New Study: Probiotics May Help Ease Pain of Negative Thoughts/Depression.

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From ScienceDaily.Linking probiotics and moodProbiotics are live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, are fundamental in improving digestion and immune function.  A new study found that people focus less on bad feelings and experiences from the past (i.e. rumination) after four weeks of probiotics administration.   The study was published in the journal, Brain, Behavior and Immunity.   In the study, half of the people received a placebo powder, while the other … [Read more...]

Most Antidepressants Make it Harder To Get Better, Study Says.

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A new study from Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Review asserts that the science behind most anti-depressant medications is entirely backwards.  Rather than easing symptoms, the authors of the study argue that serotonin boosting medications may be actually making it harder to depression-sufferers to recover. The low-serotonin theory is the basis for commonly prescribed serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) anti-depressant medications which keep the neurotransmitter's levels high by blocking its r … [Read more...]

Feeling Blah? The Cure For Apathy.

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The Catholic Almanac's Emily Stimpson interviewed me for a piece in OSV  titled, Our Brother's Keeper. Fighting Apathy.  Here's a sample... Surveying the cultural landscape, a growing number of commentators have diagnosed Americans’ declining interest in political and community involvement as one of apathy. But that, said Dr. Gregory Popcak, executive director of CatholicCounselors.com, is just another way of saying “sloth.” “Sloth is apathy,” he explained. “It’s one of the seven deadly sins. I … [Read more...]

The Serotonin Myth Continued: What You Need To Know About Depression

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A few weeks back, I reported on a new study that pounded yet another nail in the coffin of the theory that depression is caused by low serotonin.   You can read that original post here as well as the follow up post wherein I responded to a question from a reader asking if I was trying to say that people who suffered with depression were to blame for their struggles (short answer:  no.)Over at PsychCentral, one of the most popular psychology news portals on the web, the director, Dr. John G … [Read more...]

Belief Beats Genes: Study Reveals Shocking Truth About Reaching Your Goals

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Simply telling people that hard work is more important than genetics causes positive changes in the brain and may make them willing to try harder, a study shows. "Giving people messages that encourage learning and motivation may promote more efficient performance," said the lead investigator. "In contrast, telling people that intelligence is genetically fixed may inadvertently hamper learning." Telling people...that hard work trumps genes causes instant changes in the brain and may make them … [Read more...]

Setting the Captive Free! New Research Illustrates our Power to Overcome Depression

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In response to my post linking the new study questioning the serotonin-deprivation theory of depression, I received a very thoughtful email from a reader who wrote, "Dr. Popcak, some of my friends who suffer with depression are saying that in this article you are blaming them for their depression. Can you explain further?"Blaming the Victim?  A ResponseI am grateful for her question because I would never want anyone to think that I was blaming sufferers of depression for being d … [Read more...]

Suicide and the Christian

In light of Robin Williams' tragic death there are a lot of people saying a lot of different things about Christianity and suicide. I thought it would be useful to take a moment to consider the wisdom the Catechism has to offer."Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him … [Read more...]

Effective Coping for Emotional Distress

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Earlier today I offered some reflections on what people-of-faith need to know about depression.  I promised that I'd offer some additional thoughts on effective coping for emotional distress.Effective coping strategies enable a person to gather their psychological, emotional, spiritual, and relational resources so that they can respond to the problems they are facing.  By contrast, ineffective coping strategies simply allow a person to escape, withdraw, or numb themselves for a time, but w … [Read more...]


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