Tag Archives | Anxiety

What If Everything We Know About Treating Depression Is Wrong?

"How to Overcome Depression" by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

“How to Overcome Depression” by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Could it be that we’re treating the wrong part of the brain?

via AlterNet:

A new study is challenging the relationship between depression and an imbalance of serotonin levels in the brain, and brings into doubt how depression has been treated in the U.S. over the past 20 years.

Researchers at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit have bred mice that cannot produce serotonin in their brains, which should theoretically make them always depressed. But researchers instead found that the mice showed no signs of depression, but instead acted aggressively and exhibited compulsive personality traits.

This study backs recent research that indicates that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, may not be effective in lifting people out of depression. These commonly used antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft, and Lexapro, are taken by some 10% of the U.S.

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The Science Behind Meditation and Dan Harris’ Journey to Serenity

9780062265425I’ll be the first to admit that I’m often uptight and easily stressed. I don’t meditate regularly, but when I do the relief I feel is often surprising. Just taking a few moments to focus on my breathing can release tension.

via Big Think:

Dan Harris is a self-described “fidgety and skeptical news anchor” who would probably be the last person you’d expect to buy into the hocus pocus of supposed new age wellness. But after suffering a live, on-air panic attack on “Good Morning America,” the ABC News correspondent took up meditation not because he was in search of a magical solution, but rather because of the overwhelming scientific evidence that it just works.

After his attack, Harris became an advocate for the practice and even wrote a book – 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story – in which he compiled his personal story with copious amounts of research backing the benefits of meditation.

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The Worst Psychological Torture? Solitary Confinement

“Why Solitary Confinement Is The Worst Kind Of Psychological Torture” by George Dvosky at io9 outlines how solitary confinement came into use with the best of intentions, but is now understood to cause, in some cases, irreparable psychological damage.

This photo is of a recreation yard within the housing unit now referred to as the "Old Main." by Ken Piorkowski

This photo is of a recreation yard within the housing unit now referred to as the “Old Main.” by Ken Piorkowski

via io9:

There may be as many as 80,000 American prisoners currently locked-up in a SHU, or segregated housing unit. Solitary confinement in a SHU can cause irreversible psychological effects in as little as 15 days. Here’s what social isolation does to your brain, and why it should be considered torture.

There’s no universal definition for solitary confinement, but the United Nations describes it as any regime where an inmate is held in isolation from others, except guards, for at least 22 hours a day. Some jurisdictions allow prisoners out of their cells for one hour of solitary exercise each day.

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Scientists Hope to Program Robots To Be More Neurotic

Picture: Flickr user (((o.kvlt))) (CC)

Picture: Flickr user (((o.kvlt))) (CC)

I, Robot. I guess. I mean, like, aren’t we all robots in a way? Who am I? What do I know? I wonder if she thought I was rude. I bet she did. Am I rude? Maybe so. Did I leave the oven on? Oh, God. I did, didn’t I? Should I have completed my masters degree? Oh – wait. Human. There’s a human here. I’ve been caught daydreaming. I’d better be extra nice. “Greetings. May I assist you, Sir?” Oh, no no no no no… He’s staring. I’ll be melted down to slag for sure. C3PO, you’ve ruined it for all of us, you golden nincompoop… “What was that, sir? Yes, I’m quite certain that I’ve programmed your vehicle with the correct coordinates.” OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD…

A group of researchers is exploring the possibility of programming robot brains to be more “neurotic” in order to help them make more human-like decisions.

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The Hidden Emotion World: Some Personal Examples

Understanding the realm of emotions is beset by an elemental difficulty: the meaning of words that refer to emotion are so ambiguous that we hardly know what we are talking about. Virginia Woolf stated it succinctly: “The streets of London have their map; but our passions are uncharted” (1922). Compared to maps of the material world, and studies of behavior, thoughts, attitudes, perception, and beliefs, the realm of emotions is still terra incognita. One way of approaching this chaos is to examine one’s own emotions.

Image: Daniel (CC)

Image: Daniel (CC)

 

I became interested in studying emotion because of a series of unanticipated incidents in my own life. At the time my interests were focused on a more conventional topic in my discipline, the sociology of mental illness. When I was 40, I began exploring a new field because of experiences with my own emotions. I had just gotten divorced, and my ex had taken our children to Hawaii for a year.… Read the rest

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The World of Hidden Emotions

Machine Elf 1735 (CC)

Machine Elf 1735 (CC)

Emotions are important, but there is the massive confusion in both popular and scientific conceptions of even what they are.  There is also a sizable structure of erroneous assumptions, such as venting anger “gets it off your chest.”

There seem to be at least four defenses against confronting emotions directly:

1. Ignore.

2. Generalize (using only abstract terms: emotions, affect, arousal, etc.).

3. Disguise: use one of the vast number of alternative words that hide emotional content, such as “an awkward moment.”

4. Confuse: especially in English, the most important emotion terms are at least ambiguous and often misleading.

The elaborate hiding of shame studies by the use of alternative words is described in detail. Approaches to emotion that allow them to be noticed and discussed openly and directly are probably important us as individuals and for our whole civilization.

Understanding the realm of emotions is beset by an elemental difficulty: the meaning of words that refer to emotion are so ambiguous that we hardly know what we are talking about.… Read the rest

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Spiritual Bypassing: Using Spirituality To Avoid Pain

Author and psychotherapist Robert Augustus Masters outlines a pervasive phenomenon in contemporary New Age spirituality, spiritual bypassing:

Via Reality Sandwich:

Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.

Part of the reason for this is that we tend not to have very much tolerance, either personally or collectively, for facing, entering, and working through our pain, strongly preferring pain-numbing “solutions,” regardless of how much suffering such “remedies” may catalyze. Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits almost seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what is painful, as a kind of higher analgesic with seemingly minimal side effects.

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Exploring The Mastermind Technique For Goal Accomplishment

Steve BarnesAuthor and personal development coach Steve Barnes begins a series of posts discussing the “Mastermind” concept–a technique of gathering and consolidating resources necessary for attaining goals. He starts off with describing a very cool NLP/visualization exercise he did with his daughter to help her overcome a performance block.

Via Dar Kush:

“The mastermind is the only known means of overcoming a lack of ability.”–Napoleon Hill.

A critical concept, whether we look at an individual, a couple, or a crowd. Whether the goals are internal or external, whether they are artistic, commercial or spiritual.

This is so critical that I want to concentrate my thoughts here for a while. The primary definition of a “Mastermind” is: two or more people working together in a spirit of perfect harmony to support shared or separate goals.

Let’s relate it simply to the first basic levels:  An individual.

The Eriksonian “Parts Party” is designed to create alignment between the different aspects of our personality.

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Fear is the Mind Killer: Stress and Depression Shrinks the Brain

The low-grade existential despair inflicted by your day-to-day cubicle farm existence may actually be making you dumber: A team of Yale scientists have discovered that stress and depression can actually cause your brain to atrophy.
The research team analyzed tissue of depressed and non-depressed patients donated from a brain bank and looked for different patterns of gene activation. The brains of patients who had been depressed exhibited lower levels of expression in genes that are required for the function and structure of brain synapses. Lead author and postdoctoral researcher H.J. Kang discovered that at least five of these genes could be regulated by a single transcription factor called GATA1. When the transcription factor was activated, rodents exhibited depressive-like symptoms, suggesting GATA1 plays a role not only in the loss of connections between neurons but also in symptoms of depression.
Maybe the makers of Joe vs. The Volcano were on to something:
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Heavy Teenage Cannabis Use Linked with Anxiety Disorders in Late 20s

Photo: Burning joint, Czech Republic (CC)

Newly published findings by the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne and published in Addiction show that heavy marijuana use by teenagers is likely to result in later adult anxiety disorders.

From the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Australia’s site:

Those who used frequently in their teens and continued to use on a daily basis at the age of 29 were three times as likely to have an anxiety disorder compared with non- or infrequent users. Those who used minimally in their teens but became daily users in their late 20s were two and a half times as likely to have an anxiety disorder. But the really striking finding say the authors is the persistent association between frequent teenage cannabis use and adult anxiety disorders up to a decade after cannabis use has ceased. The relationship between cannabis use and anxiety disorders was present even after the researchers took into account other possible explanations such as mental health problems in their teens or other drug use in their twenties.

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