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May 28

Tips To Alleviate Depression


By Lauren Walters

According to, “There is no health without mental health. In the past decade, depression rates have escalated, and one in four Americans will suffer from major depression at one time in their lives. While there is no quick fix or one-size-fits-all for overcoming depression, the following tips can help you manage depression so it does not manage you.” Mental health is an integral component of one’s daily routine. Therefore, how do you manage your mental health? In particular, how do you alleviate symptoms associated with depression? This article will provide the reader with strategies to alleviate symptoms associated with depression.

Beware Of Rumination

According to, “Many ruminators remain in a depressive rut because their negative outlook hinders their problem-solving ability.” In other words, rumination occurs when individuals constantly overanalyze situations. This can lead to depression. However, how do you overcome rumination and become less depressed. According to, the following can be stated:

· Remind yourself that rumination does not increase psychological insight.
· Take small actions toward problem-solving.
· Reframe negative perceptions of events and high expectations of others.
· Let go of unhealthy or unattainable goals and develop multiple sources of social supports.

Therefore, focus less on rumination but rather problem-solving to overcome depression.

Focus On What You’re Doing Right

It is easy to discount the positive and focus on the negative. When you focus on the negative, your self-esteem and confidence level can drastically decrease. This can result in depression. The question remains how do you focus on the positive as opposed to the negative. According to, the following can be noted:

At the end of the day, write down three things you did well. No need to over think this, and no act of taking the high road is too small. For example, “When my coworker emailed the budget proposal, he forgot to cite a source. Rather than get upset, I spent two minutes researching the answer and added the information myself.”

Therefore, it is always essential to look at a situation from a positive perspective as opposed to a negative perspective. As a result, you will become less depressed.


With that said, there are many ways to alleviate symptoms associated with depression. This article has provided the reader with two of them, including being aware of rumination, as well as focusing on what you’re doing right, as opposed to what you’re doing wrong in a situation or an event.

May 28

11 Ways Narcissists Use Shame to Control


By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC
A weakness of a narcissist is their extreme hatred of being embarrassed. There is nothing worse for them than having someone point out even the slightest fault. Ironically, they have no problem openly doing this to others.

This method of casting shame allows them to feel superior while minimizing any impact the other person might have. It also serves as a way of discounting any future comments the other person use to embarrass the narcissist. Basically, they are beating the other person to the first punch.

In order to avoid a first punch, a person needs to understand what it looks like. Here are eleven ways a narcissist uses shame to control others.

Historical Revisionism. A narcissist will retell another person’s story adding their own flare of additional shame. This can be done in front of others or privately. It usually happens after the other person has achieved some level of accomplishment. The narcissist will state that they are only trying to the keep the other person humble but in reality, they are trying to humiliate.
Confidence Breaking. Narcissists love to gather information about a person and store it away for later abuse. They use their charm to entice a person to share confidential details, especially ones that caused the other person embarrassment. Once gathered the narcissist uses the story to keep the other person in check and constantly worried about when the information will come out.
Exaggerating Faults. No one is perfect except for the narcissist. The narcissist is very good at identifying the faults of others and even better at passively aggressively commenting on them. This is a way of putting the other person ‘in their place.’ When confronted, they often say, “I was only joking,” or that person “can’t take a joke.”
Victim Card. Narcissists are talented at exasperating others and then using their reaction as justification for becoming the real victim. Regardless of how hard the narcissist incited the other person, the angry reaction to the provocation is viewed as shameful. The other person who usually feels bad by their reaction, allows the narcissist to play the victim card, and thereby surrenders control to the narcissist.
Blame Shifting. Whenever something goes wrong, the narcissist shifts all of the blame to the other person. The other person who may have done one thing wrong, allows the narcissist to dump more than their fair share of the responsibility.
Baby Talk. In any narcissistic relationship, the narcissist wants to be seen as the adult and the other person as the child. This belittlement is done in several condescending ways such as literally talking down, calling the other person immature, and saying the other person needs to grow up. The implication is that the narcissist is more mature and has developed beyond the level of the other person.
Religious Guilt. It doesn’t matter what the religion of the narcissist or the other person is. In every religion, there are a set of standards and expectations. The narcissist will use the other person’s religious beliefs to guilt them into acting a certain way. They might even go as far to say, “God told me you need to…”
Offensive Play. The narcissist will use personal attacks to put the other person on the defense. The other person will get so caught up in defending their name or character that they will miss the next attack. “Look how defensive you are, you must have done something wrong,” the narcissist will say. This is a checkmate position because the other person has nowhere to go.
Talking Above. Instead of talking down (baby talk), the narcissist will talk over the other person’s knowledge level. Even if the other person is more intelligent, the narcissist will talk in circles with an air of authority to force the other person into an inferior position. They will use sophisticated vocabulary, physical posturing such as looking down at the other person, and embellishment of details to disguise the real point of shaming the other person.
Comparing Accomplishments. It doesn’t matter what the other person has accomplished, the narcissist did it first, better, and more efficiently. By outperforming the other person, the narcissist minimizes the other person’s accomplishments in comparison to their own. This produces an ‘I can never be good enough,’ feeling in the other person.
First Impression. A narcissist is very aware of how they look and appear to others. Frequently they are dressed in designer clothing with immaculate grooming. Not a hair is ever out of place. This is not just for the narcissist; rather their perfectionistic appearance is used to demean others. Comments like, “They don’t take care of themselves,” or “It doesn’t take a lot of effort to look better” are typical.
When a person can see a punch coming, it is easier to dodge. Resist the temptation to attack first with a narcissist that will only intensify their reaction. Instead, deflect and distract to avoid become a target.

Christine Hammond is the award-winning author of The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

May 21

By Natasha Daniels

Parenting an introverted child can be confusing if you are not an introvert yourself. You may not even realize what you are doing wrong. Why is she so upset? What did I do? Introverts have some basic rules. If you understand what they are – parenting them will go much smoother!

If you are an extrovert – your introverted child might completely baffle you? I have worked with parents who have said things like, “We are so outgoing. How did we have such an introverted child?” and “What should we do to help her?”

For starters – she doesn’t need help. At least – not for being an introverted child. Being an introvert isn’t a problem in and of itself. We are all wired differently. Some of us get energized being around others and some of us get depleted. Many of us understand these type of kids because we are introverts ourselves.

The bigger problem emerges when an extroverted parent doesn’t understand their introverted child. When you birth a child who is wired completely differently than you – parenting can become a struggle.

To give you a quick cheat sheet – here are 15 things you should NEVER do to your introverted child.

Embarrass them on purpose.

Some parents have a jokey personality. They like to tease and poke fun at their kids. They aren’t doing it to be mean – they are doing it to be funny. Unfortunately, your introverted child will completely miss the humor in this type of interaction. Worse – it has the potential to make them resent you.

Force them to have discussions with others.

I get it – you want them to be social. You want them to talk. But, forcing them to talk with others isn’t going to work. An Introverted child needs to feel comfortable in order to open up. If they are pushed into talking too soon – they will withdrawal completely.

Orchestrating social interactions.

Maybe you see another quiet kid on the playground. You think this is your time to help your child make friends. You call the kid over. Introduce the child to your child. You wind up talking for your child and the conversation is going south quickly.

There is nothing wrong with helping your child jump start a social interaction – but know when to back off and let the conversation naturally flourish or die a quick death.

Make fun of them in front of others.

There is only one thing worse than making fun of an introverted child – and that is making fun of them in front of other people. Introverted kids can be highly self-conscious and they are more likely to get embarrassed over things you might think are no big deal.

Put them on the spot in front of others.

Did your child forget to do a chore? Did they say thank you too quietly or not at all. Putting your child on the spot and scolding them in front of others will just make them want to curl up and die. There will be no learning curve in those moments. If you want to correct their behavior – address it after the audience has left.

Ask them to perform in front of other people.

Maybe your daughter has the most beautiful voice or your son tells the funniest jokes. Introverts don’t want to be on stage and do not appreciate an unwanted spotlight on them. Avoid putting them on show and asking them to perform for others. You might think it is cute – but most likely they will not.

Talk for them – when they do not want you to.

People ask your child a question and you are quick to answer for them. He’s too quiet. He’s too shy. He won’t answer quickly enough. Give your child some space to talk for themselves.

Over schedule them.

Many kids are over scheduled – but some kids flourish with an abundance of activities. In general an introverted child needs more down time. They get overwhelmed with too much stimulation and need to recharge at home.

Plan back to back activities with no down time.

If you have a busy day – be sure to plan some down time in between. Think of your introvert’s social energy as a battery. Every time they are out their battery is getting depleted. Your home is the charging station. An introverted child needs to be recharged frequently.

Force them to go outside and play when they want to recharge inside.

A seven hour school day can be completely exhausting for an introverted child. They might want to come home and just collapse. You might feel uncomfortable with your child just sitting on the couch or lying on their bed reading. However, that might be just what your child needs after a long school day.

Belittle their quiet demeanor.

The worst thing a parent can do is demean their child for being an introvert. I witness this all the time and it makes me cringe. Telling your child, “stop being so quiet” or “just go up and talk to them!” doesn’t help and only makes them want to withdrawal even further.

Consider them rude when they have a hard time saying hi to acquaintances.

An introverted child may have a hard time saying hi to acquaintances. People might walk past them and they might ignore their hellos. They are not being rude. Introverts can have a hard time being friendly to acquaintances. Instead of scolding them – teach them that a nod or a smile would be the polite thing to do.

Be loud and draw attention to yourself when you are around their peers.

An introverted child can be acutely self-conscious around others. When you are loud and rambunctious around their peers – that might mortify them (just sayin’).

Ask their peers questions.

An introverted kid might be on high alert around peers. When you swoop in and start asking their friends questions – this can be unnerving for your child. They might worry about what you might say or do. You might be thinking – what could I possibly say that would be embarrassing? But remember – your idea of what is embarrassing and their idea of what is embarrassing are two completely different things entirely.

Disclose personal information in front of other people.

You might think it is no big deal to talk about silly things your child did as a baby or what cute mistakes they made when they were younger – but to the introverted child this can feel like ridicule. Even the most mundane facts about an introverted child can be perceived as personal and private information to them.

Not all extroverted parents do these things to their introverted kids. You don’t have to be an introvert to successfully parent an introverted child. Taking the time to read your child’s cues and respect their boundaries will go a long way. Even if you don’t understand why they get embarrassed so easily or why they don’t talk as freely – respecting their feelings is huge!

By Rick Nauert PhD

New research finds that people with developmental delays, learning disabilities, and other intellectual issues are vulnerable to online victimization.

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers found that adults with Williams syndrome – and who use Facebook and other social networking sites frequently — are especially vulnerable to online victimization.

Williams syndrome is a condition characterized by an individual being extremely social and trusting.

Experts explain that people with intellectual disabilities are more susceptible to exploitation and abuse, and the rise of the Internet only increases their susceptibility to harm.

In the study, roughly a third of study participants said they would send their photo to an unknown person, arrange to go to the home of a person they met online, and keep online relationships from their parents.

“You have this very social group of people who are vulnerable in real life and now they are seeking a social outlet through the Internet, communicating with people they know and don’t know,” said Marisa Fisher, Michigan State University assistant professor of special education.

“They don’t have the training or the knowledge to know how to determine what is risky behavior.”

The study, co-authored by Fisher and Emma Lough, a doctoral student at Durham University in the United Kingdom, appears online in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.

Williams syndrome is a relatively rare genetic disorder characterized by developmental delays, learning disabilities, excessively social personalities, and an affinity for music. Many adults with the syndrome live with their parents or other caregivers.

A 2013 study led by Fisher found that people with Williams syndrome, autism and Down syndrome experienced extremely high rates of real-world teasing and bullying, theft and abuse. The current study is the first to investigate the online risk of victimization for adults with Williams syndrome.

Remarkably, nearly 86 percent of adults with Williams syndrome use social networking sites such as Facebook nearly every day, typically without supervision, the study found.

Participants also share a large amount of identifiable information on their social network profiles and are likely to agree to engage in socially risky behaviors.

Fisher is developing a social skills program for people with Williams syndrome that includes appropriate online behavior and safety.

Her research suggests people with the syndrome can learn to say no to strangers, refuting past studies that indicated sociability may be hard-wired in individuals with Williams syndrome.

Investigators note that while the Internet provides an opportunity to enhance the everyday lives of adults with Williams syndrome, it also poses threats that are arguably more dangerous than those they face in the real world.

“It’s time to start teaching individuals with Williams syndrome about safety, both in the real world and online,” Fisher said.

“This includes what personal information they should share, how to set privacy settings and how to decide whether an ‘online friend’ should become an ‘offline friend.’”

Source: Michigan State University

Cracking down on highly effective pain medications will make patients suffer for no good reason
By Maia Szalavitz on May 10, 2016

Both the FDA and the CDC have recently taken steps to address an epidemic of opioid overdose and addiction, which is now killing some 29,000 Americans each year. But these regulatory efforts will fail unless we acknowledge that the problem is actually driven by illicit—not medical—drug use.
You’ve probably read that 80 percent of heroin users started with prescription medications—and you may have seen billboards that compare giving pain medication to children to giving them heroin. You have probably also heard and seen media stories of people with addiction who blame their problem on medical use.
But the simple reality is this: According to the large, annually repeated and representative National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 75 percent of all opioid misuse starts with people using medication that wasn’t prescribed for them—obtained from a friend, family member or dealer.
And 90 percent of all addictions—no matter what the drug—start in the adolescent and young adult years. Typically, young people who misuse prescription opioids are heavy users of alcohol and other drugs. This type of drug use, not medical treatment with opioids, is by far the greatest risk factor for opioid addiction, according to a study by Richard Miech of the University of Michigan and his colleagues. For this research, the authors analyzed data from the nationally representative Monitoring the Future survey, which includes thousands of students.
While medical use of opioids among students who were strongly opposed to alcohol and other drugs did raise later risk for misuse, the overall risk for this group remained small and their actual misuse occurred less than five times a year. In other words, it wasn’t actually addiction. Given that these teens had generally rejected experimenting with drugs, an increased risk of misuse associated with medical care makes sense since they’d otherwise have no source of exposure.
But for the majority of students, who weren’t morally opposed to recreational chemicals, medical use made no difference. Here, heavy recreational drug use was what mattered, and that was probably a sign that this group was was at highest risk of addiction in the first place.
In general, new addictions are uncommon among people who take opioids for pain in general. A Cochrane review of opioid prescribing for chronic pain found that less than one percent of those who were well-screened for drug problems developed new addictions during pain care; a less rigorous, but more recent review put the rate of addiction among people taking opioids for chronic pain at 8-12 percent.
Moreover, a study of nearly 136,000 opioid overdose victims treated in the emergency room in 2010, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014 found that just 13 percent had a chronic pain condition.
All of this this means that steps to limit prescribing opioids for chronic pain run a great risk of harming pain patients without doing much to stop addiction. The vast majority of people who are prescribed opioids use them responsibly—recent research on roughly one million insurance claims for opioid prescriptions showed that just less than five percent of patients misused the drugs by getting prescriptions for them from multiple doctors.
If we want to reduce opioid addiction, we have to target the real risk factors for it: child trauma, mental illness and unemployment. Two thirds of people with opioid addictions have had at least one severely traumatic childhood experience, and the greater your exposure to different types of trauma, the higher the risk becomes. We need to help abused, neglected and otherwise traumatized children before they turn to drugs for self-medicatation when they hit their teens.
Further, at least half of people with opioid addictions also have a mental illness or personality disorder. The precursors to these problems are often evident in childhood, too. For example, children who are extremely impulsive are at high risk—but on the opposite end of the scale, so, too are children who are highly cautious and anxious. To reach these kids, we don’t need to label them, but we do need to provide tools that are tailored to their specific issues to prevent them from using drugs to manage those issues.
The final major risk factor for addiction is economic insecurity and poverty, particularly unemployment and the hopelessness, social marginalization and lack of structure that often accompany it. For example, heroin addiction rates among people who make less than $20,000 a year are 3.4 times higher than in people who make over $50,000. To those who study the effects of inequality on health, it is no coincidence that the collapse of the white middle class has been accompanied by a rise in all types of addictions, but especially addiction to opioids.
Many people would prefer it if we could solve addiction problems by busting dealers and cracking down on doctors. The reality, however, is that as long as there is distress and despair, some people are going to seek chemical ways to feel better. Only when we can steer them towards healthier—or at least, less harmful—ways of self-medication, and only when we reach children before they develop this type of desperation, will we be able to reduce addiction and the problems that come with it.

By Rick Nauert PhD

New research finds significant benefit in the use of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to reduce the risk of depression relapse.

The mindfulness-based cognitive therapy approach was compared to usual care with the results comparable to other active treatments, as measured over a five month period.

Recurrent depression is a serious issues as it causes significant disability. Interventions that prevent depressive relapse could help reduce the burden of this disease.

A growing body of research suggests mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is efficacious.

In the study, researchers reviewed the results of analyses of individual patient data from nine published randomized trials of MBCT. The analyses included 1,258 patients with available data on relapse and examined the efficacy of MBCT compared with usual care and other active treatments, including antidepressants.

From the review, Willem Kuyken, Ph.D., of the University of Oxford, England, and coauthors report MBCT was associated with reduced risk of depressive relapse/recurrence over 60 weeks compared with those who did not receive MBCT.

Investigators also discovered that the technique is robust as it is equally effective for a variety of groups regardless of sex, age, education, or relationship status.

The treatment effect of MBCT on the risk of depressive relapse/recurrence also may be larger in patients with higher levels of depression symptoms at baseline compared with non-MBCT treatments. This finding suggests that MBCT may be especially helpful to those patients who still have significant depressive symptoms.

Nevertheless, the authors acknowledge study limitations related to the availability of the data within the studies.

“We recommend that future trials consider an active control group, use comparable primary and secondary outcomes, use longer follow-ups, report treatment fidelity, collect key background variables (e.g., race/ethnicity and employment), take care to ensure generalizability, conduct cost-effectiveness analyses, put in place ethical and data management procedures that enable data sharing, consider mechanisms of action, and systematically record and report adverse events,” the authors conclude.

The study and accompanying editorial appear in JAMA Psychiatry.

Editorial: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Prevention of Depressive Relapse

“Mindfulness practices were not originally developed as therapeutic treatments. They emerged originally in contemplative traditions for the purposes of cultivating well-being and virtue. The questions of whether and how they might be helpful in alleviating symptoms of depression and other related psychopathologies are quite new, and the evidence base is in its embryonic stage.

“To my knowledge, the article by Kuyken et al is the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date to provide evidence for the effectiveness of MBCT in the prevention of depressive relapse.

“However, the article also raises many questions, and the limited nature of the extant evidence underscores the critical need for additional research,” writes Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Source: JAMA Psychiatry

May 6

By Rick Nauert PhD

In a study of newlywed couples, researchers found partners believe the frequency of sex does not influence relationship quality. This opinion, however, appears to lack validity as investigators discover partners’ autonomic behavioral responses suggest otherwise.

“We found that the frequency with which couples have sex has no influence on whether or not they report being happy with their relationship, but their sexual frequency does influence their more spontaneous, automatic, gut-level feelings about their partners,” said psychological scientist Lindsey L. Hicks of Florida State University, lead author on the research.

The study appears in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“This is important in light of research from my colleagues demonstrating that these automatic attitudes ultimately predict whether couples end up becoming dissatisfied with their relationship,” Hicks said.

From an evolutionary standpoint, frequent sex confers several benefits. Sex improves chances of conception and helps bond partners together in relationships that facilitate child-rearing. But when researchers explicitly ask couples about their relationship satisfaction, they typically don’t find any association between satisfaction and frequency of sex.

“We thought these inconsistencies may stem from the influence of deliberate reasoning and biased beliefs regarding the sometimes taboo topic of sex,” explains Hicks.

Because our gut-level, automatic attitudes don’t require conscious deliberation, Hicks and colleagues hypothesized, they might tap into implicit perceptions or associations that we aren’t aware of.

The researchers decided to tackle the question again, assessing partners’ relationship satisfaction using both standard self-report measures and automatic behavioral measures.

In the first study, 216 newlyweds completed survey-style measures of relationship satisfaction.

Participants rated various qualities of their marriage (e.g., bad-good, dissatisfied-satisfied, unpleasant-pleasant); the extent to which they agreed with different statements (e.g., “We have a good marriage”); and their overall feelings of satisfaction with their partner, their relationship with their partner, and their marriage.

Then, they completed a computer classification task: A word appeared on-screen and they had to press a specific key to indicate whether the word was positive or negative. Before the word appeared, a photo of their partners popped up for 300 ms.

The rationale behind this kind of implicit measure is that participants’ response times indicate how strongly two items are associated at an automatic level.

The faster the response time, the stronger the association between the partner and the word that appeared. Responding more slowly to negative words than to positive words that followed the picture of the partner would signify generally positive implicit attitudes toward the partner.

The researchers also asked each partner in the couple to estimate how many times they had had sex in the last four months.

Just as in previous studies, Hicks and colleagues found no association between frequency of sex and self-reported relationship satisfaction.

But when they looked at participants’ automatic behavioral responses, they saw a different pattern: Estimates of sexual frequency were correlated with participants’ automatic attitudes about their partners. That is, the more often couples had sex, the more strongly they associated their partners with positive attributes.

Importantly, this finding held for both men and women. And a longitudinal study that tracked 112 newlyweds indicated that frequency of sex was in fact linked with changes in participants’ automatic relationship attitudes over time.

“Our findings suggest that we’re capturing different types of evaluations when we measure explicit and automatic evaluations of a partner or relationship,” says Hicks.

“Deep down, some people feel unhappy with their partner but they don’t readily admit it to us, or perhaps even themselves.”

The researchers note that participants’ reports of how often they remember having sex may not be the most precise measure of sexual frequency. And it remains to be seen whether the findings are applicable to all couples or specific to newly married couples like those they studied.

Taken together, the findings drive home the point that asking someone about their feelings or attitudes isn’t the only way to measure how they feel.

“These studies illustrate that some of our experiences, which can be either positive or negative, affect our relationship evaluations whether we know it or not,” Hicks concludes.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

May 5

Soulmates Have Worst Relationships


By Rick Nauert PhD

Provocative new research looks into the way that people think and talk about love.

Social psychologists observed that people talk and think about love in an incessant variety of ways but underlying such diversity are some common themes that frame how we think about relationships.

One popular perspective considers love as perfect unity (“made for each other,” “she’s my other half”); in another view, love is a journey (“look how far we’ve come,” “we’ve been through all these things together”).

These two ways of thinking about relationships are particularly interesting because, according to study authors Spike W. S. Lee and Norbert Schwarz, they have the power to highlight or downplay the damaging effect of conflicts on relationship evaluation.

Here’s the scoop. If two people were really made in heaven for each other, why should they have any conflicts?

“Our findings corroborate prior research showing that people who implicitly think of relationships as perfect unity between soulmates have worse relationships than people who implicitly think of relationships as a journey of growing and working things out,” says Lee.

“Apparently, different ways of talking and thinking about love relationship lead to different ways of evaluating it.”

In one experiment, Lee and Schwarz had people in long-term relationships complete a knowledge quiz that included expressions related to either unity or journey, then recall either conflicts or celebrations with their romantic partner, and finally evaluate their relationship.

As predicted, recalling conflicts leads people to feel less satisfied with their relationship — but only with the unity frame in mind, not with the journey frame in mind.

Recalling celebrations makes people satisfied with their relationship regardless of how they think about it.

In a two follow-up experiments, the study authors invoked the unity vs. journey frame in even subtler, more incidental ways.

For example, people were asked to identify pairs of geometric shapes to form a full circle (activating unity) or draw a line that gets from point A to point B through a maze (activating journey).

Such non-linguistic, merely pictorial cues were sufficient to change the way people evaluated relationships.

Again, conflicts hurt relationship satisfaction with the unity frame in mind, not with the journey frame in mind.

“Next time you and your partner have a conflict,” as Professors Lee and Schwarz would advise, think what you said at the altar, ‘I, ____, take you, ____, to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward ‘till death do us part.’”

“It’s a journey,” they said. “You’ll feel better now, and you’ll do better down the road.”

The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

May 4

5 Missed Signs of Child Anxiety


By Natasha Daniels

Not all signs of anxiety are obvious. Here are 5 missed signs of child anxiety.
Anxiety in children is obvious, right? Kids would tell you their fears. They would be scared all the time. They might cling to you in new situations.

You would know if your child is anxious – wouldn’t you?

Unfortunately, anxiety isn’t always that obvious. Some children don’t vocalize their worries. They don’t show their fears. And anxiety isn’t on their parents’ radar.

In my child therapy practice parents often bring their children in for other reasons, only to discover that the problem is actually anxiety.

Here are five missed signs of child anxiety:


Anxiety isn’t just in our minds, it is in our body as well. Here are just a few examples-

Your child won’t poop. They have been constipated for weeks. You’ve been to the doctor and there is no medical origin.

Your child’s stomach hurts. They feel like throwing up. They are having gastrointestinal problems. You brought them to the pediatrician. You went to the gastrointestinal specialist. Your child has been poked, prodded and maybe even scoped. No medical origin has been found.

Anxiety isn’t just in the mind, it can be felt in the body as well.


Your child used to love school. They’ve always had friends and they have always gotten good grades. Now it is a battle just to get them in the car. They tell you they don’t feel well. Their stomach hurts. They say they are going to throw up. You keep them home – only to feel bamboozled because they seem fine shortly thereafter.

You talk to the teacher and the counselor. Everyone swears up and down that your child has friends. That they are not being bullied. That they enjoy school.

Weekends are pain-free. Your child seems completely healthy – and then Sunday rolls around. The cycle begins again.


Anger can be tricky. Kids can be angry for so many reasons. They might have difficulty self-regulating. They might have a mood issue. They might have a hard time accepting no. But along with the usual contenders, anxiety can be the underlining cause of anger too.

If your child stuffs their worries way down deep – the only thing to bubble to the surface might be their anger.

They come home from school ready to explode. Bedtime brings with it rage and resistance. New situations cause unusual hostility and defiance.

Pay attention to when and why your child gets angry – as it could be the key to unearthing the true cause.


Your child used to love soccer practice and now they are refusing to go. Your child said they wanted to take swim lessons, but after the first lesson you can’t get them back to class. Your child always wants to stay home and refuses to go to restaurants and stores with you.

When a child starts avoiding situations they used to enjoy – it is time to take a second look at why. It might be that they simply no longer like soccer or swim class – but it might be something more significant.

The #1 unhealthiest, go-to coping mechanism for anxiety is AVOIDANCE. Avoid at all costs.

If I don’t go to soccer, then I won’t have to worry about the ball hitting my face.

If I say I don’t want to go to swim, then I won’t have to worry about sinking to the bottom of the pool.

If I put up a big fight – then I won’t have to go to the restaurant and worry about throwing up in public.


Your child has to line up all their stuffed animals in a perfect row before they go to bed. You have to say “I love you” in a certain way – for a certain number of times – before your child will go to bed.

Parents often mistake ritualistic behavior for routines. Routines are comforting and predicable. Rituals are rigid and need to be redone if not done “correctly.” Routines are a healthy part of childhood – rituals are an indication of anxiety.

Anxiety is a very treatable condition. The earlier children get help – the better the prognosis in the long run. If you feel like your child is having some signs of anxiety, seek out the advice of a mental health professional. It can never hurt to get some professional input and guidance.

May 3

By Natasha Daniels

You can’t parent an anxious kid the way you would your other kids. Here are the top 9 things to NOT do when parenting an anxious child. That is of course unless you like meltdowns!
Anxious kids are a different breed. If you parent one – you know what I am talking about. Perhaps this realization dawned on you when you watched your friends interact with their children. What seemed to work for them – completely backfired for you.

In my child therapy practice I will often hear things such as, “I don’t get it. Everything that worked with our other kids won’t work with our anxious kid.”

You can throw your regular parenting book out the window – you need a completely different playbook for an anxious child.

Let’s countdown the 9 most ineffective parenting approaches for anxious kids

Each child is unique – even anxious kids. Some of these might actually work with your anxious kiddos – but in general these approaches are much less likely to work on an anxious mind.


You want to see anxious children have a complete meltdown – tell them to hurry up. Most anxious kids completely implode when we tell them to speed up. I can bark at two of my kids to hurry up and they’ll get moving. If I did that to my third child – we’d have to tack on 30 more minutes to allow for the meltdown that will ensue.


Many parents feel they just need to throw their kids into a feared situation and the kids will do fine. The sink or swim approach. Anxious kids will sink. They will plummet to the deepest darkest depths and will not come up for air.


A great parenting approach for time management might include a timer. Such as, “when the timer goes off it is time for you to stop playing your video game.” A timer is a ticking time bomb for anxious children. Instead of speeding them up – they will ruminate over the clock and will probably explode into tears or screams long before the buzzer sounds.


Similar to the timer – any type of time-limiting approach is most likely not going to work. Anxious kids get overwhelmed with time limits. Timed tests. Timed activities. None go down well. Trying to make things fun with comments such as, “who can get there first?” can turn an anxious child into a puddle of a tears.


Your anxious child doesn’t want to go to a party. They don’t like crowds or new social situations. You tell them they are going to miss out on all the fun.

Telling your anxious child what fun they’ll miss if they don’t go won’t work. They know they are missing the fun. It upsets them more than maybe you know. Reminding them of what they’ll miss out on will just increase their anxiety. Instead, address the fear that is driving the behavior. Talk about how they can handle the new social situation and give them tools to get through it.


You want to see an anxious child throw up? Have a food battle with him or her. Drawing a line in the sand will result in a loss for both of you. You’ll be frustrated and your children will never again touch whatever food you are trying to metaphorically (hopefully) shove down their throat.

My twelve year old still won’t touch broccoli due to a food battle when she was three. The tongue never forgets!

Anxious kids can be picky eaters due to oral sensitivities and the fear of new foods. Encourage your children to eat new things. Place new foods on their plate. But, don’t make mealtime a battle zone.


Some anxious kids are slow to potty train. Older kids might fear pooping (yes, that is a thing) and may avoid pooping at all costs. This can cause constipation and conversely accidents. I know this can be a gross and frustrating parenting issue. But shaming, blaming or punishing this behavior will not fix it. Address the fear – not the behavior.


Parents will use facts to help their children do things they would otherwise not do. Brush your teeth or they’ll fall out! Hold my hand or you’ll get hit by a car! Put a helmet on or you’ll crack your head open. I know these things have flown out of my mouth at times. I also know that sometimes I say the wrong scary thing and I have to do damage control for weeks afterwards.

Try to focus on more positive statements. Brush your teeth and make them sparkly clean. Hold my hand so I can make sure to keep you safe.


Anxious behavior can sometimes be mislabeled as oppositional. Anxious kids might completely freak out when told no. This can be misconstrued as spoiled and entitled behavior – but in reality anxious kids can’t handle the concept of no. They can’t handle the finality of no.

Speaking in absolute terms typically doesn’t go down well with anxious kids. When possible, focus on when they can do it or when they can have it – even if it is far away. Tell them things such as, “You can have that for your birthday” or “you can have that after dinner.” You can even motivate them with comments like, “You can save up your money and get it.”

Now having said that – sometimes “no” will just be “no.” Just like other kids, anxious kids need to learn how to handle not always getting what they want. In reality, sometimes there is no future “yes” to their answer.

Parenting any child can be a struggle. Parenting an anxious child can make your head swirl.
Now that you know what doesn’t work, click here to read about what does work!

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Sadness. Hopelessness. Loss of interest. Loss of energy. Difficulty sleeping. Difficulty concentrating. Low self-esteem. Weight gain. Weight loss. Suicidal thoughts.

These are some of the symptoms listed for a depressive episode (also called bipolar depression) in bipolar disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But these clear-cut signs don’t exactly capture the complicated course of bipolar disorder or the palpable anguish that people with bipolar depression really feel. They don’t capture the angst or fear or confusion.

“The unpredictable nature of cycling through mood states, being unsure of what symptoms may envelop you next, typically creates underlying anxiety,” said Colleen King, LMFT, a psychotherapist who specializes in treating individuals with bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. People with bipolar disorder can experience mixed states or dysphoric mania, she said. This is when you feel agitated and angry — furious at everyone and everything.

You might be especially curt with others and feel like no one understands your experience, said Louisa Sylvia, Ph.D, associate director of psychology at the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of The Wellness Workbook for Bipolar Disorder: Your Guide to Getting Healthy and Improving Your Mood. You might lash out and not want to interact with anyone, she said.

During a depressive episode, King’s clients tell her that they feel broken or don’t care about anything anymore. They don’t have the motivation or passion for anything except sleep. They cry all the time. They feel frustrated and helpless. They fear they’ll never feel normal again.

“For me, depression feels like I have been robbed of my cognitive, emotional and physical abilities,” said King, who also has bipolar disorder. She feels as though she’s walking through a river of waist-high molasses while fog surrounds her. “There is minimal visibility and it’s challenging to move around.”

It takes King a lot of cognitive energy to pay attention to and understand what others are saying or what she’s reading or writing. It’s hard to create cohesive sentences during conversations. Sometimes, she says the opposite of what she’s thinking. Sometimes, she can’t remember the words for common objects. Sometimes, multi-step tasks take days to complete.

Depressive episodes are physically exhausting. “I feel as though I’m moving against all the forces of nature, fighting as hard as I can, to keep functioning,” King said. Episodes go beyond feelings of sadness to guilt, shame, anxiety and fear. They shatter a person’s self-identity. “Self-worth rattles like glassware in an earthquake, swaying with the shifting earth that is my mood state,” King said.

Of course, everyone is different and will experience different symptoms during their depressive episode. But whatever the specific symptoms, bipolar depression tends to have one thing in common: It’s overwhelming.

Because the depression may come after a manic or hypomanic episode, it can feel like a big crash, Sylvia said. It can feel especially devastating, because when your energy and mood are so high, you naturally have further to fall. For instance, during a manic or hypomanic episode, you might not need much sleep and perceive yourself as more productive, Sylvia said. When depression strikes, and you may feel like you want to cancel all your plans and need 16 hours of sleep, you might feel utterly worthless, she said.

Navigating Bipolar Depression

Sylvia works with clients on creating separate plans for preventing or minimizing manic and depressive episodes. The first step is to become aware of what you’re experiencing, she said. Pay attention to your own unique warning signs and symptoms. As Sylvia said, what does tired mean to you? What does loss of energy look like for you? How many hours do you typically sleep when you’re starting to feel depressed? What are the first signs of a depressive episode for you?

Sylvia also stressed the importance of prioritizing a healthy lifestyle, which can be summarized with the acronym MEDS: medication, exercise, diet and sleep. Similarly, she emphasized building a routine — and adapting it when new situations arise. (For more, check out The Wellness Workbook for Bipolar Disorder and The Bipolar II Disorder Workbook: Managing Recurring Depression, Hypomania and Anxiety, which is co-authored by Sylvia).

For instance, Sylvia worked with a woman who became a caretaker for her sick friend. Because her friend lived several hours away, the client’s routine was completely disrupted, triggering a whole lot of stress and feeling overwhelmed. In response, Sylvia and her client created new morning and evening habits. Instead of getting up and getting right into her car, the client started waking up earlier. She’d eat breakfast at home and walk her dog. To make her drive more enjoyable, she’d listen to books on tape and to her favorite music. She found an activity — gardening — that she enjoyed at her friend’s house. Sylvia also helped the client rethink her trips: As a caretaker, she was actually doing wonderful work.

When King experiences a depressive episode, she also has a plan in place. This includes: making sure her psychiatrist and therapist know what’s going on; turning to loved ones for support; regulating her sleep; eating nutritious foods; meditating; and moving her body. It also means: reducing obligations; focusing on immediate priorities; and practicing nourishing activities, such as being in nature, creating art and spending time with her wife.

King uses coping skills that she teaches to her own clients, including mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral techniques. She socializes less but doesn’t completely withdraw from others, and she practices self-compassion. “Acknowledging the enormity of energy it takes to manage a depressive episode helps me to be gentle and kind to myself. When the self-doubts assault my identity and worth, I repeat self-compassionate mantras.”

This plan isn’t easy or linear. It takes hard work. It’s very likely that you’ll have to force yourself to eat something nutritious, to take a walk, to talk to a friend and to grieve your old expectations, King said. This is when turning to a support team—of loved ones and professionals — is so powerful.

“Depression tricks us into believing that it’s going to last forever. It seems like it does when you’re in it.” King reminds herself that she’s endured depressive episodes and cycling before — and she’s regained her health and stability. Sylvia also reminds her clients that these episodes end. “It won’t last forever, and it won’t last at its highest peak forever.”

King tells herself that she’ll remember joy and feel whole, again. And, with treatment, you will, too. “Do not give up.”

May 1

By Traci Pedersen

Scientists have identified 43 genes associated with risk for both autism and cancer. This discovery could lead to the development of treatments for both conditions if the underlying mechanisms behind these genes are the same, according to a new study by the University of California (UC) Davis MIND Institute and Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“This striking coincidence of a remarkably large number of genes implicated in both autism spectrum disorder and cancers has not been previously highlighted in the scientific literature,” said Jacqueline Crawley, MIND Institute distinguished professor and endowed chair.

“Potentially common biological mechanisms suggest that it may be possible to repurpose drug treatments for cancer as potential therapeutics for neurodevelopmental disorders.”

Crawley collaborated on the work with professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Wolf-Dietrich Heyer, who is affiliated with the Cancer Center and Janine LaSalle, professor of medical microbiology and immunology, who is associated with the MIND Institute.

“It may be possible to repurpose available cancer drugs with reasonable safety profiles as targeted treatments for ASD,” the authors write in the journal Trends in Genetics.

“Stratifying individuals with ASD who harbor a risk gene for autism that is also a risk gene for cancer may enable therapeutic development of personalized medicines based on the specific causal mutation.”

Included in the dozens of genes implicated in both cancer and autism are genes for relatively rare syndromes, such as Rett syndrome and tuberous sclerosis, in which patients experience a wide variety of physical and neurological symptoms, including intellectual disability, as well as some of the communication deficits often found in autism.

So what does tumor cell growth have in common with synapse formation and brain development?

“Errors associated with genome maintenance during fetal life may occur at critical time periods for [brain development] resulting in neurodevelopmental disorders,” said Heyer, “whereas errors more commonly occur during adult life in cell types susceptible to tumors.”

Considerable value can be gained from a new focus on understanding the genetic commonalities of autisms and cancers. The authors note that since autism encompasses a broad range of causes, symptoms, and outcomes — similar to different types of cancers — it is also referred to in the plural, as “autisms.”

The study, titled “Autism and Cancer Shared Risk Genes, Pathways and Drug Targets,” is published online in Trends in Genetics, a Cell Symposia publication.

Source: UC Davis Health System

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