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?

5 Reasons People Avoid Mental Health Treatment

girl curled up under umbrella

You’ve accepted that you need to go to therapy — but getting yourself out of the door and into the office feels like an insurmountable challenge. After all, most of us aren’t familiar with therapy. We don’t know what we’re going to say. Should we actually lie on the couch like they do in movies, or is it okay to just sit? (Sitting, by the way, is fine and often preferred.)

Overcoming your fear of therapy is the only way to reap the benefits that it can provide. Here are five common reasons people avoid getting treatment. Do any ring true for you? Continue reading 5 Reasons People Avoid Mental Health Treatment

Can Ketamine Really Treat Depression?

IV tube

With Denver recently legalizing psilocybin mushrooms, discussions of microdosing — using a tiny dose of a psychoactive drug that is too small to induce a “trip” — are on the rise. One of the most popular microdosing treatments being studied is using ketamine for treatment-resistant depression, i.e. depression with an inadequate response to two or more antidepressants of adequate dose and duration.

But does it work? Initial studies are mixed, and it must be cautioned that further inquiry is needed. Continue reading Can Ketamine Really Treat Depression?

What is an Empath?

Child holding dog

Are you impacted by the feelings of those around you? Do people describe you as empathetic? Perhaps you have always had the ability to feel the emotions and physical symptoms of others as if they were your own. If this rings true in your life, you may be an “empath.”

Only 1 to 2 percent of the population experience this type of sensitivity, having the ability to feel and absorb the emotions surrounding them. They likely view the world through their emotions and intuition rather than putting too much logic behind their decision making. While this characteristic can be a source of personal strength, it is also important to know how to manage common challenges of being an empath. Continue reading What is an Empath?

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

Why Am I So Emotional?

Man curled up on the floor

Do you find yourself experiencing emotions more deeply and intensely than those around you? Perhaps you’re told you are “too sensitive” or “too emotional.” For those who feel emotions more intensely than others, their brain is processing information differently and reflecting on a deeper level it may even manifest as being exceptionally perceptive. Yet these individuals can also be easily overwhelmed by the constant wave of feelings and overstimulation.

For the 15 to 20 percent of the population who are classified as a “highly sensitive person,” there are other contributing factors that also play a role. Continue reading Why Am I So Emotional?

What is a “Psych Evaluation?”

Diagram on a head

If you are new to therapy or are exploring different options for treatment, it’s natural to have questions about first steps. A common, but misunderstood initial step is the psychological or “psych” evaluation.

It may sound intimidating, but a psych evaluation is a simple way for your therapist or health care provider to understand what you’re going through at the moment. Continue reading What is a “Psych Evaluation?”

The Difference Between Psychology and Psychiatry (and How They Work Together)

Two people talking

“Oh, my daughter is a psychologist too!” my seatmate gushed when I told him that I was a psychiatrist. As I settled into a long-haul overnight flight, I didn’t feel pressed at that moment to highlight the differences between the two oft-confused professions.

Indeed, ask the average person what a “shrink” is or to differentiate between the roles of a psychologist and a psychiatrist, and expect to receive a host of different answers.

While both psychiatry and psychology deal with the assessment and treatment of individuals with a wide-range of mental health needs, there are important differences worth noting between the two fields as well as their practitioners. It’s especially important for the individual left wondering: should I see a psychologist (or another kind of psychotherapist) or a psychiatrist? Continue reading The Difference Between Psychology and Psychiatry (and How They Work Together)

What Does it Mean to “Get Better?”

Smiling face painted onto tree

For six years I struggled with an eating disorder before making the decision to pursue treatment. After that it still took another year and a half before I considered myself to be in recovery. I didn’t wake up one day and realize that I no longer had an eating disorder anymore; it was a slow abatement of the features of the disorder, which plagued me for so many years, as a result of a combination of nutrition counseling, support groups, psychiatric medication, therapy, and resilience.

Because recovery in mental health is an ongoing process, it can be difficult to recognize what it actually looks like. Sometimes recovery happens so gradually that we’re not even aware that our minds and bodies — because our bodies can also suffer when we are struggling with a mental-health issue — are in the process of healing. That can make it difficult to be able to answer the question: “how will I know when I’m actually better?” Continue reading What Does it Mean to “Get Better?”

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”