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Researchers investigate the role of arterial stiffness in memory decline in older adults. A flexible aorta may be key to maintaining cognitive ability. [...]
Thu, Jun 14, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
Over the past decade a number of meditation-based interventions have been used to reduce stress and promote wellness. Although most of the approaches have been beneficial, a lingering question has been to what extent these programs are similar or different. New research led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers, in collaboration with members of the two leading mind-body stress reduction programs, reviewed the different ways these mind-body practices affect the brain. There are two widely used meditation-based stress reduction courses. One is based on the relaxation response, which focuses on eliciting a physiologic state of deep rest, the opposite of the “fight or flight” stress response. The other is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which emphasizes a particular, non-judgmental attitude termed “mindfulness” as key to stress reduction. Although both interventions are based on meditation, the scientific philosophies and meditative traditions upon which each is founded are different, and these differences are reflected in the instructions and exercises taught to patients. Study results appear in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. “If the hypotheses proposed by the programs' creators are in fact correct, they imply that these programs promote wellness through different mechanisms of action,” said Sara Lazar, Ph.D., author of the current report and assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. “Such a finding would suggest that these programs could potentially have different effects on disease.” To investigate that possibility, healthy adults with high levels of stress were randomized to two 8-week programs; 18 completed the relaxation response program, and 16 completed the mindfulness program. Both programs successfully decreased stress and increased mindfulness in participants. However, the mindfulness program resulted in further improvements in measures such as self-compassion and rumination, clearly indicating that the programs are not the same, Lazar says. To further understand the similarities and differences between the programs, the team measured brain activity during a meditation technique common to both programs called a body scan. This technique involves a focus of attention moved sequentially throughout the body to develop bodily awareness. While the relaxation response program instructs participants to deliberately relax each body area as they become aware of it, the mindfulness program just emphasizes mindful awareness and acceptance “without any attempt to change anything.” Lead author Gunes Sevinc, Ph.D., said, “By directly comparing the body-scan meditations, which differed only in cognitive strategy, we were able to identify the brain regions that are involved in mediating the common and differential strategies employed by each intervention.” The results showed that the strength of neural [...]
Thu, Jun 14, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
Refeeding is reintroducing food after a period of malnourishment or starvation. If electrolytes become imbalanced as digestion resumes, a person can develop refeeding syndrome. Symptoms include fatigue and weakness, and treatment involves careful monitoring and intravenous electrolyte replacement. Learn more here. [...]
Wed, Jun 13, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs
Lack of sleep can impact our health, but can too much sleep also be harmful? New research links both extremes to an increased risk of metabolic problems. [...]
Wed, Jun 13, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia News
Contrary to current scientific theories, our brains do not use several areas to control sleep and wakefulness, suggests a new study. [...]
Wed, Jun 13, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia News
Creative arts therapy can be very beneficial for survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI), because the nature of the injury often makes it difficult for patients to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. In a new study, 370 active military service members were asked to create artistic masks as part of their TBI recovery treatment. Each mask began as a simple, blank human face that participants were encouraged to paint, cut, or add to with the objective of creating a representation of how they felt. The researchers then analyzed the different themes present in the masks and linked the artwork to measures of depression, anxiety and PTSD. The findings show that service members who depicted psychological injuries like depression or anxiety in their artwork tended to have more acute post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than those who incorporated symbols of their military units. The study is published in the journal BMJ Open. “Few studies in art therapy have linked visual symbols with existing standardized clinical measures,” said Girija Kaimal, Ed.D., an assistant professor at Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions and study leader. “This helps us see if there are patterns of visual representations that relate to psychological states.” Kaimal conducted the study with art therapist Melissa Walker of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE). Once the masks were complete, the researchers categorized the themes they found in each, then matched the masks with mental health questionnaires previously taken by each participant. More than 10 percent of the masks had symbols relating to the participant's military units, such as a logo or unit patch. Those kinds of masks were associated with lower levels of PTSD. “We were surprised by how strongly references to a sense of belonging were associated with positive health outcomes,” Kaimal said. However, another theme was depicted in the masks: fragmented representations of military symbols. These were present in around 10 percent of the masks and included items like faded flags or pieces of camouflage and weapons. These representations were tied to elevated anxiety in the service members. “There is a subtle difference here between identification with military branch and the use of fragmented imagery associated with the military symbols,” Kaimal pointed out. “It might be that an integrated sense of belonging and identity are associated with resilience while use of fragmented images are associated with some ongoing struggles.” More than a quarter of the masks had a representation of psychological injury, [...]
Wed, Jun 13, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
New research asserts allergies can have serious, far-reaching consequences, especially on adolescent sufferers. “The emotional burden of hay fever can be huge for adolescents,” said allergist Michael Blaiss, M.D. Blaiss is the lead author of a review in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Three of the studies in our review examined how adolescents are emotionally affected by hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and hay fever with eye allergies (allergic rhinoconjunctivitis),” he said. “They found adolescents with hay fever had higher rates of anxiety and depression, and a lower resistance to stress. The adolescents also exhibited more hostility, impulsivity and changed their minds often.” Allergies affect more than 50 million Americans and are occasionally misunderstood and seen as a minor condition. The article identified 25 studies that examined the effects of hay fever and hay fever with eye allergies in adolescents (10-17 years of age) and analyzed symptoms, impact on daily activities, emotional aspects, impact on sleep, educational burden and treatment burden. “Our review highlights that allergy symptoms can be different in adolescents than in adults or children,” said Blaiss. “Lack of sleep or poor sleep are both huge issues for adolescents, and it can be made worse by the symptoms of hay fever with or without eye allergies. Poor sleep can have a negative impact on school attendance, performance and academic achievement.” The studies indicated that hay fever with or without eye allergies can negatively impact aspects of daily life that include driving and reading ability and can have a negative effect on psychological function. Adolescents may be particularly vulnerable because they may be embarrassed by their symptoms, may be learning to drive and are at a crucial point in their school career. “Adolescents aren't ‘big children' or ‘small adults,'” said Blaiss. “They have very specific needs, and allergists can help relieve symptoms that can cause suffering. “Adolescence is an important developmental period and controlling symptoms can help with daily activities such as homework and sports practices.” Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology [...]
Tue, Jun 12, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
The tickle response is different for everyone. Some people have a very strong response, and others are only ticklish sometimes. Some parts of the body may also be more ticklish than others. Here, we look at causes of the tickle response, why people vary in their sensitivity to tickling, and how to prevent ticklishness. [...]
Mon, Jun 11, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
Many people bite their lip when they are anxious or uncomfortable, which can result in redness and sores on the lips. In extreme cases this is called body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB). This habit can have a negative impact on a person's daily life. Treatments include behavioral therapy. Learn more here. [...]
Mon, Jun 11, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
New research suggests immunization with beneficial bacteria can have a long-lasting anti-inflammatory effect on the brain making, it more resilient to the physical and behavioral effects of stress. University of Colorado Boulder scientists believe their findings, if replicated in clinical trials, could ultimately lead to new probiotic-based immunizations to protect against posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety or new treatments for depression. “We found that in rodents this particular bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, actually shifts the environment in the brain toward an anti-inflammatory state,” said lead author Dr. Matthew Frank, a senior research associate in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. “If you could do that in people, it could have broad implications for a number of neuroinflammatory diseases.” Anxiety, PTSD and other stress-related mental disorders impact as many as one in four people in their lifetime. New research suggests that stress-induced brain inflammation can boost the risk of such disorders, in part by impacting mood-influencing neurotransmitters like norepinephrine or dopamine. “There is a robust literature that shows if you induce an inflammatory immune response in people, they quickly show signs of depression and anxiety,” said Frank. “Just think about how you feel when you get the flu.” Research also suggests that trauma, illness or surgery can sensitize certain regions of the brain, setting up a hair-trigger inflammatory response to subsequent stressors which can lead to mood disorders and cognitive decline. “We found that Mycobacterium vaccae blocked those sensitizing effects of stress too, creating a lasting stress-resilient phenotype in the brain,” Frank said. A previous CU Boulder study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that mice injected with a heat-killed preparation of M. vaccae and then placed with a larger aggressive male for 19 days exhibited less anxiety-like behavior and were less likely to suffer colitis or inflammation in their peripheral tissues. For the new study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, Frank and senior author Dr. Christopher Lowry, an associate professor in integrative physiology, set out to find out what exactly M. vaccae does in the brain. Male rats injected with the bacterium three times, one week apart, had significantly higher levels of the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin-4 in the hippocampus, a brain region responsible for modulating cognitive function, anxiety and fear, eight days after the final injection. After exposure to a stressor, the immunized animals also showed lower levels of a stress-induced protein, or alarmin, called HMGB1, believed to play a role in [...]
Sun, Jun 10, 2018
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
There are different treatments available for menopause symptoms. Cannabidiol (CBD) is becoming a more popular alternative treatment, however, there is some dispute over how effective it is. Also, its legal status means that it is not available everywhere. Learn more about the potential use of CBD for menopause here. [...]
Sat, Jun 09, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs
How might spiritual practice affect the brain? A new study suggests that heightened spiritual experiences may help to counteract the effect of stressors. [...]
Sat, Jun 09, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
New research shows that a specific probiotic called Mycobacterium vaccae reduces the brain's inflammatory response to stress in rodents. [...]
Sat, Jun 09, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Anxiety and Stress
A new study finds that sleep paralysis and hallucinations are unexpectedly common and predict depression severity among young athletes. [...]
Thu, Jun 07, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Depression
Heavy drinking is a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer's. New research now reveals how alcohol may endanger the brain by impairing its defenses. [...]
Tue, Jun 05, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs
In a recent review, researchers identify important links between hay fever and an increased risk of anxiety and depression in adolescents. [...]
Wed, May 30, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Depression
Following an analysis of existing studies, researchers conclude that there is a link between depression and age-related cognitive decline. [...]
Tue, May 29, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Depression
Whether there are dangerous levels of formaldehyde in e-cigarettes or not has been a contentious issue for years. A new study reopens the debate. [...]
Fri, May 25, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs
A large study that took objective measures of activity and rest patterns has found a strong link between disruption of circadian rhythm and mood disorders. [...]
Wed, May 16, 2018
Source Medical News Today: Depression

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