Scientists Surprised to Find No Two Neurons Are Genetically Alike Scientific American - May 3, 2017
The genetic makeup of any given brain cell differs from all others. That realization may provide clues to a range of psychiatric diseases. The past few decades have seen intensive efforts to find the genetic roots of neurological disorders, from schizophrenia to autism. But the genes singled out so far have provided only sketchy clues. Even the most important genetic risk factors identified for autism, for example, may only account for a few percent of all cases.
In my experience as a therapist, people who suffer from PTSD were genetically predisposed to mental illness before the traumatic event happened.
First molecular genetic evidence of PTSD heritability discovered Science Daily - April 25, 2017
The report extends previous findings that showed that there is some shared genetic overlap between PTSD and other mental disorders such as schizophrenia. It also finds that genetic risk for PTSD is strongest among women. many people exposed to even extreme traumatic events do not develop PTSD. Why is that? We believe that genetic variation is an important factor contributing to this risk or resilience
Wiring of the 'little brain' linked to multiple forms of mental illness Medical Express - April 11, 2017
Having a single mental illness like anxiety, depression or schizophrenia is hard enough on its own. But studies consistently show that up to half of people with one mental illness also experience one or more additional forms of mental illness at the same time. The high numbers of patients who suffer from multiple forms of mental illness has many researchers shifting focus away from studying individual disorders and instead hunting for common mechanisms or risk factors that might cause all types of mental disorders. Read more at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-04-wiring-brain-linked-multiple-mental.html#jCp
Why Breathing Deeply Helps You Calm Down Live Science - March 31, 2017
Deep breaths can settle your nerves, and now scientists have discovered the neural pathway in the brain that controls this process. In an experiment on mice, scientists identified a circuit of neurons - a tiny cluster of a mere 350 nerve cells, among millions in the mouse brain - that regulate the connection between breathing and the higher-order brain activity that affects how calmly or worked up the mice behaved. When the scientists removed these cells, they found that the mice still breathed normally, but they were uncharacteristically calm. This discovery may someday lead to therapies to help people who have anxiety, stress and panic attacks
Do Schizophrenia and Autism Share the Same Root? Scientific American - March 22, 2017
New research suggests the two conditions may be different outcomes of one genetic syndrome. In children with a deletion on chromosome 22, having autism does not boost the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life, according to a new study1. The children in the study have 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, which is linked to a 25-fold increase in the risk of developing a psychotic condition such as schizophrenia. A deletion in the region is also associated with an increased risk of autism. Some researchers have suggested that the relatively high autism prevalence in this population is the result of misdiagnoses of early signs of schizophrenia.
Patients with OCD have difficulty learning when a stimulus is safe Medical Express - March 6, 2017
People who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are poorer at learning about the safety of a stimulus than healthy volunteers, which may contribute to their struggles to overcome compulsive behavior. OCD is a disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts and repetitive, irrational behaviors, for example an obsession with cleanliness leading to repetitive hand washing, or a fear that something terrible will happen if they don't check the door dozens of times, making leaving the house extremely difficult.
Fractal edges shown to be key to imagery seen in Rorschach inkblots Science Daily - February 14, 2017
Researchers have unlocked the mystery of why people have seen so many different images in Rorschach inkblots. The image associations are induced by fractal characteristics at the edges of the blots and depend on the scaling parameters of the patterns, says researcher. Fractals are objects with irregular curves or shapes and are recognizable building blocks of nature. Trees, clouds, rivers, galaxies, lungs and neurons are fractals. The new discovery isn't about improving inkblots for psychological assessments -- their use became controversial and mostly set aside in the last 20 years. It does, however, have implications for Taylor's efforts to design a fractal based retinal implant and for potentially improving materials used for camouflage.
Study reveals what happens when depression, anxiety coincide with minor injury Medical Express - January 4, 2017
When someone breaks a leg or fractures a rib, injuries considered relatively minor, providers often don't look beyond what's initially required to help that person heal. Research revealed that someone who arrives in the emergency department needing help for a minor injury and who also expresses symptoms of depression and anxiety at that time will likely experience poorer work performance and increased health-related time in bed 12 months out.
Personality traits and psychiatric disorders linked to specific genomic locations Medical Express - December 8, 2017
Five psychological factors are commonly used to measure individual differences in personality:
Extraversion (versus introversion) reflects talkativeness, assertiveness and a high activity level
Neuroticism (versus emotional stability) reflects negative affect, such as anxiety and depression
Agreeableness (versus antagonism) measures cooperativeness and compassion
Conscientiousness (versus undependability) indicates diligence and self-discipline
Openness to experience (versus being closed to experience) suggests intellectual curiosity and creativity
Scientists find new genetic roots of schizophrenia Science Daily - October 20, 2017
Using a recently developed technology for analyzing DNA, scientists have found dozens of genes and two major biological pathways that are likely involved in the development of the disorder but had not been uncovered in previous genetic studies of schizophrenia. The work provides important new information about how schizophrenia originates and points the way to more detailed studies -- and possibly better treatments in the future. Schizophrenia is a chronic, disabling mental illness whose symptoms can include hallucinations, delusions and cognitive problems. The illness afflicts about 1 percent of the human population.
Scientists Can Make People Hallucinate Using Flickering Image Live Science - October 17, 2017
How can we measure the mind? When you ask someone what they're thinking about, what they tell you is not necessarily the truth. This doesn't mean they're lying. It means many environmental, social and personal influences can change what someone tells us. If I put on a white lab coat, suit or t-shirt and ask you a bunch of questions, what I wear will change what you say. This was demonstrated in the famous Milgrim experiments in the 1960s, which showed the power of perceived authority to control others' behavior. People want to be liked, or give a certain impression. This is commonly referred to as impression management and is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in scientific research. Neuroscientists have made notable advances in measuring the anatomy of the brain and its regions at different scales. But they've made few big advances in measuring the mind, which is what people think, feel and experience. The mind is notoriously difficult to measure; but it needs to be done as it will aid development of new treatments for mental and neurological disorders.
What's really going on in PTSD brains? Experts suggest new theory Medical Express - October 7, 2017
All experts in the field now agree that PTSD indeed has its roots in very real, physical processes within the brain - and not in some sort of psychological "weakness". But no clear consensus has emerged about what exactly has gone "wrong" in the brain. The bottom line, they say, is that people with PTSD appear to suffer from disrupted context processing. That's a core brain function that allows people and animals to recognize that a particular stimulus may require different responses depending on the context in which it is encountered. It's what allows us to call upon the "right" emotional or physical response to the current encounter.
Do these genes make me lonely? Study finds loneliness is a heritable trait Medical Express - September 20, 2017
Loneliness is linked to poor physical and mental health, and is an even more accurate predictor of early death than obesity. The heritability of loneliness has been examined before, in twins and other studies of both children and adults. From these, researchers estimated that 37 to 55 percent of loneliness is determined by genetics.The researchers also determined that loneliness tends to be co-inherited with neuroticism (long-term negative emotional state) and a scale of depressive symptoms. Weaker evidence suggested links between heritable loneliness and schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. In contrast to previous studies, the researchers did not find loneliness to be associated with variations in specific candidate genes, such as those that encode dopamine or oxytocin.
The Science of Boredom Live Science - September 20, 2017
Though boredom is as familiar a feeling as excitement or fear, science has only begun to understand what makes people bored. Recently, six scientists who emerged after living for a year in isolation on the Mauna Loa volcano as part of the HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) experiment, which simulated the isolation that future space travelers might experience traveling to and living on Mars, said that boredom was their biggest challenge. Boredom "has been understudied until fairly recently, but it''s worth studying because human experience has consequences for how we interact with each our and our environment.
Is Your 'Self' Just an Illusion? Live Science - September 8, 2017
Are "you" just an illusion, a mix of experiences and "stuff" in the universe? What is a "self," anyway? What does it mean to be a self? What are the requirements of selfhood? The nature of self is one of philosophy's perennial and persistent questions. Self is easy to describe, yet maddening to decipher. Part philosophy of the mind, part biology of the brain, it combines two elusive ideas: the philosophy of continuity (how things persist through time) and the biopsychology of psychic unity (how the brain makes us feel singular). I see; I hear; I feel. How do separate perceptions bind together into a continuing, coherent whole? How do sentient properties congeal as "me"?
The mind body connection begins at the soul level -> then spirals down to the physical mind where it is processed by the emotional body -> then is played out by the physical body. It's all about one's DNA programming for experience.
New insights into how the mind influences the body Medical Express - August 17, 2017
Neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh have identified the neural networks that connect the cerebral cortex to the adrenal medulla, which is responsible for the body's rapid response in stressful situations. Specifically, the findings shed new light on how stress, depression and other mental states can alter organ function, and show that there is a real anatomical basis for psychosomatic illness. The research also provides a concrete neural substrate that may help explain why meditation and certain exercises such as yoga and Pilates can be so helpful in modulating the body's responses to physical, mental and emotional stress.
Common brain changes found in children with autism, ADHD and OCD Science Daily - July 27, 2017
A team of scientists has found similarities in brain impairments in children with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. The study involved brain imaging of white matter in 200 children. Many of the behaviors that contribute to impairment in autism, ADHD, and OCD, such as attention problems or social difficulties, occur across these conditions, and differ in severity from person to person. The researchers found that the brain's white matter structure was associated with a spectrum of behavioral symptoms present across these diagnoses. Children with greater brain impairment also had higher impairments in functioning in daily life, regardless of their diagnosis.
Anxiety, Depression, or Both? Scientific American - May 22, 2017
Anxiety and depression are both challenging disorders - to make matters worse, they occur together up to 50% of the time. Depression and anxiety are fundamentally different - depression is based in hopelessness and helplessness, while anxiety is steeped in fear of the uncertain. But even though they're different, they overlap in many ways. Here are five big similarities:
#2: Problems sleeping.
#3: Difficulty concentrating.
#5: No fun.
What Happens in Our Brains When We Hallucinate? Discovery - March 14, 2017
Voices in your head? Visions of things that aren't there? You don't have to have schizophrenia or take LSD to have a hallucination, and they don't always have to be scary either. It turns out that many everyday high functioning people occasionally do have what technically is a hallucination. Researchers recently found that nearly 1 in 20 of the general population report hearing or seeing things - when fully awake - that others don't. So what is a hallucination? It's a 'false perception' of reality and it can occur with a whole range of senses, but the most common ones are visual and auditory hallucinations. Normally our brain is good at distinguishing between a sound or image that is occurring in the outside world, and one that is just a product of our mind. But occasionally something can go awry. One major theory is that hallucinations are caused when something goes wrong in the relationship between the brain's frontal lobe and the sensory cortex. (View the pictures.)
One reason is to understand and work out their own issues. Another - people with emotional problems find it boring to live with someone who is balanced and peaceful. What they don't realize is the amount of work they put into a dysfunctional relationships is overwhelming to the body, mind, and soul --> burnout.
Disordered Pairs: People More Likely to Find a Mate with a Similar Psychiatric Condition Scientific American - March 2, 2017
New research provides evidence that partners are more similar in psychiatric status than chance would predict. The idea that 'opposites attract' may seem to hold true often enough, but it is definitely not the whole story: When it comes to choosing a partner, people actually tend to pair up with those similar to them - in qualities ranging from height and weight to education, income and personality.
7 Ways To Make Therapy More Affordable Huffington Post - January 25, 2017
Depending on where you live and what kind of insurance you have, the price can be upwards of $80 to $200 for one 45- to 60-minute session. But here's the truth: Therapy doesn't have to expensive in order to work. There are multiple options to get the help and treatment you deserve -- and getting that help is crucial.
1. Try sliding scale therapy.
2. Look into university counseling centers.
3. Research free therapy options.
4. Look into participating in research studies.
5. Go to a community-based organization.
6. Try group therapy.
7. Look into an online program.
You Are Not Alone: A Conversation About OCD Huffington Post - January 25, 2017
Do you hide your worrisome thoughts from others so they don't think poorly of you? Or, do you share them to relieve the intense anxiety you feel and others try to talk you out of them which you know can't work? Do you do things you do compulsively knowing they just relieve anxiety but don't make a lot of sense? Do you try to hide them so no one thinks you're crazy? (You're not.)
Brief Psychotic Breaks Remain a Mystery Live Science - January 17, 2017
Not all psychotic episodes signal the beginning of a long-term mental health disorder like schizophrenia. In fact, when patients experience one of these short-term breaks with reality, it's not precisely clear how the individuals should be diagnosed. Now, a new study finds there are no significant differences in the prognosis for patients who have four different types of brief psychotic episodes. (Such episodes may involve hallucinations or delusions, or less severe symptoms such as disorientation, disorganized thinking or speech that doesn't make sense.) The new findings, based on a review of research covering 11,133 patients, highlight how little is understood about how psychosis may progress, the researchers said.
Light Therapy Is More Effective Than Prozac In Major Depression Epoch Times - December 23, 2015
Bright light therapy has a proven track record of success in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), commonly referred to as the winter blues. A new study from the University of British Columbia shows that this simple and safe therapy is effective for non-seasonal major depression. In fact, researchers showed light therapy was much more effective than fluoxetine (Prozac).
5 Ways to Create Happier, More Meaningful Days Huffington Post - November 27, 2015
1. Focus on less and do more.
2. Choose your food wisely.
3. Move more.
5. Cultivate relationships.
The search for happiness: Using MRI to find where happiness happens Science Daily - November 20, 2015
Researchers have mapped out using MRI where happiness emerges in the brain. The study paves the way for measuring happiness objectively - and also provides insights on a neurologically based way of being happy. Exercising, meditating, scouring self-help books... we go out of our way to be happy, but do we really know what happiness is?
9 Sneaky Causes Of Depression Huffington Post - November 12, 2015
For some people, sub-zero temperatures aren't the only difficult side effect of winter. Approximately 10 million Americans also experience seasonal affective disorder, a depression-related mental health condition that waxes and wanes depending on the time of year. 1. Chronic illness
3. Excessive social media use
4. Your neighborhood
6. Too much sitting
7. A lack of sleep
8. Brain inflammation
9. Not putting your needs first
Relationship between sympathy, helping others could provide clues to development of altruism Science Daily - September 29, 2015
Developmental psychologists long have debated whether individuals volunteer and help others because they are sympathetic or whether they are sympathetic because they are prosocial. Now, new research helps clarify some of the confusion, which could lead to better interventions to promote positive behaviors in adolescents and clues as to what makes some individuals altruistic.
10 Things Emotionally-Intelligent People Do Not Do Huffington Post - September 10, 2015
Emotional intelligence is probably the most powerful yet undervalued trait in our society. We believe in rooting our everyday functions in logic and reason, yet we come to the same conclusions after long periods of contemplation as we do in the blink of an eye. Our leaders sorely overlook the human element of our socio-political issues and I need not cite the divorce rate for you to believe that we're not choosing the right partners (nor do we have the capacity to sustain intimate relationships for long periods of time).
1. They don't assume that the way they think and feel about a situation is the way it is in reality, nor how it will turn out in the end.
2. Their emotional base points are not external.
3. They don't assume to know what it is that will make them truly happy.
4. They don't think that being fearful is a sign they are on the wrong path.
5. They know that happiness is a choice, but they don't feel the need to make it all the time.
6. They don't allow their thoughts to be chosen for them.
7. They recognize that infallible composure is not emotional intelligence.
8. They know that a feeling will not kill them.
9. They don't just become close friends with anyone.
10. They don't confuse a bad feeling for a bad life.
Stressed at Work? How to Beat Common Traps in the Rat Race Epoch Times - September 8, 2015
Hunched over, hardly moving for hours on end, hitting the same buttons again and again in the hope of a future reward ... sound familiar? Repeating the same task locks our brains into autopilot and before long we are distracted and bored. Suddenly, we find we have spent several hours on Facebook, checking emails, scanning the news, all to make us feel better and more stimulated, though only for the short term. Your brain is a thinking and learning machine. When you're bored, it's screaming out for something new or challenging to think about - often the very things we choose to put off, such as tackling that 50-page report for your boss, or calling a difficult client.
7 Mental Illness Myths People Still Believe Huffington Post - September 2, 2015
Mental illness stigma can lead to a multitude of false beliefs -- and it's about time to set the record straight. Negative stereotypes create a lot of misconceptions, which further alienate people in a community that already feels isolated. The many fallacies that surround mental health disorders can make managing them all the more difficult -- after all, research suggests stigma acts as a barrier to treatment. Below are just a few of the myths no one should believe about mental illness.
Myth 1: It's contagious.
Myth 2: Mental illness is an indication of violence.
Myth 3: It's uncommon.
Myth 4: Mental illness is "all in your head."
Myth 5: You can't recover from mental health issues.
Myth 6: Mental illness stems from a bad childhood.
Myth 7: You can't help someone suffering from a mental health disorder.
Overthinking Could Be Driving Creativity in People With Neurotic Disorders Epoch Times - August 29, 2015
People who suffer from neuroticism - a condition characterized by anxiety, fear and negative thoughts - are extremely tuned in to looking for threats. For that reason, you may expect them to perform well in jobs requiring vigilance: stunt pilots, aviators and bomb diffusing. Yet, the evidence suggests they are actually more suited to creative jobs. Exactly what drives neuroticism and the creativity it is associated with is not known. But researchers have now come up with a theory which suggests that it could be down to the fact that people who score highly on neuroticism tests, meaning they are prone to anxiety or depression, tend to do a lot of thinking - often at the expense of concentrating at the task at hand.
Waiting for pleasure Science Daily - August 4, 2015
Brain structures involved in delayed gratification identified; implications for range of psychiatric disorders. Researchers have clearly identified, for the first time, the specific parts of the brain involved in decisions that call for delayed gratification. They demonstrated that the hippocampus (associated with memory) and the nucleus accumbens (associated with pleasure) work together in making critical decisions of this type, where time plays a role.
5 Reasons Successful People Seek Therapy Huffington Post - June 11, 2015
1. Imposter Syndrome
2. The Hidden Reason Behind Their Drive
3. Fear of Losing Everything
4. It's Lonely At the Top
5. Guilt that Stems from Success
Compulsive Skin-Picking And Hair-Pulling Disorders Are More Common Than You'd Think Huffington Post - June 10, 2015
Engaging in repetitive body-focused behaviors like nail-biting, skin-picking or hair-twirling may mean you are a perfectionist. But how do you know when your habit has gone too far? A staggering 1 in 50 adults, or as much as four percent of the population, suffers from trichotillomania, or the compulsive urge to pull or twist the hair until it breaks, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. While statistics for skin-picking disorder, or dermatillomania, are less widely kept, Laura Lokers, a licensed clinical social worker and cofounder of the Anxiety and OCD Treatment Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan, estimates that between 2 and 5 percent of the population has some sort of body-focused repetitive behavior. To put the number in perspective, autism spectrum disorder affects approximately 1 out of every 68 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Do You Bite Your Nails? It Might Mean You're A Perfectionist Huffington Post - March 15, 2015
Are you mindlessly twisting your hair or biting your nails as you read this article? New research from the University of Montreal suggests that compulsive behaviors like these might say more about your personality than you think. People who are generally impatient, or who get bored or frustrated easily, are more likely to engage in repetitive body-focused behaviors such as skin-picking, nail-biting or eyelash-pulling, the researchers found. They are therefore prone to frustration, impatience, and dissatisfaction when they do not reach their goals. They also experience greater levels of boredom. Participants with a history of fidgety, body-focused behaviors reported greater urges to engage in those behaviors when they were feeling stressed and frustrated. But they didn't report feeling those urges while they were relaxing.
To Make Better Decisions, Pretend You're Deciding for Someone Else Huffington Post - March 4, 2015
Perhaps the very last person you should turn to for advice is yourself, according to a new post from the Association for Psychological Science. We tend to make wiser decisions when thinking about someone else's problems than when thinking about our own issues. Think through your own decisions from a third-person perspective. People who were looking at the situation from the third-person vantage point showed better judgment, considering the issue from multiple perspectives and imagining many potential outcomes, regardless of whether they were imagining themselves or a friend in the infidelity scenario. The best way to figure out what to do next may indeed be to imagine how you'd advise a friend in the same situation.
Curtailing worry reduces key schizophrenia symptom PhysOrg - March 4, 2015
Delusions of persecution in psychiatric patients can be reduced with just six sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a new clinical trial has found. Using CBT in this way could potentially help to prevent mental illnesses occurring in at-risk people.
Stable or in Flux? How Anxiety Can Botch Decisions Science Daily - March 4, 2015
When things get unpredictable, people prone to high anxiety may have a harder time reading the environmental cues that could help them avoid a bad outcome. A new study hints at a glitch in the brain’s higher-order decision-making circuitry that could eventually be a target in the treatment of anxiety disorders, which affect some 40 million American adults.
Emoji That Show What It Really Feels Like To Be An Introvert Huffington Post - February 14, 2015
It can be tough being an introvert and explaining the need to be alone and recharge without seeming annoyed or angry. Harder still? Translating that kind of information into a text message, even to those who know us best. But not anymore. Introji, considered the "emoticons for introverts," has found a way to help introverts express themselves with their very own set of emoji. The collection includes icons of traditional introvert activities like reading and gaming, as well as distress calls that indicate the person's current needs for time or space in a socially acceptable way.
Shyness and introversion are two types of personality characteristics that are very often written off as the same thing by those that don't have to deal with one, the other, or both. Introversion is one of the pairs in the Myers-Briggs personality tests that is given a higher rating if the person recharges their energy by solitary activities such as reading, writing, and reflection. Shyness defines how a person deals with others and unfamiliar situations; those who are shy have a hard time talking to and meeting new people, and are often uncomfortable in new situations. Read more
Shyness and introversion are not the same thing. Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, and introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments. Read more ...
This could be caused by the way he died in another lifetime, or the lifestyle of the men around him in Mexico which can be very violent, or something in the programming/coding of his brain. We used to call it the "Peter Pan Syndrome".
Boy Diagnosed With 'Fear of Growing Up' Live Science - February 4, 2015
A 14-year-old boy in Mexico had such an intense fear of growing up that he took extreme steps to hide or curb his growth, such as restricting his food intake and distorting his voice, according to a new report of his case. The boy's phobia started when he was about 11 years old. He had learned that nutrients in food would cause him to grow - so he ate less, and lost more than 26 lbs. (about 12 kilograms), according to the report from the health workers who treated him. In addition, he stooped over to hide his height, and distorted his voice so that he spoke in a higher pitch. The boy's mother also treats him as if he were younger - for example, by singing him lullabies and choosing what he wears each day. Although the boy saw a psychologist for a year, the therapy did not help. The researchers there diagnosed the boy with gerascophobia - an excessive fear of aging - a phobia that does not appear to be very common. Just two previous cases of gerascophobia have been reported, and both cases were in adults, according to the report. Phobias often develop from a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors
Sadness lasts longer than other emotions Science Daily - October 31, 2014
Why is it that you can feel sad up to 240 times longer than you do feeling ashamed, surprised, irritated or even bored? It's because sadness often goes hand in hand with events of greater impact such as death or accidents. You need more time to mull over and cope with what happened to fully comprehend it, say researchers. This is the first work to provide clear evidence to explain why some emotions last a longer time than others.
Obesity and depression often twin ills, study finds PhysOrg - October 17, 2014
Depression and obesity tend to go hand in hand, U.S. health officials reported today. The combination was so common that 43 percent of depressed adults were also obese, according to the report. That association was even more prevalent among those taking antidepressants: 55 percent of those patients were also obese.
How Psychologists Officially Handle Spiritual Matters: Are Believers Delusional? Epoch Times - October 3, 2014
Whether someone is crazy or not can be officially determined by a manual widely used to diagnose mental illness. This psychiatrists’ “Bible” has been the subject of much debate over the years, and long before it was written philosophers pondered the how to differentiate truth from delusion. A psychologist who believes in the spiritual may be less likely to diagnose such people as mentally ill. A strict materialist, however, may say these experiences are hallucinations and signs of severe mental illness.
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