Friday Factoids: Can Drinking Soda Accelerate Aging?



A recurring story throughout news websites this week is a study about a link found between sugar-sweetened soda/pop and aging. The study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that individuals who drank pop frequently generally had shorter telomeres in their white blood cells than did individuals who did not drink as much pop. Telomeres are found at the end of chromosomes and are critical in cell division. The length of telomeres is believed to be linked to the health of the cell. Researchers believe that shorter telomeres indicate that an individual is less healthy and aging faster.


The study noted that telomere length did not appear to be affected by consumptions of diet pop or 100% fruit juices.  The study also reported that their results indicated 1 in 5 adults drink a 20-ounce pop daily and found that this consumption “could equal 4.6 years of extra aging.”


Simply put, this means that they found a link between sugar-sweetened pop and premature aging in some cells in the body, which, according to the article, puts individuals at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. This article compared the premature aging from drinking pop to that seen in individuals who smoke.


How much sugar is safe? The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 150 calories a day for men and 100 calories a day for women (one 12-ounce can of regular pop has between 140-170 calories and about 40 grams of sugar).


Kimball, Henry. (2014, October). That sweet drink may age you. CNN Health.


Brittany Best, BA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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Friday Factoids: Sleep Can Affect Brain Size!


A recent study examined the relationship between sleep and brain volume. The study, which was published in an online article from the journal Neurology, studied 147 adults. Two MRI scans were conducted on the participants 3 ½ years apart and the participants also completed a sleep hygiene questionnaire. The researchers determined that about 35% of the participants met criteria for “poor sleep health.”


For our neuro-folks, the study found a link between poor sleep quality and “reduced volume within the right superior frontal cortex in cross-sectional analyses” as well as “an increased rate of atrophy within widespread frontal, temporal, and parietal regions in longitudinal analyses.” Poor sleep did not appear to be correlated with hippocampal volume or atrophy.


If that sounds too complicated, read this! The study found a link between poor sleep quality and faster decline in brain volume or size (certain areas of the brain are more affected than others). They also found that the effects were more pronounced in individuals over 60 years old.


The study noted that it is unclear which comes first, so they don’t know if poor sleep causes the declining brain volume or if the declining brain volume causes poor sleep. However, these results may be an incentive to improve the quality of our sleep and to help our patients improve the quality of their sleep!


Sexton, C. E., Storsve, A. B., Walhovd, K., B., Johansen-Berg, H., Fjell, A. M. (2014). Poor sleep quality is associated with increased cortical atrophy in community-dwelling adults [Abstract]. Neurology, 83(11) 967-973.


Willingham, V. (2014, September). Lack of sleep may shrink your brain. CNN Health.


Brittany Best, BA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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Friday Factoids: A Link Between TIA and PTSD?



A new study has investigated the link between “mini-strokes,” transient ischemic attacks (TIA’s) and the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Published in the journal Stroke, the study examined 108 patients who had suffered a TIA. The study involved questionnaires the patients completed three months after their TIA. The co-author of the study Kathrin Utz, Ph.D. defined a TIA as a “brief episode of stroke-like symptoms, such as sudden onset of numbness, weakness or paralysis, slurred speech, loss of language, sudden loss of memory, blurred vision, confusion, and severe headache.” An article added that TIA are cause by a restricted blood supply and typically occur for less than 5 minutes.


The study found that 1/3 of the patients developed symptoms of PTSD, including worry, nightmares, flashbacks, and social isolation. The study also noted that individuals who exhibit symptoms of PTSD were also more likely to demonstrate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Utz reported that younger patients and patients who generally found it difficult to cope with stress were more likely to present with PTSD and other mental health symptoms. Although Utz stated that the reason for the correlation between TIA’s and PTSD symptoms is currently unclear, she suggested that an emphasis should be placed on teaching TIA patients, particularly, younger TIA patients, coping skills for managing stress.


Pedersen, Traci. (2014, September). Mini-stroke may lead to PTSDPsychCentral.



Brittany Best, BA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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WKPIC INTERNS 2014-2015!

Wow has this group been camera-shy! But our intrepid photographer Will Battle at last tracked them down and got a photo.



On the left is Faisal Roberts from Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA. At the center is Brittany Best, from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, IL. On the right, we have Graham Martin, from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, IL.





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Friday Factoids: Bullying in the Workplace



Bullying. What do you think of when you hear that word? What age demographic immediately springs to the forefront of your mind? What specific behaviors and images does your mind immediately conjure?


Without being especially informed or at all learned about the topic, I would have guessed that bullying reaches its peak around elementary school, and progressively wanes as children become more mature going through middle and high school. That’s not to ludicrously state that bullying completely and magically dissolves in the teenage years, but rather a (speculative) statement that traditional bullying behaviors (name calling, hitting, etc.) are not as frequent or blatant as children progress past elementary school.


A new nationwide study conducted by CareerBuilder that polled 3, 400 full time employees in the private sector across many different industries yielded results indicating that nearly 33 % of individuals in the workforce experienced bullying and, startlingly, 20 % have left their job due to it. Rosemary Haefner, an HR representative, stated that “Bullying impacts workers of all backgrounds regardless of race, education, income, and level of authority within an organization.” Although workplace bullying tended to affect more women than men (34% to 22 %), both ratios were fairly high. Regarding ethnicity, the numbers of those that felt bullied were relatively even: 25 % Latino, 27 % African American, and 24 % Caucasian.


“Professional bullying” is difficult to tackle head on, as the metric defining this kind bullying is elusive, diffuse and ambiguous. It is not the relatively basic conceptualization of bullying that exists in the schoolyard, which generally existed within the parameters of simplicity. This type of bullying has evolved to become increasingly complex and insidiously adaptive. “Professional bullying” can be direct, such as belittling, intimidation, and open criticism in front of others, or more subtle, such as passive aggressiveness, being ignored or dismissed, or being excluded from projects, etc. What do you make of this information? Are you at all surprised? What steps can be taken to reduce professional bullying?


Dill, Catherine. (2014, September).  One in five workers have left their job because of bullying.  Retrieved from Forbes.


Faisal Roberts, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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Summary of Giving Courts the Information Necessary to Implement Limited Guardianships: Are We There Yet?



Gibson (2011) provided a retrospective analysis of adult guardianship cases in two Kentucky counties. The goal of the analysis was to determine if the information provided to the courts during these cases was comprehensive, if least restrictive intervention alternatives were considered, and if the limited guardianship option was utilized. Gibson (2011) concluded with recommendations for improvements in these areas of guardianship cases with particular attention to the role social workers could play.


The article reported an estimate from 2006 that 1.5 million people were under private or public guardianships. However, the article also noted that the US Government Accountability Office stated that neither state governments nor federal governments keep track of how many elderly individuals have guardians or the incidences of abuse of those individuals with guardians. While Gibson (2011) highlighted many intended benefits of guardianships such as protecting people from abuse, neglect, and exploitation, the article also highlighted potential pitfalls of guardianships and the current system.


Autonomy appeared to be the biggest concern once an individual was determined to need a guardian. Gibson (2011) discussed a case from 1966, Lake v. Cameron, which highlighted the importance of the least restrictive intervention. In the case, a 60-year-old woman was reported to wander the streets and was involuntarily hospitalized. She was diagnosed with dementia, but not deemed to be a danger to herself or others. The court found that the woman could not be indefinitely hospitalized without considering less restrictive forms of treatment. Gibson (2011) mentioned a previous study of guardianship cases noting that 94% of petitions were granted and only 13% of those granted were limited guardianships. Gibson (2011) also cited a review of court practices that concluded that reports with more thorough testimony were more likely to result in limited guardianships being awarded.


The article examined 40 randomly selected disability cases of 813 disability cases in two Kentucky counties from a three-year period (2004, 2005, 2006). The study used a modified Guardianship Evaluation Recording Instrument (GERI Mod) to examine information for the cases and collected demographics, social workers’ reports, psychologists’ reports, physicians’ reports, and the audio recording of court testimony, if available. The analysis looked at over 300 items and determined whether the item was present or not. The items looked at information that included, but was not limited to, clinical examination procedures, medical history, cognitive symptoms, functional abilities, social functioning, consideration of least restrictive interventions, diagnoses, and final recommendations.


Gibson (2011) found that 97% of the guardianship cases examined were granted, 82% of those were awarded full guardianships and 18% were limited guardianships (partially disabled in Kentucky). The study utilized seventeen of the items that were consistent with Kentucky law as well as current best practice and provided a score of adherence to these seventeen items. Gibson (2011) found that psychologists scored a mean of 11.98 with a standard deviation of 3.21, social workers scored a mean of 11.45 with a standard deviation of 1.62, and physicians scored a mean of 8.35 with a standard deviation of 2.65. Based on these findings, Gibson (2011) determined that there was a significant difference between the adherence score of the physicians and the other two disciplines. Although the mean score of psychologists was slightly higher than that of the social workers, the smaller standard deviation indicates that the social workers were more consistently adhering to the items. Gibson (2011) determined that medical history, effect of medications on behaviors, adaptive behaviors, and strengths were frequently lacking from the reports of psychologists, social workers, and physicians alike.


Gibson concluded with a discussion of how social workers could be useful in providing more information to courts in guardianship cases. The suggestion was to have a court visitor, a social worker who would come in to ensure that all areas were being address properly, that the least restrictive alternative was being considered, and that clients were empowered to seek clarification and ask questions. Even though social workers provided similar amounts of information in the cases examined for this article, Gibson (2011) expressed that social workers are uniquely primed for this role, given that they have a history of advocacy, are familiar with other professional disciplines, and have the opportunity to educate clients and their families. Gibson (2011) concluded that more thorough information from social workers and other professionals would better help the courts make decisions about guardianships and may prepare a court to award limited guardianships when the individual is still capable of maintaining some of their basic rights and autonomy.


Gibson, L. (2011). Giving courts the information necessary to implement limited guardianships: Are we there yet?. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 54(8) 803-818. doi: 10.1080/01634372.2011.604668


Brittany Best, BA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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Friday Factoids: Death From a Broken Heart?



It is a safe assumption that, by this point in our lives, most of us have heard of someone that died from a “broken heart.” How much stock do you put in that idea? I still remember when I was first introduced to this notion as a child (from reading the book—SPOILER ALERT—Where the Red Fern Grows, in which it happens to a dog). I remember this because it struck me as odd and, and even as a fourth-grader, improbable. Since that point, I have heard case after case of death via broken heart, and more often than not, it generally involved older adults (i.e. the elderly population). For instance (and certainly not to trivialize the occurrence of death), a grandmother dies, and then, inexplicably, the grandfather follows within a year or two. For those naysayers (myself included) stating that death by a broken heart is a scientific impossibility, perhaps the time has come to insert foot in mouth…


A new study from the University of Birmingham in the UK posits that grief can be harmful to the immune system, especially for those in the elderly population. So why does it seem to happen more frequently for the elderly population? According to the research, there are two different stress hormones that react differently to grief with age: cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS). In younger adults, the ratio of cortisol and DHEAS remains relatively stable while in the process of bereavement; however, in older adults, the ratio is markedly imbalanced, with a higher level of cortisol than DHEAS. The interplay between these two hormones is that during times of high stress, cortisol can suppress elements of the immune system, while DHEAS can counteract the detrimental affects of the cortisol. If the elderly population has an imbalance with more cortisol than DHEAS, the negative impact of the cortisol can lead to a much weaker immune system (as there are less DHEAS hormones to neutralize things), leaving them susceptible to various illnesses.


So perhaps technically a “broken heart” is not what was directly responsible for the death, but it was the precursor, weakening the immune system leading to the disease that caused the death. So for those that were skeptical, next time you hear of such a case of death by broken heart, remember that there is sound scientific rationale behind it.


Pedersen, T. (2014, September). Why the Elderly Can Die from a Broken Heart. PsychCentral. Retrieved from .


Vitlic, A., Khanfer, R., Lord, J., Carroll, D., and Philips, A. (2014). Bereavement reduces oxidative bursts only in older adults: role of the HPA axis  and immunesenescence. Immunity and Ageing, 11, 13.


Faisal Roberts, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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Alert for Psychology Internship Applicants: Beware of Scams Claiming to Help You Match!

Reprinted with permission of Dr. Keilin:


Each year, the APPIC Board receives feedback about the increasing number of enterprising individuals who have established businesses that focus on assisting applicants in obtaining an internship.  Furthermore, the APPIC Board has heard comments and complaints about the claims that some of these individuals are making, the ways in which certain individuals are advertising their businesses and recruiting students, and the rates being charged to students (e.g., $100 or more per hour) for these services.


While there may in fact be some legitimate and helpful services that are being offered, the Board remains very concerned about the potential for exploitation — i.e., that some of these businesses may be taking advantage of the imbalance between applicants and positions by exploiting students’ fears and worries about not getting matched.


We encourage students to be cautious and informed consumers when it comes to decisions about using any of these services.  Please know that there are a number of no-cost and low-cost ways of obtaining advice and information about the internship application process, such as the workbook published by APAGS (as well as books written by other authors), the free information available on the APPIC and NMS web sites, discussion lists sponsored by APPIC, APAGS, and others, and the support and advice provided by the faculty of many doctoral programs.


Jason Williams, Psy.D.
Chair, APPIC Board of Directors


Greg Keilin, Ph.D.
APPIC Match Coordinator


 To add to what Dr. Keilin and Dr. Williams have to say, WKPIC wants you, our prospective applicants, to know that you are enough, in and of yourself, for our application process. Services such as these are absolutely not necessary for you to be competitive in applying for our site. We are interested in the quality of your educational and clinical experiences, and in you, the person and potential intern. “Glossy” applications or photos–not needed. We look forward to the chance to meet you, and for you to meet us.


As you will hear from us many times over, the issues in our system’s current Match system relate to many variables, but though these issues affect you, they are not because of you, or deficiencies in your application or interviewing. There are simply not enough slots to meet your needs, and APA, training programs, and internship sites are working hard to correct this problem. Feel free to read through some of our Match posts, where interns have shared their experiences in surviving this stressful period. If you have a story of your own, email it to me, and we’ll talk about posting it here. We support you, and your fellow interns, current and past, support you, too.


Susan R. Vaught, Ph.D.
WKPIC Training Director



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Friday Factoids: Blood Test for Depression?


Results yielded from a new study from the Northwestern University indicate that researchers may be able to discern if adults have depression simply from blood tests. This may be groundbreaking news in the world of psychology, as it would be the first objective method that can screen for depression.


The study, led by Dr. Eva Redei, states that approximately 7 % of the population in the United States experiences depression; however, depression can often take many months–or in some cases, even years–to discover, diagnose, and treat. This can be problematic for both the individual experiencing depression, as well as their family and friends, as the longer the delay, the more difficult it can be to treat the depression.


The research team used a sample size of 64 adults (ages 21-79); 32 were diagnosed with depression, and 32 were not. The test worked by measuring the blood concentration of nine genetic indicators, referred to as “RNA markers.” RNA molecules in a cell are what interpret its genetic code. It then can execute the instructions from the DNA. In this study, RNA is isolated from the blood and measured. There are differences when comparing RNA levels between the depressed and non-depressed population. The test purportedly is 72-80 % effective, which the researchers state is similar to the effectiveness rates for the standard diagnostic clinical interviews.


Further testing is required in order to conclusively determine if this study will be able to maintain its reliability, but it appears to be an extremely valid start. It is amazing to think how technological advancements may benefit the world of psychology in the future.



Haelle, T. (2014, September).  Blood Test Spots Adult Depression: Study. HealthDay. Retrieved from


Faisal Roberts, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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Friday Factoids: Revisiting the Fundamentals



Book Recommendation: The Gift of Therapy by Irvin D. Yalon


As clinicians, once we get started in the field, we often spend our time and energy focusing on the more advanced clinical and counseling techniques. We learn the basics, then often move swiftly away from them in an attempt to refine our clinical skills and be more adept at working with more severe cases, as well as preparing ourselves for diagnostic, demographic, and pathologic diversity–which is a good thing. Yet clinicians can digress away from the place that they were in when they started in the field, which can include their reasons and motivations for choosing a career in the field.



The Gift of Therapy is an excellent way for seasoned clinicians to recapture some of the“magic” that they felt as a rookie in the field, idealistically hoping to transform the world into a tremendously better place one individual at a time. Additionally, it is an excellent place to start for those that are new in the field, and even those that are considering becoming a part of the field.


Faisal Roberts, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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