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How Busyness Leads To Bad Decisions

PHJCG6 Silhouette of a man in the end of tunnel. Image shot 03/2018. Exact date unknown.

When we’re under pressure our mental bandwidth narrows – and that means we focus on the wrong tasks. So what’s the remedy for unproductive ‘tunnelling’? Let’s see if this sounds familiar: You churn through the day at work under deadline pressure, racing to meetings, dashing off emails, feeling busy, purposeful and a little breathless. Yet as the end of the traditional workday draws near, you realise with a sinking feeling that you haven’t even begun the big project you meant to tackle that day.

So you bring work home, or decide not to and can’t stop feeling guilty about it. Either way, your work is spilling over into the rest of your life, stealing time and mental bandwidth away from family or rest or fun, and leaving you feeling exhausted and a little resentful. You resolve that tomorrow will be different. But come morning, you inevitably find yourself back on the treadmill of busyness.

That’s a pattern Antonia Violante has seen a lot at workplaces she’s been studying in the United States for a project on work-life balance. Behavioural scientists and researchers like her call it “tunnelling”. When we’re stressed and feeling pressed for time, Violante explains, our attention and cognitive bandwidth narrow as if we’re in a tunnel. It can sometimes be a good thing, helping us hyper-focus on our most important work.

When we’re stressed and feeling pressed for time…our attention and cognitive bandwidth narrow as if we’re in a tunnel

But tunnelling has a dark side. When we get caught up in a time scarcity trap of busyness, a panicked firefighting mode, we might only have the capacity to focus on the most immediate, often low-value tasks right in front of us rather than the big project or the long-range strategic thinking that would help keep us out of the tunnel in the first place. “We see people end up tunnelling on the wrong thing,” she says.

Why email offers false rewards

Email certainly falls under that category. To Violante, a senior associate at ideas42, a non-profit firm with offices across the US and in New Delhi that uses behavioural science to solve real-world problems, email is the perfect addictive “attention slot machine”. Our brains are wired for novelty, so we actually love being interrupted with every random ping and ding of a new message. And humans enjoy feeling busy and productive. Combine time scarcity with that pull of novelty and our busyness craving and it’s easy to see how we end up focusing our time and attention on whatever’s right in front of us, which, these days, is email.

casino

Email pings feed our brains’ craving for busyness, like an “attention slot machine”, causing us to tunnel on unimportant, menial tasks (Credit: Getty Images)

Busy-loving humans have such an aversion to idleness, in fact, that one study found people preferred giving themselves electric shocks rather than have nothing to do. “So it’s easy to be swept up trying to keep on top of your email inbox,” Violante says. “It allows us to be busy, which feels good. But it leads to a false reward.” Like mistaking busyness for productivity. To get out of that particular busyness tunnel, Violante suggests experimenting with checking mail on a schedule.

That idea, which Violante herself has adopted, is based on research that found smokers given a smoking schedule had greater success quitting than through other methods. The reason, researchers surmised, is that a schedule not only gave people practice and confidence in not smoking, but also broke the link between habitual smoking cues and actually lighting up. A similar idea holds true for email: a 2015 study found that people who check their email on a schedule felt happier and less stressed out than those who checked constantly – which many of us do, spending about five hours a day nosing about our inboxes.

It’s not about having, literally, zero emails in your inbox, but having no ambiguity about what’s in there and having a plan for what’s most important to respond to – Antonia Violante

Violante also suggests that teams set communication protocols for when a response is expected and agree to send emails out only during work hours. To preserve mental bandwidth, she recommends an email mindset shift. “It’s not about having, literally, zero emails in your inbox, but having no ambiguity about what’s in there and having a plan for what’s most important to respond to,” she explains. Though she recognises it’s not easy. “Even behavioural scientists have addiction problems with email.”

How scarcity shrinks mental bandwidth

The concepts of scarcity and tunnelling were first described in behavioural science research on poverty. Anandi Mani, a professor of behavioural economics at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford, and her colleagues wanted to understand what led poor people to make bad choices with their money, such as borrowing at high interest rates or playing the lotto, that can keep them trapped in poverty.

They studied sugar cane farmers in India, and gave them cognitive tests both when the farmers were flush with money right after harvest and when, months later, money was scarce. The researchers found that scarcity itself created such a tax on mental bandwidth that the farmers’ IQ tests dropped 13 points between flush and scarce times.

sugar cane farmers

A research study on sugar cane farmers found that time scarcity creates such a tax on mental bandwidth, it can even temporarily lower IQ (Credit: Getty Images)

“There is a direct parallel between scarcity of money and scarcity of time,” Mani says. “With money, we do what’s urgent – we pay this bill, we try to make the budget work, even when we know it’s more important to take time to be a good parent or talk to your mom. At work, it’s the same. We get captured by whatever’s in front of our face, and we don’t give ourselves the space or introspection to think about what might be more meaningful to do.”

To step out of the time scarcity tunnel, Mani suggests first becoming aware of how you may be trapped in busyness. If you can, you might try smoothing your workload or spreading it out over time, much like research on how income smoothing helps those with money scarcity better weather financial volatility and keep from falling into episodic poverty. Then work with others to create and enforce group norms around taking breaks – at work, during the week, at the weekend.

If you can, you might try smoothing your workload or spreading it out over time

“The old rules – you don’t work on the Sabbath – creating forced slack in our schedules, has real value,” Mani says. She herself is experimenting with 15 minutes of meditation every morning. “It’s making me more aware during the day,” she says. “Honestly, this is a topic which pushes me to a lot of soul searching.”

Plan your time with greater care

Anuj Shah, a professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago, says scarcity creates its own mindset. His research, in which participants played online games and were either “rich” or “poor” in the number of guesses or attempts allowed, was surprising. Those who were “poor” were actually much more accurate or careful with their resources. But because scarcity narrowed their bandwidth, they were so focused on the current round, they were unable to strategise about the future and made disastrous choices, like borrowing at exorbitant rates, that wound up costing them dearly.

art gallery

We can avoid the scarcity trap if we treat our schedules like a spacious art gallery, rather than an overflowing pantry (Credit: Alamy)

So to keep from tunnelling on the wrong thing or neglecting important tasks that seem less urgent at the moment but will pay greater dividends in the long run, Shah says, people need to recognise that time and bandwidth are limited resources and begin to think of choices around them as trade-offs.

For instance, he says, when we look at our calendar six months from now, it often appears wide open and free of all commitments. So we can overcommit ourselves, which can lead to more time scarcity and tunnelling in the future. “But we know that in six months, that week is going to look a lot like this week, which is usually pretty busy,” Shah says. “So you need to think – how would I fit this in this week? What would I have to give up to do it? We need to realise that slack in the future is an illusion.” It’s a practice he follows as well.

Shah’s colleague Sendhil Mullainathan suggests thinking about our schedules as less like a pantry that we cram anything and everything into, and more like an art gallery where we intentionally decide what is most important and how to arrange it so that everything fits. He recommends setting alerts to help us remember what’s important when we start to fall into the scarcity trap.

“Once we’re short on time, we’re already in a bad situation,” Shah says. “But if we learn to manage the time beforehand, we can keep that from happening in the future.”

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By: Brigid Schulte

Brigid Schulte is a journalist, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when No One has the Time, and director of the Better Life Lab at New America

Source: How busyness leads to bad decisions

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If you suffer from anxiety, it could be messing with your decision-making! Here’s how. Follow Amy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/astVintageSpace Read More: Anxious people more apt to make bad decisions amid uncertainty http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03… “Highly anxious people have more trouble deciding how best to handle life’s uncertainties. They may even catastrophize, interpreting, say, a lovers’ tiff as a doomed relationship or a workplace change as a career threat.” What Anxiety Does to Your Brain and What You Can Do About It http://articles.mercola.com/sites/art… “Anxiety is a natural, normal response to potential threats, which puts your body into a heightened state of awareness.” Anxiety and the Brain: An Introduction http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/anx… “It should come as little surprise that your brain is the source of your anxiety.” Decision-Making http://www.brainfacts.org/sensing-thi… “Decisions. Decisions. Each day you make thousands of them. Many – what to eat for breakfast or what to wear to a friend’s party – have few, if any, long-lasting consequences. Others – whether to stay in school or look for work – can have a huge impact on the direction of your life.” ____________________ DNews is dedicated to satisfying your curiosity and to bringing you mind-bending stories & perspectives you won’t find anywhere else! New videos twice daily. Watch More DNews on TestTube http://testtube.com/dnews Subscribe now! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_c… DNews on Twitter http://twitter.com/dnews Trace Dominguez on Twitter https://twitter.com/tracedominguez Julia Wilde on Twitter https://twitter.com/julia_sci DNews on Facebook https://facebook.com/DiscoveryNews DNews on Google+ http://gplus.to/dnews Discovery News http://discoverynews.com Download the TestTube App: http://testu.be/1ndmmMq

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How Artificial Intelligence Could Save Psychiatry

Five years from now, the U.S.’ already overburdened mental health system may be short as many as 15,600 psychiatrists as the growth in demand for their services outpaces supply, according to a 2017 report from the National Council for Behavioral Health. But some proponents say that, by then, an unlikely tool—artificial intelligence—may be ready to help mental health practitioners mitigate the impact of the deficit.

Medicine is already a fruitful area for artificial intelligence; it has shown promise in diagnosing disease, interpreting images and zeroing in on treatment plans. Though psychiatry is in many ways a uniquely human field, requiring emotional intelligence and perception that computers can’t simulate, even here, experts say, AI could have an impact. The field, they argue, could benefit from artificial intelligence’s ability to analyze data and pick up on patterns and warning signs so subtle humans might never notice them.

“Clinicians actually get very little time to interact with patients,” says Peter Foltz, a research professor at the University of Colorado Boulder who this month published a paper about AI’s promise in psychiatry. “Patients tend to be remote, it’s very hard to get appointments and oftentimes they may be seen by a clinician [only] once every three months or six months.”

AI could be an effective way for clinicians to both make the best of the time they do have with patients, and bridge any gaps in access, Foltz says. AI-aided data analysis could help clinicians make diagnoses more quickly and accurately, getting patients on the right course of treatment faster—but perhaps more excitingly, Foltz says, apps or other programs that incorporate AI could allow clinicians to monitor their patients remotely, alerting them to issues or changes that arise between appointments and helping them incorporate that knowledge into treatment plans. That information could be lifesaving, since research has shown that regularly checking in with patients who are suicidal or in mental distress can keep them safe.

Some mental-health apps and programs already incorporate AI—like Woebot, an app-based mood tracker and chatbot that combines AI and principles from cognitive behavioral therapy—but it’ll probably be some five to 10 years before algorithms are routinely used in clinics, according to psychiatrists interviewed by TIME.

Even then, Dr. John Torous, director of digital psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Mental Health Information Technology, cautions that “artificial intelligence is only as strong as the data it’s trained on,” and, he says, mental health diagnostics have not been quantified well enough to program an algorithm. It’s possible that will happen in the future, with more and larger psychological studies, but, Torous says “it’s going to be an uphill challenge.”

Not everyone shares that position. Speech and language have emerged as two of the clearest applications for AI in psychiatry, says Dr. Henry Nasrallah, a psychiatrist at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who has written about AI’s place in the field. Speech and mental health are closely linked, he explains.

Talking in a monotone can be a sign of depression; fast speech can point to mania; and disjointed word choice can be connected to schizophrenia. When these traits are pronounced enough, a human clinician might pick up on them—but AI algorithms, Nasrallah says, could be trained to flag signals and patterns too subtle for humans to detect.

Foltz and his team in Boulder are working in this space, as are big-name companies like IBM. Foltz and his colleagues designed a mobile app that takes patients through a series of repeatable verbal exercises, like telling a story and answering questions about their emotional state. An AI system then assesses those soundbites for signs of mental distress, both by analyzing how they compare to the individual’s previous responses, and by measuring the clips against responses from a larger patient population.

The team tested the system on 225 people living in either Northern Norway or rural Louisiana—two places with inadequate access to mental health care—and found that the app was at least as accurate as clinicians at picking up on speech-based signs of mental distress.

Foltz and his team in Boulder are working in this space, as are big-name companies like IBM. Foltz and his colleagues designed a mobile app that takes patients through a series of repeatable verbal exercises, like telling a story and answering questions about their emotional state. An AI system then assesses those soundbites for signs of mental distress, both by analyzing how they compare to the individual’s previous responses, and by measuring the clips against responses from a larger patient population. The team tested the system on 225 people living in either Northern Norway or rural Louisiana—two places with inadequate access to mental health care—and found that the app was at least as accurate as clinicians at picking up on speech-based signs of mental distress.

Written language is also a promising area for AI-assisted mental health care, Nasrallah says. Studies have shown that machine learning algorithms trained to assess word choice and order are better than clinicians at distinguishing between real and fake suicide notes, meaning they’re good at picking up on signs of distress. Using these systems to regularly monitor a patient’s writing, perhaps through an app or periodic remote check-in with mental health professionals, could feasibly offer a way to assess their risk of self-harm.

Even if these applications do pan out, Torous cautions that “nothing has ever been a panacea.” On one hand, he says, it’s exciting that technology is being pitched as a solution to problems that have long plagued the mental health field; but, on the other hand, “in some ways there’s so much desperation to make improvements to mental health that perhaps the tools are getting overvalued.”

Nasrallah and Foltz emphasize that AI isn’t meant to replace human psychiatrists or completely reinvent the wheel. (“Our brain is a better computer than any AI,” Nasrallah says.) Instead, they say, it can provide data and insights that will streamline treatment.

Alastair Denniston, an ophthalmologist and honorary professor at the U.K.’s University of Birmingham who this year published a research review about AI’s ability to diagnose disease, argues that, if anything, technology can help doctors focus on the human elements of medicine, rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae of diagnosis and data collection.

Artificial intelligence “may allow us to have more time in our day to spend actually communicating effectively and being more human,” Denniston says. “Rather than being diagnostic machines… [doctors can] provide some of that empathy that can get swallowed up by the business of what we do.”

By Jamie Ducharme

November 20, 2019

Source: How Artificial Intelligence Could Save Psychiatry | Time

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Hi! I’m Chris Lovejoy, a doctor working in London and a clinical data scientist working to bring AI to healthcare. Timestamps: 0:13 – Some general thoughts on artificial intelligence in healthcare 1:41 – AI in diagnosing psychiatric conditions 2:19 – AI in monitoring mental health 3:00 – AI in treatment of psychiatric conditions 4:38 – AI for increasing efficiency for clinicians 5:38 – Important considerations and concerns 6:17 – Good things about AI for healthcare in general 6:38 – Closing thoughts To download my article on the subject, visit: https://chrislovejoy.me/psychiatry/ Papers referenced in video: (1) Jaiswal S, Valstar M, Gillott A, Daley D. Automatic detection of ADHD and ASD from expressive behaviour in RGBD data. December 7 2016, ArXiv161202374 Cs. Available from: http://arxiv.org/abs/1612.02374. (2) Corcoran CM, Carrillo F, Fernández-Slezak D, Bedi G, Klim C, Javitt DC, et al. Prediction of psychosis across protocols and risk cohorts using automated language analysis. World Psychiatry 2018;17(February (1)):67–75. (3) Place S, Blanch-Hartigan D, Rubin C, Gorrostieta C, Mead C, Kane J, et al. Behavioral indicators on a mobile sensing platform predict clinically validated psychiatric symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders. J Med Internet Res 2017;19(March (3)):e75. (4) Fitzpatrick KK, Darcy A, Vierhile M. Delivering cognitive behavior therapy to young adults with symptoms of depression and anxiety using a fully automated conversational agent (Woebot): a randomized controlled trial. JMIR Ment Health 2017;4(June (2)):e19. (5) Standalone effects of a cognitive behavioral intervention using a mobile phone app on psychological distress and alcohol consumption among Japanese workers: pilot nonrandomized controlled trial | Hamamura | JMIR Mental Health. Available from: http://mental.jmir.org/2018/1/e24/. (6) Lovejoy CA, Buch V, Maruthappu M. Technology and mental health: The role of artificial intelligence. Eur Psychiatry. 2019 Jan;55:1-3. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2018.08.004. Epub 2018 Oct 28.

An 81-year Harvard Study Says Staying Happy and Mentally Sharp Boils Down to 1 Thing

The pursuit of happiness. So many voices in the chorus telling us how to master it. There are psychology-based tricks to happiness, watch-outs for what kills happiness, even equations for happiness.

Despite all the sources of inspiration on the topic, it’s hard not to take notice of an authoritative, 81-year-long study conducted by the big brains at Harvard University. Known as the Harvard Study of Adult Development, it is one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history.

Started in 1938, the Harvard study has been seeking to answer one question: What keeps us happiest as we go through life? The research started by tracking the lives of 724 men. Any original study participants left are now in their 90s, so now the study is examining the lives of 2,000 children of these men. This just might go on longer than The Simpsons.

As psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the study’s fourth director, said in a recent TED Talk, the core conclusion of the study is breathtakingly simple: “The clearest message is this: good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

Life is relationships.

The study also elaborates on the happy and healthy part. First, an unexpected health benefit of maintaining relationships throughout one’s life; it protects the brain and preserves memory longer. Knowing you have people you can count on when things get tough keeps the brain healthy and less anxiety-ridden, thus sharper.

And having social connections means you live a longer, happier life — but loneliness kills. People who are more isolated experience health declines sooner (including declines in brain functioning), are far less happy, and die sooner.

Waldinger points out that you can be lonely in a crowd or a marriage, so it’s also about the quality of relationships, not just the quantity.

But if maintaining relationships was easy, everyone would do it.

Here are some common things that get in the way of forging and fueling relationships, and how to overcome them.

The work of it never ends.

Relationships can be exhausting, but they have to be a priority. Period. Doubling down on the investment you make in those that matter to you will matter in the end. And as for those friends who do fade for whatever reason, it’s critical to keep plugging in new ones. Waldinger says, “Those happiest in retirement were people who’d actively worked to replace workmates with new playmates.”

Having left the corporate world for the life of an entrepreneur (where I’m no longer surrounded daily by friends), I can tell you that keeping up with friendships is some of my most important work now.

That thing not said.

My wife and I base the strength of our marriage on our communication. Nothing gets left unsaid. I have seen friendships, marriages, and all walks of relationships rot from the inside because of a lack of courage in communicating the hard things.

The hard things are hard. The easy things are easy. The former strengthens bonds, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. To overcome the fear of saying that hard thing, try this simple trick: think of it as a bee sting. It will hurt at the moment it’s happening. But it’s soothed immediately thereafter if you apply salve, in the form of empathy and deep listening. And then everyone can move on.

Family feuds.

Grudges do no one any good. Look in the dictionary under “Life’s too short” and you’ll find this. My dad was world-class at starting mystery fights with extended family members and holding grudges (and my mom even better at cleaning up behind him to keep the peace). It cost us a fair amount of potential family connectivity/joy.

Family-conflict expert Dr. Phil says the key to resolving family fights is to first recognize the impact the feud is having on the rest of the family, and then step up with a choice to forgive. Then get clear on what the disagreement is really about (sifting through emotions), seek to understand the others’ point of view, and extend an olive branch.

Work is only getting more intrusive.

Work-life integration has replaced work-life balance. We’ve never had more access to more distractions, devices, or demands. Integrating work into your life doesn’t mean it becomes your life. The integration part also means integrating with those you care about.

Strengthening relationships in the face of ever-increasing work demands involves redefining what success really is for you. In the end it’s a choice. I wish I had a more clever solve for you, but it really boils down to that. If success starts and ends with nurturing relationships, then everything else gets re-prioritized. You’ll find the things that go by the wayside to make room for relationships will soon seem trivial in comparison.

These researchers have been studying how to be happy for 81 years. Let’s learn from history to create a happier life, and one we can remember more clearly.

Scott MautzKeynote speaker and author, ‘Find the Fire’ and ‘Make It Matter’

Source: An 81-year Harvard Study Says Staying Happy and Mentally Sharp Boils Down to 1 Thing

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There are thousands of tips and psychological techniques to help you feel happy. But what if our own body had a say in the matter? Here are some findings from neuroscientists — the people who know exactly when and why your brain can give you the feeling of total satisfaction! Other videos you might like: 10 Facts About Brain Prove You’re Capable of Anything https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhnFL… 12 Smart Psychological Tips You’d Better Learn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Szahr… 11 Military Hacks That’ll Make Your Life Easier https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frG12… TIMESTAMPS: Engage in pleasant expectations 0:42 Solve problems one at a time 1:17 Don’t keep things pent up: talk about what bothers you 1:50 Touch and embrace 2:29 Learn, learn, and, once again, learn! 3:12 Play sports 3:44 Always try to get a good sleep 4:40 Learn to say “Thank you” 5:16 SUMMARY: – The process of waiting for something nice, such as food or sex, is similar to the learned salivation response. Our brain experiences pleasure by simply anticipating the fun event. – For every right decision, our brain rewards itself with a dose of neurotransmitters that calm the limbic system and help us once again see the world in a better light. – Advisable not to keep your problems pent up. Whenever you talk about them, your brain triggers the production of serotonin and even manages to find some positive sides to the situation. – To us, humans, social interaction is important. Various forms of physical support, especially touch and embraces, can speed up a person’s recovery from an illness. – For the brain, acquiring new knowledge means permanent adaptation to a changing environment. Using this process, our brain develops, rewarding its own attempts to absorb and process new information with dopamine, the hormone of joy. – Physical activity is stress for the body. As soon as the stress ends, your body gets a reward: a dose of endorphins, released by the pituitary gland. – While we sleep in the dark, our body secretes the hormone melatonin. This hormone slows down all processes in the body, helping it to recover and increasing the level of serotonin in the hypothalamus. – When we say a person, or even fate, for something, we focus ourselves on the positive aspects of life. Pleasant memories trigger serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex. Subscribe to Bright Side : https://goo.gl/rQTJZz For copyright matters please contact us at: welcome@brightside.me —————————————————————————————- Our Social Media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brightside/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brightgram/ 5-Minute Crafts Youtube: https://www.goo.gl/8JVmuC  —————————————————————————————- For more videos and articles visit: http://www.brightside.me/

How Can Schools Help Kids With Anxiety?

I met Brianna Sedillo when she pitched my radio station a personal perspective on anxiety, a topic that comes up over and over as teachers and parents try to support young people.

“Everything kind of started with the anxiety and depression after the passing of my grandfather,” Brianna said. “He was kinda my safe space. And losing that was really big.”

Brianna missed her grandfather’s supportive presence acutely during her middle school years, which were difficult. Middle school can be a difficult time for anyone, but for Brianna it was particularly hard socially because her family moved several times. She had trouble making new friends and felt each change of school acutely. Despite all that, she was a good student; she made the honor roll all three years in middle school.

But everything got worse when she started at El Cerrito High School, just outside San Francisco. Brianna’s feelings of isolation intensified, and her depression and anxiety kicked into high gear. She knew that she should be doing her homework, participating in class, and trying to be more social, but she couldn’t bring herself to do any of it. By sophomore year, Brianna was barely passing.

“It was just really rough for me,” Brianna said. She couldn’t stop worrying about what people thought of her, which made her so self-conscious she could barely function. “With my anxiety I tend to overthink everything. And I’m always aware of who’s looking at me and who’s talking about me, who’s judging me.”

Brianna remembers an endless cycle of waking up, going to school, taking work she couldn’t bring herself to do, and coming home to hide in her room and sleep. She lost a lot of weight and didn’t even enjoy playing soccer anymore, her favorite activity. She scrutinized her appearance every few minutes, and became so self-conscious she avoided answering questions she knew in class because she didn’t want people to look at her. When she got home, where she felt safe, all the anxiety she’d been bottling up all day came spilling out.

“It’s like something goes off and the anxiety kind of kicks in,” Brianna said. She would go over every tiny detail of the day. “Everything that I did that day. The way I pronounce something, the way I did something, The way I walked.” Then she would start thinking about her mom and how she should be working harder to make her mom proud, and that only made her feel worse.

“And then I start to panic and then it’s like, what am I going to do? Like, I’m going to disappoint my mom. And then I can’t breathe and then I get shaky, and I end up in a ball on the floor just trying to get my breathing back on track,” she said.

Brianna is just one of many young people around the country experiencing anxiety, and often the depression that comes with it. Teachers and parents all over the country are noticing an increase in mental health issues, including anxiety, among students.

There isn’t much research directly surveying adolescents on their anxiety. In 2004, the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that about a third of adolescents (ages 13-18) have been or will be seriously affected by anxiety in their lifetimes. More recently, a study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, based on parent surveys for the National Survey of Children’s Health, concluded that more than one in twenty U.S. children (ages 6-17) had anxiety or depression in 2011-2012. And a UCLA survey of college freshman conducted each year, found in 2017 that close to 39 percent frequently felt “overwhelmed by all I had to do.” Parents and educators are scrambling to understand why kids seem to be more anxious and how to help them.

One School’s Attempt to Dispel the Isolation That Accompanies Anxiety

Brianna is far from the only student at El Cerrito High suffering from anxiety. In fact, counselors at the James Morehouse Project, the school’s wellness center, began noticing a few years ago that more and more students named anxiety as a chief concern. Most felt completely alone.

“A lot of students [were] coming in saying, ‘people don’t get this. Other students don’t experience this. People don’t know what it’s like,’” said Rachel Krow-Boniske, a social work intern at the James Morehouse Project. “And seeing that from so many different students made me want to be like, ‘Actually, this is really common! And if you all got to talk with each other and connect with each other over the experience, it might feel less alienating.’”

So Krow-Boniske and another intern, Forest Novak, started an anxiety group in the 2018-19 school year. They recommended some students they were seeing individually, and spread the word among teachers, who also recommended students who might benefit from participating.

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The group includes students from all grades and fluctuates in size from eight to ten. It meets once a week so students can discuss their anxiety, gain confidence that they aren’t the only ones struggling, and learn coping strategies. Krow-Boniske and Novak want students to become more aware of the signs of their anxiety, what triggers it, and how they can tell themselves a different story about what’s happening.

The course is broken down into sections. The first several weeks the two counselors facilitate a process of self-discovery for students. They do writing exercises with students to help them think carefully about how their bodies feel when they’re getting anxious, what’s happening around them, and what messages their anxiety tells them about themselves. After they validate that a lot of people are having similar feelings, the curriculum moves on to dig into seven types of coping strategies: grounding, distraction, emotional release, thought challenging, self-love, and accessing the truest parts of oneself to help hold all the other coping mechanisms.

“I’ve been amazed by how much they know about their own anxiety,” Krow-Boniske said. “They seem so aware of what’s happening for them and just haven’t quite had the words or the space to talk about it.”

Part Of a Broad Strategy to Support Students Where They’re At

The anxiety group is just one of many student wellness services offered at the James Morehouse Project, or the JMP as everyone at El Cerrito High calls it. The center is named for a former staff member who had a gift for connecting with students. Jenn Rader, a former history teacher, started the JMP when she realized that her students were struggling with far more than academics in her classroom.

“Those things were taking up so much space that there was really nothing left over to receive what was being offered in the building,” Rader said.

When it opened more than 20 years ago, the James Morehouse Project focused on providing health services and a little bit of counseling to students. Now, it offers an impressive array of services. It has a free, full-service medical clinic where students can get physical exams and an array of reproductive health services. It also has a dental clinic for students with MediCal, California’s Medicaid program.

It offers a youth development program aimed at cultivating students’ leadership and activism. Its staff provide one-on-one counseling services, as well as groups dedicated to almost everything a struggling student would need: support for queer-identified young people of color, an Arabic-speaking girls group, a support group for Muslim students, another support group for students who’ve suffered a catastrophic loss, and social skills groups for students who have a difficult time connecting with other young people.

“I think there’s been kind of a culture shift, a growing awareness and a growing commitment to ensure that children and young people arrive in a building with what they need in order to enter a classroom ready to learn,” Rader said.

More than 1,500 students attend El Cerrito High. Rader says almost a third of them have a meaningful interaction with the JMP each year either through groups or counseling. That’s only possible because the JMP runs a robust clinical social work internship program.

All those extra adults make a big difference in the lives of kids. When Brianna first came to the JMP, she saw an intern counselor who she says changed her life.

“She didn’t tell me what I was supposed to be, who I was supposed to be,” Brianna said. “She sat there and she listened, and she helped me just discover who I was. She helped me get deeper with myself and realizing things I hadn’t realized before. By the end of that, I was a much happier person. It was like a weight was on my shoulders, and piece by piece, she helped me take it off.”

How Parents Can Help Their Kids With Anxiety

Many students I spoke with for this story feel misunderstood by the adults around them. Their anxiety makes it difficult for them to complete assignments or be proactive, and that can look like procrastination. Brianna, for example, felt she was letting her mother down when she couldn’t bring herself to do her homework. Feeling inadequate made the anxiety and depression worse.

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Nina Kaiser is a child psychologist based in San Francisco who has been working with anxious kids for over 15 years. She says the feelings Brianna describes, as well as the misunderstandings that can arise with parents, are common. If parents want to get to the bottom of the problem, the first step is to understand how anxiety works.

“Your brain is constantly scanning your environment, looking for danger,” Kaiser explained. “It’s true for all of us, every single one of us, but when you are experiencing anxiety, it’s like a smoke detector or alarm that goes off more frequently.”

Kaiser likes working with anxious kids because there are effective treatments. One of the most effective ways to treat anxiety is with cognitive behavioral therapy. She helps her patients address both their physical responses to anxiety, as well as their distorted thoughts or “cognitions.” These thoughts often tend towards catastrophizing or ruminating on something that happened in the past, or could happen in the future.

“You’re teaching kids strategies around noticing those thoughts and being able to push back against them, or to shift gears instead of getting stuck in that pattern,” Kaiser said.

But it takes a lot of practice to step back from the panicked feelings and to look at them with a little more objective distance. She describes anxious thoughts to her clients as junk mail or spam. She directs them to look for evidence that supports the negative thoughts, or disproves them. So, if a student is anxious about failing a test, Kaiser will coach them to think about their past performance on tests, their grades overall, and whether this one test even matters that much.

But, she adds, “Those [anxious] thoughts tend to be really powerful and really automatic. They’re coming into your mind really quickly, really loudly, and it’s challenging to step back and notice that there are other ways to think about the situation.”

Kaiser says anxiety can be tricky for parents to handle because they may see it as laziness on the part of their child. But rather than judging them for not doing their homework or not wanting to go out with friends, she recommends they try to approach the situation with curiosity. When parents don’t assume they know what’s happening with their child, they can open up more space for the child to confide what’s really going on.

Kaiser also says that one of the hardest parts about treating anxiety is confronting the things that make a person anxious. Kids aren’t going to want to do that, and a parent’s first instinct is often to protect their child from things that cause them distress. Kaiser reminds her clients and their parents that anxiety is trying to control them and the best way to get out from under that is to push back.

“So if a kid is really spiraling about something, if parents are overly reassuring, they’re also sending a message that there’s something valid about that anxiety,” Kaiser said.

She recommends parents and their kids read reputable sources about anxiety ahead of time, when tensions aren’t high. Then, when a panic attack hits or a student is particularly anxious, it’s easier for parents to gently push them without making their child feel they aren’t emotionally supported. Kaiser knows this is hard for parents to do, but she says having a collaborative relationship established ahead of time will make it easier.

It’s All About Resilience

After Brianna got help with her depression at the James Morehouse Project, she also developed coping strategies for her anxiety. She still gets panic attacks sometimes, but now she knows how to handle them. And she’s headed to community college in the fall, a new phase of life that excites her.

James Morehouse Project director Jenn Rader says it’s no surprise students are anxious in today’s world. Her students are dealing with a lot of trauma from the world around them. Their families are struggling to make ends meet in an economy that is increasingly unequal. They are worried about their futures in an insecure world. Many feel that if they aren’t perfect, they’ve failed. And they’re constantly comparing themselves to others on social media. They are terrified of school shootings, immigration raids, violence in their neighborhoods, and even not getting into a good college.

Nina Kaiser says she’s seeing patients with serious anxiety at younger and younger ages. She’s even started an anxiety group, called Mighty Minds, with elementary school-aged children to help kids build up the resilience they’ll need to face middle and high school stress before they get there.

“Why are we waiting until kids are already struggling? These are really life skills. The ability to calm yourself down, to notice when you’re feeling stressed. I’m practically 40 years old. These are still skills that I’m practicing day by day.”

She hopes with these tools available to them, kids will have skills to fall back on when they run up against adversity.

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Source: How Can Schools Help Kids With Anxiety?

 

No, Eating Chocolate Won’t Cure Depression

A recent study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety has attracted widespread media attention. Media reports said eating chocolate, in particular, dark chocolate, was linked to reduced symptoms of depression.

A recent study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety has attracted widespread media attention. Media reports said eating chocolate, in particular, dark chocolate, was linked to reduced symptoms of depression.

Unfortunately, we cannot use this type of evidence to promote eating chocolate as a safeguard against depression, a serious, common and sometimes debilitating mental health condition.

This is because this study looked at an association between diet and depression in the general population. It did not gauge causation. In other words, it was not designed to say whether eating dark chocolate caused a reduction in depressive symptoms.


Read more: What causes depression? What we know, don’t know and suspect


What did the researchers do?

The authors explored data from the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This shows how common health, nutrition and other factors are among a representative sample of the population.

People in the study reported what they had eaten in the previous 24 hours in two ways. First, they recalled in person, to a trained dietary interviewer using a standard questionnaire. The second time they recalled what they had eaten over the phone, several days after the first recall.

The researchers then calculated how much chocolate participants had eaten using the average of these two recalls.

Dark chocolate needed to contain at least 45% cocoa solids for it to count as “dark”.


Read more: Explainer: what is memory?


The researchers excluded from their analysis people who ate an implausibly large amount of chocolate, people who were underweight and/or had diabetes.

The remaining data (from 13,626 people) was then divided in two ways. One was by categories of chocolate consumption (no chocolate, chocolate but no dark chocolate, and any dark chocolate). The other way was by the amount of chocolate (no chocolate, and then in groups, from the lowest to highest chocolate consumption).


Read more: Monday’s medical myth: chocolate is an aphrodisiac


The researchers assessed people’s depressive symptoms by having participants complete a short questionnaire asking about the frequency of these symptoms over the past two weeks.

The researchers controlled for other factors that might influence any relationship between chocolate and depression, such as weight, gender, socioeconomic factors, smoking, sugar intake and exercise.

What did the researchers find?

Of the entire sample, 1,332 (11%) of people said they had eaten chocolate in their two 24 hour dietary recalls, with only 148 (1.1%) reporting eating dark chocolate.

A total of 1,009 (7.4%) people reported depressive symptoms. But after adjusting for other factors, the researchers found no association between any chocolate consumption and depressive symptoms.

Few people said they’d eaten any chocolate in the past 24 hours. Were they telling the truth? from www.shutterstock.com

However, people who ate dark chocolate had a 70% lower chance of reporting clinically relevant depressive symptoms than those who did not report eating chocolate.

When investigating the amount of chocolate consumed, people who ate the most chocolate were more likely to have fewer depressive symptoms.

What are the study’s limitations?

While the size of the dataset is impressive, there are major limitations to the investigation and its conclusions.

First, assessing chocolate intake is challenging. People may eat different amounts (and types) depending on the day. And asking what people ate over the past 24 hours (twice) is not the most accurate way of telling what people usually eat.

Then there’s whether people report what they actually eat. For instance, if you ate a whole block of chocolate yesterday, would you tell an interviewer? What about if you were also depressed?

This could be why so few people reported eating chocolate in this study, compared with what retail figures tell us people eat.


Read more: These 5 foods are claimed to improve our health. But the amount we’d need to consume to benefit is… a lot


Finally, the authors’ results are mathematically accurate, but misleading.

Only 1.1% of people in the analysis ate dark chocolate. And when they did, the amount was very small (about 12g a day). And only two people reported clinical symptoms of depression and ate any dark chocolate.

The authors conclude the small numbers and low consumption “attests to the strength of this finding”. I would suggest the opposite.

Finally, people who ate the most chocolate (104-454g a day) had an almost 60% lower chance of having depressive symptoms. But those who ate 100g a day had about a 30% chance. Who’d have thought four or so more grams of chocolate could be so important?

This study and the media coverage that followed are perfect examples of the pitfalls of translating population-based nutrition research to public recommendations for health.

My general advice is, if you enjoy chocolate, go for darker varieties, with fruit or nuts added, and eat it mindfully. — Ben Desbrow


Blind peer review

Chocolate manufacturers have been a good source of funding for much of the research into chocolate products.

While the authors of this new study declare no conflict of interest, any whisper of good news about chocolate attracts publicity. I agree with the author’s scepticism of the study.

Just 1.1% of people in the study ate dark chocolate (at least 45% cocoa solids) at an average 11.7g a day. There was a wide variation in reported clinically relevant depressive symptoms in this group. So, it is not valid to draw any real conclusion from the data collected.

For total chocolate consumption, the authors accurately report no statistically significant association with clinically relevant depressive symptoms.

However, they then claim eating more chocolate is of benefit, based on fewer symptoms among those who ate the most.

In fact, depressive symptoms were most common in the third-highest quartile (who ate 100g chocolate a day), followed by the first (4-35g a day), then the second (37-95g a day) and finally the lowest level (104-454g a day). Risks in sub-sets of data such as quartiles are only valid if they lie on the same slope.

The basic problems come from measurements and the many confounding factors. This study can’t validly be used to justify eating more chocolate of any kind. — Rosemary Stanton


Research Checks interrogate newly published studies and how they’re reported in the media. The analysis is undertaken by one or more academics not involved with the study, and reviewed by another, to make sure it’s accurate.

Associate Professor, Nutrition and Dietetics, Griffith University

Rosemary Stanton is a Friend of The Conversation.

Visiting Fellow, School of Medical Sciences, UNSW

Source: No, eating chocolate won’t cure depression

Three Ways To Fight The Stigma Of Mental Illness

People struggling with mental illness, from the mildest and most routine to the intractable and utterly devastating, are also burdened by the stereotypes and prejudices of stigmatization. The stigma of mental illness interferes with getting needed care and causes social isolation and alienation. This is not how things should be. Instead, people with emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems, regardless of whether the causes are external traumas or circumstances, internal events, or some combination, should be given the same respect and access to treatment as someone dealing with a mild sprain, a flu, or a life-threatening cancer. Healthcare should be healthcare. But it’s not. And stigmatization is largely to blame.

Everyone has a stake in fighting stigmatization. With around 1 in 5 Americans suffering from a mental illness over the course of a year, chances are pretty good you either are, have been, or are close to someone bearing the burden by stigma. The fight to reduce that burden really should involve everyone. So, after some context, I want to talk about three ways anyone can join the fight.

The context of stigma

Regardless of good intentions, people tend to perceive anyone whose psychological problems are worse than one’s own as “them” and not “us.” They are “other.” For the really serious problems there tends to be a perception of people as dangerous and deserving social isolation; we should “lock ‘em up!” People with milder conditions often confront a “weak-not-sick” attitude; they should “just get over it.”

These stereotypes help create social and emotional distance between the stigmatizing and the stigmatized. By creating this distance people can nurture the comforting fiction that instead of a fine line there’s a large gap between the mentally ill (them!) and the mentally well (us, whew!!). But that’s a myth. The line is very fine. They is us.

Sure, people differ in how psychologically resilient they may be, just like how people differ in how physically resilient they may be. But the fundamental reality about mental illness is that it can, and often does, happen to anyone. The social and emotional distance people create is just a way to avoid the anxious-making reality that things like depression, anxiety, emotional dysregulation, behavioral disorders, and the rest can strike anyone. Just like with physical illnesses where a wayward cell or pathogen can strike anyone, mental illness can strike anyone anywhere. We take illusory comfort from the distance stigma creates.

Stigma is insidious. A recent experience from my clinical practice illustrates the burden of stigmatization people with a mental illness must carry. A young man shows up at the ER complaining of an unusual set of symptoms: nausea, trembling, tingling in his legs, numbness around his mouth, and weakness in his hands. He also had an extensive history of mental illness, although he was psychiatrically asymptomatic at the time of this visit and doing very well.

But after the ER doc learned of this history, he quickly sent the patient home with a vague reassurance not worry since it was probably just a panic attack. Of course, it wasn’t. Happily he’s now under the care of an excellent neurologist and making progress. But this episode shows stigma’s insidious influence in stark relief.

Stigmatization is also pervasive. It has a broad social reach. Just consider the marketing campaigns of companies like Talkspace and Betterhelp who broke into the mental health marketplace with promises of anonymous therapy. Leaving aside the problem that anonymous therapy violates various codes of professional ethics, the promise of anonymity as an initial marketing ploy both builds on and enhances the stigmatization against which we should all be fighting.

It cynically trades on the pervasiveness of stigmatization, otherwise it wouldn’t work. What they did is like confronting racial bigotry by saying people should just try to pass or telling a gay person they should stay in the closet. Anonymity validates the prejudice that one should keep secret one’s struggles with mental health.

The fact that this marketing ploy appealed to so many, and it did, also highlights what’s called in the literature “self-stigma.” That’s the term used to refer to the fact that people internalize stigmatization so that it functions as an obstacle to seeking help and therefore as a magnifier of suffering. For example, one study of college students showed that the more people perceive stigma operating in the world the more they blame themselves for having problems and the more they resist seeking care. Other people’s prejudices about mental illness became their attitudes toward their own suffering and towards seeking help.

There’s actually lots more to say about stigma. There’s even an official APA journal specifically on the topic: Stigma and Health. But hopefully this has been enough to activate interest and maybe motivate at last some action. At least I hope you agree the fight against stigma is worth some attention. Here are three things anyone can do to join the fight.

Support an organization

There are lots of organizations taking the fight to stigma, both generally and for specific communities, like groups fighting the stigma on mental health care that exists in Asian American communities.. A great way to lessen the burden stigma imposes is by finding an organization that resonates with you and then supporting it.

But be careful, you don’t want to get caught in the paradox of choice so you end up doing nothing. Don’t over think. Instead, dive in and be helpful. Whether you donate money or time, or express support in some way, find an organization that speaks to you and support it.

Here are two stigma-fighting organizations I support.

The first is a group called “Phd Balance.” Graduate student mental health is their focus. Their mission is to show that students pursuing advanced academic degrees who are, quoting their mission statement, “dealing with mental health issues are NOT less capable, are NOT less intelligent, are NOT less creative, are NOT failures … [they] might just need support and a different set of tools.”

They pursue this mission by creating spaces where mental health issues can be openly and safely discussed and by curating resources that can be useful for those pursing both an advanced degree and a healthy balance in their lives. As a former graduate student myself, and someone who now treats and works with several people pursuing doctorates, this groups resonates with my interests and values. So, I want to help them achieve their goals. They have my support.

The other organization is The Ride for Mental Health. Started by an attorney, Malcom (“Mac”) Dorris who lost his son to an intractable and ultimately fatal mental illness, this event is a two day bike-ride through the Hudson Valley in New York. Its mission is both to raise funds for research (McLean Hospital’s research programs being the current beneficiary) and, quoting their mission statement, “to end the stigma surrounding mental illness through education and awareness.” I’ve ridden all three years of this growing event and am already looking forward, and spreading the work, about next year’s ride. Not only is it a wonderful ride on gorgeous roads, participation is a way to do good by having fun.

Tell your story

Stigma lives in darkness, in shame. Bringing stories of struggle into the light weakens it. The social distance and self-stigma that comes from the “them not us” myth can’t survive people telling the story of how they, or their loved ones, experienced emotional suffering. Truth destroys stigma.

Truth telling is actually how Phd Balance began. Its efforts to “increase visibility and awareness for students and to let those struggling know they are not alone” began with Susanna Harris, the founder and a graduate student in microbiology, telling her story of depression and anxiety in a moving video monologue. Sinking into a depression after an academic setback, she spoke up about the experience rather than hiding in silence. Phd Balance grew out of her courage and she has inspired many more to do the same.

I also had an email exchange with Mac Dorris from The Ride for Mental Health about this. He told me that after his son Eric died he “suddenly had a key to everyone else’s story or stories about mental illness.” He recounted being at a business dinner and telling Eric’s story to a new business associate who “responded by telling me that he lost his brother years earlier under very similar circumstances.”

He also shared a story about a colleague of his who had previously lost a son to what was called an unusual heart aliment. When he called Mac to express condolences for Eric’s death “I told him that I was sorry I had joined the club of having a kid pre-decease us. He then explained that his son didn’t die from the heart ailment but from an accidental overdose and that he suffered with mental illness.”

Stories brought to light reduce shame. And one person’s story really can be the key to unlock someone else’s story from the shackles of shame and stigma.

Stop perpetuating it

This one is simple; don’t make things worse. If you insult someone by saying they’re “crazy” or “nuts” you’re inadvertently perpetuating stigma. Same when you judge someone to be “less than” because you found out they’ve been in therapy of years and years. There’s even research showing that even benign, diagnostically accurate labels result in harsher, more negative judgements.

Unfortunately, mental illness is frequently used to explain bad behavior. Instead of describing a mass shooter as a murderer with too easy access to weapons of war, we make them into mental patients as though the illness explains the evil. It doesn’t, any more than one could say someone became a mass murderer because of their diabetes.

We have a particularly pernicious version of this these days. During the Trump presidency mental health professionals have unfortunately fallen into the stigma-supporting trap of explaining his bad behavior with a diagnosis. I firmly believe there are many things that make him unfit for the office such as his racism, history of sexual predation, constant dishonesty, science denial, invitations for Russian election interference and subsequent obstruction, family separations, and historical ignorance, especially about immigration, to name a few.

Just this week he stood in front of an audience of 9/11 first responders and lied about his participation. Of course, your politics may be such that you do not think such reasons disqualify him. OK, difference of opinion. But saying those qualities are symptoms of a mental illness will not convince anyone of his unfitness. I believe the reality is that a mental illness is not what is making him unfit for the office, anymore than someone with a mental illness is unfit to be a lawyer, a plumber, a teacher or any other job or profession. What makes him unfit is how he does what he does, a constellation of evil actions that spells the end of the American experiment. I believe we should not insult people with mental illness by implying it is illness rather than his dishonorable actions that make him unfit for his office. Doing so merely supports the stigma.

And always remember, they is us.

Follow me on Twitter.

I’m a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. For 20 plus years I’ve been practicing on 12th Street, around the corner from what used to be the Forbes Building and right in the middle of New York’s digital revolutions. Having written for professional audiences and become a not infrequent source (e.g., Wired, New York, NY Times, The Today Show) I decided to put my ideas out there myself. First at True/Slant, then Psychology Today, and now at Forbes, my “beat” includes clinical insights and research developments useful for building an authentically good life in our increasingly complex and technologically-mediated world, along with identifying those choices that promise more than they can deliver. Along with my full-time private practice I’m a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst at the William Alanson White Institute.

Source: Three Ways To Fight The Stigma Of Mental Illness

Number of Children Who Visit ER Due to Suicidal Thoughts Is Rising at a Shocking Pace

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More and more kids are visiting the emergency room for both attempted suicide and suicidal thoughts. According to a new study published on Monday, the number of suicide-related ER visits for children and teens ages five to 18 has nearly doubled since 2007, up from 580,000 to almost 1.2 million in 2015.

“The numbers are very alarming,” Dr. Brett Burstein, lead study author and a pediatric ER doctor at Montreal Children’s Hospital of McGill University Health Centre, told FOX 8, adding, “It also represents a larger percentage of all pediatric emergency department visits. Where suicidal behavior among the pediatric population was just 2 percent of all visits, that’s now up to 3.5 percent.”

The study, which appeared in JAMA Pediatrics, used data from the annual National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey run by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers analyzed children and teens from 300 emergency rooms across the country who were diagnosed with suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.

In addition to the rising rate of visits, they found that the average age admitted was 13 years old and that almost half of the visits (43 percent) were for children between the ages of five and 11.

This came on the heels of a similar study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ journal, Pediatrics, which found that the number of young people visiting the emergency room due to “psychiatric reasons” between 2011 and 2015 was up nearly 28 percent. And in March, another national study revealed that the rate of depression among children and teens had increased over 60 percent since 2009.

The results have many medical professionals calling for improved mental healthcare for children moving forward. In Monday’s research letter, study authors explain that there is “a critical need to augment community mental health resources, ED physician preparedness, and post-emergency department risk reduction initiatives to decrease the burden of suicide among children.”

By:

 

Source: https://www.fatherly.com/news/number-emergency-room-visits-kids-suicide-doubled/

 

 

 

I’m Not Broken, But I’m Definitely Glitching

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They’re right. I’m not broken. It’s not that I can’t be fixed. It’s not that I can’t overcome my anxiety. It’s not that there is no hope and I should just be thrown out like the pieces of my favorite porcelain mug that I accidentally dropped. I can be put back together and there’s a great possibility that I will one day return to my former, non-anxiety-filled self.

I’m not broken, but I’m definitely glitching.

definition of the word glitch

I can’t wake up, get myself ready for the day and get things done, without some sort of malfunction. Anxiety has been a constant disruption in my daily life, for years now.

Some days it’s the inability to stop working long enough for a little self-care. Other days, my anxiety level is so high, I have to lay down or cry, or a combination of the two. Then, there are the days when I have errands to run, but have to continuously tell myself that I won’t have a panic attack while we’re on our way to the store, inside of the store, or on the way home from the store.

I’m not broken, but I’m definitely not ok.

My mind’s first reaction to just about any invitation, experience or opportunity is fear. Pure fear. Fear that I’ll have a panic attack in front of people. Fear that they will talk about me. Fear that they will stare. Fear that my kids will witness it. Fear of how far our car will be from wherever we are and whether or not I can get back to it quickly, if I need to. Fear of waiting on a line that might be one minute too long and I’ll have to walk out of the store, because the anticipation of the anxiety attack has already overcome me and I know I can’t come back from that.

I know I’m not broken, but sometimes I don’t believe it.

Every morning, I tell myself that this is not permanent. Nothing in life is. Tomorrow will be better. I will overcome something big today and celebrate my victories, no matter how small. With each victory, every obstacle ahead will seem easier and easier. I don’t have to settle for what anxiety has brought into my days.

I’m not broken. I’m just glitching and glitches can be fixed.

When a computer glitches, we restart or reset it. I just need to restart myself, clear my memory of the thoughts and feelings that seem to be the root of the problem. If I can get rid of whatever combination of factors that created the glitch in the first place, I can restore myself to the time when I didn’t have a care in the world.

But what are they? How do I find them and more importantly, how do I drag them to the trash?

My faith is bigger than my anxiety.

I have faith that one day, those obstacles won’t be an issue anymore.

Fear won’t be an issue anymore.

Anxiety won’t be an issue anymore.

I refuse to believe that anxiety will cause a total system failure. I have too much life left to live. Too much to see. Too many places I want to travel to. Too much to say to too many others like me who are reading this and know exactly what I’m feeling.

We may be glitching, but we aren’t broken.

Heather is the Mom of three and a marketing professional. She enjoys graphic design, writing, photography and making new memories with her family.

When Everyone Abandons You — The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog

A realization came to me in mid-December. Someone I was close to, had spoken to almost every day for a year and a half, began ignoring me. It was easy to notice. I stepped away from all social media not wanting to be reminded that I’m being ignored. Maybe I said something that bothered this […]

via When Everyone Abandons You — The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog

Can’t Stop Worrying? Try Tetris To Ease Your Mind – Maanvi Singh

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If you’ve ever played Tetris whether it was at an old-school Gameboy, or just on your iPhone then you know: It’s 8-bit enchantment. “Years of my life were lost disappearing into a game of Tetris on my Nintendo system,” says Kate Sweeny, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside. But maybe the hours she spent lining those little blocks (“tetriminos”) into perfect rows of 10 weren’t a total waste. Her latest research suggests that Tetris can ease us through periods of anxiety by getting us to a blissfully engrossed mental state that psychologists call “flow.” “The state of flow is one where you’re completely absorbed or engaged in some kind of activity,” Sweeny explains. “You lose your self-awareness, and time is just flying by………

Read more: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/11/05/662212524/cant-stop-worrying-try-tetris-to-ease-your-mind

 

 

 

 

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