All blog posts are written by ADAA's professional members and are listed below by category as well as chronologically (with the most recent listed first). Each blog post is also comment enabled. We invite you to share your thoughts about the blog post to further the conversation.
Anxiety & Stress
- Social Anxiety: Imperfect is the New Perfect
- Watch Your Words: Why Mental Health Awareness Should be Year Round
- Mental Health Skills for the Next Generation
- Reducing Perfectionism in Teens
- How to Identify Anxiety in Adolescents and to Talk to Them About It
- Anxious Parents Can Raise Brave Kids
- Anxiety Won't Kill You
- How To Respond To Political Worries
- What Does “Overcoming” Anxiety Really Mean?
- Hate Their Politics? Love Them Anyway
- 3 Things Your College Kid Must Know About Mental Health
- At the Intersection of Relationships and Social Media
ADAA Leadership Posts
- Depression and Daily Life
- Alleviating Anxiety, Stress and Depression with the Pet Effect
- Social Media and Teen Depression: The Two Go Hand-in-Hand
- What is Depression and How Do I Know If I Have It?
- The Link between Experiences of Racism and Stress and Anxiety for Black Americans
- Diverse Women in Clinical Trials: Making a Difference
- African Americans with Anxiety: How to Overcome Unique Obstacles
- How to Take the Power Back from Intrusive Thought OCD
- Missing Your OCD?
- Why is My OCD Worse on Vacation?
- Fear of Driving
- Misophonia: Like Nails on a Chalkboard
- 8 Steps to Overcoming Your Fear of Flying
- How to Get Over It: Fear of Vomiting
- Be There for Women Veterans in Your Community
- A Message for Dads
- Predicting and Preventing Suicide: Where Are We?
- Suicide Prevention: Tips for Kids and Teens
- Using Exposure and Response Prevention in the Treatment of Fear of Failure
- The Meaning of Medications: Another Look at Compliance - Revisited
- Psychotherapy is Hard Work...Why Bother?
- How to Know if Your Therapist is Really Helping You?
- Telemental Health - Convenient, Effective and Here to Stay
- ADAA Embraces Telebehavioural Health
- A Most Difficult Decision
- Psychotropic Medications: What Should You Ask Your Doctor?
by: Patricia Thornton, PhD
So, you’re a failure. Fine. Get on with your life!
In my work as a psychologist treating anxiety disorders, I’ve learned that often an underlying driving fear in my patients is the worry that they are failures. (My patients and I use a more colorful term, but for editorial purposes I’ve changed the phrase.) They have intrusive thoughts that they have or will mess things up in some way and cause harm to themselves or others. Their surface fears may involve worry about contamination, feeling socially awkward, having a panic attack, etc., but if I drill down to underlying intrusive thoughts, I often find that the patient is ruminating about being a failure. Read more.
by: Haesue Jo, MA
Depression is a disorder that can affect everything you do in your daily life. It is not something you can quickly recover from, like a cold or stomach bug. Many people with depression think they are just feeling sad, and that it will go away with time. For some people, it does just that. Read more.
by: Megan McCarthy, PhD
More than 2 million women across the country have bravely served in our Nation’s armed forces. In fact, they’re the fastest-growing group of Veterans today. For many women Veterans, returning to civilian life can bring challenges that may contribute to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression — and even lead to thoughts of suicide. Read more.
by: Suma P Chand, MPhil, PhD
What can one do to escape judgment? The best solution would be to avoid people. Another solution that is often used is that of being as correct and perfect as possible so that no deficiency is evident. While this sounds like a fool proof plan, it is not easy to be so perfect that no judgment comes one’s way. Read more.
by: Jeff Nalin, Psy.D
If you have a teenager who uses social media on a daily basis, it’s important you learn how social media can cause depression and other problems. Read more.
by: Nina Rifkind, LCSW, ACS
Since 1949, May has been known as Mental Health Awareness Month. Each year, when May is over, I wonder why we’re not encouraged to be aware of our mental health all year, every year, just as we are for our so-called physical health. Given all we know about the effects of anxiety and depression on our bodies and immune systems, this question is vital. Read more.
by: John Ogrodniczuk, PhD
"Mom and Dad, I am so, so, so sorry for this. Please don’t blame yourself for this but I have decided to take my own life. This has nothing to do with anyone. It is completely my choice. I have had no joy in life for some time now and I feel terrible for being a disappointment to you. I don’t like who I am."
These words haunted Mike for months. His 16 year-old son - his bright, athletic, kind, strong boy - had taken his own life. Mike’s son was gone and a part of him died with his boy. Read more.
by Julieanne Pojas, PsyD
Mental health is an integral part of children’s overall health. However, strong mental health starts prior to stepping into a therapist’s office. Children who practice mental health skills regularly could reduce their risk for mental illness and relapse. Read more.
by Steven Feldman
Looking for relief from anxiety, depression or stress? If you live in one of the 80 million U.S. households with a pet, you may be able to find help right at home in the form of a wet nose or a wagging tail. You can call it the pet effect.
Any pet owner will tell you that living with a pet comes with many benefits, including constant companionship, love and affection. It’s also no surprise that 98% of pet owners consider their pet to be a member of the family. Not only are people happier in the presence of animals, they’re also healthier. In a survey of pet owners, 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership, and 75% of pet owners reported a friend’s or family member’s mental health has improved from pet ownership. Read more.
by Patricia Thornton, PhD
In my first meeting with new patients who struggle with OCD and anxiety, I explain that the type of psychotherapy I practice, Exposure and Response Prevention, involves encouraging them to feel uncomfortable. It’s a type of therapy that they will not particularly “enjoy,” but it’s a therapy that will hopefully get them back to enjoying their lives.
When I lay down the groundwork for our work together, I tell my patients, “My goal is for you to not need me…as soon as possible. I’ll help you to have new experiences that are likely to change the way your brain works. And then I’m getting out of your way so you can experience life from a different vantage point. But it’s going to require really hard work.”
My patients sometimes plead with me to make the hard work of this type of psychotherapy easier. After I’ve challenged them to expose themselves to something they’re fearful of I’ll hear, “You know this is really, really hard!” And I answer, “Yes, I know. This work is really, really hard! It’s difficult because you are rewiring your brain to tolerate uncertainty, anxiety, yucky feelings, and intrusive disturbing thoughts. You are going to feel really uncomfortable. Remind yourself why you want to do this hard work.” Read more.
by Andrew A. Nierenberg, MD
My friend Peter Conrad published a remarkable paper in 1985 entitled The Meaning of Medications: Another look at compliance. Peter is a Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University who is interested in social aspects of health. In his paper, he was trying to understand why people with epilepsy took or did not take their medications. What were their reasons and what were they trying to achieve? In contrast to prior theories of compliance which focused on the doctor-patient relationship, Peter was trying to understand the patient’s experience of taking medication – and he called this “medication practice”, i.e. how did the patient approach the daily practice of taking medication? Read more.
by Karen Cassiday, PhD
Many people wonder if their therapy is really helping them overcome their problem. Why? They often have therapists who tell them that they are doing well, but their therapist does not make clear to them what they mean by making progress. Does it mean facing your emotions, being able to talk about difficult things, or does it mean that you feel better and function better? Many people also like their therapist’s kindness and empathy, but feel guilty about questioning the outcome because their therapist is so nice even though they are not getting better. Unless you clarify with your therapist what a good outcome is at the start of therapy by mentioning your goals and agree what recovery looks like, then you may be likely to go to therapy for years without any noticeable improvement in your daily life. So, here are some hot tips for questions to ask to determine is your therapist is really helpful. Read more.
By Cindy Aronson, MSW, PhD
Everyone has bad days when things just aren’t going well and we just feel off. This can be in response to some bad news like getting a grade that is less than stellar or your friends are too busy to hang out. Sometimes when we find our bad day seems to last day after day, then that may mean something else is going on.
by Beth Salcedo, MD
The decision to take medication for mental health is a very important one, and it often takes place when symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues have intensified, which can make the decision process much harder. The following questions can help ease the process and guide you in your conversation with your doctor and in the ongoing treatment process. Read more.
by Sheila Achar Josephs, PhD
Perfectionistic teens are on a mission to demonstrate perfection in everything that they do. This coping style, though, often results in debilitating anxiety. Such teens constantly fear making even the smallest of mistakes, fearing that this signifies failure and worthlessness. How can we help anxious teens reduce their unhealthy perfectionism? Read more.
by Ken Goodman, LCSW
It’s easy to understand how a major car accident would cause someone to fear driving, but most driving phobia have nothing to do with accidents. Read more.
by Ken Goodman, LCSW
Everyone’s skin crawls when they hear nails on a chalkboard (remember chalkboards?). But if your body reacts with extreme discomfort at the sound of everyday noises, like chewing, slurping coughing and tapping, you might be suffering from Misophonia, literally translated as “the hatred of sounds.” Although not recognized as a genuine disorder, the symptoms are genuine for those who suffer. Negative emotions, thoughts and physical reactions are triggered by specific sounds and they can be overwhelming. Read more.
by Jacqueline Sperling, PhD
“One of the key issues that consumers ask us about is how to identify warning signs in adolescents regarding anxiety and how to raise the issue with their adolescents. We get the sense that some parents do not know how to bring up the issue and what language to use when speaking to their children, including what to look for when the kids respond.”
Everyone experiences anxiety, but what are the signs for which one should look when it becomes a problem for adolescents? Read more for some symptoms and behaviors of different types of anxiety disorders for parents to keep in mind.
by Debra Kissen, PhD
Children of anxious parents are more at risk for developing anxiety disorders. This is because they will have both a genetic predisposition to developing an anxiety disorder and their environment may emphasize hyper vigilance to risk cues. It is important to emphasize that being at risk for developing an anxiety disorder does not mean with certainty that they will develop one. Creating an emotionally healthy environment where children learn to tackle their fears can prevent the development of an anxiety disorder. Read more.
by Aarti Gupta, PsyD
Social Media outlets like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram have become a behemoth daily presence in our lives. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently reported there are an astonishing 1.23 billion daily log-ons to the social media giant per day, representing an 18% increase in the last year (as of September, 2016). CEO Evan Spiegel’s app Snapchat offers users an experience where video, photo and text messages are live for only 24 hours- allowing for an instant and fleeting connection between people. This app is wildly popular with the millennial set, and as February 2017, there are 158 million active Snapchat users. Read more.
by Patricia Thornton, PhD
Whether my patients have OCD, social anxiety, a phobia, panic, or are just generally anxious about life, they come into treatment wanting to be free of the uncomfortable feelings associated with anxiety. To rid themselves of their anxiety they have tried meditation, relaxation, yoga, different psychotherapies and medication, but overall they don’t feel a whole lot better. They ask me, “Why am I so anxious?” and “How do I get rid of this anxiety?” And I respond: “You need to allow yourself to be anxious and you don’t need to know why you are anxious.” I know it sounds counterintuitive. But when you actually move toward your anxiety and just allow yourself to experience it, without trying to flee the situation or reason your way out of it, those yucky anxiety feelings and bodily sensations tend to dissipate. Read more.
by Debra Kissen, PhD
OCD is the fear network of the brain sending a signal that something is wrong and needs to be done about it IMMEDIATELY. OCD only reports on feared consequences that are important to a person. For example, if somebody does not fear spilling water on the floor, OCD will not send the intrusive thought, “Oh no you spilled water. You must clean it up IMMEDIATELY”. On the other hand if someone does care about the safety of her family, OCD might say, “Oh no you left the stove on. You must go back and check IMMEDIATELY or the most important people in your life will die and it will be all your fault.” Similarly, if you care deeply about your family's well-being or your students safety, OCD may inject itself into your awareness with the thought “Oh no. What if I lose control and harm my children or students.” Read more.
by Jennifer Shannon, LMFT
Many Americans are experiencing a higher level of worrying since the presidential election. Our country is in midst of a big transition and the stakes are high. We don’t know what will happen and uncertainty is worrisome for many. As an anxiety disorder therapist, I’ve worked with many people who worry. Can I apply what works with chronic worriers to political anxiety? Whatever the cause of your worry or level of intensity, the same part of our brains sets worry in motion. The limbic emotional brain perceives threats and alerts us to them. Because it is primitive, instinctual, and totally focused on survival, I call it the monkey mind. Read more.
Suicide is one of the most devastating public health problems faced by society today. In the United States, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2015). Over 44,000 Americans take their own lives each year, which works out to about 120 suicides each day, just in the U.S. (CDC, 2015). This means that we are each more likely to die by our own hand than someone else’s (World Health Organization [WHO], 2012). For every suicide death, there are also another 10 to 25 non-fatal suicide attempts (CDC, 2015; Crosby, Gfroerer, Han, Ortega, & Parks, 2011). These statistics are alarming. Read more.
Psychiatrists have been using videoconferencing for psychiatric consultations for almost sixty years. Now with the advent of web and cloud based systems, mobile computing, the impact of commercial telemedicine service companies, and a growing body of evidence and research, more and more patients are being treated online. This occurs in primary care clinics, at work and at home – and by an increasingly large number of mental health therapists from all disciplines. Patients can be treated securely and in high definition on a laptop or tablet at minimal cost using video systems that are increasingly ubiquitous and easily accessible. Read more.
As my OCD patients get better with treatment, they are relieved that their obsessions are less frequent and less intense and they have more control over performing rituals. This they expect. But what can be unexpected is the feeling of mourning as symptoms dissipate. Often my patients have lived most of their lives struggling with upsetting obsessions and engaging in rituals that can consume hours of time. Their lives have been severely compromised by the disorder. They certainly don’t like having OCD, but it’s familiar to them. Some comments from my patients include: “I’m just used to it”. “It’s like a shadow...always there.” “What will my life look like without OCD?” “What do I think about if I don’t have these obsessions so constantly?” Read more.
With more than 18 million annual website visitors seeking information and resources on anxiety, depression, and related disorders, ADAA’s website has become a critical platform for help and support. Many visit our site to search our Find A Therapist database (unique in that it only lists therapists who have expertise in anxiety, depression and related disorders) for individual clinicians and practices in their geographic area. Read more.
Anxious teens are vulnerable to experiencing a panic attack, which is a frightening experience, especially since it can occur out of the blue. A panic attack is a sudden and sharp rise in anxiety accompanied by physical symptoms such as racing heart, dizziness, numbness and shortness of breath. The physical symptoms are an adaptive response to the perception of being in acute danger. However, they can unfortunately arise under everyday stress, such as when a teen has to take a daunting test. What can you do to help your anxious teen cope with a panic attack? Read more.
Naturally, when individuals seek treatment for anxiety, their primary goal is to “stop…worrying/panicking/obsessing/etc.” This is understandable because the symptoms have caused turmoil in their lives! Read more.
Many of my patients took an extended holiday over the Christmas/New Year's break. When they returned to treatment in midJanuary most of them reported that their OCD symptoms had worsened. Obsessions returned that had been dormant. New obsessions and compulsions emerged and sometimes they didn’t realize this was OCD because the content of the OCD was unfamiliar. Compulsions they had been successful resisting in the past were much harder to resist. If you have OCD, it’s helpful to understand what may happen when you go on vacation. Read more.
The ADAA Board and leadership recognizes that this past year has been a tumultuous and, for many in our country, a very stressful and distressing one. Numerous instances of hate speech and angry sound bites have left many in our country, particularly minority groups, feeling extremely anxious, depressed and uncertain about the future. Read more.
by Tahirah Abdullah and Jess Graham
Within the Black community, we generally acknowledge and discuss experiences of racism and the detrimental impact of racism on equitable access to resources (including education, housing, health care, etc.). We less frequently discuss the detrimental impact racism often has on our mental health. Read more.
When I first started working in the health field 30 years ago, I never thought much about clinical trials. Clinical trials didn’t really come up in conversations at work or with my family. This all changed when I joined the Office of Women’s Health at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Read more.
by Susan Gurley, Executive Director
We are in the home stretch of a prolonged, caustic, and shocking presidential campaign season. No matter which way you lean, few will argue that the 2016 election will go down in history as unprecedented, in that both candidates seem have a surplus of skeletons in their closets and a penchant for throwing surprise curveballs. Read more.
Latch on to triggers that set you off.
Figure out what frightens you and examine how your anxiety reaction is triggered. Your goal is to identify your particular triggers, so you can manage your fear when anxiety levels are low. Learning what sets you off makes it easier to turn it off. Read more.
If you have a fear of vomiting, just reading the title of this article might make you a bit queasy. The mere mention of the "V word" might send you into a state of anxiety. If you can relate, I encourage you to press on despite your worry, so you can take the first steps to overcoming it. Read more.
More than 40 million adults in the United States suffer from some form of anxiety. Sadly, only one-third recognize what may be happening and talk to their doctor; only about one-quarter of African Americans seek mental health care, compared to 40 percent of whites. And of these who do seek help, many African Americans face an additional obstacle. Read more.
by Shane G. Owens, PhD, ABPP
College is typically a challenging experience with some expected highs and lows. For some it is also the time during which common mental health problems start. Because of this, you have to talk to your kid about mental health before school starts. Read more.
by Beth Salcedo, MD
The decision to take antidepressant medication during pregnancy is one of the most difficult decisions an expectant mother will ever make. Of the many factors to consider, the safety of the fetus and the health and well-being of the mother must be taken into account. A study published in the December 2015 issue of JAMA Pediatrics is sure to make this decision harder for some women: It suggests an association between antidepressants and a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the offspring. This is not the first time this has been suggested, and it will not be the last. The fact is that it is unethical to conduct a randomized controlled trial in a pregnant woman, which is necessary to establish causation. And association is not causation; we need much more information to establish that antidepressants during pregnancy have any responsibility at all for a diagnosis of autism. Read more.
by Reid Wilson, PhD and Marc Pollack, MD
Panic attacks and heart attacks can feel frighteningly similar: shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, vertigo, feelings of unreality, numbness of hands and feet, sweating, fainting, and trembling. Some people describe this experience as feeling as if they’re losing control or going to die.
A panic attack occurs spontaneously or a stressful event can trigger it, but it poses no immediate danger. A heart attack is dangerous, and it requires prompt medical attention. In women, though, heart disease symptoms are sometimes mistaken for a panic attack.
Panic disorder is diagnosed in people who experience panic attacks and are preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack. Like all anxiety disorders, this one is treatable. Read more.
If someone you know is thinking about suicide…
People who kill themselves exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or do. The more warning signs, the greater the risk.
Learn these warning signs and how to help those who need it.