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Mindful Meditation Can Help Ease Anxiety and Uncertainty According to New Prostate Cancer Study

A recent prostate cancer study has shown that mindful meditation can help alleviate anxiety, fear and uncertainty for men who have this disease. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researchers. As men age their chance of developing prostate cancer increases, but in many cases the cancer is very slow growing and may not require immediate treatment. Instead the patient is actively monitored to evaluate the growth of any tumors and determine if treatment is needed and what treatment should be given. Medical social sciences associate professor and principal study investigator David Victorson explained “It’s very understandable that some men will feel concerned with the knowledge that they indeed have prostate cancer but are asked to NOT do anything to remove it. For many men this can create a great deal of inner turmoil. This turmoil can build up over time and eventually lead to men seeking surgical intervention when it may not ultimately be necessary.”

The prostate cancer and mindful meditation study used this form of meditation in order to decrease the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty that men experienced while being actively monitored but not treated for their cancer. The scientists found that 1 out of 4 men who had active surveillance after diagnosis ended up receiving a definitive treatment for their tumor even when tumor progression signs were absent. According to Victorson “I believe we have an opportunity to investigate and equip men with additional tools above and beyond surgical intervention that can help them manage cancer-related uncertainty intolerance.”

Is a Schizophrenia Cure Possible? New Research Shows Hope for This Mental Illness!

In the USA alone around 3.5 million people could benefit from a schizophrenia cure because they struggle with this form of mental illness. In the past schizophrenia was considered to be incurable, leaving suffers with little hope. People who have this mental disorder often experience patterns of speech and thought that are disorganized and even chaotic. Delusions and hallucinations are also very common with this condition. A new research study gives hope that a cure may be possible, and the cure could come from within the individual instead of from external sources. A study performed by a research team from Western University Robarts Research Institute and London Science Centre Prevention & Early Intervention Program for Psychoses Medical Director Dr Lena Palaniyappan has determined that the damage done by schizophrenia in the brain could be repaired over time. The goal is to cure schizophrenia instead of just managing the symptoms of this mental disorder.

The research study on a schizophrenia cure and more effective treatment options for this form of mental illness involved 98 adults who were previously diagnosed with schizophrenia and who were clinically stable. An additional 83 subjects of the study did not have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. According to Dr. Palaniyappan “Even the state-of-art frontline treatments aim merely for a reduction rather than a reversal of the cognitive and functional deficits caused by the illness. Our results highlight that despite the severity of tissue damage, the brain of a patient with schizophrenia is constantly attempting to reorganize itself, possibly to rescue itself or limit the damage.”

What is OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, often called OCD for short, is a serious mental health disorder that can impact every area of life. Someone who has this condition will be preoccupied with order and cleanliness, and with maintaining control every second. This comes at the expense of being open, flexible, and even efficient. Someone with OCD usually has certain rituals that must be followed, and making common every day decisions can be excruciating. While the exact causes of obsessive compulsive disorder are not yet fully understood most professionals believe that this condition is caused by a variety of factors that can include genetics, biology, social development and other social factors, and psychological factors that can be different with each individual. There is not one single factor that can be blamed, instead the condition is caused by a combination of factors combined.

Some of the symptoms for obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD include:

  • A preoccupation with order, details, and rules and lists. This preoccupation is so severe that the entire point of the event or activity is lost.

  • Perfectionism that causes interference with completing tasks, with standards that are overly strict or even impossible for most people to meet.

  • Inflexibility and stubbornness, insisting that others do things according to the exact rules and expectations of the OCD sufferer. This usually makes the individual reluctant to work with other people or to delegate even small tasks to someone else.

  • An inability to get rid of things that are no longer useful or needed, even if these items have no practical or sentimental value.

Interventions for Alcohol Use May Not Work as Well on Fraternity, and Possibly Sorority, Members

The latest scientific analysis shows that interventions for alcohol use reduction were not effective at all when the interventions were aimed at fraternity members and possibly sorority members, and the analysis covered data and research for a period of 25 years. The data that was used also represented more than 6,000 university and college students. According to Lori Scott-Sheldon, Ph.D., the lead researcher for the research study, “Current intervention methods appear to have limited effectiveness in reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems among fraternity and possibly sorority members. Stronger interventions may need to be developed for student members of Greek letter organizations.” The study showed that there were no significant differences in alcohol amounts consumed, the frequency of drinking to excess, and even alcohol use related problems between the intervention group and others. In fact in a surprising twist many fraternity and possibly sorority members consumed even more alcohol after receiving an intervention.

Scott-Sheldon explained the results from the study on interventions for alcohol use among Greek college organizations. “We expected that providing Greek members with a thoughtfully designed and carefully administered alcohol intervention would reduce consumption and problems relative to no intervention. Reducing alcohol consumption and problems among fraternity and sorority members will require a different strategy relative to their college drinking peers. Additional research is needed to determine the best approach to reduce alcohol misuse among members of Greek letter organizations. Given the lack of research with sorority members, our findings may not be generalizable to all members of Greek organizations. More research is needed to determine the efficacy of alcohol interventions specifically for sorority members.”

Researchers Find that Omega 3 Supplements Could Lower Extreme Aggression in Children on a Short Term Basis

The results of a new University of Pennsylvania study shows that extreme aggression in children could be reduced in the short term with the use of omega 3 supplements. The study evaluated and followed preteens who had a history of violence and severe aggression, and the researchers found that when these children receive a supplement that is rich in omega 3s, vitamins, and minerals the problem behavior was reduced in the short term. This was especially true in children who had a more emotional and impulsive form of aggression. Previous studies have also found that omega 3s can help reduce aggression and violence in children but none of these studies involved children in the USA. Richard Perry University Professor of Criminology, Psychology and Psychiatry Dr. Adrian Raine has dedicated his career to researching antisocial behavior and the way the brain functions, and focusing on how to modify aggressive or antisocial behaviors. Dr. Raine explained “How do you change the brain to make people better? How can we improve brain functioning to improve behavior?”

The study on omega 3 supplements and extreme aggression in children evaluated and followed almost 300 children who had a history of violence and aggression. The children weer divided into 4 distinct groups for treatment. One group received a juice supplement rich in vitamins, minerals, calcium, and omega 3s. Another group received cognitive behavioral therapy. Group 3 received the supplements and the CBT while group 4 received information and access to resources which targeted aggression reduction in the child. According to researchers “Immediately after three months of the nutritional intervention rich in omega-3s, we found a decrease in the children’s reporting of their aggressive behavior.” According to Dr. Raine “No matter what program you use, could adding omega-3s to your treatment help? This suggests it could. We can’t oversimplify the complexity of antisocial behavior. There are many causes. It’s not just the brain. Is it a piece of the jigsaw puzzle? I think it is.”

New Study Shows Depression can Negatively Impact Quality of Life for Cancer Patients

Cancer patients who struggle with depression typically have a lower quality of life and can have problems getting their lives back on track after they receive treatment for their cancer according to a recent research study. The University of Southampton in England and Macmillan Cancer Support researchers found that 20% of colorectal cancer patients suffer from depression at the time that they are diagnosed with cancer. The full study results and conclusions can be found in the PLOS ONE journal. The study found that cancer patients who are depressed have a risk of very poor health seven times higher than the general population, and they are much more likely, thirteen times more likely in fact, to have a quality of life that is also very poor.

Macmillan Cancer Support Professor Jane Maher, who is also the Joint Chief Medical Officer of the organization, explained the study on depression and cancer patients and described how depression impacts the mental health of the patient. According to Maher “In fact, it affects their recovery more than whether or not they’ve been diagnosed early. We know that depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with cancer, but now we can see the extent to which people are struggling to live with these illnesses. Colorectal cancer can have some difficult physical consequences, such as incontinence and sexual difficulties — it’s more than enough for anyone to have to deal with. Mental health issues can be a real barrier to people getting better. This is a stark reminder that every cancer patient is different and so many people are living with many issues on top of coping with cancer. As healthcare professionals we need to consider each person’s individual needs to ensure they get the best support possible. And not just while they’re going through treatment, but for many years afterwards. This research tells us that having depression has an enormous impact on how people live after their cancer treatment.”

How Effective is Web Based Treatment for Depression?

Millions of people suffer from depression, and one of the latest and most innovative tools to identify and treat this mental health disorder is web based treatment. Is this treatment model actually effective though? According to a new study by Lueneburg, Germany’s Leuphana University web based treatment can be effective when it provides guided intervention and self help. Claudia Buntrock, M.Sc. Was the lead researcher on the study, providing guidance to the research team during the study. 406 adults who all had sub threshold depression but who did not have major depressive disorder were divided into two groups. One group received a web based program that offered guided self-help intervention while the second group received a web based program that offered psychoeducation instead. Both groups still had access that was unrestricted to their usual care and primary care physician visits.

The study on web based treatment for depression found that the guided self help intervention was more effective when the program included therapy which involved problem solving and cognitive behavioral adjustment. The program with guided self help intervention also had the support of an online trainer as well. 82% of the study participants took part in a telephone follow up 12 months after having access to the web based treatment. Of the follow up respondents only 27% of the intervention group participants experienced major depression disorder while 41% of the control group respondents experienced MDD.

The study researchers noted that “Results of the study suggest that the intervention could effectively reduce the risk of MDD onset or at least delay onset. Further research is needed to understand whether the effects are generalizable to both first onset of depression and depression recurrence, as well as efficacy without the use of an online trainer.”

Parents May Aid Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Recovery for Infants in Opioid Withdrawal

A recent medical study has shown that when infants are suffering from opioid withdrawal and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome they will recover faster when they spend a significant amount of time with their parents nearby. Having the parents close to the infant has shown to greatly improve the outcome. The study findings were used in a presentation for the 2016 meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies. According to Boston Children’s Hospital/Boston Medical Center Combined Residency Program associate Mary Beth Howard, M.D., M.Sc., the lead author of the study, “Encouraging and supporting mothers with substance abuse disorders to be involved in their infant’s care while they are being treated for withdrawal symptoms should be a priority of providers caring for opioid-exposed newborns.”

As the USA and Canada struggle with an epidemic of opioid abuse more infants will experience opioid withdrawal and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome from exposure to heroin or other opioid drugs in the womb. Some of the symptoms of NAS include poor feeding, lethargy, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, poor sleep, and intense irritability. Infants who experience these symptoms are typically treated in the hospital, and this often requires weeks of an inpatient stay along with a variety of drugs to treat the symptoms that the infant experiences. In the study newborns who had their parents at the bedside during the treatment tended to have opioid withdrawal symptoms that were less severe, and these infants were typically released after shorter stays than infants who did not receive the same parental support and presence.

According to Howard “Our results show that non-pharmacologic interventions play a key role in treating opioid-exposed infants and lessening the severity of NAS. Rooming-in may provide opportunities for bonding and normalize the postpartum process for women who may feel vulnerable and stigmatized because of their opioid dependence history. Creating a more secure, compassionate, and comfortable environment for mothers and infants will likely lead to improved outcomes for both mother and infant.”

4 More Things You Can Expect When A Loved One Has Bipolar Disorder

1. Expect to struggle with the fact that you can not heal someone who has bipolar disorder no matter how much you love them. Many people think that if they try hard enough they can save someone that they love from mental illness but this is not the case. You did not cause this condition and you can not cure it no matter how much you want to or how hard you try.

2. This mental health disorder will cause chaos, especially when your loved one is first diagnosed, and you can expect to be surprised. While the condition has a set of parameters each individual is different and unique, and the disorder can take many different forms and include a wide range of symptoms. There is no lab test for this condition, it is diagnosed based on the symptoms displayed and the history given by the patient.

3. Treatment does not always mean the same thing to someone who has bipolar disorder, and yoru loved one may seem to resist the treatment that you think they would benefit from. A mental disorder changes the way an individual thinks and they may not always see treatment as something that is necessary until an effective treatment is started.

4. Expect to feel guilt when you feel good or you are having a positive moment when you love someone who has this mental health disorder because this is part of human nature. Let this guilt go and understand that avoiding happiness will not help your loved one recover, and that you should not be sentenced to a lifetime of sadness just because the person that you love is mentally ill.

4 Things You Can Expect When A Loved One Has Bipolar Disorder

1. Your loved one may not even realize that they have bipolar disorder. Often those with a mental illness do not even know that they are sick, This is a phenomenon known as anosognasia and the person who is ill will often not even seek treatment as a result of this condition.

2. This mental health disorder requires a considerable amount of time and effort to manage properly, even for those who do not have any mental or medical conditions. Expecting someone who is ill to manage this is impossible and an advocate and caregiver may be needed until the condition is under control and the individual can handle their own needs in these areas.

3. In many cases medications used to treat bipolar disorder is not always effective, and it can take some time to find the right medications in the right dosages. Very few people with this diagnosis get rapid relief as soon as they start the first medications and many find that it can take several attempts and various drugs and drug combos before they begin to see improvement. Don’t expect changes overnight.

4. Expect to feel overwhelmed and remember to take care of yourself. This type of mental health diagnosis is usually one that is life changing, especially for those who care about the person who is diagnosed. Schedule time for yourself on a regular basis and do not let the demands of caring for your loved one prevent you from caring for yourself properly at the same time. Enlist the help of others so that you do not end up exhausted and run down.

New Study Shows Lack of Sleep Affects Mental and Physical Health, Increasing the Risk of Illness

A new study by University of Helsinki researchers has determined that a lack of sleep can impact mental and physical health both, leading to a greater risk of illness for the individual. Studies in the past have identified a lack of sleep with conditions that affect the immune system, inflammation in the body, appetite regulating hormones, and even how you metabolize carbohydrates. The latest study also shows that a lack of sleep could affect your physical health in other ways as well, including your cholesterol metabolism. The study results showed that people who get less sleep tend to have less active genes which are involved in the regulation of cholesterol transport in the body.

Sleep Team Helsinki researcher Vilma Aho, a doctoral student at the University of Helsinki, explained the connection between lack of sleep and poor physical health. Aho said “In this case, we examined what changes sleep loss caused to the functions of the body and which of these changes could be partially responsible for the elevated risk for illness. It is particularly interesting that these factors contributing to the onset of atherosclerosis, that is to say, inflammatory reactions and changes to cholesterol metabolism, were found both in the experimental study and in the epidemiological data. The experimental study proved that just one week of insufficient sleep begins to change the body’s immune response and metabolism. Our next goal is to determine how minor the sleep deficiency can be while still causing such changes.” This is something to think about when you are tempted to cut back on your sleep.

Can Social Rejection Pain be Lessened With the Use of Psilocybin?

Psilocybin, the substance in magic mushrooms which allow users to experience a distorted reality and “trip” as it is referred to, could help patients with certain mental health disorders experience less social rejection and the negative emotions and pain that this rejection can cause. Researchers have long known that people who have mental disorders tend to react much stronger to social rejection, and this can add even more stress on the patient which can have a negative impact on their treatment and the development of their mental disorder. These individuals could be at greater risk for even further withdrawal from social life and the support that these activities can provide. University of Zurich researchers have found that a small amount of psilocybin can affect the way that the brain processes social conflicts and allow the participants to feel socially included and to experience less stress when they are socially rejected.

First author of the study on social rejection and psilocybin, Dr. Katrin Preller, explained that “Increased activity in brain areas such as the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex is associated with an increased experience of social pain. This has been shown to be present in different psychiatric disorders. Psilocybin seems to influence these particular brain areas.” Neuropsychopharmacology and Brain Imaging Unit director Dr. Franz Vollenweider stated “These new results could be groundbreaking for the illumination of the neuropharmacological mechanisms of social interaction and may help to develop new treatments. On the other hand the reduction of psychological pain and fear can facilitate the therapist-patient relationship and therefore the psychotherapeutic treatment of formative negative social experiences.