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PsychNotes December 2016
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical and Sport Psychologist

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December 20, 2016

On the Importance of Healthy Eating When Severely Depressed

healthy food
Often the last thing a person with depression wants to think about is eating healthy. Either they don't consume enough calories or they eat junk foods. When I've treated those with depression, the focus frequently has been on setting small food-related goals.

The reason this is an important focus is that one of the hallmark symptoms of depression is lack of energy and one of the keys to energy is food. If they don't consume enough calories the depression will only be compounded. Read more...

December 15, 2016

New Article: When Your Loved One Refuses Help

woman surrounded by hands offering help
One of the most frustrating aspects of living with someone who has a mental illness is when that person refuses to get help. Often, seeing the individual's pain and suffering, the parent or spouse desperately wants to help but feels helpless.

Unfortunately, there's no easy solution. And there's certainly no quick solution which is often why family member's attempts at solving the problem is more likely to cause a deterioration of the situation—they try quick fixes such as telling their family member what to do or giving ultimatums.

The following doesn't offer any magic words to use to convince your loved one to seek help. Instead, it describes a process of understanding your loved one better, improving your relationship, and helping to remove the obstacles to seeking help. Read more...

December 5, 2016

Steps to Reduce Holiday Stress When Encountering Family Demands

  • Read: A Rational Approach to the Holidays

  • winter wreath
    1) Consider your needs and desires. Become aware of your needs. Ask yourself what it is that you want. Do this without censoring your thoughts--allow yourself to consider freely your needs. "If I could do anything I want without any consequences, what would it be?"

    2) Determine the real consequences, not the imagined ones. Consider that if you did what you want, what the consequences, in reality, would be. Don't catastrophize. Will your mother truly never speak to you again or will she just be disappointed? If she truly will never speak to you again, perhaps it's not a healthy relationship and the holidays are the least of your problems. Read more...

    December 2, 2016

    Persistence, Zest for Life, and Mindfulness

    woman doing yoga on a ledge over a river gorge
    Zest for life is a measure of resilience, a person's will and ability to persist in the face of adversity. Those who are low on this measure are more at-risk for suicide especially when they feel isolated or believe they are a burden to others.

    Recent research found that mindfulness can increase the willingness to persist for those with these personality and situational factors when confronted with difficult conditions. Read more...

    December 1, 2016

    The Stress Hormone and Mental Abilities in Older Adults

    older couple taking a walk
    As people age, cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and reasoning often decrease but such decline isn't entirely unavoidable. Research has shown that higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, contributes to poorer cognitive functioning.

    However, researcher Rosnick and colleagues (2016) showed that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) decreased cortisol levels for those already being treated with anti-depressants for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, a condition characterized by excessive worry. Thus, they indicate that adding CBT to pharmacological treatments may improve cognitive functioning. Read more...

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