Going Back to Work Next Week

It has been almost two months since I have been to work now, although the first week was my vacation. We went up to Ohio to see Jean’s Mom and Dad, then the day we got home I went up to the grocery store to buy dishwasher detergent and a jug of milk. Some guy ran the light up at the top of the hill. He was not drunk, but the police suspected that he was stoned on something. At first I did not think it was that bad, but my legs were messed up. A Glendale physical therapy clinic is working on me right now, because I spent three weeks without walking and of course if you do not use the muscles in your legs, then they are going to waste away on you. Continue reading

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Keeping emotions under control with neurofeedback

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Childhood and adolescence are ages of constant change and crucial experiences. At times the emotional weight can be difficult to manage and may lead to psychological issues in adulthood. Neurofeedback is a method that helps individuals to keep their brain activity (for example a response to an emotional event ) under control. While routinely used on adults, a new study published in NeuroImage demonstrates that the technique shows promise for young people as well.

Difficulty handling emotions and keeping them under control can cause various psychological issues and even lead to full-blown psychiatric problems (in cases of emotionally catastrophic events). This is especially true in childhood. Trauma experienced in youth can contribute to later problems such as depression, anxiety and even more serious conditions. There are various techniques for helping people control their emotions, including neurofeedback, a training method in which information about changes in an individual’s neural activity is provided to the individual in real-time and this enables the individual to self-regulate this neural activity to produces changes in behaviour. While already in use as a treatment tool for adults,

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Cognitive-behavioral stress management in breast cancer

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Newly published research from a National Cancer Institute-funded randomized trial shows that women who were provided with skills to manage stress early in their breast cancer treatment show greater length of survival and longer time till disease recurrence over eight to 15 years after their original diagnosis.

Michael Antoni, Ph.D., Survivorship Theme Leader of the Cancer Control research program at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and his research team previously found that cognitive-behavioral stress management (CBSM)–an intervention approach created by Antoni at UM–improves psychological adaptation and lowers distress and inflammatory signaling in circulating cells during breast cancer treatment and long-term follow-ups. Women receiving CBSM learned techniques like muscle relaxation and deep breathing as well as skills to change negative thoughts and improve coping strategies in 10 weekly group sessions.

This secondary analysis, published online and in the November 2015 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, examined whether breast cancer patients who received CBSM in the weeks after surgery had improved survival and a greater “disease-free interval” until recurrence.

“Our ongoing work is examining whether the effects

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Antidepressant medication protects against compounds linked to dementia

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In addition to treating depression, a commonly used antidepressant medication also protects against compounds that can cause memory loss and dementia, a Loyola University Medical Center study has found.

The study found that blood levels of two neurotoxic compounds dropped significantly in depressed patients after they were treated with the antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro®).

The study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, provides new insights into how the immune system responds to depression.

Stress and depression interact in a vicious cycle. Stress can lead to depression in susceptible individuals. In turn, depression, if not treated, causes stress. This stimulates the body’s immune system to fight stress and depression, as it would a disease or infection. Revving up the immune system, which includes the inflammatory response, initially protects against stress. But over time, chronic inflammation can cause a range of health problems.

In this vicious cycle, depression can trigger an inflammatory response, which in turn can exacerbate depression, said Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences of Loyola University Chicago Stritch

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Mitochondria affect stress responses

Mitochondria, the tiny structures inside our cells that generate energy, may also play a previously unrecognized role in mind-body interactions. Based on new studies of stress responses, this insight may have broad implications for human psychology and for the biology of psychiatric and neurological diseases.

A pioneering scientist in mitochondrial medicine has led research in animals showing how alterations in mitochondrial function lead to distinct physiological changes in hormonal, metabolic and behavioral systems in response to mild stress.

“Our findings suggest that relatively mild alterations in mitochondrial genes, and hence mitochondrial physiology, have large effects on how mammals respond to stressful changes in their environment,” said Douglas C. Wallace, Ph.D., director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “This has profound implications for the hereditary basis of neuropsychiatric diseases and for the role of stress in human health.”

Wallace and colleagues published their study ahead of print on Nov. 16 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Wallace, who has investigated the genetics of mitochondria and their role in health for over 40 years, has long argued that a traditional biomedical approach focused on anatomy and thus, on the organ exhibiting the most prominent symptoms of

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