Recent quotes:

Meditation could help anxiety and cardiovascular health -- ScienceDaily

In "Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Aortic Pulsatile Load and Anxiety in Mild to Moderately Anxious Adults," Durocher, along with fellow researchers Hannah Marti, a recent Michigan Tech graduate, Brigitte Morin, lecturer in biological science, and Travis Wakeham, a graduate student, explains the finding that 60 minutes after meditating the 14 study participants showed lower resting heart rates and reduction in aortic pulsatile load -- the amount of change in blood pressure between diastole and systole of each heartbeat multiplied by heart rate. Additionally, shortly after meditating, and even one week later, the group reported anxiety levels were lower than pre-meditation levels.

Animal study connects fear behavior, rhythmic breathing, brain smell center -- ScienceDaily

Other groups have observed that the amygdala and prelimbic prefrontal cortex, which govern learning and memory, emotion, and decision-making, were electrically active during "freezing," at an average of 4 Hz. Moberly observed that freeze behavior, breathing rate, and electrical activity of these brain regions were coordinated literally on the same wavelength.

Jeroen van Werkhoven Uses VR To Strengthen Body And Mind

JVH: BOX VR helped me a lot so far. I don’t have the most healthy job and I’m aware of that; I sit long hours behind a desk and it can be quite stressful at times. Mentally I struggle in many areas and have to work hard to keep my anxiety and depression in check. So BOX VR is not only a way to keep my body in shape, but also to cope with my anxiety and depression and turn it into more positive energy.  I usually do my workouts during the weekend, but sometimes when I feel a lot of negative energy I jump into BOX VR to release some tension just because it’s fun!

1 in 6 adults getting Adderall experience acute anxiety in 4 months

Acute anxiety symptoms occurred in 4 of 7 patients with a comorbid anxiety diagnosis. CONCLUSION:

Paroxetine, Cognitive Therapy or Their Combination in the Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder with and without Avoidant Personality Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial - FullText - Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 2016, Vol. 85, No. 6 - Karger Publishers

CT was superior to paroxetine alone and to pill placebo at the end of treatment, but it was not superior to the combination treatment. At the 12-month follow-up, the CT group maintained benefits and was significantly better than placebo and paroxetine alone, whereas there were no significant differences among combination treatment, paroxetine alone, and placebo. Recovery rates at 12 months were much higher in the CT group (68%) compared to 40% in the combination group, 24% in the paroxetine group, and 4% in the pill placebo group.

Depression, anxiety WAY high in graduate students, survey shows -- ScienceDaily

The disparity between graduate students and the general population proved to be about equal for both mental health conditions. On the respective scales utilized to test anxiety and depression, 41 percent of graduate students scored as having moderate to severe anxiety while 39 percent scored in the moderate to severe depression range. This compared with 6 percent of the general population as tested previously with those same scales.

'Anxiety cells' identified in the brain's hippocampus: Neuroscientists have found, in mice, that certain cells fire when the animal is anxious, triggering anxiety-related behaviors -- ScienceDaily

"We call these anxiety cells because they only fire when the animals are in places that are innately frightening to them," Hen says. "For a mouse, that's an open area where they're more exposed to predators, or an elevated platform." The firing of the anxiety cells sends messages to other parts of the brain that turn on anxious behaviors -- in mice, those include avoiding the dangerous area or fleeing to a safe zone. Though many other cells in the brain have been identified as playing a role in anxiety, the cells found in this study are the first known to represent the state of anxiety, regardless of the type of environment that provokes the emotion. "This is exciting because it represents a direct, rapid pathway in the brain that lets animals respond to anxiety-provoking places without needing to go through higher-order brain regions," said Mazen Kheirbek, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSF and study's other senior investigator. "Now that we've found these cells in the hippocampus, it opens up new areas for exploring treatment ideas that we didn't know existed before," says the study's lead author Jessica Jimenez, PhD, an MD/PhD student at Columbia University's Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons.

Feel anxious? Have trouble sleeping? You may be traveling for business too often -- ScienceDaily

People who travel for business two weeks or more a month report more symptoms of anxiety and depression and are more likely to smoke, be sedentary and report trouble sleeping than those who travel one to six nights a month, according to a latest study conducted by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and City University of New York. Among those who consume alcohol, extensive business travel is associated with symptoms of alcohol dependence. Poor behavioral and mental health outcomes significantly increased as the number of nights away from home for business travel rose. This is one of the first studies to report the effects of business travel on non-infectious disease health risks. The results are published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Smartphone addiction creates imbalance in brain, study suggests -- ScienceDaily

The study involved 19 young people (mean age 15.5, 9 males) diagnosed with internet or smartphone addiction and 19 gender- and age-matched healthy controls. Twelve of the addicted youth received nine weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy, modified from a cognitive therapy program for gaming addiction, as part of the study. Researchers used standardized internet and smartphone addiction tests to measure the severity of internet addiction. Questions focused on the extent to which internet and smartphone use affects daily routines, social life, productivity, sleeping patterns and feelings. "The higher the score, the more severe the addiction," Dr. Seo said. Dr. Seo reported that the addicted teenagers had significantly higher scores in depression, anxiety, insomnia severity and impulsivity. The researchers performed MRS exams on the addicted youth prior to and following behavioral therapy and a single MRS study on the control patients to measure levels of gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that inhibits or slows down brain signals, and glutamate-glutamine (Glx), a neurotransmitter that causes neurons to become more electrically excited. Previous studies have found GABA to be involved in vision and motor control and the regulation of various brain functions, including anxiety. The results of the MRS revealed that, compared to the healthy controls, the ratio of GABA to Glx was significantly increased in the anterior cingulate cortex of smartphone- and internet-addicted youth prior to therapy. Dr. Seo said the ratios of GABA to creatine and GABA to glutamate were significantly correlated to clinical scales of internet and smartphone addictions, depression and anxiety.

Personal experience with Xanax

I started out taking Xanax 0.25 mg nightly only as a sleep aid, as my eyes felt like sandpaper and were interfering with my sleep.  After only a few weeks, I began to experience severe anxiety during the day, which required more Xanax (up to 1 mg per day).  I began to think that I was going crazy. I also developed a tremor and underwent an extensive neurologic evaluation, including a lumbar puncture that resulted in a severe spinal headache and an ER visit for a blood patch to stop the leaking cerebrospinal fluid. Xanax was never suggested as a cause for my tremor, although my dose relieved the symptoms of the tremor. It got to the point where I needed to dose every 6 hours as the Xanax would only last a few hours, then I would experience severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, chest tightness, and inability to swallow.  I lost about 15 pounds (I am only 5’3” and got down to 115 pounds).  I looked like a skeleton.  I was terrified to be alone. I would wake up at night after 3 hours of sleep with my heart pounding and in a sheer panic. After doing my own research, I discovered that I was experiencing inter-dose withdrawals and had become dependent on Xanax.

CBT plus video games plus heart rate monitors

In a subsequent outpatient study the researchers randomized 20 youth to 10 cognitive behavior therapy sessions and videogame therapy that required them to control their heart rate, and 20 youth to CBT with the same videogame but not linked to heart rates. All the adolescents had anger or aggression problems, said Dr. Gonzalez-Heydrich, who was senior author of the study. Therapists interviewed the children’s primary caregiver before and two weeks after their last therapy session. They found the children’s ratings on aggression and opposition were reduced much more in the group that played the game with the built-in biofeedback. The ratings for anger went down about the same in both groups. The findings were presented at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry conference in 2015. The study is currently under review for publication.

Food allergies linked to childhood anxiety -- ScienceDaily

Among the children with a food allergy, 57 percent reported having symptoms of anxiety compared to 48 percent of children without a food allergy. Approximately 48 percent of the children had symptoms of depression with or without a food allergy. "Management of food allergy can be expensive both in terms of food shopping, meal preparation, and the cost of epinephrine auto-injectors, which expire annually," said Renee Goodwin, PhD, in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and lead author. "These demands could result in higher levels of anxiety for those with fewer financial resources and further heighten anxiety symptoms in children and their caregivers." The results suggest that food allergy is particularly linked to elevated social anxiety and fear of social rejection and humiliation.

Psychiatric drugs killing more users than heroin, cocaine: experts | Vancouver Sun

“The interesting thing about this is that it’s a prescription drug and people think they’re safe,” Ahamad said. “But as it turns out, we’re probably prescribing these drugs in a way that’s leading to harm.” Kerr noted that the rise in BZD-related deaths — “It’s been an epidemic brewing for many, many years” — very closely mirrors a rise in opioid-related deaths that has been widely documented. He cited a fourfold increase in BZD-related deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2014, and also noted that there are 50 per cent more deaths each year in the U.S. due to psychiatric medicine than heroin. “These studies really reveal how very dangerous these drugs are, and they should be used with great caution,” Kerr said. “We can’t just focus on opioids, we need to look at other medications that are used in combination.”

Longitudinal trends in self-reported anxiety. Effects of age and birth cohort during 25 years. - PubMed - NCBI

METHODS: A random sample of non-institutionalized persons aged 16-71 years was interviewed every eighth year. Self-reported anxiety was assessed using the question" Do you suffer from nervousness, uneasiness, or anxiety?" (no; yes, mild; yes, severe). Mixed models with random intercepts were used to estimate changes in rates of anxiety (mild or severe) within different age groups and birth cohorts and in males and females separately. In addition to three time-related variables - year of interview, age at the time of the interview, and year of birth -the following explanatory variables were included: education, urbanization, marital status, smoking, leisure time physical activity and body mass index. RESULTS: Overall prevalence of self-reported anxiety increased from 8.0 to 12.4% in males and from 17.8% to 23.6% in females, during the 25-year follow-up period. The increasing trend was found in all age groups except in the oldest age groups, and the highest increase was found in young adults 16-23 years, with more than a three-fold increase in females, and a 2.5-fold increase in males, after adjustments for covariates.

Meta analysis: exercise promotion is ineffective for social anxiety disorder (see powerpoint slide)

All psychological interventions apart from promotion of exercise and other psychological therapies (supportive therapy, mindfulness, and interpersonal psychotherapy) had greater effects on outcomes than did waitlist (table; figure 3). In decreasing order of effect size, these were individual cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT; class effect SMD −1·19, 95% CrI −1·56 to −0·81), group CBT (−0·92, −1·33 to −0·51), exposure and social skills (−0·86, −1·42 to −0·29), self-help with support (−0·86, −1·36 to −0·36), self-help without support (−0·75, −1·25 to −0·26), and psychodynamic psychotherapy (−0·62, −0·93 to −0·31).

Psychological and pharmacological interventions for social anxiety disorder in adults: a systematic review and network meta-analysis - The Lancet Psychiatry

Individual CBT compared with psychological placebo (SMD −0·56, 95% CrI −1·00 to −0·11), and SSRIs and SNRIs compared with pill placebo (−0·44, −0·67 to −0·22) were the only classes of interventions that had greater effects on outcomes than appropriate placebo. Individual CBT also had a greater effect than psychodynamic psychotherapy (SMD −0·56, 95% CrI −1·03 to −0·11) and interpersonal psychotherapy, mindfulness, and supportive therapy (−0·82, −1·41 to −0·24). Interpretation Individual CBT (which other studies have shown to have a lower risk of side-effects than pharmacotherapy) is associated with large effect sizes. Thus, it should be regarded as the best intervention for the initial treatment of social anxiety disorder. For individuals who decline psychological intervention, SSRIs show the most consistent evidence of benefit.

Why virtual reality could be a mental health gamechanger | Science | The Guardian

We’ve just completed the first review of every study that has used VR to assess, understand, and treat mental health conditions. The earliest was undertaken almost 25 years ago, at a time when the cost and complexity of the equipment and programming meant that research was confined to a very small number of specialist centres. Since then 285 studies have been published. Most of those have focused on using VR to treat anxiety disorders and particularly phobias, social anxiety, and PTSD. The results have been encouraging — VR is a proven means of delivering rapid, lasting improvements.

Mouse study identifies new method for treating depression: Inhibiting brain enzyme alleviates depression, and does it much faster than conventional antidepressants -- ScienceDaily

Palmer and team unraveled a previously underappreciated molecular process that can influence mouse models of depression. Here's how the process works: Cells generate energy. In doing so, they produce a byproduct. That byproduct inhibits neurons and thus influences various behaviors. Typically, the enzyme GLO1 removes this byproduct, but inhibiting GLO1 can also increase the activity of certain neurons in a beneficial way. In mice, Palmer and others have shown that more GLO1 activity makes mice more anxious, but less was known about the system's effect on depression. Palmer and team wondered if they could reduce signs of depression by inhibiting the GLO1 enzyme. The researchers used several different antidepressant tests. They compared responses in three groups of mice: 1) untreated, 2) treated by inhibiting GLO1, either genetically or with an experimental compound, and 3) treated with Prozac, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor commonly used to treat depression. The first tests they used were the tail suspension test and the forced swim tests, which are often used to determine whether or not a compound is an antidepressant. In this case, the answer was yes. The other tests -- chronic forced swim test, chronic mild stress paradigm and olfactory bulbectomy -- are well-established measures that can also be used to measure how long it takes for an antidepressant to take effect. In each of these tests, inhibiting the GLO1 enzyme reduced depression-like symptoms in five days, whereas it took 14 days for Prozac to have the same effect. While this new approach to treating depression has so far only been tested in mice and it will take many years of development before a GLO1 inhibitor could be tested in humans, the researchers are excited to find that new, unexplored approaches to treating depression are out there.

Groundbreaking fMRI study finds 4 distinct neurological subtypes of depression - ExtremeTech

We found that, superimposed on this shared pathological core, distinct patterns of abnormal functional connectivity differentiated the four biotypes and were associated with specific clinical-symptom profiles. For example, as compared to controls, reduced connectivity in frontoamygdala networks, which regulate fear-related behavior and reappraisal of negative emotional stimuli, was most severe in biotypes 1 and 4, which were characterized in part by increased anxiety. By contrast, hyperconnectivity in thalamic and frontostriatal networks, which support reward processing, adaptive motor control and action initiation, were especially pronounced in biotypes 3 and 4 and were associated with increased anhedonia and psychomotor retardation. And reduced connectivity in anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal areas supporting motivation and incentive-salience evaluation was most severe in biotypes 1 and 2, which were characterized partly by increased anergia and fatigue.

Just a few weeks of therapy can achieve half a lifetime's maturity

The analysis has found that just a few weeks of therapy is associated with significant and long-lasting changes in clients’ personalities, especially reductions in the trait of Neuroticism and increases in Extraversion. Talk of personality change can sound unsettling because we think of our personalities as reflecting our essential “me-ness”. But from a wellbeing perspective, the trait changes uncovered by this new research are welcome and may even underlie the benefits of therapy. Neuroticism or emotional instability is an especially important risk factor for future poor mental and physical health, and meanwhile high scorers on Extraversion are known to be happier on average and more optimistic. The authors of the new research, Brent Roberts at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and his colleagues, also report that personality change appeared to occur remarkably quickly. Roughly four or more weeks of therapy was enough to induce meaningful change. In fact, beyond eight weeks, more therapy was not associated with greater personality change. Therapy-related changes to trait Neuroticism were especially significant – a few weeks of therapy led to about half the amount of increase in emotional stability that you would typically expect to see someone exhibit over an entire lifetime (as a general trend, most of us slowly but surely become more emotionally stable as we get older).

People With Anxiety Perceive The World In A Fundamentally Different Way | The Huffington Post

For the study, researchers trained individuals to associate three specific sounds with one of three outcomes: money loss, money gain or no consequence. In the next phase of the study, participants listened to approximately 15 tones and were asked to identify whether or not they’d heard them before. The best way to “win” the tone-identifying game was for participants to not confuse or overgeneralize the new sounds with the ones they heard in the first phase of the study. The study authors found that subjects with anxiety were more likely than non-anxious subjects to think a new sound was one that they heard earlier.

Health Benefits Shared by Psychedelics, Yoga, and Meditation -- Science of Us

Last year, Enzo Tagliazucchi, a postdoc at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, co-led a brain-imaging study in Current Biology on LSD-induced ego dissolution, and found that the state was associated with increased connectivity between several brain areas. In explaining to me why that dissolution might be therapeutically helpful, he said that the entire psychedelic experience — even the challenging parts — has a way of “extracting the patient from his or her usual patterns of thought and contemplat[ing] upon them from a vantage point,” he explained over email. The dissolution itself seemed to play a direct role in the case of anxiety in terminal cancer patients, he added. It’s a catalyst for epiphany. “In a typical ego-dissolution experience, the user feels the boundaries between his or her body and the rest of the universe dissolve, and becomes ‘one’ with the surroundings,” he added. “This might lead to feelings of transcendence or permanence in the patients, making them realize that even after their death they will still be part of something ‘larger.’”

Your Brain on Beauty: A Neurological Defense of Aestheticism | Cody Delistraty

The anxiety of living without purpose inspires so much of what we do in life: from finally writing that novel to following a religion. But a problem arises when we entirely ignore beauty for beauty’s sake. Life is short, yes, and meaning is important, also yes, but it has been proven that beauty really does give us pleasure. Aestheticism is a call back to our biological roots, and when we push aside utility and thematic meaning and simply pay attention the beauty around us, the way we experience life can paradigmatically change for the better.

Your brain suppresses perception of heartbeat, for your own good

It did not take long for Roy to get over his initial surprise at his discovery. “You don’t want your internal sensations to interfere with your external ones. It’s in your interest to be aware of what’s outside you. Since our heart was already beating while our brain was still forming, we’ve been exposed to it since the very start of our existence. So it’s not surprising that the brain acts to suppress it and make it less apparent.” Is feeling one’s heartbeat realted to anxiety? Awareness of one’s heartbeat is known to be correlated with a number of psychological problems, including anxiety disorders. Patients typically perceive their heart rate more clearly than most people. “But someone who does not suffer from this type of disorder can also be aware of their heartbeat,” said Roy. “This can happen at times of intense excitement or fear, for example.”

Scientist explains the psychological function of eulogizing the deceased

Thus, eulogizing the life of another after they die is almost like upholding our part of the bargain. We need to believe that others will carry on our memory after our death in order to allay our anxieties, and so we do for them what we hope they will do for us. When you think about it this way, you can see why the eulogy has become such an institutionalized aspect of the funeral ceremony. It satisfies our deeply rooted need to manage our own anxiety and sadness surrounding death and finitude.

The Natural Dietary Add-On Found To Treat Anxiety and Even Major Depression - PsyBlog

“We took measurements of the cytokines in the blood serum, as well as measured the productivity of cells that produced two important cytokines, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa). We saw a 14 percent reduction in the amounts of IL-6 among the students receiving the omega-3. …anything we can do to reduce cytokines is a big plus in dealing with the overall health of people at risk for many diseases.”