Tag Archives: research

Happy Heart – Healthy Heart

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Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion

Earlier this week, Circulation, an online journal published the newest findings of a 12-person panel of experts who went on record determining that depression should be listed as a risk for heart disease along with already known risk factors such as obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes.

The recommendation was made to the American Heart Association (AHA), after Robert M. Carney, PhD, and Kenneth E. Freedland, PhD, both professors of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and ten other experts in the field performed an extensive review of hundreds of studies in the scientific literature that looked specifically at correlating depression and heart attacks and eventual death from heart disease.

Depression

Depression

Doctors Caney and Freeland have been studying the effects of depression on heart disease for more than 25 years when they reported the increased risk of more severe cardiac problems in patients with pre-existing heart disease, who also were diagnosed with depression. A very high percentage of all the studies they conducted since beginning in 1988, support their findings that depression is a risk factor for death in people with heart disease.

Unlike definitive findings that are found when obese people lose a significant amount of weight in a healthy way, or people who successfully quit smoking or manage to lower their blood pressure; there are very few studies that support lowered risk of heart disease in people who undergo treatment for depression.

Heart Disease

Heart Disease

A large cause for this might be that for most people who suffer from depression don’t ‘quit’ depression the way they quit smoking. Even with proper treatment, depression isn’t known to ‘lower’ the way blood pressure lowers when treated properly. And as with many psychological issues, neither cause nor effect is as clear cut and easy to draw conclusions from.

Carney and Freeland are undaunted, however. They are ready to begin new studies with different approaches to treatment for depression so they can determine if these new approaches conclusively show a decrease in lowering heart problems. For now, it is clear that treating depression might effectively impact both the health and quality of life of a person and so, the commitment to continued research lives on.

Citations Circulation, Feb. 24, 2014

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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Let Creativity Flow

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Creativity

Creativity

It has been a while and I apologize for the length of time since my last post. And honestly, as much as I am sorry for those who come by and read what I have to say, I also have to acknowledge how much I personally have missed the time I just sit here and write from the heart, not necessarily having a final destination in mind, just letting the words write themselves.

This is a topic I’ve touched upon and for those of you who write or express yourself creatively through any medium such as art or music, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Also, for those of you who have any background in mental health, you also know what I’m talking about. To me, this occurrence actually bridges both and joins them into a total package. What I mean is that when a person writes free-style this way, it is as if they are having a conversation with a part of themselves that needed to be heard, but that may never have said anything had it not been given the opportunity in this way.

It is rather funny, but if people who are involved in other walks of life – other than writers or psychologists and therapists may consider whether or not I require some type of treatment myself. The wording sounds almost out-of-body in nature and there are a lot of people who may view that as ‘way out there,’ and rightfully so. But to those of us who have experienced it, there is nothing unusual about it. It is something I have grown used to calling a ‘free-style frame of mind’ and it is absolutely an altered state of mind from that in which we live and process information most of the time.

Mihaly

Mihaly

It most likely won’t surprise you to learn that once again, research lends a huge helping hand. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmahalyi, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management and Founding Co-Director, at Quality of Life Research Center. has studied this state — which he calls creative flow — and determined a high correlation to outstanding creativity.

I feel validated! There is a lot of technical information involved, but basically, a specific type of brain wave is involved in the type of activity the brain goes through, in order to perform creatively.

So, let those Theta Waves fly, my friends and let the creativity begin!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Malcolm Gladwell Is America’s Best-Paid Fairy-Tale Writer

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John N. Gray

 

 “Pretending to present daringly counterintuitive views to his readers, he actually strengthens the hold on them of a view of things that they have long taken for granted. This is, perhaps, the essence of the genre that Gladwell has pioneered: while reinforcing beliefs that everyone avows, he evokes in the reader a satisfying sensation of intellectual non-conformity.”

  Fascinatingly critical account of Gladwell’s writings…and the manner in which Gladwell uses academic science for support….

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115467/malcolm-gladwells-david-and-goliath-fairy-tales 

The Psychology of Attention

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“Every day we we are bombarded with perceptions, ideas and emotions and what we choose to pay attention to shapes our lives, it makes us who we are.”

Attention is one of the most fascinating and highly researched areas in psychology. Psychologists have found that with training we can perform impressive feats of multitasking, we can divide our visual attention (without moving our eyes) and we are surprisingly effective at picking out just one voice from a multitude.”

Several short pieces, first published in PsyBlog, highlights some fascinating cognitive work and research on attention. See especially the piece on meditation…

http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/05/attention-how-it-works-how-it-fails-and-how-to-improve-it.php

 

Where is the Evidence for Evidence Based Therapies?

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I invite discussion of this short article – and look forward to many responses. The author’s perspective is one that is supported through his research, and the suggested readings within the work speak to his knowledge of these areas of controversy.  The article also speaks to the ‘manualization’ of therapy…something we should all be concerned with in our clinical interests – and the best interests of our clients.  See the link below…

Excerpt:  “A study from a prestigious psychology journal recently crossed my desk. It found that clinicians who provide Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT—including the most experienced clinicians—routinely depart from the CBT techniques described in treatment manuals. “Only half of the clinicians claiming to use CBT use an approach that even approximates to CBT,” the authors wrote.”   http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psychologically-minded/201310/where-is-the-evidence-evidence-based-therapies

 

New Hope For Eating Disorders

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Scientist

Scientist

I’m not a scientist. Heck! I don’t even play one on TV. But I most definitely can attest to the fact that almost all aspects of mental illness can be found to have some genetic component to them. When a child is born with ADHD, we would be hard-pressed to find that there is not some type of mental health issues effecting one or both of the child’s biological parents that attributed to the ADHD in the child.

So, it is no surprise that the more studies that are done with genetics, the more we are finding things like the newest information regarding genetics and eating disorders. We already know that the tendency for eating disorders has been found to run in families, however, we have not been able to identify the specific genes directly related to putting people at greater risks because of their familial connection.

At least not up until now. Two groups of scientists, one from the University of Iowa and the other from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, have been researching two families that have been very negatively impacted by eating disorders, because of two totally different gene mutations.

Famalies

Famalies

What makes these finding unique, is that although the two families are not connected and the two gene mutations are totally different, there is interaction in the same signaling pathway in the brain that produce the same effect biologically.

Karen Carpenter

Karen Carpenter

Let me back up for a moment. About one in every thousand women will die from anorexia. With that fact as the stimulus for these scientists, the study which can be found in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, published October 8, 2013, the mutations that decrease activity in a protein in the brain that turns on expression of other genes, increases the risk of eating disorders.

Again, I’m no scientist, but to me this means that when our brains don’t get enough of a certain type of activity due to some type of defect, it causes an increased in the chances of there being eating disorders.

Large families have to be studied in order to get strong statistics to conclusively back up the differences. The genetics have to indicate what people with the disorder have in common that people without the disorder don’t have.

This study permitted researchers to work with two families, one with 20 members from three generations and one with eight members. Half the individuals in the first family were affected by the disorder and six of the eight in the second family were affected. The results led to the identification of two new genes now associated with eating disorders and more research to come that might help lead the way in working with people who suffer with them.

Although the combinations are pretty much endless, when there is a hit; when two genes like these show similar results, it really makes tremendous progress in learning more about and treating the problems.

Now that is productive research!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Child Psychotherapy

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This is a review published in a British journal a while back, speaking to the question of efficacy in child psychotherapy – and ultimately, therapeutic change.  

Weisz, J.R. & Kazdin, A.E. (Eds.). (2010). Evidence-Based Psychotherapies for Children and Adolescents. Second Edition. New York and London: Guilford Press. 

 Conversations about the efficacy of child psychotherapy frequently, if not always, return to the question of the ‘mechanisms of change’ inherent in the process.  How does child psychotherapy change the individual’s behavior?  Why does this particular therapy work, and another therapy does not? How is the effectiveness of a therapy – in the real world experience of therapists – to be measured, taking into account the developmental factors of age, maturity, language ability, environmental factors, and the child’s capacity to form a relationship with the therapist. One must further consider the training and education of the therapist, as well as the therapist’s personality with all its proclivities, the therapist’s theoretical orientation and consequent preferences, along with the impact of those preferences on the clinical approach.  The challenges of understanding this process and of the persistent questions raised for the clinician as well as for the researcher continue to perplex, and to aid or hinder the determination of what we measure.

In the context of these challenges, funding sources continue to ask for the evidence – and the current volume under review attempts to shed further light on these questions, the methods, and the results of a considerable body of research – research carried out in varied settings and different methods.  The aim is not only to highlight the evident progress in researching evidence- based psychotherapies, but also to help researchers in their efforts at developing treatment programs and determining paths of further research. 

The book begins by examining the foundations of child and adolescent psychotherapy research by first setting the context – the historical perspectives, ethical issues in the research of children and adolescent treatment, offering a sound look at the developmental issues that need to be accounted for in both practice and research.  This section is followed by looking more particularly at the discrete problems or disorders and the treatments utilized for those disorders, e.g., antisocial disorders, autism, children with attention deficit or hyperactivity disorders, anorexia and substance abuse.  Interestingly, the editors have included several unique treatment approaches (and the research on those approaches), such as the Oregon Model of parent management training, and cognitive-behavioral models for treating several recalcitrant disorders, as well as the use of narrative therapies.    

In the third section of the book, the editors provide examples that illustrate the difficulties and the attempts at implementing treatment in several settings with different populations.  That is, how might clinicians make use of the ‘science’ in measurement of evidence-based psychotherapies, so strenuously investigated now by the researchers – namely, the ‘science to service’ issue.  How are the challenges to be addressed within the contexts of children in poverty, of cultural differences in the populations of children needing psychotherapeutic help, of the need for more critical programs of parent intervention? 

The editors emphasize their perspective in the final chapter on the need for clinicians to attend to the research on what some skeptics (in the clinical world) may refer to as “manual-guided treatments,” – those treatments having a prescriptive nature – and the consequent questions about the relevancy of the research to their particular clinical settings and populations.  It is noted that clinicians engaged in the ‘actual practice in mental health service settings’ do indeed need to recognize the usefulness of the research – in order to build the types of treatment and a base of evidence that will support their continued clinical work. 

The thread that runs through the book however, remains that of the challenges created in our attempts to tease out the mechanisms of change as a result of our psychotherapeutic work.  Perhaps the clinicians and the researchers in this field need to keep Rilke’s comment in mind:  “…for at bottom, and just in the deepest and most important things, we are unutterably alone, and for one person to be able to advise or even help another, a lot must happen, a lot must go well, a whole constellation of things must come right in order once to succeed.” 

 Rilke, R.M. (1934) Letters To A Young Poet. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Co. 

 Rudy Oldeschulte        roldeschulte@gmail.com

Psychotic Episode (I Have No Ego)

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Psychotic Episode (I Have No Ego)

I have no ego. . . my psychotic episode.

The schizophrenic experiences a stunning barrage of continuous, horrifying symptoms: auditory hallucinations, delusions, ideas of reference, paranoia, etc. The “indescribable severe torture” is unrelenting and can go on except during sometimes restless sleep, at whichtime the symptoms are even active when one becomes conscious at all. This experience is so overwhelming it is beyond the imagination. It cannot be conceived of intellectually. By its very nature it in fact necessitates the concept of religion in order to relate to it at all. This continuous experience of psychotic symptoms can be viewed as “spiritual exercises in perfection”. The effect on the schizophrenic is similar to that of monks when practicing their rituals in monasteries. When these spirited exercises become a lifestyle for the schizophrenic (lasting 8-10 years) with no real evidence given to the schizophrenic that he will ever recover, a fascinating thing happens to the psyche of that schizophrenic—he loses the perspective of “ego”. Ego consists of all his identifying factors in the world: his age, sex, race, religious affiliation or lack thereof, education level, social class, political affiliations, nationality, etc. He begins to see his environment with the eyes of a newborn, without the bias or prejudices, preconditions of his particular circumstances. It can be seen as a sort of continuous baptism by fire, a kind of purification, enabling him to see reality for what it is in actuality, rather than being viewed through the preconceptions of his individual mental, emotional, and behavioural repertoire instilled in him from birth. The schizophrenic in this condition is able in his interior to walk around in someone else’s moccasins with perfection. This can be seen as loving your neighbour as you love yourself, perfectly. I do not believe it is a condition that can be acquired by a “normal” individual by any method, because the horror of the symptoms of schizophrenia are unduplicable by man. (Religious persons would call this condition repentance for all one’s sins, e.g. “perfect repentance”.) ~Source

Recommended readings on the absence of ego in the SchizoAffective (schizophrenic) mind:

*Image Credit (used with permission through CC license):
“walking on the razor’s edge in the underground train world : manhattan (2007)” by torbakhopper

 

 

 

 

 

The Illusion of Attention

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Before you do anything and read any further, watch this video:

That was fun! I love these things that teach us about how our minds work.

I have to admit, I didn’t see the gorilla. I was so focused on getting the number of passes right. It turns out it’s not so shocking that I missed the gorilla, though. Across diverse audiences, under different conditions and in different countries, 50% of people didn’t see the gorilla. What is shocking is that I was sceptical that I could possibly miss seeing such an obvious thing, and I replayed the video just to see if it was true. Yes, the gorilla really did come on the screen, and I completely missed it; it was invisible.

I guess this isn’t really shocking, though, since 75% of people say they believe they would notice something unexpected even if they were focusing on something else. The illusion is not that we don’t see the gorilla (unexpected things); the illusion is that we don’t think we won’t see them. We might think we know our minds and how they work, but in this case, most of us are wrong.

This experiment appears in a wonderful book called The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons. Take a look at their website for more fun videos and information: theinvisiblegorilla.com.

This article comes from the first chapter of the book, “I Think I Would Have Seen That.” It speaks of “inattentional blindness” where our brains have a limited ability to pay attention. If we pay more attention to one thing, we pay less attention to other things; there’s no endless supply of attention. We can’t focus on everything at once, and even though we think we can multitask well, experiments have shown the more tasks a person does simultaneously, the overall performance of each task decreases.

Our mind is a limited resource. For example, when people were asked to count the number of aerial and bounce passes between players—like in the invisible gorilla video—while talking on a mobile phone, it was found they could still count, but it increased their chances of missing the gorilla. Increasing the amount of attention needed to go into counting two types of passes meant that less attention was available to notice the gorilla.

Now, apply this to driving while talking on a mobile phone. We can still go through the mechanical motions of driving—turning the wheel and pushing the pedals—but our attention given to the person on the other end of the phone means we’re more likely to miss unexpected events like a cyclist, pedestrian or even a car approaching or turning. This should be enough to convince us not to talk on the phone while driving. If you don’t believe this, you’re experiencing the illusion of attention.

Not convinced, read the book.

Cover of "The Invisible Gorilla: And Othe...

Cover via Amazon

Schizophrenia: Reality VS Illusion

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Thank you to the two students who want to share their knowledge about Schizophrenia. We need people like you on the earth!

Schizophrenia: Reality VS Illusion

This blog is created by two college students who have a goal in mind. To educate the public about the seriousness and frequency of schizophrenia occurring in the United States through WordPress and persuade the viewers to donate to The Mental Health Research Association (NARSAD) for scientific research on schizophrenia.

You may be thinking “Why does this relate to me?” or “Why should I care?”. The answer is simple. You may not know it but schizophrenia affects 2.4 million people in the United States. Though it may seem small, it can affect an entire society in an instant.

Frequency of schizophrenia throughout the United States.

Family members, relatives, friends, and more have to face the struggles of having someone they know diagnosed with schizophrenia. It is not just an illness that affects the victim, both others who are affiliated with them as well.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by a deficit of typical emotional responses. What this basically means is that a person suffering from schizophrenia cannot think clearly and does not experience a wide range of emotions that a normal person would. To learn  about schizophrenia’s causes, symptoms, treatment, and more, visit http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001925/#adam_000928.disease.causesto quench your thirst for knowledge.

Comparison of schizophrenic brain and normal brain.

Timeline of therapies for schizophrenia.

Because of this, not only does the the victim suffer but also people who are in contact with them on a daily basis. Schizophrenia has biological, emotional, social  financial, and familial effects that can be discussed in more detail by visiting http://www.ehow.com/about_4777972_effects-schizophrenia-family.html.

It can be a stressful time for everyone once the symptoms of schizophrenia are in motion but there are support programs that can help ease into this transition for everyone affected. One of them is http://schizophrenia.com/coping.html which helps only only the person with the illness but also family members as well.

After reading about this blog post, you probably have learn a lot about schizophrenia and now want to do something about it. If you have, then we accomplished our goal. If not, we at least hoped you have gained a better understanding of this issue and are now more aware on its affects in society.

If you do want to help out with this prevalent issue, please go to http://schizophrenia.com/donate_vol.html# to learn more about how you can donate money to aid in groundbreaking research on schizophrenia. Thank you for taking the time to read about this problem and hopefully you have been informed on the realities of schizophrenia.