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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Are We Ready For An Implant That Can Change Our Moods?

Our thoughts and fears, movements and sensations all arise from the electrical blips of billions of neurons in our brain. Streams of electricity flow through neural circuits to govern these actions of the brain and body, and some scientists think that many neurological and psychiatric disorders may result from dysfunctional circuits.

As this understanding has grown, some scientists have asked whether we could locate these faulty circuits, reach deep into the brain and nudge the flow to a more functional state, treating the underlying neurobiological cause of ailments like tremors or depression.  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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As suicides rise in Wisconsin and across the U.S., our ‘wounded healers’ are more important than ever

THEY ARE THE COUNSELORS AND SOCIAL WORKERS OFTEN BEST ABLE TO HELP PEOPLE RECOVER BECAUSE THEY’VE BEEN THERE THEMSELVES.

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or text “Hopeline” to the National Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

From China to Europe, from India to South America, average suicide rates around the world have fallen 33 percent since 1990.

Not in the United States. American suicide rates are at their highest levels since World War II, making suicide the second leading cause of death between ages 10-34, government data show.

The increase in suicides, combined with record levels of drug overdoses and alcohol-related fatalities, are so extreme that they’re lowering the life expectancy of the average American. Mental health problems disable more American workers than any other affliction — suburban, rural or urban — and caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue are epidemic.  more

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Interview: Artist with Anxiety Illustrates Mental Health Tips She Learns in Therapy

Illustrator Kate Allan was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder as an adult. The identification not only validated her experience, but it has given her the opportunity to use her artistic talent to help herself and others in the quest for improved mental health. Allan has taken what she’s learned since entering therapy to create a mental health comic about mindfulness. “Mindfulness,” she says on Twitter, “can be useful for literally everyone, but I found it particularly helpful for anxiety—this exercise got me out of the house and functioning again.”

Through the guidance of a cute bunny, Allan’s 10-panel comic introduces mindfulness and how it can help pinpoint emotions. By noticing, acknowledging, and thinking through feelings, the practice emphasizes that emotions are temporary—not part of our identity. You, for example, are not sad, but you are experiencing sadness at this moment. The feeling will pass, just as all others eventually will. Allan treats this serious subject without judgment and through a charming presentation. It’s thoughtfully created and, above all, is comforting to those who have anxiety; Allan is reminding us that no one is alone.  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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