Spotlight Blog #3

--Original published at Psychology 105

Mental illness is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. There are many different types of mental illness. Major depressive disorder, classified as a mood disorder, can be effectively treated using a variety of techniques. Each person with the disorder is different, however, and this can greatly impact how effective different treatments may be. What is more beneficial for patients – psychotherapy or medication? Researchers have asked this question for years, but the answer may not be completely unambiguous.

Medication is one of the most heavily marketed treatment options for mental illness. Especially for mood disorders like depression, which is one of the most common among the general public. Although sometimes stigmatized, medication does have merits that make it a very valid option for patients. According to an article published on, the clearest benefits of prescribed medications is that they quickly and effectively reduce or even eliminate symptoms. It is often noted that illnesses like depression are a “chemical imbalance” in the brain. It makes sense that by restoring balance using medications (MAOIs, SSRIs, SNRIs, etc.), that symptoms would be alleviated. Research has also shown that these drugs also are effective in preventing relapse in a lot of cases. The article also argues that although therapy is shown to be effective for mild cases, medication is often necessary in more severe instances. I believe this source is credible since the information found here was provided from an excerpt from the Hazelden Co-occurring Disorders Program.

Another article, found on, gave more insight to why medication may be a more popular and effective treatment option. This source argues that although research has demonstrated that psychotherapy methods are effective, there is no set standards or way of regulating therapy options. Therefore, there is no way to ensure that patients are receiving the same therapy that was tested in a clinical trial. Medications are tested and then approved by the FDA. The patient knows exactly what kind of treatment they are receiving and how it will generally affect them. Although rigorous training programs can be put in place to ensure all clinicians use similar methodologies during therapy, this is much more difficult to regulate. This article seems credible, as it was written by Thomas Insel, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who led the National Institute of Mental Health for several years.

Some research has shown that psychotherapy may be more effective than using medication. An article from says that the effects of therapy are longer-lasting. It claims that unlike medication, therapy gives patients coping mechanisms and other tools that help them combat their disorder on their own terms. In case of relapse, these are also skills that people can use their entire lives. Psychotherapy does not have the potential for addiction like prescription medications have. It is much more likely that a patient will become dependent on their medication. The authors of this article are from a regional clinic of the National Social Anxiety Center, so I believe it is a credible source.

My final source is from the website of the American Psychological Association. Here, they argue psychotherapy should be the first line of treatment applied to patients with psychological disorders. This is because research has shown its results to be more long-term and enduring. This makes it more cost effective than only using medication in a lot of cases. Also, there is a lot more opportunity to personalize how a patient is treated when they’re in therapy versus just simply prescribing a medication. This seems like a quality source because it was written by two APA psychologists A. Brownawell and K. Kelley.

Overall, most of my sources concluded that a combination of both treatment types is often best. There are obviously pros and cons to each type of treatment, but both show substantial amounts of empirical support. In conclusion, I believe that since mental illness has many sources, there is no clear answer to what type of treatment type is definitively better.



Brownawell, A., and K. Kelley. “Psychotherapy Is Effective and Here’s Why.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, Oct. 2011,

Insel, Thomas. “Post by Former NIMH Director Thomas Insel: Quality Counts.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 14 July 2015,

“Medications Play a Key Role in Treatment | Behavioral Health Evolution.” Mental Health Disorders,
“Psychotherapy or Medication – Which Should You Choose?” The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, 7 Apr. 2017,

Media Production Project

--Original published at Psychology 105


Can marijuana be used to treat depression? It may be possible, according to researchers from the São Paulo Research Foundation in Brazil. In a recent study published by the group, they claimed cannabidiol (CBD), a compound found in Cannabis sativa, shows more rapid and longer lasting effects than commercial antidepressants. The researchers conducted five individual experiments to test their claims, and the results appear to be promising.

There were two main goals of the study that were explicitly described by the group. The first was to test if CBD can induce antidepressant effects that were immediate and sustained over time. The first of the five experiments focused on testing CBDs’ effects by subjecting groups of rodents to the forced swim test. Different species of rodents were bred to develop symptoms of depression, totaling 367 participants. The subjects were randomly assigned to treatment groups. One was treated with CBD and the other was injected with a placebo solution. The group operationalized the antidepressant effects of CBD by analyzing the amount of time spent swimming versus the amount of time spent immobile in the water. The subjects were submitted to the test 6 minutes after being treated to see the acute effects of the drug. They were then tested again after 7 days to see if it showed sustained effects as well. They were also subjected to the open field test 30 minutes and 7 days after treatment in order to eliminate the possibility that CBD simply causes an increase in locomotor function, rather than actual antidepressant-like effects. Another behavioral test was conducted in the fifth experiment, where the rodents were submitted to a series of electrical shocks. The subjects’ ability to avoid the shocks was characterized as the antidepressant effect in this experiment.

The second goal of the study was to see how CBD causes antidepressant affects, namely by identifying specific changes that occur from a neurological perspective. Experiments two through four of the study focused on analyzing specific neuronal effects of the drug rather than behavioral effects. The second experiment tested if CBD uses the same signaling pathway as other antidepressants. The researchers euthanized the subjects after completing the behavioral tests described above and injected the brain with a dye marker. Then they tried to see if the effects of CBD could be inhibited by blocking these pathways with receptor antagonists. In the third experiment, they dissected the subjects’ brains to analyze the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and other synaptic proteins. In the fourth experiment, the researchers wanted to see if CBD impacted the number of dendritic spines found in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. By analyzing the effects of CBD on the brain, the researchers were able to compare them to the effects of commercial antidepressants and draw conclusions based on the results.

Overall, the researchers’ claims were supported by the results of the various experiments. Cannabidiol appears to demonstrate specific antidepressant-like effects. Subjects injected with CBD had increased performances in the forced swim test and electrical shock test with no significant impact on their locomotor function. Also, they showed similar neurological pathways to commercial drugs as well as a significant increase in BNDF, synaptic proteins, and dendritic spines. From the results of these behavioral and neurological tests, it appears CBD could be used an effective treatment for depression. The study notes, however, that much more research is needed in order make serious causal claims that could be applied to human subjects.


The original study is very detailed, but it contains a lot of information that readers do not need to know to understand its premise and conclusion. I tried to outline the most important aspects of the study. Although I did try to keep in mind the five critical research questions while I was writing, this was difficult since each experiment conducted in the study had its own unique variables.  Overall though, my main goal was to summarize the basic methodology used in each experiment and give an overview of the results. Then I related this back to the original hypothesis and goals that the authors of the study described in the abstract. I tried to omit as much jargon as I could. I also decided to leave out specific values for the results because this could easily be very confusing for the reader and would have also made the article extremely lengthy.

The pop culture article I read and the article that I wrote are similar in format. We both describe the sample population of the study and detail the methodology and results. I, however, tried to give a more basic overview of each of the experiments, while the pop culture piece gave a lengthy summary of only one of the tests. I think a crucial point we both included is that the results currently have limited applications. Given that the experiments were conducted on rodents, the findings cannot yet be generalized to human populations. This ensures that the reader is not misled about the conclusions of the study.

While writing my article, it was difficult to decide what to include from the study without having to go into extensive detail. I can see how journalists would have a hard time doing this, as well as making the article a piece that people browsing the Internet would want to click on and read. Obviously, scholarly research is going to be very in-depth. I think that pop culture articles provide a way for the public to learn about psychological research in a way that is more user friendly. It is important for authors to be truthful though, rather than generalizing the information found in studies and portraying it in an inaccurate fashion.



Amanda J. Sales, Manoela V. Fogaça, Ariandra G. Sartim, Vitor S. Pereira, Gregers Wegener, Francisco S. Guimarães, Sâmia R. L. Joca. Cannabidiol Induces Rapid and Sustained Antidepressant-Like Effects Through Increased BDNF Signaling and Synaptogenesis in the Prefrontal Cortex. Molecular Neurobiology, 2018; DOI: 10.1007/s12035-018-1143-4

Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo. “In test with rats, cannabidiol showed sustained effects against depression for seven days.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2018. <>

Chapter 14 First Impression Post

--Original published at Psychology 105

I believe the video portrayed a more typical day in the life of somebody who has schizophrenia. In the video, the person seemed to mostly be experiencing delusions and auditory hallucinations. Mostly, the person seemed to be very paranoid and anxious in general like when he shut himself into his house and was nervous to answer the phone or door. It seemed like the voices he heard perpetuated irrational thoughts he was having, like that his food and medications were poisoned. They also seemed to amplify the different feelings he was having toward himself, like when they were calling him stupid and worthless. The person had some visual hallucinations as well. In media, I think there is more emphasis on some of the more severe symptoms, such as intense visual hallucinations. This is most commonly portrayed in television and movies. I think the video does a good job going over some of the other common behavioral and cognitive effects of the illness. Often in film, people with schizophrenia are portrayed violent. This is kind of a stigma of the illness, and I think it was beneficial to see things from the point of view of someone with schizophrenia because we can see where their thoughts are coming from and how they may be causing the person to behave abnormally. Another thing I noted was that toward the end of the video the person was encouraged to take their medication in order to get back on track. I think in media there is less emphasis on the treatment of schizophrenia at times, and more emphasis on how uncontrollable and irrational people with the illness can be. Overall, I think that the video showed a good depiction of the illness and is likely more accurate than some of the more dramatized portrayals seen in the media.

Chapter 13 First Impression Post

--Original published at Psychology 105

Each personality test gave me a slightly different result. I found the HumanMetrics Jung Typology Test to be the most accurate regarding how I perceive my own personality. This test assigned me the personality type INFJ, which stands for introvert, intuitive, feeling, and judging. I definitely consider myself an introvert and tend to go with my gut feelings when making decisions. The test from the Personality Test Center said my Jungian personality type was ISFJ, which is clearly very similar to my other results. I believe that I prefer intuition to sensing, which is why I found the first test to be more accurate for me. I think the results varied due to how the questions were worded which chose me to pick one answer over the other. I trust these the most because I did some research and found that this test type has been significantly validated. The ColorQuiz seemed to also be accurate; however, picking the colors seemed kind of random so I was surprised any of the results seemed to describe me. Lastly, the IPIP Big Five Test also found me to be more on the introverted side with high agreeableness, imagination, and conscientiousness. Overall, I think the results seemed consistent across each test, and each had accurate points that I perceive when evaluating my own personality. It was hard to find any huge points with which I disagreed with in any one quiz, which I think helps validate the results.

Spotlight Blog #2

--Original published at Psychology 105

There are many techniques people can use to cope with stress in their everyday lives. The Internet contains an abundance of tips and different coping mechanisms. In this post, I will be analyzing different stress management techniques for college students, parents, and athletes. A lot of the basic information found on each website for the different audiences is built on the same principles.

For college students, I found an article from This source provided a lot of constructive strategies to deal with stress. It advised that students lead a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and sleep schedule, as well as regular exercise. These are helpful, but these tips are generally suggested to most people. On of the more helpful tips specifically for college students is to not overload their schedule. This is more of a problem-focused strategy, but I think it’s useful because it provides students a way to keep their stress levels lower in the first place, rather than struggling to cope later. It also tells students to avoid relaxing with drugs or alcohol which is a great tip. A lot of students may turn to substance use to avoid dealing with stress, and this can quickly become a larger problem rather than a solution.

The source I found for athletes came from I think this article was more geared toward providing emotion-focused coping strategies for athletes. Generally, I think athletes lead healthy lifestyles, so these tips were omitted. However, they made a good point about keeping a positive attitude. In class, we discussed Richard Lazarus’s levels of appraisal and how secondary appraisal is a significant factor in how individuals respond to stress. By keeping a positive attitude, I think individuals would feel that they have better abilities to deal with their stressors. The article also suggests that athletes build a strong support system, such as their peers, coaches, and trainers, who will encourage them and provide perspective and hope. It also suggests that athletes take time to do fun activities other than their sport, which I think is extremely important. Although self-indulgent techniques can be done to excess, I think they are necessary to include because it is important to keep a wide range of techniques at your disposal.

For parents, I found an article from It included many of the tips that the articles discussed above provided. I was able, howeve to find tips that would be more helpful specifically for this audience. One of the these was that parents should take time to get organized. Parents have many different things to worry about, including work, children, and finances. The article suggested that parents plan ahead and avoid procrastination.  Another helpful tip was to develop a weekly or monthly budget. Money is a point of stress for a lot of parents, and I think a budget provides a direct way to cope with the problem instead of ignoring it.

Overall, each source seemed focused on providing more adaptive coping strategies rather than maladaptive strategies. As we discussed in class, these strategies are very individualized but can be used across many different situations which we saw in each article.



“Five Stress Management Tips For Athletes.” Nova 3 Labs, 8 Aug. 2018,

Scott, Jennifer. “College Life: 10 Ways to Reduce Stress.”, 17 Mar. 2010,

Zolten, Kristen, and Nicholas Long. “Stress Management for Parents.”, Center for Effective Parenting,

Chapter 9 First Impression Post

--Original published at Psychology 105

I have been a fairly hardworking student throughout my entire time in school. I would say most of my interactions with teachers have been positive because of this. I don’t think most teachers care about grades as much as they care about seeing students put effort in to try to learn. However, I think that some teachers automatically equate poor grades with laziness and this seems to be an issue sometimes. I can recall times I studied for the same amount of time for an exam that both me and a friend had to take. Even if we put the same amount of effort in, if one of us got a poor grade the instructor seemed to assume that we didn’t even try. I believe in some cases it may be easier to assume students aren’t trying, rather than trying to evaluate any other factors that are contributing to their success or lack thereof. I think some teachers even go a bit further sometimes and stop encouraging students entirely if their performance isn’t that great overall. I think especially for children, this would be incredibly impactful. I think our school systems would benefit from focusing more on learning and less on the final grade. If we could find ways to make more children enjoy learning, I think this would play big role in helping them develop their intelligence. Although I realize the students themselves and even their parents play a role in their school careers, I do think teachers are the driving force in helping students realize their potential.

Chapter 10 First Impression Post

--Original published at Psychology 105

Based on the results of the Emotional Intelligence Quiz, I appear to be decent at reading other peoples’ emotions. I scored a 16 out of 20, so I still have some room to grow as well. In my opinion, this score seems about right. I think I am good at sensing how others are feeling, especially with my friends and family. I think I can also pick up on strangers’ emotions as well, but it is more difficult. The test would show a picture, and there would be four choices of emotions to pick from. It seemed fairly reliable because each facial expression had an explanation for how the facial muscles contort when somebody is experiencing it. I’m sure that there has been substantial research conducted to come to these conclusions. Some of the expressions were very difficult to distinguish from one another. For example, a lot of them showed a person smiling, including happiness, amusement, and love. So, you really have to pay attention to other aspects of the face such as how the head is positioned and what the person’s eyes are doing. Although I understand that in general peoples’ faces demonstrate a lot of their emotion, I think there are other nonverbal factors you could consider as well. Doing a similar test in person with the models would probably be different than doing it online. If there were not multiple-choice answers to pick from, I’m sure my score would’ve been lower since it’s easier to use process of elimination and narrow down the choices.

Chapter 11 First Impression Post

--Original published at Psychology 105

As a college student, I find that I have a lot of stress but there are certain things I can do to help with its effects on my life. The most significant sources of stress currently are school and work. To help with these, I try to plan out my weeks and work schedule so I can space out all my assignments. This helps to make fewer days where I have a huge list of things to do all at once. This is important because it keeps me from getting too overwhelmed at one time and helps me manage my time a lot more efficiently. A big problem I have is that I tend to take on many things at one time, and often say yes to other people even if I don’t really have time. I think if I cut out some things so that I could focus on only a few that are important than I would be a lot less stressed. When I do find that I’m stressed, I’ll usually go work out or talk to friends and family to help me deal with it. Sometimes I’ll do yoga to help me relax or just go for a walk and spend time outside. There are some things I could incorporate into my routine that would probably help even more. I think a big factor in my stress is how much sleep I get, so if I tried to get even a little more per night this would be beneficial. I do sometimes procrastinate as well and avoiding that would probably really help as well.

Chapter 3 First Impression Post – Sleep

--Original published at Psychology 105

Due to my schedule, my sleep habits tend to vary widely. On a typical day, I wake up around 7:00 for class. I usually don’t get back to my room until around 8:00 at night after going to class, work, and anything else I have planned for the day. Even when I get back, however, I still usually have hours of homework and studying that need to be done. On a given night, as I’m sure might be the case for many other college students, I get maybe 5 hours of sleep. I don’t think this is an adequate amount, especially because that’s how much I get daily. Another problem I have is that although I am very sleep deprived during the week, I tend to binge on sleep on the weekends. If I don’t have to go to work on a Saturday or Sunday, I’ll usually sleep for about 12 hours. I think that having such a varied schedule is probably what is harming my sleep cycles the most. It would be beneficial if I had a specific time I decided to go to bed and wake up every day and a realistic sleeping goal would probably be about 7 hours per night. I do think there are other things that I could do that would help improve my sleep habits too. Since it’s hard for me to get more sleep, it’s important that the sleep I get is very sound and uninterrupted. A lot of times I’ll do things like use my phone before bed, which is commonly advised against. I also tend to use the snooze button a lot in the mornings, and I think minimizing this may help me get out of bed a little easier and help me regulate my sleep better.

Chapter 3 (Drugs Section) First Impression Post

--Original published at Psychology 105

Although controversial, I believe the pros of legalizing marijuana both for medical and recreational purposes outweigh the cons. Currently, there are 23 states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, compared to only six states that have legalized the substance for recreational use. Research on the medical applications of marijuana is expansive, but there has been evidence concluding that it does help with appetite, nausea, chronic pain, inflammation, and muscle control issues. More clinical trials are being conducted to see the effects of marijuana on cancer, immune disorders, mental disorders and seizures. Some research has even concluded that it can slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells. One of the most significant issues faced in health care today is the opioid crisis, and a recent study found a link between medical marijuana legalization and lower rates of opioid use.

With recreational legalization would also come with significant improvement to how marijuana is regulated. Potentially, it could decrease gang activity and activity within the black market. A lot of law enforcement resources go towards dealing with nonviolent drug possession charges; if marijuana was legal, more attention could be paid to dealing with violent crimes. Another huge argument made by proponents of legalization is that there would be a large increase in tax revenue collected off marijuana sales. There would also be health and safety standards applied to the substance that do not currently exist.

Most of the cons of marijuana have to do with its potential effects on health. Some argue it’s a potentially addictive substance; however, two highly addictive substances (tobacco and alcohol) are completely legal for sale and recreational use. There are issues associated with respiratory health both for marijuana smokers and the people around them via second hand smoke. I would argue, however, that again the same argument could be applied to cigarettes, which are legal. Overall, I believe the same regulatory laws (ex. age of sale, driving laws, etc.) that are applied to these two legal substances could be applied to marijuana and they would be just as effective.


Angell, Tom. “Medical Marijuana Reduces Opioid Prescriptions, Another Study Finds.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 11 July 2018,

Franciosi, Anthony. “12 Pros & Cons Of Marijuana Legalization.” Honest Marijuana, Honest Marijuana, 23 July 2018,

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana as Medicine.” NIDA,