Ever since I can remember, my grandma has kept a daily journal. Not a “Dear Diary,” emotion-filled journal — just a couple of lines jotting down what she did that day and whom she was with. Often, when the family is together, she’ll dig out one of her old journals and tell us what she and various other family members were doing on a random day, in, say, 1994. I’ve always been amazed at how interesting these little moments are in retrospect.So this morning, as I listened to the newest episode of Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier” podcast, I was intrigued to hear her urge her listeners to adopt the habit my grandma has been following for years. Rubin calls it a one-sentence journal, and she herself has kept one for nearly a decade now. On her show, she talked about how she believes that reliving those daily moments has helped make her happier.
There’s even some research backing up Rubin (and my grandma) on this: Last year, Ting Zhang at Harvard Business School published a paper in Psychological Science outlining a series of experiments testing how much people appreciate memories of the day-to-day moments from their lives. She asked people, for example, to write about a recent conversation, and then to rate whether the chat was ordinary or extraordinary; they then guessed how much they’d appreciate reading their written account of the chat in the future.
Seven months later, Zhang contacted participants, asked them to read the memory they’d written down, and then to tell her how much they enjoyed it. Not only did most participants enjoy rediscovering the written record of the months-old conversation more than they’d anticipated, but those who’d written about an ordinary conversation were particularly likely to underestimate how much they’d appreciate reliving the memory.
What seems like an ordinary moment today, in other words, could become a little more special with time. As one participant in Zhang’s study said, “Re-reading this event of doing mundane stuff with my daughter has certainly brightened my day. I’m glad I chose that event to write about because of the incredible joy it gives me at this moment.”
Alex Pietrowski, Waking Times| One of the world’s leading pediatric neuroscientists, Dr. Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D, recently stated publicly that Attention Deficit/Hyper-Activity Disorder (ADHD) is not ‘a real disease,’ and warned of the dangers of giving psycho-stimulant medications to children.Speaking to the Observer, Dr. Perry noted that the disorder known as ADHD should be considered a description of a wide range of symptoms that many children and adults exhibit, most of which are factors that everyone of us displays at some point during our lives.
“It is best thought of as a description. If you look at how you end up with that label, it is remarkable because any one of us at any given time would fit at least a couple of those criteria,” he said.
His comments are quite refreshing at a time when diagnoses for ADHD in the UK and the US are sky-rocketing and prescriptions of stimulant medications to children are also rising rapidly, with many parents and concerned activists growing suspicious of the pharmaceutical industry’s motivations in promoting drugs to children. Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse and other mind-altering stimulant medications are increasingly prescribed to children between the ages of 4 and 17.
Dr. Perry noted that the use of medications like these may be dangerous to the overall physical and mental development of the child, remarking on studies where these medications were given to animals and were proven detrimental to health.
“If you give psychostimulants to animals when they are young, their rewards systems change. They require much more stimulation to get the same level of pleasure.
“So on a very concrete level they need to eat more food to get the same sensation of satiation. They need to do more high-risk things to get that little buzz from doing something. It is not a benign phenomenon.
“Taking a medication influences systems in ways we don’t always understand. I tend to be pretty cautious about this stuff, particularly when the research shows you that other interventions are equally effective and over time more effective and have none of the adverse effects. For me it’s a no-brainer.”
Given that the problem of ADHD is complex and the term is more of a blanket term used to describe a wide range of behavioral symptoms, it is important to consider what the root causes of many of the symptoms may be before pharmaceutical intervention should be considered. Citing potential remedies, Dr. Perry suggested an approach that focuses attention on the parents and the child’s environment, while also recommending natural remedies like Yoga, and improved diet.
“There are number of non-pharmacological therapies which have been pretty effective. A lot of them involve helping the adults that are around children,” he said.
“Part of what happens is if you have an anxious, overwhelmed parent, that is contagious. When a child is struggling, the adults around them are easily disregulated too. This negative feedback process between the frustrated teacher or parent and dis-regulated child can escalate out of control.
“You can teach the adults how to regulate themselves, how to have realistic expectations of the children, how to give them opportunities that are achievable and have success and coach them through the process of helping children who are struggling.
“There are a lot of therapeutic approaches. Some would use somato-sensory therapies like yoga, some use motor activity like drumming.
“All have some efficacy. If you can put together a package of those things: keep the adults more mannered, give the children achievable goals, give them opportunities to regulate themselves, then you are going to minimise a huge percentage of the problems I have seen with children who have the problem labelled as ADHD.”
Many people may disagree with the assertion that ADD/ADHD should not be considered a disease, however, the fact remains that the myriad symptoms that are associated with these increasingly common ‘disorders’ can often be addressed and relieved without creating an addiction and dependency on pharmaceutical medications, which disrupt the mind and body in ways that are not fully understood or even researched.
The Pleasantville, N.Y., developmental pediatrician won’t allow drug marketers in his office, and says he doesn’t always prescribe medication for children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Yet Dr. Bertin has recently changed the way he talks about medication, offering parents a powerful argument. Recent research, he says, suggests the pills may “normalize” the child’s brain over time, rewiring neural connections so that a child would feel more focused and in control, long after the last pill was taken.
“There might be quite a profound neurological benefit,” he said in an interview.
A growing number of doctors who treat the estimated 6.4 million American children diagnosed with A.D.H.D. are hearing that stimulant medications not only help treat the disorder but may actually be good for their patients’ brains. In an interview last spring with Psych Congress Network, an Internet news site for mental health professionals, Dr. Timothy Wilens, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, said “we have enough data to say they’re actually neuroprotective.” The pills, he said, help “normalize” the function and structure of brains in children with A.D.H.D., so that, “over years, they turn out to look more like non-A.D.H.D. kids.”
Medication is already by far the most common treatment for A.D.H.D., with roughly 4 million American children taking the pills — mostly stimulants, such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. Yet the decision can be anguishing for parents who worry about both short-term and long-term side effects. If the pills can truly produce long-lasting benefits, more parents might be encouraged to start their children on these medications early and continue them for longer.
Leading A.D.H.D. experts, however, warn the jury is still out.
“Sometimes wishful thinking gives us hope that the impressive short-term relative benefits of medication over other treatments will persist beyond childhood, but I haven’t seen it,” said James Swanson, director of the Child Development Center at the University of California at Irvine. Dr. Swanson, a co-author of a landmark federally funded study, the Multimodal Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, said that follow-up research found overall improvement but no greater long-term benefits after three years for children who were treated with medication compared to those who weren’t. One possible reason, as the report noted, was that many children refuse to continue taking medication after a year or so, something most parentsof such children well know.
Research has shown that the brains of people with A.D.H.D. on average look and function differently than those who don’t have the disorder, particularly when it comes to processing two important neurotransmitters: dopamine and norepinephrine. For most people with A.D.H.D., stimulants can temporarily boost focus, motivation and self-control by increasing the availability of these chemical messengers. The question is whether these effects can last once the drugs have left the bloodstream.
In arguing for “normalization,” Dr. Wilens cited a major review in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in late 2013, which looked at 29 brain-scan studies. Although the studies had different methods and goals, the authors said that, together, they suggested that stimulants “are associated with attenuation of abnormalities in brain structure, function, and biochemistry in subjects with A.D.H.D.”
But other A.D.H.D. experts challenge this conclusion. Dr. F. Xavier Castellanos, director of research at the New York University Child Study Center, called assertions that stimulants are neuroprotective “exaggerated,” adding: “The best inference is that there is no evidence of harm from medications – normalization is a possibility, but far from demonstrated.”
A.D.H.D. is an exceptionally controversial diagnosis, with particular controversy zeroing in on researchers, including Dr. Wilens himself and some of the authors of the 2013 report he cited who have received financial support from pharmaceutical firms. In an email, Dr. Wilens said he had not received “any personal income” from the pharmaceutical industry since 2009.
As several experts noted, a major impediment to determining the long-term impacts of A.D.H.D. medication is that a “gold-standard” study would require researchers to assign children randomly to groups that either received medication or didn’t. Such a practice has been deemed unethical due to the widespread belief that the medication can help struggling children, at least in the short-term.
And other research has raised new concerns. One peer-reviewed 2013 study co-authored by Dr. Swanson suggested that the stimulants may change the brain over time so as to undermine the long-term response to the medication and even exacerbate symptoms when people aren’t taking them.
Dr. Peter Jensen, the former associate director of child and adolescent research at the National Institute of Mental Health, cautioned that parents should not try to force children with A.D.H.D. to take medication when they don’t want to, adding that “most kids don’t want to.”
Dr. Jensen, who now heads the REACH Institute, a national nonprofit organization concerned with children’s mental health, once surveyed 100 parents of sons and daughters in their 20s who had been diagnosed with A.D.H.D., asking what made the most difference.
“Eighty percent of them said ‘Love your child. Help him or her advocate for themselves, and find a doc who’ll work with you through thick or thin whether you medicate or not,” Dr. Jensen said. “Only a minority of these parents mentioned medication.”
Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent and author and co-author of seven books, including the forthcoming “What Everyone Needs to Know about A.D.H.D.” (Oxford University Press), co-authored with Stephen Hinshaw, Vice-Chair for Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco.
Very interesting article by Dr. Deanna Minich about how honest emotional expression is beneficial! With research to back it up!
Some may perceive crying as a sign of weakness, a submission to our emotions. As children many of us may have heard, “You’d better stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” At times, crying may be considered inappropriate or make those around you feel uncomfortable. Because of this we may hold back. Others may have learned to freely express their feelings and see crying as a necessary emotional release that makes them feel better. Regardless of frequency and appropriateness, we often cry from overwhelm. Whether the emotion is joyful or painful, our bodies cannot contain it and so incites the flow of tears.
Catharsis and Social Connection.
Crying is associated with a variety of emotions including grief, despair, frustration, helplessness, happiness, anger, and empathy. One research study examined how tears are important in “affective communication,” a process of expression that is important in the development and maintenance of social relationships (1).
We may more deeply connect with those around us when we shed tears with them. Crying has also been shown to be very cathartic with psychological and therapeutic benefits as it can elicit empathy and social supportiveness from others (2). Crying has been shown to have many stress relieving and mood enhancing benefits (3).
Biologically, crying has been shown to “blow off steam,” allowing for the release of stored up energy and emotions that may do damage if contained for too long (4). Inflammatory cytokines are released in tears and those who cry are able to better manage psychological stress (5). One research study showed that people with autoimmune disease who regularly cry have reduced symptoms of their diseases (6). “Those with better control over rheumatoid arthritis were more easily moved to tears…suppressing the influence of stress and therefore the buildup” (7).
Emotional expression extends life expectancy.
In general, those who express their emotions tend to live longer. When emotional suppression builds up, it can cause an increased risk of premature death, including death from cancer (8). Additionally, when we suppress our emotions, we can create “walls” between ourselves and those around us (9). This can cause strain on our interpersonal relationships because after all, emotional suppression is essentially being inauthentic and dishonest about how we feel. Over the long-term this can often lead to negative thought patterns and feelings of alienation and isolation (10). Several research studies have shown that those with stronger interpersonal bonds have longer life expectancies.
The next time you are feeling overwhelmed by emotions – whether positive or negative – don’t fervently try to hold them back. Consider listening to what your body needs and honoring the feelings that are coming forth. Allowing the free flow of tears may be just what your mind and body need for optimal health.
A strong brain function depends on the healthy food and food is like a pharmaceutical complex and one of the most observable factors that affects mood, behavior, and brain function. As a result diet and mental health have been associated with reducing risk factors for health disease. An eating disorder is an illness that causes people with serious mental health problems and at the same time a well-balanced diet plan can reduce the risk of mental health problems. Here is an infographic from Bestmastersincounseling.com is trying to explain how diet impacts the health and mind and also how to improve people’s mental health both emotionally and physically.