Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology Blogs

Read something good for your brain!

What Makes Psychotherapy Work?

Friday, June 16, 2017 @ 09:06 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

Choosing the right therapist can be a difficult and daunting task.  After looking at a therapist’s qualifications, certifications, and degree, to some extent, your selection of a therapist is about finding the right fit because everyone is unique.  A therapist who is right for someone else may not be right for you and vice versa.  But how can you tell which therapist will be the right fit for you? Read more

It’s not Just Stress or Anxiety. It’s Grief.

Thursday, March 26, 2020 @ 09:03 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

Emotions can be difficult to talk about and even to identify because many of them are related or overlapping.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words for what you’re feeling. I saw this article posted on social media and felt it was important to share. While a lot of us are feeling stressed or anxious about the pandemic, we might not realize that we’re feeling grief as well. This article talks about types of grief and discusses some real techniques to help you understand and deal with it.

https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief

Worried About Finances During this Pandemic?

Monday, March 23, 2020 @ 02:03 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

Financial stress is a common contributor to overall stress, depression, and anxiety, and it is something we definitely don’t need during this pandemic. But it’s unavoidable when some of us have been laid off or have lost freelance work. This is far from a comprehensive list, but it should get you started thinking about solutions and focusing on your goals rather than your fear.

Help in California

If you’re in California, it’s good to be aware of the new rules around government assistance during the pandemic.

https://edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm

I know some of you are thinking you don’t want “handouts.” But keep in mind that your taxes pay for this assistance and some of this assistance is actually structured like insurance… you pay in so that later, if you need it, it will pay you. If you were paying for health insurance and had to go to the hospital, would you decide to not use the insurance you paid for to pay the hospital?  Probably not.  So why deny yourself the unemployment insurance you’ve already paid for?  Decide to use the assistance available to you, and decide early, since applications may take a while to process.

Banding Together

Also, many companies and other groups are banding together to try to help people who are losing work. For example, guilds, charities, and other organizations have been raising money specifically for pandemic assistance, so please check their Web sites and social media for helpful options. We’ve heard of funds for Hollywood assistants, certain stadium workers, Amazon vendors, and so on. Various companies and philanthropists are also donating to community social support. One fund is being set up for daycare assistance for healthcare workers. Some guilds are discussing extending health care benefits for those who may no longer qualify for their guild’s insurance. Check social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), organization Web sites, and local Chamber of Commerce and government Web sites to see if any programs apply to you.

What about Freelancers?

There is a collection of resources for freelancers here: https://covid19freelanceartistresource.wordpress.com/.

Additional Work

Now is not the time to be picky about finding jobs. Be safe, but not picky. Check the usual job Web sites for work-from-home and delivery jobs. Not every company is experiencing a downturn. For example, Amazon is advertising that it needs help (and reportedly has some work-from-home jobs).

Negotiate

To help your dollars stretch farther, consider calling and negotiating with the companies you currently purchase from and suspending or cancelling non-essential services, like entertainment or subscriptions. While this may be hard when you are stuck at home with little to do, you can entertain yourself creatively. You may also be able to negotiate lower rates with various companies if you let them know you have been impacted financially. Or just because market rates are lower than what you are currently paying.  A while back, I noticed a lot of companies offering cellular phone service cheaper than mine, so I called my cell phone company to ask about switching to a different company.  To keep me, they cut my plan rate almost in half.

This type of negotiation is not charity.  This is part of doing business.  Many businesses will lose customers during the pandemic due to financial strain.  Some of them would rather work with you than lose you as a customer as well.  Your willingness to negotiate instead of outright cancel will likely help the business rather than hurt it.

So far, we’ve heard (unconfirmed) that Honda has already set up a program to suspend car payments for a few months during the pandemic. Also, many Anthem Blue Cross plans in California seem to be waiving member copays for telehealth services. So contacting these companies is worth a try.

Get creative, be well, try to stay positive, and if you have more resources to share, please post them in the comments below!

Pandemic Information: I am Open and Offering Teletherapy

Thursday, March 19, 2020 @ 07:03 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

Many of us have been greatly affected by the pandemic, and these sweeping life changes can put us on an emotional roller coaster. It can be a stressful, anxious, and sometimes tragic time. Honestly, I’m feeling stressed, too. But it is also exciting to see how the world has come together during the pandemic, and I have faith that we are going to get through this together.

We are switching to teletherapy for the next few months to help people continue therapy without leaving their homes. We are currently contacting individual clients, and you are welcome to browse our teletherapy pages or contact us for more information.

Also, some people have been unable to work during this crisis. If financial strain may prevent you from getting therapy you need, let’s discuss how I can help with that. Your emotional health is very important, especially right now. It’s also important to do the best you can to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep, as your overall health affects your emotional health.  I also started a blog entry with additional financial tips that may help.

What is Teletherapy?

Teletherapy is when you use your computer, tablet, or cell phone to have a video conference with your psychologist.   You may be surprised at how easy it is to get started.

Does My Insurance Cover Therapy Using Teletherapy?

The short answer is: it depends. None of the information we have on this Web site or communicate to you is a guarantee of coverage. It is just the best information we have available. We are working with insurance companies to check whether they will cover teletherapy. Some plans already allow for teletherapy. Others are adding it for the COVID-19 quarantine period. So far, here is what we understand is being done (and please bear with us, as things are changing quickly):

  • Medicare is adding a temporary benefit to cover teletherapy during the period of national emergency.
  • Cigna has had some teledoctor benefits, with restrictions, and some of those restrictions are currently being waived and the teletherapy benefit is being extended to most plans through May 31st, 2020.
  • Anthem Blue Cross discusses teletherapy here: https://www.anthem.com/ca/blog/member-news/how-to-protect/.
  • We haven’t heard from other insurance companies, but we are starting to check our clients’ coverage individually.Thanks so much for your trust in me over the years and your patience as we try to provide the best care in the safest manner during these rapidly changing times.

Want to Improve Your Mental Health? Volunteer!

Thursday, June 6, 2019 @ 07:06 PM  posted by Dr. Siders

Does volunteering sound stressful?  Think again!  There are so many reasons why volunteering can help improve a person’s mental health. For starters, just getting out of the house can boost your mood. So can hanging out with other people, especially when you’re making lasting social connections. Volunteering also gets your mind on something else besides your problems and anxiety.

For more information about the possible benefits of volunteering, check out this article:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/a37nvk/volunteering-is-the-best-kept-secret-for-mental-health-stressweek2017

At a loss for where to volunteer? Here are some ideas!

  • Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, such as the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce.
  • Check Web sites that match volunteers with opportunities, such as VolunteerMatch.org (note: these Web sites may gather personal information like your e-mail address, so please be cautious.)
  • Google it! Use Google to search for volunteer opportunities in your area or regarding topics you’re interested in. For example, if you like horses, try Googling “horse volunteer MyCity.”
  • You can also search Yelp listings for your area.
  • Check Web sites of your favorite organizations for volunteer opportunities. Think about those that you admire or donate to. What causes are important to you?
  • Look for upcoming events in your city. Many events rely on volunteers, including concerts, street fairs, and school events.
  • Ask around. Check with friends and in online forums for places they like to volunteer and for suggestions suited to you. Are you part of a Facebook, Google, or Yahoo group? Your fellow group mates may be able to help.
  • Check with your church, synagogue, mosque, guild, or other community organization.

Where do you like to volunteer?  How does volunteering improve your mental health?  Feel free to comment below!

Want another boost? Play a video game!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018 @ 08:08 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

My last blog talked about how reading is generally good for you. Even reading fiction.  But what about playing video games?

An article in Reader’s Digest summarizes some of the beneficial effects video games can have on your health.  Unfortunately, it’s titled, “8 Reasons Video Games Might Just Be Better for You Than Books,” and many of the studies don’t actually compare playing video games to reading books.  I’ll chalk that up to Reader’s Digest trying to create a click-bait title and excusing itself by using the “might just” phrasing.  (The click bait worked for me; I did click on it, after all.)

While I don’t have access to all of the studies cited and can’t comment on their validity, many of their findings make sense.  Often for the same reasons reading fiction can be good for your mental health.

In case you need a reason to justify taking a break and playing a video game, check out the Reader’s Digest article below.

Just keep in mind a few things:

  • For optimal health benefits, use common sense and moderation.  Spending too much time playing games can cause problems for some people, including eye strain, tendinitis, and consequences resulting from shirking certain responsibilities.
  • Some benefits in the article call for specific types of games, such as ones that are “visual-heavy” like Tetris.
  • Your mileage may vary.  If you find a game frustrates you rather than makes you happy, try other games.

Here’s the article!  Enjoy!

https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/health-benefits-of-video-games/

And in case you’re wondering whether reading fiction is good for you, here’s my blog about an article discussing the health benefits of reading.

Want a boost? Read a book!

Saturday, July 28, 2018 @ 09:07 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

It’s probably no surprise that reading is generally good for you. But what about reading fiction?

This article doesn’t go into the research in depth, but it does contain some surprising research facts about the benefits of reading, including comparing reading fiction to reading non-fiction. (Hint: fiction has benefits!)

Read the news article to encourage yourself to read more books!

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/why-getting-lost-book-so-good-you-according-science-ncna893256

Online Mental Health Screenings

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 09:04 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

There are many online tests out there, including mental health screenings.  Some online mental health screenings are meant to sell you things.  Not necessarily bad things.  For example, some online memory tests are designed to sell you brain training software, some of which may assist people with retaining brain capabilities as they age.

Other online screenings are meant to expose you to advertising.  Still others just want to make you aware of a condition and its symptoms.  While the latter is a good goal, it’s important to remember that online screening tools are no substitute for seeing your doctor, psychologist, or neuropsychologist.  If you’re having any sort of symptoms, seek medical help.

Still, since screenings can be educational, and scoring an interesting result on an online screening can encourage people to see their doctors, psychologists, or neuropsychologists for professional screening, I’m posting this link to Mental Health America’s online screenings.  They include screenings for:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Eating Disorder
  • PTSD
  • Alcohol and Substance Use
  • Childhood Emotional Disturbances

Please use these screenings responsibly and do not assume that if you score well on a screening that you do not need to speak to a professional.  If you have any questions, please see a professional.

Finding out you have a mental health issue may seem scary at first, but it is better to find out early, so you can get help early.  Often doctors and psychologists can help prevent a condition from stopping you from reaching your true potential in life.

Check out the screenings here:

https://screening.mentalhealthamerica.net/screening-tools/?show=1&ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mentalhealthamerica.net%2Fabout-mha-screening&ipiden=4814b4e3990d7553c61ad98191a5560c

Kick Your Mental Health Up a Notch

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 @ 08:03 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

If you read through my blogs, you’ll find various tips for improving your mental health.  Things like:

But these tips are all inside articles dealing with other, more specific topics.  I’ve been wanting to take some time to add more tips to help people cultivate mental health in general.  Some of these tips may seem like common sense to some people, but for others, they might be surprising.  For example:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Spend time with friends often.  A strong social support network (in person, not in social media) has been shown to boost mental health
  • Take breaks regularly to refresh your mind
  • Do a hobby or something else you enjoy at least once a week
  • Take time to enjoy small moments, or “live in the moment”

Tips  like that.  Helpful reminders.  And then I saw this article, which does a great job of summarizing many ideas for encouraging mental health.   So I thought I’d share it.  I hope you enjoy it!

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/31-tips-boost-your-mental-health

A Link Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Sugar?

Saturday, January 27, 2018 @ 07:01 PM  posted by Dr. Siders

As you begin working on your goals for the new year, consider making healthy changes to your diet.  For many people in America, reducing sugar and simple carbohydrates is a good idea.  Here’s another reason why.  Studies suggest there may be a link between Alzheimer’s disease and the way our bodies process sugar and simple carbohydrates.  For some motivation to eat healthier, take a look at this article:

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/01/the-startling-link-between-sugar-and-alzheimers/551528/

If you are serious about changing your diet, consider these helpful tips:

1. Instead of trying to cut something completely out of your diet, replace undesired components with desired ones.  For example, instead of avoiding pasta, try eating “pasta” sliced from fresh vegetables, like curls of squash.

2. Experiment with “paleo” recipes to substitute good fats for carbs.

3. Make small changes that you can continue for the long term.  Attempts to make radical changes to your diet are more likely to only last a short time.

Happy new year!  I hope the changes you make help you feel your personal best!

 

 

Can Hearing Loss Be an Early Indication of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Thursday, November 9, 2017 @ 02:11 AM  posted by Dr. Siders

Early detection of Alzheimer’s disease is vital to getting early treatment.  This is an interesting study that found a correlation between hearing loss and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), which can be a precursor of Alzheimer’s disease.

https://www.alz.org/aaic/releases_2017/AAIC17-Mon-briefing-risk-factor.asp