Despite a downward trend in the number of Americans who smoke, individuals with mental illness are still as likely to smoke today as they were in 2004, according to data from the federal Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The study looked at the time period of 2004 to 2011, when smoking rates in the general population fell 14%, though the rate of smokers with mental illness remained unchanged. In 2011, about 25% of individuals with mental illnesses reported being smokers, while only about 16.5% of the general population reported smoking. Individuals with mental illnesses who were undergoing treatment, however, showed greater quit rates than those who were not receiving treatment (37% versus 33%). The full report appears in the January 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Can’t stop checking your e-mail? Feel phantom vibrations even when your phone isn’t in your pocket? You aren’t alone. Occupational psychologist Emma Russell has released new research that indicates workers obsessed with checking e-mail may actually be damaging their mental health. Dr. Russell, of London’s Kingston University, analyzed the e-mail of employees across many different types of companies to see which habits had positive or negative influences on their work lives. Many of the habits were thought to be positive traits by the employees, yet had negative effects, as well. “This research reminds us that even though we think we are using strategies for dealing with our e-mail at work, many of them can be detrimental to other goals and the people we work with,” said Dr. Russell, who presented her Seven Deadly E-mail Sins at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference. According to Dr. Russell, the Seven Deadly E-mail Sins, when used in moderation, are fine, but can have a negative impact if they are not handled correctly. For example, while workers may check e-mail outside of business hours to stay on top of work, it may also mean they have trouble switching between work and home life. While responding immediately to e-mails may show concern and interest, it may take the sender away from other tasks needing concentration. The seven sins include: ping pong (constant e-mails back and forth, creating long chains), e-mailing outside of work hours, e-mailing around others, ignoring e-mails, requesting read receipts, responding immediately to an e-mail alert, and sending automated replies.
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/82204714] Among PAR’s newest and most innovative products, the Vocabulary Assessment Scales (VAS) present highly realistic, full-color digital photographs to measure the breadth of an individual’s vocabulary and oral language development. This complementary pair of assessments measure both expressive (VAS-E) and receptive (VAS-R) vocabulary.  Norm-referenced and designed for simple administration and scoring, the VAS-E and VAS-R can be used individually or in combination throughout an individual’s life span. Click the video link above to view a short interview with VAS author Rebecca Gerhardstein-Nader, PhD, and learn more about the features and benefits of this exciting new product!
It’s that time of year…. During the winter months, people are more likely to report feeling tired, depressed, or sad. For many of us, these feelings are a normal response to less sunlight, and an occasional case of the “winter blues” is mild and manageable. Others, however, are struggling with the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a clinical form of depression. What is the difference between the two? In a recent interview published by the American Psychological Association, SAD expert Kelly Rohan, PhD, explains the signs of the disorder and potential treatments. Rohan is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Vermont who specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy, theory of depression, and SAD. According to Rohan, SAD is a pattern of major depressive episodes during the fall and winter months, with periods of full improvement in the winter and spring. “The symptoms of SAD are exactly the same as non-seasonal depression symptoms, which can include a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyed activities, excessive fatigue, difficulty concentrating, a significant change in sleep length and thoughts about death or suicide. The only difference with SAD is the seasonal pattern it follows,” says Rohan in the APA interview. Widely used treatments for SAD include light therapy, that is, daily exposure to bright artificial light during the months when depressive episodes occur; anti-depressant medications are sometimes prescribed, as well. In recent years, however, Rohan’s lab has been researching the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for SAD. “CBT is a type of talk therapy used and researched extensively for non-seasonal depression since the 1960s, but we are the first group to apply the treatment to SAD,” Rowan says. “The CBT for SAD treatment we have been testing includes 12 structured sessions, delivered two times per week over six weeks in the winter. The sessions focus on developing skills to improve coping with the seasons. The therapist works with the patient to foster two types of skills: behavioral (doing) skills and cognitive (thinking) skills. The behavioral skills involve identifying, scheduling and doing pleasurable, engaging activities every day in the winter. Over time, these proactive behaviors are meant to counteract the down, lethargic mood and the tendency to give in to ‘hibernation’ urges that are so common in SAD. The cognitive skills involve learning to identify and challenge negative thoughts when experiencing SAD symptoms.” In Rohan’s clinical trial, patients who had been treated with CBT generally had better outcomes than those who had been treated with light therapy alone. “These results suggest that treating someone initially with just CBT may be more effective in the long term,” says Rohan. “My lab is completing a study to find out if these results hold in a larger, more definitive study funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health.” What do you think? Could CBT be a promising treatment option for clients with SAD? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!