Monday, December 22, 2008

People Obey Authority, Even if It Means Hurting Others

After decades, someone has finally been able to replicate Stanley Milgram's experiment concerning authority figures' effect on obedience.

For anyone who is not familiar with the experiment, in the 1960s, Stanley Milgram at Yale University conducted a series of experiments where he told volunteers he was studying the effects of punishment on learning. In each experiment, Milgram told the volunteer that he or she would either be acting as a teacher or a learner. The volunteer was always the teacher while a confederate (a person working with Milgram) played the role of "learner."

The learner's arms were strapped into a chair and electrodes attached to him. The volunteer witnessed this as well as the learner becoming apprehensive, telling both the volunteer and Milgram he had a heart condition.

Milgram then took the volunteer into an adjoining room, where he or she could communicate with the learner over an intercom. The teacher was instructed to read the learner questions on a verbal memory test, and was told every time the learner got a question wrong he or she must administer an electric shock to him. The electric shock generator consisted of shocks from 15-450 volts in intensity. Each time the learner got an answer incorrect, the teacher had to administer an increasingly stronger shock to him.

Initially, the learner did not respond to the shocks. However, when he received a shock of 150 volts, the learner cried out in pain. He continued to cry out in pain and even insisted the study be stopped, but Milgram insisted that the study must go on, that the volunteers must continue to administer the shocks for every incorrect answer.

The results of Milgram's study may surprise you greatly. Likewise, the results of the replicated study may surprise you.

To read more about the two studies and their results, please visit:
People Obey Authority Figures, Even When It Hurts Others

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Enhanced" Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Individuals with Eating Disorders

A new study in the United Kingdom shows a new variation on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy may be effective in treating a majority of individuals with eating disorders.

Eating disorders in the UK are classified somewhat differently than they are in the United States. Mainly, they classify eating disorders as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and "atypical" eating disorders, which is the United States' equivalent to Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. "Atypical" eating disorders in the UK are defined as having both features of anorexia and bulimia, such as self-starvation, binge-eating, making oneself throw up purposefully, taking laxatives, and exercising excessively.

The new "enhanced" Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy was developed from the previous form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which was specifically designed for individuals suffering from bulimia nervosa by Professor Christopher Fairburn, who is a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. He also developed the new "enhanced" Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, intended to help even more individuals suffering from eating disorders.

Fairburn and his colleagues conducted a study with 154 individuals suffering from eating disorders. Two types of enhanced Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT-E) were developed, a simple version and a more complex version. The simple version focused on the primary issue of the eating disorder while the more complex version of CBT-E focused on the eating disorder as well as other features that are commonly associated with eating disorders, such as depression, self-esteem, and perfectionism.

Each individual participating in the study received 20 50-minute sessions of simple or complex CBT-E over the span of 20 weeks.

The researchers discovered that participants responded well to both types of CBT-E and that these improvements held over a one-year period, the time in which relapse into an eating disorder is most common. More specifically, of the participants who completed treatment, two-thirds made a full recovery from their eating disorders. Although one-third of participants relapsed into their eating disorders, they maintained significant improvement.

This study seems to indicate that CBT-E is an effective treatment for a majority of individuals who are suffering from eating disorders. Fairburn and his colleagues are also conducting a large study in order to measure the effectiveness of CBT-E on individuals suffering from anorexia, specifically.

Psych Central: Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Most Common Eating Disorder in America

While Anorexia and Bulimia are given most of the media and clinical research attention, it is actually Binge Eating Disorder that is the most common eating disorder in America today, according to a recently published survey.

Researchers at the Harvard University Medical School along with those at McLean Psychiatric Hospital interviewed 9,000 individuals between the years of 2001-2003 about their psychological histories and their eating habits. They interviewed individuals from all across the nation in order to collect more generalizeable data.

The researchers diagnosed less than 1% of women and 0.3% of men with anorexia, in which the main proponent of the disorder is self-starvation. Additionally, 0.5% of men and 1.5% of women were found to have bulimia, an eating disorder constituted by the binge-eating-purging cycle.

Finally, the researchers determined 2% of men and 3.5% of women suffered from binge eating disorder, significantly more individuals than those who suffered from either anorexia or bulimia. Binge eating disorder was defined as out-of-control eating, even after one felt full - at least twice a week.

One of the authors of the study pointed out those who struggle with binge eating are at risk for obesity, diabetes, certain types of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. In addition, the lead author of the study asserts binge eating disorder should be given more attention, given its high prevalence.

The study noted those between the ages of 18-29 are most likely to have an eating disorder, and individuals with eating disorders often struggle with depression and/or anxiety as well.

Personally, I am glad to see more research being done on binge eating disorder. When I was writing my thesis in college on personality traits and behavioral characteristics common among those with eating disorder, I found very few studies to cite in my paper. I am glad binge eating disorder is beginning to receive the attention it deserves, and I hope more individuals who struggle with binge eating disorder will be able to get help for their struggles more easily.


Fox News: Survey: Binging Most Common Eating Disorder in America:,2933,249481,00.html?sPage=fnc/health/mentalhealth

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Hi everyone,

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted. I'm going to try to be better about this. I have run across a lot of interesting information I want to share with you over the next several days or weeks. I look forward to writing to everyone again soon!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

FDA Mandates Black Box Warning for Older Antipsychotics

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has mandated that all older antipsychotic drugs being used to treat dementia-related psychosis in the elderly carry a black box warning because these medications increase the risk of death.

Some of these older anti-psychotics include Haldol, Moban, and Navane. Additionally, in 2005, the FDA mandated all newer antipsychotic drugs to carry black box warnings for the same reasons.

The FDA asserted in a statement that both classes of antipsychotic drugs will carry a warning, stating antipsychotics have been shown to increase the risk of death in elderly patients being treated for dementia-related psychosis in clinical trials.

Although the FDA has not approved the use of antipsychotic medication for the treatment of dementia, doctors are allowed to prescribe the drugs as they feel is appropriate, according to U.S. law.

Source: MSNBC

Monday, June 23, 2008

Free Course on Panic Attacks!

If you suffer from panic attacks, please head over to my anxiety blog where you can download a free course on panic attacks. :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Humor, Good for the Spirit

When I feel down, I find that laughter can help lift my spirits. Everyday I visit my friend Chato's blog at He posts great cartoons daily that have to do with mental health. His blog was awarded the Editor's Choice award for last month, too :)

Please go visit him at:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dentist anxiety series

I am currently writing a series on identifying and conquering different fears about the dentist. You can read my series in my anxiety blog! I hope many of you stop by to read up on the topic.

I will (hopefully) be updating this blog with new information later today or tomorrow.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Occupation May Affect Cognition After Retirement

How mentally and intellectually challenging your job is now may have a positive (or negative) affect on your cognitive abilities later in life, after retirement, a new study published in the May issue of Neurology suggests.

The study contained 1,036 twin males. Each participant underwent a test, which determined their learning abilities when they joined the United States military in the 1940s. Each participant underwent follow-up assessments every three to four years after they reached the age of 60.

The study found that those who held occupations, which had intellectual demands had better cognitive abilities after retirement, while those who held occupations, which had physical demands had worse cognitive abilities in retirement.

The study authors note that occupation and age are only two factors that contribute to one's cognitive abilities, but that occupation can have a positive or negative impact on cognition as one ages.

Source: Forbes.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day for Everyone

While Mother's Day is a joyous occasion for some, for others it is a very difficult day.

For individuals who can truly celebrate their mothers, look on their pasts and have fond memories of their mothers, I hope you have a great day celebrating with your moms. Spending some quality time with you mom on this special day will make great new memories for you and your mom.

However, for those who find this day difficult, I hope you find a way to nurture yourselves today.

For some, this day brings forth sadness, loneliness, and loss, as when a loving mother has passed away. For others, today brings forth anger, resentment, and confusion, as with individuals who were abused or neglected by their mothers, abandoned, or for those who do not have good relationships with their mothers.

It is sad and unfortunate when you lose a loving mother or when your mother was the perpetrator of abuse or neglect. Mother's Day can be very painful for you. I think it is important to find ways in which you can nurture yourself on difficult days, such as these. Here's some ideas:

-Take a nice bubble bath
-Read a good book
-Write, draw, or paint
-Treat yourself to a yummy dessert, dinner, or special drink
-If you are Christian, pray, read your Bible, and spend some quality time with God
-Write an old friend a letter or catch up with him or her over the phone

Whatever you do, just make sure you are nurturing yourself and giving yourself permission to relax.

I hope everyone finds a way to feel nurtured today.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Technology Aids Substance Abusers Stay Sober

Technology may help drug and alcohol users stay sober, according to new research, which was published in the May 1, 2008 on-line issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Seventy-seven participants who desired treatment for alcohol and drug abuse were divided randomly into two groups - one group received traditional substance abuse counseling while the other group received traditional substance abuse counseling and six training sessions with a computer program.

The computer program, developed by Kathleen M. Carroll and her colleagues at Yale University's School of Medicine contained six lessons. In each of the six lessons, the program contained videos of different situations a person recovering from drug and/or alcohol abuse might encounter, such as being offered drugs. The training program also teaches recovering individuals strategies for dealing with and avoiding substance abuse as well as video showing how to use each skill or strategy being taught.

At the conclusion of the study, significantly less individuals who underwent traditional counseling in combination with the computer training program had positive drug tests than people who had traditional substance abuse counseling alone.

Personally, I believe this kind of combination therapy may be very effective for individuals who learn best by seeing a skill or strategy being used. Others might benefit from additional role-plays in therapy whereby they can test their new skills in a safe environment before being confronted with a situation in real life.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

"Special K" Reduces Depression

Do you suffer from depression? Have you had to try multiple anti-depressants to treat your depression? Have you found an anti-depressant that is effective to treat your depression yet? If you haven't, you're not alone. Many individuals have to try multiple medications for depression, and some people do not find any current anti-depressants effective at treating their depression. Of course, this adds to the feelings of hopelessness a depressed person feels. However, the results of a new study indicate a new kind of drug is effective for treating depression.

The results of this new study, which has been published in the Archives of General Psychiatry discovered that a night club drug known as "Special K" (ketamine) reduces depression. Thirty-three male participants were given ketamine, which is used as a horse tranquilizer, intravenously. The researchers also took minute-by-minute brain scans of the participants brains during the administration of the drug.

They discovered that ketamine restored a part of the brain that is overactive in individuals with depression back to normal, reducing depression in participants.

Certainly doctors and psychiatrists are not going to give depressed people ketamine for their symptoms, but this study does provide new information that can guide future research in creating new drugs to treat people with depression.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Anxiety Blog

I just wanted to let everyone know that I am currently writing an anxiety blog for Today. I'd love if you would come and read that as well.

The link to my anxiety blog at Today is:

Happy reading!

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Woman Was Imprisoned for 24 Years...

I think this is such a sad story.....

I wonder why no one suspected anything happened to her? I cannot even imagine what this poor woman went through with her children. It's just so sad and tragic.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating an Issue for Women in America

I ran across this study tonight and I wanted to share it because I feel it is so important that we teach young children, teenage girls, and young adult women how important inner beauty is.

The findings of this study are really quite disturbing to me, as Americans and American culture is so focused on appearance that we forget about inner beauty, intelligence, and true happiness.

SELF magazine and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill cooperated to conduct this study. More than 4,000 women took a survey on-line regarding their thoughts and behaviors toward food. Women participating in the survey were between the ages of 25-45 years.

The researchers found that older women and younger women had about the same occurrence of disordered eating. Likewise, women who identified themselves as Latino, white, black, Hispanic, and Asian all exhibited disordered eating behaviors.

More specifically, the researchers discovered that:
-More than 31% of women who participated in the survey reported they had taken diuretics, diet pills, and/or laxatives, or induced vomiting in order to lose weight at some point during their lives.
-Approximately 50% of those who engaged in purging behaviors reported they did so at least a few times a week.
-Sixty-seven percent of women who did not have actual eating disorders reported they are attempting to lose weight.
-Thirty-seven percent of women said they skip meals regularly in order to lose weight.
-Twenty-seven percent reported they would be extremely upset if they gained five pounds.
-Thirteen percent of participants report they smoke in order to lose weight.
-Twenty-six percent of participants said they have eliminated certain food groups from their diet altogether.
-Fifty-three percent of women who said they are dieting are already at a healthy weight, and are still attempting to lose weight.
-Thirty-nine percent of the women reported that their weight and concerns about what they eat interferes with their happiness.

The results of the study are to appear in the May issue of SELF magazine.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Veterans Need Our Help

In this year's presidential race, the war in Iraq is one of the major platform issues each candidate is speaking on, and ultimately, whoever becomes President of our country is going to have some tough choices to make regarding the war and the men and women who have been and are being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

RAND has conducted a large study of men and women returning from the war. They wanted to determine how many men and women veterans are experiencing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and/or major depression and how many are receiving adequate treatment.

The researchers collected information from 1,965 veterans from across the United States. They discovered that half of the veterans reported they had a friend who was either killed or seriously injured in the war. Forty-five percent of participants reported they saw dead or seriously injured non-combatants, and 10% of veterans reported they were injured themselves and spent time in the hospital.

The researchers also discovered the highest rates of major depression and PTSD among Hispanics, women, and those who were enlisted in the military.

Researchers found that 19% of veterans had symptoms of major depression or PTSD. Only 53% of those who had major depression or PTSD sought help for their symptoms, and of those who sought help for their symptoms, only one-half received minimally adequate treatment.

Veterans gave different reasons for not seeking professional help for their symptoms, such as they were worried about the side-effects of medication, they were worried about their friends losing confidence in their abilities, they believed family and/or friends could provide them with more help than a mental health professional, and that they were worried seeking professional help may affect their careers.

The researchers recommend the military create a system that allows military veterans to seek professional help without it affecting their careers, as well as providing veterans with evidence-based treatment strategies to most effectively treat their symptoms.

I believe we, as family members, friends, and co-workers of those who serve in the military, have a responsibility to encourage veterans to seek professional mental health treatment if they experienced a traumatic event in the war and/or if they exhibit signs of depression or PTSD.

To read more on this study, please visit:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Report It Now Rally, Boston

Report It Now Rally April 29th at Noon, In front of the State House

Hello, Bostonians!
Please join us on Tuesday, April 29th at 12:00 p.m. in front of the State House at the Boston chapter of the Report It Now rally. The Report IT campaign is a nationwide rally of people affected by sexual violence and abuse speaking with one voice to report it at the same time in states across the country. The campaign was developed to raise awareness on the vast under-reporting of sexual violence including rape, incest, and child sexual abuse. Report IT will, for the first time ever, bring together victims in a show of strength, solidarity and voice to demand an end to sexual violence and improvements in the legal process to stop the systematic re-victimization that discourages reporting. This is also an opportunity for those who, under whatever circumstances, never got the chance to report abuse committed against them.

Please spread the word!

To Write Love on Her Arms

All of the proceeds from the sale of this shirt will go to TWLOHA, a non-profit organization that helps individuals with depression, addiction, and self-harm.

Here's the link:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sleep Medication for Sleeping Problems

Did you try developing good sleep hygiene and you're still having trouble falling and/or staying asleep at night? Have you tried drinking warm milk, eating a small snack, writing in your journal, and/or reading before bed to help you fall asleep and it hasn't been helping, either?

If you're still having trouble falling and/or staying asleep at night, even after developing good sleep hygiene and trying some of the home remedies for getting to sleep, you may need to speak to your doctor about the possibility of taking sleep medication.

I know some people really do not like the idea of taking medication. However, the benefits of being well rested might outweigh the disadvantages of taking medication. Only you and your doctor can decide if sleep medication, also called sedatives or hypnotics, is a viable option for you.

You may need to try more than one sleep medication before you find the right hypnotic for a chronic sleeping problem. If this happens to be the case with you, don't lose hope. There are several different types of medication doctors can prescribe someone to help him or her sleep. While Ambien may work wonder for a friend of yours, it may not be the right medication for you. Everyone is different, and different medications work for different people.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about all of the symptoms you experience when you have trouble sleeping. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both as well as whether you experience a lot of anxiety when you try to sleep. This information will help your doctor decide what medication may be most appropriate for your specific situation.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Nightmares vs. Night Terrors

What is the difference between a nightmare and a night terror?

A nightmare is a scary or terrifying dream. It usually occurs in the later half of sleep and upon awakening you or your child will be able to recall what the dream was about.

Night terrors are also scary or terrifying dreams. However, night terrors usually occur in deep sleep and you or your child may be difficult to wake up from these dreams. Upon awakening, you or your child will not be able to recall what the dream was about.

Nightmares and night terrors are most common in children, though some adults continue to experience these scary dreams. Please see the post below on how to comfort yourself after having a nightmare.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Comforting Yourself After a Nightmare

I know that children tend to get nightmares more often than adults do, but many adults still get nightmares occasionally.

Here are some ideas you can use to comfort yourself when you wake up from a nightmare because no matter what age you are nightmares are quite disturbing and distressing.

1. If you have a cat or dog, pet him or her. He or she can be very grounding.

2. If you need to talk about your nightmare and have a partner or spouse who is supportive, you may want to wake him or her up to discuss your nightmare. Alternatively, you can write down the details of your dream to get them out of your head.

3. Get up and have a drink of water.

4. Read something soothing, such as the Bible if you are a Christian.

5. Concentrate on your surroundings in order to remind yourself where you are.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Nightmare Disorder

You wake up terrified. Your heart is pounding, you're breathing is shaky, and you feel distraught. Most of us have had this experience - waking up from a nightmare, but what happens when it is a regular occurrence?

Nightmare Disorder is another sleeping disorder. While nightmares affect 10-50% of children aged 3-5 years old and 3% of adults report having nightmares frequently, the prevalence of Nightmare Disorder in the United States is not currently known.

Individuals who experience Nightmare Disorder awaken from vivid, frightening dreams during naps or at night. They are able to recall the details of their frightening dreams and quickly realize their surroundings upon awakening. Frightening dreams include those that threaten one's security, safety, life, and/or self-esteem.

Nightmare Disorder is diagnosed when nightmares affect an individuals social, occupational, academic, or other important parts of one's life. Before Nightmare Disorder is made as a diagnosis, however, mental health professionals rule out other mental illnesses, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, general medical conditions, and any substance or medication that could be causing the nightmares.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Central Sleep Apnea Treatment

In my last post, I discussed some of the treatment options available for obstructive sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is much less common; however some of the treatment options available for central sleep apnea are the same ones used for obstructive sleep apnea.

For instance, continuous positive airway pressure is used to treat both central and obstructive sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure involves placing a mask over your nose. The mask is connected to a device that increases the air pressure above the air pressure around you. This helps prevent breathing troubles in individuals with sleep apnea.

Auto-adjusting positive airway pressure is another type of treatment for central sleep apnea that increases air pressure automatically when one's breathing stops and decreases the pressure when breathing begins again.

Other times, individuals with central sleep apnea have an underlying medical condition, such as lung or heart problems. Sometimes, treating an underlying problem stops sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea is often treated based on what is causing the breathing difficulties.

For more information about central sleep apnea treatment, I encourage you to visit Mayo Clinic at:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Just a quick note for my readers. I am sorry for my absence recently. I have been very ill, but I am on the mend now. I plan to resume regular blogging on Wednesday or Thursday. I look forward to coming back. I will be talking about more sleep apnea treatments in my next post.

I hope you are all well!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Treatment Options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

There are several ways to treat obstructive sleep apnea, both surgical and non-surgical.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP is one method used to treat sleep apnea. This is a machine that gives you air pressure while you sleep through a mask you wear over your nose. The machine keeps airways open while you sleep by providing slightly higher air pressure than its surrounding air pressure. This prevents snoring and sleep apnea.

Oral appliances: Dentists can supply different oral devices that can keep airways open during sleep. People suffering from obstructive sleep apnea may need to try more than one mask to find one that is effective.

Maxillomandibular advancement: This is one of the surgical options available for obstructive sleep apnea. Basically, in this procedure, the jaw is moved forward, making the space between the soft palette and the tongue wider, which makes obstruction of the airway less likely.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty: This surgical procedure may or may not be successful in treating one's sleep apnea. In a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty the surgeon removes tissue from the top of your throat and the back of your mouth. Additionally, the tonsils and adenoids are also typically removed. The procedure is usually successful for stopping snoring.

Tracheostomy: This surgical procedure is performed if other treatments have failed to treat your sleep apnea and/or your sleep apnea is life-threatening. In this procedure, a surgeon makes a hole in your neck in which a plastic or metal tube is placed. You keep the hole covered during the day, but uncover it at night to allow air to pass through to your lungs; you breathe through the tube in order to bypass the obstruction in your throat.

The specific treatment or treatments you receive will depend on your specific circumstances, which you should discuss with your doctor.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sleep Apnea

Do you know someone who stops breathing several times an hour for the duration of several seconds to a minute or longer? If you do, you may know someone who suffers from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which an individual either stops breathing many times during the night or has shallow breathing while he or she sleeps. Sometimes a person who has stopped breathing will give a noisy choking sound or snort when he or she resumes breathing again.

While individuals with sleep apnea may feel very tired during the day due to poor sleep quality, they often do not know they stop breathing during sleep. Rather, it is typically a family member, spouse, or partner who notices the shallow breathing or breathing pauses that occur during sleep.

Three types of sleep apnea exist:

Obstructive sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when something either blocks the airway or the airway collapses during sleep, causing a person to stop breathing. This is the most common type of sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea: Central sleep apnea occurs when a person's brain does not send the right signals or messages to the breathing muscles in the body. According to the National Institute of Health, snoring does not usually occur with central sleep apnea.

Mixed sleep apnea: In mixed sleep apnea, both obstructive and central sleep apnea are present and account for breathing difficulties during sleep.

If left untreated, sleep apnea may lead to any of the following, according to the National Institute of Health: irregular heartbeat, increases the risk for heart failure, increases the risk of suffering from diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, and/or stroke, and increases the likelihood of having a driving or work-related accident.

Fortunately, sleep apnea can be treated. I will discuss the treatment options for sleep apnea in my next post.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Narcolepsy Treatment

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that is very disruptive to one's life. As was discussed in my last post, individuals with Narcolepsy suffer from excessive sleepiness throughout the day and an incredible urge to take brief naps, which may or may not be refreshing and relieve sleepiness for a period of time.

While there is currently no standard treatment for Narcolepsy, the symptoms of the disorder can be managed using a combination of techniques.

First, medication can be prescribed to help alleviate sleepiness during the daytime. Medications typically prescribed to manage Narcolepsy include stimulants, such as Ritalin and Provigil, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) anti-depressants, such as Paxil and Zoloft, and/or tricyclic antidepressants, such as Vivactiil.

Many individuals also develop depression as a result of the sleep attacks associated with Narcolepsy. It is normal for individuals who feel as if they have little or no control over their lives to develop depression.

In order to treat depression, individuals may seek counseling from a social worker, psychologist, or other licensed therapist and/or go to a support group. Anti-depressants may also be prescribed by a physician or psychiatrist in order to treat depression associated with Narcolepsy.

Finally, incorporating specific behavioral changes into one's day can help individuals who suffer with Narcolepsy manage symptoms. Obtaining and maintaining good sleep hygiene is an essential part of managing Narcolepsy. Please visit my post on sleep hygiene to learn what good sleep hygiene is.

Other behavioral practices that can help manage Narcolepsy effectively include taking a few short naps during the day spanning 10-15 minutes each, avoiding operating heavy machinery, driving, and other dangerous tasks whenever possible, exercising regularly, breaking up large and/or tedious tasks into smaller ones, and avoiding ingesting caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.

Additionally, alerting your family, friends, boss, and co-workers to your condition may be helpful to you, as these individuals can help you recall things that happen at work or home if you are unexpectedly hit with a sleep attack. Wearing a medical identification bracelet is also a good idea to alert medical professionals to your condition in any case that you are unable to tell them yourself.

Narcolepsy is a difficult sleeping disorder to handle, but there are treatment options available that may help you or someone you know who suffers from this condition. If you think you suffer from Narcolepsy, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Narcolepsy - Sleep Attacks

In high school, when I first became interested in psychology, I was taking a psychology class taught by my high school. I remember learning about the different sleeping disorders and the way I learned to remember what Narcolepsy was, was to think about my cat.

My cat, like most cats, would suddenly stop walking around, lay down on the floor, and begin sleeping. When my sister and I learned that this behavior is seen as Narcolepsy in humans, we started calling our kitty a "Narcoleptic cat."

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder in which individuals who are affected by it have irresistible sleep attacks, typically between 1-6 times each day. These individuals feel sleepiness and an irresistible urge to go to sleep, which can be perpetuated in situations that do not require a lot of energy, such as listening to a lecture in class, sitting in a meeting at work, or reading the newspaper.

Most people with Narcolepsy say they feel refreshed after a sleep attack, but some continue to feel sleepy. Sleep attacks generally last from 10-20 minutes, but can last for longer periods of time.

In my next post, I'll talk about how Narcolepsy can be treated.

Here's to wishing you a good night's sleep!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Getting Sleep

I don't know about everyone else, but I've been feeling very stressed lately. I've been having more trouble sleeping, and thought I'd share a technique that tends to help me. I hope some of my ideas help you, too.

Writing in my journal really helps me get all of my worries down on paper and out of my head for a while. When I do this, I can sleep better because I've already organized my thoughts and feelings.

If I eat a small snack and have some milk, I tend to be able to get to sleep better as well.

What do you do to help you sleep? The comments section is open for anyone and everyone to comment!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Developing Good Sleep Hygiene to Improve Sleep

If you are struggling with sleep difficulties, before you consider taking prescription medication to aid in your sleep, you should ensure you have good sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene helps many people get to sleep and stay asleep through the night effectively.

First, set a regular sleeping schedule for yourself. Ensure that you fall asleep and get up at the same time everyday, no matter what. If you cannot fall asleep within a half an hour of laying down, get up and read a book or magazine for a half an hour and try to sleep again. Regardless of what time you actually end up falling asleep, you need to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.

You also need to avoid caffeine at least 4-6 hours before you go to bed. This may be challenging, but it is an important part of good sleep hygiene. If you drink coffee, soda, or tea, make sure it doesn't have caffeine 4-6 hours prior to bedtime.

Before you go to sleep, try to do something relaxing. Take a bubble bath, read a good book, listen to some soft music, or practice some relaxation techniques. Personally, I love to listen to Enya before I sleep. I find her music soothing and relaxing.

Another thing to remember is to avoid naps during the day if at all possible. You may be tired if you didn't get adequate sleep the night before, but napping during the day makes it more difficult to sleep at night. If you must nap, nap for 30-45 minutes at the most.

Your sleep environment also needs to be conducive to sleeping. You need to find a comfortable temperature for your room - not too hot or too cold, comfortable blankets and sheets, and comfortable sleeping clothes. Additionally, refrain from using your room as an office or workspace, as this often leads to sleeping difficulties.

Before you go to sleep, you may want to have a light snack and warm milk. Warm milk tends to help people sleep.

Try to let go of your worries, frustrations, and concerns before you sleep. Worry can keep you awake at night, preventing you from attaining adequate sleep.

Taking these steps will help you develop good sleep hygiene. Developing good sleep hygiene may help you more than you think. It's certainly worth developing good sleep hygiene before you consider taking medication to induce sleep.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Primary Hypersomnia

Primary Hypersomnia is the opposite of Primary Insomnia. Primary Hypersomnia is constituted by excessive sleep or sleepiness. Individuals with hypersomnia sleep for extended periods of time or sleep frequently during the day. These symptoms must occur over a month's period of time for a diagnosis to be made.

Additionally, the hypersomnia must not be better accounted for by another mental illness, medical condition, or substance abuse.

Some of the medications used to treat hypersomnia include tricyclic anti-depressants, manoamine oxidase inhibitors, levadopa, modafinil, amantadine, and pemoline.

Sleep hygiene may also be useful for treating hypersomnia, though its success rate is lower than that of medical treatment.

In my next post, I will discuss sleep hygiene practices that may help with both insomnia and hypersomnia.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mind Exercise

Here's a little test to exercise your brain.

How many colors can YOU name in five minutes? I could name 37.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


We've all had them. Those nights where it's seemingly impossible to sleep. Or the nights we toss and turn and can't seem to get comfortable.

However, the occasional sleepless night doesn't constitute insomnia. Insomnia is a consistent problem. Insomnia is defined by having trouble falling asleep or maintaining sleep for the duration of at least one month. According the the DSM-IV-TR an individual can only be diagnosed with insomnia when mental illness, substance abuse, and medical conditions are ruled out as the cause of the sleeping problems.

Insomnia interferes with an individual's social, occupational, academic, and/or personal life.

While some individuals need prescription sleeping aids to manage insomnia, others are able to manage it naturally. Please see the post below for some natural ways to battle insomnia.

How to battle insomnia naturally

Practically everyone suffers an occasional sleepless night. When this happens, there are some things you can do to help you fall asleep more effectively.

In my article I talk about how you can naturally fall asleep, with home remedies or with certain herbs.

To learn how you can naturally battle insomnia, please visit my article.

Here to good sleep!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Stages of Sleep

Before I discuss specific sleeping disorders and problems in this blog, I feel it is important to understand the stages of sleep.

There are five stages of sleep: stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, stage 4, and REM (rapid eye movement), which is probably what most individuals are most familiar with. During the time you sleep, your body cycles through each of the stages several times.

Stage 1: In stage 1 sleep, an individual begins to lose conscious awareness. Some people may experience certain types of hallucinations in this stage of sleep, which are known as hypnagogic hallucinations.

Stage 2: In stage 2 sleep, conscious awareness is lost.

Stage 3: Stage 3 sleep constitutes the beginning of deep sleep. It is in this stage that sleepwalking, bed wetting, and night terrors occur.

Stage 4: Stage 4 sleep is a continuation of stage 3 sleep. Stage 4 sleep is also deep sleep.

It appears that muscle and bone are built, the immune system is strengthened, and tissue is regenerated during deep sleep.

REM: In individuals who do not suffer from sleeping disorders, breathing and heart rate increase in speed and eyes move around rapidly (hence the term Rapid Eye Movement for this stage of sleep). Most of a person's memorable dreams occur in REM sleep.

Infants and children may spend up to 50% of their sleeping time in REM while adults may only spend 20% of their sleep time in REM.

As you sleep the time you spend in REM sleep increases. For instance, the first time you go into REM sleep, it only typically lasts for 10 minutes. But you may spend up to one hour in REM sleep in the last sleep cycle of the night.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Sleep IQ

National Sleep Awareness Week was March 3-9 this year, and while we are at the close of the week, I've decided I am going to do my next series on healthy sleep, sleep cycles, and sleep disorders.

To start, discover how much you already know about sleep with this Sleep IQ test!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease May Produce Feelings of Relief for Patients and Caregivers

A new study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that telling patients and caregivers about a diagnosis of Alzheimer's early on does not cause increased depressed mood, as doctors had previously thought.

The current study was conducted at Washington University's School of Medicine. Participants for the study were recruited when potential patients called to make an appointment with the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

A total of 90 patients and their caregivers participated in the study. Before each patient underwent an evaluation at the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, they were asked questions about their mood, expectations for their evaluation, and their family history.

Participants and caregivers were also called two days after their appointment at the Center and were asked questions about their mood and their diagnosis.

Sixty-nine percent of participants were given a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers found that both the patients and caregivers levels of depression did not increase significantly, while their levels of anxiety decreased dramatically.

The authors of this study assert that both patients and caregivers feel a sense of relief when they receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. They hypothesize this is the case because when a diagnosis of Alzheimer's is made early, patients can take an active part in planning their future treatment. An early diagnosis of Alzheimer's also allows physicians to prescribe their patients medication that can delay Alzheimer's symptoms. Delaying symptoms may also delay the need for patients to be placed into a nursing home.

The authors also suggest caregivers feel relief when they get the diagnosis of Alzheimer's because they can prepare for the future as well.

The authors indicate this is the first study that has examined both patient and caregiver feelings about a diagnosis of Alzheimer's shortly after they received it.

I think a major limitation to this study is that the researchers did not continue to follow-up with the patients and caregivers beyond the two-day period. It is unclear if there is merely a sense of relief immediately after the diagnosis is given or if this relief continues for weeks or months after the diagnosis. I think future research should examine patient and caregiver feelings weeks and months after they received a diagnosis of Alzheimer's in order to determine how long the sense of relief lasts.

If you would like to learn more about this study please visit:

If you would like to learn more about Alzheimer's disease, you may visit my article about the disease or the Alzheimer's Association.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Treatment of ADHD with Stimulants Not Indicative of Future Substance Abuse

A new study indicates that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder treated with stimulant drugs are not at increased risk for substance abuse as adolescents or young adults.

Prior research on individuals treated with stimulants for ADHD has produced mixed results as to whether or not these individuals are at increased risk for future drug and/or alcohol abuse.

The most recent study, which is set for publication in the American Journal of Psychiatry included 100 male adolescents and young adults, 10 years after they were initially diagnosed as having ADHD.

The results of the study indicated that 73% of all participants had been treated with stimulant in the past for ADHD and 22% were currently being treated with stimulant drugs.

The results indicated that participants treated with stimulant drugs for ADHD were neither at increased or decreased risk for developing alcohol and/or drug use problems in the future.

The authors of this study assert this study is unique because it is the largest longitudinal study of its kind and takes into account the diagnosis of Conduct Disorder, which is associated with substance abuse.

Monday, March 3, 2008

FDA Approves New Anti-Depressant, Prestiq

On February 29th the Food and Drug Administration approved a new anti-depressant, Prestiq, made by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

Prestiq is a serotonin-norepinepherine re-uptake inhibitor (SNRI). According to Wyeth, the new anti-depressant takes a different pathway in the brain than Effexor does (which is also manufactured by Wyeth).

The FDA required Wyeth to conduct clinical trials with the new drug before they approved it. Wyeth conducted four eight-week clinical, double-blind studies where some participants received Prestiq and others received a placebo. Prestiq was shown to effectively treat the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder.

According to Wyeth, the most common side-effects of Prestiq in clinical trials were sleepiness, dizziness, hyperhidosis, insomnia, nausea, male sexual dysfunction disorders, anxiety, decreased appetite, constipation, and anxiety.

The FDA has approved Prestiq for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder in adults only.

Prestiq will be available on the United States' market later this year.

For more information, you may visit Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

Consequences of Verbal Abuse

Not only is verbal abuse hurtful at the time of abuse, it has lasting consequences as well.

Individuals who endure verbal abuse on a regular basis, such as from parents, close friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, fiances, and/or husbands/wives, suffer many psychological effects.

Those who endure verbal abuse may experience any number of the following side-effects of the abuse:

-Low self-esteem
-Low self-confidence
-Decreased enthusiasm
-Distrust in other relationships
-Doubting one's ability to communicate effectively
-Doubting one's own perceptions
-A feeling that he or she must be "on guard" all of the time
-The development of an internal "critical voice"
-A tendency to analyze/examine situations to try to figure out what he or she did "wrong"
-Wishing he or she wasn't the way he or she is
-Fear that one is crazy or going crazy
-Wanting to run away or escape
-Hesitancy in accepting one's own perceptions and/or coming to conclusions

When the victim of verbal abuse doubts himself or herself, his/her perceptions, thoughts, experiences, and feelings, the verbal abuser feels confident that he or she is successfully gaining control over the person he or she is abusing.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Verbal Abuse - Forgetting

Another type of verbal abuse is forgetting. While it is perfectly normal for everyone to forget things occasionally, a verbal abuser will "forget" things consistently.

Verbal abusers may "forget" incidents that were upsetting to his or her partner, arguments, and discussions. He or she may also "forget" important commitments, dates, and promises he or she made to his or her partner.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Verbal Abuse - Name Calling

Name calling is another form of verbal abuse. Name calling is the easiest type of verbal abuse to identify. Anytime your partner calls you a name, he or she is being verbally abusive.

This weekend I will examine the consequences of verbal abuse.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Verbal Abuse - Ordering

Another form of verbal abuse is ordering.

When one person in a relationship orders or demands another person to do something, he or she is telling his or her partner he or she should be ready at any moment to meet his or her needs, desires, and wants. Furthermore, the abuser denies his partner the right to make his or her own choices.

Here are a few examples of ordering statements:

-Clean that up.
-Take the trash out, now!
-We are not going to discuss this any longer.
-Make dinner.
-You're not going out of the house looking like that!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Feedback from my readers?

The series on verbal abuse will be ending soon, and I wanted to know what types of things my readers would like to see in this blog.

Would you like to see reviews of research? Are there any specific topics you would like me to discuss in the near future? Do you have specific questions?

I want to make this blog the most useful for all of my readers, so please feel free to leave any feedback and/or questions you have on any post and I will do my best to address all the things you'd like to know about.

You can also e-mail me your questions and comments at:


Monday, February 25, 2008

Eating Disorder Warning Signs and Information

In light of today's Dr. Phil show on eating disorders, I'm sure there will be some friends and relatives searching for information about eating disorders. I hope the information I provide here can help you help someone you love.

I wrote some posts about Anorexia and Bulimia last year, which I thought may be helpful for people looking for information about the disorders:
What is Anorexia Nervosa?

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Some warning signs that your loved one may be suffering with an eating disorder include:
-Making excuses to avoid meals or eating, such as, "I already ate," "I'm not hungry," or, "I'm going to eat later with so-and-so."
-Measuring portion sizes or weighing food
-Cutting food into tiny pieces before eating it
-Using diet pills
-Skipping meals
-Wearing layers of clothes or wearing baggy clothes to cover weight loss
-Complaints of being cold all the time
-Weight fluctuations
-Rapid weight loss or gain
-Large amounts of food missing from cabinets or the fridge could be signs of binging behavior
-Noticing several wrappers and food containers in piles could also be a sign of binging
-Taking frequent trips to the restroom after meals could be a sign that your loved one is purging
-Complaints from your loved one about how he or she is fat, disgusting, and/or ugly
-An obsession with food, weight, food, and/or body image

If you believe someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, please encourage him or her to seek professional help. If not treated properly early on, eating disorders can, and do, become fatal conditions.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dr. Phil Schedule Feb. 25-29, 2008

This week's Dr. Phil's shows are as follows:

Monday: Deadly Thin - Dr. Phil talks with a woman who is struggling with Anorexia and Bulimia. Aimee is only 60 pounds, but she still believes she's fat. Dr. Phil also talks with a former guest who has an inspiring story of recovery.

Tuesday: Alter Egos - Dr. Phil talks to guests who lead double lives.

Wednesday: Internet Cheats - Tameka wants her fiance to take down his MySpace profiles because he has already cheated on her twice with them. Her fiance says he needs the profiles to promote his business. Find out what happens when Dr. Phil asks the fiance to take a lie detector test.

Thursday: Still Choosing the Crown - The guests on this show are wives and mothers, but still want to compete in pageants. Dr. Phil has some words of advice for a woman who is pregnant with her seventh child and still competing in pageants.

Friday: Follow-ups - Dr. Phil brings back some of his most popular guests for follow-ups.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Verbal Abuse - Threatening

Threats are another form of verbal abuse.

Threats generally take on two forms:

If you (don't).....I'll....

For instance:
If you don't leave me alone, I'll leave.
If you don't have these chores by the time I get home, I'll be really angry.
If you keep arguing with me, I'll hit you.

The second type takes this form:
Do this or I'll....

For instance:
Do the dishes now or I'll make the dog sleep outside in the snow tonight.
Hang up the phone or I'll hurt you.
Do what I say or else.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Music Helps Recovering Stroke Patients

I posted this in my music news blog, and I thought it might also interest those of you who read this blog:

A new study shows that listening to music while recovering from a stroke can help patients recover their cognitive abilities and maintain better mood.

The study participants were 60 individuals who had recently suffered from a middle cerebral artery stroke in either the right or left side of the brain. Thirty patients listened to audio books or to their favorite music every day during recovery while the remaining 30 patients did not listen to music or audio books. All stroke patients also took part in a standard rehabilitation program.

The researchers discovered after three months 18% of stroke patients who listened to audio books showed a better verbal memory, 29% of patients who listened to neither audio books nor music showed improved verbal memory, and 60% of patients who listened to music showed improved verbal memory.

The researchers also discovered stroke patients who listened to their favorite music every day showed an increased ability to focus and maintained better moods than those who did not listen to music.

The researchers are not sure why music improved verbal memory and attention. Further studies should be focused on discovering the effect music has on the brain in recovering stroke patients.

This study was published in the journal Brain.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dr. Phil Show Schedule Feb. 18-22, 2008

This week's Dr. Phil schedule is as follows. I plan to have a more substantial post either tomorrow or Tuesday!

Monday - Sober Up or Else - Two daughters try to get their mother, a long time alcoholic, to sober up once and for all. They say if she refuses to get clean, they will walk away from her forever.

Tuesday - Rules of Engagement Part 2 - Four engaged couples are living in the Dr. Phil house to work on their relationships. Dr. Phil continues to work with the couple through exercises and counsel.

Wednesday - Bully Husband - Dr. Phile talks with a woman who suffers mental abuse at the hands of her husband. She says she stays with him because she loves him and for the sake of her two children. Can Dr. Phil help this family?

Thursday - Family Court Battles - A mother and daughter are at war with one another and are battling it out with one another in court. Dr. Phil talks with this mother and daughter to try to find out the heart of the matter.

Friday - Hell Weddings - Dr. Phil talks to couples who had weddings go bad.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Verbal Abuse - Judging and Criticizing

Judgmental and critical statments are another form of verbal abuse.

A parter can make judmental and/or critical statments about you to you (as "you" statements) or statements about you to other people (as "he" or "she" statements). Both types of statements are abusive.

Some examples of critical and judmental "you" statements include:
-You can't take a joke.
-Your problem is...
-You have issues.
-You complain too much.

Some examples of "he" or "she" statements an abusive partner may make to others include:
-He doesn't know what he's talking about.
-He can't keep his facts straight.
-She doesn't know which way is up.

Dr. Phil Shows This Week - Relationships, Addiction, and Valentine's Day

I promise a more substantial entry is on its way! Thank you for continuing to check out this blog!

I found this week's Dr. Phil shows to be interesting and pertinent to the discussion of verbal abuse and relationships in this blog, as of late.

Here's this week's Dr. Phil show schedule:
Monday - Dirty Little Secrets - This show is about how secrets can affect marriages in deep, lasting ways.

Tuesday - The Dr. Phil House - Rules of Engagement - Dr. Phil works with four couples who are engaged and plan on getting married. Each couple has many issues they need to work out. Issues these couples have include verbal, emotional, and physical abuse, intimidation, and commitment.

Wednesday - Pill Popping Twins - This show is part 1 of a 2-part series. Dr. Phil talks with two twin sisters who have a pill-popping addiction. These sisters have managed to ruin many aspects of their lives.

Thursday - Pill Popping Twins Part 2 - Dr. Phil continues to talk to these sisters about how their addiction has affected their lives, encourages them to face their problem and seek help for it, and talks with the twins' parents about their involvement in the problem.

Friday - My Worst Valentine - Dr. Phil and Robin give tips to men on how to be romantic to their wives on Valentine's Day. Robin also works with two people who want makeovers for Valentine's Day. Robin also discusses how to treat yourself well on Valentine's Day if you will be spending it alone.

Please let me know if you like this kind of post, and I'll do more of them if you do!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Blocking and Diverting

Blocking is a form of verbal abuse in which the abuser controls discussion, withholds information, or diverts his or her partner's attention to something else.

Some examples of blocking include:
That's a lot of crap!
Where did you get a crazy idea like that?
Quit your bitching.
This discussion is over.
You think you know everything!

Other times an abuser will block discussion by diverting her attention to something else.

Some examples of blocking by diverting include the following:
This is too complicated for you to understand
I'm tired of your constant complaining!
Just drop it, I don't need this hassle!
I've already explained it to you before!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mean Girls - What They Are and How to Cope

While aggression in teen boys tends to be physical, aggression in teen girls is often expressed in relationships. While adolescent boys use their physical strength as a weapon, adolescent girls use their relationships with their friends as weapons.

Relational aggression can include any and all of the following:
-Gossip - personal information about the victim is shared without her consent.
-Isolation - where a victim is somehow prevented from socializing with her friends.
-Spreading rumors about the victim

Relational aggression is not only hurtful when it is happening, it can also have long-term consequences for the victim of "mean girls'" behavior.

Studies have found that long-term consequences of relational abuse include, but are not limited to: depression, suicide, low self-esteem, loneliness, anxiety, and adjustment problems.

Parents should keep an open communication with their teens about relational abuse.

Some of the signs that your teen may be suffering from "mean girl" behavior include (but certainly are not limited to):
-A sudden disinterest in spending time with friends she once spent time with.
-Avoiding talking about friends she used to talk about openly.
-Isolating herself.
-Drop in self-esteem.
-Skipping school.
-Poor academic performance.

If you think your teen may be experiencing relational abuse, please talk to her about what she is experiencing. It is also wise to alert school officials to the problem and who is involved in victimizing your daughter. School officials are more aware and responsive to this behavior than they were a decade ago.

In order to avoid long-term damage to your daughter's self-esteem, please take her to a counselor or have her see the school counselor. Remind her that she is worthy and beautiful just the way she is.

Please do not ignore relational aggression. Seek help if you think your daughter (or son) is being victimized by her (or his) peers.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Verbal Abuse - Trivializing

Trivializing is where an abusive partner makes light of his or her partner's accomplishments or achievements. Oftentimes, the partner of an abuser may not feel he or she is communicating how significant an accomplishment is due to the abuser's trivialization of it.

For blogging services, please e-mail me at:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Verbal Abuse - Discounting

Discounting is a form of verbal abuse that leaves the partner of a verbal abuser feeling as if his/her feelings, thoughts, and experiences are worthless or don't matter, according to Patricia Evans in her boo Verbally Abusive Relationships.

Some statements that may be considered as discounting include:

-You don't know what you are talking about.
-You twist my words around.
-You are trying to start a fight.
-You are making a mountain out of a molehill.
-You cannot take a joke.
-You see everything in the worst possible way.
-You think you know it all.
-You think you're always right.
-No one asked you.
-Your feelings don't matter.