Finding OR Creating #depression

Life isn’t about finding yourself.

Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw

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Dangerous Dreamers #Depression

All men dream, but not equally.

Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity:

But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

T. E. Lawrence

Scientists discover brain mechanism to prevent unwanted thoughts

Scientists have developed a mechanism to prevent individuals from remembering traumatic events.

The mechanism could be used to develop treatments for people suffering from disorders such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorders.

The research, which was carried out by academics at the University of Cambridge, involved studying the mechanism in the brain used to retrieve unwanted thoughts.

Professor Michael Anderson, a researcher who worked on the study explained that as humans “our ability to control our thoughts is fundamental to our wellbeing.”

He said that when this ability “breaks down” we can develop “psychiatric diseases” these can include “intrusive memories, images, hallucinations, ruminations, and pathological and persistent worries.”

The way that thought recall works is that a region in the front of our brain called the prefrontal cortex acts as a regulator between other brain regions.

As part of the study the researchers used a ‘Think/No-think’ procedure to assess the brain process used that allows the prefrontal cortex to control our thoughts.

During the Think/No-think task, participants were shown a series of words and told to associate them with another series of totally unrelated words – an example being moss/north.

In the next stage of the task, participants were asked to recall words when they saw a green cue and supress it if the cue was red.

By using an MRI scan, researchers were able to determine what parts of the brain were used in order to inhibit thoughts.

Scientists discovered that a chemical in the neuro transmitters in the brain known as GABA allow messages to pass between cells.

Scientists revealed that GABA concentrations within the key area of the brain involved in memory known as the hippocampus, predicts people’s ability to block memories.

Professor Anderson explained: “What’s exciting about this is that now we’re getting very specific.

“Before, we could only say ‘this part of the brain acts on that part’, but now we can say which neurotransmitters are likely important – and as a result, infer the role of inhibitory neurons – in enabling us to stop unwanted thoughts.

“Where previous research has focused on the prefrontal cortex – the command centre – we’ve shown that this is an incomplete picture.

“Inhibiting unwanted thoughts is as much about the cells within the hippocampus – the ‘boots on the ground’ that receive commands from the prefrontal cortex.”

Studies have shown that people who have PTSD, anxiety and chronic depression have higher levels of activity in the hippocampus.

Professor Anderson said that so far in their research “most of the focus has been on improving functioning of the prefrontal cortex.”

However she said that the latest study “suggests that if you could improve GABA activity within the hippocampus, this may help people to stop unwanted and intrusive thoughts.”

Therefore discoveries found in the latest research could be used to help treat individuals suffering from psychiatric diseases.

A psychiatrist explains how seeing problems in the brain makes stigma disappear

As a psychiatrist, I find that one of the hardest parts of my job is telling parents and their children that they are not to blame for their illness.

Children with emotional and behavioral problems continue to suffer considerable stigma. Many in the medical community refer to them as “diagnostic and therapeutic orphans.”

Unfortunately, for many, access to high-quality mental health care remains elusive.

An accurate diagnosis is the best way to tell whether or not someone will respond well to treatment, though that can be far more complicated than it sounds.

I have written three textbooks about using medication in children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral problems. I know that this is never a decision to take lightly.

But there’s reason for hope. While not medically able to diagnose any psychiatric condition, dramatic advances in brain imaging, genetics and other technologies are helping us objectively identify mental illness.

Knowing the signs of sadness

All of us experience occasional sadness and anxiety, but persistent problems may be a sign of a deeper issue. Ongoing issues with sleeping, eating, weight, school and pathologic self-doubt may be signs of depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Separating out normal behavior from problematic behavior can be challenging. Emotional and behavior problems can also vary with age. For example, depression in pre-adolescent children occurs equally in boys and girls. During adolescence, however, depression rates increase much more dramatically in girls than in boys.

It can be very hard for people to accept that they – or their family member – are not to blame for their mental illness. That’s partly because there are no current objective markers of psychiatric illness, making it difficult to pin down. Imagine diagnosing and treating cancer based on history alone. Inconceivable! But that is exactly what mental health professionals do every day. This can make it harder for parents and their children to accept that they don’t have control over the situation.

Fortunately, there are now excellent online tools that can help parents and their children screen for common mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder and more.

Most important of all is making sure your child is assessed by a licensed mental health professional experienced in diagnosing and treating children. This is particularly important when medications that affect the child’s brain are being considered.

Seeing the problem

Thanks to recent developments in genetics, neuroimaging and the science of mental health, it’s becoming easier to characterize patients. New technologies may also make it easier to predict who is more likely to respond to a particular treatment or experience side effects from medication.

Our laboratory has used brain MRI studies to help unlock the underlying anatomy, chemistry and physiology underlying OCD. This repetitive, ritualistic illness – while sometimes used among laypeople to describe someone who is uptight – is actually a serious and often devastating behavioral illness that can paralyze children and their families.

Through sophisticated, high-field brain imaging techniques – such as fMRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy – that have become available recently, we can actually measure the child brain to see malfunctioning areas.

We have found, for example, that children 8 to 19 years old with OCD never get the “all clear signal” from a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex. This signal is essential to feeling safe and secure. That’s why, for example, people with OCD may continue checking that the door is locked or repeatedly wash their hands. They have striking brain abnormalities that appear to normalize with effective treatment.

We have also begun a pilot study with a pair of identical twins. One has OCD and the other does not. We found brain abnormalities in the affected twin, but not in the unaffected twin. Further study is clearly warranted, but the results fit the pattern we have found in larger studies of children with OCD before and after treatment as compared to children without OCD.

Exciting brain MRI and genetic findings are also being reported in childhood depression, non-OCD anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD and schizophrenia, among others.

Meanwhile, the field of psychiatry continues to grow. For example, new techniques may soon be able to identify children at increased genetic risk for psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

New, more sophisticated brain imaging and genetics technology actually allows doctors and scientists to see what is going on in a child’s brain and genes. For example, by using MRI, our laboratory discovered that the brain chemical glutamate, which serves as the brain’s “light switch,” plays a critical role in childhood OCD.

What a scan means

When I show families their child’s MRI brain scans, they often tell me they are relieved and reassured to “be able to see it.”

Children with mental illness continue to face enormous stigma. Often when they are hospitalized, families are frightened that others may find out. They may hesitate to let schools, employers or coaches know about a child’s mental illness. They often fear that other parents will not want to let their children spend too much time with a child who has been labeled mentally ill. Terms like “psycho” or “going mental” remain part of our everyday language.

The example I like to give is epilepsy. Epilepsy once had all the stigma that mental illness today has. In the Middle Ages, one was considered to be possessed by the devil. Then, more advanced thinking said that people with epilepsy were crazy. Who else would shake all over their body or urinate and defecate on themselves but a crazy person? Many patients with epilepsy were locked in lunatic asylums.

Then in 1924, psychiatrist Hans Berger discovered something called the electroencephalogram (EEG). This showed that epilepsy was caused by electrical abnormalities in the brain. The specific location of these abnormalities dictated not only the diagnosis but the appropriate treatment.

That is the goal of modern biological psychiatry: to unlock the mysteries of the brain’s chemistry, physiology and structure. This can help better diagnose and precisely treat childhood onset mental illness. Knowledge heals, informs and defeats ignorance and stigma every time.

By David Rosenberg, Professor, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Wayne State University

Read the full article here: A psychiatrist explains how seeing problems in the brain makes stigma disappear – PsyPost

Did you know it was World Mental Health Day on the 10th October?

Slipped past me!

Did you know it was happening?

What did you do to mark the day?

 

#Depression – 8 Rules the Navy Seals have to teach all men (and women)

Listening to an inspirational talk by a Navy Seal on Spotify recently I learnt a lot. Well eight specific things to be accurate.

I nearly sat on these for my own benefit. Then realised this is something not to keep to myself, so here you go… Continue reading “#Depression – 8 Rules the Navy Seals have to teach all men (and women)”

Into the storm, again..

It’s been month or two now since coming off the antidepressants again … maybe longer, I’m not really sure. It wasn’t an event I have marked on the calendar.

Things have been ‘ok’. Life throws little challenges on a day to day basis and you deal with them. Using the proverbial toolbox to keep things steady, in perspective.

Then the bigger waves come. Some you see over the horizon. Some suddenly build before you. Like the waves of the ocean they can be treacherous, terrifying.

Now I’ve been around a bit and seen a lot. But there is nothing like the feeling of the wheels falling off while all those around you fail to recognise the train wreck unfolding so close to them. Continue reading “Into the storm, again..”

Ways to fight #depression day 2 – Breathe properly

The Breathe2Relax stress management app walks users through breathing exercises that help stabilise mood, control anger and manage anxiety. It specialises in teaching “diaphragmatic breathing” (aka, belly breathing) to beat stress and encourage relaxation. 

Ironically although we all breath, an obvious statement, relatively few have taken any notice of how we breath. Save maybe Physical Education lessons where we were left gasping for it.

Over the years I have spent training and developing my physical fitness I have stuck with a great piece of advice i was given in my early twenties… to keep my head up, shoulders back and mouth open – the body will sort the rest out.

While this advice is great when you are six miles into a long march carrying what seems like your body weight on your back at a pace you almost never walk at, it doesn’t answer the subtle situations. Like how to calm yourself before that job interview or first date. How when everyone around you is getting very agitated as they panick in a stressful situation, you can use your breathing to become calm and controlled.

This is where learning things like meditation or yoga come to the fore. By harnessing diaphragmatic breathing you can mentally take control, calm everything down and take on challenging moments better.

TIP: … drinking coffee at those challenging times will do little to keep things calm!

Learn about diaphragmatic breathing here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaphragmatic_breathing

Read the 23 Ways to fight depression article here: http://www.gq.com.au/success/self+improvement/tips+for+depression+and+anxiety+mental+health,50257

Ways to fight #depression, day 1 – Disconnect from your newsfeed

A survey from the US National Institute Of Health linked social media to depression and anxiety. A drip-feed of carefully selected and edited pictures on social media is a recipe for low self-esteem. If you can’t quite face culling your Facebook friends list and deleting Instagram from your phone, set aside a maximum of 30 minutes a day for checking your social accounts. Less is more.
Read the full article here: www.gq.com.au/success/self+improvement/tips+for+depression+and+anxiety+mental+health,50257

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