The Local Optimist Digest #41

Exploring the record levels of sadness in teen girls, how too much serotonin can be a bad thing, and why some experts believe psilocybin and MDMA should be legalized in the United States.

Welcome to The Local Optimist Digest, your crib sheet for the latest news in mental health. Whether you want to know how the government is (or is not) investing in our well-being, discover the latest research on how the mind impacts the body, or find out which celebrities are helping continue the conversation by opening up about their own mental health struggles, we’ll be covering it all here every week. This week, we’re looking at why too much serotonin can actually be a bad thing, the conversation surrounding the state of teen girls' mental health, and why some experts believe psilocybin and MDMA should be legalized.

Annie Flanagan / The New York Times

Recent CDC Study Illuminates The Mental Health Crisis Among Teen Girls

A new study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that teenage girls in the United States are experiencing record levels of sadness and suicidal ideation. The study found that while rates of depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation have been on the rise among teenagers in general, the increases have been much more significant for girls. Factors such as social media use, academic pressure, and COVID-19 may be contributing to the rise and experts are pushing to highlight the need for increased support and resources to address these concerning trends. READ.

The Dangers Of Too Much Serotonin

It’s been found that excessive amounts of serotonin, the hormone and neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood, can actually be a bad thing. When there’s an influx of this hormone, commonly referred to as the "happy chemical," experts share that we can experience “serotonin syndrome.” Research has shown that elevated serotonin levels may lead to a variety of symptoms, including agitation, confusion, high blood pressure, and even seizures. Luckily for us, experts give insight on what may cause too much serotonin and provide tips on how to prevent it. READ.

The Psychology Of Sports Betting Apps

Psychologists and behavioral scientists are exploring the addictive nature of sports betting apps and the psychology behind their design and reward pathways. A leading psychologist explains how these apps are engineered to keep users engaged, sharing how the games take advantage of human behavior to encourage compulsive gambling behavior. While it is clear that there is a need for more research and awareness on this topic, experts delve into the potential risks and dangers of online gambling and offer some tips on how to navigate the apps. READ.

4 Ways To Overcome Distractions And Boost Focus

  1. Minimize distractions: Try to create an environment that minimizes distractions. Turn off your phone, close unnecessary tabs on your computer, and find a quiet space to work.

  2. Practice mindfulness: Take a few minutes to meditate or practice mindfulness exercises to help train your brain to focus and be present in the moment.

  3. Take breaks: Short breaks can increase productivity and help prevent burnout. Try the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes and then taking a five-minute break.

  4. Try deep reading (on paper): Dedicate at least 20 minutes daily to reading a physical book to help fight distraction. Start with something you want to read for pleasure, set an alarm for 20 minutes, put your phone on silent, and make yourself read slowly and deliberately.

Read MORE.

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The Future Of Mental Health Treatment And Psychedelics

Earlier in February, Australian regulators announced that medicines containing the psychedelic substances MDMA and psilocybin will soon be accessible to use to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and treatment-resistant depression. This marks a growing trend towards legalization of these psychedelics in other countries, including the United States, where recent studies have demonstrated their safety and efficacy when administered under controlled conditions. While there are potential benefits of legalizing psychedelics for therapeutic purposes, some experts are urging caution, sharing that they believe more research is needed to fully understand the psychedelics long-term effects and potential risks. READ.

The Loveland Foundation

This week, we are excited to highlight The Loveland Foundation. Established in 2018 by Rachel Cargle, The Loveland Foundation brings opportunity and healing to communities of color, and especially to Black women and girls. Through their therapy fund, fellowships, residency programs, listening tours, and more, The Loveland Foundation hopes to contribute to both the empowerment and liberation of the communities they serve. To learn how you can support their mission, head HERE.

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