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  1. Phobiasupportforum

    Psychology Around the Net: October 13, 2018

    Want to know more about how employers can better understand their employees with mental health issues? The thought processes behind making snap moral judgments of others? Why depression and trauma can make you age faster? Well, you’re in luck with this week’s Psychology Around the Net! Workplace Mental Health In Crisis: A Survivor’s Story: Anabela Figueiredo, Head of Strategy Enablement for HSBC Holdings PLC, shares the story of how her struggles with panic attacks drastically altered — and almost took — her life; how she developed and implemented a plan to manage her panic; and offers five tips for employers to better understand employees and mental health. 800,000 People Kill Themselves Every Year. What Can We Do? “By the time you finish reading this, at least six people will have killed themselves around the world.” So begins the October 9, 2018 op-ed essay Lady Gaga — singer, actress, and founder of the Born This Way Foundation — teamed up with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus — the Director General of the World Health Organization — to write for The Guardian. This Is How People Judge Good From Bad, According to Science: Researchers take a look at how many of us make snap moral judgments based on the “ADC Model”: the agent (intention or character of the person doing the act); the deed (the act); and the consequences (the outcome). The Psychology of Closure — and Why Some Need It More Than Others: The death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the loss of a job — these are just a few examples of situations after which many people seek closure in order to “let go” and “move on.” However, does getting closer actually help them do that? Is it reasonable to expect another person to give you closure? Let’s look at some individual differences. Do These 8 Things Every Day to Be Happier and Filled with Less Regret: For many of us, there are simple steps we can take — and keep taking — to boost joy and ward off regrets. Why Depression and Trauma Can Make You Age Faster: We know that some mental health problems such as depression are linked to physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease, but now new research shows major depression, and trauma, also can affect your body in a different way: by causing it to prematurely age. The study found that people who live with major depressive disorder are “biologically older than people without depression” and that childhood trauma including neglect, abuse, and other violence, is even worse. View the full article
  2. For people living in the path of a hurricane, the anxiety and distress can be overwhelming. Uncertainty about housing, work schedules and other life tasks increase when people are evacuated. Legitimate concerns about damage and destruction to homes, streets, and infrastructure accelerate in the midst of constant news about the storm. An important step is to recognize common emotional reactions while physically preparing for impending changes. On the 29th of August, 2005 Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans. I was a first responder to the disaster, and arrived in the area a week after the storm. I found myself in the midst of the type of devastation that I had only seen in movies. More than 13 years later as we find ourselves entering another potentially devastating hurricane season, it is important to remember that as with any stressful event, the storm can affect individuals in several areas. Physically it can cause disturbed sleep and appetite, aches and pains; psychologically there will be fear, anxiety, loss and sadness; cognitively, concentration and thinking may be affected; behaviorally many will become impatient and irritable towards others; and spiritually, many will question why the storm has happened. Children may have their own set of reactions to the storm. Young children (e.g., preschool) take their cues from the adults around them, so monitoring your reactions is important; be a role model for calm behavior. Clingy behavior or other regressive reactions (e.g., nightmares, bed-wetting, somatic complaints) are expected reactions to stress exhibited by children. Hugs and other physical contact can help. Reassure children that feelings of fear, sadness, and anger are normal reactions to abnormal experiences. The following are helpful coping strategies: Make an effort to maintain a “normal” routine Connecting with others can be a source of support especially close friends, family, clergy, and mental health professionals Try to get adequate sleep and nutrition Exercising and resting are critical; a healthy body can have a positive influence on your thoughts and emotions, and decision-making Draw upon skills that have helped you successfully manage past challenges In preparation for future storms, emergency preparedness and a safety plan that can be implemented quickly are important for you and everyone in your family, including pets. The American Red Cross recommends an emergency preparedness checklist that can be accessed via their website; the list includes such things as a list of telephone numbers of nearest relatives or people who help, a floor plan of your home with escape routes, and transportation options. Once the storm arrives, getting out safely becomes the biggest challenge. Although it is important to find out as much information as possible about the storm, once you get to a place of safety, try to limit your exposure to media reports that tend to focus on damage and destruction. This is especially important if there are children around. View the full article
  3. What makes a bully? Is it a malicious desire to hurt another person? A person lashing out because of problems at home? A need to seem tough in a world that is out of their control? There is no single formula for those we have come to see as bullies and the definition is pretty broad. The facts about bullying are less vague. According to Stop Bullying, as many as one in three children has reported being bullied at some point in their life. While some of this is done in elementary and high school, the bulk of it seems to be in those middle years of junior high. More alarming is the impact. The National Institute of Health has found in numerous studies that bullying causes social, emotional, mental and even physical damage in the short and long term. Not only that, but those who are the bullies themselves have an increased risk of depression. It isn’t just the victims who suffer, the aggressors suffer as well. “We Were Only Fooling Around!” One of the major reasons bullying isn’t addressed is the idea of teasing versus bullying. How often have you heard the phrase, “it was just a joke”? Or accused someone of being too sensitive and getting their feelings hurt over nothing? We have a serious problem in our society of diminishing the feelings of others, refusing to admit that something may have been hurtful, intentionally or not. This can be seen in the “teasing culture” that has become so popular. Look up roasting on Reddit or watch old Vine compilations and you will have a multitude of examples of insults used as humor. It is easy for this behavior to morph into cyberbullying, which is becoming an increasing problem with the prevalence of social media and smartphones. Many teens can handle teasing. They joke around with their friends, make fun of them and give as good as they get. The problem arises when one or more of the people involved are not a part of the joke. Help Children Recognize Teasing vs Bullying So, how do we teach our children the difference? We start by recognizing what teasing is and when it merges into bullying. Teasing: Is equally distributed among the entire group Does not target a single individual Avoids topics of faith, ethnicity, gender or disabilities they cannot control Stops when a person requests it Bullying: Targets a specific person more than the rest, or exclusively Focuses on deeply personal aspects to a person’s life, such as their religion or race Becomes a pattern Causes anxiety, pain or anger in the person receiving it Doesn’t stop when requested Creates an imbalance within the group Talking to Your Child about Bullying No one likes to think that there is a problem with their child, whether that is being bullied or being the bully. Regardless of the difficulty of the conversation, it is critical that you have it. National Bullying Prevention Month is in October and can be the perfect time to open the conversation. As a parent, you are your child’s greatest advocate. Tell them that you love them, and that they can open up to you without fear of punishment or judgment. Talk to them about how teasing is different than bullying, and keep the conversation open if they think of any examples they have seen or even taken part in that crossed that line. Together, the two of you can come up with a plan to battle bullying. If your child has been exhibiting bullying behavior, it is also a time to make it clear that it can’t continue. It may take more intervention, such as working with school administration or a therapist. But it all starts with one conversation. References: Costello, Victoria, ‘How a Bully Is Made’, Psych Central, https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-a-bully-is-made/ Stop Bullying, https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html National Institute of Health, ‘How Does Bullying Affect Health and Well-Being, https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/bullying/conditioninfo/health Pederson, Traci, ‘Depression High in Cyber Bullying Victims’, Psych Central, https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/09/22/depression-high-in-cyber-bully-victims/18527.html, Help Your Teen Now, ‘Life Before and After Bullying [Infographic]’, https://helpyourteennow.com/life-before-and-after-bullying-infographic-what-causes-it-and-the-future-impact/ View the full article
  4. Phobiasupportforum

    How Cool Dudes Become Grumpy Old Men

    In his 20’s and 30’s, Brad was a cool dude. In his 40’s, and 50’s, Brad was a busy business man (with a wife and 3 kids). In his 60’s and 70’s, Brad retired and became a grumpy old man. What the heck happened? And what’s a grumpy old man anyway? Brad became a grumpy old man (without realizing it) when his comments began to consist primarily of complaints. He’s become moody, quick to anger, intolerant of everyday annoyances, and upset with the world changing around him. Now that he no longer has his work to focus on, he’s not sure how to spend his time. And so he finds fault with you: “You spend too much money.” “You keep asking too many questions.” “I don’t want to go out with those people.” What has happened to his inner world that has instigated this change? He used to be the rock; the strong one; the one who took charge. Now, he feels useless. What is he supposed to do each day? He used to be athletic. Now he’s got a litany of physical complaints. His back hurts. His knee is killing him. His sleep pattern is erratic. He used to be upbeat. Now he’s sad and grouchy but he won’t admit it. Push him to admit it and he becomes angry, ranting at you to leave him alone. He used to like to learn new things. Now he’s gotten set in his ways. The world is changing around him and he doesn’t like it. He used to enjoy being with people. If you make it happen, he’ll go along with it (mostly), but not with a great deal of enthusiasm. He used to have an occasional drink. Now whenever he gets upset or feels alone, he self-medicates with alcohol. He used to like his job, even when he complained about it. Now he has no job and has no idea how to spend his time. He doesn’t want to do “stupid” things that his wife suggests; hence, he is alone a good deal of the time. In short, he has no job, no friends, no outside interests, no belief in anything outside of himself. Try to help him and he shoots down your suggestions. It’s difficult to discuss mental health issues with a person who believes it is a sign of weakness. Who believes that no matter what problems you have, you gotta “tough it out” and go it alone. You don’t talk about it at home or to medical professionals. What are they going to do? Will talking about it change anything? Will popping a pill change anything? And so, a lot of grumpy old men remain isolated and depressed. The easy-going guys they used to be have been relegated to the garbage heap. Push him to do something he doesn’t want to do and he’ll shake his head, ignore you or go into a rant about “leaving him alone.” So, can anything help grumpy old men? Yup, a few things can: Get thee to a medical doctor to get your testosterone level checked. Get thee to a psychologist to find a new purpose in life. Get thee to old friends to renew affinity, camaraderie and create new goals. Toughing it out, going it alone is best relegated to John Wayne movies; the way men were “supposed” to be in the good old days … but sorry folks, it doesn’t work these days. ©2018 View the full article
  5. Cavion, Inc., a leading clinical stage biotechnology company committed to developing novel therapeutics for people with neurological diseases, today announced promising results of the T-CALM Phase 2 clinical trial of its first-in-class T-type calcium channel modulator CX-8998 in essential tremor. View the full article
  6. Maybe I should become an alcoholic. Before you wonder whether I have had one too many gin and tonics, let me explain. I have an uncle who has battled alcohol and drug issues for decades. When he believe a relapse is imminent, he attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. For him, AA has been a lifesaver, providing stability and support during particularly tumultuous times. In fact, he credits AA with his current sobriety. For mental health sufferers, where is our “Alcoholics Anonymous?” More specifically, where is our support group for struggling individuals mired in the throes of a depressive episode? Or a relentless panic attack? A proverbial safe space where we — the 40 plus million Americans battling mental health issues — can share our mental health trials and tribulations without judgment. For me, one of my biggest challenges has been finding a mental health support system — people who understand the daily struggles of managing my mental health. In particular, a mental health support group would have been a tremendous resource during my initial mental health diagnosis. When OCD bullied me into submission during my college years, I remember the shame and anguish churning inside me. Here I was an 18-year-old kid — in a rigorous academic program — besieged with tormenting thoughts. Without any understanding of OCD’s machinations, the thoughts felt inescapable, pinballing in my mind as I tried, futilely it seemed, to focus on something — anything — other than the barrage of negative thoughts. I needed help. But at the time, there was a sense of apprehension — even dread — at disclosing my mental health struggles to, well, anyone (as you can see, I have gotten over that fear). As an anxiety-riddled 18-year-old, though, I worried that divulging these horrific thoughts would have far-reaching — and disastrous — consequences. A counselor would think I was “crazy”; an academic advisor would report me to the dean; an RA would contact my parents. In hindsight, I needed a mental health support system — and probably a bear hug. A mental health support system (our own Alcoholics Anonymous) would have provided some context on the intrusive thoughts, calming my frayed nerves (“Matt, this is just you OCD mind talking”) and providing an invaluable resource when the OCD thoughts flared up. And for me, someone who concealed OCD from loved ones for years, a mental health support system would have minimized my own shame and self-doubt. I have learned from my fateful teenage years. Over the following years, I have cobbled together my own self-styled support system. There is the good friend from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the friend of a friend who battles OCD, and the readers who detail their personal struggles in poignant emails. But, truthfully, building a support system hasn’t been easy; it has taken years to find a group of people I can openly discuss my mental health struggles with. And, at times, I have felt as isolated as your most remote island. So, I repeat, why isn’t there a Mental Health Anonymous? A place where we — the 40 million plus mental health sufferers — can discuss our mental health issues without (fear of) disparagement and mockery. A place where all of us can commiserate over our shared struggles and rejoice over our shared successes. Without my current support system, I shudder to think where I would be. Perhaps, in a sadly ironic twist, at an AA meeting lamenting the lack of mental health support. An introduction: A longtime Psych Central contributor, I will be chronicling my mental health insights and struggles in personal, self-deprecating terms (chuckling at yourself — and your occasional eccentricity — beats the alternative). As I blog about my own successes and stumbles, I look forward to building relationships with you. View the full article
  7. The average rate of depression remission at twelve months for people not receiving any mental health treatment in this country is 53 percent. But in Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), it’s only 9 percent. Mental Health America (MHA) wants to know why. ACOs were the first big innovation in the value-based payment movement. Here’s how they work: A group of providers get together and make a deal with an insurance company. If they achieve certain quality objectives and end up costing less than the insurance company expected to spend that year, they get half of the money they saved back. The idea is that then everyone wins: the patients get better outcomes, the doctors get additional revenue, and the insurance company saves money. One of the quality measures that ACOs are scored on is Depression Remission at Twelve Months – for those people that screen positive for depression, what percent of them screen negative by the end of the year? For now, ACOs only need to say how they’re doing on this measure; they don’t (yet) get paid based on this. But the data from last year – newly available as of last month – are beginning to paint a picture. It isn’t pretty. Using the public data, across all ACOs that reported this measure, the average rate of depression remission at twelve months across the population they served was a little over 9 percent. Only nine out of every hundred people who screened positive for depression improved clinically by the end of the year. By comparison, a recent study found that the average rate of depression remission at twelve months for people not receiving any treatment was likely around 53 percent. We don’t think that ACOs are making people sicker, but the data suggest that something is probably going wrong. First, if someone screens positive for depression and then the ACO doesn’t screen them a second time later, that still counts against the ACOs score. That could be what is happening in many cases – they screen once but don’t screen again. This means that we don’t know if these people are getting better, which was supposed to be part of the goal of the new value-based payment models. It could also be other issues, like the population of people being screened for in the ACOs are sicker and have more need than most. But again, we don’t really know from the sparse data available. MHA thinks the value-based payment movement holds great promise for mental health. Based on these early results, MHA is exploring how to better support ACOs and ensure that the future of value-based payment is one that, first and foremost, values acting before stage 4 in mental health (you can see another paper we wrote on this subject here). While we’re working on a longer academic paper and responding to an open comment period on ACOs, we wanted to share some of our goals: We need to make screening easier and ubiquitous. If people screen regularly and have the option to share their results with their doctor, then it will be easier for doctors to see how the people they’re treating are doing, and we will have more reliable information about whether people are getting better; Doctors need more help in treating mental health. At MHA, we think peer support specialists could be a critical part of recovery in more settings, including ACOs, along with other options like digital apps or telehealth to connect people with mental health providers. More providers should also receive meaningful training in treating mental health conditions; and When ACOs are able to do a good job addressing mental health in their population, they should receive larger payments. Tying payments to improved mental health would elevate best practices, finance further improvements, and get more systems to invest in mental health treatment. Over the coming months, MHA will be working to advance these changes, because 9 percent remission rates are far too low ever to be acceptable. This post courtesy of Mental Health America. View the full article
  8. Phobiasupportforum

    Atypical Presentation of OCD in Children

    I’ve been an advocate for OCD awareness for over ten years and have not seen much progress in the understanding and diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Estimates vary but still hover around 14-17 years from onset of symptoms to receiving a proper diagnosis and treatment. That’s 14-17 years of untreated OCD which becomes more entrenched and difficult to treat as time goes by. To me, and I’m guessing to most people, this is not acceptable. In a July 2018 article published in Comprehensive Psychiatry titled “Atypical symptom presentations in children and adolescents with obsessive compulsive disorder,” the authors detail some lesser-known symptoms of OCD that children and adolescents might exhibit. Typically, clinicians who want to rate the severity of obsessive and compulsive symptoms in children and adolescents use the Children’s Yale Brown Obsessive Scale (CY-BOCS) checklist. This checklist contains the most common symptoms presented in youth with OCD and includes obsessions related to contamination, aggression, and magical thinking, to name a few. Compulsions listed include but are not limited to, checking, counting, cleaning, repeating, and ordering. The CY-BOCS can be an extremely helpful tool for clinicians, especially in diagnosing a more “straightforward” case of OCD. Still, many cases of childhood OCD are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Sure, OCD experts know their stuff, but there just aren’t enough of them to go around. Unfortunately, many mental health providers simply do not know a lot about obsessive-compulsive disorder. Back to the study mentioned above which describes two distinct types of atypical OCD symptoms found in 24 children. Researchers showed how these symptoms are part of a larger clinical picture, not a feature of an alternate condition such as psychosis or autism spectrum disorder. As explained here: Twelve of the children had obsessions rooted in a primary sensory experience (such as auditory, olfactory, or tactile) that they found intolerable and which was sometimes linked to specific people or objects. To soothe or avoid the associated sensory discomfort, patients were driven to engage in time-consuming repeated behaviors. Many of these patients struggled with ordinary activities such as eating or wearing clothing and can be at risk of seeming to exhibit symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, especially when the patient has a level of self-awareness that leads them to conceal the obsession behind the behaviors. The other 12 children had obsessions rooted in people, times, or places they viewed as disgusting, abhorrent, or horrific, and which led to contamination fears connected to any actions or thoughts they saw as related to these obsessions. These kinds of contamination obsessions could result in concrete contamination concerns but more often resulted in abstract, magical-thinking fears of specific, highly ego-dystonic states of being. When the fear was a reaction to a particular individual or individuals, the obsession most often resulted in avoidance behaviors designed to placate a fear of acquiring a characteristic or trait of the individual by contagion. Patients exhibiting these symptom presentations are at risk of being diagnosed with psychosis. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is complicated and I have connected with a number of people whose family members (or they themselves) have been misdiagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, and even Bipolar Disorder. These misdiagnoses can have devastating effects on the person with OCD, not only because proper treatment is delayed, but because therapies used for other disorders can make OCD worse. This case study is a good example: Master A, 10-year-old male child, with uneventful birth and developmental history without past and family history of neurological and psychiatric illness presented with complaints of repetitive spitting, withdrawn to self, lack of interest in study, repeatedly closing his ears by hands from last 8 months and refusal to take food from last 7 days. He was hospitalized. On physical examination, all parameters were within normal limits except presence of mild dehydration. Intravenous (IV) fluids were started. On initial mental status examination, the patient was unable to express the reason behind this type of behaviour. On repeated evaluation, the patient expressed that he did not want to take food as he thinks that any word spoken by him or by nearby people or any word heard by him from any source were written on his own saliva and he cannot swallow the words with food or saliva. For this reason, he was spitting repetitively, avoiding interaction with people, avoiding food. To avoid any sound, he closes his ears by hands most of the times. He expressed that this type of thought was his own thought and absurd one. He tries to avoid this thought but he was unable to do so. After 6 months of onset of his illness, he was treated by a psychiatrist as a case of schizophrenia and was prescribed tablet aripiprazole 10 mg per day. After 2 months of treatment, instead of any improvement, his condition deteriorated and he visited our department. After evaluation, a diagnosis of OCD, mixed obsessional thought and acts was made… His CY-BOCS score dropped to 19 after 8 weeks of treatment and he was discharged from the hospital. What I find particularly heartbreaking about cases such as this one is the fact that atypical antipsychotics (in this case aripiprazole) have been known to exacerbate the symptoms of OCD. How many people are misdiagnosed and never receive a correct diagnosis? Health care professionals need to be better educated about OCD, so at the very least, it will be on their “radar screen” when evaluating patients. Obsessive-compulsive disorder has the potential to destroy lives, but it is also very treatable — once it is properly diagnosed. View the full article
  9. Phobiasupportforum

    Should I Write to Ask the Therapist?

    The team at Psych Central’s Ask the Therapist is part of a stream of history that started almost 300 years ago. The first recorded advice column was in 1690! For centuries, people have looked to sometimes anonymous “experts” for advice about love and romance, family relationships, social and work problems, and internal distress. Over time, the format has been much the same: People write in their questions and the advisors advise. Every day, PsychCentral’s four-member team of psychologists and social workers answer questions from people all over the world. There are about 270,000 page views each month by about 108,000 viewers. Why? I’m sure that, for some, it is curiosity about other people or interest in comparing their own answers to ours. Others have not yet found the courage or think they don’t have the ability to write about their own situation. They therefore look for our responses to other people who have problems similar to their own. But hundreds of people do write. Our inbox contains letters from teens, young and not so young adults, every gender, and many different countries. They come from all economic, religious, and ethnic groups. Writers are people who are worried about how they are feeling or upset about interactions with people they care about or confused about how to handle a stressful situation. Some are merely curious about psychology. Some are in deep distress. Should you send us an email too? There are many positive reasons to do so: To organize your thinking. Just writing a problem down is often helpful. Explaining anything to someone else requires slowing down and thinking about what you need to say and how to say it. You may be surprised, when you look at what you’ve written, to see the problem in a new and sometimes solvable way. If not, we can perhaps offer another way to look at the situation or direct you to appropriate sources of support. To dump some of your distress: Sometimes it helps just to “dump” or “vent.” Writing to us can get something off your chest and into our mailbox. Sometimes that’s enough. You don’t want to bother friends or family. You do want a place where you can express yourself freely – and anonymously. We’re here for that. We’re here to let you know you are not alone. We might even have some ideas about how you can manage the problem. To sort information: The internet is a wonderful source of information. But it can sometimes be difficult to sort through the sheer volume of sites. What is legitimate research? What is sensationalism? What is really applicable to you? How can you reconcile contradictory opinions? If you are having difficulty making sense of what you are reading or if what you are finding online is stressing you out, we can help you sort it out. To get a diagnosis: I’m sorry. It is unethical for us to diagnose on the basis of a short letter. But if you have been attempting self-diagnosis, you might find it reassuring or enlightening to write to us. Self-diagnosis is often incomplete, at best, and often inaccurate. Often it is anxiety-provoking. In cases where we think symptoms are consistent with a particular diagnostic category, we will encourage you to seek a mental health assessment to confirm it. On the other hand, our experience may lead us to suggest that your suffering is attributable to something besides mental illness. Feelings and behaviors that might indicate a mental illness can often be explained by medical, developmental and/or cultural issues. If that’s the case, we’ll refer you to professionals or resources who can help. Sometimes we may suggest that you are going through a perfectly normal, though uncomfortable, developmental phase. Sometimes we may remind you that being anxious or depressed is a normal response to an abnormal situation. To spare your support people: Yes, we all can and should reach out to the people who count in our lives when we are troubled. But sometimes they have listened and listened and done their best to be helpful but you have a sense that they just can’t take in more of your stress. Sometimes they have troubles of their own. Sometimes they feel helpless to help. Writing to us spreads out your distress and expands your support circle. In addition, we may encourage you to join one of the PsychCentral forums, to explore support services in your community, and/or to make an appointment with a professional. What the Ask the Therapist team offers: Credentials: In my opinion, it is unfortunate that many advice columns have been written by people with no credentials in psychology or mental health, or who have advanced degrees in an irrelevant profession. In contrast, all of us are licensed psychologists or social workers. All of us have years of experience working directly with people from all walks of life and with the full range of diagnoses. For detailed information about each of us, click on the Help tab on the home page, then click on “About our Therapists.” Respectful answers: There are advice columnists who seem more interested in using people’s letters for their entertainment value than in providing real help. Not so at PsychCentral. We think witty responses to someone’s pain aren’t funny. Blaming or shaming people may play into the negativity currently permeating our culture but we think it is disrespectful and rude. We never call people names or bully. Yes, there is sometimes a place for humor, but never at a writer’s expense. Although a glib response might be more hip or entertaining, we believe letter writers deserve better than a pop, slap dash, way cool answer. Our team has always treated serious problems seriously. Hope. Yes, hope. As a team, we believe in the resilience and potential for recovery and growth of our writers. We do the best we can to respond to the immediate problem and to offer encouragement, support and hope. Whenever we can, we identify next steps and encourage people to take positive action. Should you write to us? If you are asking that question, you probably already have the answer. You have a problem you haven’t been able to solve on your own. If you could, you would have done it already. You have nothing to lose by sharing the problem with us. There are no guarantees that our advice will be helpful but we’ll do our best. Chances are we can provide a new perspective on the situation, some practical ideas, new resources to explore, or some peace of mind. You deserve it. You are worth it. View the full article
  10. Oxford VR, a spinout company from the University of Oxford, has raised £3.2m with investors including Oxford Sciences Innovation, University of Oxford, Force Over Mass, RT Capital and GT Healthcare Capital Partners. View the full article
  11. Phobiasupportforum

    How to Relieve Depression Naturally

    Currently, in the United States, approximately 20 million adults have depression. Those who struggle with major depression have a mood disorder that affects their mental health and their physical health. The symptoms of major depression are sadness, becoming withdrawn, isolation, inability to concentrate, weight loss or gain, self-hate, loss of interest in activities, nervousness, thoughts of suicide, and more. Depression can stem from physiological factors such as an imbalance in serotonin neurotransmitters, an over or underactive thyroid, as well as genetics. Other common symptoms of depression can begin after someone experiences a stressful event, such as death, unemployment, divorce, and legal problems. Less stressful events can also accumulate and cause depression. Along with a major depression diagnosis, there are also other categories of depression which also have a physiological basis. These include dysthymia, postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. The most important step a person needs to make if they think they are depressed is to be evaluated by a mental health professional. Aside from seeking care from a mental health practitioner, there are numerous ways to treat depression naturally that have been proven to be very effective. Whether you’re searching for a therapist in Delray Beach or anywhere in the country, many mental health professionals are able to help through individual therapy sessions along with online counseling from the comfort of home. Eating Healthy as a Routine One important factor that can easily balance a person’s mood is to implement a regular routine of healthy eating. The key words here are eating-healthy and routine. Our bodies depend on us to provide it with proper nutrition for it to function at its very best. Our bodies will, if provided the best sources of nutrients, then regulate our chemical neurotransmitters and other physiological functions that greatly affect our mental state and will improve our mood. Eating healthy means getting plenty of B vitamins through food sources that have high amounts of protein, reducing and or eliminating sugars, eating whole foods that are plant based, drinking plenty of water and eliminating caffeine. Caffeine causes anxiety which then increases depression. Studies have shown that if a person eliminates caffeine from their diet depression is less likely to worsen and will enable a person to sleep better. Designating specific times to eat in the form of a healthy eating routine is also a major factor that will help your body regulate hormones and sugar levels to prevent mental and mood crashes. By eating at nearly the same times throughout the day the physical body learns to expect food at certain times and therefore will perform better. Haven’t you ever noticed that when you start to feel hungry your mind often begins to race to cause nervousness? This is a sign that your body is signaling to your mind that it needs nutrition. A healthy eating routine will also help a person get the right amount of sleep. Getting Regular Sleep Sleep deprivation or insomnia are major symptoms of many depressive mood disorders. By setting a designated amount of time to sleep every night, our bodies like with food, learn to expect when these events occur and if we provide it to them then our bodies perform at their best. A regular and healthy amount of sleep means 7-8 hours every night. Too much sleep is also harmful as our bodies may become hungry causing more feelings of exhaustion. Therefore, set a regular time to go to bed and to get up so you can feed your body and not feel tired. Science has proven that getting around 8 hours of sleep per night will help combat and relieve depression. However, starting a habit of getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night does not happen quickly. Our bodies are like robots that continually repeat patterns that it adjusts to. Research has shown that to create or break a habit, especially with how much or how little sleep you are getting, is that it takes approximately 6 weeks for the body to learn a new pattern or habit. One way to assist this process is by getting plenty of exercise. While 8 hours of sleep seems to be ideal, in the end, other studies show that it varies. It’s always best to listen to your body and if you feel like you’ve had a good night’s sleep, then that’s surely the case! Exercise Everyday Exercise improves the functioning of our bodies and most importantly our emotions. Depression thrives when a person does not naturally make enough serotonin or endorphins. Exercise builds up these levels and allows for relief from uncomfortable emotions and stress. Using exercise to improve our moods also improves our self-esteem. Exercise not only makes us feel better it gives us a sense of accomplishment. By setting a goal of exercising several days a week, a person can expect to see other areas of their lives improve as our motivation to do more has improved- because we are exercising. Additionally, exercise can be fun. Taking a class or participating in a sport with others will also enhance feelings of belonging and improve our levels of commitment to their mental health. Both are positive assets that regular exercise can provide. People who have been diagnosed with depression commonly lack behaviors that include eating healthy foods regularly, sleeping approximately 8 hours a night and not exercising. By improving these three areas of our lives, people struggling with depression will certainly feel better. View the full article
  12. Phobiasupportforum

    OCD and Muscular Dystrophy

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is largely characterized by obsessions and compulsions which can overtake a person’s life. While previously labeled as an anxiety disorder, it is now listed in the DSM 5 under the heading of obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. While not technically an anxiety disorder, the majority of people with OCD deal with anxiety issues and might even be diagnosed with a specific anxiety disorder, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or social anxiety disorder. Indeed, comorbid conditions with OCD are not unusual, and OCD can often be seen with depression and, to a lesser extent, with Bipolar Disorder and schizophrenia. Now researchers have found that compared to the general population there is a higher than average prevalence of obsessive-compulsive disorder in those with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). DMD is a genetic illness that leads to progressive deterioration of muscle fibers. It usually only affects males but females can carry the mutated gene. The study was published in May 2018 in the Journal of Child Neurology and was conducted by researchers from the University of Iowa. They worked on characterizing the clinical signs of OCD in those with DMD as well as its impact on patients and their families. The participants’ response to treatment was also studied. The team reviewed the medical charts of 107 male patients aged 5-34 who had been treated at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics between 2012 and 2017. The study focused on a final group consisting of thirty-nine patients with DMD. These patients, on the whole, exhibited higher levels than average of anxiety, depression and OCD, with symptoms of the disorders often overlapping. A total of fifteen subjects ranging in age from 5 – 23 exhibited signs of OCD. The mean age at onset was 12.1 years, but the study reported evidence of symptoms starting as early as age five. The researchers said: “Common initial symptoms included difficulty with changes in routine, repetitive behaviors, and organizational compulsions. Many patients required a very specific bedtime routine.” “Our data affirm that internalizing disorders [OCD] are prevalent in the Duchenne muscular dystrophy population, warranting clinical attention and screening, as generally early diagnosis and treatment are associated with greater symptom improvement.” Not surprisingly, the lives of families and patients with DMD are often negatively affected by the presence of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Distress and irritability in those suffering with both DMD and OCD significantly disturbed family routines and quality of life. Symptoms also tended to worsen as patients grew older, but treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) resulted in consistent improvements over time. While medication did not completely resolve OCD symptoms, patients and their families reported they helped ease anxiety and improved their quality of life. What I find particularly interesting about this study is that while psychotherapy (I’m hoping in the form of exposure and response prevention therapy) was recommended to all fifteen participants with OCD, only five were actually getting this treatment. In contrast fourteen of the fifteen subjects were taking SSRIs. The researchers attributed these statistics to a lack of access to qualified therapists as well as financial constraints felt by the families. Once again, we see how difficult it can be for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder to get the proper treatment. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy is the recommended, evidence-based psychological therapy for the treatment of OCD, but it is often out of reach for so many people. Those with DMD and OCD are likely to face unique challenges in terms of family accommodations and dynamics, and could benefit greatly from expert care and advice. At the very least, this study brings OCD awareness to the forefront for those with DMD and their families. If OCD is recognized early and properly treated, its effect on lives can be minimal. And for those already living with the burden of DMD, that would surely be a good thing. View the full article
  13. “Why isn’t this medication working?” me in 2002. “Why isn’t this medication working?” me in 2018. When the university nurse first prodded me to consider medication, I hesitated before eventually relenting. My reasoning: While this little white pill may not be my salvation, it surely can’t hurt. Or can it? Over the past 16 years, my medication history is longer than a typical Catholic wedding. A is for Abilify, B is for Buspar, C is for Clonazepam…and, well, you get the idea. Medication, I naively hoped, would be a cure-all — a foolproof remedy for intrusive, tormenting thoughts. And while medication has, at times, lowered the volume on my depressive radio, it has come with its own set of challenges. Speaking from firsthand experience — now 16 years and counting, medications have potent and, at times, debilitating side effects. From complaining about grogginess to bouts of irritability to general apathy, my panicked emails to my dedicated health care team bear this out. Pinpointing the right medication is trial and error — in my case, a 16-year trial replete with lots of errors (and lethargy and grogginess and irritability). When I first accepted the shiny white pill, at the university nurse’s gentle insistence, I had no idea I had just signed up for a 16-year medication joyride. In my naïveté, there was an implicit assumption — “just give the medication six weeks and life will suddenly become unicorns, rainbows, and free Beyonce concerts.” Forget unicorns and a resplendent Beyonce sashaying in her yellow dress, I will take six weeks without a panic-stricken email to my dedicated health care provider (thank you, Dr. Neumaier, for your endless patience). More than lamenting my own trials and tribulations, though, this article is intended for “Prozac Nation” — the millions of Americans seeking magic in a pill bottle as we shuffle from one supposed elixir to another. I understand the frustration — even despair — because I have lived it: the dry mouth, the racing heartbeat, the mental grogginess. After 16 years wandering in the (medication) desert, I believe I am inching closer to a long(er)-term solution. Knock on proverbial wood — or that Bartell’s counter that I have visited all too frequently. While Wellbutrin is far from perfect — and, yes, my mood vacillates more than Tesla stock — it is has provided a level of clarity and creativity. After years of medications numbing my mood, feelings, and, in some respects, life enjoyment, there is a level of comfort to know that there is a medication that, you know, actually works. An estimated 40 million Americans now take a psychiatric drug; these drugs are as much of an American institution as the 9 to 5 and Thanksgiving family feuds. Despite prescription drugs’ ubiquity, however, their effects are deeply personal, even idiosyncratic (notwithstanding your health care professional’s calming reassurances that “you will feel better in no time”). For some, Prozac Nation may be an accurate title. For others, including yours truly, Wellbutrin World is a more fitting descriptor. One unmistakable lesson (and revelation) during my 16 years of medication cat and mouse: the best prescription may be, well, another prescription. View the full article
  14. Phobiasupportforum

    What Makes a Good Mental Health Advocate?

    I have been fortunate over the years to share the story of my son Dan’s recovery from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. The fact that he continues to do so well is concrete evidence that obsessive-compulsive disorder, no matter how severe, is indeed treatable, and it is gratifying to know that many who are suffering have found hope through my family’s story. I hear from many people who are at various stages in their fight against OCD. When they tell me they have either read about Dan’s journey or heard me speak about him the first question they often ask is “How is Dan now?” I am so incredibly thankful that the answer, after eight years, continues to be, “He is doing very well.” The next question is usually something such as, “Where is he? How come we never see him at these conferences/meetings/or other OCD events?” It is an interesting question. Should “OCD advocacy” (or advocacy for other illnesses) be a responsibility of those who have recovered from severe OCD? I don’t know. But I do know that advocacy comes in many ways, shapes, and forms. By continuing to do well, keeping his OCD at bay, and living his life to the fullest, Dan is giving hope to all those who suffer from OCD. But still. What an inspiration it would be to those who are suffering to hear as many success stories as possible. While there are those who do speak up and take on the role of a traditional advocate, many people who recover from severe OCD just want to get on with their lives. And who can blame them? My son falls into this category. As he and many others have said “OCD is something I have, not something I am.” Dan does not want to be defined by OCD and has made a conscious effort to put it on the back burner and focus wholeheartedly on living his life to the fullest. He has fought his way back from the brink of despair, and perhaps this fact fuels his resolve to leave OCD out of his life as much as he can. Maybe my son’s choice to not focus on his OCD any more than he needs to is one of the reasons he has learned to cope so well. I do feel that each of us has a responsibility to try to make the world a better place, but how we do that is up to us. My son might not be shouting from the rooftops now that he has overcome severe OCD, but maybe at some point in his life, sharing his story will become important to him as a means to help others. If not, I am confident that he will find other ways, as he has done already, to make the world a better place. For now, however, I will revel in the fact that Dan is doing well. I will continue to advocate for OCD awareness and proper treatment, and I will respect his decision to not want to make OCD a focal point of his life. Because after all, isn’t that the whole idea? View the full article
  15. Phobiasupportforum

    Is Mental Health the New Black?

    Yes, really (with a political-sized asterisk). From Demi Lovato and Logic to Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan, there has been a collective willingness to divulge (and personalize) mental health struggles. Demi has openly and courageously discussed her bipolar diagnosis, self-harm attempts, and rehab stints. In his powerful song 1-800-273-8255, Logic champions suicide prevention and, ultimately, delivers a message of hope (“You don’t gotta die, I want you to be alive”) against suicide ideation. NBA All-Stars Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan, likewise, have publicly shared their mental health scars. In his powerful Players Tribune op-ed, Love demonstrates a keen understanding — and sensitivity — toward mental health. “Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing,” Love poignantly writes. But more than tabloid fodder in the latest People, what do these public disclosures really mean? From my perspective, these disclosures represent a significant breakthrough. More than just humanizing Demi and DeMar (and Logic and Love), these public admissions encourage others, perhaps fearing ridicule themselves, to openly discuss their mental health trials and tribulations. In this vein, I remember my personal anguish when considering divulging my mental health struggles (Hello, OCD! Good day, anxiety!). A deciding factor: this Sports Illustrated article. If Julian Swartz can document his OCD rituals in excruciating detail to Sports Illustrated’s millions of readers, why can’t I? And if Kevin Love can discuss the helplessness of a panic attack (and Logic can discuss his hospitalization for derealization disorder), why can’t the next generation share its mental health trials and tribulations? We are making progress on mental health; indeed, there has been a collective (re)awakening of mental health’s searing impact on families and communities. And for, in part, forcing us to confront an uncomfortable reality — mental health affects us all, these celebrities deserve kudos. But while these celebrities have pushed the mental health envelope — and deserve commendation for doing so, I’m anxiously awaiting the next step: a political candidate acknowledging his/her mental health struggles. Even more than acknowledging his/her mental health struggles — which admittedly would be a monumental step, I want a political candidate to run on his/her mental health issues. Too bold? Why? We have seen political candidates openly acknowledge their mental health struggles and prevail. Lynn Rivers, a Michigan Democrat, revealed her struggles with depression during her political campaign. And in Congress, she spoke freely about her mental health. Rivers held the Congressional seat for eight years — depression be damned. But for 99% of political candidates (Rivers, Sean Barney, and Ruben Gallego duly noted), mental health is more taboo than Ashley Madison. One Republican pollster referred to it as the “kiss of death.” Vulnerability, political pundits readily note, is exploitable. And, truthfully, in our political cauldron, I can already envision the attack ads decrying a political candidate as “crazy” for acknowledging that, yes, he consults with a psychologist and, the horror, visits a psychiatrist. Politics, sadly, is a blood sport. That said, vicious attacks ads — and the resultant character assassinations — shouldn’t stop a political candidate (and mental health sufferer) from talking about these critically important issues. 44 million Americans — more than the population of California — experience mental health issues in a given year. Despite mental health’s ubiquity — literally it affects one out of five Americans, mental health policy discussions remain clinical. Loathe to personalize the issue — and acknowledge their own mental health stumbles, detached politicians regurgitate harrowing statistics and tepidly acknowledge a failing mental health system. This formulaic response, particularly after the latest national tragedy, provides political refuge for politicians scared to talk about mental health. We need and deserve better — specifically politicians personalizing mental health in visceral terms — and, in the process, challenging mental health stigma’s vice grip within Washington and its halls of power. These conversations, as we know, won’t be easy. But as Demi and DeMar and Logic and Love prove, attitudes toward mental health are a-changin’. With a societal shift toward mental health, the time is now for a national politician to discuss and run on a mental health platform. Indeed, this would represent the real Straight Talk Express — and stand in marked contrast to today’s standard (political) fare of platitudes, vague promises, and, ultimately, empty rhetoric on mental health. View the full article