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October 2011



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Archive for October 21st, 2011

Article Date: 21 Oct 2011 – 0:00 PDT

What is more desirable: too little or too much spare time on your hands? To be happy, somewhere in the middle, according to Chris Manolis and James Roberts from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH and Baylor University in Waco, TX. Their work shows that materialistic young people with compulsive buying issues need just the right amount of spare time to feel happier. The study is published online in Springer’s journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

We now live in a society where time is of the essence. The perception of a shortage of time, or time pressure, is linked to lower levels of happiness. At the same time, our consumer culture, characterized by materialism and compulsive buying, also has an effect on people’s happiness: the desire for materialistic possessions leads to lower life satisfaction.

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By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor

I’m a nightmare in the mornings. Seriously. Usually, I either begrudgingly shoot out of bed or crawl out — negative thoughts already swirling in my brain. Before I’ve even started my day, I’m already tense and irritated.

Maybe you can relate to being stressed or negative before you even leave the house (or in my case, walk a few steps into the home office). Not surprisingly, this doesn’t set the best tone for your day. Here’s a list of easy-peasy tips to perk up your mood and relieve any tension every morning.

1. Take a hot shower.

Water is known for having calming effects. A shower can soothe any aches and pains and help you feel refreshed and ready for the day. It does a great job of washing away your grogginess, too. (And you smell better! It’s a win-win for everyone.)


2. Eat an energy-boosting and fulfilling breakfast.

Many of us sprint out the door with a strong cup of coffee and maybe a boring bagel, if we remember to eat. Instead, take a few minutes to sit down and savor your breakfast. Pay attention to the tastes, textures and scents. If you don’t have time, still take foods on the go that you genuinely enjoy eating. Eating something nutritious and tasty nourishes both your body and your mind.

3. Notice the beauty of Mother Nature.

On your way to work, pay attention to the changing leaves and fragrant flowers, the sunshine or rainfall and the shapes the clouds have made. As Jeffrey Brantley, MD, and Wendy Millstine write in their book Five Good Minutes: 100 Morning Practices to Help You Stay Calm & Focused All Day Long: “Nature is bountiful and plentiful, and yet we often forget to take notice of nature’s simple gifts of joy and serenity…When you take this time to open your senses to the pleasures of what is just outside your door, you open your mind and body to nature’s restorative power to soothe and heal you.”

4. Take five minutes to tune into your breathing.

This can really help release any tension. Brantley and Millstine write:

Sitting or lying down, place your hand on your abdomen and inhale and exhale, deeply and slowly. Visualize a meadow with a small creek running through it. You are wading in a babbling brook, and you can hear the wind and the birds overhead. The current tugs gently at your ankles. Recognize the rhythm of your breathing. As you inhale, say the word “warm” aloud. Imagine the warmth of the sun and water around your body. As you exhale, say the word “heavy” to yourself. Allow yourself to reach a comfortable and soothing place from within.

(I guess the key is to do this without falling back asleep!)

5. Take a morning walk.

Sunlight is a mood booster. So is physical activity. Put them together, and you have a great way to start your day. Of course, if walking isn’t your thing, you can stretch first thing in the a.m. or participate in any other physical activities you enjoy.

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Waking from a beautiful dream

Eating Disorder Recovery

By John M. Grohol, PsyD
Founder & Editor-in-Chief

There’s a lucrative cottage industry in the U.S. for the residential treatment of almost anything you can imagine. Everything from “Internet addiction” and drug and alcohol problems, to eating and mood disorders. If you can treat it in an outpatient setting, the thinking goes, why not treat it in a “residential” setting for 30 or more days where you control every aspect of the patient’s life?

The “residential” treatment approach has long been available for eating disorders, since the treatment of these disorders tends to be long and complicated. Andrew Pollack writing for the New York Times notes how these kinds of programs have now become the focus of insurance companies looking to cut back on treatment options.

It’s no surprise, really. With the rollout of mental health parity — requiring that insurance companies can no longer discriminate against people with mental disorders for their treatment options — those companies are looking for other places they can cut costs. Residential treatment for eating disorders appears to be one obvious area.

So is residential treatment a legitimate modality for helping people with eating disorders? Should insurance companies cover the costs of such care?


According to one study (Frisch et al., 2006), the average length of stay in a residential treatment center for an eating disorder is 83 days. That’s nearly 3 months of full-time, round-the-clock treatment and care. The cost for such care? On average, it’s $956 per day. You read that right — nearly $1,000/day is the average cost for such care. That means a single patient at such a treatment center is bringing in, on average, $79,348.

Proponents of residential treatment admit there’s little research to back its use for eating disorders, but are adamant such programs are effective and needed:

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By Psych Central News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 14, 2011

Elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in patients with schizophrenia are associated with a higher 10-year risk for cardiovascular disease, new research suggests.

Past studies have shown that schizophrenia is associated with significant coexisting health concerns. This includes an increased risk for the metabolic syndrome — which is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (also known as heart disease).

Antoni Sicras-Mainar from Badalona Serveis Assistencials in Spain and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of administrative claims in 705 individuals who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

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Bipolar magazine

By Psych Central News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 14, 2011

Children who grow up in families where other mental disorders are present — such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or anxiety — appear to be at greater risk for developing bipolar disorder later in life, according to new research.

Researchers still do not know what causes bipolar disorder, although it is argued that family history is presently the strongest predictive factor for being diagnosed with bipolar. If an older relative has bipolar disorder, you are at greater risk for developing it.

In the present longitudinal study, led by John Nurnberger from the Indiana University School of Medicine, examined the lifetime prevalence and early clinical predictors for psychiatric disorders in 141 high-risk children and adolescents from families with a history of bipolar disorder.

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By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 18, 2011

With apologies or perhaps as depicted by Jason Statham, a new study suggests those who view their car as an extension of themselves have stronger aggressive driving tendencies.

The study looks at how personality, attitude and values contribute to aggressive driving behaviors.

Sadly, aggressive driving causes a third of all accidents that involve personal injuries and two-thirds of all fatal accidents in the United States.

“It explains much of the phenomenon we knew existed,” said Ayalla Ruvio, lead author and an assistant professor of marketing at Temple University.

For instance, “we know men tend to be more aggressive drivers and we know men tend to see their cars as an extension of themselves more than women.”

Ruvio’s article, published online in the Journal of Psychology & Marketing, takes a consumer behavior perspective of this phenomenon and features two studies conducted in Israel.

One took a holistic look at the influence of personality, attitudes and values gathered from 134 surveys of men and women with an average age of 23.5.

The second study, of 298 people, built from the first and added the factors of risk attraction, impulsivity, driving as a hedonistic activity and perceptions about time pressures.

The studies found:

  • *People who perceive their car as a reflection of their self-identity are more likely to behave aggressively on the road and break the law.
  • *People with compulsive tendencies are more likely to drive aggressively with disregard for potential consequences.
  • *Increased materialism, or the importance of one’s possessions, is linked to increased aggressive driving tendencies.
  • *Young people who are in the early stages of forming their self-identity might feel the need to show off their car and driving skills more than others. They may also be overconfident and underestimate the risks involved in reckless driving.
  • *Those who admit to aggressive driving also admit to engaging in more incidents of breaking the law.
  • *A sense of being under time and pressure leads to more aggressive driving.

  • Read in Full:
  • http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/10/18/aggressive-drivers-identify-with-their-car/30443.html

By Therese J. Borchard
Associate Editor

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Douglas Eby,
M.A./Psychology, who is a writer and researcher on the psychology of creative
expression, high ability and personal growth. He is creator of the Talent
Development Resources series of sites (including HighlySensitive.org)
at http://talentdevelop.com. I know many of you are “highly sensitive” and enjoy articles on that topic, so I am excited to pique his highly-sensitive brain today!


Question: If you had to name the top five gifts of being highly sensitive, what would they be?


1. Sensory detail

One of the prominent “virtues” of high sensitivity is the richness of sensory detail that life provides. The subtle shades of texture in clothing, and foods when cooking, the sounds of music or even traffic or people talking, fragrances and colors of nature. All of these may be more intense for highly sensitive people.

Of course, people are not simply “sensitive” or “not sensitive” — like other qualities and traits, it’s a matter of degree.

Years ago, I took a color discrimination test to work as a photographic technician, making color prints. The manager said I’d scored better, with more subtle distinctions between hues in the test charts, than anyone he had evaluated.

That kind of response to color makes visual experience rich and exciting, and can help visual artists and designers be even more excellent.

2. Nuances in meaning

The trait of high sensitivity also includes a strong tendency to be aware of nuances in meaning, and to be more cautious about taking action, and to more carefully consider options and possible outcomes.

3. Emotional awareness

We also tend to be more aware of our inner emotional states, which can make for richer and more profound creative work as writers, musicians, actors or other artists.

A greater response to pain, discomfort, and physical experience can mean sensitive people have the potential, at least, to take better care of their health.

4. Creativity

Psychologist Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, estimates about twenty percent of people are highly sensitive, and seventy percent of those are introverted, which is a trait that can also encourage creativity.

As examples, there are many actors who say they are shy, and director Kathryn Bigelow, who recently won an Academy Award, has said, “I’m kind of very shy by nature.” The star of her movie The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner (who was reportedly shy as a child), has commented that “in social situations she can be painfully shy.”

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By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 19, 2011

New research suggests musical practice and learning to recognize rhythms may help improve literacy: The ability to hear and remember instructions — a necessary part of musical ability — is critical for childhood reading skills.

In a new study, found in the journal Behavioral and Brain Functions, researchers provide a biological basis for how auditory working memory and musical aptitude are intrinsically related to reading ability.

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We trawl the world’s journals so you don’t have to:

SenseCam: The Future of Everyday Memory Research? (Memory)..

Violent and Antisocial Behavior in Women (Behavioural Sciences and the Law).
Synaesthesia (Journal of Neuropsychology).
Basic Emotion Theory (special section in Emotion Review).
Person Perception 25 years after Bruce and Young (1986) (British Journal of Psychology).
Current Issues in Training in School Psychology (Psychology in the Schools).
Understanding Non-Tenure Track Faculty: New Assumptions and Theories for Conceptualizing Behavior (American Behavioural Scientist).
Failure in psychotherapy (Journal of Clinical Psychology).





By | Editor Shaheen E Lakhan

The smell of coffee can rouse you out of bed; the taste of coffee can warm your soul. And, the caffeine in coffee can lower the risk of depression. In fact, a new study reports that the more coffee one drinks, the lower the risk.

The study, conducted by Harvard University nutritionists and epidemiologists, was recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers followed more than 50,000 women with an average age of 63 years from May 1980 to April 2004 as part of the Nurses’ Health Study. At the beginning of the study, none of the women had a diagnosis of depression. Researchers collected and analyzed self-reported data regarding tea, coffee, soft drink, and chocolate consumption. Over a 10-year period, 2607 of the women developed depression, defined as physician-diagnosed depression or antidepressant use.

The risk of developing depression was 15% lower for women who consumed 2 to 3 cups of coffee per day, compared with women who consumed less than 1 cup a week. For women who consumed 4 or more cups of coffee daily, the risk was 20% lower. This association was only found for caffeinated coffee. No association was found between depression and caffeine from other sources.

This current study does not prove cause and effect, but does suggest that caffeine has a protective effect against depression, according to the researchers. It is well known that coffee boosts mood and improves alertness, but the mechanism underlying the association with depression is not clear.

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