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Lifetime adversity tends to sensitize the brain, making it more vulnerable to developing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when later trauma is experienced, according to a new Austrian study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. The findings could help explain why some people are more vulnerable to the effects of traumatic experiences while others seem resilient. “Understanding why some people develop intrusive thoughts of a stressful or traumatic event and others do not is an important step towards preventing and treating posttraumatic stress disorder,” said Cameron Carter, M.D., editor of the journal. The results suggest that when a person has experienced numerous adversities in their lifetime, it increases neural processing during a later traumatic event. These factors combine to increase the frequency of intrusive traumatic memories and the distress they cause. This increased neural processing was found in brain regions important for emotion and memory. “This suggests that both previous experience and the level of neural activity in the brain during an event interact to determine whether a person will have subsequent trauma-related symptoms following a traumatic experience,” said Carter. Due to the nature of real-life trauma, which occurs randomly and encompasses many different types of adversity, it is impossible to study how neural processing during natural events contributes to PTSD. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and experimental trauma, researchers at the University of Salzburg in Austria conducted the first study of two well-known risk factors of PTSD: neural processing and lifetime adversity. After watching disturbing films of severe interpersonal violence, the participants reported how often they experienced intrusive memories of the films, and how distressing these memories were. “This allowed us to study how the brain deals with intensely emotional events,” said lead author Julina Rattel, M.Sc., a doctoral student in the laboratory of senior author Frank Wilhelm, Ph.D. “We found that increased brain activation in specific neural networks implicated in threat processing, emotion regulation, and memory encoding and consolidation predicted distressing recollections; though, this was only the case in individuals reporting several lifetime adversities, such as car accidents, assault, physical and sexual abuse, or natural disaster.” Both neural processing and lifetime adversity have been considered risk factors for PTSD, but the study is the first to investigate the individual effects of each of these factors, and how they interact synergistically. “It has long been known that repeated ‘hits' increase vulnerability to develop PTSD. Our results point to specific vulnerable brain networks that [...]
Tue, Feb 19, 2019
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
Researchers have reversed symptoms of depression, such as anhedonia and behavioral despair, in male mice with a drug that activates a gene they call SIRT1. [...]
Tue, Feb 19, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Depression
Support from managers and coworkers, as well as a positive attitude, can help employees have a smoother return to work after an absence due to mental or physical health issues, according to a new review of research published in the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. Researchers from the University of East Anglia's (UEA) Norwich Business School in England and Uppsala University in Sweden examined evidence from 79 previous studies conducted between 1989 and 2017. They looked at how varying personal and social factors affected a sustainable return to work following ill-health due to common mental health conditions, such as stress, depression or anxiety, and musculoskeletal disorders, including joint and back pain. Mental health conditions and musculoskeletal disorders are recognized as the most common reasons for sick leave in developed countries. The findings show that sustainable return to work is not the result of a single factor. Instead, it seems to be influenced by a combination of multiple personal and social factors. The strongest factors tied to achieving a sustainable return to work include the following: support from line managers or supervisors and co-workers; employees having a positive attitude and high self-efficacy (belief in their capabilities to achieve a goal or outcome); being younger; having higher levels of education. A sustainable return to work was defined by the researchers as a stable full-time or part-time return to work to either the original or a modified job for a period of at least three months, without relapse or sickness absence re-occurrence. “These findings will help us understand what factors may either bring about or hinder a sustainable return to work,” said lead author Abasiama Etuknwa, a postgraduate researcher at UEA. “The relationship between the social environment and personal factors like attitudes and self-efficacy appears to impact positively on maintainable return to work outcomes.” “Promoting a culture of support at the workplace is essential, a culture that makes returning workers feel valued, worthy and not necessarily blamed for absence, as the former would improve work attitudes and ease the transition back to work.” The economic cost of sickness absence is growing each year. Extended sick leave is linked to reduced probability of return to work, which becomes costly for employers, increasing the urgency to help workers return early. “To reduce costs related to sickness absence and reduce the risk of long-term disability associated with extended absence from work, there is a big need for a better understanding of the factors that either impede or facilitate a sustainable return [...]
Tue, Feb 19, 2019
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
Some research has suggested that aromatherapy with essential oils may help promote relaxation and relieve anxiety. Learn about the best essential oils for anxiety, as well as how to use them, here. [...]
Mon, Feb 18, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Anxiety and Stress
The case of a 70-year-old man who had a heart attack after eating a marijuana lollipop has caused concern in the medical community. [...]
Mon, Feb 18, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs
Emerging research suggests training to enhance positive psychological traits, such as wisdom, may promote health and well-being in persons with schizophrenia. Investigators at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine said the new study helps to clarify how wisdom – typically closely linked to improved health and well-being – impacts people with schizophrenia. Investigators discovered that, on average, persons with schizophrenia (PwS) obtained lower scores on a wisdom assessment than non-psychiatric comparison participants (NPCPs). However, there was considerable variability in levels of wisdom. Nearly one-third of PwS had scores for wisdom in the “normal” range, and these PwS with higher levels of wisdom displayed fewer psychotic symptoms as well as better cognitive performance and everyday functioning. The research paper appears in the journal Schizophrenia Research. “Taken together, our findings argue for the value of assessing wisdom in persons with schizophrenia because increasing wisdom may help improve their social and neuro-cognition, and vice versa,” said senior author Dilip Jeste, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences and director of the Stein Institute for Research on Aging. “There is a concept of ‘wellness within illness,'” said Jeste. “Our findings support the hypothesis that wisdom and schizophrenia co-exist in a proportion of these patients, specifically those functioning at a higher level. Furthermore, the data suggest that treatments which enhance positive psychological traits, such as wisdom, may promote health and well-being in persons with schizophrenia. “We have a tendency in medicine to focus attention on remediating symptoms and impairments to the exclusion of individual strengths. A sustained effort to assess and enhance positive traits in a person with severe mental illness, such as their levels of wisdom, happiness and resilience, might do much to improve the quality of their lives.” In this study, 65 stable adult outpatients with a diagnosis of chronic schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and 96 without a psychiatric diagnosis (NPCPs) completed a commonly used, three-dimensional wisdom scale (3D-WS). The assessment tool includes measures of cognitive, reflective, and affective (relating to emotion) wisdom. While people with schizophrenia had lower average scores on the wisdom scale than NPCPs, those PwS with higher wisdom scores performed better on neurocognitive and functional assessments than those with lower scores. Indeed, level of wisdom positively correlated with performance on multiple neurocognitive tests in PwS; no such relationships were detected in NPCPs. The researchers also found that the ability to look inward accurately and without bias or to recognize others' perspectives (the reflective domain of [...]
Mon, Feb 18, 2019
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy News
New research shows how brain activity in 'night owls' is different from that of 'morning larks,' and how this can affect their productivity and well-being. [...]
Sun, Feb 17, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia News
In the first published study looking at effects on users over time, Australian researchers discovered that regularly taking very small amounts (called “microdosing”) of psychedelic drugs may improve some aspects of psychological functioning — but not necessarily what users were expecting. As reported in the journal PLOS One this week, there may be a downside as well for some people. Microdosing of substances like LSD and psilocybin (found in ‘magic mushrooms') has had a recent surge in popularity, with proponents claiming wide-ranging benefits, including enhanced productivity, concentration, creativity, mood and well-being, all without the typical high of psychedelics. Researchers from Macquarie University in Sydney recruited 98 people who microdosed from online forums and tracked their experiences over a six-week period. Because many people who experiment with microdosing hold strong beliefs about its benefits, the researchers conducted an additional study comparing both new and experienced microdosers' expectations to the actual effects experienced by participants in the main study. “Glowing media reports have presented microdosing as a panacea, able to improve virtually all aspects of life, so it is not surprising that participants have strong expectations,” said lead author Dr. Vince Polito of the university's Department of Cognitive Science. Polito said that while some of the anticipated effects of microdosing were supported by the study, many were not, and there were some unexpected negative experiences. Participants reported significant decreases in depression, stress and distractibility, and increased feelings of connection to their experiences. Many felt a boost in positive attitude, but this did not generally linger past the first day of taking the substance. The drop in depression and stress was an exciting finding, Polito said. “But we don't have enough evidence to recommend in any way that microdosing is something people should go out and try,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “While there were clear positive impacts on depression, stress and concentration, we saw no evidence of expected improvements to creativity, well-being and mindfulness. Participants also experienced increased neuroticism, which is a risk not generally discussed by supporters of microdosing.” In fact, microdosers in the study expected it would relieve neuroticisim, a “Big 5” personality trait usually defined as a tendency towards negative emotions such as anxiety, self-doubt, depression, shyness and the like. “This is an important finding because it tells us that microdosing wasn't all positive experiences, which conflicts with those glowing media reports,” Polito told the Herald. Co-author Dr. Richard Stevenson noted that regulatory restrictions around psychoactive substances such [...]
Sun, Feb 17, 2019
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
Researchers have developed novel compounds that may be able to reverse memory loss that relates to depression and other mental health conditions. [...]
Sat, Feb 16, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Depression
Symptoms of bipolar disorder include periods of mania and depression. Learn more about the potential signs of bipolar disorder, and when to see a doctor for a diagnosis, here. [...]
Fri, Feb 15, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
A new study shows that music taps into the brain's reward circuitry to stimulate a type of learning based on the correct prediction of outcomes. [...]
Fri, Feb 15, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
Love can be an exhilarating feeling, but it can also lead to psychological distress. We look at some of the adverse effects of intense romantic feelings. [...]
Thu, Feb 14, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
Oxytocin levels rose in individuals who did a painting class or played board games with their romantic partners. Levels were highest in men who painted. [...]
Thu, Feb 14, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Psychology/Psychiatry
The results of a new study show that Australian women remain unaware of the fact that alcohol consumption really does increase breast cancer risk. [...]
Thu, Feb 14, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs
New research pinpoints the mechanism through which sleep helps boost the activity of immune cells, thereby enhancing the body's immune response. [...]
Wed, Feb 13, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia News
While smartphones are often criticized for issues ranging from addictive properties, community seclusion and sleep disturbances, research shows that used in the right way, smartphones may be a vehicle to deliver mindfulness-based training. In a new study, Carnegie Mellon University investigators discovered smartphone-based mindfulness training may help individuals feel less lonely and motivate them to interact with more people. The researchers also found acceptance skills training to be a critical active ingredient for improving these social functioning outcomes. Experts believe smartphones and emerging technology can be used to address loneliness and social isolation, a growing public health concern across age groups. The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “When we talk about mindfulness interventions, we talk about two key components,” said Dr. J. David Creswell, associate professor of psychology in CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “The first is learning to use your attention to monitor your present-moment experiences, whether that's noting body sensations, thoughts or images. The second is about learning to adopt an attitude of acceptance toward those experiences — one of openness, curiosity and non-judgment.” For example, someone engaging in meditation might notice pain in his or her knee. Mindfulness training programs instruct participants to mentally note the sensation but not alter their physical state. In the Carnegie Mellon study, participants receiving training in acceptance skills were encouraged to respond to these uncomfortable experiences by saying “yes” in a gentle tone-of-voice to maintain an open and welcoming state of mind. “Learning to be more accepting of your experience, even when it's difficult, can have carryover effects on your social relationships. When you are more accepting toward yourself, it opens you up to be more available to others,” Creswell said. In the study, 153 adults were randomly assigned to one of three 14-day smartphone-based interventions. For 20 minutes each day, one mindfulness training group received training in monitoring and acceptance skills, a second mindfulness group received training in monitoring skills only, and a third group received no mindfulness content and instead received guidance in common coping techniques. In addition, they were instructed to complete brief homework practice lasting no more than 10 minutes daily. For three days before and after the intervention, participants completed periodic assessments throughout the day to measure loneliness and social contact. Participants that received training in monitoring and acceptance skills saw the greatest benefits: they reduced daily life loneliness by 22 percent and increased social contact by an [...]
Wed, Feb 13, 2019
Source Psych Central Psychotherapy Anxiety News
The 4-7-8 breathing technique, or relaxation breath, is a method for reducing anxiety and promoting sleep. This article covers how to do it, its uses, and apps that can help people practice it. [...]
Tue, Feb 12, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Anxiety and Stress
Warfarin is a blood thinner that can be more effective when restricting foods that are vitamin K-rich. Examples of these include broccoli and asparagus. Learn more about foods to avoid on the warfarin diet here. [...]
Tue, Feb 12, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs
Current treatments for alcohol use disorder are unsatisfactory, but recent research points toward a new intervention that may also benefit mood disorders. [...]
Mon, Feb 11, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Alcohol/Addiction/Illegal Drugs
Though the debate has continued for many years, a new study concludes that there is no link between social media use and depressive symptoms. [...]
Sun, Feb 10, 2019
Source Medical News Today: Depression

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