Spotlight Blog 3

For my first source, coming from Psychology Today, a very credible source which analyzes all sorts of psychological news as well as looks into varying psychology related issues. The article titled “Psychotherapy vs. Medications: The Verdict Is In,” written by Susan Whitbourne, who has her Ph.D., thus validating her to discuss the issue at hand. The article highlights psychotherapy and its positives regarding mental health treatment. She begins scrutinizing medications and how they could be potentially prescribed without proper full evaluations of patients, and she expresses her concerns that they could fail to treat psychological symptoms and could have a potential host of side effects. She brings into the article, Richard Friedman, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and states him saying “American psychiatry is facing a quandary: Despite a vast investment in basic neuroscience research and its rich intellectual promise, we have little to show for it on the treatment front.” She uses this evidence to defend the argument that there is little to show for the overmedicated America and whether or not drug therapy is truly working. She then concludes her point of focus by saying “almost all (95%) of the federal dollars spent on mental health research go to drugs, not psychotherapy, in clinical trials.” Emphasizing her point that most of the money is going towards drug therapy instead of psychotherapy, when drug therapy isn’t providing substantial proof of working the way it should be considering all the money out into it.

The second article I examined promoting psychotherapy is found on WebMD, a website credible of producing well researched articles regarding medical issues. Written by Jeanie Davis, the article titled “Drug vs. Talk Therapy for Depression” discusses how talk therapy could be preferred for depression. She begins by bringing up statistics regarding how only since 1995, drug therapy has increased 28%, and out of the 68% of people receiving drug therapy out of those receiving mental health treatment, 80% of those are for either depression or anxiety. She then criticizes how there are serious side effects which come along with these medications, which are much more common than people realize. She discusses how drug therapy is an easy way out which provides people instant help instead of participating in psychotherapy which takes much longer, but produces an effect which lasts much longer. She brings up how some care programs limit people to only 10 visits, thus limiting people to what they need regarding their position. She also brought up a survey which consisted of over 3000 Consumer Reports readers which found that those who mostly conducted in talk therapy did pretty much as well as those primarily on drug therapy. She then uses Metcalf to bring up some points such as how talk therapy is usually more cost effective if you are paying out of pocket and you do not have to worry about side effects.

For my third article, from MentalHelp.net, Allan Schwartz discusses the issue in an article titled “Psychotherapy vs. Medication for Depression, Anxiety and Other Mental Illnesses .” I believe he is credible in his discussion, considering he has his Ph.D. and was in practice for more than thirty years. He mainly focuses his defense of medications off the fact that some forms of psychotherapy have not been proven to work and that some psychologists refuse to use CBT, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, because they do not agree with it or its efficacy. He states that ” psychiatrists and the companies who manufacture psychotropics, are able to demonstrate the fact that medication relieve depression and anxiety.” He uses this point to show how medications are proven to work and that they have a lot of support behind them, while psychotherapy is limited in its effectiveness. He then continues to discuss how psychotherapy is fluid in its use with psychologists because each psychologist uses it differently and it isn’t consistent in practice, essentially leaving the practice up to the practitioner based on their style and preference.

For my final article, from PSYCOM, Katie Hurley discusses “Teen Depression: The Pros and Cons of Medication.” When reading the article, she seems credible through her use of facts and bringing up specifics regarding medication treatment, showing her research. She begins the article by stating “according to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 3 million American adolescents, age 12 to 17, had at least one major depressive episode in 2015. 1 This number represented 12.5% of the adolescent population.” This is a gripping beginning statement which establishes the seriousness of the issue at hand regarding mental health disorders across America. She brings up varying medications used to help mental health, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and monoamine oxidase inhibitors as well as monoamine oxidase inhibitors and atypical antidepressants such as Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, and Effexor. These are all different medications which have been used to help treat people with depression, thus showing the variety of medications for people’s individual needs. She then continues by discussing the pros of medication, highlighting certain effects such as how they “improve mood, appetite, increase focus, resolve sleep disturbance associated with depression, decrease anxious symptoms that can occur with depression, and decrease depressive symptoms that can trigger suicidal thoughts.”

From my perspective, if you feel like you are dealing with a serious mental health issue, you should contact your healthcare provider and seek an M.D. as soon as possible. I believe they know way more than me on the topic and will try and help as best they can. What’s most important is getting help as soon as you can to try and help alleviate the issue. One form of help is no better than the other, and its up to you and your doctor to find the best option for your individualized issue, thus a combination of both drug and psychotherapy may be the best option for you, and from my opinion it wouldn’t hurt to try both to see what helps you the most. In the end, your health is at the upmost importance, thus confiding in one way of treatment could be damaging, thus talking to a doctor to work out a plan is the best way to deal with something as serious as your mental health.

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201507/psychotherapy-vs-medications-the-verdict-is-in

https://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20040907/drug-vs-talk-therapy-for-depression#1

https://www.mentalhelp.net/blogs/psychotherapy-vs-medication-for-depression-anxiety-and-other-mental-illnesses/

https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.teens.medication.html

 

Week 15 First Impression

It was very interesting watching the video and how it portrayed someone’s personal interactions with everyday experiences and how those are impacted by schizophrenia.  The video showed how someone suffering from this is constantly almost in fear and worried that something is going to happen to them or someone or something is after them. This seems extremely frightening and I would hate to live with this. It also portrayed the significance of taking prescribed medications through the person entering later on in the video and criticizing the person for missing a dosage. This could have contributed to the person beginning to have an episode. This way of looking at someone with schizophrenia is misrepresented in the media. Whenever I heard of schizophrenia as a child I was never told what it necessarily was and only went off of what I saw in movies or on tv. Thus, through this I established a sort of stereotype for people with that and just assumed they were crazy an needed help. I believe this stereotype is common and many people jump to conclusions about others without analyzing their situation and what they are going through. Overall, I look at this as the media needs to take on the responsibility of properly representing people with schizophrenia as well as place importance on everyone to not judge based on what you see and do research to know what is actually happening.

Media Production

Study done by Researchers at University of British Columbia Discover that Smelling Your Partner’s Scent Could Decrease Your Stress Levels

Research conducted through the University of British Columbia has found that women who are exposed to stranger’s scents compared to their partner’s scent display differences in stress levels. The study was conducted to research how stress levels very in women when exposed to unfamiliar scents. In the study, 96 heterosexual women were randomly assigned to smell one of three scents (their partner’s, a stranger’s, or neutral) and then were exposed to an acute stressor to then evaluate their body’s response to the smell when matched with stress. The main aspects measured in the experiment were cortisol levels, as well as perceived stress. Cortisol is the stress hormone released in the body and perceived stress was defined in the study as “indicated anxiety, physical discomfort, desire to leave the situation, tension, and feelings of control.” Perceived stress was overall reduced in those exposed to their partner’s scent, and cortisol levels were increased in those women who were exposed to a stranger’s scent. The study found, based on these results, that olfactory cues in social interactions revealed that scents impact reactions to stress.

The researchers continue emphasize in the discussion how a “stranger danger” effect was occurring with the elevated cortisol levels and a “partner comfort” effect was observed with the perceived stress. Both of these effects were limited to either aspect. Some criticisms within the research point towards how the men, where the shirts the women had to smell came from, were told to not eat or do anything for 24 hours which would alter their natural smell. This had to be done to control “scents,” though naturally people do things such as use scented lotions or body washes which contribute to their overall scent. This could explain why only 63% of women correctly identified their partner’s scent when exposed to it.

Reflection

This was extremely hard to summarize the research due to all the information and important aspects within the study which are necessary to the study. Though, because I was only limited to about 300 words, I was forced to leave some aspects out in order to properly summarize the research. I believe it was most important to emphasize the main idea of the study as well as what the researchers found within the results. Though, I had to sacrifice some of the details of the experimental setup as well as not hit all of the 5 critical questions. While writing this, I developed more respect for journalists because they have to boil down studies in order to get the most important information out while at the same time appealing to the reader and not boring them. I found the entertaining part the most difficult because I feel like I need to add facts about the research to prove my credibility but at the same time I feel as if I just copied information over and did not make it sound very interesting. This makes me feel bad about how harsh I was when criticizing the article initially because it seemed like they left out a lot of necessary information, though they did give the main message the study found accurately as well as composing it in a way which was appealing to read. I believe the author of the article left out important aspects of the article to make it an easy read while emphasizing the main idea, while I decided to more focus on including as much facts about the study within my 300 word limit and just discussing the main idea towards the beginning. Though, I also had to sacrifice “wrapping up” my article because I could not decide what information to take out without feeling like it was incomplete. Overall, I gained much more respect for journalists through this process because I discovered first hand how hard it can be to summarize main ideas of a complicated article while at the same time not making it a boring read.

Article: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/health-buzz/articles/2018-01-05/smelling-your-partners-shirt-could-decrease-your-stress-levels-study-says

Study: Hofer, M. K., Collins, H. K., Whillans, A. V., & Chen, F. S. (2018). Supplemental Material for Olfactory Cues From Romantic Partners and Strangers Influence Women’s Responses to Stress. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. doi:10.1037/pspa0000110.supp

 

 

Spotlight Blog 2

Based on studies done on DARE, conducted by the U.S. General Accounting Office, the U.S. Surgeon General, the National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Department of Education, they have consistently shown that DARE is ineffective in reducing the use of alcohol and drugs and can even be considered counterproductive. The whole DARE organization sounds like a good idea, and I grew up and went through middle school when the whole program was expanding to schools nationwide. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program is used in close to 80% of school districts in the US, and 54 other countries around the world, overall reaching 36 million students each year. Therefore, knowing its effectiveness is important when considering the massive footprint it brings every year.

DARE leaders, when criticized with empirical evidence, say that the DARE Program shouldn’t be judged similar to other organizations based on evidence, because they prefer to rely on feelings, impressions, and hopes. The DARE program and their leadership continually dismiss evidence which questions DARE’s effectiveness, they argue the program has no need to be evaluated because it’s based on educational theories and techniques. Even though this is the case, the research they are founded on include world renown psychologists, Carl Rogers, Maslow, etc., though these same researchers later admitted that the specific research done which is what DARE is based on was wrong and off-base. Bill Coulson, another well-known psychologist states that the program “is rooted in trash psychology.” It can be difficult to get DARE out of schools, even with empirical evidence to back up the criticisms, due to how parents simply like the efforts made to tell their kids to not do drugs. For example, MADD leadership points to surveys which asks students, parents, and teachers whether they like the program, and overall most people report satisfaction with DARE. The DARE organization then uses these feelings and surveys to avoid evidence based criticisms, even though the surveys don’t shed light on how the program is truly impacting the children.

When the National Institutes of Health/University of Kentucky found DARE to be ineffective, DARE’s leader responded with it being “academic fraud,” and claimed it was part of and anti-DARE vendetta by therapists. Furthermore, In Houston, a study showed a 29% increase in drug usage and a 34% increase in tobacco usage among students who participated in DARE. William Modzeleski, top drug education official at the Department of Education, says “research shows that, no, DARE hasn’t been effective in reducing drug use.” Overall, DARE has been proven to not work like we wanted it to, thus the program needs to be improved and continually tweaked through criticisms of studies to help establish a system which is proven to decrease drug usage in kids. DARE is “a fraud on the people of America,” says the mayor of Salt Lake City, stating that “for too long our drug-prevention policies have been driven by mindless adherence to a wasteful, ineffective, feel-good program.”

According to Scientific American, an article written by Scott Lilienfeld and Hal Arkowitz discuss why the “Just Say NO” method doesn’t work. This statement initially came from First Lady, Nancy Reagan in 1982, and following that adolescent drug prevention movements adopted this as their slogan. On the surface, these programs sound good considering how teachers and parents witness first hand how drugs and alcohol impact their children, though overall these programs have typically found to be ineffective across the board due to how they focus primarily on the educational aspect instead of emphasizing social interaction work. According to the article, a meta-analysis in 2009 of 20 controlled studies conducted by statistician Wei Pan, and Haiyan Bai of University of Central Florida, revealed that teens enrolled in the program were just as likely to use drugs as those who received no intervention.

I believe, based on my research done, that these abstinence programs should be removed from schools. Research shows they are ineffective and typically do not decrease the use of drugs or alcohol, and sometimes negatively impact children, enforcing behavior. On the surface, all these programs seem to be good and adults like that the “just say no” technique enforces an idea to kids that it is socially acceptable to say no to things such as drugs and sex, but in the end research shows that this does not work and ultimately could be enforcing the bad behaviors which we as a society are trying to mitigate.

Sources:

Hanson, D. J. (n.d.). Alcohol Abuse Prevention. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.alcoholproblemsandsolutions.org/alcoholfacts.org/DARE.html

Lilienfeld, S. O. (2014, January 01). Why “Just Say No” Doesn’t Work. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-just-say-no-doesnt-work/

Week 13 First Impression Post

Option 2:

My opinion regarding Governor Zell Miller’s proposal of spending over 100,000 tax payer dollars to distribute cassettes to families across Georgia in 1998 on the belief that listening to Mozart can increase intelligence is one I do not agree on. I believe that there could be potential proof that correlates increased intelligence to increased time in listening to classical music, though I do not belief in spending large amounts of tax payer money to go to a belief that not everyone has to abide by. I’m not saying that every person would be required to listen to the music, though I believe it should be the individual citizen’s choice to go out and get their own music to listen to if they wish. I simply believe this is just a waste of money and that it’s up to the people whether or not they believe listening to Mozart increases intelligence and shouldn’t be influenced by government decisions, even if the Mozart Effect is proven to be real. If Governor Zell Miller really did believe in the Mozart Effect, I think he should just simply tell the people to look into it and make their own decisions on it, rather than spending the people’s money to send cassettes to every residential home with a newborn hoping that people listen to it.

Week 12 First Impression Post

Option 2-

I chose to come to Elizabethtown College based on the fact that I was looking for a smaller rural school, as well as I wanted to be in a college near Lancaster. When looking for colleges I had these criteria in mind, though I also wanted to play D3 golf and the molecular biology program they have here intrigued me, thus I decided to come here after visiting multiple times and finding no reason to not come. What I do to motivate myself to do well in classes is pretty much just monitoring my grades. I did this in high school, and I still do it. Whenever I check canvas, I look at my grades and just make sure that I’m doing what I consider acceptable, which mainly aligns with the requirements for the molecular medicine program. I also think about my future and how well I do here will dictate my future based on the amount of effort I put in throughout college. I guess a planned intervention to maintain my motivation to succeed would be to get enough sleep so I am well rested throughout my classes.

Week 11 First Impression Post

Being in college is extremely stressful, and for good reason. Without the stressful situations we encounter in our upper level academic career, I believe we wouldn’t be adequately prepared for real world work and potentially receive a diploma which felt like it wasn’t earned and holds no value. If you think about it in terms of things say your friends or family give you for free, these things are great but they typically don’t mean as much to you compared to if you had worked for it.

Currently, college is quite stressful, and the way I cope with the stress is napping, eating, and hanging out with friends. These all seem to help, but the stress always comes back. I believe out of those three, hanging out with friends helps the best because it makes you feel happy and helps you forget about your stress. Also, things I could do to help manage my stress would be coordinating a better sleep schedule and studying for my exams in a more spaced out manner. I really believe these two things would help quite a lot in the long run and alleviate stress levels.

Week 9 First Impression Post

The first idea brought up in the talk falls under the “restoration” concept of why we sleep, the second is “energy conservation” and the third is “memory consolidation.” When discussing the restoration concept, this is the theory that we restore what we burn up during the day. This goes back to the Aristotle age, and has been backed up by modern researchers who have connected certain genes which turn on during sleep in order to perform certain functions to restore what we lost during the day. Energy conservation refers to restoring energy which we lost, though this idea is not very supported due to the fact that on average we only restore about a hot dog bun worth of calories when we sleep which is quite minimal. When discussing memory consolidation or brain processing, this is the most convincing because if you are sleep deprived and you learn a task, it becomes a lot harder to learn overall. When getting a good amount of sleep, this actually enhances our creativity as well as our ability to solve complex problems. This happens due to the fact that those neural connections in our brain become strengthened when we sleep, thus improving our memory of those skills and enhancing our ability to recall them.

Spring Break First Impression Post

When watching the Ted Talk by Daniel Tammet, it was interesting to see how his sensations work together to figure out a problem in his head. In most people’s cases, a person in their everyday life interprets their surroundings through one sense, and the senses do not typically cross in order to interpret whatever you are doing. In Tammet’s case, and anyone with synesthesia, they seem to utilize all their senses to come up with an interpretation in their mind. For instance, when he was solving the math problem, most people would give up and just think about how complicating it looks, though, Tammet sees it as an easy problem by using pictures in his head to narrow down the answer simply. He also sees numbers and words with colors and shapes to help amplify some of the tones or connections. I think overall this would not hurt or help someone in their everyday life because someone with synesthesia has had it all their life so it is just the way they interpret life and the way their mind functions. Though, how it affects their everyday life, things may sometimes be easier to understand and interpret, but I feel like sometimes since all his senses are working together that it may become overwhelming at times and might make it frustrating. Since all his senses are working together, his mind may be functioning constantly and it may be difficult for him to take a break and just simply relax.

Week 7 First Impression Post

Option 1:

In regards to the legalization of marijuana, this has been a relatively recent issue politically in the United States, and some states have legalized the use of weed recreationally as well as medicinally, while other states refuse to allow such practices. In my opinion, I take a stance more towards legalization of marijuana medicinally than recreationally. I believe that it can be used for good when placed in specific situations for people who need it regarding medical conditions, because it is a drug, just like any other medication given to patients, it’s a drug. Thus, I believe that giving doctors the opportunity to use marijuana similar to other drugs as relief for certain conditions is good, as long as it is used responsibly and diagnosed the same. Furthermore, I believe that based on certain studies that marijuana use is less addictive than say something like nicotine, which is found in cigars and cigarettes which kids can buy legally at 18. Also, people get hooked on certain drugs, such as those given in the form of opioids, and when their prescription ends, they sometimes turn to street drugs such as heroin. Thus, I would hope that buy implementing the use of marijuana, it would give people comfort in a less addictive form than opioids. Though a negative of legalizing weed medicinally could be that there would create an underground black market for medicinal weed and contribute to more criminal activity. Recreationally, I believe legalizing weed could potentially just lead to in the future, legalization of harder drugs which we don’t need in society. I understand that weed is most likely less problematic health-wise than say tobacco or alcohol use, but that doesn’t mean we go ahead and legalize it. There still has not been enough significant studies done which have looked into the long term health implications of marijuana use. At the same time, legalization of marijuana would help eliminate placing a lot people in jail, and free up space which would help tax payer dollars. Also, legalizing it would stimulate the economy significantly, because there is a high demand for weed, and no government regulated market for it nation wide. Though, if this were the case, there would be a lot more money going towards government funding. Overall, this is still a hot topic and one we will watch to see how state governments handle it.