Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Time for a Little Post-Christmas Therapy?

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

How was your Christmas, or how’s your Hanukkah going? Hopefully fantastic. But for some people, spending time with family dredges up long-lived issues they thought they’d buried (at least stuffed down and ignored) long ago.

So in this week’s featured article, we explore four common types of therapy, including whom they might help and the pros and cons of each. Also, here’s our article on how to find a good therapist.

If you’re worried about a loved one, here’s our article on how to help someone you know with things like depression, alcoholism and addiction.

If you’re feeling suicidal, you can get immediate help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY: 1-800-799-4889). It’s free and confidential.

Here’s to a healthy, happy 2012—and to having the strength to seek help when we need it.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Tis the Season to Be … Stressed Out and Sad?

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

I don’t know about you, but my Christmases as a child were simple perfection. Oh, sure there were the occasional scuffles, but how could you not be thrilled with a day of presents, food, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, food and presents?

As an adult, the holidays can still be joyful, but things are … different. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, spending, cooking, cooking. It can get overwhelming. Add to that the fact that some of those family members may not be around anymore, and it’s no wonder some of us react to “Joy to the World” with a lump in our throat.

For our featured article this week, family doctor Andrea Gordon answers three winter mental-health questions. It’s is a quick read and sheds light on some issues, like how expectations from childhood can mar our adult enjoyment.

How’s your holiday season going? How do you deal with—or ward off—holiday stress and sadness?

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Occupy the Internet! Doctors Unite to Build Accessible, Reliable Health Site

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

stethoscope and keyboardby Leigh Ann Otte

It’s amazing how much misleading information there is on the Internet, isn’t it? People claim just about anything—and do it with such authority that it seems like they must know what they’re talking about.

I’ve come across some doozies over the years. I’m convinced that dubious health claims must make up a good 50 percent of the Interwebs. Once, I stumbled upon a psychologist(!) blogger who was spreading the myth that antidepressants didn’t work. He drew his claims from an “expert’s” book on the subject. Just by looking into the first study, you could get a feel for the quality of evidence relied upon. It was on a different class of medicine (tricyclics, not SSRIs—the type prescribed most commonly today) and a tiny amount of people. I posted a comment. The blogger wrote me privately and admitted fault; he hadn’t looked into the studies himself. He was just repeating information.

Sometimes, though, the problem isn’t too much dubious information; it’s not enough of any information. Often, with lesser-known disorders, you can find a smattering of overviews online, if that. Well, there is more-detailed information, but it’s written for doctors and stuffed with so much jargon it might as well be Greek. (I think some of it is Latin).

The lack-of-information syndrome seems to be the case with a disorder called MGUS. Ever heard of it? Probably not, but 3 to 4 percent of people over 50 have it, according to S. Vincent Rajkumar, a hematologist-oncologist from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. It’s a blood disorder that usually causes no symptoms, but some people who have it end up getting a certain kind of cancer.

We published an article about MGUS a while back, and people started flocking to it. They posted so many questions in the comments section that we decided to do a follow-up answering them. Two top MGUS experts were kind enough to share their knowledge for the piece. The result is this week’s featured article, “MGUS: Questions About Symptoms, Related Diseases.”

That brings us to the early-Thanksgiving portion of this post—a gushing thanks.

We’d like to thank the doctors who took the time to answer the MGUS questions: Dr. Rajkumar of Mayo Clinic and Hani Hassoun, M.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Our purpose at My Family Doctor has always been to give you trustworthy information straight from doctors. We couldn’t do that without the experts who are willing to work with us. Turns out, they like to spread reliable information too. They just need an outlet.

So thanks to you guys—our readers—for supporting that outlet. Down with the 50 percent! Let’s make it 49.5. I think we might be able to do it.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

When Psychology Meets Classic Litarature

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Question: If people and animals seem much smaller to you than they really are, you might be having a:

a. Lilliputian hallucination
b. Flat effect
c. Dwarfish visionary response

Hint: This is a rare phenomenon named after the small people in Gulliver’s Travels. (It’s also called Alice in Wonderland syndrome.)

Do you know the answer? Check it in this month’s “Psychology Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Mental Health?”

You can come back and post your score here … if you dare!

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Violent Movies, Violent Kids: Some Researchers Question the Claims

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Media violence often leads to real-world violence in children and teens. Right? After all, both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics say so.

Yet many people still aren’t convinced—including some psychologists and researchers. Jonathan L. Freedman, author of  Media Violence and Its Effect on Aggression, has said study results are “overstated.” And associate professor Christopher J. Ferguson, Ph.D., of Texas A&M International University, says he’s found that family situations and a child’s personality are usually to blame, not the media.

We decided to host a written debate on the topic, so you could see what each side contends and decide for yourself. We asked Dr. Ferguson to argue his side against psychologist Keith D. Kanner, Ph.D., who believes the studies clearly indicate a connection. Here’s what they had to say.

What do you think? You can chime in at the end of the article or under this blog post.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter!

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance health writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Quick Guide to Breaking Bad Habits for Good

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Biting your nails. Popping your knuckles. Twirling your hair.

“Stop it!” That’s what you’ve probably told yourself over and over if you have a habit you want to break. But that’s easier said than done.

In this week’s feature article, therapist Michelle P. Maidenberg offers her guidelines for quitting for good. Rather than trying to go cold turkey, she suggests committing to a two-month process with small, attainable goals. Check out all her advice in this quick read: “How to Break Bad Habits for Good.”

What bad habit do you need to break?

Get the latest articles monthly in our free health e-newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com.

This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

How Sad Tears Are Different Than Normal Tears (and Why That’s Good)

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

by Leigh Ann Otte

Bawling your eyes out might be more than mentally good for you. It might also help you physically, says neurologist Elizabeth Reid.

Emotional tears contain much more protein than our continuous lubricating tears do. Some researchers think that, just as our kidneys cleanse our blood, so our tears cleanse us of certain emotion-related waste products.

Cool.

She reveals that fascinating tidbit in this week’s featured article, “Stress and Your Health: 10 Q&As With Experts.” You’ll also learn that yes, you can worry yourself sick—and optimism may boost your immune system.

Stress is plain bad for you. Being in a good mood? Just call that one of nature’s preventive medications.

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Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Quirky or Psychiatrist-Worthy? How to Tell If You Have a Problem

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

by Leigh Ann Otte

This week, we’re featuring one of my favorite articles: “Are You Normal? The Difference Between Quirks and Mental Illness.” In it, you get to play psychiatrist. Four fictional people tell their brief stories, and you decide whether they need help. Then, a real psychiatrist gives you his opinion.

It’s an eye-opening article that answers interesting questions like, if you hear voices, do you have schitzophrenia? If your friends think you’re obsessively neat, might you have OCD? And what do panic attacks really feel like?

After you read the article, tell us what your score was! Did you guess right?


Leigh Ann Otte
is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer, editor and blogger.

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Death of a child. What we can learn from the Travolta family tragedy?

Monday, January 5th, 2009

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

No one should have to bury their child.  A universal truth that will never be cliche.  There is nothing worse than the death of your son or daughter.  It haunts you forever.

I know from second-hand experience after my parents had to do just that when my sister died in an auto accident in her twenties.  The Travoltas know first-hand.  You can only try to cope.  But how?  What common lessons can be learned from such an unthinkable tragedy?

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Study: One in five young adults has a personality disorder. What does that really mean?

Friday, December 5th, 2008

by  James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

I need psychiatric help.  Not the usual kind (well, maybe), but someone in the psychiatric field to help me understand what this new report in the Archives of General Psychiatry is really telling us.  I know the headlines, that almost half of adults 18 to 24 have a psychiatric disorder.  Alcohol was higher in college students.  Nicotine and drug addiction was higher in non-college students, along with bipolar disorder.

How were these disorders diagnosed?  What was the criteria for diagnosis?  What are we to do about it?
Is this just another “scare of the day”?  Are smoking and drinking now “psychiatric disorders”?

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