THE MENTAL HEALTH REALNESS MOVEMENT IS COMING FOR YOUR CLOSET

Sure, buying a new pair of platform sneakers or bike shorts can give you a little hit of happiness in the moment. (Dopamine, I know what you’re up to.) But can fashion make a meaningful difference when it comes to improving mental well-being in the long term?

A small but growing contingent of brands are banking on it. While their aesthetics and missions are all a little different, each one draws on the lessons of the mental health realness movement—namely, they’re aiming to start a conversation around mental health concerns in order to normalize and destigmatize them.  more

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Pure OCD: A Life Story

How to Change Your Brain By Accepting that it Can’t be Changed

It’s not easy for me to confess just how often I cried in the fall of 2009. I wish I didn’t care, but I’m still a slave to some old notions. All of which is to say that I cried quite a lot, and I’m ashamed to admit it.

If you found yourself in midtown Manhattan that autumn, around noon, you may have witnessed a 26-year-old man with his hands jammed in his pockets, marching across the city. He’d usually head south to the Village, but sometimes he’d go west to Hell’s Kitchen or east to the river. He’d be wearing an outfit that just barely met the standards of “business casual”—ink-stained khakis a size too big, untucked polo, brown sneakers doing a poor imitation of dress shoes. And if you committed the ultimate New York faux pas and actually looked him in the eyes, you’d see the tears.

The forgettable 26-year-old was me, and I was crying for joy—for the beauty of the world. Who knows what inspired these tears, exactly? Maybe I had watched an old woman teach a young blind girl how to use her cane to detect a sidewalk curb, and maybe I thought, this is someone with real problems, and look at her courage. Or maybe I had phoned my mother in a panic, and she had restored my self-belief with a convincing pep talk. In any case, the bracing truth reached me: “Yes, of course! Life is wonderful, and you never want to leave! You idiot!” So the tears flowed—tears of relief and salvation.  more

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Biology may make certain PTSD patients unresponsive to behavioral therapy

How well-connected a particular brain network is, and how successfully memories are formed, may determine which patients with post-traumatic stress disorder benefit from behavioral therapy, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found.

The finding could indicate a biological subtype of PTSD whose clinical relevance only becomes obvious when patients undergo treatment, the researchers said. Furthermore, by replicating their results across a diverse range of patients, the researchers were able to clearly and objectively characterize a biological signature in PTSD patients who differ in their response to behavioral therapy.  more

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Stressed? Take a 20-minute nature pill

Taking at least twenty minutes out of your day to stroll or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature will significantly lower your stress hormone levels. That’s the finding of a study that has established for the first time the most effective dose of an urban nature experience. Healthcare practitioners can use this discovery, published in Frontiers in Psychology, to prescribe ‘nature-pills’ in the knowledge that they have a real measurable effect.

“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” says Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of this research. “Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.”  more

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The Unreliable Reader

In Esmé Weijun Wang’s book of personal essays, “The Collected Schizophrenias,” it’s the reader, not the writer, who is an unreliable narrator.

“I write this while experiencing a strain of psychosis known as Cotard’s delusion, in which the patient believes that they are dead,” the novelist Esmé Weijun Wang writes at the beginning of “Perdition Days,” an essay from her new book, The Collected Schizophrenias. (Read an excerpt on Longreads.) “What the writer’s confused state means is not beside the point, because it is the point,” she continues. “I am in here, somewhere: cogito ergo sum.” The passage moves swiftly, from first person agency (“I am writing”) to distanced third person (“the patient,” “the writer”) to the famous Descartes assertion, in Latin, “I think, therefore I am.” As a reader, it’s astonishing and a little unnerving to consider the immediacy of the prose, your intimacy with a speaker searching to find the correct vantage from which to narrate the strangely drawn, difficult-to-map districts of her mind. more

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HERE’S EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DEALING WITH ANXIETY ATTACKS

“Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore.” Okay, to most wide-eyed children, Elsa from Disney’s Frozen is just this super-cool, kind of complicated snow queen with a great singing voice and a killer side braid. But if you really boil it down, the character is oh-so-relatable to the adult set, too. Think about it: She spends most of her life hiding from the outside world. She’s so worried about what might happen that she secludes herself from all of it. Beyond withdrawing from her family and friends, she avoids her problems instead of accepting or dealing with them. And not to get all clinical, but might it be possible that Elsa was suffering from some pretty intense anxiety while she was refusing to build a snowman with sweet Anna?

Sure, it’s a cheeky comparison, but in today’s ever-busy, always-working, rise-and-grind #hustleculture, all people are practically wired for anxiety. We may not have to worry about dudes trying to steal our castles and family fortune (probably), but the demands of life today are no joke, whether you’re a successful CEO, an analyst by day and yoga instructor by night, or a living-paycheck-to-paycheck recent grad trying to figure out WTF to do next. So, in the event your worries ever percolate into anxiety-attack territory, here’s what to do.  more

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Electroshock therapy: How a new twist on an old method is helping a Triangle woman battle depression

One Triangle woman is crediting electroconvulsive therapy (shock therapy) for helping curb her depression.
Tiana, 19, said she suffered from depression for years after intense bullying in middle school.

“Because of all that bullying that happened in middle school, it took a lot for me to learn how to love myself,” she said.
She has an eye for fashion and makeup, but she said a mental breakdown left her at rock bottom.

That’s when she heard about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Doctor Lawrence Dunn, of Holly Hill Hospital, said ECT is the best and quickest treatment for depression.
However, negative stereotypes of how the treatment was previously performed put it in a negative light.  more

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Psychosis and Symbiosis: Microbiome and Schizophrenia

Fascinating new research links the gut and brain in sickness and health.

Schizophrenia is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects about 1 percent of the world population and tends to strike in the prime of life. Preventing this disease could help tens of millions of families throughout the world, so finding the risk factors for early diagnosis and treatment are paramount. We know there are genetic risks that, at the moment, can’t be changed (and as the disorder is polygenic, we will not find a single “schizophrenia gene”). Other major risk factors, such as prenatal infection, also can’t be changed 18-35 years later when the disease shows up. We know there are risk factors that can be addressed, such as using large amounts of high-THC marijuana in adolescence. But are there other factors that predispose people to schizophrenia that we may be able to address, such as changes in the microbiome?  more

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The Challenge of Going Off Psychiatric Drugs

Laura Delano recognized that she was “excellent at everything, but it didn’t mean anything,” her doctor wrote. She grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the wealthiest communities in the country. Her father is related to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and her mother was introduced to society at a débutante ball at the Waldorf-Astoria. In eighth grade, in 1996, Laura was the class president—she ran on a platform of planting daffodils on the school’s grounds—and among the best squash players in the country. She was one of those rare proportional adolescents with a thriving social life. But she doubted whether she had a “real self underneath.”

The oldest of three sisters, Laura felt as if she were living two separate lives, one onstage and the other in the audience, reacting to an exhausting performance. She snapped at her mother, locked herself in her room, and talked about wanting to die. She had friends at school who cut themselves with razors, and she was intrigued by what seemed to be an act of defiance. She tried it, too. “The pain felt so real and raw and mine,” she said.

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