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  1. Greetings this lovely January day! Hope everyone is staying warm and well. This week’s Psychology Around the Net dives into perfecting the art of small talk, why working from home may have its cons, how depression and anxiety can affect a young person’s first job, and how a student’s poor mental health can lead to peer exclusion, and more. How Brandon Learned to Small Talk and Why It Transformed All His Relationships: Do you struggle with making small talk? If so, you’re not alone. Many people dread the prospect of chatting it up with strangers. In this article, psychologist Jonice Webb PhD, explains how to get better at small talk by asking vertical (rather than horizontal) questions. That Cushy Work-at-Home Job Can Lead to Social Isolation, Mental and Physical Health Risks: Do you work from home? Or wish you did? A new report finds that people who work from home may be at greater risk for loneliness, especially those in entertainment jobs such as music, publishing, film and sports. This article details more of the report’s findings. Mental Health at Work: How It Affected My First Job: Young employees are the most vulnerable for experiencing poor mental health on the job, according to research. For some, making the transition from school to a first job can be particularly daunting. This article highlights two young employees and their struggles with mental health issues. Getting Mental Health Care Can Be Hard Enough. Then Comes Paying for It: Have you ever had to fight an insurance company to get mental health coverage? Joe and Enita Dugan know this battle well, as their son has long struggled with behavioral and mental health issues. “A psychiatrist said kids like him become addicted, detained, or dead,” Joe said. Unfortunately, the Dugan’s insurance company insists their son can get by with a much lower level of care than his doctors think he needs. This article tells the Dugan’s story as they fight to get proper mental health care for their child. Poor Mental Health Both ‘Cause and Effect’ of School Exclusion: A new study provides further evidence that poor mental health in students can lead to peer exclusion and vice versa. Professor Tamsin Ford from the University of Exeter says, “These children are often facing a wide range of challenges, and need both education and mental health practitioners to act quickly and effectively to prevent exclusion and improve both educational and health outcomes in later life.” New Generation Pushes Hmong Mental Health Concerns Into the Light: Large numbers of the Hmong people, primarily from isolated mountain villages in Southeast Asia, have immigrated to the U.S. in recent years. Trauma from war and migration and the stress of adapting to a new culture have contributed to the high mental health problems and suicide rates among this population. This article highlights Project Tshav Ntuj, an advocacy group that aims to break the silence on mental health and suicide in the community. View the full article
  2. Separation Anxiety occurs, particularly in children, during times of stress or change. It is characterized by symptoms of insecurity and anxiety when a child must separate from a particular caregiver. Symptoms can intensify well after the initial point of separation and can become very disruptive for both child and parent. Symptoms might manifest as sleep disturbances, tantrums, withdrawal, or other behaviors otherwise atypical of the child. Having worked in the childcare industry myself, I had seen this difficult and emotional scenario play out firsthand. I had watched many a mama linger tearfully in the doorway, wringing her hands together in certain agony, while her child struggled dramatically over the separation, causing a great internal debate between if it would be better to just quit her job and stay home full time or if it was just time to give her baby bird a big shove out of the nest. Every child and every family dynamic is different, but here are some simple ways to help a child cope with feelings of separation anxiety: Empathy Sometimes when struggling with anxiety, we only need to be heard. Children are no different in this regard. They need to have mirrored back to them that their emotions are normal and important, but also passing. Empathizing with our children instead of trying to convince them everything is okay also removes the potential for argument and power struggle, which is a cycle that only prolongs feelings of anxiety. Instead of saying, “It’s okay,” try making simple observations about what your child may be feeling. Sometimes just giving them the vocabulary to express their feelings is enough to quell their fears. “I understand. I know it feels sad. It’s a lot of new things to take in. Making new friends can be scary.” Quick Separation The quicker you make the separation, the better. If you hang around, waiting for your child to get used to the idea of your leaving, then it’s likely you’ll never leave. Children respond more to our energy, body language, and nonverbal cues, than any words we could ever muster. If your desire is to convey confidence and trust in where you are leaving your child, then display just that. Give a big, deliberate hug, turn around and leave, and do not look back. It should be said that for a brand new environment and depending on the age of your child, a phase in process may be necessary for your child to gain an initial orientation. But if you’ve been acquainted with this situation already and your separation seems to be getting more and more drawn out by your child’s anxiety, it may be time to practice making your separation short and sweet. Connecting to New People Once you learn some names of your child’s peers and teachers or other people in their environment, start talking about them a lot at home. Not just in the context of the new environment, but in terms of who they are. “Do you think Mary Ann likes riding bicycles, too?” “What do you think Ms. Amber’s favorite color is?” Thinking of new friends this way helps familiarize them, bring them into the fold of trust, and helps your child accept and take ownership of this group as his or her “people.” Planning a play date with new friends while you can still be present is another great way to build your child’s confidence in being with others while separate from you. The more experiences you can give your child will increase their adaptability and flexibility for new situations. Transitional Objects Sometimes a transitional object such as a favorite stuffed animal or toy can be helpful for a child to retain a since of security after separation. Young children are actively building scaffolding for how the entire world works and it can be disorienting when things change suddenly. Having an object that stays with them after having to separate from their caregiver can help establish a consistent feeling of safety. It is likely this special object will only be needed in this way for a short time, overall, as your child gains new skills and abilities to cope with change. As with anything your child may be struggling with, it is important for the caregiver to maintain an attunement to what to is working and what is not for your individual situation and adapt from there. View the full article
  3. This week’s Psychology Around the Net explores how anxiety looks in children, how managers can work with employees dealing with depression, why young girls are struggling more with mental health issues than their male counterparts, a new bill that would make mental health a priority for first responders, and more. Anxiety is Different for Kids: Do you have a child who struggles with anxiety? Would you even recognize it? According to the author, anxiety disorders in children can manifest in a variety of ways, and kids typically don’t display symptoms in the same way that adults do. Michigan-based therapist Carrie Krawiec, LMFT, offers specific advice parents can use to identify anxiety symptoms in their kids and help them work through them successfully. How to Manage an Employee With Depression: Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the workforce, the disorder is estimated to cost $44 billion a year in lost productivity in the U.S. alone. Here is an excellent guide for managers on how to negotiate work arrangements for employees struggling with depression. Girls at Center of Teen Mental Health Crisis: Rates of major depression among teen girls in the U.S. rose from 12% in 2011 to 20% in 2017. According to the article, rates of depression started to tick up just as smartphones became popular, suggesting that digital media may play a role. But both boys and girls started using smartphones around the same time, so why are girls experiencing more mental health issues? The author examines three surveys of more than 200,000 teens in the U.S. and U.K. in an attempt to find some answers. Mental Health in First Responders Becoming a Priority: In 2017, more firefighters and police officers died by suicide than in the line of duty. In addition, rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression are five times higher in firefighters and police officers than in the general public. A new bi-partisan bill going through the Wisconsin legislature, Assembly Bill 569, would give firefighters and police officers up to 32 weeks of workers’ compensation, if they are diagnosed with PTSD by a licensed doctor. Childhood Trauma and Your Inner Critic–And What to Do: Do you have an inner critic? That part of yourself that constantly berates and criticizes your own thoughts, feelings and actions? Maybe your inner critic says something like this: “Why would you even say that? Now the person thinks you’re a moron. You’re so dumb.” In this article, the author shares several approaches to help you silence your inner critic. Rethinking Interactions With Mental Health Patients: A new Australian study refutes the idea that people with severe mental illness are incapable of effective communication with their psychiatrist. Professor Cherrie Galletly from the Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide says that patients can be “positioned as active participants by psychiatrists who adopt a non-confrontational, non-judgemental approach, conveying support and safety, and ask open ended questions which allows the patient to engage, feel listened to, and work with the psychiatrist to achieve a shared understanding.” View the full article
  4. It’s completely normal to feel anxious in social situations. Be it giving a speech or talking on the phone, social anxiety affects a surprisingly large percentage of the population. However, when one experiences considerable distress and an impaired ability to function in parts of their daily life, it is likely they will be diagnosed as social anxiety disorder.1 Many people with social anxiety disorder do not know that they have it. They may recognize that there is something “wrong,” but do not know what it is or what to do about it. This is where mindfulness can help. By being mindful, aware of the present moment, one can identify that they feel “some kind of way.” Through practice, rather than being self-critical, or judgmental of the anxiety-provoking situation, one can learn to accept things as they are rather than the way they “ought to be.” This, in turn, can lead to an increase in self-compassion and the reduction of social anxiety symptoms. What is Social Anxiety Disorder? Social anxiety disorder is generally understood to be characterized by a marked fear of situations in which there is potential for embarrassment or humiliation in front of others. It is important to note, it is merely the ‘potential’ for embarrassment or humiliation, not necessarily any actual negative experience. It is this fear that makes social anxiety disorder so insidious. Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms The symptoms of social anxiety disorder are generally triggered by two main social categories: performance situations and interpersonal interactions. Performance situations are where people feel they are being observed by others. Situations such as public speaking, eating in front of others, and using a public washroom can all be triggering to someone who suffers from social anxiety disorder. Interpersonal interactions are those where people are interacting with another person. Interactions such as talking to friends or co-workers, dating or even ordering food at a restaurant can also be extremely triggering. When triggered by one of these social situations, an individual with social anxiety disorder may experience physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Physical symptoms may include rapid heartbeat, stomach issues, shaking or trembling, excessive sweating and blushing. Emotional symptoms may include extreme fear and anxiety, nervousness, panic attacks and body dysmorphia (particularly concerning the face). Behavioral symptoms include avoidance of social situations, refraining from social activities due to fear of potential embarrassment, isolating oneself and excessive alcohol and substance abuse. Age of Onset Social anxiety disorder has a relatively early age of onset. Symptoms generally manifest at around 13 years of age.2 A significant number of people who develop social anxiety disorder in adolescence recover before reaching adulthood. That being said, only about half of those with the disorder ever seek treatment. Moreover, those who do seek treatment, generally only do so after experiencing symptoms for 15-20 years. There are several explanations for an individual to not seek professional help: feelings of embarrassment or fear, a feeling that their shyness is part of their personality, or ironically, a function of the disorder itself.3 Prevalence of Social Anxiety Disorder Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common anxiety disorders in Canada.4 About 7.1% of adults in the U.S. had social anxiety disorder in the past year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Lifetime prevalence rates of up to 12% have been reported, compared to lifetime prevalence estimates of 6% for generalized anxiety disorder, 5% for panic disorder, 7% for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 2% for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).3 What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s moment-by-moment awareness, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and surrounding environment, in a gentle, non-judgmental way. It is important to note, that mindfulness involves a sense of acceptance. That is, paying attention to thoughts and feelings without judging them — without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad” way to think or feel in a given moment. Though mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism, secular mindfulness has become popular in the West due in part to the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program developed during the late-1970s. How to Practice Mindfulness? The practice of mindfulness is not overly difficult. The real work is remembering to practice. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, and below is a short practice to help get you started. Take a seat – Find a place to sit that feels safe, calm and quiet. Set a time limit – It can help to choose a short time, such as 5 or 10 minutes. Notice your body – Notice how your body feels against the chair or cushion. Notice any aches or pains. Notice any need to fidget. Follow your breath – Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes out and as it goes in. Notice when your mind has wandered – Your mind will wander; it’s what minds do. Your attention will leave the sensations of the breath and wander to other places. When you notice this, in a few seconds or a few minutes, simply return your attention to the breath. Be kind to your wandering mind – Try not to judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back to the breath and start again. Mindfulness is essentially the practice of paying attention to the present moment — thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. With practice, one can learn to gain psychological “distance” from their worries and negative emotions, seeing them as an observer, rather than being engrossed with them.1 As one gets better at recognizing unhelpful thoughts, uncomfortable emotions and/or sensations as they arise, they will also get better at choosing how they react, or not react, to said thoughts and sensations. How can Mindfulness be Used to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder? Through the practice of mindfulness, one can learn to notice their “social” discomfort arising. For example, in a social situation, someone with social anxiety may be reluctant to join a conversation or make a phone call for fear of being judged or criticized. They may begin thinking, “Everyone thinks I’m stupid.” Their heart rate may increase and they may begin to sweat. Through the practice of mindfulness, the person may be able to recognize these thoughts as unhelpful and as merely thoughts, which may or may not be true. With practice, the person may be able to accept these thoughts as fleeting, return to the breath and try to calm down. At this point, the person may be able to join the conversation or make the phone call. It must be emphasized that mindfulness is practice. The same way one cannot expect themselves to be able to play Mozart’s Symphony No. 5 on their first try, it is the same with using mindfulness to treat social anxiety disorder. Mindfulness needs to be practiced to become well-versed at the practice. Accepting the fact that overcoming social anxiety is hard, and will probably be hard for a while, is part of the practice. Through acceptance, a sense of self-compassion may also arise — “I have these negative thoughts about myself. I may not like them, but for now, it is part of me, my experience. I am okay, experiencing social anxiety doesn’t lessen my self-worth.” Social anxiety disorder is a very common anxiety disorder that affects approximately 7% of Canadians as well as 7% of Americans every year. It can be treated using a variety of methods. Mindfulness is one of the most efficacious. It is essentially paying attention to present moment thoughts and sensations. By practicing mindfulness regularly, one can begin to reduce the anxiety felt in social environments, be it in performance situations or interpersonal interactions. The practice itself is not difficult, however, remembering to do so can be. This is a good reason why it is important to establish a regular practice: notice the discouraging thought, accepting that one is experiencing social anxiety, coming back to the breath, letting go of the discouraged, starting again. This is the practice. References: National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). Social Anxiety Disorder: Recognition, Assessment and Treatment. Leicester (UK): British Psychological Society; 2013. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 159.) 2, SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK327674/ Introduction: Social anxiety disorder: recognition, assessment and treatment: Guidance. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg159/chapter/Introduction. Section B – Anxiety disorders. (2015) Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-619-m/2012004/sections/sectionb-eng.htm The Human Face of Mental Health and Mental Illness in Canada, Chapter 5. (2006). Retrieved from https://mdsc.ca/documents/Consumer%20and%20Family%20Support/Anxiety%20disorders_EN.pdf View the full article
  5. The past few years I have become increasingly aware that I should feel free and brave by now with my continuous journey of self-discovery and openness to dive deep into my story and find out what makes me who I am. Four years ago, I boldly took off my armor temporarily and stood naked, so to speak, for the first time in many years, as I came out of the mental health closet. Maybe, it was really for the first time ever. As the unraveling began, I didn’t find myself living with adventure and growing into my gifts, feeling an abundant sense of relief and joy. I tried. Goddammit, I tried. So, when I didn’t feel that way I reverted to armoring up to safety. “Midlife is not a crisis. Midlife is an unraveling. Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.” – Brené Brown Here I am teetering on the outskirts of midlife, and I sometimes still feel more lost than I have ever been. The idea that the truth shall set you free, and being vulnerable is the starting place of healing and change, is something I have learned and preached to others. My ongoing struggle of self-exposure lingers between the shame that still tries to weigh me down, and the continuous comparing myself to others. This can make it difficult to practice what I preach sometimes. So, as this midlife status lingers, I am bombarded with the reality that time is running out. I panic and think, how will I feel about my life when I am the age my dad was when he died? Will I have regret that I let anxiety rule much of my life? Will I feel like a failure from walking away from my career in 2008 and never quite being able to find my place in the world since? Will the feelings of inadequacy still be there? Will I feel proud that I armored up to protect my heart and soul at the expense of an adventurous and carefree life? Or will I feel shame that I worried too much what other people thought? I don’t know. I only know that time feels like it’s creeping up on me. I don’t know if it’s because this past year has been a very grief- and death-intensive year and the reality of the life cycle is sinking in, or that when I get up off the floor my hips remind me, I am not 25 anymore. I have had a few close calls with death, and I am not ignorant to the fact that I am lucky to be alive. I used to think midlife was all about the struggle and fear of getting older that could be resolved by buying a sports car, finding a younger man or going hiking in the mountains, but here I am at midlife and none of those things ever cross my mind or appeal to me. If midlife is about questioning where you have been, where you are going and deciding if you are going to be you or the facade you have been portraying for years, then I am definitely at midlife. I am at that place of questioning everything. I am at that place where my coping mechanisms and armoring up are starting to piss me off, even though it’s been a knee-jerk reaction in life that I’ve gotten used to. I feel the universe’s hands upon my shoulder as she whispers in my ear “I’m not screwing around.” And, if I have learned anything in life, it is that if you ignore the universe’s whisper to smarten up, she will try louder until you can no longer ignore her. View the full article
  6. Living with anxiety means you become creative with your parenting. You sometimes have to plan staycations instead of faraway vacations. You say no when you want to say yes. You risk your child asking you why a lot. Why can’t we go to the aquarium? Why can’t we go to the baseball game? Why can’t you drive here or there? When I heard those questions, I interpreted them in my mind as, why can’t you be like other moms without anxiety? From there the guilt would seep in. I am not always the mom who can’t. I’ve had periods in my life where I have been the mom who goes on the school trips, goes shopping alone, and drives further than out of our town. Every few years anxiety will rise up and I relapse into agoraphobia, generalized anxiety and panic. It only stays for a while and it always gets better, but during those times when it is present, it can be difficult. I’ve worked hard every day towards finding solutions and tools to help me cope and keep anxiety at bay, and for the most part, I can. During the times I can’t and anxiety is raging, it feels like life is passing by and moments are missed because of anxiety’s powerful hold. It’s the reality that life still happens despite my temporary hiatus, despite my “be back soon” or “under construction” status. So how do we deal with the guilt? Do we wait and try to make up for lost time when we are better? Do we try to pretend it doesn’t matter and that we don’t care and just say it is what it is? What has helped me to deal with my own guilt is to just be honest and call it for the crappy feeling it is. I’m always trying to be the best version of myself that I can be, even on tough days. I’m proactive with my mental health, I self-care to try and prevent relapses, and I self-care a little more when my mental health is struggling. Despite anxiety, I was always active in my children’s school. I even worked at one of my child’s schools for eight years, and when I was not working, I volunteered in the classrooms and for events. I did those things despite having anxiety. I spent a lot of time teaching my children how to be helpful, loving and kind by the example I set. I taught them about faith and humanity. We would do homework and projects together, and I still do with my youngest child who is still in high school. When my kids were younger, we would go for walks and play basketball at the park together. We did things within my comfort zone. I took my children to their medical and dental appointments and still do, even when anxiety screams so bad inside of me that I think everyone could hear it. I tried to do things every day against my anxiety in the hope that one day I will be totally free of it, and even though it comes and goes, it has never left me forever. I might have not been able to take my children on long trips or do everything they wanted to do, but there were many things I did that are of great significance that they are grateful for today. One of the most important things I did for my children was to teach them how to be caring and accepting of people, and not to judge people with depression or anxiety. The ability to have compassion and empathy for others is something I see them practice in their lives now as they have grown. A part of me might always feel like I failed them in some ways because anxiety called the shots a lot of times when it would pop in and out my life while they were younger. At the same time, because of anxiety, I was very tuned into their mental health and have always been able to help them navigate through their own struggles and teach them about mental health self-care. My children knew that I was always willing to play board games, go to the park, do crafts and bake together. Being a parent with anxiety doesn’t need to have a negative connotation attached to it. When I step out of comparing myself to other parents and recognize that I am still a good parent that has done amazing things, even though anxiety has lingered in and out of my life, I can let go of the inner critic. I can quiet the inner dialogue fueled by anxiety that tells me I am not good enough. Parenting with anxiety has had its challenges, but it has not always been a struggle. It has motivated me to work around my anxiety so that I can be an engaging and present parent in my children’s daily life. When I reflect on everything I have accomplished as a parent with anxiety, I know that I have nothing to be ashamed of. Too many parents are carrying the guilt of having a mental illness. Having a mental illness does not make you a bad parent. Being a bad parent makes you a bad parent, and I am a great mother. View the full article
  7. This week’s Psychology Around the Net discusses post-holiday exhaustion (and why you should relax awhile!), 5 powerful behaviors to improve your mental health this year, that moment when regular anxiety turns into crippling anxiety, Alex Trebek’s battle with cancer and depression, the link between inflammation and bipolar medication, and more. When You’re Exhausted in the New Year: The holiday season is…well… it’s exhausting to say the least. After all the shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning and partying, we just want to veg out for awhile. But instead of resting, we’re supposed to be making New Year’s resolutions on getting in shape and making money and “getting our lives together.” In this article, the author explains why it’s OK for you to take a much-needed break and get moving again on YOUR time. Five Ways to Improve Your Mental Health in 2020: The new decade is finally here! But, unfortunately, all of the world’s crises didn’t get the memo to reset: We still have wars, divisive politics, community violence and raging environmental nightmares. No wonder so many of us struggle with anxiety and depression. In this article, the author shares 5 simple but powerful behaviors to help improve your mental health this year. Before I Could Get Over My Anxiety, I Had to Admit It Was Real: Do you struggle with severe anxiety? In this personal story, the author shares the moment her “regular” anxiety seemed to morph into crippling anxiety, which further triggered her childhood feelings that everything was her fault and that she’d never be good enough. She goes on to share how she began to take steps to improve her mental health and to cultivate happiness, regardless of her situation. Alex Trebek Opens Up About Depression Amid Battle With Pancreatic Cancer: In a recent Good Morning America episode, Alex Trebek, long-time host of the popular game show “Jeopardy!,” spoke openly about his cancer diagnosis and how it has affected his mental health. He noted how tough it has been for his wife Jean and family to see him in pain. “It’s always tough for caretakers because she has to deal with her worrying about my well-being and also dealing with… I’m not always the most pleasant person to be around when I’m experiencing severe pain or depression,” Trebek said. Inflammation Predicts Response to Anti-Depression Medication: a new University of Wisconsin–Madison study finds that children and teens with bipolar depression respond better to an antipsychotic medicine if they have increased markers of inflammation in their blood. “The meeting point of inflammation and predictive biomarkers for antidepressant response is emerging as an important area of research,” says lead author Charles Raison, professor of human development and family studies. Recall: Depression Medication Mirtazapine Recalled Due to Label Error on Declared Strength: One lot of Mirtazapine tablets — a medication used to treat major depressive disorder — was recently recalled due to a label error on its declared strength. Some bottles labeled as 7.5 mg may possibly contain 15 mg tablets. View the full article
  8. Most everyone recognizes those times when other people trigger unwanted, negative emotions and reactions. There are oodles of how-to articles, too, where one can find advice on how to both recognize and handle those button-pushing situations. What is more difficult to decipher, though, are the times when we push our own emotional buttons. Let’s first take a look at what getting our buttons pushed by others looks like. Oftentimes it means that someone has intentionally (but sometimes unintentionally as well) done or said something that creates a strong emotional response, which usually triggers negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and shame. An example would be when your grandmother so graciously recounts the time — in front of your kids, no less — when your twenty-year-old self had one too many tequila sunrises and threw up in her rose garden. Grandma may think she’s only kidding around, yet she sure did a great job of pushing your shame and embarrassment buttons. But what does it look like when we push our own buttons? Somewhat similar to when we become agitated by other people poking at our feelings, it’s when we purposely — or even unconsciously — seek out stimuli and circumstances that bring on negative emotional responses. An example of this would be when someone has been in a horrible car accident and years later continues to look up footage of deadly automobile crashes, even though it inevitably creates more anxiety and stress. So, what to do if you’re stuck in the vicious cycle in which you keep pushing your own buttons? Below are two ways to help you become more aware of — and how to control — your own emotional button pushing behavior. Are you suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or coping with negative life events? If you already know that you’re dealing with PTSD, then take a look at whatever stimuli that you may be seeking out, which inflames your symptoms. Although people with PTSD often avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event that caused this condition, you’re not alone if you also gravitate toward images, news items, etc. that remind you of that event. It’s a natural response because it may make you feel as if you’re gaining control over the intrusive thoughts and flashbacks. However, if it increases your symptoms, it may be time to seek counseling (if you haven’t already done so), in order to explore other healing modalities. If you’re not sure you have PTSD and are experiencing symptoms that include recurrent and distressing memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and severe emotional reactions, you may want to talk to a mental health professional. And even if you don’t have PTSD, please remember that we all have to deal with negative life events, both past and present. So, regardless whether you have PTSD or not, stay aware of what you decide to read, listen to, and watch — and how it affects you. Yes, most people want to be informed, and, yes, the news can be distressing to us all. But take a good, hard look to see if your stimuli-seeking behavior is harming you. Do you really need to watch the footage of people being swept out to sea during a tsunami, if you almost drowned in your youth? Do you really need to read an article on potentially fatal antibiotic-resistant epidemics, if your father died of pneumonia? Do you really need to listen to a podcast that goes on about “the next big one” and how many deaths will entail if earthquakes are one of your biggest fears? Probably not. So, make sure to stay cognizant of whatever media you choose to listen to in order to truly stay informed and the unnecessary noise — which would be best for your mental well-being — to literally tune out. Another question to ask yourself is this: Are you finding true release or… are you falling farther down the rabbit hole? I understand how listening to sad music or watching a depressing movie can be cathartic. When I’m feeling blue, it sometimes helps to relate to melancholic songs and disheartened characters as well as being able to release pent-up tears. Yet, if I do it too much, or if I’m suffering from true depression, these activities often make me feel worse. It’s a tough balance, I know: Even through it’s healthy to acknowledge and process our true feelings, if we continue to pound upon our emotional buttons, we can end up feeling like we’re falling down an unhappy rabbit hole of no return. So, what to do? Again, it’s about being aware of your own behavior as well as what has worked in the past — or hasn’t. For instance, if you realize that you tend to watch darker-themed shows when you’re feeling down, and it only makes you feel worse instead of better, then it may be time to lighten up your viewing queue by tuning into comedies rather than tragedies. Or what if even thinking about your problems starts to feel like a trigger? A lot of people who have a tendency to ruminate can actually push their own emotional buttons by imagining the worst, what-if scenarios (I know this one only too well myself). In this case, it may be helpful to use the old-fashioned distraction technique. For example, the moment you feel your heart sink and your mind race when contemplating a certain negative thought, turn on some positive music, call a good friend, heck — even watch a goofy dog video. I know this simple technique has saved me from spiraling down many a day…and then later I have a more positive — and less charged — perspective. In conclusion, it’s all about becoming more aware of how and when push our own emotional buttons and how we can replace old, reactionary behavior with positive, life-affirming actions. View the full article
  9. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in the United States. They affect nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives.1 National polls also show that anxiety is on the rise.2 Such trends indicate there needs to be a greater emphasis on promoting healthy practices for anxiety management. The benefits of exercise for physical health are well publicized. However, it is less known that exercise reduces anxiety levels.3 It is important to spread the word that exercise can be a healthy intervention for anxiety management. Exercise reduces anxiety in a number of ways. First of all, exercise results in changes to the brain that are believed to improve anxiety. Such changes include increased production and release of serotonin and endorphins. These chemicals are believed to elevate mood and reduce anxiety. In addition, anxiety activates our body’s sympathetic nervous system which secretes adrenaline. This results in physical changes such as a rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, racing thoughts, muscle tension and sweating. Exercise is beneficial by dampening the response of the sympathetic nervous system.4 From a psychological perspective, exercise teaches you to focus on the present. Anxiety is defined as not being present in the moment. When we are anxious, we either worry about the future or ruminate on past events. Exercise teaches you to be in the present moment because nothing else matters but your current step on the treadmill or current lift. Let your mind wander and you will stumble off the treadmill or fail to lift the weight. Furthermore, exercise reduces anxiety by building self-efficacy. This occurs because exercise, by design, promotes the setting and achievement of goals. Regardless of your level of physical fitness, there is always a goal to conquer. This may involve walking an extra 5 minutes, swimming an extra lap or lifting an extra 10 pounds. The setting and achievement of goals in the physical arena is empowering. It serves as a blueprint that you can transfer to other facets of your life. Finally, exercise promotes self-worth. Every time you exercise, you make yourself a priority. You are saying “I am worth being a healthier version of me.” You are saying NO to the constant demands that others place on you and YES to your health and wellness. You recognize that exercise is an act of accepting yourself. You accept that you have physical imperfections and give yourself permission to work on them. Considering the numerous benefits of exercise, I am surprised that only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.5 I believe that many people never incorporate exercise in their lives because they do not know where to start. With so many options available, it is easy to be overwhelmed. The key is not to ruminate on which exercise routine to start, but to start exercising. Any exercise is better than no exercise. Even a slow stroll on a treadmill or around your neighborhood is better than sitting on a couch glued in front of the big screen. The key is to exercise consistently in order to make physical activity a habitual part of your life. This should be your primary goal. Be patient as this may take a few months. In addition, have realistic expectations of yourself when you start exercising. Many people start an exercise program that is too intense in the pursuit of quick results. As a result, they quit shortly after starting the program either due to its intensity or because they did not achieve the desired results in a short period of time. I recommend that you take it slower when you first start exercising in order to avoid injury and discouragement. Set realistic expectations and be consistent. Choose a level of physical activity that you are comfortable with such as walking on a treadmill or using the exercise bike. As you build the habit of exercise and master an introductory level of physical activity, you will be inclined to gradually elevate the bar and try more demanding exercises. Finally, it is best to get out of your comfort zone and leave your house to exercise. You can workout at a park or a gym. Leaving your house serves as an exposure by pushing you out of your comfort zone. Exposure is a cornerstone in the treatment of anxiety disorders. You may initially experience apprehension at a new environment. This is healthy. The more consistently you expose yourself to the new location, the more familiar you will become with it. Over time, you will become more comfortable and experience less apprehension. Having said all that, if you are unable to leave your house to exercise for whatever reason such as financial constraints, a lack of transportation or a lack of exercise facilities near your residence, proceed with exercising at home. After all, any exercise is better than no exercise. References Parekh, Ranna. American Psychiatric Association. What are Anxiety Disorders? January 2017. American Psychiatric Association. Americans Say They are More Anxious than a Year Ago; Baby Boomers Report Greatest Increase in Anxiety. May 7, 2018 Anderson Elizabeth and Shivakumar Geetha. Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2013, 4:27. Mueller PJ. Exercise training and sympathetic nervous system activity: evidence for physical activity dependent neural plasticity. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology. April 2007. 34(4):377-384 President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. U.S Department of Health & Human Services. HHS.gov. January 26, 2017. View the full article
  10. If you have struggled with anxiety or depression, you may have experienced the fear and wondering if things will ever get better. Some people feel distressed that they will be cemented forever in the pain and cyclone of the mental storm that doesn’t want to seem to end. For someone like myself who has had anxiety all of my life, I know that it can come in varying degrees where it sometimes interferes with my life, and other times it is so minimal that I am thriving despite anxiety. What I can say as a person who has experienced anxiety and depression is that living in the fear of being stuck has never helped me. Steps that I have taken to keep moving forward have sometimes been as simple as changing perspective, and as difficult as digging deep in therapy, and everything in between. In action, there are glimmers of optimism, motivation, and change and that has been the way that I navigate through the mental health relapses. It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months of trying to find your way through anxiety or depression. It can feel exhausting and like a never-ending battle. There is no doubt that this mental exhaustion can elicit feelings of hopelessness, despair and even suicide. This place of feeling stuck is terrifying, and from the countless times in my past that I have sat on my bathroom floor sobbing alone and wondering how I am going to make it another day, I understand what it means to feel broken inside. When I am in the midst of an anxiety or depression cycle that seems endless, I try to move through what I’m feeling. This could mean I’m meditating more, practicing better self-care, talking to my therapist, exercising, writing or engaging in other passions I enjoy. Motivation can be hard when you are feeling so low, and the thought of doing anything can seem like a daunting task. I know that when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change, I need to try my best to muster up enough willingness to do at least one thing that will help. Sometimes that one thing can mean getting honest and asking for support. Asking for help can be hard, especially if you are the one everyone turns to for support and guidance. The thought of anxiety and depression not going away can be unbearable. Trying to predict what tomorrow will bring, or how you will feel does not help either. There have been many times that I have anticipated feeling anxious about a situation the next day, only to have the day arrive and feel fine. I also know that the idea of just thinking positive is not one of those things that is going to miraculously make someone feel better. Let’s be realistic about that. If positive thinking was a cure-all for mental illness, we would not have the epidemic that we do. Not all depression and anxiety are rooted in negative thinking. Let me repeat that: not all depression and anxiety are rooted in negative thinking. So, how do you deal with the lingering fear that you will always have anxiety and depression, when you are in the midst of a difficult and unwavering, painful place? The truth is, you don’t know how long you will feel this way. There is no textbook answer to someone’s mental health crisis. There is no prescription of taking antibiotics for five to seven days and your symptoms will be gone. Sometimes medications for anxiety and depression will alleviate and change a person’s life for the better and sometimes it doesn’t. Medication has never been an answer for me, and I have had to find other coping strategies that work in my life. The answer is not always easy to find. Sometimes when people are doing everything they can to try and help their situation, things don’t change either, and that’s the confusing reality of living with a mental illness. Everyone is worthy of having a life that brings them joy and peace. It doesn’t come easy for some people, and I get that. I never want to dismiss and devalue the pain and suffering of someone who struggles every day. Learning new coping skills, how to manage thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are good starting points for managing anxiety and depression. We live in a time where resources are easily accessible for finding tips and tools. Mood and anxiety apps are available to track and teach you strategies. Information is power, and being proactive with your mental health can help you develop the skills that you need to combat the thoughts and fears that accompany anxiety and depression. If you can find a way to try and transition the thoughts of what if I always feel this way, to what if I won’t always feel this way, it can give you the hope you need to keep searching for what might help you long-term. View the full article
  11. This week’s Psychology Around the Net discusses how to make a meaningful New Year’s Resolution, choosing a mental health app for your smartphone (will it really help?), the mental health struggles of terminally ill patients, getting out into nature to beat the winter blues, and more. How Putting Purpose Into Your New Year’s Resolutions Can Bring Meaning and Results: A new year is just around the corner, and many people will be making a New Year’s resolution in the hopes of improving their lives. But sadly, only around 4 percent of people report following through on their resolutions. So what gives? Research shows that oversimplified resolutions, such as “eat healthy” are partly to blame. Now a new study from the University of Southern California’s Performance Science Institute offers a suggestion: Frame your resolution in a way that will motivate you over time. This article goes into depth describing how to make your best New Year’s resolution yet. Smartphone Apps: Can They Improve Our Mental Health?: Let’s say you have 2 weeks until your next therapy appointment, but you could really use some help now. Should you download one of the hundreds of mental health apps for smartphones? What should you look for? Do they even work? This article offers specific advice on how to choose a legitimate app for mental health. People With Terminal Illness Badly Need Mental Health Support. My Wife Was One: Do you have a loved one with a terminal illness? In this article, the author shares his personal experience of watching his wife suffer with untreated depression and anxiety during her three-year bout with cancer. He asserts that healthcare for terminally ill patients needs a massive change: Clinicians need to treat the psychological needs of the dying and not just their physical needs. Moderate to Severe Depression Affects One-Third of Patients With NSCLC: A study published in the journal Lung Cancer shows that about one in three patients newly diagnosed with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have moderate to severe symptoms of depression. In fact, more than 8 percent of the patients in the study scored at the severe depression level. “This is more than having a ‘low mood.’ When severe, the depression rarely gets better without treatment,” said lead study author Barbara Andersen, PhD, professor of psychology at The Ohio State University. The article shares more of the study’s findings, including the link between lung cancer and generalized anxiety disorder, fatigue and weakness. A Beginner’s Guide to Beating the Winter Blues and Heeding the Mountain’s Call: For those who live in cold areas, the winter blues are very real. In this article, the author urges you to not give up and stay in bed, as that will worsen your depression — rather she encourages you to get outside into nature. She gives specific tips for beginners on how to safely step out of your house and into the natural world during the long winter months — your brain will thank you. The 3 Parts of Anxiety: Thoughts, Emotions and Behaviors: Did you know that anxiety has several different parts to it? In this article, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Stein, Psy.D. explains these parts in detail so you don’t waste your time “trying to change something that you do not have the power to change.” View the full article
  12. Happy holidays! This week’s Psychology Around the Net dives into holiday anxiety and some helpful grounding techniques, the mental health of the Millennial generation, 3 lesser-known anxiety disorders, the link between pollution and depression, and more. Why Christmas Fills Me With Anxiety: Do you get anxious around the holidays? If so, you’re not alone. Whether it’s trying to buy gifts on a fixed budget, having to interact with difficult relatives or dealing with more intense feelings of loneliness or grief, many people get stressed this time of the year. This article lists 8 simple things we can do to help minimize anxiety during the holidays. Grounding Techniques for Holiday Gatherings: During the holiday season, even the most healthy individuals can become destabilized — when your internal sense of calm and confidence is unexpectedly thwarted. And if you struggle with mental health issues, your chances for destabilization increase even more. In this article, the author shares four simple ways we can ground ourselves when we’re feeling unhinged. Lonely, Burned-Out, and Depressed: The State of Millennials’ Mental Health Entering the 2020s: The mental health forecast for Millennials — those who turned 23 to 38 in 2019 — isn’t looking particularly good, according to a new Business Insider report. From burnout to loneliness to deaths of despair, this article details 12 ways in which mental illness has plagued the Millennial generation. 3 Little-Known Disorders Relating to Anxiety: While most people have heard of OCD, PTSD, social anxiety and GAD, there are a few lesser-known anxiety disorders. And for those who struggle with these conditions, they are just as real and disruptive as the more common ones. In this article, the author describes these debilitating disorders and how they are treated. Air Pollution Linked to Increased Risk of Depression and Suicide: Do you live in a polluted city? A growing body of research suggests air pollution has a harmful effect on mental health. Now a new meta-analysis by researchers at University College London confirms this notion. The team reviewed 25 pollution-related studies and discovered that someone living for at least six months in an area with twice the World Health Organization’s recommended limit for fine particulate matter, PM2.5, would have roughly a 10 percent greater risk of developing depression compared to a person living in an area that met the limit. The article goes on to describe the study’s other surprising findings. Revealing Anxiety at a Molecular Level: Treatments for acute, present-moment anxiety haven’t changed very much in the last 50 years. Now researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have taken a new approach to anxiety research — they applied the same computational modeling used for cancer research to study anxiety. “We realized we could take the tools in our lab and apply it to anxiety to develop a more rational way to address the challenges and identify inherent features of anxiety,” said Aaron Goldman, Ph.D., associate bioengineer in the Brigham’s Division of Engineering in Medicine. The article describes their novel findings with mice. View the full article
  13. Today, while sitting in a service at an interfaith community which I have been attending since 2001, I heard a message that seemed custom made for me. Randi Suskin, who is a life coach was the speaker, spoke about Living A Guided Life. I have long believed that the path on which we tread is strewn with markers and roadway signs that tell us, “go this way, avoid that way,” sometimes providing unexpected twists and turns that flabbergast us and have us scratching our heads, asking, “Who thought this one up?” What I have come to learn was that I do and so do you. A cautionary note: I am not in any way indicating that abuse and trauma is ever the fault of the one on the receiving end of someone else’s behaviors. What I am saying is that when I observe stuck patterns in my life, I have to take a “searching and fearless… alright, sometimes fearful inventory” of the person in the mirror. Do I always like what shows up? Nope. Do I want to hide my head under the covers and pretend that as long as I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist? You bet. What I know for certain, as a therapist who has sat with countless clients for 40 years, I have heard stories that would make hair stand up on the back of your neck, followed by a need to, at least, take a psychic shower and shake off the vicarious trauma. One of the many snippets that Randi offered was that we are born with two fears, falling and loud noises. This seems to be universally accepted. All other fears are learned via familial and societal modeling. She went on to tell us about her 3-year-old granddaughter with whom she was having a FaceTime conversation, along with her son (her granddaughter’s father). They were lying on the bedroom floor as they chatted. Along came a spider and sat down beside her. Instead of being frightened by it, she befriended it, even giving it the name Sara. Not sure if her arachnoid buddy skittered off on her own or if she was shown the door in a kind and humane way. Hard to imagine they would have squished her after taking time to get to know her. (I let spiders out into the garden.) The second story took place during a whirlwind family trip to Hawaii, Australia and Japan. During one flight, lightning struck the plane. Rather than panicking, which would be understandable, the 3-year-old raised her hands up and called out, “Whee!” This happened over and over as the plane dropped. She didn’t know to be afraid, despite the likely terror filled expressions of adult passengers on board. Randi also offered a meditation and asked us to meet up with a wise being who had a message for us. Mine was a white-haired man who spoke little but had a clear message that I needed to let go of the fear induced and accumulated over the years as a result of my sometimes tumultuous nearly 12-year marriage. Even now, as I am approaching the 21st anniversary of my husband’s passing, I still needed to surrender what is keeping me from moving forward, past the conflicts and challenges. The guidance was that as I released the formerly fierce fears, which have now whittled down considerably, I will heal my husband, all the ancestors and my soon-to-be-born grandchild. I want him to come into the world without the detritus of his lineage. Although I can’t change any of my actions or my husband’s, I choose to change the emotionally charged behaviors in which I have engaged. I know that holding onto them serves only to hold me back. In my mind, I envisioned stripping off the layers of resentment, remorse, fear, anger and regret, as if they were coats of paint that blocked my pores and made me feel stiff and unyielding. The calendar has all kinds of quirky holidays and the block that is set aside for the second Tuesday in October is National Face Your Fears Day. It is an opportunity to stare fear in its intimidating face and evict it from your head. What are some of your fears that you would like to show the door? The fear factor looms large in the lives of my clients who sometimes hesitate to take even one step forward, as they imagine a huge sinkhole threatening to swallow them whole. The messages they have accumulated include: Not good enough A failure at what they have done until now Socially inept Irretrievably lost Irreparably broken Too old, too fat, too thin Uneducated That they won’t have enough money or time to do what they desire Beyond help or redemption Incapable of change They will be judged and found wanting by any and everyone Some unknown tragedy will befall them or their family Losing everything I guide them in seeing the fears as dominoes that fall, as tin cans that they use a pea shooter to knock off a fence, as fire-breathing dragons at which they can squirt water, as roaring lions that they shrink down to meowing kitty cats. I fear incapacity, being controlled and told what to do. I fear being limited in any way. I fear the unpredictability of partners who could morph from peaceful to overpowering as my husband did. I fear being thought of as boundary crossing or manipulative. I fear getting lost in someone else’s needs to the exclusion of my own — recovering co-dependent that I had learned to be. Up until recently, I have feared being unable to support myself. I fear anger at times — mine and that of others. I fear being considered incompetent or unreliable. I cry every time I hear this song, so I invite you to cry along with me. How big is your brave? View the full article
  14. Admin

    Letting Go of Control

    I am all too familiar with that feeling. That anxious feeling. That feeling of perpetual tightness in my chest and my stomach twisted in knots. Sweat pouring off my body making my hands clammy while simultaneously staining my clothes. The thing is, I have always been an anxious person. I can remember having anxiety from the time I entered pre-school. I would feel anxious as I waited to be told what to do next, where to go, don’t touch that, and wait in line here. In reality, the anxious feeling probably started even before my own memory of it. The anxious feeling led to subsequent action, and oftentimes that meant that I was mean. I didn’t discriminate either, I was mean to everyone. It could just as easily be the people I loved as strangers on the street. Sometimes, I didn’t have the energy to be mean, so the anxiety made me feel really low, heavy, and burdened. I went through periods of time where I was resigned to feeling this way forever interspersed with trying everything I could think of to change the anxious situations I faced and the way I felt. I practiced yoga and tried to get in tune with my spiritual side. I went to different therapists and tried different medications and forms of talk therapy. I read self-help books. I talked to friends and family. I incorporated exercise and ended up running a few half-marathons and even a full marathon. I got advanced degrees. I traveled around the world. I read for pleasure. I self-medicated. I separated from my spouse thinking maybe my relationship was the problem. And some of it worked, for a little while at least, but the sinking, anxious feeling always crept back in. As I got older, I experienced greater responsibility, greater hardship, and greater loss — as most of us do. Through it all the feelings of anxiety got worse and I began to feel like my ability to control the situation was impossible. Then, after one particularly devastating loss in my life, I became completely overwhelmed. I couldn’t talk to anyone or do anything or go anywhere. I felt utterly hopeless and trapped. I repeated to myself over and over that no matter what I did, there was no way to avoid these stressors and the inevitable anxious feeling that both preceded and followed seemingly every event in my life. I felt exhausted and like there was no way I could go on trying to keep everything in control. I couldn’t control it, and I couldn’t avoid it. As I had this conversation with myself I began to connect with what I was saying and ultimately I realized that I was right. There is no way to avoid stressors in life. Stress has always been there and would always be there and I wasn’t going to be able to control that, and to an extent, I also realized that I wasn’t going to be able to control the anxiety that accompanied those stressors. And so, for the first time, I made the conscious decision to let go. I let go of my attempts to micromanage even the smallest events in my life, I let go of being upset about other people, I let go of all of the events happening throughout the world that I could not impact, and I let go of the feelings of unfairness I had been hanging on to all of these years. I let go of trying to control everything around me and began to focus my time, attention, and motivation on myself. Now, this isn’t a magic fix of course. I obviously still face stressors and, to be honest, I still feel my heart flutter and stomach turn every time the anxious feeling creeps back in. But letting go of trying to be in control allowed me to welcome these situations and feelings with open arms, and place the focus of my control instead on my response. Now I — not my anxiety — am the one to decide how I am going to respond in the face of stress. I admit that sometimes I still get caught up in wanting to avoid triggers to my anxiety, but when I find myself cycling I pull back and re-focus on myself, my interpretation, and my response. Letting go of the things I couldn’t control, turning inward, and refocusing on myself, my response, and what I put into the world saved me from succumbing to my own anxiety. View the full article
  15. This week’s Psychology Around the Net shines the spotlight on morning anxiety and how to handle it, an Olympic hopeful who struggles with severe OCD, caring for toxic mothers, how insurance companies are not properly covering mental health and addiction issues, and more. Anxiety in the Morning? Why It Happens and What to Do About It, According to a Mental Health Pro: Do you ever wake up with anxiety, racing thoughts and a feeling of dread? First, know that you’re not alone. Many people have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) that presents itself only at certain times of the day. This article shares 5 ways to help stop these uncomfortable morning feelings and also explains when it’s time to see a therapist. Ginny Fuchs Hopes to Emerge From OCD, Tearful Olympic Experience: Virginia “Ginny” Fuchs, an American flyweight boxer and Olympic hopeful, has struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) since 5th grade. She expresses that boxing gives her hope against the disorder. “You’ve got to keep training to keep winning in boxing. So I’ve got to keep training my OCD thoughts and how to handle and manage it,” she says. “…I have this environment in this space in the gym, in the boxing ring, where I can be myself. And not let it attack me in a way where I can still enjoy life and not be trapped.” Fuchs is favored to win the 51kg/112-pound division this Sunday at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana. When Your Toxic Mom Needs Help: Dealing With the Crisis: Do you have a toxic mother who now requires care? Many women around the world are faced with the dilemma of caring for an aging or ill mother who didn’t properly care for them. According to author Peg Streep, there is no easy solution. In this piece adapted from her book, The Daughter Detox Question & Answer Book: A GPS for Navigating Your Way Out of a Toxic Childhood, Streep shares the feelings of shame and isolation these unloved daughters often face. Mental Health and Addiction Are Poorly Covered by Insurance Networks: Health insurance companies are not adhering to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (Federal Parity Law), according to this article based on a new eye-opening report by Milliman researchers. This act requires insurers to cover treatment for mental health and substance use disorders no more restrictively than treatment for illnesses of the body, such as diabetes and cancer. Unfortunately, many families across the country are left depleting savings and retirement accounts to save their loved ones. “We, as a nation, are not doing enough to hold insurers accountable,” writes the author of this opinion piece. Charleston Students Bring Violent Neighborhood Trauma Into Class. New Mental Health Support Could Help: Several neighborhoods in Charleston County, South Carolina are afflicted with pervasive community violence, hunger and poverty. It is well-known that young children impacted by trauma have difficulty maintaining and forming relationships, managing emotions, and focusing in school. The good news is that Charleston is one of 15 school districts chosen to receive a $1 million-per year grant for 5 years from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant will fund more mental health counselors and school climate coaches. Many are hopeful that the new programs will promote school safety, increase student engagement and ultimately help break the cycle of violence. Can Yoga in Prisons Help Reduce Recidivism Rates?: Two U.S. Representatives recently held a briefing on Capitol Hill to express support for the nonprofit International Association for Human Values (IAHV) prison program. The program, which teaches breathing, meditation and yoga to inmates, is designed to reduce recidivism rates by giving prisoners the tools to process “past trauma and present stresses.” Since its inception in 1992, more than 700,000 inmates around the world have participated in this program. “I want to support the program because I believe this gets at the root cause of what many people in prison are dealing with,” said Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH). View the full article