Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cognitive Bias Modification

Hello, I hope all of you had a great holiday with your loved ones. I enjoyed mine very much! This is an exciting break through for treating Anxiety Disorders and other Mental Health issues. Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM), uses techniques to retrain our thought patterns instead of just medicating them. I think the best part of this is that it will offer new hope for many people who are not able to get the help they need from medicine, or suffer serious side effects from the medicine they have to take. I hope to be able to share more information on this treatment as progress develops.
Thanks for visiting,
Janet :)

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Imagine a method to treat anxiety and other mental health disorders that was inexpensive, effective after a few short treatments, and didn't require drugs or trained mental health professionals. "It does sound like science fiction, doesn't it?" says Colin MacLeod, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Western Australia.

Yet that's the hope of experts studying cognitive bias modification (CBM), a new technique that aims to alter harmful thought patterns. The technique isn't ready for prime time yet. "This is quite a young field of science," says Emily Holmes, PhD, a clinical psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Oxford. But she and others say the nascent field has great promise.

Holmes describes cognitive biases as "habits of thought." "Some people might have a habit of looking at a teacup and seeing it as half empty, and others see it as half full," she says. That example is what's known as an interpretation bias. The glass-half-full type has a positive interpretation bias, while the glass-half-empty type interprets the same information with a negative bias. People with anxiety are more likely to interpret ambiguous information in a negative way — ascribing disapproving or unfriendly intentions to neutral facial expressions, for instance.

Then there are attention biases — things you notice subconsciously and automatically in the world around you. One person coming into a colleague's office might immediately take in the images on a computer screen, Holmes says, while someone with a spider phobia would be instantly drawn to a web in the corner of the window. Similarly, a person with anxiety is more likely to be tuned in to any potential (or perceived) threats in his or her environment.

To date, most studies of cognitive bias have centered on attention biases in anxiety. Numerous studies have demonstrated a link between the two, MacLeod says. The classic method of ferreting out these biases is the use of computerized dot-probe tests. In these tests, probes such as slanting lines or patterns of dots are alternately flashed on the screen near to or far from emotional images (such as disgusted versus neutral faces) or words (with negative or neutral meanings). Subjects are asked to identify the probes as quickly as possible when they appear.
Individuals with anxiety are faster to spot probes that pop up in that region of the screen where negative words or images had just been, indicating that's where the subjects had focused their attention. In other words, anxious individuals are automatically drawn to negative information.

The discovery of these negative attention biases hatched a chicken-and-egg problem: Does anxiety cause a negative attention bias, or does the bias cause anxiety? "It's kind of like a feedback loop, where the fears feed into the cognitive biases and those cognitive biases may maintain or even exacerbate the fears over time," says Brad Schmidt, PhD, who directs the anxiety and behavioral health clinic at Florida State University.

Intriguingly, though, studies show that by altering the bias, one can dial emotional vulnerability up or down. Most of these studies simply use a modified version of the dot-probe test. In a 2002 study, for instance, MacLeod and colleagues used a dot-probe task to train students either to attend to or avoid negative words. Seeing the probes flash repeatedly in particular areas of the screen, the subjects learned where to focus their attention — either on or away from the negative stimuli. Later, subjects were given a stressful anagram task to complete. Immediately following the stress test, the students who were trained to focus on negative stimuli showed increased anxiety compared with the students trained to avoid them (Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 111, No. 1).

"That was the start of showing this could be useful," MacLeod says, not only as a treatment, but also as a tool to study the cognitive roots of anxiety and other mental health conditions. "We can modify one facet of attention or another specifically so we can see which have an emotional impact in the laboratory," he says.

After just eight 15-minute sessions — a mere two hours of active treatment — 72 percent of patients in the treatment group no longer met diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder, compared with 11 percent of patients in the control group. Even more startling, the diagnostic differences were still evident at a follow-up exam four months later.

For the full article click the link below
http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/11/behavior-change.aspx

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Hello, Happy Thanksgiving, My wishes for each and everyone of you today.
Thanks for visiting,
Janet :)

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Finding Your New Normal

Hello, I hope your all doing well this Holiday week. As the holiday's are approaching this year I wanted to write about what many people are going through at this time of year. As we all know, depression rises throughout the holidays. The main reason people experience some depression at the Holidays is probably because they are experiencing the pain of a lost loved one, be it through death or a broken relationship. The first time I felt any type of depression at the Holiday's was when my Father passed away in 1987. I didn't realize it back then, but through those feelings of depression at the holiday, I was learning to live with what they call a "New Normal". And once again, my normal was shifted three years ago when my mother passed away and my siblings and I began to grow apart. My sister and I are still pretty close, but I also have four brothers that I may only see once a year now. And although I'm grown and have a family of my own, the changes in my sibling relationships have been painful, never mind the pain of losing my Parents. So IMO losing these first loves, as I call them, will have a deep impact on your life. They are your foundation in life, your roots as they say. So through my own experiences,I have learned that life can throw losses at you on many different levels, with many different people. You can constantly be forced to live in a new normal,(or as normal as life can get!) forced to let go of what you don't want to. Say goodbye to people you really love and care about. So I thought I would share with you some of ways that have helped me to transition to my life's changing normal, especially during the holiday season, to hopefully help any of you who may be experiencing the same.
Thanks for visiting,
Janet :)

1) Acknowledge all types of loss

2) Allow yourself to feel the loss, cry if you need
to, simply get it out, it will help you to heal and
move on

3) Allow yourself to go through the stages of
grief when it comes to a death. Don't let anyone
tell you you need to get over it already. We
all grieve in our way and in our own time

4) If you are having problems getting over the
loss of a relationship, it could stem from allowing
that relationship to have power over you. Realize
no one is worth having any power over you

5) Learn that those lost relationships
are not all your fault. Some of the people
we allow to hurt us have their own issues,
and it is really not about us

6) If your left with anger from any relationship,
it can turn into depression. One way to get rid
of that anger is write it out in a letter or a
journal. If it is in a letter, wait before sending
it out to that person to see if the situation changes

7) Exercise to release depression and anger,
even if it is just a short walk each day

8) Keep your focus on the good relationships in your life

9) Cherish the good memories of your loved ones that
have passed on. The happy times that I chose to remember
help keep my love for them alive and ease the pain of
their loss

10) Talk it out with others, find support where you can!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Love Me In My World

Hello, I was moved to tears today thinking of my Mother when I watched this video. I still think of her everyday as it is, and some days those thoughts go back to the dark days of her struggle with Mental Illness. I am sure at times she had these fears. But I also take comfort when those memories return that she was able to tell me before she passed away that she survived her struggles because my Father, my siblings and I never abandoned her. This is actually one of the songs we played at her funeral as well. Please watch if you know someone who has a Mental Illness. You will read what they may not be able to express to you in times of dispear. And most important of all, no matter what they do or what they have done, please give nothing but compassion and unconditional love, they need it more than you know.
Thanks for visiting,
Janet

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Social Aspects Of ASD

Hello, I hope you are doing well today, I am doing good. This is part 2 of the information I will be sharing on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Catching the early signs of this disorder can lead to early intervention and improve the quality of life for the child. I'm sure this aspect of the Autism Spectrum Disorder is incredibly heart breaking for Parents. Hopefully with early intervention the characteristics of non engagement can improve for the Parent Child relationship.
Thank you for visiting,
Janet :)












Social Symptoms
From the start, typically developing infants are social beings. Early in life, they gaze at people, turn toward voices, grasp a finger, and even smile. In contrast, most children with ASD seem to have tremendous difficulty learning to engage in the give-and-take of everyday human interaction. Even in the first few months of life, many do not interact and they avoid eye contact. They seem indifferent to other people, and often seem to prefer being alone. They may resist attention or passively accept hugs and cuddling. Later, they seldom seek comfort or respond to parents' displays of anger or affection in a typical way. Research has suggested that although children with ASD are attached to their parents, their expression of this attachment is unusual and difficult to “read.” To parents, it may seem as if their child is not attached at all. Parents who looked forward to the joys of cuddling, teaching, and playing with their child may feel crushed by this lack of the expected and typical attachment behavior.

Children with ASD also are slower in learning to interpret what others are thinking and feeling. Subtle social cues—whether a smile, a wink, or a grimace—may have little meaning. To a child who misses these cues, “Come here” always means the same thing, whether the speaker is smiling and extending her arms for a hug or frowning and planting her fists on her hips. Without the ability to interpret gestures and facial expressions, the social world may seem bewildering. To compound the problem, people with ASD have difficulty seeing things from another person's perspective. Most 5-year-olds understand that other people have different information, feelings, and goals than they have. A person with ASD may lack such understanding. This inability leaves them unable to predict or understand other people's actions.

Although not universal, it is common for people with ASD also to have difficulty regulating their emotions. This can take the form of “immature” behavior such as crying in class or verbal outbursts that seem inappropriate to those around them. The individual with ASD might also be disruptive and physically aggressive at times, making social relationships still more difficult. They have a tendency to “lose control,” particularly when they're in a strange or overwhelming environment, or when angry and frustrated. They may at times break things, attack others, or hurt themselves. In their frustration, some bang their heads, pull their hair, or bite their arms.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Wish

Hello, Beautiful wishes that I wish for you today and always!
Thanks for visiting,
Janet :)

















This is my wish for you:
"Comfort on difficult days,
smiles when sadness intrudes,
rainbows to follow the clouds,
laughter to kiss your lips,
sunsets to warm your heart,
hugs when spirits sag,
beauty for your eyes to see,
friendships to brighten your being,
faith so that you can believe,
confidence for when you doubt,
courage to know yourself,
patience to accept the truth,
Love to complete your life.”

Monday, November 7, 2011

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Hello, In today's world so many Parents have to worry about this disorder because it is now effecting approximately 3 out of every 1000 children. I hope that someday soon we can get to what is the root cause of this disorder and stop the increase in it's numbers. I have worked in two residential communities with adults who have
intellectual and related developmental disabilities which included Autism. Within that time I had the privilege of working one to one with a man with Autism for about 5 yrs. It became so much more than work, it was a life altering experience for me. As I was teaching him skills for life, I learned so much about life from him too. Everyday that I would go into work thinking I had an issue or two to deal with in my life, there he would be happy and grateful just to see me and it would make all my problems go right out the window. I learned from him that if he could get up everyday and smile, just be happy to be, with all he had working against him, then I could too. Through the years with unconditional love and support I saw him grow in so many ways. I saw the person he was come through more and more as he developed trust. He continues to grow to this day from what I hear. I often wish I was still there working with him, but sometimes life takes us on different paths. I know without a doubt, I am a better person for having had him in my life. He will always be in my heart. If you ever cross paths with someone with ASD please remember that these children and adults are just like you and me inside. Do not treat them any different because of this disorder, unless you are told otherwise because of specific issues. They just simply learn and grow differently than you and I. Their brains are just wired a little different so to speak. They deserve and need the same amount of love and respect as you and I. There is so much information on this disorder, that this is just part 1. I will continue to post further information in the coming weeks.
Thanks for visiting,
Janet :)

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What Are the Autism Spectrum Disorders?

The autism spectrum disorders are more common in the pediatric population than are some better known disorders such as diabetes, spinal bifida, or Down syndrome. A recent study of a U.S. metropolitan area estimated that 3.4 of every 1,000 children 3-10 years old had autism. The earlier the disorder is diagnosed, the sooner the child can be helped through treatment interventions. Pediatricians, family physicians, daycare providers, teachers, and parents may initially dismiss signs of ASD, optimistically thinking the child is just a little slow and will “catch up.”

All children with ASD demonstrate deficits in 1) social interaction, 2) verbal and nonverbal communication, and 3) repetitive behaviors or interests. In addition, they will often have unusual responses to sensory experiences, such as certain sounds or the way objects look. Each of these symptoms runs the gamut from mild to severe. They will present in each individual child differently. For instance, a child may have little trouble learning to read but exhibit extremely poor social interaction. Each child will display communication, social, and behavioral patterns that are individual but fit into the overall diagnosis of ASD.

Children with ASD do not follow the typical patterns of child development. In some children, hints of future problems may be apparent from birth. In most cases, the problems in communication and social skills become more noticeable as the child lags further behind other children the same age. Some other children start off well enough. Oftentimes between 12 and 36 months old, the differences in the way they react to people and other unusual behaviors become apparent. Some parents report the change as being sudden, and that their children start to reject people, act strangely, and lose language and social skills they had previously acquired. In other cases, there is a plateau, or leveling, of progress so that the difference between the child with autism and other children the same age becomes more noticeable.

ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors that can range from the very mild to the severe. The following possible indicators of ASD were identified on the Public Health Training Network Webcast, Autism Among Us.

Possible Indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorders:
Does not babble, point, or make meaningful
gestures by 1 year of age
Does not speak one word by 16 months
Does not combine two words by 2 years
Does not respond to name
Loses language or social skills

Some Other Indicators:
Doesn't smile
Poor eye contact
Doesn't seem to know how to play with toys
Excessively lines up toys or other objects
Is attached to one particular toy or object
At times seems to be hearing impaired

Friday, November 4, 2011

Promise Yourself

Hello, I hope you are enjoying your weekend. These are hard, but good promises we should keep to ourselves!
Thanks for visiting,
Janet :)

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

National Drug Facts Week

Hello, I feel this is a critical topic to discuss with teens. Knowledge is power, so share this information to help educate and empower our kids to make better choices for themselves.
Thank you,
Janet :)

National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) is a health observance week for teens that aims to shatter the myths about drugs and drug abuse. Through community-‐based events and activities on the Web, on TV, and through contests, NIDA is working to encourage teens to get factual answers from scientific experts about drugs and drug abuse.

Prevention Is the Key
Drug addiction is a preventable disease. Results from NIDA-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective in reducing drug abuse. Although many events and cultural factors affect drug abuse trends, when youths perceive drug abuse as harmful, they reduce their drug taking. Thus, education and outreach are key in helping youth and the general public understand the risks of drug abuse. Teachers, parents, medical and public health professionals must keep sending the message that drug addiction can be prevented if one never abuses drugs.

Click on these buttons
to learn more:
National Drug Facts Week - Shatter the Myths!

The MusiCares and GRAMMY Foundation's Teen Substance Abuse Awareness through Music Contest

Take the National Drug IQ Challenge!

You can find material to participate through tweeting,
your blog or Facebook at the link below.
http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/cybershoutout.php

A great Facebook page for teens
https://www.facebook.com/AbovetheInfluence