Neuroscience for Psychologists and Other Mental Health Professionals

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Neuroscience for Psychologists and Other Mental Health Professionals

SKU# 9780826122780

Promoting Well-Being and Treating Mental Illness

Author: Jill Littrell PhD, LCSW

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This book presents the latest neuroscience and physiological explanations behind the major diagnostic categories of mental illnessóincluding schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and addictionóand explains the physiological bases that underlie traditional pharmaceutical treatment interventions. Crucially, it integrates current information about brain function with new research on immunology, offering a research-based rationale for viewing the mind and the body as an integrated system. The new information on the physiological bases for behavior explains how lifestyle interventions related to diet, exercise, and interpersonal relationships can have dramatic therapeutic effects on mental health.

Of particular note in this book is cutting-edge information on fast-spiking GABA interneurons and the role of NMDA receptors in psychosis, the role of inflammatory processes in mood disorders, and gut microbiota's influence on inflammation. Beyond the physiology undergirding distress, the book also explores the physiological bases for health and resilience. Students and mental health professionals in social work, counseling, and psychology will learn how the same mechanisms available for overcoming mental anguish can be utilized for achieving life satisfaction.


  • Discusses attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, pediatric bipolar disorder, issues for children in the child welfare system, and advocacy efforts
  • Presents the latest information on the efficacy and side effects of antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers, and stimulants
  • Explains the mechanisms through which diet and exercise can influence mood disorders and psychosis
  • Prepares mental health professionals to provide services in primary care settings in the role of the behavioral health professional

Product Details 

  • Publication Date April 06, 2015
  • Page Count 444
  • Product Form Paperback / softback
  • ISBN 13 9780826122780
  • EISBN 9780826122797

Table of Contents 

Jill Littrell, PhD, LCSW, is an associate professor at Georgia State University, where she teaches psychopathology, drug and alcohol addictions, and research methods to social work students. After 8 years as a social worker, she obtained a doctorate in clinical psychology from Arizona State University. Following a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs internship in alcohol and drug abuse, she worked as a psychologist in the Alcohol and Drug Dependency Department at Cigna. During her time at Cigna, she completed a two-volume work on alcoholism. This endeavor further acquainted her with the neuroscience literature and the proliferating research on how stress influences the immune system and mood. Having been intrigued by the connections between mind and body, she pursued a master's degree in biology (molecular genetics and biochemistry) while on faculty at Georgia State. Much of her class work and laboratory experience was focused on immunology and neuroscience. She continues to work in the immunology lab of Dr. Yuan Liu. In recent years, she has published various papers on the links among behavior, disease, and immune system function, as well as on the efficacy of antidepressants.



1. Ways of Thinking About Behavioral Syndromes

The Current Paradigm and How We Got There

History of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals of the American Psychiatric Association

Major Depression and Anxiety Used to Be Neurosis

The DSM-IV Continues the Tradition of Medicalizing More of Us

Controversy Over the DSM-5

The Limitations of Current Diagnostic Categories

Abandonment of the DSM-5

Extensive Nature of the Mind–Body Connection

Are Diagnoses Needed?

What Should Be the Criteria for Disorder?

Has Labeling Ordinary Behavior as Mental Illness Resulted in Better Outcomes?

The Approach in This Book

2. Physiology

Section 1: Genes and Epigenetics

The Two-Step Process of Making a Protein

How the Cell Decides Whether to Make a Protein



Section 2: Neurons and Neurotransmitters

The Life Cycle of a Neurotransmitter

How Are the Functions of Neurotransmitters Investigated?

Specific Neurotransmitters

Section 3: The Immune System

Two Major Divisions: Innate and Adaptive Immunity

The Glial Cells

Section 4: Circuits

Appetitive Signaling

Creating Learned Helplessness

Regulation of Impulses, Motor Activity, and Emotions

Putting It All Together: BAS and BIS

Section 5: Emotions

Emotions in General

Autonomic Nervous System

Hormonal Activity

Specific Emotions

Section 6: The Human Brain Is Social

Exercises to Rehearse the Vocabulary Used in Subsequent Chapters

3. Psychopharmacology

Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics

Ways to Ingest Drugs

Ways in Which Drugs Are Eliminated From the Body

Drug Dependence

General Concepts

Major Classes of Psychotropic Drugs




Sedative-Hypnotic Agents

Mood Stabilizers

Major Classes of Drugs of Abuse





Marketing of Drugs in the United States

Concerns About Threats to Health

Concerns Over Cost

Where Does the Pharmaceutical Industry Spend Its Money?

Mechanisms for Controlling Medical Practice

Psychiatric Medications

The Role of Behavioral Health Clinicians With Regard to Pharmaceuticals

Obligations in Assuming Responsibilities for Monitoring Side Effects

Clinicians Functioning Independently

Informed-Consent Duties of Clinicians in Clear Mental Health Professional Roles

What Can Nonmedical Clinicians Say About Medications?

Websites for Information Regarding Drugs

4. Depression

The Syndrome of Depressive Behaviors

Prevalence Over Time and Cultures

Findings in Those With Major Depression

Brain Imaging and EEG Findings

Hormonal Findings

Thinking Styles

Emotional Control or Regulation

Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor


Learned Helplessness



Drug Treatment



Side Effects


Changing Recommendations


Novel Drugs

Electrical Stimulation Treatment

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Deep Brain Stimulation

Activities to Increase Regulatory Capacity

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Ways to Target Inflammation

Increasing HRV (Vagal Tone)

Direct Anti-Inflammatories


Obtaining Adequate Sleep



Social Engagement


Useful Websites and Information on Food

5. Anxiety

The Physiology of Anxiety

Basic Physiology of Fear

Differentiating Anxiety From Fear

Fear Memories

How Does Extinction Happen?

Possibility of Reconsolidation

Teaching Active Coping

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


Talk Therapies

Medications for Anxiety

Other Nondrug Treatments

Ways in Which to Talk About and Deal With Past Traumatic Events

Making Decisions About How to Proceed

6. Psychotic Disorders

Physiology of Psychosis

Fast-Spiking, GABA-Producing Interneurons

Problems With the NMDA Receptor

Inflammatory Factors and Free Radicals

Limitations in Current Diagnostic Practices

Current Treatments

Side Effects With Current Treatments

Questions Raised by Long-Term Follow-Up Studies

Better Targets for Treatment

Dilemma for Society and Clinicians

7. Bipolar Disorders

History of the Concept

Why Was Bipolar II Added?

Bipolar I

Does Depression Always Occur in Those With Mania?

Bipolar II

Nonclinical College Student Samples of Bipolar II



Must Pharmacological Treatment Be Initiated to Prevent Kindling?

The Pharmacological Treatments: Lithium, Anticonvulsants, and Atypical Antipsychotics

Efficacy of Pharmacological Treatment

Current Outcomes for Those With Bipolar II

Alternative to Drugs

Regular Routines



Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?

8. Addictions

Neuroscience of Addiction

The Process of Becoming Addicted: Drug Sensitization

It Is Not About Pleasure

The Brain Is Being Changed

When Are Addicts More Vulnerable to Relapse?

Understanding Addiction

Do Addicts Use Because They Are in Pain?

Substance Abusers Are a Heterogeneous Population

Genetic Predisposition

How to Approach Clients

Is Breaking Down Denial Relevant?

New Approaches: Transtheoretical Models of Change and Motivational Interviewing

What Level of Drug Consumption Should Be Changed?

The Wisdom of Initial Sobriety

Initial Engagement

Assessing Detox Requirements

Assessing Level of Care

Goals of Treatment

Relapse Prevention

Developing Self-Regulation

Dealing With Abstinence Violation Syndrome

Pharmaceutical Treatments

Efficacy of Treatment

Reflections on U.S. Drug Policy

9. Children

Rise in Medicating Children

Pediatric Bipolar Disorder

The Push to Medicate

Side Effects of the Drugs

The Status of the Diagnosis

Major Depression

Efficacy of Antidepressants

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Genetics and Neurobiology

Stimulant Treatment Efficacy


Foster Care

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

General Alternatives for Children

10. New Opportunities and How to Proceed

Mental Illness in the United States Is an Epidemic

Case Against Diagnoses That Create Harm

Lessons From the Resilience Literature

The Goal of Flourishing

What to Do to Increase Positive Mood

Primacy of Social Support



Making Blessings Salient

Meditation and Yoga

Envisioning Positive Future Selves

Being Able to Forgive

Increasing the Probability of Taking Action

Integrating Behavioral Health Into Primary Care


Larger Social Change

Appendix: Screening Instruments

Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test

CAGE Questionnaire

The Satisfaction With Life Scale

The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale