What is Attachment Theory?

many locks attached to fence

As we make our way through our grown-up lives, we don’t always consider how the first few years of childhood might still be affecting us. Yet according to attachment theory, our earliest experiences — most notably, our earliest relationships — have a profound and lasting effect on all aspects of our lives, in terms of our personalities, mental health struggles, and adult relationships.

What Is Attachment Theory?

Psychologists have long believed that our primary relationships (usually with a parent, but anyone who cared for us in our earliest days would qualify) shape us in powerful ways. Continue reading What is Attachment Theory?

What is a Sociopath?

eye in broken glass

“What a sociopath!” one might exclaim to describe someone’s erratic, cruel, strange, or manipulative behavior. It’s not a term that should necessarily be thrown around loosely, yet many of us use it to describe someone who is off-putting, secretive, and doesn’t seem to be cognizant of other people’s feelings, or how their actions impact others. The term sociopath may also describe someone who seems dangerous or unhinged.

What you might not know, however, is that the term “sociopath” isn’t really a psychological term, at least not anymore. It’s more of a figure of speech, though it’s linked to a personality disorder that is recognized by psychologists. Continue reading What is a Sociopath?

How Fertility Issues Impact Mental Health

couple standing front to back loosely holding hands

I will never forget the fertility struggles my husband and I faced as we attempted to conceive our first child. We were both young and healthy. I had regular menstrual cycles, no reproductive issues (that I knew about), and always assumed that getting pregnant would happen instantly. Each month we tried to get pregnant, I was shocked that the little plus sign on the pregnancy test never appeared – not even once.

But my shock turned to despair when – after 18 months of trying and a million, sometimes very invasive fertility tests – we were told that my husband had a low sperm count. The first doctor we saw told us that his count was so low that our only hope of conceiving would be to use IVF, which we could not afford. I remember lying in bed, looking at the ceiling, feeling a level of hopelessness in my bones that I had never experienced before. Continue reading How Fertility Issues Impact Mental Health

I Hate Myself: 5 Ways to Combat Self-Loathing

man looking at his own reflection in the mirror

“I hate myself.” “I’m not good enough.” “I fail at everything I do.” “Everyone hates me.” “If I try that, I will just screw it up.”

These are just some of the thoughts you might have if you experience self-hatred, self-loathing, or low self-esteem. Being flooded with thoughts like these can be demoralizing, troubling — and if left unchecked, can lead to serious cases of depression and other mental health issues. The question is, when are thoughts like “I hate myself” a problem, and if they are, what can you do to remedy the situation? Continue reading I Hate Myself: 5 Ways to Combat Self-Loathing

How We View Mental Health Differently Than Our Mothers

Mother and child outdoors

When I began to develop panic disorder in my late teens, it took me a few years to get help. First, it was difficult to even understand what was going on. I’d heard of panic attacks, but I pictured someone rapidly hyperventilating into a paper bag and acting nervous and twitchy.

My panic attacks were much more private than that: I felt absolutely terrified, my heart would race, and my gut would turn itself inside out. But to all outward appearances, I was just daydreaming or lost in my own little world during a panic attack. Continue reading How We View Mental Health Differently Than Our Mothers

What is a Sapiosexual?

Brain and heart made of string

Only recently did I find out that there is a term to describe the type of attraction I’ve always experienced with my husband. It turns out that I am sapiosexual – i.e., I’m attracted to someone based primarily on their intellectual prowess. Who knew? Continue reading What is a Sapiosexual?

32 Surprising Mental Health Statistics

Graph on a piece of paper

Mental health statistics may not always be at the top of your mind, even when you’re going through a crisis of your own. Some of us get headaches when we even think about math – especially statistics. Yet, hard data based on empirical research helps us better understand the world around us and the people in it. When it comes to mental health, so many of us feel isolated and utterly alone in our struggles. Looking at mental health statistics can put our challenges into context, help us understand the pervasiveness of certain conditions, and offer some bit comfort and solace knowing we’re not alone.

And when you look at the stats about treatment for mental health — such as the fact that mental illness affects tens of millions Americans each year, but only about half of people receive treatment — you can see how these surprising mental health statistics necessitate additional education, awareness, and funding for mental health services.

Ready to take a deeper look at some of the most relevant mental health stats? Continue reading 32 Surprising Mental Health Statistics

What ‘I Don’t Feel Good’ Means For A Person With Mental Illness

Silhouette of person with head down

I have dealt with generalized anxiety and panic disorder since I was about 10 years old. Like many people who battle mental illness, I have my good days, and I’m grateful for them. But I have other days, weeks, and months where my mental illness incapacitates me to the point where it becomes very difficult to function.

But I’m good at hiding it. Sometimes the only words that come out of my mouth during those dark times are “I don’t feel good.” I say it to my kids, my friends, my co-workers, even my husband. It’s not that I don’t want to be candid about my struggles, but sometimes it feels too heavy and painful to share what is actually going on. Continue reading What ‘I Don’t Feel Good’ Means For A Person With Mental Illness

Men’s Surprising Relationship Needs

Neon lights

Growing up with a single mother and a sister, I spent most of my life feeling a bit intimidated and cautious around men. And the fact was, many of the stereotypes I’d heard about the male gender turned out to be true. Most of the boys and men I met were macho, tough as nails, and it was rare to meet a man I felt I could open up to and feel emotionally safe with.

Then I met my husband, and all that changed. He was candid about his feelings, and forthcoming about communicating his needs. His father was the same way, and I soon learned that there was a whole world of men out there who weren’t closed off, misogynistic jerks. What a revelation! Continue reading Men’s Surprising Relationship Needs

What it Means to Be “Neurotic”

Woman staring

As a New York Jewish woman, I am more than a little familiar with the term “neurotic.” It has been used to describe me – along with several of my family members – more than once. Sometimes the word makes me cringe – and I definitely think that it has negative connotations in our culture. At other times, though, “neurotic” feels endearing. After all, some of our best comedians use “neurotic” as a badge of honor, and find the self-deprecating humor in all their many neuroses. Continue reading What it Means to Be “Neurotic”