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What’s on your mind?

“I am not my depression.”

Sometimes it’s hard to really accept that truth. Mindfulness is a good tool for gaining a sense of distance between our “self” and our symptoms.

“Mindfulness-based interventions encourage [individuals] to observe their perceptions, sensations and emotions without identifying with them,” clinical psychologist Dr. Elise Labbé, PhD, explains in her recent book Psychology Moment by Moment.

Does paying more attention to the circling drone of self-critical, painful or anxious thoughts seem counterproductive? Not so, say the co-authors of The Mindful Way Through Anxiety. “Anxiety can be extremely uncomfortable, so it’s natural to want to turn away from rather than toward it,” write Susan M. Orsillo, PhD, and Lizabeth Roemer, PhD—but educated awareness actually “alleviates a lot of distress and confusion.”

Learning to defuse distressing thoughts takes time and practice. Still, you can get started with relatively easy exercises. For example, choose one regular daily activity, like stopping at a red light, as a reminder to consciously take a deep, calming breath.

“Mending through Mindfulness” (esperanza Summer 2011) has other simple ideas and more on the benefits of mindfulness. Click here to read more.

In the news

New finding may lead to blood test for depression

Newswise, Oct. 28, 2011—Scientists at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute and Yale University have identified a new target area in the human genome that appears to harbor genes with a major role in the onset of depression. They zeroed in on an area that governs expression of a gene called RNF123.

Because RNF123 expression levels can be measured relatively easily in the blood, this finding could lead to a way of identifying people at risk for major depressive disorder, researchers said. Read more.

New type of talk therapy focuses on the future

Newswise, October 19, 2011—Patients with major depression who learn to create a more positive outlook about the future demonstrated significant improvement in depression and anxiety, as well as improvement in overall reported quality of life, say researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles who developed a new treatment to help people do just that.

“Talking about what makes you unhappy in life doesn’t generate the necessary thinking patterns or action needed to promote a state of thriving and create a more positive future,” said study author Jennice Vilhauer, PhD. “Future-Directed Therapy™ helps people … [construct] visions of what they want more of in the future and it helps them develop the skills that they will need to eventually get there.” Read more.

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