Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

B12 And The Brain: How A Deficiency Affects Emotional Well-Being

Feeling depressed can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, a study suggests.

Typical symptoms of depression, along with low mood, include difficulty concentrating and low energy and motivation.

Researchers have found that supplementation with vitamin B12 can help reduce depression symptoms.

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that plays a critical role in the functioning of the brain and the nervous system.

Both vitamin B12 and folate are vital to the production of critical neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and noradrenaline.

Depression is often linked to low levels of serotonin in the brain.

One study has found that those with low levels of vitamin B12 are at triple the risk of developing melancholic depression.

Melancholic depression mostly involves depressed mood.

Depression linked to B12 deficiency

The current study included 115 people experiencing depression

They were split into three group depending on how well they responded to depression treatment.

The results of blood tests revealed that those who responded the best to treatment had the highest levels of vitamin B12.

After treatment, those who were experiencing the highest levels of depression had the lowest levels of vitamin B12 in their system.

foods-high-in-folate-vitamin-B9

The study’s authors write:

“As far as we know, there have been no previous studies that have suggested a positive relationship between vitamin B12 and the treatment outcome in patients with major depressive disorder who have normal or high vitamin B12 levels.”

The link between depression and vitamin B12 deficiency may be explained by the fact that B12 deficiency can cause damage to the nervous system, which can affect the function of neurotransmitters and lead to symptoms of depression.

Additionally, B12 deficiency can also lead to anaemia, which is a condition characterized by a low red blood cell count.

Anaemia can cause fatigue, weakness, and irritability, all of which can contribute to feelings of depression.

Common signs of B12 deficiency

Other, more common signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include feeling tired, experiencing muscle weakness and being constipated.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is easy to rectify with supplements or by dietary changes

The body uses vitamin B12 to make red blood cells and to keep the nervous system healthy.

Good sources of vitamin B12 include fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat milk.

Fortified breakfast cereals also contain vitamin B12.

People who may have difficult getting enough vitamin B12 include vegetarians, older people and those with some digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also be caused by certain medical conditions or by certain medications, such as proton pump inhibitors or metformin.

The study was published in the journal BMC Psychiatry (Hintikka et al., 2003).

January 27, 2023     Dr Jeremy Dean

source: PsyBlog


Leave a comment

People who attempt suicide might show signs early on. Here’s what to watch for

Suicide is a leading cause of death among children and adults, but spotting risk factors and warning signs isn’t easy.

Nearly 46,000 people in the United States died by suicide in 2020, which is about one death every 11 minutes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Worldwide, nearly 800,000 people die from suicide yearly, and in 2020, there were 1.2 million attempts globally.

Researchers still haven’t nailed down how to better predict who’s at risk for attempting suicide, and whether or when vulnerable people will do it, said Justin Baker, clinical director of The Suicide and Trauma Reduction Initiative for Veterans at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

“That is extremely, extremely difficult,” he said. “You can look back in time, when someone’s made an attempt or has died, and go, ‘Oh, look at all these things that were going on in their life.’ The difficulty is that a lot of people handle or experience those types of stressors as well but never go on to (attempt suicide).”

Additionally, there isn’t always a long time frame wherein someone is considering suicide and showing signs — and there can be as little as 5 to 15 minutes between someone deciding to attempt suicide and doing it, Baker added.

“What we collectively understand is it’s an emotional dysregulation and cognitive error that occurs,” Baker said. “They can’t fix the situation, or they can’t think their way through the situation, so suicide becomes a viable option as a way to manage the pain that they’re in. So they may take action on it in that really short, brief window.”

But there are some situations wherein a person who is suicidal and planning for a longer period of time will show behavioral changes, Baker added.

“If you’re noticing that kind of stuff, obviously that’s someone who is really close to being imminent risk — someone who’s really close to making that decision to end their life,” he said. “But I would argue most people don’t get that kind of warning.”

If you think you or someone you know is at risk, trained counselors with the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline could help you work through any signs you’re experiencing or seeing. To increase its accessibility, every state began rolling out 988 as the new lifeline on July 16. The previous number, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), will always remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In Canada: Talk Suicide Canada – Hours: Available 24/7/365 for calls; 4 PM—12 AM ET for texts; Languages: English, French  1.833.456.4566  https://talksuicide.ca/

Here are some of the most common behavioral, verbal and emotional signs and risk factors you should pay attention to, according to experts.

Warning signs of suicide

Some people might seem like their usual selves in the weeks or days leading up to a suicide attempt, while others might show behavioral changes that don’t track with what you know about them, said Michael Roeske, a clinical psychologist and senior director of the Newport Healthcare Center for Research & Innovation.

Those can include practicing or preparing for suicide, which could look like exhibiting unusual behaviors with guns, pills or other potentially lethal items, according to SAMHSA.

Other potential behavioral red flags include giving away cherished belongings, sleeping too much or too little, withdrawing or isolating oneself, showing rage or desire to enact revenge, and acting anxious or agitated, according to Roeske, Baker and SAMHSA. Getting really intoxicated one night or driving recklessly could also be signs to watch out for, Roeske said.

Such behavior might be them “testing themselves to see if they can actually do it,” Baker said. “A lot of times people need to kind of work up to that actual making an attempt because it’s a biologic thing you have to go against, your own survival.”

Concerning comments

Talking about wanting to die — by suicide or otherwise — is another warning sign that should always be taken seriously, Roeske said. Such comments are sometimes just expressions of discomfort, pain, boredom or desire for closeness rather than a reflection of actually wanting to die, but that doesn’t mean you don’t monitor the person who’s making them, he added.

Some people might say they feel like they have no reason to live. “If someone is struggling to come up with a reason for living, that’s a much higher-risk person than someone who’s even able to identify one (reason),” Baker said.

Others talk about feeling like a burden on those close to them, Roeske said, or like they don’t belong anywhere or with anyone. Such comments might include “You don’t need me for this anymore” or “I feel like it’d be better if I just wasn’t here.” Teenagers considering suicide might not want their guardians to use their money for college, he added.

Suicide

Mood and other risk factors

Psychological factors, distressing situations or genetics can increase the likelihood of someone considering, attempting or dying by suicide, according to SAMHSA. These risk factors can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, but being aware of them is important, according to SAMHSA:

  • Hopelessness. “They don’t have a sense of the future getting better, or they just feel really unable to imagine not being in the pain that they’re in,” Roeske said.
  • Extreme mood swings. This includes if someone who’s usually really stressed or depressed suddenly seems calm or cheery, according to Roeske and Johns Hopkins Medicine. This person might have decided to attempt suicide without telling anyone, and they feel relieved by that. Also indicative of this is cheeriness after a depressive episode.
  • Obsession with death or lethal means. Some people have artistic or musical interests that are more grim than others, but if their engagement with those things surpasses what’s normal for them, that would be concerning, Roeske said.
  • Experiences of abuse, neglect or other traumas
  • Substance abuse problems
  • Mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression or anxiety, and personality disorders, especially coupled with lack of treatment
  • Severe physical illnesses, including chronic pain. “Especially if it’s sort of recalcitrant and very difficult to treat, people can become very hopeless,” Roeske said. “It’s really just, ‘I don’t want to feel this anymore and I can’t find any other way. I feel trapped.’”
  • Family or personal history of suicide. “The greatest predictor of completed suicide is past suicide attempts — the reason being is because you’ll see an escalation in lethality, or the means by which someone does it,” Roeske said.
  • Job or financial loss
  • Relationship problems or loss
  • Loss of interest in activities or school
  • Prolonged stress from other causes, such as harassment or bullying
  • Easy access to potentially fatal means
  • Exposure to a suicide or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide. “On the one hand, we don’t want people to shy away from the topic of suicide. We want people to approach and even use the word with others and have discussions around it,” Roeske said. But if a depiction or account gratuitously romanticizes or justifies the sense of relief that might be garnered from suicide, that’s problematic.
  • Insufficient social support or sense of isolation

How to help someone who is suicidal

If any of these signs resonate with you, seek professional help and talk with someone you can trust and feel supported by, Baker said. Psychotherapy and certain psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants, can help, Roeske said.

If a loved one is showing signs they might be at risk of suicide, “it’s not really your job to be able to predict the future,” Baker said. But you can be supportive and intentional about asking them what’s going on, Roeske and Baker said.

“You’re not going to cause someone to be suicidal by asking directly about suicide,” Baker said. “The worst they’re going to say is ‘no’ and not get offended. If they are, still ask them. I’d rather have someone offended at me than dead.”

When checking on someone, use what experts call a narrative, person-centered approach, Baker recommended. That might look like an open-ended question: “Hey, I’ve noticed life’s gotten overwhelming these past couple days. Do you want to tell me about it?”

As the person responds, you can, to some extent, listen, express appreciation for them sharing their story and offer to help figure it out together, without offering advice on how to handle it, Baker said. But if your loved one seems more at risk or in the process of attempting suicide, “you no longer have time or the luxury to get their opinion,” he added. Get medical care or call 911.

When Roeske first started working as a clinician, he had a young female patient who was a very accomplished equestrian, went to a prestigious school and had a lot of family resources, he said — but she had been chronically suicidal for 10 to 15 years, since she was a teenager.

“Every time she would go to her mom and tell her that, her mom would (say things like) ‘Oh, you’re so beautiful. Look at how you are with the horses,’” Roeske said. “And (the patient) said, ‘What it felt like was Mom was afraid of what I was saying and needed to distance herself from it.’

She said that therapists would do the same thing — you know, ‘create a positive gratitude list or correct your cognitive distortions.’ Finally, there was a psychiatrist that looked at her as she said, ‘I think I’m going to kill myself.’ And the psychiatrist said, ‘I think you might, too.’ And she said it was the first time someone was willing to be in there with her.”

When talking with someone who’s suicidal, you might want to tell them all the wonderful reasons why they should stay alive, Roeske said — but that can actually make them feel more lonely.

If you’re concerned about someone who lives in your household, mitigate opportunities to attempt suicide by restricting access to or removing potentially lethal items such as firearms or pills, Roeske said. Just hiding a gun isn’t a sufficient precaution, experts have said.

Unfortunately, “we are no better able to predict who will die by suicide than who will be in a car accident,” Baker said. “This does not help to alleviate the grief or pain for those who have lost loved ones to suicide, but hopefully it helps remove some of the guilt and responsibility.”

CNN’s Jacqueline Howard contributed to this story, which was updated from a story originally published in September.

By Kristen Rogers, CNN   December 15, 2022

Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health matters, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 (or 800-273-8255) to connect with a trained counselor or visit the NSPL site.

In Canada: Talk Suicide Canada – Hours: Available 24/7/365 for calls; 4 PM—12 AM ET for texts; Languages: English, French  1.833.456.4566  https://talksuicide.ca/

source: www.cnn.com


Leave a comment

Do You Get More Anxious Or Sad In The Fall? There’s A Reason For That.

You’re not alone if you don’t welcome the return of pumpkin spice and autumn foliage. Here’s why the season change affects your mental health.

When we talk about seasonal depression, the short, frosty days of winter probably come to mind. After all, the bulk of people who experience seasonal mood changes feel the most stress and anxiety during the thick of winter.

But seasonal affective disorder can happen at any time, in any season. And right now, as we transition away from summer and settle into our new fall routines, many people will notice that they’re feeling a bit more anxious or melancholy than they did a month ago.

“This time of year, when the days become shorter, you can already start to develop some of the symptoms of the seasonal pattern of depression — even if it doesn’t rise to the level of a medical diagnosis,” Dr. Eric Golden, a psychiatrist at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Western Psychiatric Hospital, told HuffPost.

Here’s why fall can cause so much anxiety or sadness

There are multiple reasons as to why the change in seasons affects our mood. For one, our schedules tend to ramp up in the fall and with that comes new stressors and responsibilities that can impact our well-being.

The days are also getting shorter and we’re less exposed to sunlight. According to Dr. Paul Desan, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, the brain is pretty sensitive to the light-dark cycle.

Scientists are still learning about all the ways in which daylight impacts the neurotransmitters in our brain that influence how we feel, but growing evidence suggests that the change in seasons can trigger chemical changes in the brain. We know, for example, that lower levels of daylight are associated with lower levels of serotonin — the neurotransmitter that’s associated with depression and mood regulation, Golden said.

Lastly, some people’s brains may start preparing for the fact that winter is approaching. If they experience seasonal depression or anxiety in past years, they may get anxious that the hardest time of year for them is right around the corner, Desan explained.

pumpkin

Seasonal mood changes are a spectrum. According to Desan, data has shown that most people feel better in the summer than the winter, but the symptoms can really vary in terms of severity. Some may only experience milder symptoms, like less energy, while others will develop major depressive disorder.

Much of this is influenced by a mix of risk factors, such as your underlying health, family history, where you live, along with your age and gender. The main takeaway, however, is that most people feel worse in the winter and better in the summer, Desan said.

Getting as much sunlight as possible can help improve mood-related symptoms.

How to cope with the seasonal stress

Golden said you don’t have to wait until the symptoms are severe to start coping with seasonal mood changes. Even mild symptoms, when unmanaged, can impair your ability to get through your day as smoothly as you’d like.

The first step is to check in with yourself and take note of any mood changes, such as a dip in your energy levels or mindset. It can also be helpful to set and stick with a routine. Make a point to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

Because light has such a profound impact on our brain, it’s crucial to get some light exposure every day. You could do this with natural light — by penciling in some outside time — or with bright light therapy. If you go the light therapy route, Desan said you’ll want a medical grade light device that emits 10,000 locks (you can find some of his suggestions here).

To reap the full benefits, you’ll want to sit in front of the light for about 30 minutes every day, ideally first thing in the morning. “Light is more powerful the earlier in the morning you’re exposed to it,” Desan said. And though some people will notice improvements within a week, it can take about a month of light therapy to start feeling better.

Aside from that, you’ll want to stick with all the activities proven to keep us feeling good. Everything you do to improve your well-being — regularly exercising, socializing and eating a well-balanced diet — affects how we feel. If these strategies don’t help or if your condition deteriorates, reach out to a doctor to discuss your symptoms and other forms of treatment, like psychotherapy and medication.

Just because seasonal mood changes are normal, that doesn’t mean struggling with them has to be. “It’s important to take a preventive and proactive approach to staying on top of it,” Golden said.

By Julia Ries          Oct 12, 2022

source: www.huffpost.com


Leave a comment

Study finds folic acid treatment is associated with decreased risk of suicide attempts

The common, inexpensive supplement was linked with a 44% reduction in suicide attempts and self-harm.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the US, with more than 45,000 people dying by suicide in 2020. Experts recommend many strategies and treatments to decrease the risk of suicide, including psychotherapy, peer support, economic support, and medications like antidepressants. Few if any would be likely to put folic acid supplements on that list, but a recent study done at the University of Chicago may change that.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry on September 28th, used data from the health insurance claims of 866,586 patients and looked at the relationship between folic acid treatment and suicide attempts over a two-year period. They found that patients who filled prescriptions for folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, experienced a 44% reduction in suicidal events (suicide attempts and intentional self-harm). Robert Gibbons, PhD, the Blum-Riese Professor of Biostatistics and Medicine at the University of Chicago, the lead author of the study, is hopeful that these findings could improve suicide prevention efforts, especially because of how accessible folic acid is.

“There are no real side effects, it doesn’t cost a lot of money, you can get it without a prescription,” Gibbons said. “This could potentially save tens of thousands of lives.”

Gibbons initially became interested in folic acid in the context of suicide because of a previous study in which his group looked for relationships between risk of attempting suicide and 922 different prescribed drugs. The study simultaneously screened each drug for associations with increases and decreases in suicide attempts. Surprisingly, folic acid was associated with a decreased risk of suicide attempt, along with drugs expected to be associated with risk of suicide, like antidepressants, anxiolytics, and antipsychotics.

This could potentially save tens of thousands of lives.

Robert Gibbons, PhD

One of the challenges of this earlier study was to analyze the effects of many drugs in a large-scale data set, which is difficult. Many people take more than one drug, and drugs can have different effects when taken together than when taken alone. It can also be difficult to get meaningful results from studies like these that look for relationships in large data sets because of confounding factors, which can cause two variables in a study, like suicide and a drug, to seem to have a direct causal relationship with each other. Sometimes, these are actually both related to a confounding factor, such as socioeconomic status or health-conscious attitudes, or because they are prescribed for a condition that is associated with suicide (e.g. depression). But Gibbons and his group were able to partially eliminate these complications by comparing subjects to themselves before and after being prescribed a drug, instead of comparing subjects who did and did not take the drug to one another.

In fact, they initially thought folic acid had only shown up in their study because of a simple explanation, but that turned out not to be the case. “When we first saw this result, we thought it was pregnancy. Pregnant women take folic acid, and pregnant women tend to have a low suicide rate, so it’s just a false association. So, we just did a quick analysis to restrict it to men. But we saw exactly the same effect in men,” Gibbons said.

To investigate and further confirm the relationship between folic acid and suicide risk, Gibbons and his co-authors did this new study and focused specifically on folic acid, and accounted for many possible confounding factors, including age, sex, mental health diagnoses, other central nervous system drugs, conditions that affect folic acid metabolism, and more. Even after adjusting for all these factors, filling a prescription for folic acid was still associated with a decreased risk of attempting suicide.

They even found that the longer a person took folic acid, the lower their risk of suicide attempt tended to be. Each month of being prescribed folic acid was associated with an additional 5% decrease in risk of suicide attempt during the 24-month follow-up period of their study.

It also occurred to the authors that maybe people who take vitamin supplements in general want to improve their health and would thus be less likely to attempt suicide. To address this possibility, they did a similar analysis with another supplement, vitamin B12, as a negative control. But unlike folic acid, there didn’t seem to be any relationship between vitamin B12 and risk of suicide.

Although Gibbons and his co-authors were careful to adjust for confounding factors, they cannot yet say for sure whether the relationship between folic acid and suicidal events is causal; that is, they don’t yet know if taking folic acid will directly cause a person’s risk of suicide to become lower. To know for sure, the authors are following up this study with a large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) to test whether folic acid directly lowers the risk of suicidal events, including ideation, attempts and completion. This will involve randomly splitting subjects into two groups, giving a placebo to one group and folic acid to the other and comparing the rate of suicidal events over time.

If their findings are confirmed in the new research, folic acid would be a safe, inexpensive, and widely available suicide prevention strategy, and potentially help save thousands of lives.

September 28, 2022

By Lily Burton
PhD candidate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

source: https://biologicalsciences.uchicago.edu

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

foods-high-in-folate-vitamin-B9


8 Comments

More And More People Have ‘Lifestyle Fatigue.’ Maybe You Do, Too.

Two-plus years of a pandemic have altered our mental health. Here are the signs and what you can do to cope.

Even though we’re armed with COVID-19 vaccines and updated booster shots, the world is still largely in a different (and oft-worried) place compared with before the pandemic.

This, experts say, can lead to a feeling of malaise — or “lifestyle fatigue,” in the words of Sean Grover, a psychotherapist who writes for Psychology Today. Lifestyle fatigue can be summed up as “feeling stuck in a rut,” Grover wrote ― and who hasn’t felt at least a little stuck at some point in recent years?

“As it says in the article, lifestyle fatigue’s not any sort of clinical diagnosis,” Alayna L. Park, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, told HuffPost. “You’re not going to go to a psychologist and get a diagnosis of lifestyle fatigue.”

But she said the concept can relate to “feeling off, feeling down [or] feeling tired,” all things that fall into larger areas of mental health research.

Such feelings are normal right now, and sad days are a part of life. However, a few warning signs can indicate that you may be dealing with something bigger.

Here, experts share what lifestyle fatigue means to them and why society is experiencing it more than ever. (If you’re feeling this way, you are certainly not alone.) Plus, they offer some advice on how to feel even just a tiny bit better.

Lifestyle fatigue may be related to a symptom of depression.

The description of lifestyle fatigue resembles the clinical signs of anhedonia, or an inability to feel pleasure, Park said. And while it’s a symptom of depression, experiencing anhedonia does not automatically mean you are depressed, she stressed.

“There can be a lot of causes for anhedonia or lifestyle fatigue,” Park said. One is engaging in very few pleasurable or productive activities. This contributes to a feeling of boredom, sadness or tiredness.

“We’ve definitely had a very prolonged period of that during the COVID pandemic,” she said, adding that this is due to (very necessary!) restrictions that meant we couldn’t take part in many activities and social interactions.

“Even if we’re not outgoing extroverts, we still crave that social interaction. And that social interaction does tend to bring us a sense of pleasure,” Park said.

And even now that restrictions have lifted and people are vaccinated, we are still faced with tough decisions as we consider the risks of certain activities. Our overall life may look different, too: Our friendships are changing and maybe leaving less room for social interactions. Our workplaces are more tiring or demanding, causing many to feel less pleasure from a career. All of this can take a toll.

It could also be related to emotional exhaustion.

Society is emotionally exhausted because of what is going on in the background of our lives — that is, the pandemic on top of any other stressful life events you’re experiencing — according to Dr. Elaina DellaCava, a psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

When experiencing emotional exhaustion, “you’re lacking the energy to do things, lacking the motivation [and] finding that there are things that you feel you should do [but] don’t have the desire to anymore,” she said.

In other words, you’re exhausted and don’t feel like doing something that would have felt pretty normal in 2019, whether that’s a trip to the grocery store or grabbing a drink with a friend.

“Over time, what I’ve seen in my practice is that people are reporting they try to make themselves do things but just the enjoyment isn’t there in the same way it used to be,” DellaCava said.

After two-plus years of less structure than ever (like rolling out of bed and logging in to your computer) and more isolation from loved ones compared with before the pandemic, any kind of structure — such as plans, chores or an in-person meeting — can feel like an unwanted responsibility.

Your ‘fight-flight-freeze’ response has likely been activated for too long, resulting in sadness.

The pandemic has activated people’s “fight-flight-freeze” response — named for the possible reactions to a perceived threat — for the past two and a half years, according to Park.

“What our bodies naturally do when our fight-flight-freeze response [has] been activated for so long is they start to experience some depressive symptoms,” she said.

These will tire you out so you can get more sleep and heal from this stress response, Park said, adding that the symptoms are essentially telling your body: “Hey, you’ve been in this fight-flight-freeze response for two years. That’s way too long. You need to rest.”

This is your body’s way of trying to get back to its normal state, but as the pandemic continues all around us, these fight-flight-freeze responses are still reacting to that stress. So instead of going back to its typical state, your body could be experiencing depressive symptoms over and over as it pushes for rest.

computer

Though lifestyle fatigue isn’t depression in all cases, it may be in some.

It’s normal to feel sad or off at times, Park said, but if you feel tired or down for the majority of the day on most days for at least two weeks, this may be cause for concern. At that point, you should get in touch with a doctor or therapist, she said.

DellaCava said that many people attribute these emotions to burnout — a term that is now pervasive. But feeling down for long periods of time could be a symptom of something larger than burnout, which is generally more work-related and comes from chronic stress.

It’s OK to feel this way.

After multiple new COVID-19 variants, politicized public safety protocols and a sometimes overwhelming fear of getting the virus or passing it on to a loved one, it is normal to feel different than you did before the pandemic.

“If people are feeling this way, they’re certainly not alone,” DellaCava emphasized.

Much of this exhaustion or lifestyle fatigue may be due to the feeling that the pandemic cost someone an element of their identity.

People who love to travel may not feel comfortable getting on a plane now, or if they do go on a trip, they might worry about getting sick abroad and dealing with canceled plans. Similarly, someone who once considered themselves an extrovert might struggle with small talk or meeting new people. It’s hard to be the 2019 version of yourself in the world we live in right now. And that’s exhausting.

DellaCava added that social media makes this even tougher. People are inundated with happy images that can be tough to look at when you’re having a hard day.

“They say comparison is the thief of joy, and I think there is validity in that,” DellaCava said, but remember that “you’re seeing everyone’s best day on social media.” Others aren’t posting about their bad moments or restless nights, she added.

Certain activities can help you feel better.

Adding some productive and pleasurable activities to your week can help calm feelings of lifestyle fatigue, Park said. But with many people feeling exhausted due to their work and home lives becoming intertwined, productive activities do not have to revolve around your job, she added.

“Things that can be productive are things like exercising — so, running further than you did two weeks ago — or learning a language,” Park said. Both of these can give a sense of accomplishment if you’re feeling down.

Pleasurable activities can include visiting a friend, playing an online video game with a family member or calling up a loved one.

For those feeling unmotivated or anhedonic, DellaCava suggested focusing on self-care, which can include getting a good night’s sleep or, if you’re a parent, taking time for yourself. If you’re caring for your own elderly parents, try going for a walk alone or using a meditation app. Self-care should consist of enjoyable activities that are just for you, she said.

That said, it may seem tough to go for a walk or visit a friend when you’re feeling this way. But once you’re engaged in something you enjoy, you’ll likely notice that you’re happy to actually be doing it. Plus, you should be proud of yourself for mustering up the motivation to try the activity.

But if you’re not noticing any change in mood while taking part in once-pleasurable activities, do not hesitate to reach out to a doctor or therapist, DellaCava said. There is a lot going on in the world, and it’s OK if you need someone to talk to right now or a little extra help.

Jillian Wilson – Wellness Reporter, HuffPost       Sep 12, 2022

source: HuffPost


Leave a comment

Negative Thinking Linked To Dementia In Later Life, But You Can Learn To Be More Positive

Are you a pessimist by nature, a “glass half empty” sort of person? That’s not good for your brain.

A new study found that repetitive negative thinking in later life was linked to cognitive decline and greater deposits of two harmful proteins responsible for Alzheimer’s disease.

“We propose that repetitive negative thinking may be a new risk factor for dementia,” said lead author Dr. Natalie Marchant, a psychologist and senior research fellow in the department of mental health at University College London, in a statement.

Negative thinking behaviors such as rumination about the past and worry about the future were measured in over 350 people over the age of 55 over a two-year period. About a third of the participants also underwent a PET (positron emission tomography) brain scan to measure deposits of tau and beta amyloid, two proteins which cause Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia.

The scans showed that people who spent more time thinking negatively had more tau and beta amyloid buildup, worse memory and greater cognitive decline over a four-year period compared to people who were not pessimists.

The study also tested for levels of anxiety and depression and found greater cognitive decline in depressed and anxious people, which echos prior research.

But deposits of tau and amyloid did not increase in the already depressed and anxious people, leading researchers to suspect repeated negative thinking may be the main reason why depression and anxiety contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Taken alongside other studies, which link depression and anxiety with dementia risk, we expect that chronic negative thinking patterns over a long period of time could increase the risk of dementia,” Marchant said.

“This is the first study showing a biological relationship between repetitive negative thinking and Alzheimer’s pathology, and gives physicians a more precise way to assess risk and offer more personally-tailored interventions,” said neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson, founder of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at NYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

“Many people at risk are unaware about the specific negative impact of worry and rumination directly on the brain,” said Isaacson, who is also a trustee of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, which funds research to better understand and alleviate age-related cognitive decline.

“This study is important and will change the way I care for my patients at risk.”

smile

More study needed

It is “important to point out that this isn’t saying a short-term period of negative thinking will cause Alzheimer’s disease,” said Fiona Carragher, who is chief policy and research officer at the Alzheimer’s Society in London. “We need further investigation to understand this better.”

“Most of the people in the study were already identified as being at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, so we would need to see if these results are echoed within the general population,” she said, “and if repeated negative thinking increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease itself.”

The researchers suggest that mental training practices such as meditation might help promoting positive thinking while reducing negative thoughts, and they plan future studies to test their hypothesis.

“Our thoughts can have a biological impact on our physical health, which might be positive or negative, said coauthor Dr. Gael Chételat of Inserm/ Université de Caen-Normandie.

“Looking after your mental health is important, and it should be a major public health priority, as it’s not only important for people’s health and well-being in the short term, but it could also impact your eventual risk of dementia,” Chételat said.

Looking on the bright side

Previous research supports their hypothesis. People who look at life from a positive perspective have a much better shot at avoiding death from any type of cardiovascular risk than pessimistic people, according to a 2019 study. In fact, the more positive the person, the greater the protection from heart attacks, stroke and any cause of death.

It’s not just your heart that’s protected by a positive outlook. Prior research has found a direct link between optimism and other positive health attributes, such as healthier diet and exercise behaviors, a stronger immune system and better lung function, among others.

That’s probably because optimists tend to have better health habits, said cardiologist Dr. Alan Rozanski, a professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who studies optimism’s health impacts. They’re more likely to exercise, have better diets and are less likely to smoke.

“Optimists also tend to have better coping skills and are better problem-solvers,” Rozanski told CNN in a prior interview. “They are better at what we call proactive coping, or anticipating problems and then proactively taking steps to fix them.”

Train to be an optimist

You can tell where you stand on the glass half-full or empty concept by answering a series of statements called the “life orientation test.”

The test includes statements such as, “I’m a believer in the idea that ‘every cloud has a silver lining,'” and, “If something can go wrong for me, it will.” You rate the statements on a scale from highly agree to highly disagree, and the results can be added up to determine your level of optimism or pessimism.

Prior research has shown it’s possible to “train the brain” to be more optimistic, sort of like training a muscle. Using direct measures of brain function and structure, one study found it only took 30 minutes a day of meditation practice over the course of two weeks to produce a measurable change in the brain.

One of the most effective ways to increase optimism, according to a meta-analysis of existing studies, is called the “Best Possible Self” method, where you imagine or journal about yourself in a future in which you have achieved all your life goals and all of your problems have been resolved.

Another technique is to practice gratefulness. Just taking a few minutes each day to write down what makes you thankful can improve your outlook on life. And while you’re at it, list the positive experiences you had that day, which can also raise your optimism.

“And then finally, we know that cognitive behavioral therapies are very effective treatments for depression; pessimism is on the road toward depression,” Rozanski said.

“You can apply the same principles as we do for depression, such as reframing. You teach there is an alternative way to think or reframe negative thoughts, and you can make great progress with a pessimist that way.”

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN     Sun June 7, 2020

source: www.cnn.com

Want to live longer? Be an optimist, study says


Leave a comment

‘Magic Mushrooms’ Provide Fast, Long-lasting Depression Relief: Study

Treatment with psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in “magic mushrooms,” relieves major depression for up to a year, and perhaps longer, new research shows.

In a study of adults with a long-term history of depression, two doses of psilocybin, combined with supportive “talk” therapy, led to large, stable, and enduring antidepressant effects through a year of follow-up.

At 12 months, three-quarters of those in the study had an antidepressant response, and more than half were in remission from their depression, report researchers from the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.

“Psilocybin not only produces significant and immediate effects, it also has a long duration, which suggests that it may be a uniquely useful new treatment for depression,” Roland Griffiths, PhD, a study investigator and founding director of the center, said in a statement.

“Compared to standard antidepressants, which must be taken for long stretches of time, psilocybin has the potential to enduringly relieve the symptoms of depression with one or two treatments,” he said.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that psilocybin can alter a person’s perception and awareness of their surroundings and of their thoughts and feelings. Treatment with psilocybin has shown promise in research settings for treating a range of mental health disorders and addictions.

“The results we see are in a research setting and require quite a lot of preparation and structured support from trained clinicians and therapists, and people should not attempt to try it on their own,” cautioned Natalie Gukasyan, MD, who also worked on the study.

Psilocybin and related compounds are still not available for clinical use under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

magic-mushroom

The current study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, included 19 women and five men with moderate to severe depression. The vast majority had previously been treated with standard antidepressant medications, and more than half reported using antidepressants in their current depressive episodes.

At the time of psilocybin treatment, all study participants completed 6 to 8 hours of “preparatory” meetings with two people trained in psilocybin therapy. After that, they received two doses of psilocybin given about 2 weeks apart in a comfortable and controlled setting.

They returned for follow-up 1 day and 1 week after each session, and then at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after the second session.

Psilocybin treatment led to large decreases in depression, and depression remained less severe up to 12 months after treatment.

There were no serious side effects related to psilocybin in the long-term follow-up period.

“We have not yet collected formal data past 1 year in our sample, [but] some participants in our study have stayed in touch and report continued improvements in mood,” Gukasyan tells WebMD.

“A previous study of psilocybin-assisted therapy in patients with cancer-related depression and anxiety symptoms found that improvements in mood and well-being may persist up to 4.5 years following treatment,” Gukasyan says.

The researchers say further research is needed to explore the chance that psilocybin’s antidepressant effects may last much longer than 12 months.

By Megan Brooks       Feb. 18, 2022

Sources:
Journal of Psychopharmacology: “Efficacy and safety of psilocybin-assisted treatment for major depressive disorder: Prospective 12-month follow-up.”

Natalie Gukasyan, MD, psychiatrist; assistant professor, Johns Hopkins University.

source: WebMD


Leave a comment

The Link Between Sleep and Mental Illness

Mental health relies on quality rest, new research confirms.

A good night’s sleep can do wonders for well-being. Folks who report being well-rested exhibit better cognitive functioning (the ability to focus, learn new information, and retrieve knowledge from memory), self-control, lower anxiety, higher pain tolerance, and healthier blood pressure levels than folks who report disturbed sleep. Sleep disturbances also simultaneously contribute to mental illnesses (ranging from generalized anxiety disorder and depression to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) while also being hallmarks of them.

Most studies examining sleep’s relationship with mental illness, however, ask participants to self-report how good or poor their nightly Z’s are. Wanting to gain a more definitive look at the link between sleep quality and mental health, a team of researchers led by Michael Wainberg, of Toronto, Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, tracked the sleep activity of 89,205 individuals by outfitting them with an accelerometer that measured their movements during the day and evening and correlated this data with participants’ histories of inpatient psychiatric admissions for depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder as well as their genetic risks for various mental health issues. Data on psychiatric admissions and genetic risk were culled from the UK Biobank, a database containing hundreds of thousands of individuals’ genetic and behavioral information.

The Study

Wainberg et al.’s results, published in a recent edition of PLOS MEDICINE, found that accelerometer-derived sleep measures (which included bedtime and wake-up times, duration of sleep, and the number of times waking after falling asleep) significantly predicted participants’ psychiatric inpatient histories as well as their genetic risks of mental illness. More specifically, Wainberg’s team found that it wasn’t so much total sleep duration that predicted participants’ mental illness risk but rather the quality of the sleep they got during the time they were in bed: Participants whose accelerometers revealed that they woke more often after falling asleep and remained asleep for shorter bouts between bedtime and wake-up time were more likely to have met the criteria for a mental illness within their lifetime—and to be genetically predisposed to mental illness.

Why Do Sleep Disturbances and Mental Illness Go Hand in Hand?

There are several reasons why sleep disturbances may be linked with impoverished mental health. When we sleep, we generate new neural connections—a process called neurogenesis—particularly in a region of our brain associated with memory, mood, and emotion called the hippocampus. Inadequate sleep impairs neurogenesis, and impaired neurogenesis in the hippocampus has been found to contribute to depression as well as schizophrenia and drug addiction.

Insomnia and mental illness may also share a common underlying genetic predisposition: The same sets of genes that increase one’s risk of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder may also increase one’s risk of poor sleep. Mental illness and insomnia may also arise from a person’s trauma history. It is well known that trauma—especially childhood trauma—predicts a host of poor mental (and physical) health outcomes, including insomnia. Trauma dysregulates our arousal systems, leaving us more hyper-vigilant and thus less able to sleep peacefully and soundly (and more likely to have nightmares). Trauma also increases system-wide inflammation, which has been associated with various mental illnesses including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression.

sleepless

What This Means for Us

Not everyone who struggles with insomnia is destined to struggle with mental illness. But chronic sleep disturbances can and do give rise to impaired mental health, not to mention impaired interpersonal functioning and physical health. Even among individuals who do not meet the criteria for a mental illness, poor sleep quality is linked to increased psychological distress and relentlessly sleepless nights are found to nearly double one’s risk of depression and markedly raise one’s risk of future anxiety disorders. Getting adequate rest is critical to a healthy mind and body.

As the researchers note, “sleep problems are both symptoms of and modifiable risk factors for many psychiatric disorders.” Up to 20 percent of all adults in Western countries are estimated to struggle with insomnia. Strategies to improve sleep (think: psychopharmacological interventions, cognitive-behavioral therapies, noninvasive brain stimulation, and general sleep hygiene interventions—like reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, keeping lights dim, and avoiding screens an hour before bedtime) should be more routinely used to help treat and prevent mental illnesses. Additionally, mental illnesses may be more effectively detected at earlier stages by regular sleep quality screenings—say, at annual primary care physician assessments or even at each visit to an emergency room or urgent care center.

If you struggle with insomnia, talk to your doctor about treatment options, or consider downloading the CBTi Coach app (developed by Stanford University researchers in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help treat PTSD symptoms, including insomnia) that uses evidence-based cognitive-behavioral techniques to improve sleep quality and duration. And don’t forget to check out this website’s excellent therapist directory to get support with any psychological issue you may be up against that could be contributing to sleepless nights.

About the Author

Katherine Schreiber, MFA, LMSW, is a writer and social worker based in New York City who specializes in working with adults with severe mental illnesses, like schizophrenia.

Posted October 16, 2021 |  Reviewed by Lybi Ma

source: www.psychologytoday.com


5 Comments

The Happy Brain Chemicals that Makes You Feel Good

Some content on this page was disabled on December 20, 2021 as a result of a DMCA takedown notice from Anthony Khow. You can learn more about the DMCA here:

https://en.support.wordpress.com/copyright-and-the-dmca/


3 Comments

3 Mental Problems Linked To Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The deficiency is easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Mental confusion can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, research suggests.

People with a B12 deficiency can have problems with their memory and concentration.

Depression symptoms like low mood and low energy are also linked to the deficiency.

Low levels of vitamin B12 can even contribute to brain shrinkage, other studies have suggested.

Around one-in-eight people over 50 are low in vitamin B12 levels, recent research finds.

The rates of deficiency are even higher in those who are older.

Fortunately, these deficiencies are easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Good dietary sources of vitamin B12 include fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat milk.

Fortified breakfast cereals also contain vitamin B12.

People who may have difficulty getting enough vitamin B12 include vegetarians, older people and those with some digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease.

One study has found that high doses of B vitamins can help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is one of the most serious types of mental illness.

It can cause delusions, hallucinations, confused thinking and dramatic changes in behaviour.

The study reviewed 18 different clinical trials, including 832 patients.

It found that high doses of B vitamins helped reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

The vitamins were particularly effective if used early on in treatment.

Dr Joseph Firth, the study’s lead author, said:

“Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients.

This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed.”

Professor Jerome Sarris, study co-author, said:

“This builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia.”

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. 

The study was published in the journal Psychological Medicine (Firth et al., 2017).

August 6, 2021        source: PsyBlog

vitamin

Vitamin D Reduces the Need for Opioids in Palliative Cancer

Patients with vitamin D deficiency who received vitamin D supplements had a reduced need for pain relief and lower levels of fatigue in palliative cancer treatment, a randomized and placebo-controlled study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet shows. The study is published in the scientific journal Cancers.

Among patients with cancer in the palliative phase, vitamin D deficiency is common. Previous studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D in the blood may be associated with pain, sensitivity to infection, fatigue, depression, and lower self-rated quality of life.

A previous smaller study, which was not randomized or placebo-controlled, suggested that vitamin D supplementation could reduce opioid doses, reduce antibiotic use, and improve the quality of life in patients with advanced cancer.

244 cancer patients with palliative cancer, enrolled in ASIH, (advanced medical home care), took part in the current study in Stockholm during the years 2017-2020.

All study participants had a vitamin D deficiency at the start of the study. They received either 12 weeks of treatment with vitamin D at a relatively high dose (4000 IE/day) or a placebo.

The researchers then measured the change in opioid doses (as a measurement of pain) at 0, 4, 8, and 12 weeks after the start of the study.

“The results showed that vitamin D treatment was well tolerated and that the vitamin D-treated patients had a significantly slower increase in opioid doses than the placebo group during the study period. In addition, they experienced less cancer-related fatigue compared to the placebo group,” says Linda Björkhem-Bergman, senior physician at Stockholms Sjukhem and associate professor at the Department of Neurobiology, Healthcare Sciences, and Society, Karolinska Institutet.

On the other hand, there was no difference between the groups in terms of self-rated quality of life or antibiotic use.

“The effects were quite small, but statistically significant and may have clinical significance for patients with vitamin D deficiency who have cancer in the palliative phase. This is the first time it has been shown that vitamin D treatment for palliative cancer patients can have an effect on both opioid-sensitive pain and fatigue,” says first author of the study Maria Helde Frankling, senior physician at ASIH and postdoc at the Department of Neurobiology, Healthcare Science and Society, Karolinska Institutet.

The study is one of the largest drug studies conducted within ASIH in Sweden. One weakness of the study is the large drop-out rate. Only 150 out of 244 patients were able to complete the 12-week study because many patients died of their cancer during the study.

The study was funded by Region Stockholm (ALF), the Swedish Cancer Society, Stockholms Sjukhems Foundation and was carried out with the support of ASIH Stockholm Södra and ASIH Stockholm Norr.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Karolinska Institutet. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Maria Helde Frankling, Caritha Klasson, Carina Sandberg, Marie Nordström, Anna Warnqvist, Jenny Bergqvist, Peter Bergman, Linda Björkhem-Bergman. ‘Palliative-D’—Vitamin D Supplementation to Palliative Cancer Patients: A Double Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Multicenter Trial. Cancers, 2021; 13 (15): 3707 DOI: 10.3390/cancers13153707

source: ScienceDaily     August 5, 2021