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PsychNotes August 2010
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical and Sport Psychologist

Index        Previous        Next 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 manage anxiety.

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.

Read: Thinking Your Way to A Healthy Weight

August 11, 2010

The Pesky Chemical Causing Social Memory Problems

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.

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