Misc Psych

How do I deal with seasonal affective disorder?

"How do I … deal with seasonal affective disorder?"By Phil MaynardFrom TheGuardian.comGiven the upcoming end of daylight savings time this Sunday in the United States, I thought this article would be useful and timely. The article mentions a few tips for coping and also links to another article (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2005/nov/17/health.lifeandhealth3) that provides a more complete list of treatment options, including CBT.As with any disorder, the earlier you intervene, the better off you will be. The symptoms can affect your motivation so as they become more severe it becomes progressively more difficult to apply many of the treatment recommendations.Adults with ADHD also tend to have difficulty maintaining a regular sleep schedule, so when the clock "falls back" Sunday, it's extra important to use good sleep hygiene to stay on track.

Fast-Paced Cartoons May Hurt Kids' Attention, Memory

Fast-Paced Cartoons May Hurt Kids' Attention, MemoryBy Kathleen DohenyWebMD Health NewsFrom the article:"The fast-paced shows may have a negative impact, Lillard says, because of the rapid presentation of the events. These engage the senses rather than the brain areas engaged in memory, controlling inhibition, and problem solving, she says.When a child sees a cartoon character that jumps from one activity to another, much faster than in real life, she says, 'they become neurologically exhausted and it inhibits the ability to concentrate.'"

And the Secret to Happiness Is…

CNN: “And the Secret to Happiness Is…”by Sanjay Gupta, MD2 min, 0 secDr. Gupta makes a number of interesting points in this video.

  • Happiness can help you live a longer and happier life.*
  • Much of our happiness is related to our social connections. So having no social connections is correlated with less happiness and a shorter lifespan.
  • Telomeres are the caps on our DNA chromosomes that measure our cellular age. The older we get, the shorter the telomeres. Someone without any close social ties will have shorter telomeres than someone of the same age with at least one close friend.
  • People who tend to have a lot of negative thoughts are three times as likely to develop health problems as they age. But research indicates that even just pretending to be an optimist can help reverse this trend. In addition, changing the habitual way we think is one of the core skills that you develop in cognitive behavior therapy.

* Those of you familiar with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy will understand that happiness is not as straightforward of a concept as it may seem and being fixated on being happy actually make you miserable. But that's a whole other discussion. But a very interesting topic. If you'd like to read more you can check out Russ Harris's book "The Happiness Trap."

A Little Meditation Goes a Long Way

"A Little Meditation Goes a Long Way: A new study offers the strongest evidence to date that meditation can change the structure of your brain"By Jason Marsh, February 9, 2011, as published online in the "Greater Good" newsletter through the University of California, Berkeley.This article describes the results of a neuroimaging study that looked at participants of the 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Participants reported meditating for 30 min. per day on average. Neuroimaging found that the amount of gray matter thickened after 8 weeks of meditating in a number of regions including the hippocampus (involved in memory, learning, and emotion regulation), the temporo-parietal junction and posterior cingulate cortex (involved in empathy), and the cerebellum (which also plays a role in emotion regulation).The article also points out that exercise can also increase the volume of the hippocampus. They reference a study that was done that compared two groups of 60-somethings. One group walked around the track three times per week for a year and the other group was less physically active. In the walking group the hippocampus increased in volume and in the non-walking group it became smaller.Walking mediation anyone?

Students do worse on quizzes when they use keyboards in class

"To Remember a Lecture Better, Take Notes by Hand: Students do worse on quizzes when they use keyboards in class."Written by Robinson Meyer for The Atlantic, May 1 2014.It seems the pen is mightier than the keyboard. At least when it comes to taking notes. As the article explains, “A new study—conducted by Mueller and Oppenheimer—finds that people remember lectures better when they’ve taken handwritten notes, rather than typed ones."They point out that laptop notetakers tend to take verbatim notes, whereas with handwritten notes it's almost impossible to write down everything that's said. So in one phase of the study they warned subjects in advance, explicitly telling them not to take verbatim notes because it may hinder recall. And guess what?"Knowing how and why typed notes can be bad doesn't seem to improve their quality. Even if you warn laptop-notetakers ahead of time, it doesn't make a difference. For some tasks, it seems, handwriting’s just better."And what happens if you let people study from their typed notes before quizzing them?"If someone took verbatim notes on their laptop, then studying seemed more likely to hinder their performance on the quiz."Many of the patients I work with find that handwriting notes during meetings (including therapy sessions) or classes also helps them maintain focus in addition to improving recall.If you would like to read more about the study, you can read about it in The Atlantic by clicking here.

'Love drug' makes group members lie more

BBC reports that administering the 'cuddle hormone' oxytocin makes members of a group lie more often. But the results are not really as counter-intuitive as they sound. The research believe that the results, "suggest that individuals in closely bonded groups are more likely to lie when it benefits the group than when it only benefits the individual"http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-26771703