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College Roommates May Underestimate Each Other's Distress
Although college can be an exciting time, many students feel extreme pressure to succeed both academically and socially, and this can lead to serious distress.A new study at New York University (NYU) finds that even someone as close as a roommate may not recognize just how stressed their living partner is. With a little training, however, roommates may be in the best position to help detect each other's distress and offer support.“College students can detect certain levels of distress in their roommates and spot changes over the course of a semester, but they nonetheless underestimate the absolute level of distress,” said Dr. Patrick Shrout, a professor in NYU's Department of Psychology and the study's senior author.Although the study participants had not been trained to spot distress, the researchers suggest that, with proper training, college roomates are in a good place to help identify students who are struggling with their mental health.“More universal training on how to identify and respond to the distress of peers might have the benefit of encouraging conversations among roommates about what actions each might take if he or she notices another experiencing extreme distress,” write Shrout and lead author and doctoral student Qi Xu, in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.The study involved 187 same-sex undergraduate roommate pairs who included Asian, Black, Hispanic, White, and biracial students. At two points during the academic year — February and April — each roommate in the pair reported his or her own distress level as well as that perceived in the other roommate. Comparing these reports allowed the researchers to quantify accuracy and bias.The findings show that the roommate pairs systematically underestimated each other's levels of distress, and that students tended to believe their partner's distress was similar to their own. Even so, the roommates' evaluations of one another did reflect a component of truth: The students who were judged to be most distressed were those who tended to self-report extreme distress.Because the survey was conducted twice, the researchers were able to see which students were becoming more (or less) distressed over time and were able to compare the changes to roommates' rankings.The biases found at the separate time points did not carry over to the inferences about distress change. When students' reports indicated that their roommates were experiencing more distress, the target roommates tended to self-report more distress as well.The researchers say that with proper training on [...]
Tue, Feb 20, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
Brain Imaging Can Predict CBT Effectiveness for OCD
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have developed a new method to predict whether a person with obsessive compulsive disorder would benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy.Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a challenging, life-long mental health disorder marked by repetitive thoughts and actions that can seriously impair work performance, relationships, and quality of life. Examples of OCD include washing hands needlessly dozens of times of day, or spending so much time perfecting schoolwork that it never gets turned in.OCD is most commonly treated with medication and a form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy. Unfortunately, cognitive behavioral therapy does not help everyone with OCD, and the treatment can be expensive and time-consuming.In the new study, researchers have developed a way to use brain scans and machine learning — a form of artificial intelligence — to predict whether people with OCD will benefit from cognitive behavior therapy.The technique could help improve the overall success rate of cognitive behavioral therapy, and it could enable therapists to tailor treatment to each patient.A paper describing the work appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.“If the results of this study are replicated in future studies, the methods we used could potentially give clinicians a new predictive tool,” said Nicco Reggente, a UCLA doctoral student and the study's first author.“If a patient is predicted to be a non-responder to cognitive behavioral therapy, clinicians could pursue different options.”Using a functional MRI machine, or fMRI, the researchers scanned the brains of 42 people with OCD, ages 18 to 60, before and after four weeks of intensive, daily cognitive behavioral therapy. Researchers specifically analyzed how different areas of the brain activate in sync with each other — a property called functional connectivity — during a period of rest.Functional MRI does this by measuring blood flow in the brain, which correlates with neurons' activity levels.In addition, the scientists assessed the severity of participants' OCD symptoms before and after the treatment, using a scaled system in which a lower score indicates less severe or less frequent symptoms.The researchers fed the participants' fMRI data and symptom scores into a computer and then used machine learning to determine which people would respond. In machine learning, computers are trained to recognize common patterns in mountains of data by exposing them to numerous variations of the same thing.The machine-learning program predicted which patients would fail to respond to cognitive behavioral [...]
Mon, Feb 19, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy News
Social Media Can Help Start Healing Process
In a new study, investigators at Drexel University examined how and why women decide to disclose pregnancy loss on Facebook. Their findings shed light on a shift in our social media behavior that is making it easier for people to come forward and share their painful, personal, and often stigmatized stories.“While many use Facebook to largely talk about happy and light topics and believe that to be the expected norm on this platform, some people make complicated decisions to talk about things that are not all that happy,” said Nazanin Andalibi, a doctoral candidate in Drexel's College of Computing & Informatics.Andalibi is the lead author of the study to be published in the Proceedings of the 2018 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.The investigation is the first piece of research to use the lens of pregnancy loss to look at how and why people use social media to share their sensitive and stigmatized stories.“Our research looks at why and how people decide to use social media to share their traumatic experiences that often have a social stigma attached to them.”Andalibi and co-author Andrea Forte, Ph.D., an associate professor in the College of Computing & Informatics, chose to focus on pregnancy loss disclosures because one in five pregnancies in the United States lead to a pregnancy loss, yet most people –approximately 55 percent — still think it's a rare occurrence.A discrepancy in understanding of this magnitude tends to fuel stigmatization and feelings of isolation; by contrast, raising awareness can not only help reduce the stigma, but also aid in the emotional process of recovering from such a loss.“Pregnancy loss is a stigmatized reproductive health complication, associated with negative wellbeing effects such as depression and PTSD, changes people's sense of identity, impacts their relationships, and it often elicits negative or unsupportive responses when disclosed,” Andalibi said.“Understanding how and why women talk about pregnancy loss on social networking sites could help us and technologists to design services that facilitate safe disclosures and supportive interactions to form around them when people experience distress and stigma.The potential for improved well-being through access to social support makes pregnancy loss a productive context for research on designing social computing systems for safe disclosures and support seeking.”By interviewing 27 women, all social media users, who had recently experienced pregnancy loss, the researchers built a framework for understanding why people are now turning to social media [...]
Mon, Feb 19, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
A systematic review of existing studies lists the many ways in which pets provide people with mental health issues some much-needed comfort. [...]
Mon, Feb 19, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
A new study has examined the psychological benefits and disadvantages of self-deprecating humor. The findings may come as a surprise for many. [...]
Sun, Feb 18, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
Researchers found that playing a video game for just 1 hour led to an increase in brain activity and improved visual selective attention. [...]
Sat, Feb 17, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
From writing to dancing, creative activities can make our life more fun. Studies show that they can actually do wonders for our mental and physical health. [...]
Fri, Feb 16, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
New research finds that a romantic relationship helps buffer lesbian and gay youth from the negative effects of bullying and victimization. Furthermore, being involved in a relationship helps to significantly reduce psychological distress among gays and lesbians. Conversely, relationship involvement among bisexual youth increased psychological distress.The Northwestern Medicine study, conducted in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati, is the first to discover that an active relationship provides better support than that conveyed from family or friends.“Romantic relationships add luster to life,” said corresponding author Brian Mustanski, the director of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.“Your romantic partner can be the first person you reach out to when you have good news to celebrate or for a shoulder to cry on when you have bad news. Having a partner then can amplify the good things in life and provide critical support during tough times.”While the benefits of being in a romantic relationship to mental health is well documented in adults, limited research has been conducted on the association between dating relationships and mental health in young people.Even fewer researchers have examined the potential stress-buffering effects of romantic involvement for sexual minority groups.“There are lot of questions about if and how we should help LGBT teens form romantic relationships, so that they can have the same experiences of dating and learning about relationships as their heterosexual peers,” said Sarah Whitton, first author and associate professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati.“The findings suggest there might be great value in initiatives that could help LGBT youth meet other youth such as citywide ‘queer proms,' and engage in healthy learning about dating and romance.”The paper appears in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.Romantic involvement was associated with higher psychological distress for bisexual individuals, however, the study also showed.Researchers discovered that when bisexuals were in relationships, they were 19 percent more distressed than when they were not in relationships. When lesbian and gay individuals were in relationships, they were 17 percent less distressed than when they were not in relationships.“Bisexuals may face unique stressors in relationships,” Mustanski said.In previous research, bisexual women reported their romantic male partners expected threesomes with another female and perceived of the woman's bisexuality as a threat to their own masculinity.Bisexual men in relationships with women described difficulties discussing their bisexuality and experiencing stereotypes that they are [...]
Fri, Feb 16, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
A look at emotional eating when people use food to cope with emotions, such as stress. Included is detail on the causes and common triggers to avoid. [...]
Thu, Feb 15, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Anxiety and Stress
A look at tightness in the throat, an uncomfortable feeling that has a range of causes. Included is detail on anxiety and the symptoms of the condition. [...]
Thu, Feb 15, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Anxiety and Stress
Depression, Fatigue Up Risk of Women's Work Injuries
New research finds that depression, anxiety, and fatigue cause women to have an increased risk of being injured at work. Investigators found that although men were more likely to be injured at work, mental health factors only affected a women's chance of work injury, not men.The study, by researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health's Center for Health (SPH), Work & Environment appears in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.“The findings of our study demonstrate that keeping workers safe requires more than your typical safety program. It requires an integrated approach that connects health, well-being, and safety,” said Dr. Natalie Schwatka, the study's lead author. Schwatka is an assistant professor in the Colorado SPH's Center for Health, Work & Environment and Department of Environmental and Occupational Health.The authors collaborated with Colorado's largest workers' compensation insurer, Pinnacol Assurance, to examine the claims data of 314 businesses from a range of industries. Close to 17,000 employees ranging from executives to laborers were represented in the study.The researchers found that men were more likely to sustain a work-related injury but behavioral health factors, like poor sleep and anxiety, did not directly affect their risk of injury. Women were more likely to report experiencing mental and behavioral health issues and these conditions increased their risk of getting hurt on the job.Almost 60 percent of women with a work injury reported experiencing a behavioral health condition before they were injured, compared to 33 percent of men.Yet Schwatka cautioned that further research is needed to understand why there are differences in women's and men's risk of work-related injuries. Overall, workers who had an injury in the past were more likely to be injured again, regardless of their gender.“There a number of social and cultural factors that may explain why women reported having more behavioral health concerns than men did. Men generally admit to fewer health concerns,” said Schwatka.“And women may face different stresses at work and at home. It's something that is worth exploring in future research.”Source: University of Colorado/EurekAlert [...]
Thu, Feb 15, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
A new study examines how stress affects pairs of male and female mice. It reveals that not only is stress contagious, but it also leads to brain changes. [...]
Thu, Feb 15, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Anxiety and Stress
Tactics to Avoid Infidelity
New research highlights methods to maintain love in our intimate relationships and also identifies predictors or risk factors for failed relationships. The topic is timely for Valentine's Day, a time many use to share our love to special individuals. The study is the first to find evidence of psychological responses that help a person avoid infidelity.Florida State University (FSU) psychology researchers Jim McNulty, Andrea Meltzer, Anastasia Makhanova, and Jon Maner discovered factors that lead to infidelity, as well as prevent it. Their findings provide reassurance that many of us are equipped with the basic psychological instincts to have a successful intimate relationship that lasts.The research, which appears in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology confirms that cheating on a partner is one of the surest ways to cause a breakup.Investigators believe the findings are more important than ever. The divorce rate in the United States ranges between 40 and 50 percent, and the ubiquity of social media makes it easier to connect with others. There is a compelling need, the researchers concluded, to develop new ways that help people maintain long-term relationships.The FSU research team followed 233 newly married couples for up to three and a half years and documented intimate details about their relationships. The introspection included assessment of marital satisfaction, long-term commitment, whether they had engaged in infidelity and if they were still together.McNulty, Meltzer, Makhanova, and Maner tested two psychological processes that everyone shares in varying degrees: Attentional Disengagement and Evaluative Devaluation of potential romantic partners.Disengagement from possible partners is the ability to direct attention away from an attractive person who could be considered a romantic option.Devaluation of possible partners is a tendency to mentally downgrade the attractiveness of another person, even if he or she is especially good looking.The team tested newlyweds on those processes by showing them photographs of highly attractive men and women, as well as average-looking men and women.Researchers discovered that participants who quickly disengaged their attention from an attractive person were less likely to engage in infidelity. The time of that response was notable: Individuals who looked away in as little as a few hundred milliseconds faster than average were nearly 50 percent less likely to have sex outside marriage.Conversely, partners who took significantly longer to look away from romantic alternatives had a higher risk of infidelity, and their marriages were more likely to fail.The tendency to devalue, [...]
Wed, Feb 14, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy News
Learn about why your stomach feels tight. We take a look at the various causes, treatments, and conditions associated with a tight stomach. [...]
Tue, Feb 13, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Anxiety and Stress
Drinking is more harmful for the brain than using marijuana, say researchers, after finding that the former changes the structure of gray and white matter. [...]
Mon, Feb 12, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs
Just 1 of 3 of Those Diagnosed with Depression Start Treatment
A new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine finds that only about one in three individuals newly diagnosed with depression actually begin treatment.According to the findings, of more than 240,000 patients who received a new diagnosis of depression in a primary care setting, only 35.7 percent initiated antidepressant medication or psychotherapy within 90 days of their diagnosis. The numbers are a little better among those with more severe depression — around half start treatment.The study also found significant differences between various racial, ethnic, and age groups. The odds of Asians, non-Hispanic blacks, and Hispanics starting treatment were at least 30 percent lower than non-Hispanic whites. The researchers also discovered that patients who were 60 years or older at the time of diagnosis were half as likely to begin treatment as patients under the age of 44.“There was some older, more limited evidence that many people who are diagnosed with depression do not begin treatment, for reasons ranging from stigma to challenges accessing behavioral health services,” said Beth Waitzfelder, Ph.D., lead author and investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Honolulu.She noted that additional evidence has shown that some patient populations are particularly vulnerable to being untreated.“Our study, which was much larger than previous studies, provides important new evidence about the current scope of the problem among leading health care systems across the country that are striving to improve depression care in primary care settings,” said Waitzfelder.“Screening for depression in primary care is a positive step toward improving detection, treatment, and outcome for depression, but disparities persist. We need a better understanding of the patient and other factors that influence treatment initiation.”The researchers analyzed electronic health records, insurance claims and demographic data, to identify patients who received a new diagnosis of depression in primary care settings in five large health care systems between 2010 and 2013.Among depressed patients who did begin treatment, more than 80 percent started taking antidepressant medication rather than psychotherapy. Older patients in particular were less likely to choose psychotherapy. For example, only seven percent of patients age 75 and older started counseling, compared to 25 percent of patients age 18-29.All racial and ethnic minorities were more likely than non-Hispanic whites to start psychotherapy rather than medication — an important reminder that health care providers and organizations need to consider the preferences of patients when developing treatment strategies and recommendations.“Over the last [...]
Sat, Feb 10, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy News
Lower back pain can prevent a person from sleeping well, which, in itself, can make back pain worse. Learn about how to sleep to reduce back pain. [...]
Sat, Feb 10, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia News
Cognitive Enhancement Therapy Improves Autism Outcomes in Adults
Emerging research may represent a potential breakthrough for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Investigators compared common interventions and discovered one method resulted in significant neurocognitive improvement that enhanced employability.The findings are salient as prior research has skewed away from adult autism and instead has focused on early detection and childhood treatment. Investigators from the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work and the Department of Psychiatry collaborated for over six years on the project.Researchers explain that adults with autism often experience significant challenges including unemployment, social impairment, and poor quality of life. It is believed that the challenges people with autism have in processing and understanding information contribute to these difficulties in adulthood.But treatments to address such problems are virtually non-existent.The study, “Cognitive enhancement therapy for adult autism spectrum disorder: Results of an 18-month randomized clinical trial,” involved 54 adults. Shaun Eack, Ph.D., M.S.W., an Epperson Professor of Social Work and Psychiatry, and Nancy Minshew, M.D., Pitt professor of psychiatry and neurology, led the study.The study tested two randomly assigned treatments: cognitive enhancement therapy (CET) and enriched supportive therapy (EST).CET focused on helping adults improve their thinking and social understanding through computer-based exercises designed to improve attention, memory, and problem-solving. This technique also includes small group exercises designed to help individuals take the perspectives of others and better understand social situations.The computerized part of the treatment was administered to pairs of adults with autism to help improve their neurocognitive abilities, such as attention and cognitive flexibility. These abilities are important precursors to higher-level skills involved in problem-solving, self-regulation, and social communication.After several months of computer training, the participant pairs then joined to form a small group focused on social cognition, or thinking abilities involved in understanding others and processing social information. Participants engaged in these computerized and group-based components for approximately three hours a week.The second treatment tested, EST, was a one-on-one hour-long session per week in which the participants learned to manage their emotions and stress, improve their social skills, and cope with everyday problems.EST builds on traditional psychotherapy practices, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, and uses them to help adults with autism become more aware of their triggers of stress and implement effective strategies to cope with stress and negative emotions.The treatment also provided education to help adults with autism understand their condition, which was an additional [...]
Fri, Feb 09, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy News
How does exercise benefit body and brain? A new study describes how muscular activity improves metabolism and the immune system and reduces depression. [...]
Wed, Feb 07, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Depression
Drinking tea at high temperatures could tip the health balance in favor of esophageal cancer for those who already indulge in other guilty pleasures. [...]
Tue, Feb 06, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs

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