Sunday, May 22, 2011

Depression and treatment

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders globally. It affects from 8-12 percent of the global population, with some countries such as Japan as low as 3%, and others as high as 17% in the United States. Depression entails a generally low mood, low self esteem and anhedonic behavior. Often people have short episodes of depression in response to a difficult life experience or loss of a loved one. These cases are not diagnosed as Major Depressive Disorder because they are adaptive behavior, and very common. To really be diagnosed with depression, the behavior change must impair normal function. In most cases of depression, people will not seek out help, due to the depression, so they must have an intervention initiated by someone they know.

Treatment of depression is controversial, because there are three well known methods, Antidepressant medication, psychotherapy, and Electroconvulsive Therapy. Antidepressants, such as Zoloft, work with Serotonin to increase the levels by stopping reuptake in the synapses. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for mood in general, and high levels of serotonin in the brain correspond with happier moods. While the medication is one of the more effective methods, research has shown that often a placebo pill will create a similar improvement in mood. A drawback to medicating for depression is side effects, which can actually increase the symptoms of depression, such as anhedonia, fatigue, and suicidal thoughts, as well as nausea and headaches among other effects.

Psychotherapy involves talking with the depressed person and teaching them ways to cope with life, and to realize that facing their problems head on, rather than avoiding them is a better path to take. It may also involve analyzing the person's history and thought processes to find the origin of the depression if it is not known already. Generally, psychotherapy works well for older patients, and in conjunction with medication it shows good results.

ECT is a treatment in which the patient is anesthetized, electrodes are placed on the temples, and pulses of electricity run through the brain. The treatment has good short term results, but relapse rates are high after stopping the treatment. Continued ECT treatments however, show good results.While this is a fast acting treatment, it is used as a last resort for people who do not respond to medication or psychotherapy, because it has the side effect of memory loss and headaches.

In short, depression can be diagnosed if it impairs your life, and can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or ECT. It's a common disorder, and affects almost everyone at some time in their life.

Thanks for reading, I hope you all found it helpful and can use the information if needed!

Mumford & Sons - The Cave

Not that Mumford and Sons aren't well known, but I thought people might like to see the video of "The Cave" the song itself is pretty smooth. Above all else in this song, the guitar is the best.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Hello All, I just finished writing a paper about autism and thought I would share an overview of psychology condensed from my 10 pages!

Autism is a disorder that affects the development of children through genetic and prenatal exposure to toxins, mainly mercury and pesticides. The impairment of the child reaches into aspects of their lives such as socialization, higher order planning, and regulatory behavior. They often have difficulty in relating to others socially as well as emotionally, and have problems understanding intentionality. As well as these main impairments, autistic children will display bizarre behavior, from inspecting small objects and being fixated on them, to self-injurous behaviors, where they may display head banging, or biting and scratching themselves. The diagnosis is usually early in childhood, with signs of disconnection from emotions shown as an infant, but consistent isolated behavior throughout the rest of their lives. There are quite a few assessment tools used to diagnose and evaluate treatment of autism, ranging from standardized tests, to interviews with family, nonverbal tests for those with difficulty speaking, and observation over several settings, all in order to develop a treatment plan and help the families learn what to do to support the child. Treatments include biomedical methods involving diet change and supplementation with vitamins, digestive enzymes, thyroid medication, and melatonin, to increase nutrient intake, stop mental retardation, and regulate sleep in order to allow the child's body and mind to keep up with behavior training. Non-medical treatments include many types of training and teaching aids to activate social behavior and allow the child to socialize with their peers. The disorder is often accompanied by other disorders, such as mental retardation, epilepsy, ADHD, learning disorders, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders. All of these comorbid disorders lead to isolation and a poor life experience for the child, so early and effective treatment and training of the child are necessary to provide the child with a way to fit in and avoid depression and other disorders harmful to the child.

Autism is gaining awareness, but also gaining prevalence, with the rate of autism a little over 1 in 500. For many states there are directories of professionals who specialize in the treatment of autism, but there are also large organizations with websites that provide resources and tools for families to cope with and treat autism.

I hope you all found this interesting and informative. If you have any questions, please let me know and I can pass your questions to a professional or get some more info for you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Movie reviews

Just so everyone reading knows, all of the movies I'll review here will either be new to theaters or available on Netflix's online viewer, so if you read about a movie here you can go watch it right away. Netflix online view only costs about $8 a month, so I highly recommend it if you like movies and TV not found on basic cable.



Temperament is the view of a person and how they interact with their environment. In class we talked about the way temperament affects the effectiveness in social settings, and in self control. Temperament is affected by both the life experience, and genetic backgrounds, and can be observed as early as infancy, but can change over time. Essentially, temperament controls how the environment a person is in can affect them and their behavior. The factors taken into account when evaluating temperament are:

–Rhythmicity of biological functions
–Activity level
–Approach or withdrawal from new stimuli
–Adaptability (regulatory)
–Sensory threshold
–Predominant quality of mood
–Intensity of mood expression
–Distractibility (regulatory) Persistence/attention span (regulatory

These factors affect the ability of a person to self regulate their behaviors, such as inhibiting a natural response in order to use a more socially acceptable behavior. An example is the urge to shout an answer in the classroom being inhibited and raising a hand to answer instead. While shouting answers may produce the same effect as raising the hand to answer, shouting produces a sense in the classroom that the child has no control over their self and will cause disorder in the case that everyone else will just start shouting answers too.

The factors above also affect positive and negative reactivity, essentially the expression and development of emotions. Positive reactivity involves positive emotions such as happiness, while negative reactivity involves sadness or anger.

While temperament affects the individual's experience of the environment, the individual is also able to influence the environment based on this, whether it is a change to an aspect of the environment, or changing the environment entirely by moving to a new niche. While the environments of many people are the same, temperament determines how the individual experiences each environment and how they feel about it, explaining why some people are entirely dissatisfied with their lives, while others in the same situation are completely happy.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to let me know what you think about temperament!