Friday, June 30, 2006

Conditions Affecting Many

Some people are now asking why people till suffer from problems such as depression, anxiety, stress and phobias when there are quite a few low cost solutions available. The most common form of mental health problem is a combination of anxiety and depression. According to the Mental Health Foundation in the UK, one in four adults will experience some form of mental health issue within the next year. Many feel that medication alone is not enough and people should include psychological therapy as well. By utilizing both, the chances of preventing a relapse are greater than with using medication alone. Unfortunately, many people either can't afford therapy or there's a long wait to see a therapist. This is perhaps the reason there has been an increase in self help alternatives. Remote therapy sites can provide for psychological issues including depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Many sites online can provide therapist sessions that can be downloaded to an MP3 player. Although you don't receive the advantage of a face to face session, you can use your downloaded information over and over again. Not only can it be more convenient, but cost efficient as well. Another reason for the rise in popularity is that they are anonymous, available instantly, and can be surprisingly effective.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Omega 3's and Depression

According to a pilot study done in Israel, children who suffer from clinical depression can find help with omega 3 fatty acids, the type that are found in fish oils. In the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers explain that study results in adults with major depressive disorder benefit from omega 3 fatty acids as an add on therapy, but the effects of this supplement with the disorder in children is unknown. Researchers studied 28 depressed children between six and twelve years of age, who were randomly given omega 3 fatty acids or a placebo. To assess the children, standardized depression scores were used at the start of the study and throughout the sixteen week trial. Also included in the trial were twenty children who remained for at least one month. Seven out of ten in the active group and none of the children in the placebo group had a reduction in their depression scores of more than fifty percent. Four children who received the omega 3 fatty acids went into remission. And there were no relevant side effects reported. The fatty acid used was a combination of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid that is available over the counter. The researchers concluded that the effects of these supplements were highly effective and they believe that this was the first study of its kind with children.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Men, Women and Depression

Depression due to long term pain and sickness makes women more disabled than men. This was found in a study published in the European Journal of Pain. Researchers found that treatment procedures that reduced stress and pain in arthritis and back pain patients will reduce disability. Doctors can help reduce disability in female patients by targeting their depression. The study involved 260 chronic pain patients from the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases and found growing evidence that psychosocial factors can effect a person's health and behavior. This research also shows that pain related emotions are associated with pain related behavior, and it also highlights a significant discrepancy between the behaviors of men and women.

ADHD and Pycnogenol

New research had shown that a daily supplement of pycnogenol, found in pine bark extract, helped improve attention, coordination and reduced hyperactivity in children with ADHD. This wonderful supplement is also contained in the Attend formula for ADHD. The stud, published in the Journal of European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, was a placebo-controlled, double-blind study that gave 57 children whose average age was nine and a half years, either a daily supplement of pycnogenol pine bark extract or a placebo for one month. Using the Child Attention Problems (CAP) teacher rating scale, the Conner's Teachers Rating Scale(CTRS), the Connor's Parenting Rating Scale (CPRS), and basic psychiatric examinations, the volunteers ere evaluated at the start, end, and one month after the trial was complete. The researchers found that the inattention and hyperactivity scores had decreased by around 20% for those taking pycnogenol, and there were no changes for the placebo group. These results were found using the CAP scores. The pycnogenol group also showed a decrease in inattention and hyperactivity by ten and fifteen percent, according to the CTRS scores. Also, the parental scores on the CPR test reported a decrease of eight percent and sixteen percent for the inattention and hyperactivity, respectively. Researchers believe they've found an alternative to existing drugs for those who fear the adverse effects of these medications. Although the mechanism behind the benefits is still to be identified, researchers believe that the extract might be promoting the synthesis of nitric oxide in the brain, which is a molecule reported to be a neurotransmitter. Studies have reported that pycnogenol stimulates nitric oxide synthesis in the smooth muscle lining blood vessels, but it is not known if it is stimulated in the brain as a result of the pine bark extract. Pycnogenol has also been claimed to be beneficial for other medical conditions such as diabetes and asthma, to help boost male fertility, and improve the memory of mice. Pycnogenol is extracted from the bark of the Maritime pine that is found on the Southern coast of France, and it is currently used in well over four hundred dietary supplements, multi-vitamins, and health products, such as Attend.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Children's Allergies Linked to Parents' Depression

According to a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, parents who have major depression or panic disorder are more likely to have children who suffer from asthma and other allergy based conditions. The study of biological children supports the idea of shared genetic liability. At Columbia University, using a sample of 9,240 parent-child pairs, researchers assessed the link between childhood allergy disorders and parents with major depression, generalized anxiety disorders and panic attacks. The allergic disorders included respiratory allergies, hay fever, wheezing, eczema, asthma, and food allergies. Out of a total of 8,686 biological pairs and 554 non-biological pairs, thirty one percent of the children and nineteen percent of the adults had allergic disorders. There were six percent of parents diagnosed with major depression, three percent had panic attacks, and another three percent had the generalized anxiety disorder. The association between the two was seen only in the biological pairs. Further analysis showed that the association occurred statistically significant only in mothers.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Girls Suffering From ADHD

Researchers in Northern California found that despite the assumptions of many parents and pediatricians, girls do suffer as much from ADHD as boys. By observing girls with ADHD at summer camps, they found that they were much more impaired than their counterparts who don't have ADHD.
In the study done by the University of California-Berkeley, 228 girls, aged six to twelve, were enrolled in day camps held from 1997-1999. Of these girls, 140 had ADHD and were specifically recruited. The others not diagnosed with ADHD were told the camps were for "enrichment" purposes. So researchers could observe their natural behavior, those with ADHD were taken off their medication for the six week camp periods.
Watching the girls closely, they found that those with ADHD were often socially isolated and not interested in following directions. Although the ADHD girls weren't as physically aggressive as boys with ADHD, they would engage in "relational aggression", which includes getting back at someone by excluding them or spreading rumors. The girls also scored as poorly as boys on their abilities to set goals, alter strategies in response to changing situations, and making plans. The findings, that appear in the October issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, suggest that girls and boys are similarly affected by the disorder. Several researchers feel that many affected girls have been left behind because they are less likely to be hyperactive and have more trouble paying attention, thereby becoming less noticeable to teachers and parents. This highlights the importance of teachers, parents, and pediatricians paying attention when girls aren't doing as well as they should be. Also, the longer problems go untreated, the worse kids feel about themselves, the more social difficulties they'll have, and life will become harder for them. Many adult women are discovering that they've had undiagnosed ADHD since childhood. Oftentimes, teachers would say these kids weren't smart. But it's not an issue about intelligence. The issue is about an ability to organize and get it all together.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Got ADHD? Meditate, Don't Medicate

High-energy children labeled with ADHD are often put on powerful drugs as a first course treatment for ADHD. There is a drug-free approach showing great benefit for fidgety children; transcendental meditation, or TM.

Advocates of this drug-free approach state that TM is easy for kids. They simply sit, eyes closed for 10 minutes, twice a day. This practice allows children to experience deep levels of relaxation while wide awake.

Meditation is shown to increase blood flow to the brain, which is especially beneficial to those with ADHD. With ADHD there is often reduced blood flow in the brain."

ADHD children practicing meditation often experience dramatic reductions in stress, anxiety, depression. Organization, memory and strategizing skills are also improved.

Critics of drug-therapy for ADHD claim that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is over-diagnosed. Currently one in 20 U.S. children gets labeled with ADHD and put on powerful and oftentimes dangerous drugs like Ritalin. Compare this rate to Europe and Canada where the diagnosis is still rare. Nevertheless, meditation is a drug-free solution that can help children focus no matter what the diagnosis.

Friday, June 16, 2006

"Sticks and Stones" Saying Wrong-Names Can definitely Hurt You

Study findings published in the Journal of Affective Disorders state that those who are verbally abused as children grow up to be self-critical adults prone to depression and anxiety. Researchers at Florida State University studied data on 5,614 people aged between 15 and 54. They found that people who were verbally abused had 1.6 times as many symptoms of depression and anxiety as those who had not been verbally abused and were twice as likely to have suffered a mood or anxiety disorder over their lifetime. To assess self-criticism, researchers asked the participants to respond to statements such as, "I dwell on my mistakes more than I should", and "There is a considerable difference between how I am now and how I would like to be." Those who had been verbally abused were more likely to be self-critical than those who were not.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Need A Hug?

A new study from the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin found that the reassurance you received from a spouse or loved one can calm areas of the brain that register alarm. Using sixteen married women in a stressful situation, neuroscientists found that when a friendly volunteer held their hand, scans showed less activity in the parts of the brain that respond to danger. This effect was even greater when the hand belonged to the woman’s spouse. Researchers believe that the mind relaxes because someone is there to help. They also say that other forms of touch, such as a hug or massage, may also help ease anxiety and even reduce the amount of stress hormones that the brain produces.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Fast Mood Fixer

I’m sure you’ve read several times in the past that exercise can help lift your mood. But now researchers at the University of Texas in Austin have discovered that a thirty minute walk can give you a temporary lift from major depression also. Their study included forty men and women who were recently diagnosed with major depression. They were asked to walk on a treadmill or sit in a comfy chair. After a half hour, both groups had fewer negative feelings, which included fatigue, anger, and tension. But those who exercised said that they actually felt good. They received an 85 percent boost in vigor and a 40 percent improvement in overall well-being that lasted about an hour.
Previous studies have shown that by doing aerobic exercise, the brain’s serotonin levels increased. The subjects also got an extra boost of accomplishment by just knowing they did something good for themselves.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Can Sex Ease Your Tension?

If your anxious about work or any number of life's obsticles, just jump into bed and tension will disappear-for at least two weeks some say. A study from the University of Paisley in Scotland found that sex can ease tension for up to two weeks. Researchers asked about 50 men and women to record their sexual activity for one week. They then monitored their blood pressure as they were put under stressful situations such as doing math problems or giving a speech. The results showed that blood pressure was the lowest in people who had the most sex and was highest among those who abstained. Although they were unsure, masturbation and oral sex did not have the same effect. They believe it's because there's only one sexual behavior that evolution rewards with the likekihood of gene replication.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Women Worry More

In a recent study at the Ohio State University and the University of Maryland, researchers found that out of 1,672 reports from men and women nationwide, 40 percent of women felt rushed, even during leisure time. Only 31 percent of me felt this way and married men felt more stress than single men. So when company is due and your house is a mess, foods not done, or the baby needs changing, here are a few things women can do to get through this. First, get some help. Enlist your husband instead of letting him watch TV. Second, schedule some time to relax. Devote at least 10 minutes every four hours to do something relaxing, such as taking a walk. Finally, do you really need to be in a hurry? Most of the time your answer will be no. So stop, take a step back, relax, and delegate duties.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Stress and Healing Time

A new study has shown that stress that a typical married couple feels during an ordinary argument lasting a half an hour, is enough to slow sown their bodies' ability to heal from wounds by at least one day. It also shows that if the couple argues frequently, the healing process may even double. Some believe that this study may have major financial implications for medical centers and health care insurers.
Reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry, it is the latest discovery in a series of experiments spanning three decades at the Ohio State University's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. Their work has been aimed at identifying and then explaining the ways psychological stress can affect the immune system.
Researchers focused on 42 married couples who had been together for an average of 12 years. All were admitted into the General Clinical Research Center for two, 24 hour visits. These visits wee also separated by a two month interval.
Using a small suction device, they created eight tiny blisters on their arms that the researchers used to gauge the healing process. During the first visit, each spouse had a supportive, positive discussion about some characteristic or behavior that he or she would like to change. But during the second visit, they were asked to talk about a disagreement that had an emotional element to it.
both visits were videotaped and those tapes were used to gauge the couples level of hostility. The fluid accumulation at the wound sites and peripheral blood samples were taken from all. The analyzed data showed:
-The wounds took one day longer to heal after arguments than they did after the positive discussion.
-Those with high levels of hostility took two days longer to heal. They healed at about 60 percent of the the rate of those considered to have low levels of hostility.
-The blood samples from the hostile couples had levels of one cytokine, interleukin-6, increase one and a half times more than the other couples. Cytokines are key elements within the immune system that help balance the right immune response. Although high levels of this at a wound site stimulate the healing process, those levels circulating through the blood stream is a problem. These high levels have been linked to long term inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, certain cancers and Alzheimer's.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Passing Depression to Your Children

Findings that appear in the March issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that by effectively treating a mother's depression within the first three months of a child's life, can reduce the risk of psychiatric and behavioral disorders in her children. Also, mothers who remain depressed increase the risk of passing disrupting behaviors and thoughts to their children. Research shows that parents who have depression is a high risk factor for childhood anxiety, disruptive behavior disorders and major depression. Children of depressed parents often develop psychological difficulties before reaching puberty and can continue into adulthood, thereby manifesting themselves in the next generation. Although many feel that major depression has a strong genetic component, other factors such as disrupted parent-child attachment and poor bonding may also play a very significant role. For children who are likely to be vulnerable, reducing stress that is associated with maternal remission may reverse the symptoms.