How does excess of dopamine affect one's mental health?

How does excess of dopamine affect one's mental health?

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If a person takes dopamine increasing medication for some illness, what effect will it have on his/her mental health considering that medication doesn't target just one area of the brain ?

In Parkinson's disease, dopamine is lacking in the brain area responsible for motor functions i.e. muscle movement hence creating spasms in muscles. Dopamine medication corrects this but it doesn't target just that area of the brain.

I'm curious what happens with all the dopamine roaming in other parts of the brain, and how it affects mental health?

EDIT: I've made some changes, I hope it's more understandable now.

Not all medications administer dopamine in the same way.

For treating Parkinson's specifically, dopamine-boosting medications such as L-DOPA (which are notable for their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which dopamine itself cannot do) are often administered with a DOPA decarboxylase inhibitor (DDCI) or with a benserazide to prevent peripheral synthesis of dopamine from L-DOPA. This prevents the negative side effects that may result from excess dopamine in the peripheral nervous system.

Other medications (such as stimulant medications, used to treat disorders such as ADHD) convert tyrosine hydroxylase into L-Dopa, which in turn becomes dopamine. Long-term amphetamine use has shown to have positive effects on the brain when administered in therapeutic doses. By contrast, however, certain psychotoxic amphetamines such as methamphetamine have shown to cause long-term brain damage.

When taken in higher doses, these medications can negatively effect heart rate, sleep patterns, appetite, mood, anxiety, aggression levels, and (in cases of abuse and overuse) can lead to psychosis or paranoia. They can also lead to trouble with urination and muscle coordination.

How fashion impacts our mental wellbeing

Are you comfortable in your clothes? Because the garments we wear can affect our mental state in positive and negative ways.

Getting dressed in the morning: it's a task we do daily, some more consciously than others. We get dressed for work in the morning, choose casual clothes for lunch with a friend or maybe dress up for dinner in the evening. And with each outfit we — intentionally or unintentionally — communicate non-verbally to the outside world.

It's no question that what we wear is who we are because fashion is a way for us to express ourselves, our identity and even how we feel. The clothes we wear daily reflect the way we want others to perceive us and how we see ourselves. Clothes even influence our cognitive abilities.

In 2012, researchers from Northwestern University in the US found that wearing specific articles of clothing had an effect on the wearer's psychology and performance. The researchers concluded that clothes have a symbolic meaning. When we wear an article of clothing with a specific meaning, these clothes can influence our psychological state. It's called "enclothed cognition."

For example, a lab coat is associated with intelligence and scientific thinking. When a person wears a lab coat, these characteristics symbolized by the coat seem to have positive effects on their performance of specific tasks, according to the researchers. The study results show that what we wear, and the symbolic meaning we associate with specific fashion items, has measurable effects on our mental state.

Should you dress how you want to feel or dress how you feel?

"This experiment really shows how clothes can affect our attention, how we feel about ourselves and our competencies," says Camay Abraham, who has a Master degree in Applied Psychology in Fashion from the London College of Fashion.

These effects can be positive, but also negative. "It could mean a negative state of being if the item in question is known to be associated with a negative construct," says Abraham. So "enclothed cognition" is a two-way street, just like our daily clothing choice can make us feel good or bad.

On days where we don't feel our best the clothes we wear can make us feel better and act as our potential armour. On those days, I personally find it difficult to combine the right outfit. Sometimes I try to imitate someone else's style because on them it makes them look fierce however I quickly realize that those same clothes don't have the same effect on me. And so I become uncomfortable I’ll be tugging and pulling constantly on the garments I’m wearing, acutely aware of what I put on.



↩ World Health Organization, Fact Sheets on Mental Health (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2017),

↩ World Health Organization, Data and Resources (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2017),

↩ World Health Organization, Data and Resources.

↩ Sally McManus, Paul Bebbington, Rachel Jenkins, and Traolach Brugha, Mental Health and Wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014 (Leeds: NHS Digital, 2016).

↩ Brett J. Deacon and Dean McKay, “The Biomedical Model of Psychological Problems: A Call for Critical Dialogue,” Behavior Therapist 38, no. 7 (2015): 231–35. Pharmaceutical companies who have identified it as a market opportunity have been the primary beneficiaries of this approach, exemplified by the proliferation of anti-depressants as illustrated by Brett J. Deacon and Grayson L. Baird, “The Chemical Imbalance Explanation of Depression: Reducing Blame at what Cost?,” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 28, no. 4 (2009): 415–35.

↩ As exemplified by Jordan W. Smoller et al., “Identification of Risk Loci with Shared Effects on Five Major Psychiatric Disorders: A Genome-Wide Analysis,” Lancet 381, no. 9875 (2013): 1371–79. In this study, five of the most common mental-health disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, were associated with genetic variations.

↩ Deacon and McKay, “The Biomedical Model of Psychological Problems,” 233.

↩ Social class is one of the most significant indicators of mental health, as evidenced by research within the social sciences dating back to the earlier part of the twentieth century. The first most notable study of this kind is Robert E. L. Farris and Henry W. Dunham, Mental Disorders in Urban Areas (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1939), which identified higher rates of mental disorders in the poorest districts of Chicago. This was followed by, among others in both Britain and the United States, August B. Hollingshead and Frederick C. Redlich, Social Class and Mental Illness (New York: John Wiley, 1958) Leo Srole, Thomas S. Langer, Stanley T. Michael, Marvin K. Opler, and Thomas A. C. Rennie, Mental Health in the Metropolis: The Midtown Manhattan Study (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962) and John J. Schwab, Roger A. Bell, George J. Warheit, and Ruby B. Schwab, Social Order and Mental Health: The Florida Health Study (New York: Brunner-Mazel, 1979).

↩ Iain Ferguson, Politics of the Mind: Marxism and Mental Distress (London: Bookmarks, 2017), 15–16.

↩ Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy, Monopoly Capital (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1966), 285.

↩ Baran and Sweezy, Monopoly Capital, 346–47.

↩ Baran and Sweezy, Monopoly Capital, 346.

↩ Baran and Sweezy, Monopoly Capital, 364.

↩ Baran and Sweezy, Monopoly Capital, 354–55.

↩ Paul A. Baran, The Longer View (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1969), 92–111 Paul M. Sweezy, “Paul A. Baran: A Personal Memoir,” in Paul A. Baran: A Collective Portrait (New York: Monthly Review Press, 32–33. The unpublished chapter of Baran and Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital, entitled “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society II,” drafted by Baran, had included an extensive section on mental health. That chapter, however, was not included in the book because it was still unfinished at the time of Baran’s death. Nevertheless, some elements of the mental-health argument were interspersed in other parts of the book. When “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalism II” was finally published in Monthly Review in 2013, almost sixty years after it was drafted by Baran, the section on mental health was excluded due to its incomplete character. See Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy, “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Culture and Communications” Monthly Review 65, no. 3 (July–August 2013): 43–64. It is worth noting that the treatment of mental health in Monopoly Capital did not go unnoticed and was subject to criticism by Robert Heilbroner in a review in the New York Review of Books, to which Sweezy responded in a letter, defending their analysis in this regard. See Robert Heilbroner, Between Capitalism and Socialism (New York: Vintage, 1970), 237–46 Paul M. Sweezy, “Monopoly Capital” (letter), New York Review of Books, July 7, 1966, 26.

↩ The influence of Fromm is evident in Baran’s work and correspondence. He studied Fromm’s The Sane Society, together with Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization and One Dimensional Man (in manuscript form). He was undoubtedly familiar with the wider body of work by both thinkers. While Baran was not in complete agreement with the details of Marcuse’s analyses, he openly acknowledged the importance and significance of his work, identifying Eros and Civilization as having great relevance to U.S. society and recognizing a psychoanalytical analysis as vital to understanding monopoly-capitalist society. See Nicholas Baran and John Bellamy Foster, The Age of Monopoly Capital: Selected Correspondence of Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy, 1949–1964 (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2017), 127, 131. See also the “Baran-Marcuse Correspondence,” Monthly Review Foundation,

↩ Erich Fromm, Beyond the Chains of Illusion: My Encounter with Freud and Marx (London: Continuum, 2009), 7.

↩ Fromm, Beyond the Chains of Illusion, 35.

↩ Bertell Ollman, Alienation: Marx’s Conception of Man in a Capitalist Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 131.

↩ Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1 (1867 repr. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1977), 571.

↩ Erich Fromm, Marx’s Concept of Man (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 23–24.

↩ Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (London, Routledge, 2002), 13.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 65.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 22.

↩ Fromm, Beyond the Chains of Illusion, 27.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 27.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 28–35.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 35–36.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 37–59.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 59–61.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 61–64

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 14.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 76.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 66.

↩ Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (1932 repr. Radford, Virginia: Wilder Publications, 2011).

↩ Fromm, Beyond the Chains of Illusion, 63.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 173.

↩ Investors in People, Job Exodus Trends: 2018 Employee Sentiment Poll (London: Investors in People, 2018),

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 35.

↩ Health and Safety Executive, Work Related Stress, Depression or Anxiety Statistics in Great Britain, 2018 (Bootle, UK: Health and Safety Executive, 2018), 3,

↩ Business in the Community, Mental Health at Work Report 2017 (London: Business in the Community, 2017),

↩ Baran and Sweezy, Monopoly Capital, 345.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 15.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 29.

↩ Baran and Sweezy, Monopoly Capital, 347–48.

↩ Jo Griffin, The Lonely Society? (London: Mental Health Foundation, 2010), 6–7.

↩ Griffin, The Lonely Society?, 4

↩ David Marjoribanks and Anna Darnell Bradley, You’re Not Alone: The Quality of the UK’s Social Relationships (Doncaster: Relate, 2017), 17–18.

↩ Luc Goossens, Eeske van Roekel, Maaike Verhagen, John T. Cacioppo, Stephanie Cacioppo, Marlies Maes, and Dorret I. Boomsma, “The Genetics of Loneliness: Linking Evolutionary Theory to Genome-Wide Genetics, Epigenetics, and Social Science,” Perspectives on Psychological Science 10, no 2 (2015): 213–26.

↩ Michael Oliver, The Politics of Disablement (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan Press, 1990) Eli Zaretsky, Capitalism, the Family, and Personal Life (London: Pluto Press, 1976).

↩ Fromm, The Fear of Freedom, 93.

↩ See Ricardo Antunes, “The New Service Proletariat,” Monthly Review 69, no. 11 (April 2018): 23–29, for an analysis of the evolving insecurity of labor markets within the advanced capitalist nations and the hardening of proletarian divisions.

↩ Trade Union Congress, “15 Per Cent Increase in People Working More than 48 Hours a Week Risks a Return to ‘Burnout Britain’, Warns TUC,” September 9, 2015 Josie Cox, “British Employees are Working More Overtime than Ever Before—Often for No Extra Money,” Independent, March 2, 2017.

↩ David Marjoribanks, A Labour of Love—or Labour Versus Love?: Our Relationships at Work Relationships and Work (Doncaster: Relate, 2016).

↩ Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz, The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century (Boston: Beacon Press, 2009).

↩ Baran and Sweezy, Monopoly Capital, 347–48.

↩ Baran and Sweezy, Monopoly Capital, 115.

↩ Fromm, Beyond the Chains of Illusion, 63.

↩ Fromm, The Sane Society, 129-130.

↩ Robert Bocock, Consumption (London: Routledge, 2001), 51.

↩ United Nations Children’s Fund, Innocenti Report Card 7: Child Poverty in Perspective: An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries (Florence: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2007),

↩ National Survivor User Network, NSUN Manifesto 2017: Our Voice, Our Vision, Our Values, (London: National Survivor User Network, 2017),

↩ Raza Griffiths, A Call for Social Justice: Creating Fairer Policy and Practice for Mental Health Service Users from Black and Minority Ethnic Communities (London: Kindred Minds, 2018).

How Dogs Can Help with Depression

Depression is a widespread issue in the U.S. affecting about 40 million adults. Fortunately, there are many ways to feel better. Talking to a licensed psychiatrist can make a huge difference and there are so many effective medications out there. Exercise and healthy eating can help too, as can opening up to and spending more time with family members, close friends and pets. In fact: Did you know that dogs can play an integral part in your emotional well-being?

Dogs can contribute to your happiness. Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and improve your all-around health. For example, people with dogs have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop heart disease&mdashjust playing with dogs has been shown to elevate oxytocin and dopamine, creating positive feelings and bonding for both the person and their pet.

For someone living with depression, there is so much to gain from having a dog. Here are just a few of the many benefits.


Pets help you lead a healthy lifestyle. Dogs need exercise, which means you&rsquoll be exercising right along with them! Exercise increases endorphins, which fight depression. Because dogs need consistency, you&rsquoll learn how to make exercise a daily routine instead of a once-in-a-while activity. Research has shown that consistency in one&rsquos schedule can help reduce stress levels and lead to better sleep patterns and overall health.


Dogs give you a reason to talk to new people while on walks or at the dog park, which can alleviate the loneliness you might feel in a depressive episode. Socialization with others, especially face-to-face, has been shown to ease symptoms of depression. This is especially true for people aged 50 years or older.

Having a companion can also prevent depression from worsening, especially therapy and service dogs who are constantly in tune to your needs. Caring for an animal gives you purpose, makes you feel wanted and helps take focus away from your depression.


Dogs can be a lot to handle, but research shows that responsibility helps your mental health. Some psychologists say that you build self-esteem by taking ownership and applying skills to a specific task. Taking care of a dog offers reassurance that you can care for another creature and for yourself.

If you love dogs but can&rsquot commit to or afford one, try dog-sitting! Sites and apps like allow you to do everything from short walks and check-ins to daycare and dog boarding. It&rsquos worth a try. Because not only can dogs make you feel better, but the responsibilities entailed in the human-canine relationship can provide important structural and social benefits that lessen the burden of depression.

Dogs bring happiness into your life, and depression is often no match for the unconditional love they provide.

Greer Grenley is a part-time dog writer and full-time dog lover. She lives in Seattle where she can be seen out-and-about with her Aussiedoodle, George.

Why Young People Are at Risk

Prior to social media and the internet, children only had to worry about bullying on school grounds, for the most part. But social media has given bullies a new way to torment their victims.

With just one click, bullies can circulate a video of their target being ridiculed, beaten up, or otherwise humiliated. Cliques of mean girls and boys can swarm a peer’s social media page, leaving negative comments or spreading misinformation. In some cases, bullies have convinced their victims to kill themselves.

While many schools have anti-bullying policies and rules about online student conduct, it can still be difficult for educators and parents to monitor abusive behavior on social media.

Worsening matters is that the victims of bullies often fear that the bullying will increase if they speak to a parent, teacher, or administrator about their mistreatment. This can make a child feel even more isolated and go without the emotional support they need to handle a toxic and potentially volatile situation.

Dopamine and Impulse Control

Scientific studies found that lower dopamine activity in the mid-brain also leads to increased impulsivity. This can lead the addict to further substance abuse and more risky behaviors.

The research also found that the tendency to substance abuse behavior lies in an individual's innate tendency toward impulsiveness, which is linked to faulty regulation of dopamine in the mid-brain.

At the core of the study model conducted by Joshua Buckholtz, Ph.D. Department of Psychology at Harvard University, is an understanding of how the brain signals for dopamine to be released. The dopamine-containing neurons are in the mid-brain area. Some of these cells release dopamine into the striatum, a mid-brain region known to be involved in motivation and reward.

So when an individual experiences something rewarding or even sees something that is learned to produce a reward, these mid-brain dopamine neurons activate. They then release more dopamine triggering activity in the reward center of the brain.

To keep the cells from inundating the area with an overload of dopamine, special regulatory sensors called D2 auto receptors shut the flow down when they sense the proper level of dopamine has been reached. Think of it as similar to the way a thermostat works in home heating. Ergo, impulsive people have a broken dopamine thermostat.

Dopamine has long been implicated in impulsivity, but the exact mechanisms involved remain somewhat murky. The ability to deliberate on the consequences of one's actions is crucial to human behavior. However, human beings differ widely in their ability for such deliberation, and a sizeable percentage of the population persistently makes rash, spontaneous and, very often, destructive decisions. Such differences strongly predict liability for a range of behavioral disorders including Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), antisocial personality disorder and substance abuse.

Clearly more research needs to be done on the effects of dopamine on the human brain. While much good has come from those already underway, dopamine deserves more in-depth research to study its effects not only on addiction, but other behavior disorders and diseases such as Parkinson's.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-768-5069 to speak to a treatment specialist.

More Evidence Fortnite Is Bad for Your Child’s Health

The world&rsquos most popular online video game costs nothing to play, is available on seven different platforms, has more than 200 million registered players worldwide, and its CEO is now worth over $7 billion . Launched in the summer of 2017, Fortnite has blown away the competition to become the go-to video game for any serious or would-be gamer. Fortnite may also be responsible for a serious decline in your child&rsquos health as evidence mounts about the effects on kids obsessed with playing .

While the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes gaming disorder (compulsive and obsessive playing of video games) as a diagnosable condition, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) says there is currently insufficient evidence to support gaming disorder as a unique mental disorder, calling for further research.

To gain valuable insight on the potential harm that obsessive video gaming can cause in young people, I spoke with Dr. Anita Gadhia-Smith , a psychotherapist in Washington, D.C. who specializes in addictions , recovery and relationship issues.

How Electronic Gaming Addiction Affects Families

Dr. Gadhia-Smith acknowledges that electronic gaming addiction is on the rise. She says she has worked with numerous families who are experiencing the phenomenon of their sons and daughters being addicted to online video games, particularly Fortnite. Parents are understandably frustrated over what to do. &ldquoIt is especially difficult when one parent feels more strongly about setting limits than the other,&rdquo Dr. Gadhia-Smith says. &ldquoThis can cause tremendous conflict between the parents, which then affects the entire family emotionally.

&ldquoChildren can split the parents and then form a stronger alliance with one, making it even more difficult for the parents to set boundaries together in a unified way.&rdquo

What Repeated Electronic Device Use Does to the Brain

Continuous daily use of electronics is more than merely annoying. It&rsquos also more concerning than taking children&rsquos attention away from healthier activities, such as playing sports, interacting with friends on a face-to-face basis and more. According to Gadhia-Smith, this non-stop use of electronics is changing the human brain. &ldquoIt is causing changes in the prefrontal cortex, especially affecting young developing brains.&rdquo

What about the addictive aspect of such use? &ldquoPart of the addictive component involves a continuous release of dopamine,&rdquo she says. &ldquoEvery time someone gets a notification on their phone, or attends to their electronic game, there is another release of dopamine, thereby increasing very addictive behaviors and natural endo-chemicals produced by our own biochemistry.&rdquo

Gadhia-Smith calls this the inner drugstore, and says our own endo-chemicals can be just as addictive as taking drugs externally. &ldquoIt is similar to cocaine addiction, or a gambler&rsquos addiction to a slot machine. The dopamine drip is a powerful force, and our brains are wired to seek this pleasure hormone.&rdquo Therein lies the heart of the problem, she continues. &ldquoWhen we are continually flooded with dopamine, normal amounts no longer satisfy us. So then we need more and more dopamine to even feel normal. This is part of the reason that it is so hard to pry people away from their electronics. They are literally addicted to them.&rdquo

How Video Game and Electronics Attachment Specifically Harms Kids

What happens when young people remain glued to their video game screens and dismiss or avoid other activities in order to continue playing? What are the social, psychological and physical effects of such an obsession? Gadhia-Smith offers the following assessment. &ldquoAdolescents and children need to learn how to be with other human beings, how to interact face-to-face, how to read and respond to verbal and social cues, and how to communicate effectively. There is no substitute for face to face personal interaction.

&ldquoIf children are continuously attached to machines, then they lack normal human development and the capacity to integrate the full range of human interaction. We see reduced vocabularies, a lessening capacity for healthy social interaction, communication, and reduced social skills and capacity to form and sustain healthy relationships.&rdquo

Warning About Violent Video Games

Gadhia-Smith has a special warning concerning the effects of violent video games on young minds. &ldquoWith video gaming that includes violence, violence becomes normalized and acceptable, &rdquo she says. &ldquoPeople become desensitized to violence, and lose the capacity to understand what it really means. As evidenced by gang violence and rampant use of guns by mass shooters, we are witnessing a change in the value of human life. To the extent that violent games contribute to this, as well as movies and other media, we need to closely examine what we are feeding the minds of our young people. Whatever they are feeding their minds is likely to come out in their lives.&rdquo

How to Counter the Argument that Everyone&rsquos Doing It

Every parent has heard the excuse that everybody&rsquos playing Fortnite. &ldquoJust because someone&rsquos friends are doing something doesn&rsquot necessarily mean that it&rsquos OK for your children to do it,&rdquo Gadhia-Smith says. &ldquoParents have a responsibility to be involved and aware about what their children are feeding their minds. Just like you need to be aware what you&rsquore feeding your body, you also need to be aware what you are feeding your mind.&rdquo

Gadhia-Smith offers the following advice for parents on how to combat their child&rsquos Fortnite obsession:

  • Limiting children&rsquos&rsquo time with electronics is especially important.
  • Facilitating face-to-face human interaction, including sports, will help children to achieve more balance.
  • Sports provide your children with a healthy outlet for competitive energy, teamwork, and learning how to get along with other people.
  • Sports also is a way for your kids to release aggression in a healthy manner.

&ldquoI recommend that parents work on both being aligned on the same policies, and then implement reasonable boundaries with their children. Allowing them to check out from life and reality, will deprive them of developing the skills that they need to survive in this world. This requires more work and perseverance from parents, perhaps more than ever before, as we are living in a world that is ever far-reaching and more complex in every way.&rdquo

What Parents Can Do

If you are still unsure whether anything you do will have an effect, Gadhia-Smith has some specific recommendations on what parents can do in coping with their child&rsquos (or their own) video game addiction . &ldquoThe best case scenario for changing the focus of your children&rsquos attention is to find something healthy that will attract them even more than the video games. Help them to find fun and healthy activities that surpasses the pleasure that they get from the game.&rdquo

But if you find yourself running into obstacles or your child refuses to cooperate, you have to step in. Gadhia-Smith says that all you can do is to set limits on how much time they play. She says there are basically two ways to detox your children from video games.

  • The first is cold turkey, which is the most painful. &ldquoI recommend this in very extreme cases where everything else has been tried and failed.&rdquo
  • The second method is to gradually taper down their time. &ldquoIf you can slowly reduce the time that they spend each day, perhaps without them even knowing it, you may be able to bring the monster down to a manageable size if they are going to continue playing at all.&rdquo

Gadhia-Smith notes that the capacity to learn to tolerate frustration and to learn to self-soothe in healthy ways is a critical part of human development. She says that parents need to model these behaviors for their children whenever possible. &ldquoIf children are so defiant and angry that under no circumstances will they respond to any limits, turn off the Internet or take away the computer. There are apps available to turn off Internet service.&rdquo

Trying to ensure your child is never hurt or unhappy may be part of parental DNA, but Gadhia-Smith urges caution. &ldquoIt is a fantasy to believe that we must never hurt or be unhappy. Parents also need to examine if they have a larger pattern of over indulging their children in other ways and enabling them to develop entitled, unhealthy attitudes and behaviors due to overindulgence. There are some things that parents need to solve for their children, but there are others that children need to learn to solve for themselves. And the capacity to self-soothe can only be learned by oneself.&rdquo

What about angry outbursts from your child over these new limitations? &ldquoIf your children become angry or enraged about your setting limits, let them be angry. It is OK for kids to not like the limits that are set for their own good. That is often the way it is supposed to be.&rdquo

Gadhia-Smith adds that eventually, the children can use their anger creatively and pursue new activities. She says that many new creative pursuits have been born out of anger and discomfort. &ldquoParents need to live with their own discomfort when their children are upset. That means that you do not have to feel guilty when you have done the right thing. It actually causes harm to your children not to set proper limits, and in the long run you are limiting their lives and enabling them in a very unhealthy way.

&ldquoParents need to remember that they are the ones in control, and not hand over the steering wheel to the children out of fear, laziness, or unwillingness to step up and do what needs to be done. It may take several repetitions of setting limits before your children understand that the limits are real, but if you keep doing it, it will set a new standard and a new normal.&rdquo

How Stress Affects Your Mental Health

Researchers at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans (Oct 13-17) presented studies showing how stress, no matter its cause, alters brain circuitry in ways that can have long-term effects on mental health.

Research by Dipesh Chaudhury of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York shows that traumatic events appear to cause depression by derailing the brain's so-called reward system, which normally causes pleasurable feelings whenever we engage in fun activities like spending time with friends. People who have suffered major stress, such as soldiers returning from combat, often report that they no longer find pleasure in these things.

Mice respond in a similar way to traumatic events, Chaudhury says. And his research shows that this response can be prevented by reducing the activity of certain brain cells involved in the reward system. [Source: NPR, October 15, 2012] A drug causing a similar outcome could eventually be effective in humans.

Stress also causes the release of chemicals that impair the function of the prefrontal cortex, home of higher level thinking. When we experience acute stress, these chemicals--including cortisol and norepinephrine--heighten our reactive tendencies by muting our reflective tendencies, leading to everything from anxiety to aggression to depression.

One of the drugs that appear to reverse these effects is ketamine (I wrote about it recently here), an anesthetic that has the ability to rejuvenate damaged nerve cells in hours, potentially making it a groundbreaking new type of antidepressant Derivatives of the drug are already in human trials.

The American Psychological Association's "Stress in America" report provides a useful table, shown below, indicating the effects of stress on your body, your mood, and your behavior.

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal

Source: American Psychological Association's "Stress in America" report, 2010


You know that you might have a problem with your smartphone when you find it difficult to be separated from it for any period of time and are more eager to engage with your phone than real life. Your smartphone use could be negatively affecting your mental health. However, there are some other points important to keep in mind.

Most research found the effects of greater smartphone use weak to moderate. Heavy use doesn’t guarantee mental health problems. Also, most studies regarding this issue are correlational. It’s not clear if smartphone use causes mental health symptoms or if symptoms prompt greater smartphone use. Perhaps depressed persons are more likely to use their smartphone to seek social interactions. Similarly, an anxious person might check their social media feeds more often.

If you want to curb your phone usage just to be safe, you can find science-backed tips here.

7. Increased risk of substance abuse

Individuals with mental disorders are at a higher risk to develop substance abuse problems. And if you are suffering from severe anxiety, this can even transform into substance abuse disorders.

These type of disorders include alcoholism or drug addiction. People may abuse alcohol, prescription medication, or even illegal drugs. An untreated mental disorder is bad enough. Having an untreated substance abuse disorder can be worse. Having both disorders untreated put an individual’s quality of life at serious risk.

This is something that I was all too familiar with, just a few short years ago. My days passed in a stupor looking at whatever channel was on my cable package while drinking heavily every day. Ultimately, I developed an ulcer which finally made me recognize my substance abuse. I am someone who suffered for a long time without understanding what was wrong with me. So it’s not surprising I have a soft spot for people who go through the same.

This post aims to help people understand what risks they face with an undiagnosed mental condition. It’s never too late to get help. Start your journey to recovery today with professional therapy.

Stephen Mills is a freelance writer with a penchant for all things health and wellness. He has been writing for quite a few years on health websites. His aim is to create informative content that can help people deal with health problems and lead a better life. He has been frustrated with his cable internet plans in the past, but now is very satisfied with his current one.