PsychNotes August 2010
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
August 27, 2010
Afraid of Feeling Good?
Individuals with anxiety disorders are more likely to cognitively
"dampen" positive emotions. For example, if something good happens
they are likely to think "Something bad will happen soon." Eisner
et.al.(2009) suggest that teaching people with anxiety to tolerate
and appreciate positive emotions may be another way of learning to
Eisner, L.R., Johnson, S.L, Carver, C.S. (2009).
Positive affect regulation in anxiety disorders.
Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23, 645-649.
August 20, 2010
CBT vs. Medication for Depression
Examining the effectiveness of medication (SSRI), cognitive
therapy, and the combination for depressed patients, researchers
Stulz et.al.(2010) found that the combination of CBT and medication
was more effective for those with moderately severe depression than
either CBT or medication alone. However, for those with severe or
mild depression there was no difference between the treatments.
Therefore, since many people with moderately severe depression are
treated by their primary care physicians with medication, it is
important that they also refer to cognitive behavioral therapy.
In addition, this research indicates that since there no difference
in the treatments for mild depression, it may be advisable for those
with mild depression to obtain CBT first rather than risking the side
effects of medication.
Stulz, N., Thase, M.E., Klein, D.N., Manber, R.,
Crits-Christoph, P. (2010). Differential effects of treatments for
chronic depression: A latent growth model reanalysis.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 409-419.
August 16, 2010
Exercise Can Help Adolescents With Depression
In a study following at-risk adolescent girls over a period of six
years, physical activity has been shown to reduce future increases
of depressive symptoms. However, the presence of depressive symptoms
tends to reduce physical activity (Jerstad et.al., 2010).
Therefore, it is important to help adolescents at-risk for
depression to be able to engage in physical activity. This
may be accomplished through CBT addressing the thinking about
the depression and engaging in activity.
Jerstad, S.J., Boutelle, K.N., Ness, K.K. and Stice, E.
(2010). Prospective reciprocal relations between physical
activity and depression in female adolescents.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 268-272.
Thinking Your Way to A
August 11, 2010
The Pesky Chemical Causing Social Memory
Many people believe that caffeine helps them perform better when
they are fatigued. However, is this an actual effect of the caffeine
or a placebo effect in which the individual believes he or she will
perform better and the expectation causes improved performance?
Researchers Childs and deWit (2008) examined this issue and found
that caffeine (200 mg) does indeed improve mood and enhance performance
over a placebo
on a mental task regardless of the level of caffeine use the individual
usually ingests. In addition, normally heavy caffeine users showed
the greatest decreases in energy prior to the ingestion of the caffeine.
This may indicate a dependency upon the caffeine.
Childs, E., deWit, H. (2008). Enhanced mood and psychomotor performance
by a caffeine-containing energy capsule in fatigued individuals.
Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 16, 13-21.
August 2, 2010
Coping With Traumatic Stress
To determine what methods of coping are most effective for individuals
experiencing traumatic stress, researchers Riolli and Savicki (2010)
examined the coping styles of soldiers stationed in Iraq. They found that
reinterpreting events in a more positive manner, obtaining support from
others, and using humor were related to having fewer psychological symptoms.
However, venting emotions, denying emotions, withdrawing either mentally
or physically, and substance use were related to more psychological symptoms.
Riolli, L. and Savicki, V. (2010). Coping effectiveness and coping
diversity under traumatic stress. International Journal of Stress
Management, 17, 97-113.