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A new study indicates that suicidal thoughts are associated with brain inflammation in the case of people diagnosed with major depression. [...]
Mon, Sep 25, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Depression
A study suggests that excessive air exposure to manganese may have negative neurodevelopmental effects; high levels of the metal correlate with lower IQ. [...]
Mon, Sep 25, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
Oxytocin may intensify positive or negative social experiences by affecting different brain areas. Blocking the hormone may relieve social anxiety. [...]
Sun, Sep 24, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
A new study maps brain changes following cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD. The findings suggest improved connectivity between key networks. [...]
Sun, Sep 24, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
Sleep problems are common, but can we really tell how well or how badly we slept? Sleep trackers might help, but they don't always reflect how we feel. [...]
Sat, Sep 23, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Anxiety and Stress
New Therapy Technique Offers Hope to Those with Fibromyalgia
Psychotherapy that encourages addressing emotional experiences related to trauma, conflict and relationship problems has been found helpful for people with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia. In the randomized clinical trial at Wayne State University in Detroit, 230 adults with fibromyalgia received one of three treatments. Each was presented for eight weekly sessions to small groups of patients. The new therapy, called Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy (EAET), helps patients view their pain and other symptoms as stemming from changeable neural pathways in the brain that are strongly influenced by emotions, the researchers explain. EAET helps patients process emotional experiences, such as disclosing important struggles, learning how to adaptively express important feelings — especially anger and sadness, but also gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness — and empowering people to be more honest and direct in relationships that have been conflicted or problematic, according to the researchers. The EAET intervention was compared to both an educational intervention, as well as the gold standard psychological approach in the field, cognitive behavioral therapy. Six months after treatments ended, patients were evaluated for the severity and extent of their pain and other problems that people with fibromyalgia often experience. Patients who received EAET had better outcomes — reduced widespread pain, physical impairment, attention and concentration problems, anxiety, and depression and more positive emotions and life satisfaction — than patients who received the education intervention, the researchers report. More than twice as many people in EAET (34.8 percent) reported that they were “much better” or “very much better” than before treatment, compared to 15.4 percent of education patients. An important additional finding was that the new emotion therapy also had greater benefits than cognitive behavior therapy in reducing widespread pain and in the number of patients who achieved at least 50 percent pain reduction, the researchers point out. “Many people with fibromyalgia have experienced adversity in their lives, including victimization, family problems and internal conflicts, all of which create important emotions that are often suppressed or avoided,” said Mark A. Lumley, Ph.D., a professor of psychology. “Emerging neuroscience research suggests that this can contribute strongly to pain and other physical symptoms. “We developed and tested an approach that tries to help people overcome these emotional and relationship problems and reduce their symptoms, rather than just help people manage or accept their fibromyalgia. Although this treatment does not help all people with fibromyalgia, many patients found it to be very helpful, and some had dramatic improvements in [...]
Sat, Sep 23, 2017
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy News
Study Confirms Smartphone Apps Can Ease Depression
New research has confirmed that smartphone apps can be an effective treatment option for depression. Depression is the most prevalent mental disorder and a leading cause of global disability, with mental health services worldwide struggling to meet the demand for treatment. In an effort to tackle this challenge, researchers from Australia's National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), Harvard Medical School, The University of Manchester, and the Black Dog Institute in Australia examined the efficacy of smartphone-based treatments for depression. The researchers reviewed 18 randomized controlled trials that examined 22 different smartphone-delivered mental health interventions. The studies involved more than 3,400 people between the ages of 18-59 with a range of mental health symptoms and conditions, including major depression, mild to moderate depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and insomnia. Published in World Psychiatry, the study found that smartphone apps significantly reduced people's depressive symptoms. Lead author of the paper, NICM postdoctoral research fellow Dr. Joseph Firth said this was an important finding, which presents a new opportunity for providing accessible and affordable care for patients who might not otherwise have access to treatment. “The majority of people in developed countries own smartphones, including younger people who are increasingly affected by depression,” he said. “Combined with the rapid technological advances in this area, these devices may ultimately be capable of providing instantly accessible and highly effective treatments for depression, reducing the societal and economic burden of this condition worldwide.” Jerome Sarris, NICM deputy director, highlighted the importance of the findings for opening up non-stigmatizing and self-managing avenues of care. “The data shows us that smartphones can help people monitor, understand and manage their own mental health,” he said. “Using apps as part of an ‘integrative medicine' approach for depression has been demonstrated to be particularly useful for improving mood and tackling symptoms in these patients.” According to the study's findings, the apps may be best for people with mild to moderate depression. The researchers found no difference in apps that apply principles of mindfulness compared to cognitive behavioral therapy or mood-monitoring programs. However, interventions that used entirely self-contained apps — meaning the app did not rely on other aspects, such as clinician and computer feedback — were found to be significantly more effective than non-self-contained apps. The researchers suggested this might be due to the comprehensiveness of these particular stand-alone apps rather than the combination of therapies. Despite the promising results, there is no evidence to suggest that using apps alone can outperform standard psychological therapies or [...]
Sat, Sep 23, 2017
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
Having a persistent cough that occurs at night can be irritating and prevent restful sleep. We look at ten ways to help relieve nighttime coughing. [...]
Sat, Sep 23, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia News
What does anxiety chest pain feel like and how does it differ to a heart condition? What causes chest pain during anxiety and what treatment is available? [...]
Sat, Sep 23, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Anxiety and Stress
New research suggests that the size and shape of one's face may predict sex drive, attitudes to casual sex, and even likelihood to cheat. [...]
Sat, Sep 23, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
Work can get very stressful, and often, we carry that stress with us into our private lives. How can we avoid doing that to maintain a work-life balance? [...]
Fri, Sep 22, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Anxiety and Stress
Mouse Study: Oxytocin Intensifies Social Experiences, Both Good and Bad
Commonly known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin plays a major role in social relationships — but more isn't always better. A new mouse study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry shows that oxytocin amplifies the effects of social experiences — both good and bad. In fact, after negative social experiences, the presence of oxytocin in a particular part of the brain results in avoidance of unfamiliar social situations. For the study, behavioral neuroscientists Natalia Duque-Wilckens and Brian Trainor worked with female California mice. When stressed, these mice often exhibit a form of social anxiety, shying away from unfamiliar mice instead of approaching them. However, the findings show that a single dose of a drug that blocks the activity of oxytocin restored normal social behavior in stressed females. The findings are exciting because “for antidepressants like Prozac to have this same effect, it takes a month of daily treatment,” said Trainor, a professor in the University of California (UC), Davis Department of Psychology, College of Letters and Science. The researchers expected the mice to behave in this manner based on their previous work showing that social stress increases the activity of oxytocin-producing cells in the brain and that females given intranasal oxytocin tend to avoid new social contexts. Postdoctoral researcher Duque-Wilckens said that these findings support the theory that oxytocin amplifies the effects of social experiences. So rather than promoting only positive social interactions, oxytocin intensifies the experience of both positive and negative social interactions. In a positive context, such as with family or friends, oxytocin could promote social approach behavior (hence its reputation as the “cuddling” hormone). However, in a negative context, like bullying, oxytocin could promote social avoidance. But how can the same hormone have such different effects on behavior? The researchers found that two brain regions responded to oxytocin more strongly in females than males. These regions were the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a brain region known to control anxiety, and the nucleus accumbens, a brain region important for reward and motivation. The team found that injecting an oxytocin blocker into the BNST, but not the nucleus accumbens, reversed the effects of stress on social behavior in females. Work by other researchers has suggested that oxytocin in the nucleus accumbens promotes rewarding aspects of social interactions. These findings suggest that oxytocin can generate social anxiety or reward by acting in different areas of the brain. At times when oxytocin is acting in the [...]
Fri, Sep 22, 2017
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
Brain Inflammation Tied to Suicidal Thoughts
New research finds that patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have increased levels of brain cell inflammation. Importantly, researchers at the University of Manchester discovered that the inflammation was present only in patients with MDD who were experiencing suicidal thoughts. This link suggests nerve cell inflammation, rather than a diagnosis of MDD, is associated with suicidal thoughts. The research, led by Dr. Peter Talbot and colleagues appears in the journal Biological Psychiatry. “Our findings are the first results in living depressed patients to suggest that this microglial activation is most prominent in those with suicidal thinking,” said Dr. Talbot. Previous studies suggesting this link have relied on brain tissue collected from patients after death. “This paper is an important addition to the view that inflammation is a feature of the neurobiology of a subgroup of depressed patients, in this case the group with suicidal ideation,” said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. “This observation is particularly important in light of recent evidence supporting a personalized medicine approach to depression, i.e., that anti-inflammatory drugs may have antidepressant effects that are limited to patients with demonstrable inflammation.” In the study, first author Dr. Sophie Holmes and colleagues assessed inflammation in 14 patients with moderate-to-severe depression who were not currently taking any antidepressant medications. Immune cells called microglia activate as part of the body's inflammatory response, so the researchers used a brain imaging technique to measure a substance that increases in activated microglia. The evidence for immune activation was most prominent in the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region involved in mood regulation and implicated in the biological origin of depression. This finding confirmed the results of a previous study that identified altered microglial activation in medication-free MDD patients. Smaller increases were also found in the insula and prefrontal cortex. “The field now has two independent reports — our study and a 2015 report by Setiawan and colleagues in Toronto — showing essentially the same thing: that there is evidence for inflammation, more specifically microglial activation, in the brains of living patients during a major depressive episode,” said Dr. Talbot. This link suggests that among depressed patients, neuroinflammation may be a factor contributing to the risk for suicidal thoughts or behavior. According to Dr. Talbot, the findings “emphasize the importance of further research into the question of whether novel treatments that reduce microglial activation may be effective in major depression and suicidality.” Source: Elsevier [...]
Fri, Sep 22, 2017
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
Self-Control Does Not Become Exhausted as the Day Progresses
New research dispels the prevailing theory that as we tire, we may reduce or lose self-control. For example, after a long day of work and carefully watching what you eat, you might expect your self-control to slip a little by kicking back and cracking open a bag of potato chips. A new study, however, suggests self-control may be less limited than we often believe. In fact, there may be no noticeable dip in our motivation and ability to do something as long as we switch up tasks throughout the day. “While people get tired doing one specific task over a period of time, we found no evidence that they had less motivation or ability to complete tasks throughout the day,” says Dan Randles, a postdoctoral at University of Toronto- Scarborough. Self-control is the ability to focus on or exert effort on a task that isn't immediately rewarding. “It's doing something not because you enjoy it, but because it's connected to a larger goal and you want to see it through,” explains Randles. The prevailing theory in psychology about self-control is that it can get exhausted internally the more we use it. Some studies have suggested that depleted glucose reserves in the brain could be responsible. Nevertheless, emerging research is questioning the theory as most studies on self-control depletion have been done in the lab, and some, including studies on glucose, have been difficult to replicate and remain controversial. “This doesn't mean all studies on self-control are wrong, but at least for that one, attempts to replicate it have found no evidence for the effect,” says Randles. Randles and his mentor, Professor Michael Inzlicht, worked with Iain Harlow from the adaptive learning company Cerego and found that people experience worsened ability while doing a single difficult memory task. The researchers discovered a person's performance begins to decline around the 30-minute mark with a notable drop in performance around 50 minutes. These findings echo similar studies in the past, but what's unique is that they found no evidence that ability to complete the task decreased throughout the day, and in fact found that motivation to complete it actually increased. “This finding is especially important for intellectually demanding tasks like learning,” says Harlow. “It fits with research showing that you remember more of what you learn when you review it frequently but in short bursts.” “Our results are consistent with theories showing that people lose motivation within a specific task, but at [...]
Fri, Sep 22, 2017
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy News
Parental Arguments in Front of Kids: OK if Constructive
Few parents want their children to hear them arguing. But new research suggests it may be OK as long as the parents handle disagreements in a constructive way. University of Arizona investigators looked at how parents manage conflict with each other, and the way in which this affects their parenting styles. Olena Kopystynska, a graduate student in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and lead author on the paper, also investigated how emotionally secure children feel after being exposed to conflict between their parents. Kopystynska's study focuses on constructive versus destructive styles of conflict management. In constructive conflict management, there is calmness and respect, despite a difference in opinion; the conflict stays focused on one topic; and progress is made toward a resolution. When conflict is handled destructively, there is anger and resentment, and the argument often strays off topic to things that may have happened in the past. Kopystynska and her colleagues found that when even one parent handles conflict with a partner destructively, it can leave children feeling more emotionally insecure about their home life. “Children are very good at picking up on little nuances of how parents interact with each other, so it really matters how parents express and manage their daily life challenges because that determines children's confidence in the stability and safety of their family,” Kopystynska said. “If parents are hostile toward each other, even children as young as 3 years old may be threatened that their family may be headed toward dissolution. They may not necessarily be able to express their insecurities verbally, but they can feel it.” Kopystynska's study is based on national data collected for the Building Strong Families Project, which targeted low-income families; a population that could be at high risk for conflict, given the many stressors associated with financial strife. Parents in the study were mostly unmarried and had just conceived their first child at the start of data collection, which was done in three waves. Kopystynska focused on the third wave of data, collected when the children in the study were 3 years old. Mothers and fathers were surveyed at that point about their perceptions of their conflict management behaviors with each other, and how their children react emotionally when they witness conflict between their parents. While similar studies have relied only on data from mothers, the inclusion of fathers helps provide a more complete picture of what's going on, [...]
Thu, Sep 21, 2017
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
New research shows that when non-smokers use nicotine-based e-cigarettes for the first time, there are measurable, negative changes in cardiac activity. [...]
Thu, Sep 21, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs
Post-traumatic stress disorder or any traumatic experience could increase the risk of lupus by almost threefold, according to new research. [...]
Wed, Sep 20, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Anxiety and Stress
New research finds that people who take antidepressants such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors may be at a considerably higher risk of premature death. [...]
Tue, Sep 19, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Depression
New research in mice shows that blocking a receptor in the brain's immune system substantially reduces the desire to consume alcohol, especially at night. [...]
Tue, Sep 19, 2017
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs
People with Schizophrenia Deserve Better Health Care
New research discovers that individuals with schizophrenia are not benefiting from public health and health care interventions to the same degree as individuals without schizophrenia. In the study, Canadian researchers found that people with schizophrenia have a mortality rate that is three times greater each year than those without schizophrenia, and die on average, eight years earlier than people without schizophrenia. The research appears in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. “As health care providers, it is our responsibility to work together across our health care system to provide these patients with better, integrated physical and mental health care. By not doing so, there are dire, tragic consequences and shortened lives,” said Dr, Paul Kurdyak, a researcher at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). Researchers studied all deaths during the 20-year period between 1993 and 2012 in Ontario and examined the deaths annually. They identified all people with schizophrenia and categorized the deaths as occurring among those with and without schizophrenia. The study showed that individuals with schizophrenia had higher rates of death for all causes including cardiovascular diseases and chronic medical conditions. Cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke, is a leading cause of death in the general population. However, while the rest of Ontario has experienced a reduction in cardiovascular deaths, the study shows that individuals with schizophrenia are not experiencing the same reduction. People with schizophrenia have many cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, smoking and sedentary lifestyle, but are more burdened by these risk factors than those without schizophrenia. Medications used to treat schizophrenia can cause weight gain and the development of diabetes. “It seems that people with schizophrenia haven't benefited from the advances that we have made for patients living with chronic physical illnesses in the general population,” says Dr. Kurdyak. “A health care system that can address the mortality gap we have observed in this study would truly be a high performing health care system.” The complex needs of individuals with schizophrenia and comorbid medical conditions create a tremendous challenge to providers and health care systems more broadly,” explains Kurdyak. “Although there have been numerous calls to action to help individuals with severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, to manage chronic medical illnesses, and although the declining trends and narrowing absolute gap that we observed are positive developments, more effort is required to reduce the considerable disparity in both mortality and illness burden,” the study [...]
Tue, Sep 19, 2017
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy News

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