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How Exercise Shapes You, Far Beyond the Gym – Personal Growth – Medium

A study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that college students who went from not exercising at all to even a modest program (just two to three gym visits per week) reported a decrease in stress, smoking, alcohol and caffeine consumption, an increase in healthy eating and maintenance of household chores, and better spending and study habits. In addition to these real-life improvements, after two months of regular exercise, the students also performed better on laboratory tests of self-control. This led the researchers to speculate that exercise had a powerful impact on the students’ “capacity for self-regulation.” In laypeople’s terms, pushing through the discomfort associated with exercise — saying “yes” when their bodies and minds were telling them to say “no” — taught the students to stay cool, calm, and collected in the face of difficulty, whether that meant better managing stress, drinking less, or studying more.

A Test That Finds the Perfect Drug? - The Atlantic

Brain Resource, meanwhile, gives depression patients an online test that gauges memory, self-regulation, and emotion. Their responses are then compared against a database that contains the results of 1,000 individuals who took the same test. The thinking is that patients who score similarly will be helped by similar drugs. Currently, Brain Resource evaluates a patient’s likely response to three common depression drugs, which are sold under the brand names Lexapro, Zoloft, and Effexor. The online test takes 40 minutes, and according to Brain Resource’s founders, the results are available within two minutes. (The test is currently awaiting FDA approval.)

A Test That Finds the Perfect Drug? - The Atlantic

“Psychiatry remains the only discipline of medicine that has no test to predict treatment response,” said Evian Gordon, the founder of one such company, Brain Resource. “This is providing, for the first time, an objective step as to which drug might be responsive.”

To Treat Depression, Drugs or Therapy? - The New York Times

Over all, about 40 percent of the depressed subjects responded to either treatment. But Dr. Mayberg found striking brain differences between patients who did well with Lexapro compared with cognitive behavior therapy, and vice versa. Patients who had low activity in a brain region called the anterior insula measured before treatment responded quite well to C.B.T. but poorly to Lexapro; conversely, those with high activity in this region had an excellent response to Lexapro, but did poorly with C.B.T. What might explain these different responses? We know that the insula is centrally involved in the capacity for emotional self-awareness, cognitive control and decision making, all of which are impaired by depression. Perhaps cognitive behavior therapy has a more powerful effect than an antidepressant in patients with an underactive insula because it teaches patients to control their emotionally disturbing thoughts in a way that an antidepressant cannot

The Serotonin Surprise | DiscoverMagazine.com

Glenmullen has long suspected that drugs that alter serotonin metabolism cause profound changes in the brain. He bases his suspicion on a body of research during the last 20 years by scientists investigating another class of drugs that includes MDMA (Ecstasy) as well as fenfluramine, the diet drug recently removed from the market because of its association with heart valve problems. These drugs do more than just block serotonin reuptake; they primarily stimulate the release of large quantities of serotonin from nerve endings into the brain. The resulting flood is thought to cause the mind-altering effects of MDMA. And that flood, some scientists argue, leaves brain damage in its wake. When monkeys and rats are given high doses of serotonin releasers--up to 40 times the dose that people generally take--the microscopic architecture of their brains looks different from normal brains. The nerve fibers (axons) that carry serotonin to the target cells seem to change their shape and diminish in number--effects some scientists claim are properly understood as brain damage.

World-first trial shows improving diet can treat major depression - Medical News Today

The results of the study, published in the international journal BMC Medicine, showed that participants in the dietary intervention group had a much greater reduction in their depressive symptoms over the three-month period, compared to those in the social support group. At the end of the trial, a third of those in the dietary support group met criteria for remission of major depression, compared to 8 percent of those in the social support group.

World-first trial shows improving diet can treat major depression - Medical News Today

In the study, adults with major depressive disorder were recruited and randomly assigned to receive either social support, which is known to be helpful for people with depression, or support from a clinical dietitian, over a three-month period. The dietary group received information and assistance to improve the quality of their current diets, with a focus on increasing the consumption of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, fish, lean red meats, olive oil and nuts, while reducing their consumption of unhealthy 'extras' foods, such as sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast-food, processed meats and sugary drinks. […] The results of the study, published in the international journal BMC Medicine, showed that participants in the dietary intervention group had a much greater reduction in their depressive symptoms over the three-month period, compared to those in the social support group. At the end of the trial, a third of those in the dietary support group met criteria for remission of major depression, compared to 8 percent of those in the social support group.

Cold shower as a 'good stressor'

A study by Researcher Nikolai Shevchuk of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine found that cold showers can alleviate, and even prevent, depression and anxiety. Shevchuk theorizes that short, cold showers may stimulate the locus ceruleus, or “blue spot,” which is the brain’s primary source of noradrenaline — a biochemical that could help mediate depression and anxiety. The body is stressed by a hostile factor — in this case, icy water — that stimulates a healing response in the body and can lead to lower levels of anxiety and depression as well as a plethera of other benefits. The easiest recipe to get the psychological lift is by taking a cold shower for 2 to 3 minutes once or twice daily, preceded by a five-minute gradual adaptation to the temperature (i.e. start you shower hot and then finish it with 2–3 minutes of pure icy goodness). Only taking a cold shower can strengthen your body’s parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, increase proper circulation of blood through your body, and contract your muscles to eliminate toxins and poisonous wastes.

New avenue for anti-depressant therapy discovered -- ScienceDaily

The researchers found that a protein called JNK when active, represses the generation of new neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that controls emotions and learning. By inhibiting JNK solely in newly generated nerve cells in the hippocampus, the researchers were able to alleviate anxiety and depressive behaviour in mice. This previously unknown mechanism brings fresh insight on how the brain works to regulate mood and indicates that inhibitors of JNK, such as the one used here, can provide a new avenue for anti-depressant and anxiolytic drug development.

Talking therapy changes the brain's wiring, study reveals for first time -- ScienceDaily

CBT -- a specific type of talking therapy -- involves people changing the way they think about and respond to their thoughts and experiences. For individuals experiencing psychotic symptoms, common in schizophrenia and a number of other psychiatric disorders, the therapy involves learning to think differently about unusual experiences, such as distressing beliefs that others are out to get them. CBT also involves developing strategies to reduce distress and improve wellbeing. The findings, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, follow the same researchers' previous work which showed that people with psychosis who received CBT displayed strengthened connections between key regions of the brain involved in processing social threat accurately. The new results show for the first time that these changes continue to have an impact years later on people's long-term recovery.

In Teens, Strong Friendships May Mitigate Depression Associated With Excessive Video Gaming - 2017 - News Releases - News - Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

n doing their statistical analysis, the researchers focused on many subsets of respondents, notably heavy gamers who also reported frequent online social interactions and those who did not. They found that symptoms of video game addiction depend not only on video game play but also on concurrent levels of online communication and that those who were socially active online reported fewer symptoms of game addiction. All of the subsets of heavy gamers had more depressive symptoms, but boys who were not very social online showed more loneliness and anxiety, regardless of the quality of their friendships.

Therapist use of Socratic questioning predicts session-to-session symptom change in cognitive therapy for depression

Within-patient Socratic questioning significantly predicted session-to-session symptom change across the early sessions, with a one standard deviation increase in Socratic-Within predicting a 1.51-point decrease in BDI-II scores in the following session. Within-patient Socratic questioning continued to predict symptom change after controlling for within-patient ratings of the therapeutic alliance (i.e., Relationship and Agreement), suggesting that the relation of Socratic questioning and symptom change was not only independent of stable characteristics, but also within-patient variation in the alliance.

Breathe. Exhale. Repeat: The Benefits of Controlled Breathing - The New York Times

After 12 weeks of daily yoga and coherent breathing, the subjects’ depressive symptoms significantly decreased and their levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid, a brain chemical that has calming and anti-anxiety effects, had increased. The research was presented in May at the International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health in Las Vegas. While the study was small and lacked a control group, Dr. Streeter and her colleagues are planning a randomized controlled trial to further test the intervention. “The findings were exciting,” she said. “They show that a behavioral intervention can have effects of similar magnitude as an antidepressant.” Controlled breathing may also affect the immune system. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina divided a group of 20 healthy adults into two groups. One group was instructed to do two sets of 10-minute breathing exercises, while the other group was told to read a text of their choice for 20 minutes. The subjects’ saliva was tested at various intervals during the exercise. The researchers found that the breathing exercise group’s saliva had significantly lower levels of three cytokines that are associated with inflammation and stress. The findings were published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in August.

Socratic questioning

If you’re having trouble challenging your negative thoughts, try this approach. Imagine that your friend is the one who received the bad news. What advice would you give him or her? Now think of how that advice might apply to you. A study conducted at Ohio State University found that this method — known as Socratic questioning — was a simple way to reduce depressive symptoms in adults. In the study, 55 adults were enrolled in a 16-week course of cognitive therapy sessions. Researchers studied videotapes of the sessions and found that the more frequently therapists used Socratic questioning, the more the patients’ depressive symptoms lessened. The study’s authors theorized that Socratic questioning helped patients examine the validity of their negative thoughts and gain a broader, more realistic perspective on them.

Hip-Hop Artists Have Been Writing About Mental Health For Decades | The Huffington Post

But Jordan Simpson took exception to this idea. A writer and slam poet, he wanted to remind everyone that musicians and rappers have been talking about – and experiencing – mental illness for decades. “To say that hip-hop artists don’t talk about mental illness is wack,” Simpson posted on Twitter. “They do, y’all just don’t listen.”

Variations in Facebook Posting Patterns Across Validated Patient Health Conditions: A Prospective Cohort Study. - PubMed - NCBI

Significantly correlated language topics among participants with the highest quartile of posts contained health terms, such as "cough," "headaches," and "insomnia." When adjusted for demographics, individuals with a history of depression had significantly higher posts (mean 38, 95% CI 28-50) than individuals without a history of depression (mean 22, 95% CI 19-26, P=.001). Except for depression, across prevalent health outcomes in the sample (hypertension, diabetes, asthma), there were no significant posting differences between individuals with or without each condition.

New apps designed to reduce depression, anxiety as easily as checking your phone: Speedy mini-apps are designed to address depression and anxiety -- ScienceDaily

The 96 participants who completed the research study reported that they experienced about a 50 percent decrease in the severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms. The short-term study-related reductions are comparable to results expected in clinical practice using psychotherapy or with that seen using antidepressant medication.

Gaming your brain to treat depression: Participants using a game-based app show improvement -- ScienceDaily

Project: EVO runs on phones and tablets and is designed to improve focus and attention at a basic neurological level. The results, published Jan. 3 in the journal Depression and Anxiety, showed that the group using Project: EVO demonstrated specific cognitive benefits (such as attention) compared to the behavioral therapy, and saw similar improvements in mood and self-reported function. Joaquin A. Anguera, a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), researcher in neurology and psychiatry, is the lead author, and Areán is the senior author. The researchers have no commercial interests in the intervention manufactured by Akili Interactive Labs in Boston. "While EVO was not directly designed to treat depressive symptoms; we hypothesized that there may indeed be beneficial effects on these symptoms by improving cognitive issues with targeted treatment, and so far, the results are promising," said Anguera. People with late-life depression (60+) are known to have trouble focusing their attention on personal goals and report trouble concentrating because they are so distracted by their worries. Akili's technology was designed to help people better focus their attention and to prevent people from being easily distracted.

Stress and hippocampus

Research in the neurological literature for years has shown changes in the hippocampus when one has experienced long stress – so a release of hormones such as cortisol actually causes damage to the hippocampus. But as it turns out, it may be that damage to the hippocampus also regulates one’s stress response – and that could contribute to the onset of depression. Again, it’s another one of these vicious cycles. We have a list of 100 potentially stressful events – divorce, moving house, losing loved ones, etc. We found that our group of depressed individuals had not experienced more stressful events in their lives – but they had experienced them as more stressful.

Imagination specificity helps pull people forward

[Research] has shown that people who can imagine future events in detail are more likely to go out and seek social support when they need it, they experience less worry about the upcoming event and they’re more likely to put good, successful behaviours into practice when they experience those events they’ve been thinking about.

Resting-state connectivity biomarkers define neurophysiological subtypes of depression : Nature Medicine : Nature Research

By using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a large multisite sample (n = 1,188), we show here that patients with depression can be subdivided into four neurophysiological subtypes ('biotypes') defined by distinct patterns of dysfunctional connectivity in limbic and frontostriatal networks. Clustering patients on this basis enabled the development of diagnostic classifiers (biomarkers) with high (82–93%) sensitivity and specificity for depression subtypes in multisite validation (n = 711) and out-of-sample replication (n = 477) data sets.

Single dose of hallucinogenic drug psilocybin relieves anxiety and depression in patients with advanced cancer | EurekAlert! Science News

Published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology online Dec.1, the study showed that one-time treatment with the hallucinogenic drug psilocybin -- whose use required federal waivers because it is a banned substance -- quickly brought relief from distress that then lasted for more than six months in 80 percent of the 29 study subjects monitored, based on clinical evaluation scores for anxiety and depression. The NYU Langone-led study was published side by side with a similar study from Johns Hopkins. Study results were also endorsed in 11 accompanying editorials from leading experts in psychiatry, addiction, and palliative care. "Our results represent the strongest evidence to date of a clinical benefit from psilocybin therapy, with the potential to transform care for patients with cancer-related psychological distress," says study lead investigator Stephen Ross, MD, director of substance abuse services in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone. "If larger clinical trials prove successful, then we could ultimately have available a safe, effective, and inexpensive medication -- dispensed under strict control -- to alleviate the distress that increases suicide rates among cancer patients," says Ross, also an associate professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine. Study co-investigator Jeffrey Guss, MD, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone, notes that psilocybin has been studied for decades and has an established safety profile. Study participants, he says, experienced no serious negative effects, such as hospitalization or more serious mental health conditions. Although the neurological benefits of psilocybin are not completely understood, it has been proven to activate parts of the brain also impacted by the signaling chemical serotonin, which is known to control mood and anxiety. Serotonin imbalances have also been linked to depression. For the study, half of the participants were randomly assigned to receive a 0.3 milligrams per kilogram dose of psilocybin while the rest received a vitamin placebo (250 milligrams of niacin) known to produce a "rush" that mimics a hallucinogenic drug experience. Approximately half way through the study's monitoring period (after seven weeks), all participants switched treatments. Those who initially received psilocybin took a single dose of placebo, and those who first took niacin, then received psilocybin. Neither patients nor researchers knew who had first received psilocybin or placebo. Guss says, "The randomization, placebo control, and double-blind procedures maximized the validity of the study results." One of the key findings was that improvements in clinical evaluation scores for anxiety and depression lasted for the remainder of the study's extended monitoring period -- specifically, eight months for those who took psilocybin first.

Bad timing is depressing: Disrupting the brain's internal clock causes depressive-like behavior in mice -- ScienceDaily

Inherent circadian clocks help us function throughout the day, by telling us when to sleep, wake and eat, as well as by synchronizing our bodily processes. "It is perhaps not surprising that disruptions of our natural synchronization can have heavy impacts on our physical and mental health," Dr. Landgraf added. However, until now researchers did not know if disturbed circadian rhythms were a cause or consequence of mood disorders. In the new study, a team led by David K. Welsh has shown for the first time a causal relationship between functioning circadian clocks and mood regulation.

35% of brain activity related to anxiety is heritable

An over-active network of brain areas is central to how children inherit anxiety and depression from their parents. The network consists of three regions in the brain which work together to control the fear-response. Genes passed down from parents to children influence how these three regions function together, the new study finds.

How People Learn to Become Resilient - The New Yorker

Seligman found that training people to change their explanatory styles from internal to external (“Bad events aren’t my fault”), from global to specific (“This is one narrow thing rather than a massive indication that something is wrong with my life”), and from permanent to impermanent (“I can change the situation, rather than assuming it’s fixed”) made them more psychologically successful and less prone to depression. The same goes for locus of control: not only is a more internal locus tied to perceiving less stress and performing better but changing your locus from external to internal leads to positive changes in both psychological well-being and objective work performance. The cognitive skills that underpin resilience, then, seem like they can indeed be learned over time, creating resilience where there was none.

Instagram photos reveal predictive markers of depression

Using Instagram data from 166 individuals, we applied machine learning tools to successfully identify markers of depression. Statistical features were computationally extracted from 43,950 participant Instagram photos, using color analysis, metadata components, and algorithmic face detection. Resulting models outperformed general practitioners' average diagnostic success rate for depression. These results held even when the analysis was restricted to posts made before depressed individuals were first diagnosed. Photos posted by depressed individuals were more likely to be bluer, grayer, and darker. Human ratings of photo attributes (happy, sad, etc.) were weaker predictors of depression, and were uncorrelated with computationally-generated features. These findings suggest new avenues for early screening and detection of mental illness.