Archive for August, 2011

August 31, 2011

Anxiety Can Hinder Friendship Development

by Dave P.

A new study looks at children who are socially withdrawn — kids who want to interact with their peers but are afraid to do so — and how the shyness affects their emotional stability.

Experts know that as children move toward adolescence, they rely increasingly on close relationships with peers. However, socially withdrawn children, who have less contact with peers, may miss out on the support that friendships provide.

Socially withdrawn children who are classified as anxious-solitary are believed to experience competing motivations—they want to interact with peers, but the prospect of doing so causes anxiety that interferes with such interactions.

Anxious-solitary children were found to be more emotionally sensitive and more likely to be excluded and victimized by their peers. They’re also less likely to have friends, and when they do have friends, to have fewer than their peers and to lose friendships over time.

Researchers believe anxious-solitary children have a difficult time in forming and maintaining friendships – primarily because of their anxiety.

The study also found that having stable friendships protects children from being victimized by peers—and that both withdrawn and non-withdrawn children benefit from friendships in this way.

Read more…

August 13, 2011

Not Belonging to a Group Can Make People Lonely, Even When They Have a Loving Partner

by Dave P.

In Western culture–at least most of it–we’ve tended to place most of our emphasis on separation, individual growth, “self-actualization,” and personal development. The self has become the key to unlocking the secrets of the universe, and we’ve made a religion out of it. Secure attachment models have shaken us out of our arrogant belief in “man” as an island and opened our minds to the brute fact that not only is it impossible to survive on our own, but we probably weren’t even meant to. But, despite my knowing this–and for all my training in cross-cultural psychology–I’d forgotten that not all cultures view separation from family and home as the hallmark of adult maturity.

For some people, just having an adoring partner, as important as it is, will never take the place of belonging to a larger group. That’s because their whole notion of what constitutes a “self” may be subtly, but importantly, different. And because of that, what the self needs, in order to feel secure, may be very different as well. Psychologists Hazel Rose Markus and Shinobu Kityama have argued that in more communal (or “interdependent”) cultures, where the self emerges in a larger extended family, or culture or group, a person’s thoughts, feelings, motivations, and identity are based more on their connection to others than they are in a more “individualist” culture.

Read more…

August 9, 2011

Do You Suffer From Attention Deficit Disorder? Take the Test to Find Out

by Dave P.

If you answer “often” to the majority of the questions below, you probably suffer from ADD/ADHD. There’s a link to a printable version of this test at the bottom.

1. How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project, once the challenging parts have been done?
2. How often do you have difficulty getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?
3. How often do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?
4. When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?
5. How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands or feet when you have to sit down for a long time?
6. How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, like you were driven by a motor?
7. How often do you make careless mistakes when you have to work on a boring or difficult project?
8. How often do you have difficulty keeping your attention when you are doing boring or repetitive work?
9. How often do you have difficulty concentrating on what people say to you, even when they are speaking to you directly?
10. How often do you misplace or have difficulty finding things at home or at work?
11. How often are you distracted by activity or noise around you?
12. How often do you leave your seat in meetings or other situations in which you are expected to remain seated?
13. How often do you feel restless or fidgety?
14. How often do you have difficulty unwinding and relaxing when you have time to yourself?
15. How often do you find yourself talking too much when you are in social situations?
16. When you’re in a conversation, how often do you find yourself finishing the sentences of the people you are talking to, before they can finish them themselves?
17. How often do you have difficulty waiting your turn in situations when turn taking is required?
18. How often do you interrupt others when they are busy?

ADHD Questions

Full questionnaire

August 8, 2011

Bullying May Contribute to Lower Test Scores

by Dave P.

ScienceDaily (Aug. 7, 2011) — High schools in Virginia where students reported a high rate of bullying had significantly lower scores on standardized tests that students must pass to graduate, according to research presented at the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

“Our study suggests that a bullying climate may play an important role in student test performance,” said Dewey Cornell, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor of education at the University of Virginia. “This research underscores the importance of treating bullying as a schoolwide problem rather than just an individual problem.”

Read more…

August 2, 2011

New Study Shows Social Anxiety Comorbidity with Substance Use Disorder

by Dave P.

Self-medication of anxiety symptoms with alcohol, other drugs, or both has been a plausible mechanism for the co-occurrence of anxiety disorders and substance use disorders. However, owing to the cross-sectional nature of previous studies, it has remained unknown whether self-medication of anxiety symptoms is a risk factor for the development of incident substance use disorder or is a correlate of substance use.

Self-medication in anxiety disorders confers substantial risk of incident substance use disorders. Conversely, self-medication in substance use disorders is associated with incident social phobia. These results not only clarify several pathways that may lead to the development of comorbidity but also indicate at-risk populations and suggest potential points of intervention in the treatment of comorbidity.


Many people who suffer from social anxiety are reluctant to see a doctor about their problems for several reasons. There is still a stigma associated with therapy – especially among males. There may be a financial deterrent if the person doesn’t have insurance or if their insurance doesn’t cover mental health problems. Or they might not know there is a name for their problem.

In any case, the person suffering from social anxiety may turn to alcohol or drugs for relief. With substance use, they may find companionship with others who also drink a lot or do drugs. Alcohol and opiates stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain, which kills some of the pain of loneliness that is widely associated with social anxiety disorder. Other drugs, such as methamphetamine, can make a person more sociable. “Speed” floods the brain with dopamine, which makes it highly addictive.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to be effective in treating SAD, but young people, especially, turn to alcohol and drug abuse for self-medication.

We’ll be talking about loneliness as it relates to social anxiety disorder in our next meeting and how we can use CBT to help us develop more close and meaningful relationships.