Mental Health on the Go

The Huffington Post:

Journalist Scott Stossel was so anxious at his own wedding that he had to hold on to his new bride in order to steady himself at the altar. His clothes were by then soaked through by torrential sweat. At the birth of his first child, with his wife in the throes of labor, the nurses had to turn their attention to the expectant father, who had gone pale and keeled over. He has also had breakdowns in the middle of job interviews, dates and plane flights. Even ordinary activities like talking on the phone can trigger pervasive dread, accompanied by nausea, shaking, and vertigo.

Two psychological scientists at the City University of New York have started to investigate this possibility. Tracy Dennis of Hunter College and Laura O’Toole of CUNY’s Graduate Center are especially interested in translating psychological interventions into games, complete with gaming interfaces, animated graphics and competition for points and rewards. These enticements, they believe, could help engage otherwise reluctant people into treatment and also boost compliance — and perhaps even prevent anxiety disorders from starting in the first place.

Dennis and O’Toole are in the early stages of testing such a therapeutic game for use with anxiety. The theory is that anxiety disorders are rooted in a dysfunctional cognitive bias — an exaggerated tendency to focus attention on danger and threat, and to ignore signs of safety and pleasure. This cognitive bias is believed to emerge in childhood, creating a fearful state of mind that unfolds into persistent and pervasive adult anxiety.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APS, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology. Follow Wray on Twitter @wrayherbert.

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