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Peer Support Can Reduce Depression Symptoms

In a new study in General Hospital Psychiatry, researchers found that programs incorporating peer interaction in which patients and volunteers share information were found to reduce symptoms of depression better than traditional care alone and were about as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy.    Peer support programs often use volunteers and nonprofessionals and can be done over the phone, on the Internet, or in person.  Because of these factors they can be widely available at a relatively low cost.  Read the news story about the study on Medical News Today.


Conflict Recovery

A new study in  Psychological Science with potential interest for marital therapists, finds that if one partner in a romantic relationship recovers well from conflict, that benefits not only the recovering partner but the other partner as well - both partners feel more satisfaction with the relationship.  Most studies focus on how couples resolve conflict - not what happens after the resolution.  

A partner who recovers well doesn't let the conflict spill over or leak into other parts of the relationship. 

The study also found that infant attachment security plays a role in how partners recover from conflict.

"What we show is that recovering from conflict well predicts higher satisfaction and more favorable relationship perceptions. You perceive the relationship more positively," Salvatore said.  "The interesting finding is that you don't have to be the one who recovers well to benefit."

Read a news article about the study here.


Facebook linked to eating disorders

In a new study from the University of Haifa, researchers found that the more time adolescent girls spend in front of Facebook, the more their chances of developing a negative body image and various eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia and exaggerated dieting.  However, there was also a link to a girl's level of empowerment.  The researchers found that parents could influence this factor by knowing what their daughters were doing on the Internet, sharing the experience with them and discussing their daughters' searching habits with them.   Read the news article here


Self-expansion and a happy marriage

New research shows that satisfaction with a marriage increases when spouses expose each other to new experiences and new ways of thinking.  Self-expansion, how individuals use a relationship to accumulate knowledge and experiences, fueled by the relationship with a partner can build a strong, sustainable marriage.  The enemy of a good marriage is boredom.


Mental Health Needs on College Campuses

The New York Times reports that increasing numbers of college students are utilizing campus mental health facilities and that nearly half are coming in which serious mental illness.  Increased pressures on students, an awareness of mental diseases and a willingness to seek treatment and the success of drug treatments which allow students to attend college who might otherwise not have been able to handle it, are all contributing to the surge and colleges are often not up to handling the increased numbers.


New findings on aging

An article in Science Daily discusses recent research studies with older people which have found that older people are better than younger people at adopting a positive view of stressful situations and of empathizing with others.   One study found that "emotional intelligence and cognitive skills can actually sharpen as we enter our 60s, giving older people an advantage in the workplace and in personal relationships."   An earlier study had found that older adults were better at using "positive reappraisal" as a coping mechanism to deal with unpleasant things.  And yet another study found that older people had a more heightened sensitivity to sadness.   Despite conventional wisdom, sadness is a healthy sign and not necessarily a precursor to depression.  Sadness can help people cope with the losses they experience and help them assist others in coping with theirs.


Culturally sensitive treatment models

A new treatment model, culturally sensitive to the needs and concerns of Chinese immigrants, appears to significantly increase the identification and treatment of depression in this group.  Although depression is no less common in Asian Americans, a combination of unfamiliarity with mental illness and a cultural stigma have kept people in these populations from seeking help for their depression.  This kind of treatment model could be adapted to other cultures unfamiliar or uncomfortable with depression and its treatment.

 Read the Medical News Today article here.

 Yeung A, Shyu I, Fisher L, Wu S, Yang H, Fava M. (2010).  Culturally sensitive collaborative treatment for depressed chinese americans in primary care.  American Journal of Public Health, 100(12), 2397-2402.



Cybertherapy may become a new tool in your therapy toolkit.  While cybertherapy has been used for decades, new advances in artificial intelligence and computer modeling have made the virtual experience more and more real.  Therapists are using virtual situations, like an airplane cabin for a patient with fear of flying, to allow the patient to confront his or her fears in a supportive environment with the therapist there to help.  Some critics see the limitations but as described in this New York Times article is has been proven to be helpful to many patients.  Research has shown that patients' experience in virtual worlds carries over into real life.


No more narcissists?

The workgroup recommending changes to the DSM-5, due out in 2013, has proposed that narcissistic personality disorder along with 4 other personality disorders be eliminated from the new edition.  Narcissism itself isn't being eliminated (too bad) but the change reflects an emphasis in the DSM-5 on the "dimensional approach" to diagnosing personality disorders.  The four other personality disorders being eliminated are Paranoid, Schizoid, Histrionic and Dependent Personality Disorders. (Schizotypal, Antisocial, Borderline, Avoidant and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorders will remain in the new revision.)  Read more about these changes in today's New York Times as well as in the Workgroup's report .


Tips for putting your references in the right order

The APA blog this week provides some tips on how to order your reference list when two authors have the same last name and almost  the same initials.  Are you even sure it’s not the same person in which case the order would change?

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