October 31, 2011
I have to admit that though I receive The American Psychologist (the main journal of the APA) monthly, I rarely get through more than one article per issue because the articles are so dense. This month, there was a great article about Lifestyle and Mental Health. What I loved about this article is that there was nothing all that radical in it; it simply listed dozens and dozens of published articles that support the association between improved mental and physical health with exercise, nutrition and diet, time in nature, relationships, recreation, relaxation and stress management, religious or spiritual involvement and service to others.
These “lifestyle” issues are all things that I have been talking about with my patients in therapy for years. This article simply provides a wonderful review of the scientific literature that supports these lifestyle changes. Take a moment and read through the article. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to make a few lifestyle changes of your own.
October 20, 2011
The CDC just put out a report about Americans’ use of antidepressants. The paper has already gotten a bunch of press (Washington Post, CNN, Reuters to name a few). Some of the key bullet points of the paper are:
- Eleven percent of Americans aged 12 years and over take antidepressant medication.
- Females are more likely to take antidepressants than are males, and non-Hispanic white persons are more likely to take antidepressants than are non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American persons.
- About one-third of persons with severe depressive symptoms take antidepressant medication.
- More than 60% of Americans taking antidepressant medication have taken it for 2 years or longer, with 14% having taken the medication for 10 years or more.
- Less than one-third of Americans taking one antidepressant medication and less than one-half of those taking multiple antidepressants have seen a mental health professional in the past year.
Wow, that’s a lot of info to digest, but a couple points stand out for me: 1) only one third of severely depressed people take antidepressants, and 2) less than one third of people taking antidepressants have seen a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker. What this means is that the people who most need antidepressant medication are not taking any, and most people who are taking such medication don’t access services that can either replace, or serve as adjunctive treatment to, the antidepressant medication they are already taking.
October 18, 2011
The Wall Street Journal just ran a nice little piece on how to go about choosing the right therapist. I love seeing articles like this in publications like that. The article noted there are different types of therapists, therapies, etc and that what works for one person might not work for the next.
I loved that the author suggested becoming an informed consumer when seeing psychotherapy, but readers should know that some of the suggestion questions are not always answerable. For example, it is perfectly appropriate to ask a therapist about his training or her experience in working with your particular symptoms. It is also quite reasonable to ask about the proposed treatment approach, duration of treatment, etc. However some of these questions cannot be answered definitively after just one session. For example, new patients to my practice often ask, at the end of the initial consultation, how long will therapy take. I explain that I really can’t answer that question with much confidence because there are simply too many variables – - known and unknown variables – - that will affect the duration of our work together.
I add that there are some folks I work with for just a handful of sessions and that is all they need to achieve their desired goals, and there are other people who I have worked with for several years. A key element within longer-term treatment is regularly circling back throughout the therapeutic process and reassessing if it is still appropriate to continue treatment; I would never want to work with a patient (and charge him or her, of course, for services rendered) and have the treatment not be of significant benefit. Ethically, any good psychologist would terminate treatment if s/he feels it is no longer of benefit to the patient.
October 3, 2011
Most of the consulting and clinical work I do regarding disruptive behavior centers around the disruptive individual. Though I often make recommendations to the organization about the systemic issues that might be contributing to the acting out of a professional within the system, I usually tend to work with individuals far more often than working with the organization.
I came across a nice article about an organizational approach to understanding and “detoxing” a work setting. The authors explain the significant detrimental effects of disruptive (or toxic) behavior in the workplace and a systemic approach to understanding the dynamics of the organization.