Health Anxiety: The Fear of Illness Making People Quit Jobs and Move Home

People who obsessively worry about their health have often been dismissed as hypochondriacs. But for some, coronavirus has fuelled a rise in a debilitating mental health condition known as health anxiety. As Andrew Kersley explores, it can lead to job losses and even suicidal thoughts.

In March 2020, Ben quit his job as a bus driver. Whenever he was off shift he couldn’t stop thinking about how one of his passengers must have had Covid-19 and infected him. Even though he was young and healthy and his chances of serious illness were low, he was fixated on the idea he would become infected and die.

Within a fortnight, Ben had moved out of his family home in Birmingham and into in an empty student house that his friends had left. “I kept thinking about being in a place where no-one was going in or out,” he says.

Despite leaving home and quitting his job, his anxiety about getting infected still dominated his thoughts. “I would wake up and check to see if my body was okay,” he says.

“I gave myself symptoms all the time – if I was tired I’d be completely convinced I had it. I was scared to go to the shops. I just avoided going out and seeing any people at all. It’s all about the ‘what if’ rather than the reality… and no-one can ever tell you that you’ll be fine.”

Ben was experiencing health anxiety.

‘It almost took my life’

While we all sometimes worry about our health, or google symptoms, health anxiety is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) – known as the bible of psychiatry – as a condition in which obsessive fears about health become excessive.

It is defined by compulsively checking for symptoms, researching diseases, obsessing over normal bodily sensations or avoiding anything that could potentially lead to you being exposed to disease.

This little-known, yet widespread condition, has hit more people this year in the wake of the pandemic.

Many have been unable to leave their house or even open windows for fear of infection. Some, like Ben, have quit jobs. Others bleach their house for hours a day. Almost all have been plagued by uncontrollable thoughts about dying from Covid.

“When people say it’s just light anxiety – it almost took my life,” says Cherelle Farrugia, from Cardiff, who runs a YouTube channel about living with health anxiety.

She first developed it three-and-half years ago after finding a small bump and convincing herself she had lymphoma. Once that was ruled out she spiralled through breast cancer, brain tumours and more. She wasn’t just worried about being sick, but certain she was dying and no-one was listening.

“I’m a relatively logical and intelligent person but health anxiety took all logic away from me,” she explains. The constant fixation got so bad she repeatedly ended up at her local mental health crisis centre as it increasingly left her unable to function.

“I became suicidal, which is strange because I was trying to avoid death,” she says. “But it got so bad that I couldn’t live with the thought process anymore. Nothing I did would calm me down.” And the pandemic made things worse.

My partner would do the food shopping and I would sit there on the floor for an hour washing it. There was a real ritual over it
Cherelle Farrugia

“When we first got told about this virus, it was just my worst nightmare,” the 28-year-old says. “I know everybody was inside but I couldn’t even open my window. My partner would do the food shopping and I would sit there on the floor for an hour washing it. There was a real ritual over it.

“It makes you feel like an attention-seeker,” says Cherelle. “It really destroyed my life and I feel very lucky just to be here.”

Cherelle says her anxiety eased over the year because Covid started to feel more “real” and visible to her than the hypothetical illnesses she had previously convinced herself of having, but many others can’t say the same.

‘Enemy you can’t see’

Health anxiety generally covers two areas – fear that you are already sick or fear that you could become sick. During the pandemic, the latter impacted everyone. But like most mental illness, it is a spectrum.

While some people rarely think about it, for others it is all they think about. Yet the number of those experiencing health anxiety has skyrocketed.

Dr Rob Willson, a London-based cognitive behavioural therapist and health anxiety expert, says he has “never had more enquiries” about health anxiety. Another specialist told the BBC he was fully booked for the next few months.

But seeking medical attention doesn’t always ease the anxiety. “Reassurance never reassures, that’s what we always say,” explains clinical psychologist Dr Marianne Trent, who runs a private mental health practice in Coventry. “Their world gets very small, but their distress is still very high.”

When you’re dealing with an enemy that you can’t see it’s hard to turn that threat radar down
Dr Marianne Trent
Clinical psychologist

Coronavirus in particular poses problems for those with health anxiety. Symptoms like shortness of breath can be symptomatic of both anxiety and Covid, and the two can create a vicious cycle. The more anxious you become the more “evidence” you have that you are sick.

Plus there’s the uncertainty over infection. “When you’re dealing with an enemy that you can’t see it’s hard to turn that threat radar down,” says Dr Trent. For Myra Ali, in north London, the past 12 months have felt very long. “I haven’t really been out the house for a year,” she says. “All we’ve heard is how easily you can catch Covid, so it’s embedded in your mind.”

The 33-year-old is low risk, but an intense fear about getting hospitalized with Covid controlled her thoughts. She even put off surgery for a chronic condition as a result. Just ordering a takeaway one night was enough to trigger an episode. “The next day I had to phone a doctor because I kept thinking ‘what if I’m getting symptoms?’.”

The way we talk about health anxiety in society only makes it worse. Terms like hypochondriac can dismiss those who worry too much about their health, and few people are aware that health anxiety is a genuine condition.

That attitude even filters into the medical community and Dr Willson says it can be difficult to get help from doctors due to their own negative perception of it. The condition was previously called hypochondriasis, but the stigma drove professionals to call it health anxiety instead.

Dr Willson, who co-authored a book on the condition, says there is a shortage of doctors specializing in it even though the condition can have a life-changing impact. Two of his patients have taken their own lives and he says it dominates the lives of many others.

But he, along with Dr Trent, agreed health anxiety could be managed through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a talking therapy which helps change the way you think and behave as well as exposure therapy, where, with professional support, people slowly expose themselves to the things making them anxious – like going outside – in small doses.

Dr Trent says she appreciates the detrimental impact it can have. “It’s real life and death stuff. It can definitely be as debilitating as any other mental health condition.”As society opens up, life may resume for many, but for those with health anxiety a full return to normality is unlikely. It is thought the number of health anxiety patients will continue to rise long after the pandemic ends.

Dr Willson says: “It has been long enough for them to develop habits of checking for symptoms, googling and obsessing. The brain is not quick to give up those kind of habits.” If you need any advice about health anxiety, the NHS has a dedicated page containing tips and guidance, or you can contact charities including Anxiety UK, Mind or Rethink Mental Illness.

Source: Health anxiety: The fear of illness making people quit jobs and move home – BBC News


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Brain Fog: How Trauma, Uncertainty and Isolation Have Affected Our Minds and Memory

After a year of lockdown, many of us are finding it hard to think clearly, or remember what happened when. Neuroscientists and behavioural experts explain why

Before the pandemic, psychoanalyst Josh Cohen’s patients might come into his consulting room, lie down on the couch and talk about the traffic or the weather, or the rude person on the tube. Now they appear on his computer screen and tell him about brain fog. They talk with urgency of feeling unable to concentrate in meetings, to read, to follow intricately plotted television programms.

“There’s this sense of debilitation, of losing ordinary facility with everyday life; a forgetfulness and a kind of deskilling,” says Cohen, author of the self-help book How to Live. What to Do. Although restrictions are now easing across the UK, with greater freedom to circulate and socialize, he says lockdown for many of us has been “a contraction of life, and an almost parallel contraction of mental capacity”.

This dulled, useless state of mind – epitomized by the act of going into a room and then forgetting why we are there – is so boring, so lifeless. But researchers believe it is far more interesting than it feels: even that this common experience can be explained by cutting-edge neuroscience theories, and that studying it could further scientific understanding of the brain and how it changes.

I ask Jon Simons, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, could it really be something “science”? “Yes, it’s definitely something science – and it’s helpful to understand that this feeling isn’t unusual or weird,” he says. “There isn’t something wrong with us. It’s a completely normal reaction to this quite traumatic experience we’ve collectively had over the last 12 months or so.”

What we call brain fog, Catherine Loveday, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Westminster, calls poor “cognitive function”. That covers “everything from our memory, our attention and our ability to problem-solve to our capacity to be creative. Essentially, it’s thinking.” And recently, she’s heard a lot of complaints about it: “Because I’m a memory scientist, so many people are telling me their memory is really poor, and reporting this cognitive fog,” she says.

She knows of only two studies exploring the phenomenon as it relates to lockdown (as opposed to what some people report as a symptom of Covid-19, or long Covid): one from Italy, in which participants subjectively reported these sorts of problems with attention, time perception and organisation; another in Scotland which objectively measured participants’ cognitive function across a range of tasks at particular times during the first lockdown and into the summer. Results showed that people performed worse when lockdown started, but improved as restrictions loosened, with those who continued shielding improving more slowly than those who went out more.

Loveday and Simons are not surprised. Given the isolation and stasis we have had to endure until very recently, these complaints are exactly what they expected – and they provide the opportunity to test their theories as to why such brain fog might come about. There is no one explanation, no single source, Simons says: “There are bound to be a lot of different factors that are coming together, interacting with each other, to cause these memory impairments, attentional deficits and other processing difficulties.”

One powerful factor could be the fact that everything is so samey. Loveday explains that the brain is stimulated by the new, the different, and this is known as the orienting response: “From the minute we’re born – in fact, from before we’re born – when there is a new stimulus, a baby will turn its head towards it. And if as adults we are watching a boring lecture and someone walks into the room, it will stir our brain back into action.”

Most of us are likely to feel that nobody new has walked into our room for quite some time, which might help to explain this sluggish feeling neurologically: “We have effectively evolved to stop paying attention when nothing changes, but to pay particular attention when things do change,” she says.

Loveday suggests that if we can attend a work meeting by phone while walking in a park, we might find we are more awake and better able to concentrate, thanks to the changing scenery and the exercise; she is recording some lectures as podcasts, rather than videos, so students can walk while listening.

She also suggests spending time in different rooms at home – or if you only have one room, try “changing what the room looks like. I’m not saying redecorate – but you could change the pictures on the walls or move things around for variety, even in the smallest space.”

The blending of one day into the next with no commute, no change of scene, no change of cast, could also have an important impact on the way the brain processes memories, Simons explains. Experiences under lockdown lack “distinctiveness” – a crucial factor in “pattern separation”. This process, which takes place in the hippocampus, at the centre of the brain, allows individual memories to be successfully encoded, ensuring there are few overlapping features, so we can distinguish one memory from another and retrieve them efficiently.

The fuggy, confused sensation that many of us will recognize, of not being able to remember whether something happened last week or last month, may well be with us for a while, Simons says: “Our memories are going to be so difficult to differentiate. It’s highly likely that in a year or two, we’re still going to look back on some particular event from this last year and say, when on earth did that happen?”

Perhaps one of the most important features of this period for brain fog has been what Loveday calls the “degraded social interaction” we have endured. “It’s not the same as natural social interaction that we would have,” she says. “Our brains wake up in the presence of other people – being with others is stimulating.”

We each have our own optimum level of stimulation – some might feel better able to function in lockdown with less socialising; others are left feeling dozy, deadened. Loveday is investigating the science of how levels of social interaction, among other factors, have affected memory function in lockdown. She also wonders if our alternative to face-to-face communication – platforms such as Zoom – could have an impact on concentration and attention.

She theorises – and is conducting a study to explore this – that the lower audio-visual quality could “create a bigger cognitive load for the brain, which has to fill in the gaps, so you have to concentrate much harder.” If this is more cognitively demanding, as she thinks, we could be left feeling foggier, with “less brain space available to actually listen to what people are saying and process it, or to concentrate on anything else.”

Carmine Pariante, professor of biological psychiatry at King’s College London, is also intrigued by brain fog. “It’s a common experience, but it’s very complex,” he says. “I think it is the cognitive equivalent of feeling emotionally distressed; it’s almost the way the brain expresses sadness, beyond the emotion.” He takes a psycho-neuro-immuno-endocrinological approach to the phenomenon – which is even more fascinating than it is difficult to say. He believes we need to think about the mind, the brain, the immune and the hormonal systems to understand the various mental and physical processes that might underlie this lockdown haze, which he sees as a consequence of stress.

We might all agree that the uncertainty of the last year has been quite stressful – more so for some than for others. When our mind appraises a situation as stressful, Pariante explains, our brain immediately transmits the message to our immune and endocrine systems. These systems respond in exactly the same way they did in early humans two million years ago on the African savannah, when stress did not relate to home schooling, but to fear of being eaten by a large animal.

The heart beats faster so we can run away, inflammation is initiated by the immune system to protect against bacterial infection in case we are bitten, the hormone cortisol is released to focus our attention on the predator in front of us and nothing else. Studies have demonstrated that a dose of cortisol will lower a person’s attention, concentration and memory for their immediate environment. Pariante explains: “This fog that people feel is just one manifestation of this mechanism. We’ve lost the function of these mechanisms, but they are still there.” Useful for fighting a lion – not for remembering where we put our glasses.

When I have experienced brain fog, I have seen it as a distraction, a kind of laziness, and tried to push through, to force myself to concentrate. But listening to Loveday, Simons and Pariante, I’m starting to think about it differently; perhaps brain fog is a signal we should listen to. “Absolutely, I think it’s exactly that,” says Pariante. “It’s our body and our brain telling us that we’re pushing it too much at the moment. It’s definitely a signal – an alarm bell.” When we hear this alarm, he says, we should stop and ask ourselves, “Why is my brain fog worse today than yesterday?” – and take as much time off as we can, rather than pushing ourselves harder and risking further emotional suffering, and even burnout.

For Cohen, the phenomenon of brain fog is an experience of one of the most disturbing aspects of the unconscious. He talks of Freud’s theory of drives – the idea that we have one force inside us that propels us towards life; another that pulls us towards death. The life drive, Cohen explains, impels us to create, make connections with others, seek “the expansion of life”. The death drive, by contrast, urges “a kind of contraction. It’s a move away from life and into a kind of stasis or entropy”. Lockdown – which, paradoxically, has done so much to preserve life – is like the death drive made lifestyle.

With brain fog, he says, we are seeing “an atrophy of liveliness. People are finding themselves to be more sluggish, that their physical and mental weight is somehow heavier, it’s hard to carry around – to drag.” Freud has a word for this: trägheit – translated as a “sluggishness”, but which Cohen says literally translates as “draggyness”. We could understand brain fog as an encounter with our death drive – with the part of us which, in Cohen’s words, is “going in the opposite direction of awareness and sparkiness, and in the direction of inanimacy and shutting down”.

This brings to mind another psychoanalyst: Wilfred Bion. He theorised that we have – at some moments – a will to know something about ourselves and our lives, even when that knowledge is profoundly painful. This, he called being in “K”. But there is also a powerful will not to know, a wish to defend against this awareness so that we can continue to live cosseted by lies; this is to be in “–K” (spoken as “minus K”).

I wonder if the pandemic has been a reality some of us feel is too horrific to bear. The uncertainty, the deaths, the trauma, the precarity; perhaps we have unconsciously chosen to live in the misty, murky brain fog of –K rather than to face, to suffer, the true pain and horror of our situation. Perhaps we are having problems with our thinking because the truth of the experience, for many of us, is simply unthinkable.

I ask Simons if, after the pandemic, he thinks the structure of our brains will look different on a brain scan: “Probably not,” he says. For some of us, brain fog will be a temporary state, and will clear as we begin to live more varied lives. But, he says, “It’s possible for some people – and we are particularly concerned about older adults – that where there is natural neurological decline, it will be accelerated.”

Simons and a team of colleagues are running a study to investigate the impact of lockdown on memory in people aged over 65 – participants from a memory study that took place shortly before the pandemic, who have now agreed to sit the same tests a year on, and answer questions about life in the interim.

One aim of this study is to test the hypothesis of cognitive reserve – the idea that having a rich and varied social life, filled with intellectual stimulation, challenging, novel experiences and fulfilling relationships, might help to keep the brain stimulated and protect against age-related cognitive decline. Simons’ advice to us all is to get out into the world, to have as rich and varied experiences and interactions as we can, to maximize our cognitive reserve within the remaining restrictions.

The more we do, the more the brain fog should clear, he says: “We all experience grief, times in our lives where we feel like we can’t function at all,” he says. “These things are mercifully temporary, and we do recover.”


Source: Brain fog: how trauma, uncertainty and isolation have affected our minds and memory | Health & wellbeing | The Guardian


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How Stoicism Cures Anger

One of the most celebrated physicians and medical researchers of the ancient world, Galen of Pergamon, wrote a book about mental illness, called On Passions and Errors of the Soul. The passion considered most dangerous by Galen and other ancient writers is anger. That’s because anger is, in a sense, the most interpersonal of emotions. It poses a threat not only to the angry individuals themselves but to others around them, and even to society as a whole.

Galen’s most striking case study for anger is that of the Emperor Hadrian, who had a violent temper tantrum one day because an unlucky slave did something to annoy him. Hadrian was writing at the time and happened to have a stylus in his hand — the Roman equivalent of a fountain pen. In a moment of madness, he stabbed the slave right in the eye with it, blinding him.

Later, when Hadrian had calmed down, and was feeling highly ashamed of himself, he summoned the man and asked what he could do to make amends. The slave was silent for quite a long time but eventually found the courage to speak frankly to the emperor: “All I want”, he said, “is my eye back.”

The consequences of anger are often very destructive. Sometimes they cannot be reversed. Even the most powerful man in the world may be unable to undo the harm he’s done in a fit of violent rage.


Galen is famous in his own right but he also happens to have been court physician to an even more famous historical figure, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. (You might have seen Marcus Aurelius portrayed by Richard Harris in the Ridley Scott movie Gladiator, although that’s going back a few years now.) Marcus is well-known today, though, as the author of one of the most influential self-help classics of all time, a book which we call The Meditations.

He was the last famous Stoic philosopher of antiquity. Like Galen, the Stoics also believed that anger is one of the biggest psychological threats that we face. In fact, Marcus mentions overcoming anger in the very first sentence of The Meditations, and it’s one of the main themes running through the rest of his much-loved book.

The Stoics agreed with Galen that we should take care to contemplate the dangerous consequences of anger, picturing them in our mind’s eye. As we get older, and hopefully wiser, we can look back on our lives in this way, and learn from our experience. What have been the consequences of our own anger in the past? How has the anger of others affected our lives or the lives of those we care about?

Pursuit of Wonder New Pursuit of Wonder book: Stoicism is a potent ancient philosophy that remains extremely important in today’s age. In this video, we explore and interpret some of Stoicism’s teachings in attempt to better understand how we can try to find some happiness in a world of increasingly overt sadness, anxiety, and dissatisfaction. If you are interested in supporting the channel, you can contribute to our Patreon here: Or visit the shop here: Follow Pursuit of Wonder on: Instagram at:… Facebook at: Recommended readings:  Letters From A Stoic by Seneca: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius:

The Stoics also liked to discourage anger by contemplating its consequences closer to home: how it contorts our face. Anger is ugly and, in a sense, unnatural, because, as though in a trance, we seem to abandon reason when we’re in the throes of rage. We’re thinking creatures and yet when anger takes control of us we become mindless and stop thinking. We’re therefore less human when enraged — that’s what the Stoics found most unnatural about it. Anger, hatred, and the desire for revenge, potentially turn us into animals.

One of the most famous Stoic slogans says that: Anger does us more harm than the things about which we’re angry. We eat our own hearts when we give in to anger, as philosophers used to say. It’s self-destructive. The consequences of our anger might harm others but we also harm ourselves. Modern research in cognitive psychology has shown that people who are very angry tend to underestimate risk. For that reason, they often expose themselves to danger. Anger makes us vulnerable, in other words.

That’s why Mohammed Ali tried to provoke George Foreman, for example, during the Rumble in the Jungle by taunting him in the boxing ring. Ali realized that anger was Foreman’s greatest weakness. When Foreman became angry he became reckless, threw too many punches, tired himself out, let his guard down, and made himself vulnerable as a result. He underestimated the risk of exhausting himself early in the fight.

The consequences of yielding to our anger can be harmful. Ask George Foreman — he ended up flat on his back, handing a knockout victory to Ali, and the heavyweight championship of the world. However, the Stoics were actually concerned about an even deeper kind of injury: the harm that anger does to our very character. They called anger “temporary madness”, and they were right.

In addition to causing us to underestimate risk, strong emotions such as anger introduce many cognitive biases into our thinking. We start to make sweeping generalizations, we jump prematurely to conclusions, we struggle to empathize with others or to understand their motives accurately, and our problem-solving abilities are seriously impaired.

Moderate Anger

Even in the ancient world, there were those who tried to argue that, in moderation, anger could be useful. Most notably, the followers of Aristotle believed that anger sometimes helps to motivate us to do good things such as addressing genuine injustice in society. We call this righteous anger. The problem with this idea is that every tyrant, every brutal dictator, believes his anger is justified and righteous.

On the other hand, we can all think of examples of individuals, such as Gandhi, who achieved social change through peaceful means, without giving way to feelings of anger. Anger clearly isn’t necessary as a form of motivation. Anything anger can do, love and reason can arguably do better. For instance, a soldier motivated by anger may fight very courageously against an enemy he hates.

However, so may one without hatred and anger, who fights only to defend the country, and kinsmen, that he loves. Even if you believe that anger can sometimes be helpful, it’s clearly not the only option, and the motivation it provides comes at a terrible cost. Anger blinds us and makes us stupider, by undermining our ability to think clearly and make rational decisions about complex social problems.

Get angry — do stupid things faster and with more energy!

People who say that anger motivates them remind me of the Internet meme that says: Drink coffee — do stupid things faster and with more energy! Getting angry motivates you, sure, by making you do stupid things faster and with more energy. We can’t think clearly when we’re angry, though. That’s why we make mistakes and end up doing things we regret later.

Think about it this way. If you’re trying to fix a leaking tap and bang your thumb with a spanner, you’ll maybe get all angry and frustrated. Suddenly it becomes ten times harder to do what should be a really simple repair job. If you don’t take a break to calm down, you’ll perhaps end up losing your temper and throwing the spanner across the room. We can’t even fix a broken tap when we’re angry. How much more difficult, though, is it to fix a broken relationship, or a broken society?

The most difficult problems we face in life are the ones involving other people — and that’s where being motivated by anger can become particularly dangerous. The fact is that very few complex social problems, throughout history, have ever actually been solved, in the long-run, by angry mobs. That’s because anger seriously impairs our ability to engage in rational decision-making and problem-solving.

Worse, anger has a tendency to escalate. People who end up losing their temper, and regretting it, almost always started off by thinking they were on safe ground indulging in feelings of moderate anger. They’re playing with fire because anger likes to deceive us into thinking that it’s under our control but we all know how quickly it can spiral out of control once it gets started.

Stoic Remedies

So what do the Stoic philosophers think we should do about it? Well, of all the schools of ancient philosophy, Stoicism is the one that placed the most emphasis on self-help and psychotherapy. Although many people assume that psychotherapy is a modern concept that’s just plain wrong. The Stoics thought of philosophy as a form of therapy, therapeia in Greek, therapy for the soul or psyche.

They wrote influential books on the subject such as the Therapeutics of Chrysippus, the third head of the school. Most of these books are sadly lost today. Nevertheless, we do have many scattered references to their therapy techniques and even an entire book by Seneca called On Anger, which describes in great detail Stoic psychotherapy for this particular problem. Indeed, Stoicism was the original philosophical inspiration for cognitive-behavioural therapy or CBT, the leading evidence-based form of modern psychotherapy.

Now, the Stoics describe many techniques for managing anger. At one point, Marcus Aurelius actually gives a list of ten different strategies. They often bear a striking resemblance to methods found in modern cognitive-behavioural therapy. For example, one of the best-known and most fundamental Stoic techniques is simply to remind yourself “It’s not things that upset us but rather our opinions about them.” This is the basic idea that cognitive therapy inherited from Stoicism and in modern psychology we call it the cognitive theory of emotion — it says that our emotions, including anger, are shaped largely by corresponding, underlying beliefs.

When a therapy client arrives for their first session they’ll often spend a while describing how negative feelings like anger are causing them problems in life and making them miserable. They explain that anger is ruining their health, affecting their work, damaging their relationships, and so on. As they’re listing all the problems caused by their anger, it seems glaringly obvious why they’re desperate to change.

Finally, though, in total frustration, they’ll say “I know my anger is causing all of these problems, and that it doesn’t make any sense, but I can’t help it, it’s just how I feel!” So they’re stuck — there’s nothing they can do to help themselves. A good cognitive therapist would lean forward, smiling, at that point and reply: “Yes but it’s not just how you feel, is it? — it’s also how you think!”

That’s important because most of our thoughts are propositional — meaning they’re either true or false. Once we recognize that our feelings are caused by our thinking we gain more control. We can question the evidence for and against the thoughts that are making us angry, check them against the facts of our experience, highlight contradictions in our thinking, and look for alternative perspectives on the same events, which might be more rational, realistic, and helpful.

In other words, when we really understand the cognitive theory of emotion, it suddenly opens up a whole toolbox of cognitive therapy techniques for us. That’s a big deal because it often seems difficult, or even impossible, to change strong emotions such as anger directly. However, it can be easier to change angry emotions, indirectly, by learning to question our angry thoughts and beliefs.

It’s not other people who make us angry, therefore, but rather our opinions about them, especially our strongly-held value judgments. Marcus Aurelius tends to describe this as separating our opinions from the external events, or people, to which they refer. The Stoics like to follow this by asking themselves how someone wiser and more patient would respond to the same situation. They actually asked themselves: what would Socrates do? We might ask: what would Marcus Aurelius do?

However, the Stoics realized that in many cases it’s already difficult to think clearly once we’re in the grip of a violent passion, such as anger. So they recommend postponing our response until we’ve had time to calm down. This is actually a very ancient technique, which goes all the way back to the pre-Socratic philosophers, known as the Pythagoreans. In modern anger management, we call it the “time out” strategy. If you can walk away from an argument, for example, and wait until you’ve settled down again it’s easier to think things through more rationally and make better decisions about how to respond.


For Marcus Aurelius, as for other Stoics, the most important thing was a sense of connectedness. Humans were clearly built for cooperation, he says, like pairs of feet, hands, eyelids, or jaws working together. Acting against one another’s interests is contrary to nature, he adds, and it is against nature to become angry with our neighbour or to desert them.

Stoics were ethical cosmopolitans, in other words, who saw the whole of humankind as fellow-citizens of the cosmos. When we’re angry, though, we alienate ourselves from other people. The Stoics tried to conquer anger precisely because they wanted to restore our sense of oneness.

Marcus Aurelius mentions overcoming anger in the very first sentence of The Meditations…

Source: How Stoicism Cures Anger – The Good Men Project



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[…] program for student-athletes titled a “Culture of Care” which focused on sexual assault prevention, mental health, diversity and inclusion and secured an endowment fund to support these efforts and programming […]
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Helping Adolescents Live Extraordinary Lives in Recovery: Phoenix House Texas Awarded $100,000 Grant by The Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health
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[…] She gives advice on approaches to support children’s wellbeing and mental health […]
[…] be uniquely positioned to contribute to our mission to provide individuals who can benefit from mental health but may not  […]
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Friend Family Health Center: Home – Today
It’s who we are. It’s what we do. Friend Health (formerly Friend Family Health Center) brings more than 65 years of healthcare experience to you and the community. Our trusted healthcare professionals are here to serve everyone, providing adult medicine, women’s health, children’s health, mental health (including psychiatry), substance use disorder, and dental services.
Board Leadership Institute 2021 | Ohio School Boards Association
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[…] therapist?  I’ve always felt drawn to being a therapist, however as a teenager I struggled with my mental health and couldn’t imagine feeling strong enough to support others […] What you do for your own mental health?  Most days I practice gentle yoga, meditation and I’ll move my body in some way, usually following […] I also keep in regular contact with friends and family, connection is hugely important for mental health, especially during the pandemic […]
Mental Health Survival Kit, Chapter 2: Is Psychiatry Evidence Based? (Part 4) – Mad In America – Today
Peter Gøtzsche: It requires extraordinary mental gymnastics by psychiatrists to conclude that neuroleptics protect against death.
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[…] I would also encourage all nonprofit staff and leadership to be intentional about supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their staff as a critical strategic priority, communications folks included […] Mental health, caretaking responsibilities, and household obligations are all part of life and must no longer b […]
Guardian Ad Litem I | Government Jobs
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Ways to Stay Connected with Loved Ones During Hospital Stays – Today
[…] Unfortunately, that can lead to issues with your emotional and mental health […] this pandemic, and isolation has been shown to negatively affect the immune system and can cause mental health issues like depression or anxiety […] If you’re truly struggling with loneliness and isolation, talking with a mental health professional can help […]
#DiverseEd – Virtual IV (Early Career Teachers) Tickets, Sat 10 Apr 2021 at 08:45
[…] and Autism Halil Tamgumus – Ethnicity in the Curriculum Julie Cassiano – Working in Schools with Mental Health Domini Leong – Decolonising the Curriculum Paulina Tervo – The Power of Multiple Perspective […]
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Yoga in healing Stress, Depression, and Trauma | by Sirisha Reddy | ILLUMINATION-Curated | Mar, 2021 – Today
[…] Peterson(Mental health expert) ] “Yoga adds years to your life and life to your years” quoted Alan Finger, a yoga legend […] we shall discuss the role of yoga in healing a person, how it can contribute to bettering one’s mental health, reduction of stress, also including the innumerous physical health benefits it offers […] Yoga is a word that means union, and this simple word itself holds the key to why yoga is good for mental health […]
Digital Yiddish Theatre Project – Today
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Gavvia Brain | Gavvia Brain Enhancer | What is Gavvia Brain Enhancer? – Today
[…] Gavvia Brain Supplement is a water-soluble product made to restore your mental health and get you performing above average standards […]
COVID-19 Resource Centre
[…] antirheumatics in patients with COVID-19 The Lancet RheumatologyPublished: March 30, 2021 COVID-19 mental health impact and responses in low-income and middle-income countries: reimagining global mental health The Lancet PsychiatryPublished: February 24, 2021 What social media told us in the time o […]
The growing demand for prehospital critical care – Today
[…] Contributing factors include an ageing population, increasing mental health issues, availability of primary care services and alcohol-related concerns […] to include human factors, team working, and broad knowledge of specialist practice such as acute mental health crises, major incident response ensures that they are able to play a much wider role in supportin […]
Mapping Ryerson’s COVID-19 research – Research and Innovation
Ryerson researchers have been at the forefront of responding to the global health crisis of COVID-19, whether it’s pivoting ongoing research or undertaking entirely new projects. From examining social impacts and the effects on our mental health, to advancing policy, to tracking the virus and developing new technologies, our researchers are meeting the many challenges presented by the pandemic.  Hover over the flashing dots in the map below to begin, click through to read the articles.
Youth Loneliness – Community First Yorkshire – Today
[…] Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, on behalf of local authorities supporting wellbeing and mental health for young people in the county […]
Impacts of remote working and the future of the office | BCI
[…] Those that failed to provide these regular updates noted a profound negative effect on staff mental health and wellbeing, something discussed at length in the 2021 BCI Horizon Scan Report (Link) […]   People Remote working has reduced sickness levels but brought mental health and wellbeing challenges […] ” All of this leads to what has become a major talking point of the last 12 months – mental health. Condon described that “there have been a lot of mental health challenges and that there will be long term repercussions for this” whilst Sood added, “many staf […]
GoGuardian Offers Up Free Mental Health Services To Schools –
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Canada supports Rapid Housing in British Columbia | CMHC
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[…] focus on understanding stress and anxiety; managing personal mental wellbeing; how to talk about mental health; seeking support and supporting others […] calls to its Helpline (03000 111 999) from the farming community over the past year that contain a mental health component, such as stress or anxiety […] professional counselling through its Share the Load service (0800 587 4262) and high demand for its Mental Health Awareness Training […]
[…] in severe mental illness: DGPPN-S3-guideline: evidence, recommendations and challenges for mental health service research The evidence for physical activity in the management of major mental illnesses: […] de leur sensibilisation durant les études : Physiotherapy Students’ Attitudes toward Psychiatry and Mental Health: A Cross-Sectional Study The International Council of Physiotherapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health | IC-PPMH, organisation appartenant à la World Physiotherapy sur la thématique spécifique de l […]
NY is latest state to legalize recreational marijuana
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(P) Transforming HR: How to translate Purpose into People Strategies – Key Learnings
[…] it into your people’s lives Listen to your colleagues, be transparent and ask for feedback Make the mental health of the employees a top priority as well Let your people go out as often as possible The next even […]
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[…] Essential In A Changing World with broadcaster Fearne Cotton The pandemic has shone a huge light on mental health, there is so much we are waking up to yet often so little focus on your mental health […]
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Your Texas Benefits – Today
[…] LEARN MORE Support Services Helps people with daily living needs, caregivers, and people with mental health, drug or alcohol issues […]
The impact of COVID-19 on mental, neurological and substance use services: results of a rapid assessment in the African Region
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John Doak has sentence cut after killing son by shaking him
[…] he was being investigated for murder had a catastrophic effect on him in terms of undermining his mental health […]
Meghan Markle & Prince Harry Have No Regrets About Leaving Royal Life – Today
[…] away from the British media, and the Sussexes have expressed that the move was necessary for their mental health and wellbeing […] Netflix and Spotify, he also recently announced he’s accepted a job at BetterUp, a coaching and mental health company, and is a commissioner for the Aspen Institute’s new Commission on Information Disorder […]
Top psych stories of March: Alcohol withdrawal during pandemic, CBD for severe anxiety
[…] wellbeing declined significantly during 2020, global report finds A report that outlined global mental health during 2020 found societal circumstance and behavior had an “enormous impact” on mental wellbeing […]
Studies show increased risk of heart rhythm problems with seizure and mental health medicine lamotrigine (Lamictal) in patients with heart disease | FDA
[…] rhythm problems, called arrhythmias, in patients with heart disease who are taking the seizure and mental health medicine lamotrigine (Lamictal) […]   It may also be used as maintenance treatment in patients with the mental health condition bipolar disorder to help delay the occurrence of mood episodes such as depression, mania, […] your prescriber because stopping lamotrigine can lead to uncontrolled seizures, or new or worsening mental health problems […]
COU 104A Applied Counselling Assignment Help, Homework Help
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[…] As with much of the population, this did begin to negatively influence Mum’s mental health […]
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[…] ” In the hope of helping her mental health, Paris was eventually sent to a boarding school in Utah but sadly suffered alleged abuse and wa […]
March 2021 Newsletter – Today
[…] needs security to their well-being, as indicated by employment status, academic engagement, and mental health […]
Anne Sosin: Don’t blame young Vermonters for rising Covid-19 rates; protect them – Today
[…] and still at risk: All of us see the impacts of a year of lost rituals and social time on the mental health and well-being of young people around us […] or chronic disease, among young people upend our thinking on easy trade-offs between physical and mental health […]   Rejecting false trade-offs between physical and mental health: It’s time to stop blaming young Vermonters for the state’s swelling Covid-19 epidemic and enac […]
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[…] told how the defendant had a “difficult start in life” with a “disruptive childhood” and said his mental health conditions should be taken into consideration, including ADHD, depression and anxiety […]
Carter Center and Rice’s Baker Institute launch panel discussion series on US election reform – Today
[…] advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care […]
Announces New Reporting Teams for South and Southwest Units —
[…] students for vaping, highlighted the state’s role in remote learning failures and drew attention to mental health challenges among young children […]
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[…] When we realize that our new reading habits are damaging our understanding of the world and our mental health, we can take our course […]
Subversive Appeasement is No Way to ‘Save the Second’
[…] meaning those on watchlists, those “Lautenberged” out of their rights, veterans, those whose mental health is questioned – and generally meaning those who have not even been charged with a crime in man […]
Rapid Housing Initiative Will Exceed Targets By Creating More Than 4,700 New Homes
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[…] We need medical and other professionals to address the mental health and substance use issues that often prevent our unhoused neighbors from seeking housing or othe […]
Schools abuse helpline and review launched
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[…] Read more: ‘Emotional turmoil’: Managing mental health amid ongoing anti-Asian hate She said while driving on Tuesday evening, she spotted the man agai […]
Psychologist | Diversified Staffing Services
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Lady Gaga Teams Up With Dom Pérignon – – Today
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[…] This research was supported by by the National Institute for Mental Health (R01MH115042 to TJB) and the Department of Defense (a National Defense Science and Engineerin […]
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Loneliness Is a Public Health Problem: This Low-Tech Intervention Can Help

Loneliness is not just a feeling; it is also a public health problem that has been linked to increased risk of mental health issues, heart disease and even death. With rates of loneliness on the rise in the U. S. and around the world, people are addressing this crisis using everything from companion robots to social networking sites and apps. A new study in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that a better solution may lie in a much older, more ubiquitous form of technology: phone calls.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced people into isolation, separating them from friends, co-workers and loved ones, experts were beginning to consider loneliness an epidemic—one affecting an estimated three out of five Americans. A study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), published last year, recognizes the health risks social isolation and loneliness present—and the limited interventions available to address them.

“There is a lot of variability in terms of the types of interventions, the level of evidence to support them and the rigor of evidence,” says Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, who was a member of the NASEM committee that published the report.

Some potential solutions, such as grassroots-based pen-pal programs for socially isolated adults, sound promising based on anecdotal evidence, but researchers have not adequately studied them. Other experiments are still ongoing: Holt-Lunstad, in collaboration with the social-networking service Nextdoor and researchers in the U.K. and Australia, conducted a study (currently being prepared for publication) that suggests that performing small acts of kindness for neighbors reduced the likelihood of feeling lonely and socially isolated.

Now a new paper published in JAMA Psychiatry shows that a program of phone calls focused on empathetic conversation can help. Over the course of four weeks, the experiment saw an overall reduction in symptoms of loneliness, depression and anxiety in at-risk adults aged 27 to 101. “It makes sense,” says Linda Fried, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, who was not involved in the study. “In an emergency time like the pandemic, phone calls can make a big difference in allaying feelings of fright and anxiety.”

“A lot of care went into designing the protocol so that it was all about the person at the other end,” says Maninder Kahlon, lead author of the study and executive director of Factor Health, an organization for developing health care programs at the University of Texas at Austin. For example, the experiment customized each person’s program depending on how frequently they wanted to receive calls—from two to five times per week—and the best time of day for them to talk.

The researchers also considered how to make the phone conversations more empathetic. Steven Tomlinson, co-author of the study and an associate professor of leadership and administration at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Tex., drew on his experiences reviewing successful sales calls to identify which variables could be applied to the intervention to help callers connect with other people.

These characteristics included asking open questions, making one point at a time to allow the call receiver to talk and following up on “clues” in the conversation to demonstrate understanding. Instead of writing a script, the researchers trained 16 callers, aged 17 to 23, in these techniques and instructed them to discuss any topic the call receiver wanted to talk about, such as an ongoing home-improvement project. “It’s not just calling up on people to check in,” Kahlon says. “It’s the deliberate thinking about how you build trust.”

Although it remains unclear if the effects last beyond the four-week study period, the researchers hope the study serves as a model for an ongoing program. If health care systems and public health agencies start building a workforce of empathetic callers, it could do more than alleviate loneliness, Kahlon suggests. Similar programs might help people with mild to moderate symptoms of depression and anxiety and complement patients’ management of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

A phone-based intervention involving layperson callers would be accessible and scalable, but it would still require callers to undergo training and take on a lot of work. “It’s important that [the intervention] is simple and intuitive,” Kahlon says, but “simple does not mean easy.” Holt-Lunstad, who was not involved in the new study, also points out that loneliness has different sources and thus may need varying solutions. “One approach may not be appropriate for all, particularly if it’s not sensitive to the underlying causes,” Holt-Lunstad says. “Getting a phone call may work for one person, but participating in a group activity may be better for others.”

COVID has emphasized the need to address growing feelings of loneliness and isolation. For instance, Japan recently appointed a minister of loneliness in the wake of increasing rates of suicide in the country; the U.K. created a similar official position in 2018. “It may take some time to understand the long-term effects of the pandemic [on loneliness and social isolation],” Holt-Lunstad says. “One of the key takeaways from this past year is there is greater awareness of how important social connection is for our well-being.”

By Kasra Zarei

Source: Loneliness Is a Public Health Problem: This Low-Tech Intervention Can Help – Scientific American



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The people’s ambassadress: the forgotten diplomacy of Ivy Litvinov | Aeon Essays – Today
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[…] produced by Children’s Commissioner for Wales Professor Sally Holland stated that: Isolation and loneliness will lead young children to become involved in dangerous predicaments as their intrigue is raised […]
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As Pandemic Fatigue Sets In at Work, Employers Try to Help

People are tired. Between a global pandemic, economic crisis, social unrest, & political upheaval, the past year has been physically and emotionally draining for just about everyone, and perhaps most for essential workers.

Across industries, workers struggling with pandemic fatigue are facing burnout more than ever. For leaders, keeping these employees engaged and motivated is a challenge in itself. While some leaders are turning to incentives like gift cards and cash to help support employees, others are taking a softer approach, investing in relationships and focusing on workplace communication.

Money Talks

When the pandemic began, the hospitality industry fell off a cliff, says Liz Neumark, founder and CEO of Great Performances, a catering company in New York City. She knew keeping everyone employed would be difficult until her business could find another source of revenue apart from events, which eventually came in the form of preparing meals for essential workers and people unable to quarantine at home. While some of her employees, such as those in sales or event production, saw salary reductions, chefs, kitchen staff, and other employees making food for essential workers kept their full salaries and got help with transportation as well.  

The founders of P. Terry’s, an Austin, Texas-based fast-food restaurant chain, give employees gift cards and cash to help pay for groceries and offer them interest-free loans. They also incentivize employees to participate in community and civic causes, including paying hourly wages for volunteer work.

Justin Spannuth, chief operating officer of Unique Snacks, a sixth-generation, family-operated hard pretzel maker in Reading, Pennsylvania, increased hourly wages by $2 for all 85 of his employees. The company also hired additional temporary employees to provide a backup workforce. Spannuth says the move helped persuade employees with possible symptoms to stay at home by easing the guilt that employees can have about not coming in and potentially increasing the workload on their colleagues. 

“The last thing we wanted our employees to do was get worn out from working too many hours and then have their immune system compromised because of it,” says Spannuth.

Helping Employees Connect

Andrea Ahern, vice president of Mid Florida Material Handling, a material handling company in Orlando, Florida, says it was difficult to keep morale up when the business was clearly struggling; employees were uncertain about the company’s future, and their own. To help ease the stress, the company held a wide array of picnic-style meals in the company’s parking lot. It was a light distraction that still followed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Now, she says, morale has started to rise.

“With the release of the vaccine and the so-called ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ we’re starting to see the industry get a lift in activity, and associates feel good when they know their jobs aren’t at risk. However, it wasn’t always this way.”

These kinds of events can, of course, also take place virtually. Company leaders across industries are encouraging staff to treat Zoom as a virtual water cooler. But while casual online gatherings after work can help colleagues maintain friendly relationships, they can also contribute to “Zoom fatigue”–the drained feeling that comes after a long day of video calls, which often require more concentration than in-person meetings.

Matt McCambridge, co-founder and CEO of Eden Health, a primary/collaborative care practice based in New York, says while his teams hold regular virtual water coolers, they switch it up. For example, the company hosted an interactive “dueling pianos” virtual event over the holidays, as well as a magic show. 

Better Communication From the Top

Communicating support work-life balance at a time when many people are remote and facing trauma is critical. Neumark notes that when her catering company was pivoting and in the process of providing hundreds, if not thousands, of meals, the team was relying mostly on sheer adrenaline. Months later, now that the novelty is gone and fatigue has fully set in, the boundaries she set are crucial.

One rule, for example, is weekends off, unless there’s an urgent, unavoidable request. “The weeks are still so intense, and people need their private time right now,” says Neumark.

It’s essential that leaders understand the issues their employees may be facing and not try to gloss over them, says Dr. Benjamin F. Miller, a psychologist and chief strategy officer of Well Being Trust, a foundation aimed at advancing mental and social health. “When your boss is pretending that everything is OK, it doesn’t create a conducive work environment for someone to talk about having a bad day,” says Miller. That’s one reason virtual water coolers often fail, he notes. While they’re great at getting people together, there’s little benefit if people can’t speak openly and honestly.

It’s also OK to tell employees that you, as a leader, are not having an easy time. Showing vulnerability doesn’t show weakness, Miller adds. You’re setting an example that shows that it’s OK to be honest and acknowledge that not everyone is not having the best time. If you aren’t aware that someone is in a crisis, he says, you may lose the opportunity to reach out to that person and help.

By Brit Morse@britnmorse

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