Wellness News ... what the
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$30.2 billion on complementary health approaches - Americans spent $30.2 billion on complementary health approaches, according to a nationwide survey. These approaches include a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products such as herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic, and yoga. This amount represents 9.2 percent of all out-of-pocket spending by Americans on health care and 1.1 percent of total health care spending.
"... substantial numbers of Americans spent billions of dollars out-of-pocket on these approaches, an indication that users believe enough in the value of these approaches to pay for them," said Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., NCCIH's lead epidemiologist.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Using exercise to reduce glutamate build-up in the
brain - Exercise has the potential to decrease toxic build-up in the brain,
reducing the severity of brain disorders such as Huntington's disease. Glutamate, an amino
acid that is one of the twenty amino acids used to construct proteins, is used by the
brain to transmit signals, but too much glutamate blocks future signals and can lead to
toxicity in the brain. Since the majority of the brain relies on glutamate as the main
neurotransmitter for communication between neural cells, it is essential that glutamate is
reabsorbed and disposed of to prevent blockage. While glutamate reuptake is a normal
process for healthy brains, several diseases such as Huntington's disease, ALS, and
epilepsy result in either failed reuptake of glutamate or high levels of glutamate in the
brain. This can lead to unwanted and in some cases excessive stimulation of neighbouring
cells which can worsen the disease. The findings of this study show that exercise has the
potential to increase the use of glutamate in the brain and may help reduce the toxicity
caused by glutamate build-up in these diseases. "As we all know, exercise is healthy
for the rest of the body and our study suggests that exercise may present an excellent
option for reducing the severity of brain disorders" says Dr. Eric Herbst, lead
author of the study. "Taking into account that there are no cures for
neurodegenerative diseases where glutamate is implicated, this study offers another
example of the benefits of exercise for our brains" continued Dr. Herbst. "In
short, these findings offer another reason to exercise with the aim of either preventing
or slowing the neurodegeneration caused by these disorders". University of Guelph.
Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism
Age-related changes in the brain
- Gradual and variable change in mental functions that occurs naturally as people age, not as part of a neurological disease such as Alzheimer's disease, is one of the most challenging health issues encountered by older adults.
The aging process affects the brain just like any other part of the body. Known as "cognitive aging," the type and rate of change can vary widely among individuals. Some will experience very few, if any, effects, while others may experience changes in their memory, speed of processing information, problem solving, learning, and decision-making abilities.
"Changes in mental functions and capabilities are a part of aging and occur with everyone," said committee chair Dan G. Blazer, the J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. "The extent and nature of these changes vary widely and are gradual, and aging can have both positive and negative effects on cognition. Wisdom and knowledge can increase with age, while memory and attention can decline."
Individuals of all ages should take the following three steps to help promote cognitive health:
Be physically active.
Reduce and manage cardiovascular disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.
Regularly discuss and review health conditions and medications that might influence cognitive health with a health care professional. A number of medications can have a negative effect -- temporary or long term --on cognitive function when used alone or in combination with other medication.
Other actions that may promote cognitive health:
Be socially and intellectually active, and continually seek opportunities to learn.
Get adequate sleep and seek professional treatment for sleep disorders, if needed.
Take steps to avoid a sudden acute decline in cognitive function, known as delirium, associated with medications or hospitalizations.
Carefully evaluate products advertised to consumers to improve cognitive health, such as medications, nutritional supplements, and cognitive training.
The report noted that health care professionals need to be prepared to provide guidance to older adults and their families as the patient population ages.
Despite widespread publicity about the benefits of vitamins and supplements for brain health and the large expenditures made on these products for a wide variety of reasons, the evidence for supplements enhancing cognition or preventing decline is limited, and the medical literature does not convincingly support any vitamin supplement intervention to prevent cognitive decline, the report says.
Institute of Medicine.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) helps patients
- Training in meditation and other mindfulness-based techniques brings lasting improvements in mental health and quality of life for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
Anxiety, depression, and decreased quality of life are common in patients with IBD.
Psychological distress may lead to increased IBD symptoms and play a role in triggering disease flare-ups. Previous studies have shown benefits of MBSR for patients with a wide range of physical illnesses.
"Our study provides support for the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of a tailored mindfulness-based group intervention for patients with IBD," concludes the research report by Dr. David Castle, a psychiatrist at St. Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.
The study also suggests that training patients in mindfulness practices to follow in daily life can lead to significant and lasting benefits, including reduced psychological distress and improved quality of life. Dr. Castle comments, "This work reinforces the
interaction between physical and mental aspects of functioning, and underscores the importance of addressing both aspects in all our patients."
Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Theory on unconscious memory system
: EEG - For decades, scientists have theorized that this part of the brain (the hippocampus) is not involved in processing unconscious memory, the type that allows us to do things like button a shirt without having to think about it.
But research by Dr. Richard Addante, a senior lecturer in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, raises doubts about that.
Addante used electroencephalography (EEG) to test brain wave patterns while giving memory tests to amnesia patients with damaged hippocampuses. He then compared those results with control subjects.
Addante hopes the research will lead to more studies in this area. He said there's a need for more research using EEG to study unconscious memory.
Treating patients with dignity
- Although the UK has well-established local and national policies that champion the need to provide dignified care, breaches in dignity are still a problem with the NHS - and a study has uncovered a potential gap between what patients expect and the focus of care professionals.
Christina Victor, Professor of Gerontology and Public Health, said: "It is important that dignity is enacted through a conceptual understanding and part of everyday care, from communication, safety and security to hands-on-care."
Brunel University London
Facebook, poorer body image and risky
dieting? "I think that Facebook could be an amazing tool to nurture social support and connections with friends and families. And if you're getting that kind of social support from the site, you might be less likely to be worried about your body size. But if you're using it as a measuring stick to measure how your body appears in pictures compared to your friend's body, Facebook could also be used a tool to foster dangerous dieting behavior," said Stephanie Zerwas, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
Journal of Adolescent Health
Kids' headaches increase at back-to-school time
- Findings from Nationwide Children's Hospital (USA) physicians demonstrate that headaches increase in fall
(autumn) in children, a trend that may be due to back-to-school changes in stress, routines and
sleep. The increase in fall headaches may be attributed to a number of factors, including academic stressors, schedule changes and an increase in extracurricular activity. Other common headache triggers include lack of adequate sleep, skipping meals, poor hydration, too much caffeine, lack of exercise and prolonged electronic screen time.
Cut stress by 40 percent -
A study found that a workplace mindfulness-based intervention reduced stress levels of employees exposed to a highly stressful occupational environment. Psychological and biological markers of stress were measured one week before and one week after the intervention to see if these coping strategies would help reduce stress and burnout among participants.
"Our study shows that this type of mindfulness-based intervention in the workplace could decrease stress levels and the risk of burnout," said Maryanna Klatt, associate clinical professor in the department of Family Medicine at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center.
When stress is part of the work environment, it is often difficult to control and can negatively affect employees' health and ability to function, said Dr. Anne-Marie Duchemin, research scientist and Associate Professor Adjunct in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center.
"People who are subjected to chronic stress often will exhibit symptoms of irritability, nervousness, feeling overwhelmed; have difficulty concentrating or remembering; or having changes in appetite, sleep, heart rate and blood
pressure," Duchemin said. Although work-related stress often cannot be eliminated, effective coping strategies may help decrease its harmful effects."
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
E-cigarettes may be as addictive as traditional
tobacco - Electronic cigarettes or "e-cigs" have been touted as a tool smokers can use to wean themselves off of traditional cigarettes, which many believe are more harmful than their "e" counterparts. But because e-cig liquid also contains
nicotine and emits carcinogens, is that perception really true? One team now reports that much of the nicotine in e-cigarettes is the addictive form of the compound.
Although e-cigs don't burn tobacco, they heat and vaporize a liquid that contains nicotine, flavorings and other substances. Out of concern for the potential effects that inhaling this mixture could have on the health of young people, many states have banned their sale to minors. Some experts say the nicotine content could lead users to become
addicted to e-cigs, or that it could even serve as a gateway to conventional cigarettes and other
drugs. The researchers tested commercial samples of liquids made for the devices and found that, by and large, the
nicotine was in the most addictive form. They also determined that the concentration of nicotine varied and often didn't match the concentrations the labels claimed.
American Chemical Society. Chemical Research in Toxicology
Social Brains - A study by neuroscientists sheds light on why Facebook is such a popular diversion for people who feel like taking a break. Their research shows that even during quiet moments, our brains are preparing us to be socially connected to other people.
"The brain has a major system that seems predisposed to get us ready to be social in our spare moments," said Matthew Lieberman, a UCLA professor of psychology and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences. "The social nature of our brains is biologically based."
University of California LA. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Stress levels linked to risk of liver disease death
- Suffering from anxiety or depression could carry an increased risk of death from liver disease. Previous research suggests
mental distress can put people at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. At the same time, risk factors for cardiovascular disease - such as
obesity and raised blood pressure - have been linked to a common form of liver disease, known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Dr Tom Russ, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, said: "This study provides further evidence for the important links between mind and body, and of the damaging effects psychological distress can have on physical
wellbeing." University of Edinburgh. Gastroenterology
Depression associated with 5-fold increased mortality risk in heart failure patients
- Moderate to severe depression is associated with a 5-fold increased risk of all cause mortality in patients with heart failure.
Professor John Cleland, professor of cardiology at Imperial College London and the University of Hull, UK, said: "We know that depression is common in heart failure and affects 20-40% of patients. Depression is often related to loss of motivation, loss of interest in everyday activities, lower quality of life, loss of confidence, sleep disturbances and change in appetite with corresponding weight change. This could explain the association we found between depression and mortality."
Professor Cleland continued: "As doctors we are members of a caring profession and should be sympathetic to our patients' plight but I am not in favour of immediately prescribing anti-depressants. Studies suggest that they are not effective in reducing depression in patients with heart failure. Clinicians should, however, screen patients with heart failure for depression and consider referring those affected for
counselling." European Society of Cardiology
Workplace intervention improves sleep of employees' children
- A workplace intervention designed to reduce employees' work-family conflict and increase schedule flexibility also has a positive influence on the sleep patterns of the employees' children. "These findings show the powerful effect that parents' workplace experiences can have on their children," said Susan McHale, distinguished professor of human development and family studies, Penn State.
Journal of Adolescent Health
A psychological technique to help smokers quite tobacco
- An international research project has demonstrated that motivational interviewing can make smokers see tobacco as something disagreeable, thus helping them to quit the habit. Motivational interviewing is a psychological technique of direct intervention that seeks to produce changes in patient
behaviour. According to data provided by the World Health Organization, there are over 1000 million smokers worldwide, and
tobacco consumption is associated to the three main causes of premature
death. Universities of Granada Spain and San Buenaventura Bogotá Colombia. Behaviour Research and Therapy
Integrative medicine has positive impact on patient activation, chronic pain, depression
- The use of integrative medicine interventions (patients who supplement conventional medical care with complementary therapies) leads to significant improvements in patient activation and patient-reported outcomes in the treatment of chronic pain, depression, and stress. Donald I. Abrams, M.D., lead author and integrative oncologist at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. Benjamin Kligler, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of clinical family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of
Worked-based wellness programs reduce weight
- "Worksites are self-contained environments with established communication systems where interventions that modify food options and provide physical activity have the potential to reach large numbers of adults," said Diana Fernandez, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of Rochester Department of Public Health Sciences. "This study shows in particular that when employees are empowered to help shape
wellness programs, these programs appear to result in meaningful improvements in health."
American Journal of Public Health
Brain waves predict risk for insomnia
- Thien Thanh Dang-Vu, a medical doctor and neurologist, explores the impact of stress on
sleep. Although researchers already know that stressful events can trigger insomnia, the experiment reveals that some people are more vulnerable than others to developing the condition.
We should all keep abiding by the habits already acknowledged to promote a good night's
sleep, Dang-Vu says. Concordia University Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology and PERFORM Center.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Dangers of energy drink consumption
- The rapid rise in popularity of energy drinks (EDs), particularly among adolescents (aged 10-19 years) and young adults, has serious implications for cardiac health.
Researchers focused on the pharmacology of EDs, adverse reactions to them, and how the marketing of these drinks as a means to relieve fatigue and improve physical and cognitive performance may be ignoring real dangers.
An international research team led by Fabian Sanchis-Gomar, PhD, MD, of the Research Institute of Hospital Madrid Spain, noted that EDs can trigger
sudden cardiac deaths in young, apparently healthy individuals. For persons with underlying heart diseases, the risk of triggering sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) or other arrhythmias can be significant. Even atrial fibrillation (AF), normally uncommon in children without structural heart disease, has been observed in a 13-year-old adolescent boy during a soccer training session after ingesting
EDs. These beverages often contain high amounts of labeled caffeine. However, they can contain
"masked" caffeine, in the form of guarana, for example, which comes from a Brazilian plant and is identical to caffeine found in coffee beans, but at twice the concentration. The addition of guarana and other substances such as
ginseng and taurine in variable quantities may generate uncertain interactions.
The authors also urge that concerns should be communicated to parents and educators, who may be inadvertently guilty of promoting overconsumption of caffeine.
Dr. Sanchis-Gomar and his co-investigators, Dr. Pareja-Galeano (Universidad Europea de Madrid), Dr. Cervellin, Dr. Lippi (Academic Hospital of Parma), and Dr. Earnest (Texas A&M University).
Canadian Journal of Cardiology
Energy drinks significantly increase hyperactivity
- Children who consume heavily sweetened energy drinks are 66% more likely to be at risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms.
The finding has implications for school success and lends support to existing recommendations to limit the amount of sweetened beverages. The authors also recommend that children
avoid energy drinks, which in addition to high levels of sugar also often contain
caffeine. In addition to hyperactivity and inattention, heavily sugared beverages also impact childhood
obesity. Yale University School of Public Health. Academic Pediatrics
Mindfulness intervention boosts brain activation
- An intervention program for chronic pain patients called Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) decreased patients’ desire for prescription drugs.
After a sample of chronic pain patients misusing opioids went through MORE, they exhibited increased brain activation on an
EEG to natural healthy pleasures. It integrates the latest research on addiction, cognitive neuroscience, positive psychology and
mindfulness. “These findings are scientifically important because one of the major theories about how and why addiction occurs asserts that over time drug abusers become dulled to the experience of joy in everyday life, and this pushes them to use higher and higher doses of drugs to feel happiness,” said Garland.
“This study suggests that this process can be reversed. We can teach people to use mindfulness to appreciate and enjoy life
more, and by doing that, they may feel less of a need for addictive drugs. It’s a powerful finding.”
University of Utah Health Sciences. Journal of Behavioral Medicine
You are when you eat -
If you're looking to improve your heart health by changing your diet, when you eat may be just as important as what you eat.
Girish Melkani, a biologist, is optimistic that the results could one day translate into cardiac- and obesity-related health benefits for humans. "Time-restricted feeding would not require people to drastically change their lifestyles, just the times of day they eat," Melkani said. "The take-home message then would be to cut down on the late-night snacks."
San Diego State University and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Science
Psychological factors in treatment -
People with back pain who have low expectations of acupuncture before they start a course of treatment will gain less benefit than those people who believe it will work.
Conversely, those people who have a positive view of back pain and who feel in control of their condition experience less back-related disability over the course of treatment.
University of Southampton. The Journal of Clinical Pain.
Short-term psychological therapy helps -
Short-term cognitive behavioural therapy dramatically reduces suicide attempts among at-risk military personnel. "The treatment is focused on
how to manage stress more effectively, how to think in more helpful ways and how to remember what is meaningful in life," said Dr. Craig Bryan.
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The American Journal of
Alcohol ads on TV associated with drinking behaviour
- Seeing and liking alcohol advertising on television among underage youths was associated with the onset of drinking, binge drinking and hazardous drinking.
Norris Cotton Cancer Center and Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. JAMA
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) -
Misfiring of the brain's control system might underpin compulsions in obsessive-compulsive disorder
(OCD). "While some habits can make our life easier, like automating the act of preparing your morning coffee, others go too far and can take control of our lives in a much more insidious way, shaping our preferences, beliefs, and in the case of OCD, even our fears," says Professor Robbins. "Such conditions - where maladaptive, repetitive habits dominate our behaviour - are among the most difficult to treat, whether by cognitive behaviour therapy or by drugs."
University of Cambridge. American Journal of Psychiatry.
Reducing fear avoidance beliefs key to improving symptoms and reducing disability in chronic fatigue syndrome -
Reducing fears that exercise or activity will make symptoms worse is one of the most important factors determining the success of
cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) or graded exercise therapy (GET) in reducing fatigue and improving physical function in people with
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
The PACE trial examined the effects of three different treatments for people with CFS, compared with usual specialist medical care
(SMC): cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT, where a health professional helps the patient to understand and change the way they think about and respond to their symptoms), graded exercise therapy (GET, a personalised and gradually increasing exercise programme delivered by a physiotherapist), and adaptive pacing therapy (APT, where patients adapt activity levels to the amount of energy they have). The study found that people with CFS benefitted from CBT or GET more than from APT or SMC.
According to Professor Chalder, "Our results suggest that fearful beliefs can be changed by directly challenging such beliefs (as in CBT) or by simple behaviour change with a graded approach to the avoided activity (as in GET). Clinically, the results suggest that therapists delivering CBT could encourage more physical activities such as walking, which might enhance the effect of CBT and could be more acceptable to patients."
King's College London, Oxford University, and Queen Mary University of London. The Lancet
Discussing alternative medicine choices for better health outcomes -
Research found 64 per cent of patients at the Stollery Children's Hospital reported using complementary
medicine products and practices. "The vast majority felt that they had been helped by the complementary therapy that they took ..."
Sunita Vohra, a professor in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry's Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta, and a pediatric physician for Clinical Pharmacology.
Cake or Carrots? -
When you open the refrigerator for a late-night snack, are you more likely to grab a slice of chocolate cake or a bag of carrot sticks? Your ability to exercise self-control—i.e., to settle for the carrots—may depend upon just how
quickly your brain factors healthfulness into a decision. California Institute of Technology.
Impact of mental stress on heart -
Men and women have different cardiovascular and psychological reactions to mental stress. Researchers found that while men had more changes in
blood pressure and heart rate in response to the mental stress, more women experienced
myocardial ischemia, decreased blood flow to the heart. Women also experienced increased platelet aggregation, which is the start of the formation of
blood clots, more than men. The women compared with men also expressed a greater increase in
negative emotions and a greater decrease in positive emotions during the mental stress tests.
Zainab Samad, M.D., M.H.S., assistant professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.
Duke Heart Center. Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Researchers Show EEG's Potential -
The research team, led by Jed Hartings, PhD, research associate professor in the department of neurosurgery at the UC College of Medicine, has shown that spreading depolarizations—electrical disturbances that spread through an injured brain like tsunami waves—can be measured by the placement of electroencephalograph (EEG) electrodes on the scalp.
University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center. Annals of Neurology.
Anxiety can damage brain -
Research shows that anxiety symptoms in individuals diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) increase the risk of a speedier decline in cognitive functions - independent of depression (another risk marker). For MCI patients with mild, moderate or severe anxiety, Alzheimer's risk increased by 33%, 78% and 135% respectively.
"Our findings suggest that clinicians should routinely screen for anxiety in people who have memory problems because anxiety signals that these people are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer's," said Dr. Linda Mah, principal investigator on the study, clinician-scientist with Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute, and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
"While there is no published evidence to demonstrate whether drug treatments used in psychiatry for treating anxiety would be helpful in managing anxiety symptoms in people with mild cognitive impairment or in reducing their risk of conversion to Alzheimer's, we think that at the very least
behavioural stress management programs could be recommended. In particular, there has been research on the use of
mindfulness-based stress reduction in treating anxiety and other psychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer's --and this is showing promise," said Dr.
Mah. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Work-related stress is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes -
Job strain can significantly increase the risk of developing diabetes. Workplace stress can also have a range of adverse effects on health with an increased risk of cardio-vascular diseases.
As the team of scientists headed by Dr. Cornelia Huth and Prof. Karl-Heinz Ladwig has now discovered that individuals who are under a high level of pressure at work and at the same time perceive little control over the activities they perform face an about 45 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who are subjected to less stress at their workplace. The increase in risk in work-related stress was identified independently of classic risk factors such as obesity, age or gender.
Holistic prevention is important - “In view of the huge health implications of stress-related disorders, preventive measures to prevent common diseases such as diabetes should therefore also begin at this point,” says Prof.
Ladwig. Institute of Epidemiology II, Helmholtz Zentrum München. Psychosomatic
Labeling obesity as a disease may have psychological costs -
Messages that describe obesity as a disease may undermine healthy behaviors and beliefs among obese individuals. The findings indicate that there may be some hidden costs to the "obesity is a disease" message, including less motivation to eat healthy.
Targeting the brain to treat obesity -
Unlocking the secrets to better treating the pernicious disorders of obesity and dementia reside in the brain. Researchers make the case for treating obesity with therapies aimed at areas of the brain responsible for memory and learning. It is widely accepted that
over consumption of dietary fats, sugar and sweeteners can cause obesity. These types of dietary factors are also linked to
cognitive dysfunction. Foods that are risk factors for cognitive impairment (i.e., foods high in saturated fats and simple carbohydrates that make up the modern Western diet) are so widespread and readily available in today's food environment, their consumption is all but encouraged, Prof. Terry Davidson said.
American University, Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. Physiology &
A healthy lifestyle adds years to life -
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disorders - the incidence of these non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is constantly rising in industrialised countries.
Attention is focusing, amongst other things, on the main risk factors for these diseases which are linked to personal behaviour – i.e.
tobacco smoking, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful alcohol
An individual who smokes, drinks a lot, is physically inactive and has an unhealthy diet has 2.5 fold higher mortality risk in epidemiological terms than an individual who looks after his health. Or to put it positively: "A healthy lifestyle can help you stay ten years' younger", comments the lead author Eva Martin-Diener.
"The effect of each individual factor on life expectancy is relatively high", states Eva Martin-Diener. But smoking seems to be the most harmful. Compared with a group of non-smokers, smokers have a 57 percent higher risk of dying prematurely. The impact of an unhealthy diet, not enough sport and alcohol abuse results in an elevated mortality risk of around 15 percent for each factor. "We were very surprised by the 2.5 fold higher risk when all four risk factors are combined", explains Brian Martin.
Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Zurich. Preventive
Is doing something better than doing
Most people are just not comfortable in their own heads. The investigation found that most would rather be doing something – possibly even hurting themselves – than doing nothing or sitting alone with their thoughts. Based on these surveys, Americans spent their time watching television, socializing or reading, and actually spent little or no time "relaxing or thinking."
"The mind is designed to engage with the world," said psychologist Timothy Wilson. "Even when we are by ourselves, our focus usually is on the outside world. And without
training in meditation or thought-control techniques, which still are difficult, most people would prefer to engage in external activities."
University of Virginia. Harvard University. Science.
Behavioral therapy reduces likelihood of relapse -
Cognitive behavioral therapy in addition to medication improves the long-term success of treatment for children and adolescents suffering from depression. Relapse rates were substantially lower in a group of youth who received both forms of treatment versus medication alone.
"Unfortunately, medication alone is not always enough to prevent relapse," said Dr. Graham Emslie, Chief of the Division of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry, Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics. "It is also worth noting that youth who received the therapy had lower medication doses, yet had better outcomes than those on higher dosages in the medication management-only group," said Dr. Betsy Kennard, Professor of Psychiatry.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. The American Journal of Psychiatry.
Stress - Mood disorder research suggests that early life stress may cause excess serotonin release, resulting in a serotonin deficit where the brain needs it most.
Studies indicate that the majority of people with mood and anxiety disorders who receive the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressant medications, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRI's, are not helped by these medications.
Dr. Jeremy D. Coplan, MD, professor of psychiatry, notes that a recent large-scale study showed only a minority of patients do well on SSRIs, and of those, many lose response in a year or two. "There is an epidemic of inadequately treated depression and psychiatrists are not well trained to deal with this challenge," he observed. "What they often do is change from one antidepressant to another when there is a lack of response. Eventually the patient becomes non-compliant and the patient, rather than the treatment, is blamed for the non-efficacy."
SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Men and women use mental health services differently -
Women with chronic physical illnesses are more likely to use mental health services than men with similar illnesses; they also seek out mental health services six months earlier than those same
men. "Chronic physical illness can lead to depression," said Dr. Flora Matheson, a scientist in the hospital's Centre for Research on Inner City Health.
St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. Journal of Epidemiology & Community
When Couples Disagree on Stroke Recovery, One Partner Can Suffer -
When a stroke survivor and his or her caregiving spouse disagree on the survivor’s rate of recovery, the caregiving spouse is more likely to experience depression and emotional distress. With studies demonstrating that stroke caregivers have higher rates of depression than the general public and may be at higher risk for stroke themselves as well as premature death, caregiver mental health has profound consequences. Health care needs to broaden the conversation around stroke recovery: from focusing solely on the patient to considering the patient-spouse couple as a unit.
Assistant Professor Michael McCarthy, PhD, working with co-author Karen Lyons at the Oregon Health and Science University. University of Cincinnati.
Aging & Mental Health.
Why stress, fear trigger heart attacks -
Scientists believe they have an explanation for the axiom that stress, emotional shock, or overexertion may trigger heart attacks in vulnerable people. Hormones released during these events appear to cause bacterial biofilms on arterial walls to disperse, allowing plaque deposits to rupture into the bloodstream. American Society for Microbiology.
Hypnosis extends restorative slow-wave sleep -
Deep sleep promotes our well-being, improves our memory and strengthens the body’s defences. Researchers demonstrated how restorative slow-wave sleep
can be increased without medication – using hypnosis. Sleeping well is a crucial factor contributing to our physical and mental
restoration. Researchers have demonstrated that hypnosis has a positive impact on the quality of
sleep. Patients with sleep disturbances can indeed be successfully treated with
According to psychologist Maren Cordi “the results may be of major importance for patients with sleep problems and for older adults.
In contrast to many sleep-inducing drugs, hypnosis has no adverse side
effects”. Maren Cordi, Angelika Schlarb, Björn Rasch. Deepening sleep by hypnotic suggestions. Universities of Zurich and Fribourg.
Low-carb vegan diet may reduce heart disease risk and weight -
In addition to weight loss, a specific low-carbohydrate diet may also reduce the risk of heart disease by 10 per cent over 10 years. "We killed two birds with one stone – or, rather, with one diet," explained lead author Dr. David Jenkins, who is director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre of St. Michael's Hospital and a Nutritional Sciences professor at the University of Toronto. "We designed a diet that combined both vegan and low-carb elements to get the weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of both."
St. Michael's Hospital. British Medical Journal Open.
Significant health risk -
Little exercise and heavy use of electronic media constitute a significant health risk for children.
The Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children Study, PANIC, carried out by the Institute of Biomedicine
shows that low levels of physical activity combined with heavy use of electronic media and sedentary behavior are linked to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and vascular diseases already in 6–8 year-old children.
University of Eastern Finland. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical
Get It Over With -
Putting off tasks until later, or procrastination, is a common phenomenon — but new research suggests that
“pre-crastination,” hurrying to complete a task as soon as possible, may also be common.
“Most of us feel stressed about all the things we need to do — we have to-do lists, not just on slips of paper we carry with us or on our iPhones, but also in our heads,” says psychological scientist and study author David Rosenbaum of Pennsylvania State University.
“Our findings suggest that the desire to relieve the stress of maintaining that information in working memory can cause us to over-exert ourselves physically or take extra risks.”
Forty is not too old or too late to start endurance training -
A study of healthy senior men has found that "relatively intensive" endurance exercise confers benefits on the heart irrespective of the age at which they began training. The benefits were evident and comparable in those who had started training before the age of 30 or after the age of 40. As a result, said the investigators, 40 is not too old to start endurance training.
Matelot D, Schnell F, Ridard C, et al. Cardiac benefits of endurance training: 40 years old is not too late to start. European Society of Cardiology.
Sports and energy drink consumption linked with negative
Weekly consumption of sports drinks and energy drinks among adolescents is significantly associated with higher consumption of other sugar-sweetened beverages, cigarette smoking, and screen media use.
University of Minnesota and Duke University. Elsevier Health Sciences. Journal of Nutrition Education and
Fitness affects long-term
A study suggests aerobic fitness affects long-term memory.
“The findings show that lower-fit individuals lose more memory across time,” said Kimberly Fenn, study co-author and assistant professor of psychology.
The findings speak to the increasingly sedentary lifestyles found in the United States and other Western cultures.
Her co-authors included kinesiology researchers Matthew Pontifex and Karin Pfeiffer.
Michigan State University. Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral
Brain Waves, EEG -
By using a novel technique to test brain waves, Kyle Mathewson, Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, and colleagues are discovering how the brain processes external stimuli that do and don’t reach our awareness. A paper about their
results reveals how alpha waves, typically thought of as your brain’s electrical activity while it’s at rest, can actually influence what we see or don't see.
The researchers used both electroencephalography (EEG) and the event-related optical signal (EROS), developed in the Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory of Gabriele Gratton and Monica Fabiani, professors of psychology and members of the Beckman Institute’s Cognitive Neuroscience Group, and authors of the study. “Dynamics of Alpha Control: Preparatory Suppression of Posterior Alpha Oscillations by Frontal Modulators Revealed with Combined EEG and Event-related Optical Signal,”
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
Physical activity keeps hippocampus healthy in people at risk for Alzheimer's disease -
A study of older adults at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease shows that moderate physical activity may preserve the hippocampus -- the brain region responsible for memory and spatial orientation that is attacked first in Alzheimer's disease. It is the first evidence that physical activity may protect against cognitive decline and the onset of dementia symptoms in those who carry the genetic marker for Alzheimer's.
University of Maryland. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
Body Mass Index associated with breast cancer, regardless of body shape -
A significant body of research has linked abdominal obesity to a number of conditions, including heart disease, type II diabetes, and breast and other cancers. "The message is that if you have a high BMI, regardless if you are pear or apple shaped, you are at higher risk of breast cancer," said Dr. Mia Gaudet. "Most prior studies on this issue looked at BMI or at waist circumference, but had not looked at them together. This study brings some clarity to the association between obesity and risk of breast cancer."
Waist circumference, body mass index, and postmenopausal breast cancer incidence in the Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort, M. Gaudet, B Carter, A Patel, L Teras, E Jacobs, S
Gapstur, Cancer Causes & Control.
Detrimental effects of television viewing on sleep -
The study revealed that each additional hour of television viewing was associated with 7 fewer minutes of sleep daily. The presence of a bedroom television reduced average sleep around a half-hour per day. The study authors note their results support previous short-term studies finding that both television viewing and sleeping in a room with a television decrease total sleep time, which can have
negative effects on both mental and physical health. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Harvard School of Public Health.
Obsessive-compulsive thinking, Obsessive-compulsive disorders,
People who check whether their hands are clean or imagine their house might be on fire are not alone. New research shows that 94 per cent of people experience unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images and/or impulses.
“This study shows that it’s not the unwanted, intrusive thoughts that are the problem — it’s what you make of those thoughts,” Professor Adam Radomsky says. “And that’s at the heart of our
cognitive and behavioural interventions for helping people overcome OCD.” As Radomsky points out, "Confirming that these thoughts are extremely common helps us reassure patients who may think that they are very different from everybody else."
Concordia University and 15 other universities worldwide. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related
Junk food - processed - diet is bad for your health -
A new psychology study provides evidence that being overweight makes people tired and sedentary — not the other way around. These findings suggest that a pattern of consuming junk food, not just the occasional binge, is responsible for obesity and cognitive impairments, Aaron Blaisdell said.
"Overweight people often get stigmatized as lazy and lacking discipline," Blaisdell said. "We interpret our results as suggesting that the idea commonly portrayed in the media that people become fat because they are lazy is wrong. Our data suggest that
diet-induced obesity is a cause, rather than an effect, of
laziness. Either the highly processed diet causes fatigue or the diet causes
obesity, which causes fatigue."
"We are living in an environment with sedentary lifestyles, poor-quality diet and highly processed foods that is very different from the one we are adapted to through human evolution," he said. "It is that difference that
leads to many of the chronic diseases that we see today, such as
obesity and diabetes." University of California - Los Angeles. Physiology and
Avoid stress -
Allergy sufferers with persistent stress experience more allergy flares. "Stress can cause several negative effects on the body, including causing more symptoms for allergy sufferers," said allergist Amber Patterson, MD, lead study author and ACAAI member. "Our study also found those with more frequent allergy flares also have a greater negative mood, which may be leading to these flares."
American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Annals of Allergy, Asthma &
Heart-healthy benefits of Mediterranean diet -
New research further illuminates the heart-healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet, tying the eating plan to lower levels of platelets and white blood cells, two markers of inflammation. Inflammation has an association with greater risk of heart attack and stroke. The Mediterranean diet, characterized by generous servings of foods such as greens, whole grains, olive oil, etc. has long been hailed as a heart-healthy eating plan.
American Society of Hematology. Blood.
Mindfulness-based meditation helps
with cancer -
Controlled clinical trial intervention on mood, sleep and quality of life
Mindfulness-based meditation could lessen some symptoms associated with cancer in teens, according to the results of a clinical trial intervention.
Mindfulness-based meditation focuses on the present moment and the connection between the mind and
body. Adolescents living with cancer face not only the physical symptoms of their condition, but also the anxiety and uncertainty related to the progression of the disease, the anticipation of physical and emotional pain related to illness and treatment, the significant changes implied in living with cancer, as well as the fear of recurrence after remission. Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise of the university's Department of Psychology presented the findings
at the American Psychosomatic Society Meeting. University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children's
Obesity and blood pressure -
One of the serious health consequences of obesity is elevated blood pressure (BP), a particular problem in children because research has found that high BP in children usually follows them into adulthood, carrying with it a wide range of possible negative consequences.
“Effect of Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs on BP: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” was led by epidemiologist Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, of the University at Buffalo and conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University, UB and other institutions.
TV linked to poor snacking habits, cardiovascular risk -
Middle school kids who park themselves in front of the TV for two hours or more each day are more likely to consume junk food and have risk factors for
cardiovascular disease, even compared to those who spend an equal amount of time on the computer or playing video games.
"While too much of both types of screen time encourages sedentary behavior, our study suggests high TV time in particular is associated with poorer food choices and increased cardiovascular risk," said Elizabeth Jackson, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Michigan Systems, Ann Arbor, Mich. Jackson said this is likely because these
kids are bombarded by TV commercials that tend to reinforce less healthy foods – often higher in sugar, salt and
fats. American College of Cardiology.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) -
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormone imbalance that causes infertility, obesity, and excessive facial hair in women, can also lead to severe mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. PCOS is estimated to Affect 6 to 17 million women aged 18-44 in the U.S.
Says senior author Nancy Reame, MSN, PhD, FAAN, the Mary Dickey Lindsay Professor of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at Columbia Nursing. "The study findings suggest that we can't treat PCOS effectively unless we pay close attention to any signs of mental distress."
The other authors are: Beth Bailey, PhD; Stacey Williams, PhD; and Sheeba Anand, MD (all from East Tennessee State University). Columbia University Medical Center.
Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research.
Sugary drinks, obesity -
New research shows sugary drinks are the worst offenders in the fight against youth
obesity. “This study adds to the mounting literature that shows the high concentration of sugar in soft drinks contributes to obesity in adolescents,” says lead author Louise Mâsse, an associate professor in the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health, and a scientist at the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children’s Hospital.
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Drinking alcohol several times a week increases the risk of stroke mortality -
Consuming alcohol more frequently than twice a week increases the risk of stroke mortality in men. Excessive consumption of alcohol is associated with a variety of different diseases. In addition to alcohol, other significant risk factors for
stroke include elevated blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, smoking, overweight, asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis, and elevated cholesterol
The study showed that people who consume alcohol more frequently than twice a week have over a
threefold risk of stroke mortality than people who do not consume alcohol at all. The risk of stroke mortality is elevated irrespective of the amount of alcohol consumed.
University of Eastern Finland. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica.
Boosting self-esteem prevents health problems -
The importance of boosting self-esteem is normally associated with the trials and tribulations of adolescence. But new research shows that it’s even more important for older adults to maintain and improve upon those confidence levels as they enter their twilight years. That’s because boosting self-esteem can help buffer potential health threats typically associated with the transition into older adulthood.
“Because self-esteem is associated with psychological wellbeing and physical health, raising self-esteem would be an ideal way to help prevent health problems later in
life,” says Sarah Liu. Concordia University, McGill University, Northwestern University.
Calcium and vitamin D improve cholesterol in postmenopausal women -
Calcium and vitamin D supplements after menopause can improve women's cholesterol profiles. And much of that effect is tied to raising vitamin D levels, finds a new study from the Women's Health Initiative. The North American Menopause Society.
People more willing to discuss psychological issues -
A new survey has found that people are more willing to disclose their experience of having a mental health problem and receiving treatment.
University of Melbourne. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.
Weight and heart health risk factors-
Two recent genetic studies expand the list of genes involved with body fat and body mass
index, and their connection to major Western health problems: heart disease, high blood pressure and
diabetes. One study showed that higher body mass index (BMI) caused harmful effects on the risk of
type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammation, while another study found gene signals linked to higher levels of body fat metrics, without showing causality.
"Our findings suggest that lowering BMI is likely to result in multiple reductions of cardiovascular traits: in blood pressure, inflammation, fasting glucose and insulin, and in the risk of type 2 diabetes," said geneticist Brendan J. Keating, D. Phil. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"Causal Effects of Body Mass Index on Cardiometabolic Traits and Events: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis,"
American Journal of Human Genetics.
Bedroom TVs ... and weight -
Having a bedroom television is associated with weight gain in children and adolescents, and is unrelated to the time they spend watching.
Gilbert-Diamond, Sc.D., of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues.
Poor sleep quality -
"Previous imaging studies have suggested that sleep disturbances may be associated with structural brain changes in certain regions of the frontal lobe," said lead author Linda Chao, associate adjunct professor in the Departments of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. "The surprising thing about this study is that it suggests
poor sleep quality is associated with reduced gray matter volume throughout the entire frontal lobe and also globally in the brain."
Results show that poorer subjective sleep quality was associated with reduced total cortical and regional frontal lobe gray matter volumes after controlling for potentially confounding variables such as posttraumatic stress disorder,
depression, trauma exposure and psychotropic medication use. The study may help explain the link between poor sleep quality and impaired psychosocial, physical and occupational functioning.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Sleep.
More dangerous chemicals in everyday life -
Endocrine disrupters are not the only worrying chemicals that ordinary consumers are exposed to in everyday life. Also nanoparticles of silver, found in e.g.
dietary supplements, cosmetics and food packaging, now worry scientists. A new study
shows that nano-silver can penetrate our cells and cause damage. University of Southern Denmark.
Depression, heart disease -
An extensive review of scientific literature indicates that depression should be added to the list of risk factors associated with heart disease. Others include
obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking. A 12-person panel of experts that included Robert M. Carney, PhD, and Kenneth E. Freedland, PhD, both professors of psychiatry, made the recommendation to the American Heart Association.
Carney noted that when people lose weight, lower their blood pressure or quit smoking, their risk of heart disease is
lowered. More clinical trials are needed to identify treatments that may improve heart health along with depression.
Washington University School of Medicine. Circulation.
Does a Diet High in Carbohydrates Increase Your Risk? -
Even small increases in blood sugar caused by a diet high in carbohydrates can be detrimental to brain health. Recent reports in medical literature link carbohydrate calorie-rich diets to a greater
risk for brain shrinkage, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, impaired cognition, and other
In the interview “Rethinking Dietary Approaches for Brain Health,” Dr. Perlmutter says, “We live with this notion that a calorie is a calorie, but at least in terms of brain health, and I believe for the rest of the body as well, there are very big differences between our sources of calories in terms of the impact on our health. Carbohydrate calories, which elevate blood glucose, are dramatically more detrimental to human physiology, and specifically to human health, than are calories derived from healthful sources of fat.”
David Perlmutter, MD. Alternative and Complementary Therapies.
Does more stress equal more headaches? -
A new study provides evidence for what many people who experience headache have long
suspected - having more stress in your life leads to more headaches.
"These results show that this is a problem for everyone who suffers from headaches and emphasize the importance of stress management approaches for people with migraine and those who treat them," said study author Sara H. Schramm, MD, of University Hospital of University Duisburg-Essen in Germany. "The results add weight to the concept that stress can be a factor contributing to the onset of headache disorders, that it accelerates the progression to chronic headache, exacerbates headache episodes, and that the headache experience itself can serve as a stressor."
American Academy of Neurology.
Child obesity: Cues and don'ts -
Among the multiple factors that can cause obesity is an abnormal neurocognitive or behavioral response to food cues. The brain becomes wired to seek – and expect – greater rewards from food, which leads to unhealthful overeating.
Attention modification programs, which train a person to ignore or disregard specific, problematic cues or triggers, have been used effectively to treat cases of anxiety and substance abuse. In a novel study, Kerri Boutelle, PhD, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues
used attention modification to decrease overeating in obese children. Co-authors of the study are Jennie M. Kuckertz, Department of Psychiatry, UCSD and departments of Psychology at UCSD and SDSU; Jordan Carlson, departments of Pediatrics and Family and Preventive Medicine, UCSD; Nader Amir, Department of Psychology,
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