Medication or Psychotherapy? Why Not Both?

Although collectively many sources believe that the most effective way to treat a mental health condition is to use both medication and psychotherapy, a comparison of the argument of which is better shows a slight preference for psychotherapy over medication.

Those who support psychotherapy as treatment for a mental health condition suggest that the strengths of psychotherapy lie in its long-lasting results and variety of different treatments based off of the brain. Psychotherapy is able to have long-lasting effects on a person as he or she is regularly being taught coping skills that can be utilized outside of therapy sessions to help treat his or her mental conditions (Andersson). By teaching these coping skills, the person is learning how to identify the problem causing discomfort in his or her life and can take positive action in fixing those problems, replacing negative thoughts and influences in the process. This can also help in the case of a mental health condition getting better, but then worsening in the future, as the person will already have the knowledge and skill in improving their mental health to help solve the issue again (Andersson).

As well, another specific strength supports of psychotherapy suggest is that of variety. As psychotherapy focuses on different aspects of the brain that can be utilized to dig out problems and resolve them, it is suggested that psychotherapy therefore has more options and potential in solving mental health issues (American Psychiatric Association). What is suggested here is that people can save time from treatments that are ineffective with psychotherapy as their differing brain states can be more specifically tailored in s psychotherapy treatment than a medical treatment (American Psychiatric Association).

Supporters of psychotherapy are also quick to point out the many downsides to use medication as treatment for mental conditions. Psychotherapy is not considered to have any negative side effects and is not considered to be addictive, however many medications are (Andersson). In fact, many people fear taking medication as a solution to their mental condition due to a fear of reliance on the drug that the drug may change some aspect of their personality or identity (American Psychiatric Association). In a study where researchers did a meta–analysis of rates of treatment refusal and rates of drop out for psychotherapy and medication, the researchers found that out of the eight percent that refused treatment and the twenty-two percent that dropped out of treatment, the majority of those people were using medication and not psychotherapy (American Psychiatric Association).

However, this does not mean that medication as treatment for mental health conditions does not also have support. Many supporters of medication over psychotherapy suggest that the strengths of medication lie in its quicker, short term resolution of the problem and its tendency to cost less than psychotherapy. In regards to medication being a quicker and more short-term resolution to mental health conditions, this can be seen as a positive as some conditions may have severe symptoms that need to be dealt with immediately to ensure the safety of the person (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies).

Similarly, medication that is often prescribed as treatment for mental health conditions is seen as less expensive. Not only is the medication prescribed once, meaning a person pays once instead of multiple times, such as for sessions in psychotherapy, but often times a person’s insurance will cover the cost of the medication while a person’s insurance may only cover a limited amount or none of psychotherapy (“Psychotherapy or Medication”). If the treatment is more affordable, this may affect the person’s willingness to stay with the treatment and how he or she perceives the treatment is going.

As for the reliability for these sources, I would say that they are fairly reliable as the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association, the World Psychiatric Association, and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies are all official psychological organizations. The most reliable source can be considered the source from the World Psychiatric Association as that journal was included in the U.S. National Library of Medicine and was the only source that included their randomized sample, measurement process, and experimental process and design in order to ensure that the information they said could be generalized and reliable.

Yet, this is not to say that my opinions on medication and psychotherapy have changed. Although a comparison of support for psychotherapy and a support for medication shows that psychotherapy has slightly more support due to the downsides of medication, I still believe that the use of both is most effective in improving mental health conditions. Each mental health condition is unique; therefore some situations may cause for temporary medication to be used in order to effective act out psychotherapy, or vice versa. All options should be kept open, as long as the overall mental health conditions of individuals in the world are improving.

 

References:

American Psychiatric Association. “Treating Depression – Psychotherapy or Medication?” American Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Association, 17 Apr. 2017, http://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2017/04/treating-depression-psychotherapy-or-medication.

Andersson, Gerhard, Beekman, Aartjan T., Cuijpers, Pim, Koole, Sander L., Reynold, Charles F., Sijbrandij, Marit. “The Efficacy of Psychotherapy and Pharmacotherapy in Treating Depressive and Anxiety Disorders: a Meta-Analysis of Direct Comparisons.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 4 June 2013, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3683266/.

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. “Treament Opitions: CBT Or Medication?” Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, http://www.abct.org/Help/?m=mFindHelp&fa=CBT_Or_Medication.

“Psychotherapy or Medication – Which Should You Choose?” The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, 6 Apr. 2017, http://www.centerforanxietydisorders.com/choose-psychotherapy-medication/.

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Media Project: How Many Emojis are Needed to Get Your Feelings Across? It Turns Out That 27 Might Be the Right Answer.

The use of emojis as a form of communicating emotions over text and social media is a growing trend among people of today’s society. As this trend grows, so does the number of new emojis describing “different” feelings, such as the recent additions of the “pondering face” or the “brain explosion” that have become so popular with today’s youth. But are all these additions really necessary? Do the basics of sad, happy, and angry no longer suffice? An experimental study from the University of California on emotions suggests that now, humans can experience a range of about 27 different emotional categories.

Alan S. Cowen and Dacher Keltner, researchers in Berkley, California, set out to study and define the creation and organization of emotions in psychology. Before Cowen and Keltner did their experiment, there were many different viewpoints on emotion. One of the most commonly held viewpoints was that the brain activates six basic emotions during an emotional experience, and focuses on valence and arousal. In this viewpoint, the six basic emotions are considered to be anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise that are described through disconnected feelings and are organized in a limited number of clusters in the semantic space (Cowen).

In the study done by Cowen and Keltner, they came to the conclusion that emotions are subjective experiences linked to an interconnected array of points in the semantic space of the brain, in which there are both “discrete clusters” and “continuous gradients.” Cowen and Keltner came to this conclusion by performing an experiment on 853 English-speaking participants, 403 which were female and 450 of which were male. The participants were randomly assigned to one of three different groups based on the self-reporting style they would be using to respond to the videos (Cowen).

Out of the 2,185 five second video clips chosen for the study, the first self-reporting group was to create a free response to 30 different videos they were given, based off their interpretation of their emotional response to each video. The second group of self-reporting people also watched 30 video clips each, but was instead given a set of 34 emotions that they used to rate each video. Lastly, the third group only watched 12 videos, but placed each of the 12 videos along 14 scales of affective dimensions (Cowen).

In order to make sure the videos did not contain a bias towards any type of emotion, but did contain a broad range of emotional experiences, the 2,185 videos were chosen by searching 34 prominent emotional categories into different and random search engines and websites. This produced many different types of videos ranging from births and babies to explosions and modern warfare (Cowen).

After analyzing the self-reports of each of the three groups, Cowen and Keltner found that “75% of the videos elicited significant concordance for at least one category of emotion,” supporting the idea that the responses recorded to the videos were not purely due to chance, making the information reliable (Cowen 3). As well, by using a system called split-half canonical correlations analysis that Cowen and Keltner created, they determined that “between 24 and 26 statistically significant semantic dimensions of reported emotional experience” were found, leading them to discover the 27 different emotional patterns that are linearly connected (Cowen 3).

So, what does this mean for all you emoji-fanatics out there? Well, if the emoji you use gets across the message of admiration, adoration, aesthetic appreciation, amusement, anger, anxiety, awe, awkwardness, boredom, calmness, confusion, craving, disgust, empathetic pain, entrancement, excitement, fear, horror, interest, joy, nostalgia, relief, romance, sadness, satisfaction, sexual desire, or surprise to the person you are sending it to, then it is clearly doing its job.

 

References:

Cowen, Alan S., and Dacher Keltner. “Self-Report Captures 27 Distinct Categories of Emotion Bridged by Continuous Gradients.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Edited by Joseph E. LeDoux, vol. 114, no. 38, 5 Sept. 2017, doi:10.1073/pnas.1702247114.

 

Original News Article

Scholarly Research Article

 

 

 

Reflection:

Overall, I did not find it very difficult to summarize the whole research article. The organization of how the research article was written made it easy to track the most important steps of the research study, the conclusion, and any mishaps that may have happened. What made it even easier to write the news article was that for the second part of the media project, we had to analyze and summarize what the research article was about; therefore I already had all of the pertinent information about the research study identified. As well, we assessed how many of the five critical questions for reading research were answered by the research article during the second set of the project, so I also had that to use as a reference. I did not really need to reference the pop culture news article at all.

However, there were certain aspects of the research article that I could not include in my news article, just like the pop culture article. Most of the information that I was forced to omit involved the mathematical processes behind the results and some of the details about the videos. I chose to leave these pieces of information out as I believe that going into detail about them would not only confuse the reader, but would take away from the overall focus of the article. This process helped me to relate to journalists on a certain level, as you have to not only keep the scientific integrity of the study in mind while writing an article, but you have to keep your audience and their extent of knowledge in mind as well. After this process, I can better understand why so many journalists tend to falsely advertise scientific studies to the public.

Schizophrenia: Media vs. Reality

Although I have never had a real-life interaction with a person who has schizophrenia, I have been made aware of many of the symptoms schizophrenia due to the special education course I am enrolled in this semester. Just recently in that special education course, we watched a video of a young girl diagnosed with schizophrenia. Even though most cases of schizophrenia appear later on in life, this little girl was experiencing voices in her head, some good and some bad, that would not only guide her actions, but would prevent her from sleeping at night. Many times the voices in the girl’s head would cause her to be violent. The little girl’s actions became so violent that the parents were forced to buy two separate apartments: one for the little brother to live with the mother in, and one for the little girl to live in with her father.

Even though the video I watched on the girl with schizophrenia did portray many of the negatives of her mental illness, it was nowhere near the negative portrayal of schizophrenia in the media of today. In many movies, schizophrenia is depicted as a “crazy” person that rocks back and forth in the corner of a room in tattered clothing, or goes on a psychotic killing spree because the voices in their head are tell them that “everyone needs to go.” Although people with schizophrenia do commonly hear voices in their heads, often times telling them negative things, this does not mean that they should be treated as psychotic killers or mindless lunatics.

In fact, after experiencing the video that simulates some experiences that schizophrenia produces, I am not surprised that violence can sometimes result from these experiences. While I did know that the voices are often demeaning towards the person who has them in his or her head, I did not fully understand the extent to which this concept could go. It is one thing to imagine voices and people in your head that are speaking to you, but it is another whole ordeal to take real-life people and things and completely shift what they are saying to you. For example, what shocked me the most during the video was not the voices in the person’s head warning of poison and the weather; the thing that shocked me the most was the change in the headlines of the newspaper and the change in dialogue of the weather man and the news reporter. These were concrete things happening in real life, and for the person to not only fail to see these things for what they were, but to then fabricate messages and words over them was a real eye-opener for me. If that video alone caused me as much anxiety as it did, I could never begin to fathom the amount of anxiety really having schizophrenia could produce.

No Summer Vactation? Blasphemy!

As a future educator, providing the best education for future generations is extremely important to me. A lot of debate occurs as to what this “best” education looks like and how we can provide it, but one of the most highly debated topics is the suggestion of year-round education. Although there are many different models for what “year-round education” can look like, the basic premise is that students would have shorter breaks between their semesters, quarters, or terms instead of one long break in the summer; most of the debate among this decision revolves around the factors of academic achievement and economic reasoning.

Supporters of year-round education suggest that academic achievement in schools will go up if the school system is changed as retention and tutoring opportunities increase and absences decrease. According to these supporters, retention of information among students will increase as there is no longer a large gap in the presentation and practice of knowledge to students (“Research Spotlight on Year-Round Education”). Many believe that if shorter breaks are given in increments, this will prevent students from ignoring school work for long amounts of time, leading them to forget the information they have learned (Pearson).

Similarly, supporters of the year-round education system suggest that tutoring opportunities will increase if a more constant form of teaching is provided. According to the California Department of Education, students, particularly economically disadvantaged students, would be given more opportunities for tutors as less amounts of information would need to be covered over shorter periods of time (Pearson). The logic behind this idea is that because students will be retaining more information consistently and will have less time to forget that information, less tutoring time will be needed; this focalizes the time the tutor and the student spend together, resulting in less time and money needing to be spent.

Lastly, in regards to academic achievement, those who support year-round education believe absences among both students and teachers will decrease if short breaks are given in the school year. In the year-round system, students and teachers will be given consistent breaks, which supporters view as a system that will help prevent them from getting sick and burnt-out, as the long summer break tends to do (Pearson). With smaller breaks, students and teachers will also be able to constantly recharge during the school year, providing more enthusiasm and willingness to learn while they are in the classroom (“Research Spotlight”).

However, those who do not agree with the year-round education suggest that more negative than positive academic outcomes would come out of changing the school system. Those who do not support the year-round education system point out that there is no actual research supporting that year-round education would improve retention, and that, in fact, it may be hurting student’s education overall (Lynch). As summer break is a common time for teachers to prepare materials and lesson plans for the next school year, taking that time away from them could greatly alter the efficiency and effectiveness of what they are teaching. In a year-round calendar, teachers may not be given enough time to access the materials they need or be able to research different teaching methods that could greatly affect the way that they are teaching students (Brown).

As well, people who do not support year-round education believe that students who benefit from remedial and supplemental classes during summer school will not receive the support they need from the type of education that would be provided during year-round education. Yet, not only would these students be negatively impacted, but all students would be negatively impacted as students may struggle with focusing back to class time after ever short break is taken (Lynch).

Similar disagreements also take place regarding economic reasoning that would result from a change in the calendar years for schools. Supporters of the year-round system claim that two economic benefits will result from changing schools’ calendar systems: school facilities will be used more effectively year-round, and families who travel will ultimately spend less on vacations. When summer break occurs, that leaves an average of three months where school buildings are not being used and certain equipment pieces are not being maintained; this is seen as a waste of resources in year-round supporters’ eyes as the building is just sitting there and will likely need to have repairs done to its equipment when the schoolyear starts again (Pearson).

On the same note, those that agree with year-round education state that breaks in increments instead of one long break will prevent families from spending large amounts of money of vacations. With smaller breaks, families will still be able to vacation, but they will be less likely to stay as long or go as far, which, in turn, saves them money (Pearson).

On the contrary, those who are against year-round education suggest that the lack of a summer break will not only affect the employment of both students and their parents, but will also greatly affect the overall budget of the school. As summer is a common time for older students to seek out employment, sometimes even full-time employment, opponents of year-round education suggest that students will no longer be able to maintain this type of employment with shorter, more spread out breaks (Brown).

Scheduling is also pointed out by opponents of year-round education as influencing the income of parents. Parents of younger students will need to find childcare or take off of work more frequently if shorter breaks are given to students, leading them to lose a substantial amount of income no matter which choice they make (Brown).

Finally, those who oppose year-round education also point out the financial influence no longer having a summer break will have on a school’s overall budget. As not only power but air conditioning must be supplied for students in the summer, schools would likely expect a great increase in their school budget. As most schools cannot afford to change their budgets, money that would be set aside for things such as extracurricular or learning programs would have to be redirected to pay for these expenses, negatively impacting students’ educations (Lynch).

Although there are many arguments present for both sides of the year-round education argument, those both for and against the schooling system acknowledge that there is no conclusive evidence of the effect of changing the calendar year of schools on academic performance and financial decisions (“Research Spotlight”). With that being said, I believe that the current structure of schooling is the most affective for future generations. As it becomes more and more difficult to hold the attention of students as time goes on, I believe that constant break would cause difficultly in maintaining focus on teachings. As a student myself, I have personally witnessed and experienced the lack of focus and discipline students have right before a break and right after a break, which would be a constant in the year-round system.

As well, in regards to retention, information must be constantly studied, repeated, and made meaningful in order to be stored in long-term memory. Although I do agree that it would be helpful that no long break would be present for students to forget a majority of the information they learned, there is no guarantee that students will practice good studying and learning methods simply because they have had less time to forget.

Therefore, although proponents of the year-round education system suggest students, parents, and schools would benefit from more consistent breaks and less time to forget information and waste time, by analyzing academic and financial reasoning, I tend to agree more with those that advocate against the changing of school systems.

 

References:

Brown, Mary. “The Year-Round School Debate.” SchoolMoney, SchoolMoney, 5 Mar. 2016, www.schoolmoney.org/the-year-round-school-debate/.

Lynch, Matthew. “Year-Round Schooling: 3 Common Arguments Against It.” Education Week, Editorial Projects in Education, 3 Jan. 2015, blogs.edweek.org/edweek/education_futures/2014/07/_year-round_schooling_3_common_arguments_against_it.html.

Pearson, Amy. “Year-Round School Advantages & Disadvantages.” Seattle PI, Hearst Seattle Media, 2017, education.seattlepi.com/yearround-school-advantages-disadvantages-2521.html.

“Research Spotlight on Year-Round Education.” National Education Association, National Education Association, 2017, http://www.nea.org/tools/17057.htm.

Psych Class or Buzzfeed? Both Have a Lot of Personality Quizzes.

As a very avid quiz-taker, it was not very surprising to see the results from the first three personality quizzes. For the Jung Typology Test, I was classified as an ENFJ, where I was measured as 6% Extravert, 50% Intuitive, 16% Feeling, and 38% Judging. Each of these categories show a moderate or slight preference towards one side, resulting in me being a helper and enabler who tends to forget my own needs in preference of focusing on others’.

Although it may then seem confusing as to why I would be classified as INFJ after taking the Junglan Personality Type Test, it is not confusing to me. Just as I was only classified as 6% of an extrovert, it is common for me to be borderline extrovert or introvert when I take these tests. This is very accurate to who I am as I often love being around other people, but sometimes I need to go back to my room to be alone and recharge. As INFJs still really enjoy helping others, the only differences between my classification from the first test and my classification from this test are that I can sometimes be excessively cooperative and agreeable, and I sometimes find it hard to dissociate from others, which are both very true for me.

Similarly, my results from the IPIP Big-Five Factor Markers Test showed that I was a 54 on the Extroversion scale, a 3 on the Emotional Stability scale, a 91 on the Agreeableness scale, a 52 on the Conscientiousness scale, and a 59 on the Intellect and Imagination scale. For this test, the closer you were to 50 meant the closer you were to being equally in between the two extremes. The results I got from this test are fairly accurate as they are mostly a summation of the results I got from the first two tests: I can be both introverted and extroverted, I have a very agreeable nature, and I try to be calculating, but sometimes emotions can get the best of me.

However, what did take me by surprise were the results of the color quiz I took on ColorQuiz.com. Looking at the quiz, I thought it was going to be a simple test that told you if you were happy, sad, or stressed at the moment, and that would be all. Instead, I felt as though the color quiz results attached my personality traits the most, and almost made me feel bad about myself afterwards. The results of the color quiz said that I crave freedom and independence, but cannot gain it because of the limitations a put on myself, and that is what is causing stress in my life. It also said that I give more than I get back and get easily offending, leading me to feeling isolated and alone, but at the same time I am afraid of forming deep and meaningful relationships.

Although I may not like to admit it, I do see validity in what the color quiz had to tell me. I think that the results for that quiz were so hard to except and took me by surprise as that was the only quiz that really focused on the negative factors of my personality. All of the other personality quizzes took my results together as a whole and created some positive description out of them, but the quiz on colors pointed out all the stressors, problems, and restrained characteristics I have in life. The quiz must have been right though, because I did take the results of the test pretty personally and was offended for a period of time.

As for the credibility for each test, I believe that it is hard to say. The IPIP Big-Five Factor Markers Test did seem the most reliable as it included sources and references to actual psychological studies and defined some procedures and terms; however, the flaw in that test was that there were not a lot of explanations as to what the results meant or how the results came to be. In fact, none of the four personality tests described the process to how they established your personality type at the end of the test. If each of these quizzes wanted to gain more credibility, they should thoroughly explain the information from their analysis and explain the process of how they defined and calculated the personality results they provided.

The Debate on Video Games and Violence

The debate over violent video games is a very difficult topic for me to make up my mind over. As an adamant lover of video games, I know that I have a bias opinion when it comes to censorship of violence in games. To me, blaming violence in children on the video games they play is not a fair statement. Although I do agree that children being exposed to violence in video games on a daily basis would be harmful, simply turning on the news every night would supply children with the same amount of violence in real life. Just as banning the news would be an unrealistic notion, the same can be said of completely banning all violence from video games.

As well, as an effort to prevent young children from witnessing extreme violence and gore, video game creators put specific ratings on their products in order to prepare the audience for the content they will be seeing. In fact, many of the more violent video games have specific ratings that do not allow children under a certain age to purchase the games themselves. Therefore, if a child who is younger than the recommended age range for a video game does acquire that game, it is likely that the parents supplied it to the child, which would not be the fault of the video gaming industry.

Overall, I believe that any regular exposure to something can be habitual-forming. I do agree that exposure to violence and gore in video games should be monitored by parents, as too much exposure can cause children to become influenced by the actions they are seeing; however, to make the claim that violence in video games is what is causing violence in children and that it should, therefore, be banned is unrealistic.

Stress? What Do I Look Like, a College Student?

Stress is something that I have been dealing with for a long portion of my life. As both a procrastinator and a perfectionist, I find myself stressing about multiple things throughout my day that other people would not find very stressful. In order to cope with this stress, I have adapted three different tactics to use in order to try to calm myself down.

The first tactic I use, which I probably use the most often, is watching videos. It is a common action for me to take a break from doing multiple assignments or writing a paper in order to watch one or two videos on YouTube from some of my favorite content creators. The videos that I usually watch will make me laugh and smile a lot, distracting me from the stress that I was feeling earlier.

Although watching videos does successfully help me feel less stressed for a certain amount of time, the stress ultimately comes back when I begin that task I took a break from again. In fact, my stress level may rise by the time I am done watching videos, as one to two videos can turn into multiple, causing me to procrastinate on the work that I need to be getting done.

The second tactic I use to cope with stress is listening to music. Similar to watching videos, when I listen to music I am able to get distracted by the lyrics and beats, allowing me to forget about the stress I was feeling earlier. However, just as ignoring the problem and watching videos can sometimes lead to more stress later on, listening to music can sometimes carry on too long, causing me to complete my work at later times than I should be.

The last tactic I use to cope with stress is writing. I keep a specific journal that I write in every day, which has a positive quote on one page, a few blank lines on the other page, and four check boxes that have different emotions for what I may be feeling that day. Writing in this journal helps me cope a lot as I can get the multiple thoughts that swirl around in my head when I am stressed out and onto paper. By doing this, I seem to somewhat clear my head of all my overwhelming thoughts, making me feel less stressed and more level-headed. This is probably my most successful tactic in dealing with stress, as I also tend to do this writing right before I go to sleep, meaning that it would not cause me to procrastinate on any assignments I need to get done.

As for other stress management activities that I should be doing, realistically, I should be trying to fit more sleep and exercise into my daily routines. If I got more sleep and exercise, I would likely be more alert and release more endorphins, which would help me feel more productive and efficient in doing school assignments, rather than tired and stressed.