her frustration, her communication is blaming and disrespectful. Calling a kid “selfish,” or implying there is something wrong with her is also harmful. Kids internalize these negative labels and begin to see themselves as “not good enough.” Humiliating or shaming a kid can shape brain pathways in negative ways. Label the behavior as unacceptable, but the kid as still lovable.

Effective Example
“I see the toys haven’t been packed away yet and that makes me upset. It’s important for me to have an orderly house that we can all function in. All the toys that are out will need to go sleep in the garage tonight. You can earn them back by tidying away all of your toys tomorrow.”

This parent is clearly communicating her own feelings and needs without anger or blame. She is applying a clear, but not overly punitive consequence for the behavior and providing an opportunity for the child to try again tomorrow and succeed. She does not attribute any negative motivation to the kid or label his personality in negative ways.

4) Not Listening
(We would all like to teach our kids to respect other people. The best way to do this is by modeling respectful and caring behavior in our own interactions. This helps the kid learn the value of respect and empathy and teaches them the skills of effective communication. Often, attentive listening is the most difficult thing for parents to do, because kids keep interrupting us, or our minds are preoccupied with all the errands that have to be done. In this case, it is okay to say to the kid “It’s difficult for me to listen to you now because I’m busying cooking, but I’ll be there in 10 minutes.” It’s better to set aside a clear time for communication than to listen half-heartedly or resentfully. Remember, though, that it’s difficult for kids to wait for long periods to be listened to
Ineffective Example
Parental response to a kid saying they scored a goal at soccer

(without making eye contact) “Oh, that’s nice, dear. Now go and play with your sister (muttering to herself) What temperature do I cook the chicken at?”

Effective listening involves all of the non-verbals, such as maintaining eye contact, conveying understanding with our faces and voices, and using words to reflect our understanding. This parent is teaching her kid not to bother her, and that the things that are important to him are not important to her. This can make a kid feel alone and not good enough.

Effective Example
Parental response to a kid saying they scored a goal at soccer.

“You scored a goal. Fantastic! I can see you feel really proud of how you played. I want to hear all about how it went down today.”

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This parent is displaying interest and enthusiasm; inviting the kid to elaborate and describe what happened. She is effectively tuning into the kid’s nonverbal expression and reflecting his feelings, thereby helping the kid to gain awareness of his own reactions. This type of response leads to the kid feeling that he is important and worthy of attention and care. This type of empathic resonance helps the kid to deelop more interconnected brain pathways to processand make sense of emotion.

Parenting is a difficult job, and one in which we all make mistakes at times. Communicating effectively with our children takes time and energy. We need to become aware of our own feelings and automatic reactions, and slow down enough to be able to choose a more mindful way. Following through with consequences teaches kids limits, while listening and granting autonomy teach kids respect. Be sure to take care of yourself enough so that you have this type of mindful energy for your kids. This may mean re-examining your priorities and letting some things go. It is well worth it. Kids who have respectful, engaged, consistent parents learn to regulate their own emotions more effectively, feel better about themselves, and are able to have more loving relationships as adults.

About the Author
Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. is a Practising Psychologist in Mill Valley and San Francisco, California, and an expert on mindfulness, communication, parenting, family & work relationships
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Sep 29

ADHD and Language


Children with ADHD often have trouble communicating. These problems may be caused by difficulty with:

pragmatic language skills
basic language skills
higher-level language skills
Pragmatic language weaknesses
“Pragmatic language” refers to how we use language in everyday conversation. This includes the ability to:

plan what to say
plan when to say it
plan how to get the message across
respect the rules of taking turns
Children with ADHD may have difficulty with these skills. This is because communication requires executive function skills: the ability to create a plan, carry out the plan, and evaluate how well the plan worked. Executive function skills are often weak in children with ADHD. As a result, they may:

blurt things out
interrupt others
talk too much at the wrong time
speak for a long time, but with pauses that are too short for the child to organize his thoughts or to let others take a turn
speak too loudly
miscommunicate what they mean or misunderstand what others are saying
Parents and teachers may think of these as behaviour problems. However, these communication breakdowns can affect children’s social interactions. Children with ADHD might have difficulties communicating with friends, teachers, and parents.

Basic language weaknesses
Many children with ADHD also have problems with basic language skills, including:

age-appropriate vocabulary
grammar and syntax
In turn, these children will struggle with oral language and reading. This may also create difficulties for written expression.

Higher-level language weaknesses
We use “higher-level” language functions to understand and produce long, complex passages of spoken or written language. These functions rely heavily on working memory skills. As a result, children with ADHD often have trouble with them. They may have difficulty communicating their ideas to others.

Research has found that children with ADHD perform badly on many higher-level language tasks, including:

finding mistakes in instructions
making judgments about how easily they understand something
understanding information in science textbooks
understanding cause-and-effect relationships in stories
understanding why characters in stories are doing something
re-telling a story in their own words so that it makes sense
talking about their ideas in more detail
making clear explanations on request
answering questions concisely using specific vocabulary
As children enter higher grades and start doing more complex work, these weaknesses cause more problems.

Helping children with ADHD and language problems
Children may need support systems to help them:

understand complex written information
write coherent book reports or other texts
In the classroom, the following strategies may help children with ADHD and language problems:

Give one direction at a time.
Make directions clear, brief, and specific.
Chunk (use short sentences) and repeat the important parts of long explanations and instructions.
Demonstrate what is to be done and walk through the steps.
Provide visual supports for instructions, such as a checklist.
Always check to make sure the student understands instructions.
Give frequent and specific feedback.
These strategies are discussed in detail on the TeachADHD web site.
Tara McAuley, PhD, CPsych
Peter Chaban, MA, MEd
Rosemary Tannock, PhD

Sep 29

By Juhie Bhatia Creativity and mental disorders often go hand-in-hand in popular culture. In particular, bipolar disorder, marked by extreme mood swings of mania to depression, has been associated with creative types, whether it’s the image of a mad genius or a tortured artist.

The relationship between bipolar disorder and creativity isn’t quite so clear-cut, though. Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) affects approximately 5.7 million American adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It’s unknown what percentage of those affected are creative, though many famous people have been linked to bipolar disorder, including artist Vincent van Gogh and writer Virginia Woolf. More recently, creative people in the public eye including actor and writer Carrie Fisher and musician Sinéad O’Connor have spoken about having bipolar disorder. Ample research and anecdotal evidence also supports this connection.

“There seems to be a higher prevalence of bipolar disorder among successful creative people, so we believe that there is probably a link. We don’t know, however, exactly what it is,” says Daniel Z. Lieberman, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Several studies support the bipolar disorder-creativity link. For example, Nancy Andreasen, M.D., of the University of Iowa, found that creative writers were far more likely to suffer from mental illness, primarily bipolar disorder, than their counterparts in other occupations. More recently, Stanford University researchers led by Terence A. Ketter, M.D., found that children who either had or were at high risk for bipolar disorder scored higher on a creativity index. Psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D. — who herself has bipolar disorder — has also studied the connection between creativity and bipolar disorder, as she relates in her book Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and The Artistic Temperament.

However, some researchers believe that there’s no correlation between bipolar disorder and creativity. In a 2001 issue of Psychiatric Quarterly, Albert Rothenberg, M.D., wrote: “There have been in recent years increasing claims in both popular and professional literature for a connection between bipolar illness and creativity. A review of studies supporting this claim reveals serious flaws in sampling, methodology, presentation of results, and conclusions.”

Bipolar Creativity: What’s the Source?
Although there may be a connection between creativity and bipolar disorder, researchers don’t know why. Igor Galynker, MD, director of The Family Center for Bipolar Disorder at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York and professor of clinical psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says there probably are many reasons, such as the tendency for bipolar people to have higher IQs. There may also be a genetic component, caused by a gene that is expressed abnormally in bipolar people, which could lead to unorthodox thinking. Also, people who are manic for a prolonged period of time think and process information faster, which could produce results that are more creative and more productive.

Dr. Lieberman points out, however, that although mania may be associated with a feeling of being creative, often nothing of value is produced. He adds that personality traits may also contribute to this bipolar-creativity link, since people with bipolar are often very confident risk-takers, making them all the more willing to experiment with new modes of expression. Dr. Ketter, who has done numerous studies on the topic, agrees that temperament may provide an advantage to those with bipolar disorder.

Still, most exprts agree that those with bipolar disorder — whether they’re creative or not — should seek treatment. Dr. Galynker says that the right treatment can harness the out-of-control part of the illness, while keeping the creative part intact.

“If a person has bipolar disorder and has a fantasy that without taking their medication they’ll become a genius during the manic phase, this is a recipe for disaster,” he says. “The suicide rate in bipolar illness is 10 percent. You don’t want to take any chances.”

Q: My 14-year-old son has been on Concerta (methylphenidate) for three years. Lately, he has lost weight and been depressed. His grades are also falling. The doctor was concerned about the weight loss and switched him to Strattera (atomoxetine). He said it should help with my son’s depression and appetite. What else can I try for my son? He just seems sad all the time.

A: The first thing you can do for your son is educate yourself. Depression is a whole-body illness; it involves changes not only in mood but also in almost every area of a child or teen’s life. Depression impairs sleep, appetite, energy and general health, and can lead to stomachaches and headaches. It interferes with the ability to concentrate more than ADHD does, and hinders quick thinking.

In depressed children, school performance often declines, and moodiness and emotional outbursts put a strain on family relationships. Friendships tend to suffer as a child with depression becomes increasingly withdrawn, isolated, aggressive or argumentative. If your son fits this description, he may be having a major depressive episode. You should ask your son’s physician to refer you to a psychiatrist who has expertise in the area of children’s psychiatric problems and response to medications.

If your son has been taking Concerta, a slow-release form of methylphenidate, successfully for the past three years and now has sudden weight loss and depressive symptoms, this might be the result of a different psychiatric or medical problem rather than a side effect of his ADHD medicine. Strattera can work as an anti-depressant, but it is marketed as a medication specifically to treat ADHD.

I assume your physician has considered the possibility that the weight loss and mood changes are related to some specific medical condition (for example, mononucleosis).

Learn more in the Everyday Health ADD/ADHD Center. Medically reviewed by Ed Zimney, MD

Sep 29

Sex Tips: How to Improve Intimacy in your Marriage


Stay close in and out of the bedroom By Jennine Estes, MFT
Intimacy is an all-encompassing word, with sex merely being one aspect of it. Intimacy in your marriage takes more than just spicing up your sex life.

Intimacy is a vital substance in the healthiest of relationships, and its existence allows partners to share their physical and emotional selves with each other, openly and safely.

If you can find it in yourself to be more emotionally intimate in your relationship, both you and your loved one will definitely reap the rewards in the bedroom!

Here are the top ten ways to increase and maintain intimacy in your marriage:

•Compromise when in disagreement. When you and your partner aren’t seeing things eye-to-eye, take it upon yourselves to reach a happy medium that you can both agree on. Ask each other, “What would make us both happy?”
•Do the 30 minute focus. Spend a minimum of 30 minutes per day with your full attention focused on your partner. This could take place at the dinner table, in the family area/living room with the TV off, cuddled together in bed, etc. Eliminate interruptions, such as roommates, friends, and even children, so you can take the undivided time you need to discuss each other’s day and other personal, intimate topics.
•Plan a “date night.” Date nights help kindle romance and intimacy. Plan the evening together or surprise each other, get dressed up for one another, spend time focusing on each other, and laugh together.
•Empathize and validate. Everyone disagrees once in a while, but make sure when you are in disagreement, you show empathy, monitor your tone of voice, and validate your partner by letting them know you don’t think they are “crazy” for how they feel.
•Take mutual interest in one another. Showing interest and curiosity in their day or things that they like not only helps your partner feel important and special, but also motivates them to do the same with you! Imagine how great it feels when they listen intently to what you have to say. Make sure you do the same for them.
•Spend your free time doing things together. Surprise your partner with an activity that the two of you can enjoy together. Try hiking, picnics, board/card games, etc.
•Leave them love notes. Write things you admire about your partner on sticky notes and hide them in places where you know he or she will find them throughout the day.
•Focus on the positive. If you acknowledge and reinforce the things you appreciate about your partner instead of focusing on the negative, you’ll find they will eagerly repeat the desired behavior, instead of feeling dejected from belittlement.
•Show respect. By listening, avoiding critical language and minimizing your anger (intonation and context), you will show your partner that you have the utmost respect for their thoughts and feelings.
•Stop critical language. “You should …” “You must …” “You are too …” “You never …” “You always …” — each of these are examples of how we point our fingers at our partners while telling them they are not right. Give them a chance and let them carry things out the way they’d like to.
Changing the way you interact with your partner outside of the bedroom can make all the difference for how things go inside the bedroom.

By taking time to validate and appreciate your partner, treating them wth respect, and spending quality time together, you are increasing the chances that you’ll feel close and connected. A couple that is emotionally connected will have an easier time feeling physically connected. Intimacy in your marriage is an on-going process, never ignore it!

To learn more about the author, or to book an appointment with her, visit her website at

Sep 29

20 Sexting Acronyms Every Parent Needs to Know


By Allison Takeda, Senior Editor
Some 10 percent of tweens and teens have exchanged sexually suggestive photos via phone, the Internet, or other electronic media, according to a new study just published in the journal Pediatrics. But even more — up to 39 percent, according to a survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy — have sent or received sexually suggestive messages, such as texts, e-mails, or IMs.

Sexting, the transmission of such messages and images, primarily between cell phones, is an increasing concern among parents — and though the study released today indicates it’s not as widespread a problem as we’d previously feared, such behavior can have serious consequences, not just for your child’s emotional well-being and privacy, but from a legal standpoint as well. If you have teens, you’re likely already on the lookout for red flags. But do you know what those flags are? Many sexually explicit messages aren’t actually that explicit — to parents, anyway. A lot of sexting is done in code, using acronyms and decoy words.

Here are just a few of the many (many!) examples of shorthand that teens and tweens use to sext:

1.53X = sex
2.8 = oral sex
3.Banana = penis
4.CD9 = code 9, parents are around
5.P911 = parent alert
6.CU46 = see you for sex
7.GNOC = get naked on cam
8.GYPO = get your pants off
9.IMEZYRU = I’m easy, are you?
10.IPN = I’m posting naked
11.ITS = intense text sex
12.IWSN = I want sex now
13.J/O = jerking off
14.Kitty = vagina
15.LH6 = let’s have sex
16.LHU = let’s hook up
17.NFS = need for sex
18.PRON = porn
19.TDTM = talk dirty to me
20.RUH = are you horny?
If you spot any of these messages on your child’s phone, don’t just get angry and take away his or her text privileges. Talk with your teen about why and with whom they’re exchanging such messages, and discuss the potential consequences of their actions. Then make a plan to check in with your child about his or her text habits in the future. You may also want to consider monitoring cell phone and computer use for further inappropriate behavior, and contacting the parents of the other child involved.

Read on about the dangers of sexting from Everyday Health’s medical director, Mallika Marshall, MD.

Sep 28

By Rick Nauert PhD
Turns out, the inability to block out fear during adolescence may be an innate trait.

In a new study, Weill Cornell Medical College researchers determined that once a teenager’s brain is triggered by a threat, the ability to suppress an emotional response to the threat is diminished.

This finding may explain the peak in anxiety and stress-related disorders during this developmental period.

The study, published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to decode fear acquisition and fear “extinction learning,” down to the synaptic level.

Researchers studied the brains of mice, which mirror human neuronal networks in addition to performing human experiments.

A key finding is that while acquired fear can be difficult to extinguish in some adolescents, adults and children do not have the same trouble learning when a threat is no longer present.

“This is the first study to show, in an experiment, that adolescent humans have diminished fear extinction learning,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Siobhan S. Pattwell.

“Our findings are important because they might explain why epidemiologists have found that anxiety disorders seem to spike during adolescence or just before adolescence. It is estimated that over 75 percent of adults with fear-related disorders can trace the roots of their anxiety to earlier ages.”

The study findings suggest there is altered plasticity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain during adolescence, with its inability to overcome fear, said the study’s senior co-investigator, Dr. Francis Lee.

“This study is the first to show activity, at the synaptic level, for both fear acquisition and fear extinction — and we find that while these areas function well in both younger and older mice, neurons involved in fear extinction are not as active in adolescent mice,” said Lee.

“The new knowledge that a teenagers brain’s synaptic connections may not respond optimally will help clinicians understand that the brain region used in fear extinction may not be as efficient during this sensitive developmental period in adolescents.”

Fear learning is a highly adaptive, evolutionarily conserved process that allows one to respond appropriately to cues associated with danger.

In the case of psychiatric disorders, however, fear may persist long after a threat has passed, and this unremitting and often debilitating form of fear is a core component of many anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Existing treatments include exposure therapy — designed to expose an individual slowly to the cues associated with a perceived threat. This technique is used for a variety of fears, from wartime PTSD to fear of flying, as well as serious adolescent anxiety about school, said Lee.

Anxiety disorders are increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents, but the success rate of fear extinction-based exposure therapies are currently not known in this population. This study aimed to discover if they could be effective — and why or why not.

The human experiment asked a group of volunteers — children, adolescents and adults –to wear headphones and skin sweat meters while looking at a computer screen with a sequence of blue or yellow square images.

One of the squares was paired with a really unpleasant sound. For example, 50 percent of the time the blue square would set off the noise.

If the participants acquired a fear of the noise, they showed increased sweat when viewing the image that was paired with it, said Pattwell.

The same group was brought back the next day, and again viewed a sequence of blue or yellow squares, but this time there was no associated noise. “But teenagers didn’t decrease their fear response, and maintained their fear throughout subsequent trials when no noise was played,” she said.

However, the researchers documented that, unlike the teens participating in this study aged 12-17, both children and adults quickly learned that neither square was linked to a noxious sound, and this understanding rapidly decreased their fear response.

According to researchers there is much more to explore about the fear response and its decoding in human adolescents, such as whether genes contribute to susceptibility to altered fear learning, and most importantly, what can be done to help the adolescent population overcome fear.

“We need to investigate personalized approaches to treatment of these fear and anxiety disorders in teens,” said Lee.

“It is essential that we find a way to help teenagers become more resilient to the fear they experience during adolescence to prevent it from leading to a lifetime of anxiety and depression.”

Source: New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College

By Michelle Castillo CBS News) About 1 out of 10 Americans report having depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While prescription medication is one way to treat the symptoms, the American Psychological Association (APA) is urging people in new videos to consider an alternative form of treatment first, psychotherapy.

“By arming people with information, APA is encouraging those with symptoms of depression or anxiety to ask their primary-care practitioners about psychotherapy as a first course of treatment,” Dr. Katherine Nordal, executive director for professional practice at the American Psychological Association, told by email. “We want Americans to know that when it comes to treating depression and anxiety, they have choices about treatment, and psychotherapy is one of them.”

The National Institutes of Health calls depression one of the top 10 chronic health problems in the United States, affecting more than 14 million people. The National Healthcare Quality Report reported that mental health problems accounted for 156 million visits to the doctors’ offices, clinics and hospital outpatient departments in 2005.

Throughout this time, the number of people taking antidepressants has risen but the number of people seeking psychotherapy has fallen, the APA says.

Consumer Reports notes that U.S. doctors prescribed $9.9 billion worth of antidepressants in 2009, a 3 percent increase from 2008. And according to the CDC, one-third of Americans taking one antidepressant medication and less than one-half of those taking multiple antidepressants have seen a mental health professional in the past year.

In order to promote psychotherapy as a viable treatment option, the APA has started a campaign to raise awareness. Part of the campaign includes two videos that parody television commercials for antidepressants.

“Our message is in cases of mild to moderate depression, psychotherapy has been shown to be effective and give people some tools on how to deal with their depression,” Luana Bossolo, APA assistant director for public relations, said to
Bossolo said that pharmaceutical companies spend $4.2 billion on advertising, and the APA just wants to balance the trend and show people that they may have other options.

“In some cases, medication is appropriate, but what we’re trying to do is arm people with information,” she added.

Nordal added on the APA blog “Your Mind Your Body” that psychotherapy helps people work through their problems, and is a safe and secure way to help deal with depression.

“Psychotherapy provides a safe and effective treatment with enduring effects that can result in improved mood, increased energy, better job performance, more satisfying relationships, and enhanced functioning in other areas of life that are negatively impacted by depression,” she said.

Sep 20

ADHD (ADD) – and Sluggish Cognitive Tempo


By Keath Low,
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is defined by three distinct subtypes: the predominantly inattentive type the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type the combined type

Some individuals with the predominately inattentive type of ADHD also display a subset of symptoms that are typified by sluggish-lethargic behavior and mental fogginess. It is this subset of characteristics that has been described as “sluggish cognitive tempo” (or SCT).

Symptoms of SCT include:
frequent daydreaming tendency to become confused easily mental fogginess sluggish-lethargic behavior drowsiness frequent staring into space slow processing of information poor memory retrieval social passiveness, reticence and withdrawal

People with SCT often have difficulty with problem-solving, self-organization, self-initiation and processing competing sources of information. They are often characterized as hypoactive (less active).
Sluggish cognitive symptoms are not represented in the current DSM inattention category because they have been found to have only a weak association with the other inattention symptoms.
Inattention is often reflective of distractibility. Current diagnostic criteria for the inattention associated with ADHD include: Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes at work, in schoolwork or other activities.Often has trouble sustaining attention in tasks or activities.Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.Often does not follow through on instructions; starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked; fails to finish schoolwork, household chores or tasks in the workplace.Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.Often avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort.Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (such as school assignments, pencils, books, keys, wallet, glasses, paperwork, etc.).Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.Is often forgetful in daily activities, chores, etc.

Children and adults with the sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) cluster of symptoms tend to display a different kind of inattention that has more of a daydreamy, hypoactive and passive feel, as opposed to a distractible quality. Individuals with SCT tend to exhibit less overt, externalizing symptoms and more internalizing symptoms of anxiety, depression, social withdrawal and more information-processing deficits. Although SCT is thought to be a separate, distinct disorder from ADHD, with different causes and treatment approaches, SCT does frequently co-occur with ADHD.

Sep 18

How to Direct Your Own Internal Dialog


By Christy Matta, MA
Are you stuck in negative thinking patterns? Or are you not paying attention to what you are thinking and are unaware of how your thoughts impact your emotions?

When we think, we often act as if we’re actors, rather than directors or writers. Our thoughts, those things that occur inside our heads that we don’t give voice to, often occur automatically without consciousness. When this happens, we can respond to them as if they are our lines to be read. Instead of thinking like an actor, responding to lines your mind had given to you, try thinking like a director or a writer. Ask yourself “is this thought helpful?” Or “do I really want to be thinking in this way?”

Part of our mind is constantly comparing our experiences with others we’ve had or holding them up to some expectations we’ve created. These judgments happen in our minds, can trigger intense emotions and distract us from the moment.

In order to change your thinking, you must focus attention on your thoughts. Think of your thoughts as internal dialog in a movie. A sort of conversation you’re having with yourself. Usually when we experience our thoughts, we experience them as if we’re one of the characters in the movie.

In this exercise, try instead to watch the movie. Pretend you are the director or screenwriter. Notice your internal dialog. What do you say to yourself during the course of the day? How do you analyze or interpret different situations? When you’re stuck in traffic, do you tell yourself “this is unbearable?” If you make a mistake, do you call yourself an “idiot?”

Now notice which dialog makes the actors (in this case, you), the most emotional. As you bring your awareness to the content of your thoughts, observe it’s connection to your emotions.

To change your internal dialog and tone down the intensity of emotion, try to describe the situation in your mind, rather than interpret it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In traffic, you might say to yourself “I’m moving very slowly.” You can acknowledge whether something was helpful or harmful for you, for example, you might acknowledge that the traffic will make you late to work. You can also acknowledge how it made you feel, continuing with the example of traffic, you might acknowledge that being late makes you anxious.

Changing the content of your thoughts won’t eradicate emotion, but saying to yourself that you feel anxious will typically result in a lower intensity of emotion than the thought “this is unbearable” or “I can’t stand it.”

It’s very hard to think in non-judgmental terms, but it’s an important skill to learn. Judgments have a significant effect on the way we feel. They also can cloud our perceptions and leave us responding not to a situation as it is, but to a situation as we’ve judged it to be.

Sep 18

Characteristics of abusers and abusive relationships


By Amanda King One in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Women between the ages of 20 and 24 are most likely to be abused by a partner and be in an abusive relationship, and each year, it is estimated that more than 3 million children will witness violence in their homes.

Studies indicate that Hispanic couples are twice as likely to participate in and fall victim to an abusive relationship. Partner violence is the number one cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, rape and muggings combined.

Characteristics of abusers:
Individuals who grew up witnessing abuse as children are far more likely to become abusers as adults.
People with feelings of entitlement and lack of remorse for actions. They often view themselves as a “judge and jury” of the people around them, feeling as though their abusive actions are warranted.
Poor self-esteem that manifests as false bravado or cockiness, anger and issues with control.
Inability to own up to mistakes, often blaming other people for “making” them behave a certain way.
Expressions and feelings of resentment, blaming other people and outside forces for the abusers inability to feel happy and successful.
Inability to wait for delayed gratification; very “now” oriented and impatient.
General disrespect for others; harboring a belief that there are things a woman can do to force a man to act out in violence. They might believe something like, “She pushed me to a point where I had no choice but to hit her.”

What are the signs you are in an abusive relationship?
You are a victim of abuse even if violence has only happened once or twice and even if your partner apologizes and momentarily changes the problem behavior.

You may be in an abusive relationship if you:
…ever feel afraid of your partner.
…wonder if you’re crazy, or if you’re imagining signs of abuse.
…avoid topics or situations that might make your partner angry.
…feel like you can’t do anything right in your partner’s eyes.
…feel numb inside or like there’s no point in trying to make your life better

What are the signs that indicate your partner is an abuser?

Your partner might be abusive if …
…yells at, criticizes and humiliates you, or puts you down and calls you names.
…is possessive and controls what you do, who you talk to and where you go.
…is paranoid and jealous, accusing you of cheating or betraying him when you haven’t.
…belittles or ignores your accomplishments and undermines special events in your life by acting out emotionally or aggressively.
…talks badly about your family and friends, attempting to alienate you from the people who love you.
…hurts you or threatens to hurt or kill you.
…forces you to have sex, or withholds sex from you as a form of punishment.
…expects you to have sex on demand, viewing you as a sexual property.
…blames you for forcing him/her to hurt or belittle you.
…withholds money or the use of a phone or car.
…explodes in unpredictable bouts of anger.
…threatens to commit suicide or harm/take your children if you try to leave him/her.

Even though it is more common to find cases of abuse against women, there are quite a few domestic violence instances in which the woman is the perpetrator. (Shutterstock photos)

It’s important to remember that you are a victim of abuse, even if violence has only happened once or twice during your relationship, if the incidents are not as severe as some you’ve read or heard about, even if your partner apologizes and momentarily changes the problem behavior or if the violence lessens when you behave in a more passive way, stop “pushing buttons,” or when you agree to stop going certain places or seeing certain people.

It is not a victory against violence if you have to give up your rights as a person. Infrequent, small acts of abuse get worse and more plentiful as time goes on.

If you feel as though you’re trapped in an abusive relationship, reach out to friends and family and the authorities if your partner is a threat to your safety. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE for help and support in making a plan to get your life back.

Read more:

“Those with fewer friends, with lower self-esteem and with less opportunity to disclose their emotions tend to visually amplify threats,” Harber said. “Their perceptions are exaggerated, and disturbing things appear higher, closer, of greater duration or more intense than they actually are.” According to Harber’s thesis – a theory known as the Resources and Perception Model (RPM) – psychosocial resources can prevent this amplification, leading to more accurate perception. In a study published in the The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Harber and colleagues from the University of Virginia enlisted passersby who were alone or with a friend and asked them to estimate the angle of a steep hill on the U.Va campus. “Those with friends saw the hill as less steep, and the longer they knew their friend or the closer they felt toward their friend the less steep the hill appeared to them,” Harber said. His latest study, published in the journal Emotion, tested whether the resource of self-worth affected distance perception to a live tarantula. Subjects were first asked to recall one of the following: a personal success, a neutral chore or a personal failure. Next, they used a reel to pull a clear plastic cart toward their face and estimate how far away it was from them. For some people, the cart contained a harmless cat toy; but for others it contained a live tarantula. “As expected, feeling good, neutral or bad about oneself had no effect on distance to the cat toy but did affect distance to the tarantula,” Harber said. “Those who felt bad about themselves saw the tarantula as looming closer than it was; those who felt good about themselves were strikingly accurate.” Another study tested how high a ledge appeared depending on one’s frame of mind. Researchers brought subjects to the fifth floor of a building and estimate how high up they were. One group could put their hands the railing, while the other was prevented in doing so by paper handcuffs. For those who could hold onto the rail, self-esteem had no effect on height perception.

Read more at:

In the first scientific study to test whether doubts about getting married are more likely to lead to an unhappy marriage and divorce, UCLA psychologists report that when women have doubts before their wedding, their misgivings are often a warning sign of trouble if they go ahead with the marriage. The UCLA study demonstrates that pre-wedding uncertainty, especially among women, predicts higher divorce rates and less marital satisfaction years later. “People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don’t have to worry about them,” said Justin Lavner, a UCLA doctoral candidate in psychology and lead author of the study. “We found they are common but not benign. Newlywed wives who had doubts about getting married before their wedding were two-and-a-half times more likely to divorce four years later than wives without these doubts. Among couples still married after four years, husbands and wives with doubts were significantly less satisfied with their marriage than those without doubts. “You know yourself, your partner and your relationship better than anybody else does; if you’re feeling nervous about it, pay attention to that,” he added. “It’s worth exploring what you’re nervous about.” The psychologists studied 464 newlywed spouses (232 couples) in Los Angeles within the first few months of marriage and conducted follow-up surveys with the couples every six months for four years. At the time of marriage, the average age of the husbands was 27, and the average age of the wives was 25. The research is published in the online version of the Journal of Family Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, and will appear in an upcoming print edition.

Read more at:

Sep 18

A new research study suggests that individuals who worry excessively have more electrical activity in the brain than those who don’t. Michigan State University has conducted the study and believes that these new findings could help identifying treatment of anxiety disorders. To conduct the study, volunteers were asked to fill out questionnaires regarding how much they worry and placed on electrode caps to capture the electrical activity of the brain. They were asked to identify the middle letter in a series of letters. In some versions, all the letters were the same. Ex: EEEEE In other versions, the middle letter remained different EEFEE.

Data revealed that anxious women had more electrical activity in their brains during those selected tasks, compared to those who were not anxious. It has been concluded that the brains of anxious individuals work harder to perform tasks because of distracting thoughts. Consequently, their brains suffer from burning out more often.

The body does not know the difference between good stress and bad stress. It treats all stress the same—and as a result it can have long lasting harmful effects on the body. The adrenal glands release adrenaline and other hormones that increase breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. As a result, more oxygen-rich blood rushes through the body and gets to the brain in a quicker time, helping your body reach the flight-or-fight response.

For an anxious individual—the result is the same. Your body always remains in a ‘hyper’ state, even if you don’t feel like you are. Any state of being that is contrary to the natural rhythm of the body will induce these defense mechanisms within, to help control external stimuli that get us distressed. In a normal “once-in-a-while” stress reaction, other hormones shut down unnecessary functions in the body.

Growth, reproduction and the immune system go on a hiatus. Blood flow to the skin is reduced—and other processes go on that get us prepared to respond to a life-threatening situation. Having said this, imagine bodily, emotional, and mental impairment that may go hand in hand with chronic stress!

Chronic stress really does put a strain on the body, even if you feel fine and believe you can deal with it. With ongoing stress, you may find that your immune system is compromised more and more, making it almost impossible to fight in infections.

The stress response—the body’s hormonal reaction to danger, uncertainty or change—evolved to help us survive, and if we learn how to keep it from overrunning our lives, it still can. In the short term, it can energize us, “revving up our systems to handle what we have to handle,” says Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist at UCLA.

When perceived danger passes, your body tries to return back to homeostatic balance. However, with age — this process may become more and more difficult. Even though the sympathetic nervous system jumps into action immediately, it takes a while to slow down and allow the parasympathetic nervous system to take over.

However, some studies suggest that not all stress is bad stress. An appropriate stress response is necessary to life and studies have found that various hormones and neurotransmitters are activated when this process kicks in.

One of these neurotransmitters is Norepinephrine, which is needed to create memories as well as improve mood. Problems begin to be seen as challenges that can be overcome, and this in turn stimulates creative thinking that encourages new connections within the brain.

There has also been a connection between acute stress—and health benefits. For instance, meeting deadlines allows people to meet challenges at work. However, people often need to learn about healthy coping mechanisms to stress—since stress is, after all, an inevitable part of life at times. Stress can play a mental role in many ways.

One may think there is not enough time to accomplish the tasks at hand, or there may simply be too much to do and no knowledge of where to begin. The important thing to note is that many people have successfully combated stress by the aids of many forms of relaxation, beginning with meditation.

In conclusion—only you know when you are facing too much. The truth is, only you have control. You can choose to compromise your health by wallowing in chronic stress, or you can choose to address this stress in a positive manner, allowing yourself to relax and take time off as needed.

Numerous studies over the years have proven that meditation and other relaxation techniques are by far more beneficial that anti-anxiety medications and things of the sort. Be sure to listen to your body, and if something becomes too much for you to handle—take a step back and look at the situation and see what you would do differently.


“The Human Brain – Stress.” Stress and the Mind-body Connection. The Franklin Institute, Web. 08 Sept. 2012. .

Thoits, Peggy A. “Stress and Health.” Stress and Health. Indiana University, Nov.-Dec. 2010. Web. 12 Sept. 2012. .

Sep 17

ADHD in College and University


On average, people with ADHD complete two to three years less formal schooling than their peers. In studies, only about 15% of people with ADHD complete a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with about half of people without ADHD.

However, many students with ADHD do graduate from high school and enroll in college and university.

These findings are encouraging; they show that many students with ADHD go on to higher education. On the other hand, college life is challenging to students with ADHD. They do not have familiar support systems such as family, peers, teachers, and the structure of high school. Life in residence is often distracting, crowded, and noisy. There may be very little privacy.

College students may handle ADHD in different ways:

“Fresh start”: These students do not tell anyone they have ADHD. They may feel no-one at college will know them and/or that they no longer have problems. They may abandon treatment that helped them get into college, deny or fail to recognize that they are running into problems, and resist seeking help from student support services.
“Uninformed, unprepared”: These students have been diagnosed before college and may have been receiving treatment. However, they do not understand how ADHD affects them, how it might affect college life, or how medication and treatment help their symptoms.
“New ADHD”: These students have never been diagnosed with ADHD. They have been able to cope despite their symptoms. With great effort and support, they have succeeded academically. However, during college they become overwhelmed and suddenly realize that there is a problem.
Teenagers and young adults with ADHD are more likely than their peers to fail academically and to drop out of school or college. They tend to have lower grade point averages and more academic problems. Barriers to success at the college level include academic and personal issues.

Academic issues may include:

taking on too many courses, due to problems estimating how much time will be needed

poor organization and time management skills, which may result in “crash and burnout” (staying up all night and sleeping all day after studying, partying, or both)

reading problems: difficulty concentrating and focusing, inability to read fast, and needing to re-read often

poor note-taking or writing skills, resulting in course failure, low marks, and a low grade point average
Personal issues may include:

frustration or poor self-esteem

poor social skills or too much time socializing

procrastination and problems sticking to a task

lack of sleep and trouble getting up in the morning
Helping your child
There are several things you can do, or encourage your child to do, to help ensure a smooth transition to college or university:

As with any teenager, teach your child independent living skills at home, including responsibility for taking his own medications, practicing a healthy lifestyle, and some cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Similarly, encourage your child to develop good study habits and skills while he is still in high school.

Most universities have an office or centre for students with disabilities. You and your child should contact and, if possible, visit the office at the university your child wants to attend to see what sort of information, advice, and support services they can offer your child.

Some colleges also offer programs that are specifically designed to help young adults who have physical or learning disabilities with career planning or employment training. They may help upgrade literacy, academic, or computer skills, or offer help with job skills.

Your child can attend an orientation course offered by the university to new students. Many centres for students with disabilities offer a special transition course during the summer to new students with disabilities.

Before the college or university year commences, you or your child should obtain a comprehensive letter(s) from his physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist that contains information about his ADHD diagnosis, learning profile and special needs. This may help him get more time to complete exams and papers.

Sep 13

Imagine if you could look at something once and remember it forever. You would never have to ask for directions again. Now a group of scientists has isolated a protein that mega-boosts your ability to remember what you see.

A group of Spanish researchers reported today in Science that they may have stumbled upon a substance that could become the ultimate memory-enhancer. The group was studying a poorly-understood region of the visual cortex. They found that if they boosted production of a protein called RGS-14 (pictured) in that area of the visual cortex in mice, it dramatically affected the animals’ ability to remember objects they had seen.

Mice with the RGS-14 boost could remember objects they had seen for up to two months. Ordinarily the same mice would only be able to remember these objects for about an hour.

The researchers concluded that this region of the visual cortex, known as layer six of region V2, is responsible for creating visual memories. When the region is removed, mice can no longer remember any object they see.

If this protein boosts visual memory in humans, the implications are staggering. In their paper, the researchers say that it could be used as a memory-enhancer – which seems like an understatement. What’s particularly intriguing is the fact that this protein works on visual memory only. So as I mentioned earlier, it would be perfect for mapping. It would also be useful for engineers and architects who need to hold a lot of visual images in their minds at once. And it would also be a great drug for detectives and spies.

Could it also be a way to gain photographic memory? For example, if I look at a page of text will I remember the words perfectly? Or will I simply remember how the page looked?

I can’t see much of a downside for this potential drug, unless the act of not forgetting what you see causes problems or trauma.

via Science

Sep 12

By Chris Iliades, MD
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH What if you could avoid depression with a better diet? Recent research supports the idea that certain foods could be connected to depression, and that some types of diets can lower your risk of becoming depressed.

“When researchers came up with the term ‘brain chemical imbalance’ to explain depression, the next step should have been to supply the brain with nutrients. However, chemicals were prescribed instead,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, an author and medical director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association.

Some recent studies are showing that a diet rich in whole foods lowers the risk of depression, while a diet containing mainly processed foods may increase your risk of becoming depressed. Whole foods are natural foods that have all their nutrients intact and don’t contain additives. Processed foods are foods that may have additives and often have lost some of their nutritional value through being altered or processed. The loss of these vital nutrients from processed foods may be one of the causes of depression.

“We know that nutrients such as magnesium, essential fatty acids, and vitamin B6 and B12 help create neurotransmitters, and we are also learning that a deficiency in these nutrients can lead to a chemical imbalance in the brain,” says Dr. Dean. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that transmit signals between nerve cells. When these transmitters get too low depression can result.

Recent Research on Diet and Depression

Recently published studies are contributing to our knowledge of how nutrition might influence depression. These studies suggest that a poor diet is as dangerous for your mental health as it is for your physical health:

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry compared a whole-foods diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish with a diet high in processed meats and grains and fast foods. People in the study who ate the whole-foods diet had a one-third lower risk of becoming depressed.
Another study in The British Journal of Psychiatry compared a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fish with one heavily loaded with sweetened desserts, fried foods, processed meats, and processed grains. The researchers concluded that after five years, eating mostly processed foods increased the risk of depression while eating whole foods decreased the risk of depression.
One small study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that people with a low fat intake had a 25 percent higher risk of depression compared to those with those who consumed healthy sources of dietary fat, such as omega 3 fats, which can be found in fish like salmon and tuna, flaxseed, and walnuts.
A diet high in processed foods, sugar, and fat increases the risk of obesity. A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that people who were overweight increased their risk for becoming depressed.

Diet Tips for Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition, and diet alone is not a substitute for depression treatment. If you have symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor. However, research does suggest that diet plays a role in depression and that good nutrition can lower your risk of being depressed. Consider these nutrition tips:

Eat right. Enjoy plenty of fruits, vegetables, low-fat proteins, and whole grains. Avoid processed and fatty foods, fast foods, and foods with lots of added sugar.
Watch your weight. Maintain a healthy weight with the right mix of diet and exercise.
Get your omega-3s. Make sure your diet includes foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like deepwater fish. “Among healthy volunteers, low plasma concentrations of this fatty acid found in fish predict low concentrations of a marker of brain serotonin turnover,” says Dean.
Don’t skip meals. “When you are hungry or skip meals, you lower your blood sugar. Pound for pound, the brain uses more blood sugar than any other part of the body. With balanced meals to prevent low blood sugar, you can protect yourself against depression, anxiety, and mood disorders,” says Dean.
Make sure you get enough B vitamins. These are important for maintaining brain health. “Research at the University of California at Berkeley by Dr. Bruce Ames shows that certain people have an increased need for nutrients due to minor genetic mutations,” Dean says. “Ames says that inadequate intake of folate, B12, or B6 leads to chromosome breaks just as if radiation caused those breaks.”
Get enough magnesium. “Serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical, depends on magnesium for its production and function. A person going through a stressful period without sufficient magnesium can set up a deficit that, if not corrected, can linger and cause depression,” warns Dean. Magnesium can be taken as a dietary supplement and can also be found in green vegetables and whole grains.

Sep 7

Depression affects so many people that it is often called the common cold of mental illness. The Centers For Disease Control estimates that 19 million Americans suffer from it. At some point in their lives, 10% to 25% of women and 5% to 12% of men will become clinically depressed. The sputtering economy and tenuousness of the job market doesn’t help: The Consumer Confidence Index just plunged to its lowest level since 1980.

Depression is no fashionable affliction. In it is real, insidious, and when in full bloom, debilitating. Yet far too many people are oblivious to their own deep sadness or simply refuse to recognize it. Emotional vulnerability? Verboten–especially among the achiever set. They’re less likely to ask for help than Tea Party members are to ask for a tax hike.

Here are 10 ways to detect depression early and let the healing begin.

1. You are over-confident and fearless.

Many people–and especially high achievers–cope with depression by acting in ways opposite to how they feel. (Shrinks call this “escapism.”) Engaging in daredevil pursuits, be it mounting a takeover of a rival company or quitting your job to open a restaurant, makes you feel invincible, when you’re really in the dumps. There is a method to this madness: The major cause of depressions–those not born of biochemical imbalances, of which there are plenty–is feeling out of control or helpless. Achievers loathe that feeling and fight like hell to deny it through action. But that, ultimately, won’t work.

2. You’ve gone from one drink with dinner to three before appetizers.

“Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.” Bernard Shaw’s observation is as true now as it was then. Drinking alcohol is the most common tactic people take to self-medicate emotional pain. The problem with this strategy is that when you finally recognize the pain driving you to drink, you’ll have two disorders to contend with rather than one.

3. You’re obsessed with achievement in bed.

Have a limp libido? Going on a Hugh-Hefner-like tear may not lift your spirits. If you find you’ve traded serial monogamy for seducing any partner that will have you, there is a good chance you’re trying to keep depression at bay.

4. Conflicts quickly escalate into fights.

One common but exceedingly dumb way to dull the feeling of helplessness brought on by depression is to show people you’re nobody’s patsy. Get cut off on the highway? Run the bastard off the road. Have an idea shot down at a brainstorming session? Take the opinionated punk outside and pummel him. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll have enough bruises to distract you from your emotional pain.

5. You feel nothing.

Rather than be sad, many people would choose to forgo feeling altogether. But some people end up getting stuck in neutral–dooming them to invite the same pain again and again. Worse, this zombie-like approach creates anxiety in those around you and alienates those who care for you.

6. You can’t stop socializing.

Immersing yourself in group activities sounds healthy–and for many people it is. However, if the sole purpose is to keep you from wrestling with your thoughts and feelings, having a brimming social calendar is not the answer (and you probably won’t be all that fun a companion anyway). Like the toxic mortgage securities still stinking up bank balance sheets, you have to flush out the dreck before you can start investing anew.

7. You can’t concentrate.

Everyone suffers from scattered thoughts now and again. Those who are depressed but who possess too much control to act out recklessly may do so in fantasy. But how to distinguish a healthy daydream from potentially dangerous ones? Healthy dreams involve changes in your life that you can realize in a handful of steps. Unhealthy ones take you from middle-class to movie-stardom overnight.

8. You have trouble accepting praise or goodwill.

Martin Seligman, the psychologist who revolutionized our thinking about depression, studied the behavior of dogs that were given electric shocks. Eventually, they would lay helplessly in their cages, not responding to tugs on their leashes that would have moved them to safety from the shocks. The human corollary: If you find yourself ignoring favorable gestures or simple interpersonal warmth, chances are you’re not a malcontent. You’re depressed.

9. You work harder, not smarter.

When people are depressed, they have trouble seeing novel solutions to their problems. Instead, they do more of the same. The classic example is trying to exercise your way to happiness: If you already log a few hours a week at the gym, spending another 30 more minutes every day may briefly lift your spirits. But that relief is ephemeral. When it dissipates, get off the treadmill and get to the root of what’s bothering you.

10. You laugh and cry at times that don’t call for it.

In psychiatry, the concept “inappropriate affect” refers to behavior that is emotionally out of sync with the stimulus that prompted it. People who are depressed but do not know it exhibit a unique variant of this problem: They over-react to insignificant sadness, and ignore major league bad news.

This flavor of depression, a stepchild of alexithymia which causes a gross lack of appropriate feelings, can really make you feel out-of-control. I first came across it when one of my clients told me of taking his children to the movies: “I cried in the theater when a deer lost its mother,” he said, “but when my partner handed me the legal papers demanding a dissolution of our business, I threw them in my ‘In Box’ and proceeded to order lunch.”

Abraham Maslow, one of America’s most influential psychologists, observed: “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” Fess up to how you feel so you can fight on.

You’ll be amazed at how relieved you’ll feel when you do.

Sexual Addiction Is…

Sexual addiction is a dysfunctional preoccupation (meaning this specific preoccupation negatively affects their work, relationship, family, legal, health, and social situations) with sexual fantasy and behavior, often involving the obsessive and repetitive pursuit of non-intimate sexuality, pornography, compulsive masturbation, romantic intensity, and objectified partner sex. It is defined by:

• Loss of control over the pursuit of sex – Sex addicts consistently break promises made to themselves and others to curtail, shift, or eliminate certain sexual behaviors, and often continue to act out those behaviors in secret.

• Ignoring and/or denying the consequences caused by sexual acting out – Sex addicts continue to engage in problematic (for the particular individual) sexual behaviors despite negative consequences, often blaming the consequences on someone or something else. This can cause temporary or permanent harm to intimate relationships and family life, along with employment, school, legal, and physical and emotional health problems.

• Escalating patterns of problematic sexual behavior – Sex addicts, seeking to maintain or escalate the emotional and physical “high” of sexual acting out, will end up engaging in problematic sexual behaviors more frequently and/or for longer periods of time, and many will escalate to more intense sexual behaviors, some of which are illegal.

Unlike those who enjoy sex as personal exploration, recreation, or part of healthy intimacy, the sex addict’s focus is on using the excessive pursuit of sexual images and experiences to bolster an unstable emotional and internal world. Sexual fantasy, urges, and behaviors are used to prop up flagging moments of emotional self-stability, at the same time masking underlying social deficits, extensive histories of trauma, and personality challenges. In this way, sex addicts use sexual fantasy and behaviors to distract and dissociate from life stressors and challenges. Over time, the search for sexual intensity becomes a driving force and sole life focus. In this way, sex addicts lose opportunities to grow emotionally, becoming instead dependent on sexual fantasy, urges, and behaviors to self-regulate.

Most sex addicts describe a numbing rush of intensity when engaged in their obsessive pursuit of sex. By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S
This trance-like “bubble” is actually a neurobiological state induced by the intense fantasies and actions that lead toward actual sex. In essence, sex addicts are hooked on the dissociative neurochemical high produced by their intense sexual fantasy life and that fantasy life’s related ritualistic behaviors. Ultimately, sex addicts find as much excitement in fantasizing about and searching for their next sexual encounter as in the sex act itself. As such, they can spend hours, sometimes even days, in this elevated state—high on the goal/idea of having sex—often without any physical contact. Minutes turn into hours and hours turn into days as the sexual addict secretly obsesses, plots, and carries out plans related to porn, strip clubs, massage parlors, sex-finder apps, prostitutes, affairs, and other potentially addictive sexual behaviors.
Sexual Addiction Is NOT…

The diagnosis of sexual addiction is not made simply because an individual engages in fetishistic or paraphilic sexual arousal/behavior, such as cross-dressing or BDSM. Such behaviors may lead the individual to keep sexual secrets, to feel shame or distress, and even to feel out of control, but they are not considered sexual addiction, per se. Nor are unwanted homosexual or bisexual arousal patterns and behaviors. Sexual addiction is not defined by what or whom an individual finds arousing—even if that arousal pattern is unwanted or ego-dystonic. Sexual addiction is instead defined by self- and other-objectified repetitive patterns of sexual urges, fantasy, and behavior utilized to self-medicate, dissociate, and/or stabilize emotional distress and other psychological triggers and conditions. Simply put, healthy people don’t consistently utilize sexual arousal as a means of feeling better when having a bad day. Sex addicts do, as sexual arousal is for them a primary emotional coping mechanism.

Sep 5

Stress Over Time Linked to Stroke


By Crystal Phend, MedPage Today
Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD THURSDAY, Aug. 30, 2012 (MedPage Today) — Chronic stress from major life events and type A personality traits appears to substantially boost stroke risk, Spanish researchers found.
The Side Effects of Pent-Up Anger on Your Heart

An intermediate to high score for stressful events like divorce, death in the family, or bankruptcy in the prior year nearly quadrupled the risk of a stroke in a case-control study by Jose Antonio Egido, MD, of the Hospital Clinico Universitario San Carlos in Madrid, and colleagues.

Individuals fitting the competitive, impatient type A personality pattern were 2.23 times more likely to have a stroke, the group reported online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

These findings were independent of conventional stroke risk factors and unhealthy lifestyle, they noted.

“Addressing the influence of psychophysical factors on stroke could constitute an additional therapeutic line in the primary prevention of stroke in the at-risk population and, as such, warrants further investigation,” they wrote.

Because chronic stress has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, Egido’s group looked for a link to stroke in 150 stroke cases seen at a single hospital stroke unit and 300 of their healthy neighbors recruited from the census registry.

These groups of working-age adults in Madrid (range 18 to 65, mean 54) were compared from 2008, the beginning of a period of financial downturn when the housing market in that country collapsed, through 2010.

The strongest risk factor in the multivariate analysis was stressful life events over the prior year. The odds of stroke were 3.84 times higher for individuals with a score over 150 on the Holmes & Rahe questionnaire than for those with lower life stressor scores.

For perspective, death of a spouse equals 100 points on that scale; 150 to 300 is considered intermediate risk with a 50 percent probability of suffering illness related to the stress in the near future.

Those with signs of depression, as measured on the General Health Questionnaire 28 psychosocial subscale, were 22 percent more likely to have a stroke as well, but that association didn’t reach statistical significance.

“The level of distress and the depression symptoms associated with stress have somatic repercussions such as hypertension and are also associated with poor lifestyle choices such as low physical activity, tobacco habit, alcoholism and poor dietary habits,” Egido’s group pointed out.

However, tobacco, alcohol, gender, and physical activity levels didn’t appear to account for the stroke risk from stressful life events or from type A personality-related stress.

The researchers cautioned that their study excluded stroke patients who couldn’t respond on their own to the questionnaire, because proxy responses didn’t correlate well with patients’ own responses.

That exclusion of more severe or fatal cases may have minimized the association with stress, they noted.

Patient’s recall of stress in the prior year may have been biased by the stress of the stroke itself as may lifestyle factors, they added.

Source: Stress Over Time Linked to Stroke

Sep 4

Fit Kids Make Better Grades



The brain boosting benefits of exercise were demonstrated yet again in a recent study of middle school students conducted by the University of North Texas in Denton. The study found that physically fit students scored higher on standardized tests measuring reading and math abilities with the average scores increasing in direct correlation with level of fitness.

“The more physically fit kids were, the higher their scores,” said the study’s lead author, Trent Petrie, director of the Center for Sport Psychology at the University of North Texas in Denton.

“Parents should encourage their kids to be physically active. There are some real cognitive and academic benefits that come from physical fitness,” Petrie said.

Results of the study are scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Orlando, Fla.

The study included more than 1,200 middle school students from five schools in a suburban area of Texas, with 561 boys and 650 girls.

About 57 percent of the children were white, and nearly one-quarter were Mexican American. Nine percent were black and about 2 percent were of Asian descent.

The school district provided the researchers with information on the children’s race, age, grade level and whether they qualified for the free school lunch program, which was an indicator of the family’s socioeconomic status. The schools also provided scores to the tests, which were given between one and four months after the researchers had assessed the children’s levels of fitness.

Fitness tests were administered to the students during physical education classes to determine their heart and lung health (cardiorespiratory fitness), as well as their body mass index (BMI), an indicator of how much body fat a person has. The children also filled out questionnaires that helped the researchers determine factors such as self-esteem and social support.

After accounting for factors such as age, sex, family income and self-esteem, the researchers found that for both boys and girls, higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness predicted better scores on both the math and reading tests.

For boys, perceived social support also seemed to boost their reading scores, the investigators found.

In girls, while being physically fit predicted higher reading scores, so too did a higher BMI — which indicates more body fat. “We were a little surprised by this finding,” Petrie said.

“It was not as strong an association as the one with physical fitness,” he added. The authors suspect it may have something to do with girls this age entering puberty, which may be related to a higher BMI and slightly higher cognitive (brain) development. He said he plans to look for this relationship again in larger studies to see if it was a chance finding, or if the association holds up.

“While we can’t say 100 percent that physical fitness causes better academic performance, we can say that there is a strong and predictive relationship between physical fitness and academic performance,” Petrie said.

“It’s hard to tease apart the exact reason for this association,” said Becky Hashim, an attending clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the departments of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Montefiore, in New York City.

“It may be that the children are getting more oxygen. When the heart and lungs are working at a higher capacity, it may allow the brain to work at peak performance. Children who are less fit may be sleepier during school,” she noted. ”I personally feel that there’s probably a strong relationship between the confidence you get from being able to do something physical well and academic performance.”

Whatever the reason behind this association may be, “there’s certainly no harm in pushing physical fitness,” Hashim added. “Physical fitness may make you feel better, give you more confidence and improve your performance across the board,” she said.

Petrie agreed. “Physically fit kids are happier, have higher self-esteem, tend to have better relationships, and now we’re beginning to see, there also seem to be benefits cognitively and academically. Our study sends a strong warning to policymakers to reconsider the utility of physical education classes for kids,” he said.

Regular exercise is the single most important thing you can do to keep your brain healthy. It encourages growth of new brain cells and enhances cognitive ability at all ages. So no matter how young or old you are, make sure you exercise for at least twenty minutes three times a week to boost your brain power.


Sep 4

A Teacher’s Guide to OCD in the Classroom


Jerry Bubrick, PhD

For children who have obsessive-compulsive disorder, functioning in school can be complicated and very difficult. And for a teacher, it can be easy to misread the symptoms of OCD as oppositional behavior on the child’s part, or as ADHD.

If we can help teachers recognize the behaviors associated with OCD, especially when a child is embarrassed and trying to hide his anxiety, we can save children unnecessary struggle, and clear the way for them to learn successfully. Kids spend nearly a thousand hours per year in school, which means that teachers are often spending more time with kids than parents are, so it’s especially important for them to be clued in to how to help a child with OCD function better.

OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by having obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, impulses, that cause anxiety. And the things you do to get rid of them are the compulsions. They’re designed to relieve the anxiety that comes from the obsessions. We use the analogy of a mosquito bite. When you get bitten by a mosquito, it itches, so to make it feel better you scratch, and while you’re scratching it feels great, but as soon as you stop scratching, the itching gets worse. That’s exactly how OCD plays out. You have this source of discomfort. You do something to fix it temporarily, but that process, performing the ritual, makes it worse over time.

The most common obsessions we see in children are contamination—these kids are sometimes referred to as germophobes. In schools, this plays out with kids worrying about other kids sneezing and coughing, worrying about touching things that might be dirty, getting sick in many different ways.

We also see kids who do what we call catastrophizing—that is, they are worried that their thoughts will cause someone to get hurt, or get sick, and it’s going to be their responsibility, their fault. Some kids’ OCD takes the form of what we call magical thinking—which is like superstitious thinking taken to extremes—”step on a crack, break your mother’s back” kind of thing. So kids might have a thought that, “Unless my things are lined up in a certain way, mom will get in a car accident.”

There’s also something we call scrupulosity, or having obsessive worries about offending God or being blasphemous in some way. Kids may be plagued by a lot of different kinds of thoughts about bad things they could do. “What if I hurt someone? What if I stab someone? What if I kill someone?”

And we see kids who just have to keep doing something until they get what we call the “right feeling.” When OCD first develops, from about six to nine, kids may not know why they are doing something, but just that they need to do it until they get the right feeling. So: “I’ll line these things up until it just kind of feels right, and then I’ll stop.” And then over time—nine, 10, 11, 12 range—it evolves into more of the magical thinking. It becomes more superstitious in nature.

What are the compulsions we see in kids with OCD?

Washing is a big one. Not just washing of hands and bodies, but also of items—of their pens, their pencils, their backpacks, their books. I once worked with a kid who needed, after his mother went to the grocery store, to wipe down the cans they brought home, because they were contaminated. Contamination is a big word in OCD.

We see a lot of checking—checking of doors, windows, lockers, desks – again, with that kind of need for certainty. “What if I left something behind?” And we see a lot of counting—counting steps, doing things in multiples of fours and eights. We see a lot of ordering and arranging of things. Capping and touching symmetrically. When I sit down at my desk, if I accidentally kick the chair of the kid next to me with my right foot, I’m going to have to then kick it with my left foot. That might look like somebody who’s being oppositional, or somebody who’s got too much energy, but it could very well be OCD.

Here are the kinds of behaviors you might typically see in kids with OCD at school:

Frequent requests to go to the bathroom: This could be to wash hands, if someone near them was coughing or sneezing, or if they touched something that they perceive as contaminated. It could also be an excuse to get out the classroom and just be away from everyone, and just have some respite.

Constant reassurance-seeking. This takes the form of repetitive questions. “Are you sure that’s the answer? Could you tell me again? Did you hear what I said?” But over and over and over again.

Getting stuck on tasks. Sometimes kids with OCD will need to finish something to completion, or understand it to completion, before they’re able to move on. So if I’m working out what I did wrong on a math test, and the teacher says, “Now let’s open the textbook and start a new chapter,” I’m not going to be able to shift gears.

Retracing: If I leave the classroom and I worry that maybe I left a pencil behind, I’ll go back into the classroom and go to my desk and check. If I had a bad thought as I went through the doorway, I might have to go back and fix it by going through the doorway again saying a good word. Sometimes a kid who’s had a bad thought when he went down a flight of stairs on the way to class needs to go back up that same stairway at the end of the period, even if it means being late to his next class.

Obsessive erasing: Sometimes it’s because letters have to look perfect. Or because a child has used a word that disturbs him. If I have a fear of vomiting and I’ve written the word vomit, I can’t stand see that word. I’ll have to erase it so it’s really gone. You start to see holes in the paper. You start having erasers worn down to the metal. A lot of times you’ll see words drawn over on the back of the page. A lot of different areas of writing become problematic.

Distraction: If I am having an obsession that if I don’t turn the cap and count to four the right way, then Mom’s going to get sick, and then the teacher calls on me to answer a question, I’m not going to be paying attention. It may look like I have ADHD, but really I don’t.

Slowness on exams and papers and tasks. Sometimes that’s the perfectionism of needing to do things the right way.

Avoidance: We might see a child who doesn’t want to sit on the floor, or pick things up that touched the floor, or get his hands dirty in art class. A child may avoid a lot of playground activities—kids with germ fears will look at the playground the way some adults look at the subway—it’s gross. Why touch anything there?

Complaints of anxiety and fatigue. There’s one interesting theory that kids with OCD are smarter than other kids. And if you think about how much thinking they’re doing, they’re really using their brain more frequently than a lot of other kids are. But when that’s coupled with a lot of anxiety, you can have a lot of fatigue. So it’s common for kids with OCD to want to come home and take a nap after school.

For a guide to what can be done in the classroom to help kids with OCD function better—both for themselves and other kids in the class—check out A Teacher’s Guide to Helping Kids With OCD.

Sep 1

Top Schools for the Socially Awkward


If your palms start sweating at the thought of having to make small talk or, say, being forced to attend a frat party with people you’ve never met, you may be in luck. has determined the best colleges in America for the bashful, bumbling, socially inept type.

Inside College is a website that combs through data and gathers expert opinions to formulate college lists — from “Colleges With Great Pre-Med Programs” to “The 25 ‘Boatiest’ Schools in America” to “Campuses Where Movies Were Filmed” (fast fact: I Know What You Did Last Summer was filmed at Duke University). Although they don’t actually provide information on how they came up with the schools on the socially-awkward list, they do note that these are the kind of universities “where a Screech can become a Zack” (hmm… are prospective college students even old enough to catch onto a Saved by the Bell reference?).

Nearly 50 colleges around the nation make the list, including Boston University, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, University of San Diego, Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, and Westminster College in Fulton, MO.

Social Anxiety Disorder: No Laughing Matter
Screech-jokes aside, this list may prove helpful to the millions of Americans who have social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 7 percent of the U.S. adult population suffers from social phobia.

People who have the condition feel so uncomfortable in social situations, they make extreme adaptations to avoid them altogether — cancelling group dinners, turning down jobs that require them to make presentations. In social situations, these people often become convinced that all eyes are on them, watching and waiting for them to make a mistake. Anxiety about an upcoming event may show up weeks in advance — and physical symptoms, such as sweating, nausea, difficulty talking, and blushing, may be present.

“The anxiety level rises tremendously, and very often you hear that in the middle of giving a talk, for instance, they feel they have to walk off stage. They may feel palpitations or feel that they are going to sweat — and that this is something they have to avoid,” Charles Goodstein, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University Langone Medical Center, told Everyday Health.

Some doctors prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to people with severe social anxiety, and therapy may also be recommended to help them overcome their fears.

Sep 1

Persistent teen use of pot may lower IQ


DURHAM, N.C., Aug. 27 (UPI) — Persistent, dependent use of marijuana before age 18 — more than once a week — was correlated to a drop in IQ points, a U.S. researcher says.

Lead researcher Madeline Meier, a post-doctoral researcher at Duke University, and a team of international colleagues said a long-range study cohort of more than 1,037 New Zealanders born in 1972-1973 found about 5 percent were considered marijuana-dependent, or were using more than once a week before age 18.

A dependent user is one who keeps using despite significant health, social or family problems, Meier said.

At age 38, all of the study participants were given a battery of psychological tests to assess memory, processing speed, reasoning and visual processing.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found an average decline in IQ of 8 points when their age 13 and age 38 IQ tests were compared. Quitting pot did not appear to reverse the loss, the study said.

The decline in IQ among persistent marijuana users could not be explained by alcohol or other drug use or by having less education, Meier said.

“Somebody who loses 8 IQ points as an adolescent may be disadvantaged compared to their same-age peers for years to come,” Meier said in a statement.

Sep 1

ADHD and College: Advice for Parents


By Mary Rooney, PhD
They might be getting more independent, but you’re still on the support team
As a parent you have undoubtedly done a great deal to help your child with ADHD stay organized, stay on time, and stay on task. You’ve also been an advocate for your child and made sure he had access to academic services, classroom accommodations, and psychological treatment. So when it’s time to send your child off to college, it shouldn’t surprise you that your job isn’t over yet. While college students are primarily responsible for managing their own ADHD, parents remain important members of their support team. Here are some tips to keep you and your child on track.

1. Plan to be involved. As your child becomes increasingly responsible for managing her own ADHD, it will be important for you to have a plan for the ways in which you will continue to provide support. This plan should be developed collaboratively, with your child. Ask how involved she would like you to be. How does she think you can be most helpful? Respect her opinions, consider her point of view, and adjust your expectations accordingly. Your plan should also outline how she is going to keep you in the loop about her academic progress and mental health.

2. Have access to academic records. Some students with ADHD don’t recognize that their grades are slipping before it’s too late. Others realize they are struggling, but feel as though they can’t do anything about it. As a parent you can help by monitoring your child’s grades throughout the semester, and by talking to him as soon as you notice signs of trouble. Colleges typically post grades online shortly after exams or assignments are completed. Students automatically have access to this information, but parents do not. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), academic records are only available to parents if the student provides written consent for disclosure, or parents provide evidence that the student is a dependent on their most recent tax return. To learn about college-specific procedures for gaining access to student records, search for “FERPA” on the college’s website, or call the college registrar’s office.
3. Help your child identify and access academic support services. Helping your child identify and access academic support services on campus is one of the most helpful things you can do as a parent. College students with ADHD qualify for academic accommodations under federal law, but they don’t get these accommodations automatically. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the college of her ADHD diagnosis and submit documentation (requirements vary by school). Together with your child, contact the campus disability support services office. Have your child make a list of available services and determine which services or accommodations she would benefit from. Make sure she also gathers the necessary documentation. A step-by-step guide to obtaining college accommodations is available on NAMI’s website.
4. Talk about alcohol. Underage drinking is common on the majority of college campuses. Unfortunately, alcohol use appears to lead to more negative consequences for students with ADHD than for students without the disorder. Consequences can range from relationship problems and academic difficulties to risky sexual behavior and physical injury. Talk to your child about the risks of alcohol use and encourage him not to drink. This is a serious topic that warrants a serious conversation. Refrain from sharing alcohol-related stories about your own college days unless they convey a clear message about a lesson that was unfortunately learned the hard way.
5. Talk about money. The inattention and impulsivity that are part of ADHD can interfere with money management. Make sure you and your child have a clear plan in place for how money will be handled. If impulsive spending is a concern, help your child by keeping the bulk of her spending money in a savings account. On a monthly basis, transfer a predetermined amount into her personal checking account.
For more advice read our college tips for kids with ADHD.

Sep 1

11 Things You Forget You’re Doing Wrong


1.Making blind judgments. – Don’t always judge a person by what they show you. What you’ve seen is oftentimes only what that person has chosen to show you, or what they were driven to show based on their inner stress and pain. Too often we jump to conclusions, only to cause ourselves and others unnecessary worry, hurt, and anger. So exercise restraint, be kind, and save the jumping for joy.
2.Expecting people to be perfect. – When you open up to love, you must be open up to getting hurt as well. If you expect to love someone, and not have disappointment every now and then, then you don’t want love, you want something perfect that doesn’t exist. When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can start appreciating them for who they truly are. Read The 5 Love Languages.
3.Focusing on everything and everyone except YOU. – Make the world a better place one person at a time, and start with YOU. If you’re looking out into the world to find where your purpose resides, stop, and look inside instead. Look at who you already are, the lifestyle you choose to live, and what makes you come alive. Then nurture these things and let them grow until your current life can no longer contain them. And finally, as you’re being forced to grow, follow them into the world with courage, trusting that where they will take you will be where your purpose finds its home.
4.Holding on to the wrong things for too long. – To let go isn’t to forget. Letting go involves cherishing the memories, overcoming the obstacles, and moving on. To let go is to be thankful for the experiences that made you laugh, made you cry, and helped you learn and grow. It’s the acceptance of everything you have, everything you once had, and the possibilities that lie ahead. It’s all about finding the strength to embrace life’s changes and continue taking positive steps forward.
5.Denying your mistakes. – Mistakes are almost always forgivable if you have the courage to admit them. You have to be courageous and wise enough to know that if what you are doing isn’t producing the desired results, you must take different actions. Sometimes falling flat on your face is exactly what’s needed to help you see things from a totally different perspective, and get back on track. Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
6.Avoiding your fears. – Go to your fears, sit with them, and stare at them. Your fears are your friend; their only job is to show you undeveloped parts of yourself that you need to cultivate to live a happy life. The more you do the things you’re most afraid of doing, the more life opens up. Embrace your fears and your fears will embrace you.
7.Accepting less than you know you deserve. – Do not sacrifice your heart or your dignity. Love yourself enough to never lower your standards for the wrong reasons. Do not get so anxious for something that you’ll accept anything. Hold to your standards and be willing to walk away, with your head held high.
8.Storing mental clutter. – Just as you don’t move from one home to another without first sorting through what you’ve gathered over the years, throwing away what is broken and no longer useful, so too should you do the same with what you’ve mentally gathered, before you move on. Do some sorting, throw away regrets and old pains, and take only the treasures worth keeping: The lessons, the love, and the best of what you’ve lived.
9.Worrying about things that can’t be changed. – One of the happiest moments ever is when you feel the courage to let go of what you can’t change. Refuse to ruin a perfectly good today by thinking about a bad yesterday. The past cannot be changed, forgotten, or erased. However, the lessons learned can prepare you for a brighter tomorrow. Read The Power of Now.
10.Letting hope gradually slip away. – Every mistake, breakup, and setback in life is an opportunity to do it better next time. So keep your head held high. We can live without a lot of things, but hope isn’t one of them. Cultivate hope by latching onto stories of triumph, and words that inspire. But most of all, listen to the quiet whisper of your inner strength when it tells you that this is only temporary, and that you will get through this stronger than you were before.
11.Thinking it’s too late. – Whether you know it or not the rest of your life is being shaped right now. You can choose to blame your circumstances on fate or bad luck or bad choices, or you can fight back. Things aren’t always going to be fair in the real world; that’s just the way it is. But for the most part you get what you give. The rest of your life is being shaped by the goals you chase, the choices you make, and the actions you take. The rest of your life is a long time, and it starts right now.

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