From Good Babies to Bad Mothers: Behaviorism and the Influence of "Mommy Training" on Maternal Anxiety

Monday, May 05, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Psychology of Motherhood

Avoiding anxiety in parenting is essentially impossible because there is a discrepancy between internal drives, early modeling, social norms and societal goals that all compete. In recent human history, behaviorist thought has played a large role in altering the way we respond to internal cues about parenting, and many women enter therapy trying to field pressure from too many sources. Figuring out what those sources happen to be matters. There's a reason we feel like we're doing it wrong: according to some part of our brain, we totally are. 

Let me be clear that this is not an attack of a specific parenting model or ideal. It is also not to say that some forms of training are not useful. We evolved to watch those around us and model behaviors, learning how to parent through those interactions.

But our drives to attach are often at odds with the drives to fit into out current idea of what normal parenting looks like. And behaviorist mandates can create an additional layer of shame responses that some women may be susceptible to without even realizing it. This may be true whether they parent against the grain or not.

It is for those who are having trouble understanding their anxiety responses amidst competing drives that this post is for....  continue reading

Pressured to Diagnose: One Woman's Anxiety About Labeling Her Toddler

Friday, May 02, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Mom Stories/Opinion

There is a fine line between celebrating uniqueness and fearing it.  There exists a commonly accepted standard for what is normal and we are expected to live within those parameters.  At times, we are permitted to dance dangerously on either side of the limits, but at what point do we go from being pleasantly eccentric to being diagnosed with a mental illness?  It's a very fine line, indeed, and it becomes even more difficult when talking about children.  ...  continue reading

When Do Personality Traits Become Mental Illness? The Answer Might Surprise You.

Monday, April 28, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Depression may be adaptive in some regards, and there may even be an evolutionary basis for the attractiveness of moodiness. But this doesn’t mean that we accept these traits as a society. Instead, what Philip Fischer labels “passionate traits” like melancholy, irritability or even exuberance3 are frowned upon, especially if you don’t have a particularly theatrical job. 

“Hey, Bob! Stop dancing on the copy machine and finish your TPS reports!”

But there is a problem inherent in the way the general population defines “illness”.  Numerous traits influence personality, and at any given time, most people will exhibit at least some traits that indicate depression, hyperthymia or anxiety. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to label such traits as disorder as opposed to normal differences between people.

No longer are we passionate dancers, melancholic writers or exuberant salespeople; we are ill. And the more visible those emotions are to others, the more they are seen as an uncivilized throwback to our neanderthal days, a mark of pathology....  continue reading

Foods For Depression: One Surprising Reason to Save Your Banana Peels

Friday, April 25, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Depression

Do you eat bananas? Don't toss your peels! 

Maybe it's the conservationist in me, or maybe I am just frugal...if frugal means cheap as hell. It's probably both of those that led me to discover the fact that banana peels can be amazing for mental health. 

Food, Serotonin and Natural Prozac

While bananas have things like potassium and magnesium--both of which play an important role in mental health--the high concentrations of tryptophan in banana skins may play an even more important role in depression, specifically because tryptophan is the chemical humans use to synthesize serotonin....  continue reading

Mom Alert: Things Your Doctor Hasn't Told You About The Causes of "Mommy Brain"

Monday, April 21, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Psychology of Motherhood

"Mommy brain" is a common experience among new mothers. Often beginning during pregnancy, symptoms can last through the first year of a child's life and occasionally longer. Women in the throes of this phenomena report having less ability to concentrate or overall feelings of being mentally foggy. Forgetting details--such as what you walked into that room for--is common, as is realizing at the end of the day that you're wearing two different shoes....  continue reading

Is Depression A Physical Illness? The Link Between Depressive Symptoms and Brain Changes

Friday, April 18, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Depression


According to Dr. Peter Kramer in Against Depression, depression is the "most devastating disease known to humankind”1 (pg 150). It alters both psychological functioning—in the form of emotional issues— as well as physical abilities—in the form of pain, lethargy or other connected ailments. Depression strikes early, often triggered by stress or trauma which leads to “kindling”, as discussed in detail in the last post. 

Understanding where depression comes from, as well as what is happening inside your brain, may help you determine the best way to attack it. The good news is that there are a number of treatment options available. The bad news is that most who have one episode will have another, and each episode tends to be worse than the one before it, particularly in those who forgo therapy.

But why would this be?...  continue reading