General, Articles

July 10th, 2021

Teens’ investment in selfies linked to symptoms of depression

By New England Psychologist Staff

While many parents worry their teens post too many selfies on social media, a new study says the frequency of sharing these photos is less important than how invested the teens are in how the selfies look and whether the selfies got positive feedback from followers.

“I feel like the narrative around posting selfies is very negative,” says Jacqueline Nesi, Ph.D, of Brown University, the lead author of the study, which was published in “Psychology of Popular Media.”

“The idea of posting too many selfies often gets pathologized. However, from my work with teens, it was clear to me that posting a high number of selfies can be normative and isn’t necessarily the sign of a problem,” she said.…

July 10th, 2021

When your patient gets angry

By Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

If you’ve grown up on Marvel Comics, you know the Incredible Hulk’s line: “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Some of our patients are like that. Underneath their seemingly calm presentation, they are angry. They are angry at the world. They are angry at life. They are angry at everyone they think wronged them. They even get angry at us! When such patients are triggered, they can be as intimidating as the Hulk.

If we are to deal with significantly depressed patients or individuals who have been terribly wronged or people with borderline personality disorder or those in the throes of a schizophrenic episode, or couples who are at war, we need to be able to ride out the storms of patient anger unafraid.

July 9th, 2021

Hallucinogenic agents: pros and cons of psychedelic therapy

By Phyllis Hanlon

As a young man, Rick Barnett sought to “find himself” through psychedelic drugs. His journey began as exploration but in time became problematic.

However, during this experimental stage, Barnett, Psy.D, LADC, MS clinical psychopharmacology in Stowe, Vermont, discovered that hallucinogenic substances “had the potential to change people’s minds and perceptions.”

Some 25 years later, Barnett became reinvigorated and reinterested in benefits attributed to hallucinogenic drugs through Michael Pollan’s book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.”

Barnett’s past personal experience and newfound interest in this area led him to enroll in the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS).…

April 13th, 2021

COVID-19 is impacting pediatric mental health

By Phyllis Hanlon

Research clearly demonstrates that the pandemic is having a significant negative effect on the younger generation.

A November 2020 article, “Impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on mental health of children and adolescents: A narrative review with recommendations,” found both short-term and long-term “psychosocial and mental health implications” in this population. The article was published in Psychiatry Research.

The authors noted that severity of the impact is subject to certain vulnerability factors including developmental age, educational status, pre-existing mental health conditions, low economic status, and quarantine because of or fear of infection.…

September 9th, 2020

Uncertainty of pandemic leads to further mental health problems

By Eileen Weber

It should be no surprise that after months of shelter-in-place mandates, wearing masks in public, maintaining a six-foot distance from others, and a resurgence in COVID outbreaks in some states, our collective psyche is at the breaking point. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse have been on the rise in this country, but those issues have become even more apparent during this pandemic.

For many people, it has been a mental and emotional roller coaster.

Steven Marans, MSW, Ph.D, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Childhood Violent Trauma Center at Yale’s Child Study Center, says the loss of normal routines and social connectedness can adversely affect people in many ways.…

July 15th, 2020

Black voices working in a predominately white field

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Within the field of psychology, there are very few Black professionals. According to the American Psychological Association, in 2015, only four percent of all psychologists were Black/African-American. Meanwhile, the general population of this country is just over 13 percent Black.

How does that play out for Black psychologists, working in a field that is predominately white? What stressors are they seeing in patients and colleagues? Are there things that should be done to increase Black representation in the field? And, in these turbulent times, is there hope that social justice will prevail?…

March 23rd, 2020

Living in three worlds

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

depressionThe man is smiling now, released from the grip of the terrible depression that brought him to the hospital so many years ago. He smiles often as he anticipates his next trip to a restaurant in the city with his social worker. Movement from the locked hospital setting to the community is slow.

Evaluations for safety must be completed, tribunals of experts convinced, judges brought on board, permissions given, obstacles anticipated, solutions planned, and steps taken, one at a time, into the wider world.

He has run the course of illness and recovery, guilt and forgiveness, and has begun the journey back to a better version of the life he left behind.…

November 4th, 2019

Study: Young Puerto Ricans experience higher rates of depression on U.S. mainland than at home

By Eileen Weber

Puerto Ricans and DepressionPuerto Ricans experience higher rates of depression and anxiety on the U.S. mainland than when at home. After nearly 20 years of research and about 2,000 people interviewed, the Boricua Youth Study discovered that fact.

The study compared kids ages five to 13 as they transitioned to early adulthood from 15 to 29 under similar conditions of income and exposure to violence in both Puerto Rico and the South Bronx, a region with one of the highest Puerto Rican populations on the U.S. mainland.

Research focused on four categories that influence mental health: environmental/social factors, cultural and minority stress, parent/peer relations, and family/individual vulnerability.…

November 4th, 2019

Lawsuit against Harvard intensifies focus on role of college mental health services

By Janine Weisman

lawsuitOne in four members of Harvard University’s Class of 2023 is Asian-American, according to demographic statistics on the university’s website. So, a recent report by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting that found six of at least nine Harvard undergraduates who died by suicide between the years 2007 and 2017 were of Asian descent should raise an alarm for college mental health services.

One of those suicides was Luke Tang, who took his own life in a campus residence hall at the start of his sophomore year in September 2015.…

October 9th, 2019

Adventure programs: Learning to confront and overcome fears

By Phyllis Hanlon

The benefits of engaging in outdoor activities have been well documented. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that play in an outdoor environment enables children “…to explore both their world and their own minds.” AAP adds that outdoor activity can enhance “…creativity, curiosity and associated developmental advances.”

Some residential schools are embracing this message and offer a variety of adventure and wilderness programs for children with behavioral issues.

The residential program at Mountain Valley Treatment Center in Plainfield, New Hampshire, accepts children with a variety of diagnoses, from anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression to autism, eating disorders, and executive functioning difficulties, according to Timothy DiGiacomo, Psy.D,…