Total 43 News Articles

  • 02 Mar
    Dr. Ibrahim Abunada

    Chronic stress leads to brain inflammation and memory loss

    Chronic stress leads to brain inflammation and memory loss

    People who experience chronic stress due to bullying or a tough job also run a higher risk of memory loss, according to a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.


    People who are constantly stressed by bullying or a difficult job may be prone to short-term memory loss, too.

    Previous studies have connected chronic stress with long-term anxiety.

    Researchers led by Jonathan Godbout, associate professor of neuroscience at Ohio State University, investigated the relationship between prolonged stress and short-term memory loss in mice.

    Ultimately, the researchers hope the findings will help people who live with ongoing stress.

    The team had mice get used to a maze with an escape hole. They then exposed the mice to repeat visits from a larger, aggressive intruder mouse.

    Mice that repeatedly had to confront the intruder found it harder to remember the location of the escape hole, whereas the mice that were not stressed were able to find it.

    Memory loss matched by immune response

    The problems resolved within 28 days, but until then, the mice showed evidence of social avoidance, a measure of depressive behavior.

    The inability to remember coincided with measurable changes in the mice's brains. Immune cells, or macrophages, appeared in the brains of the stressed mice, indicating that inflammation had resulted from the immune system's response to the stress.

    Moreover, focus on the hippocampus, a hub of memory and emotional response, revealed shortfalls in the development of new neurons at 10 and 28 days after the stressful period ended.

    The team concludes that the short-term memory loss is linked to brain inflammation and the immune system.

    John Sheridan, associate director of Ohio State's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, explains: "Stress releases immune cells from the bone marrow, and those cells can traffic to brain areas associated with neuronal activation in response to stress. They're being called to the brain, to the center of memory."

    This experience of repeated dominance by an alpha mouse and persistent social defeat will be familiar to many people who live with chronic psychosocial stress.

    The scientists hope that a better understanding of stress and cognitive and mood problems could help create strategies for those whose daily lives involve anxiety, depression and ongoing problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder. One solution could be to find a way to interrupt the inflammation.

    Godbout says:

    "The impact on memory and confirmation that the brain inflammation is caused by the immune system are important new discoveries. It's possible we could identify targets that we can treat pharmacologically or behaviorally."

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  • 02 Mar
    Dr. Ibrahim Abunada

    Marijuana use 'not linked to mood or anxiety disorders'

    Marijuana use 'not linked to mood or anxiety disorders'

    Previous studies have linked cannabis use to increased risk of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance use disorders and psychosis, but others have not been able to replicate such findings. Now, in what is presumed to be the first national study to prospectively examine the link between cannabis use and prevalence of other mood, anxiety and substance use disorders, researchers find no link between marijuana use and mood or anxiety disorders.

    The large study, utilizing a nationally representative sample, finds no association between marijuana use and increased risk of developing mood or anxiety disorders.

    Led by Dr. Mark Olfson, of the Columbia University Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute, the study is published in JAMA Psychiatry.

    He and his team say discrepancies between previous studies may be explained by varying age ranges, geographic locations, males vs. females or the number and type of mental disorders assessed.

    More and more, states in the US are legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use, which has prompted further study into the benefits or risks associated with the drug.

    On the positive side, one study recently suggested cannabidiol (CBD) - a compound in cannabis - could reduce seizures. And another study published last year showed that CBD can help bones to heal.

    Other studies, however, are not as optimistic about the effects of marijuana. One study suggested teens who use cannabis are at risk of schizophrenia, while another claimed that a high-potency form of marijuana damages a key brain structure.

    Marijuana use linked with risk of alcohol and drug use disorders

    To further examine how marijuana use could affect risk of mental health and substance use disorders in the general population, the researchers from this latest study used a nationally representative sample of adults in the US.

    In total, 34,653 adults were interviewed in a 3-year interval as part of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

    Results showed that, at 3 years follow-up, marijuana use was linked with increased risk of alcohol and drug use disorders, as well as nicotine dependence. There was no link between marijuana use and increased risk for mood or anxiety disorders, however.

    The researchers caution that although their study does not demonstrate a causal link between marijuana use and new mental disorders, "these adverse psychiatric outcomes should be taken under careful consideration."

    They add:

    "From a perspective of prevention, the lack of association between more frequent cannabis use with increased risk of most mood and anxiety disorders does not diminish the important public health significance of the association between cannabis use and increased prevalence and incidence of drug and alcohol use disorders (including nicotine dependence)."

    Furthermore, they point out that smoking and alcohol consumption are the first and third leading causes of preventable death, respectively, which is why they urge caution in light of their findings.

  • 27 Feb
    eWellness Expert

    Quitting smoking boosts mental health

    Quitting smoking boosts mental health

    WASHINGTON: Quitting smoking after a heart attack has immediate benefits, including less chest pain, better quality of daily life and improved mental health, scientists have found.

    Many of these improvements became apparent as little as one month after quitting and are more pronounced after one year, according to the research.

    "Even in people who smoked and had a heart attack, we see fairly rapid improvements in important measures of health and quality of life when they quit smoking after their heart attacks, compared with people who continue smoking," said senior author Sharon Cresci, assistant professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis.

    Quitting smoking after a heart attack has been known to reduce risk of a second attack and risk of death in general.

    But little was known about other health benefits that might have a more immediate impact on people's day-to-day lives and provide additional motivation to kick the habit.

    The researchers analysed data from about 4,000 patients participating in several trials that studied heart attacks.

    At the time of their heart attacks, patients were classified as never smokers, former smokers who quit before their heart attacks or active smokers.

    Of the active smokers, 46 per cent quit in the first year following their heart attacks.

    "Obviously those patients who had never smoked did the best after their heart attacks," Cresci said.

    "But those who had quit prior to their heart attacks looked remarkably similar to the never smokers," Cresci said.

    "The patients who quit after the heart attacks had an intermediate level of recovery but were markedly better than the active smokers, who fared the worst in the amount of chest pain they experienced and in their responses to questionnaires measuring mental health and quality of life," Cresci said.

    The health improvements remained significant even when the researchers controlled for other factors that play a role in measures of mental health and general quality of life, such as pre-existing depression, other medical conditions and socioeconomic factors.

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  • 27 Feb
    eWellness Expert

    Thorpe reveals mental health issues since a teen

    Thorpe reveals mental health issues since a teen

    SYDNEY: Swimming great Ian Thorpe Thursday revealed he has battled mental health issues since his teenage years as he opened up about his struggle with depression.

    Australia's most decorated Olympian, with five gold medals at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games, was admitted to a rehabilitation facility for the condition in 2014 after being found disoriented on a Sydney street.

    The 33-year-old has said previously that he kept the problem secret from his loved ones, but is now part of Young Minds Matter, a campaign designed to raise awareness of children's mental health issues backed by Prince William's wife Kate Middleton.

    "I am someone who has struggled with mental health issues since I was a teen," Thorpe wrote in a blog post for news website Huffington Post Australia.

    "From the outside, many would not see my pain nor be able to relate to the sometimes-daily struggle I was facing.

    "This is part of the deception of depression and also mental illness: what may appear at face value is a stark difference from the agony that lies within."

    Thorpe, still hugely popular in many parts of the world, became the first person to win six gold medals at one world championships, in 2001, among 11 world titles overall -- along with 10 Commonwealth Games gold medals.

    But the demands of a celebrity lifestyle and grinding training saw him quit in 2006.

    He was unable to find a direction, dabbling in jewellery design and television while attempting a number of university courses before a comeback in 2012 in which he failed to qualify for the London Olympics.

    In 2014, several months after treatment for depression, he received widespread praise by revealing he was gay in a move advocates said helped remove the stigma of homophobia in sport.

    In the blog, Thorpe admitted that in the past he sometimes became "a hermit and tried to shut out the world" as he encouraged young people to recognise and confront any mental health issues.

    "If you concede to your illness and accept its reality you fall into the trap of not only being depressed but also taking on the depressed mindset," he said.

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  • 27 Feb
    eWellness Expert

    How violence affects children's mental health

    How violence affects children's mental health

    CHIldren who live in societies witnessing violence may have high levels of behavioural and emotional problems, according to a US study based on the mental health of children in Juarez, Mexico -- once dubbed the murder capital of the world.

    The finding of the study by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Centre-El Paso researchers suggests that the mental health of children was negatively affected by exposure to the mass murders and acts of terror, like kidnappings, bombings and decapitations, related to the city's drug violence in 2010.

    "I am very worried about the children who lived in Juarez when the drug violence peaked a few years ago," says Marie Leiner, a paediatric researcher at TTUHSC El Paso who led the study and gathered data about the mental health of youth living on the US-Mexico border.


    For the study, Leiner compared the mental health of children living in relatively safer El Paso, Texas to that of children living in its neighbouring city Juarez.

    After analysing data collected from both groups, Leiner found that the prevalence of issues like depression, aggression, anxiety, withdrawal and attention deficit disorder were three times higher in children living in Juarez.


    "I'm not saying that kids in El Paso are not affected by violence, but they did not have this exposure to violence everywhere in their neighbourhoods. They did not attend their family funerals and they didn't go to school to learn that their friends' families were murdered," Leiner said.

    The children and their families were not directly asked about their personal experiences with drug violence and the study assumes those living in Juarez were indirectly exposed to the violence.
     
    The study findings were published in the journal Salud Mental.
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