Mental Health

Mental Health

How well you cope with life - your mental health - is just as important as your physical health. Worry, stress, anxiety affects everyone, but if it overwhelms your ability to cope, make good decisions, and have fulfilling relationships, you need help. Counseling, medications, and supportive friends can help strengthen your ability to cope - and improve your mental health.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered

    From an evolutionary standpoint, our near obsession with the short-term at the expense of long makes perfect sense - at least it did 100,000 years ago. Our stone age ancestors lived at a time when there was a reasonable chance of dying during the course of any given day (back then hearing the phrase "Honey I'm home" really meant something). Your decisions didn't make it to your frontal cortex where risks and benefits are balanced. It seems clear, and with good reason, humans in that older era began to equate delayed benefits with significant degree of risk since there was such a reasonable chance that future benefits would never be realized. So, for the average stone-ager the decision to go with the smaller, surer, instant reward was hardly irrational. To do anything else, now that would have been crazy. Of course our problem is that what was Mensa brilliant back in the old days doesn't work quite as well today.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered

    Another psychological phenomenon that tends to suppress our more rational tendencies is called mental accounting, and here's how it works. Ten dollars should be ten dollars - all ten-dollar bills are created equally, right? Not so. People tend to compartmentalize their money - mentally allocating what certain money should be used for, typically depending on where it came from. $50 bucks from your paycheck goes to the water bill, while $50 bucks tucked in a birthday card would never go to the bill, but rather a new slew of iTunes (in case you're wondering, my iPod playlist includes "Born to Run" by Springsteen, "Hey Yah" by Outkast, and "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand" by Primitive Radio Gods).
    Here's a classic test that will help put the concept in perspective: After buying a ten dollars movie ticket, you discover a hole in your pocket and that the ticket is gone. Do you buy another ticket? Less than half (46 percent) would. Then let's say while waiting in line to buy the ticket, you discovered the same hole and you lost a ten dollar bill. Do you still buy the ticket? Almost nine out of ten people (88 percent) would. It's ten dollars either way, but people don't view it that way.
    In essence, this example tells us we hate losing ten dollars about twice as much as we like finding it. Psychologists call this loss aversion, a psychological phenomenon whereby people feel the pain of a loss more acutely than the joy of a gain. But rather than let this effect steam-roll you into perpetually bad decisions, you need to flip it around to your advantage (like turning new-year's resolutions to through-year's resolutions).

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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered

    If you're never satisfied with the way your body looks or you're convinced that you're ugly, you might suffer from an emotional phenomenon called body dysmorphic disorder. This disorder may manifest itself in all kinds of ways - obsessing over the mirror, getting addicted to plastic surgery, and even exercising hours on end in pursuit of the perfect body. (This disorder is actually a form of obsessive compulsive disorder.)

    The real trick is trying to put into perspective what our bodies really look like, accept imperfections, and acknowledge how much work we need to do. Do that, and you're better able to take actions to feel and act better, as you try to make healthy changes to what your body looks and feels.

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    A , Administration, answered

    Cognition includes many of the ways we use our brain as a tool of our intellect, or intellectual (thinking) functioning. These functions include perception and the ability to learn new material, to remember what we have learned, to learn language, to reason and to work with abstract ideas and thoughts, and to make judgments.

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    Adjustment disorder is a condition in which a person responds to a stressful event (such as an illness, job loss, or divorce) with extreme emotions and actions that cause problems at work and home. Some of the symptoms incude: Low mood, sadness, worry, anxiety, insomnia and/or poor concentration.
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    A Social Work, answered on behalf of
    Behavior modification refers to a treatment approach that focuses on changing maladaptive behaviors and breaking bad habits. There is a wider range of approaches to this treatment, but they all focus on training clients out of maladaptive behavior. It is based on the principles of operant conditioning, which focuses on replacing maladaptive behaviors with more desirable behaviors through positive or negative reinforcement. This usually takes numerous sessions and is very specific to meet the client’s needs.      
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    A Social Work, answered on behalf of
    According to classical conditioning, a conditioned response refers to a learned response to a neutral stimulus that was previously conditioned. In a well-known Pavlovian example, a dog salivates by the sound of the bell because it was previously presented with food.
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    Mood disorders those disorders that have as their central feature a disturbance in mood.

    Major depression is characterized by one or more major depressive episodes, which are defined as experiencing two or more weeks of (1) depressed mood and/or (2) loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities. To be diagnosed with major depression, a person must experience one or both of these symptoms and a total of five or more depressive symptoms.

    Mild-to-moderate depression is called dysthymia, which involves depressed mood for a protracted period of time -- at least two years -- but without major depressive episodes. To be diagnosed with mild-to-moderate depression, a person must exhibit depressed mood plus at least two other mood-related symptoms.

    Bipolar disorder (manic depression) is cyclical. Unlike depression, which is characterized only by lows and is therefore sometimes called unipolar depression, bipolar disorder involves mood swings from very low (depression) to inappropriately high (mania). Three types of bipolar disorder are distinguished. Bipolar I disorder involves the most radical mood swings -- from major depression to extreme mania. Bipolar II disorder involves deep lows (major depression) cycling with moderate mania (hypomania). Cyclothymia is a cycling mood disorder characterized by mood alternating between mild-to-moderate depression (dysthymia) and moderate mania (hypomania).

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered

    Becoming your own best coach is probably the most helpful thing you can do for yourself in life, as well as when you are working on a behavior change:

    • A good coach helps you develop resilience; this is especially important as you work on behavior change. Setbacks and failures are not necessarily bad; they are part of the process. Setbacks can make you stronger. As you learn and grow and begin to change, of course you will hit bumps in the road. Everybody does. You will inevitably fall from time to time, but falling down and getting right back up are an essential part of the learning process. Through it, you learn how to be resilient.
    • Another important coaching skill is the ability to reframe the way you look at a situation so that you can see it in a positive light. I'm not suggesting that you be unrealistic in a bad situation, but in everything that happens to us there is something positive - even in the toughest times.
    • As you coach yourself, understand that the biggest driving force for change must come from within you, not from external forces. Just as you can't force other people to change, neither can anyone force you to change. Your family and friends can certainly be influential in helping you, but that's all they can do. The real work has to come from you. Change does not happen overnight; it comes in stages.
    • A good coach helps you find the things you can change and work around the things you cannot. For example, you can optimize your immediate environment so that it has a positive influence on your behavior.
    • A good coach recognizes that you are unique and that different strategies work for different people. The trick here is to find what works for you in your own individual way.
    • A good coach encourages you to practice goal visualization, which is the ability to visualize yourself having already achieved the goals you are working toward.
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    A , Health Education, answered

    The ego's not a bad thing. It's necessary. We need to have something to work with-something to grow from. Our ego gives us each a unique playing field for life, where we can learn and create and evolve.

    The problem is that we think it's all we are. In reality we are far, far more. And less too. We all have a true inner self-a part of our being that can't be diminished or exalted by possessions or circumstances and has nothing to do with our likes and dislikes. It's not determined by our history or our attachment to material and emotional things. The true self is that part of us that's connected to all other life and yet is distinctly us. We don't often see it; it's frequently overshadowed by the big, noisy, dramatic false self (the ego). But sometimes we get glimpses of it through conscience, acts of altruism, and moments of joy. Mostly it is revealed in times of deep suffering.