Social Media and Self-esteem

Image: magicatwork, Flickr
Image: magicatwork, Flickr

My Facebook news feed is a succession of splendid successes. Over the last couple of days, one of my friends has gleefully announced her engagement; another received over 200 “likes” after uploading a photo in which he jubilantly held his completed PhD thesis aloft; and several people have been delighted to declare that they have won places on prestigious graduate schemes or been promoted at work. This morning, someone posted the following triumphant status update: “I have mastered soufflés!”

I’m pleased that my friends are doing really well. They’re kind and talented people. They deserve loving relationships and wonderful careers. However, upon reading about their outstanding achievements, it’s difficult not to feel pangs of envy and a crushing sense of inferiority. “Why am I still a novice at making soufflés?”, I lament.

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Mindfulness meditation in medical practice: a fad or a helpful resource?

mindfulness

“We’re constantly living unanchored in time; the past and the future are creations of the brain.”
– David Eagleman

Mindfulness has rapidly become a global phenomenon. Research suggests that it can improve focus and self-control, reduce stress, make you happier, boost your learning ability and make you less irritable. A recent meta-analysis of 209 studies concluded that mindfulness-based interventions for depression and anxiety showed “large and clinically significant effects.” What is this thing that we call mindfulness and is it the panacea that it’s currently reported to be?

Mindfulness is an orientation to life that we practise through meditation. It’s defined as the moment-to-moment, non-judgemental awareness of thoughts, feelings and the surrounding environment which are best cultivated through the practice of meditation. The goals of mindfulness meditation are to increase awareness of mental processes and attentive listening skills, improve the ability to recognise bias and judgements and to thereby act with principles and compassion. If this sounds complicated, it should be reassuring to know that even spending your meditation time being distracted still counts. The goal is not to stop thoughts, but to observe them. That’s where the non-judgemental part comes in.

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A day in the life of Dr Dunne

My name is Ross Dunne and I have the best job in medicine. I am a consultant psychiatrist for the over 65s working in one of the most diverse and disadvantaged areas of Britain – North West Manchester. I care for both inpatients and outpatients, and I deal with a range of illnesses including the “bread and butter” of psychiatry like depression and schizophrenia, but also dementia. The demands of these two aspects of the job are wildly different. This range of illness stretches my expertise from neurological examination to cross-cultural communication, from breaking bad news to the intricacies of psychopharmacology, and everything else in between.

Wednesday morning means home visits. This morning I was invited into the home of an Asian lady who has suffered a manic episode and needed to be admitted to our inpatient unit a few months ago. She recovered well and went home to her family. Now, as is so common in bipolar disorder, she has become profoundly depressed. When I last saw her, she was in despair. She was rocking in her chair, wringing her hands and chanting Qu’uranic suras alternating with obscure Punjabi phrases under her breath. Her son translated some of her utterances, which turned out to be iterations of and variations on “I’m so bad – I cannot help it, I am no good”. I was reminded that whether one is from the sleepiest corner of Rawalpindi, or darkest Kent, the depths of psychic pain are often extraordinarily similar.

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