Depressed? Try This One Simple Tip

Depression is insidious.
You feel sad, you lose your concentration, nothing is interesting to you anymore, and – to top it all off – your thoughts become stuck in an endless loop of self-criticism.
There are many ways to address depression. Researchers interested in decreasing depression and increasing resilience have found that using a number of intentional activities creates positive emotions and helps reduce feelings of depression.
The first step, though, is to work toward letting go of the critical rumination going on in your head. Why? Because it is very difficult to even consider pursuing intentional activities with thoughts such as:
“It won’t help.”
“Why even bother?”
“I’ll just screw it up.”
These thoughts make your mood bleaker and keep you on the sofa rather than feeling up for trying a new activity or intervention.
To read more, click here.

Schizophrenia, Autism Linked to Several of the Same Genes

By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on April 28, 2012

Schizophrenia, Autism Linked to Several of the Same GenesScientists have labeled 33 genes as being associated with autism and other related disorders and also found several of these genes to be altered in people with schizophrenia, according to a study published in the journal Cell.
Of the 33 genes, 22 were linked to autism for the first time.
“By sequencing the genomes of a group of children with neurodevelopmental abnormalities, including autism, who were also known to have abnormal chromosomes, we identified the precise points where the DNA strands are disrupted and segments exchanged within or between chromosomes,” said senior study author James Gusella, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Human Genetic Research.
To read more, click here.

Playing Tetris may treat PTSD, flashbacks

By LiveScience Contributor

updated 4/25/2012 3:36:51 PM ET 2012-04-25T19:36:51

Image: TetrisLONDON — A seemingly trivial task — playing a particular video game — may lessen flashbacks and other psychological symptoms following a traumatic event, according to research presented here at the British Psychology Society Annual Conference.

Researchers are now corroborating what some trauma sufferers have happened upon by chance: Focusing on a highly engaging visual-spatial task, such as playing video games, may significantly reduce the occurrence of flashbacks, the mental images concerning the trauma that intrude on the sufferer afterward.
Flashbacks are considered by some to be the central hub of symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), researchers Lalitha Iyadurai and Ella James of Oxford University explained to LiveScience. They are invasive, unpredictable distress signals that can make everyday activities difficult. The jarring mental images also may trigger or exacerbate other symptoms associated with PTSD, including irritability, anger, poor concentration and sleep disorders. [ Top 10 Spooky Sleep Disorders ] Click here to read more.

New Study About the Psychology of Bullying

By Katherine Prudente, LCAT, RDT

Jaana Juvonen, a UCLA developmental psychologist has published new study that sheds a different light on the psychology of bullying here. What I found most enlightening was that, contrary to popular belief that bullies are young people who have low self-esteem and thus bully to compensate, Ms. Juvonen’s study notes that bullies,”…have almost ridiculously high levels of self-esteem… what’s more, they are viewed by their fellow students and even by teachers not as pariahs but as popular — in fact, as some of the coolest kids at school.”
When I think about  all my work with kids in classrooms (and reflecting on my own adolescences) the students with the most social clout are some of the kids that bully. Ms. Juvonen’s study validates what victims of bullying have known anecdotally.
Perhaps this is what makes bullying such a difficult problem to address – young people who bully benefit from it by being viewed as powerful, likable and cool. Which in turn, helps the child develop a sense of self-worth, albeit at the expense of another child. I found the research enlightening and thought provoking. Ms. Juvonen notes that bullying is not just an individual problem but a systemic problem in which adults have to be creative in how to address bullies:

“Think if there might be another way to provide them with a sense of control and power other than being mean to others,” she suggested. “I’ve seen some very clever teachers do that. When they see a kid who’s constantly on the case of other kids, these clever teachers give this kid a special role” that channels the bully’s energies more positively.

Click here to read more.

How family and friends can aid mental health recovery

By Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Recovering from mental illness is terrifying and exhausting, both for the person diagnosed and those who stand beside them throughout the recovery process. Sometimes, particularly when the diagnosis is new, the person suffering feels as if they will not ever become well again.
Family and friends might be unsure if recovery is possible. They question how they can help. Mental illness creates a feeling of helplessness for everyone involved. My and my family’s experience with chronic mental illness has allowed me to understand how important it is to have a support group. It can define the journey taken to recover from mental illness.
My diagnosis is rare. I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder when I was 12. While my siblings were attending school and playing soccer on weekends, I was confined to a children’s psychiatric hospital. I remember wondering what was wrong with me. I remember my parents, wide-eyed, watching as my moods shifted by the hour, even the minute. We were all terrified. Mental illness is frightening at its core.
Unsure what to do, my parents brought me to doctors, psychiatrists, therapists and even nutritionists. The various doctors told them I had Attention Deficit Disorder; the psychiatrists told my parents they were parenting me badly. They were certain that explained my erratic behavior.
Click here to read more. 

A ‘walk in the park’ gives mental boost to people with depression

For Immediate Release
Journal of Affective Disorders
May 14, 2012

Study suggests nature walks improve cognitive abilities for people diagnosed with clinical depression

Toronto, CANADA – A walk in the park may have psychological benefits for people suffering from depression.

Dr. Marc Berman, lead author and post-doctoral fellow at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute

In one of the first studies to examine the effect of nature walks on cognition and mood in people with major depression, researchers in Canada and the U.S. have found promising evidence that a walk in the park may provide some cognitive benefits.

The study was led by Marc Berman, a post-doctoral fellow at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, with partners from the University of Michigan and Stanford University. It is now published online, ahead of print publication, in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

“Our study showed that participants with clinical depression demonstrated improved memory performance after a walk in nature, compared to a walk in a busy urban environment,” said Dr. Berman, who cautioned that such walks are not a replacement for existing and well-validated treatments for clinical depression, such as psychotherapy and drug treatment.

“Walking in nature may act to supplement or enhance existing treatments for clinical depression, but more research is needed to understand just how effective nature walks can be to help improve psychological functioning,” he said. Dr. Berman’s research is part of a cognitive science field known as Attention Restoration Theory (ART) which proposes that people concentrate better after spending time in nature or looking at scenes of nature. The reason, according to ART, is that people interacting with peaceful nature settings aren’t bombarded with external distractions that relentlessly tax their working memory and attention systems. In nature settings, the brain can relax and enter a state of contemplativeness that helps to restore or refresh those cognitive capacities.

To read more, click here.

Computer Use and Exercise Combo May Reduce the Odds of Having Memory Loss, Mayo Clinic Finds

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — You think your computer has a lot of memory and if you keep using your computer you may, too.

VIDEO ALERT: Click here as Dr. Geda explains the study.

Combining mentally stimulating activities, such as using a computer, with moderate exercise decreases your odds of having memory loss more than computer use or exercise alone, a Mayo Clinic study shows. Previous studies have shown that exercising your body and your mind will help your memory but the new study, published in the May 2012 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, reports a synergistic interaction between computer activities and moderate exercise in “protecting” the brain function in people better than 70 years old.
Researchers studies 926 people in Olmsted County, Minn., ages 70 to 93, who completed self-reported questionnaires on physical exercise, and computer use within one year prior of the date of interview. Moderate physical exercise was defined as brisk walking, hiking, aerobics, strength training, golfing without a golf cart, swimming, doubles tennis, yoga, martial arts, using exercise machines and weightlifting. Mentally stimulating activities included reading, crafts, computer use, playing games, playing music, group and social and artistic activities and watching less television. Of those activities the study singled out computer use because of its popularity, said study author Yonas E. Geda, M.D., a physician scientist with Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Click here to read more.