Friday, July 29, 2016

Health and Mental Health

Recently I saw the phrase: ‘No health without mental health.’ It impressed me again with the close connection between brain and body. Candace B. Pert PhD reportedly coined the term BodyMind in an effort to explain how brain and body, the conscious and the subconscious, are often inexplicitly intertwined. Pert, a world-recognized pharmacologist, led the team that discovered opiate receptors in the brain and was a research professor in the department of physiology and biophysics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. She also held a variety of research positions with the National Institutes of Health, including chief of the section on brain biochemistry of the Clinical Neuroscience Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health. Widely published, Bert authored some of my favorite resource books including: Molecules of Emotion, Why You Feel the Way You Feel, and Your Body is You Subconscious Mind. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Anxiety, Depression, and Viral Diseases

A review of studies by Steven S. Coughlin PhD (senior epidemiologist in the Post-Deployment Health Epidemiology Program in the Department of Veterans Affairs and an Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at Emory University.) found a two-way linkage between viral diseases and anxiety and depression. Individuals experiencing anxiety and depression may be less careful about exhibiting behaviors that increase their potential exposure to viruses such as Herpes Simplex, HIV, Hepatitis C, Influenza viruses, and varicella-zoster. Conversely, viral diseases may contribute to anxiety and depression. For some years now, mental health issues and infectious diseases have been recognized as global problems world-wide. No surprise, this points out the need to seek professional help in managing conditions involving anxiety and depression and the importance of avoiding or preventing exposure to disease-producing viruses whenever possible—to say nothing of the need for appropriate medical treatment for viral-related diseases.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Anxiety and Depression

Unfortunately, anxiety and mood disorders are believed to be among the most common mental health conditions in the general populations of low, middle, and high-income countries around the world. Anxiety and mood disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, acute anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar illness, and other mood disorders. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV), describe generalized anxiety disorder as characterized by persistent and excessive anxiety and worry over a period of at least six months. Symptoms include restlessness, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance. Acute stress disorder occurs within four weeks of a traumatic event and is characterized by symptoms similar to those seen in PTSD. Now concerns are being raised about the connection between anxiety and depression and an increased risk for viral diseases.

Brain and Anxiety

A recent study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reported that anxiety symptoms in people with amnestic mild cognitive impairment are associated with medial temporal brain atrophy and predict conversion to Alzheimer's disease. Knowing this, you might evaluate how much you worry and the level of your everyday anxiety. Worry never solves anything; it can negatively impact your life. In terms of brain function, prevention is typically better than cure—although individuals with mild cognitive impairment reportedly have improved their memory and brain function through a variety of brain-enhancing life-style changes. Based on this study, altering one’s habitual behavior patterns related to worry and anxiety would be one of those important life-style changes. When you become aware of a thought that is anxious or worrisome, take steps to prevent or solve whatever it is you are worried about insofar as it is possible to do so. Then let go of the worry. Whenever the thought pops up try telling yourself:  ‘Mary, you let go of that thought. You are replacing it with a thought of something for which you are grateful (e.g., ‘Your name ____, are grateful for _____________’). Typically, habits of worrying can be often replaced with habits of gratitude. Seek professional help if you need assistance.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Anxiety and Alzheimer’s

A recent study led by Linda Mah MD, MHS was designed to test the hypothesis that anxiety in individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) can increase the rates of conversion to Alzheimer's disease (AD). Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI) is characterized by memory impairment with preservation of functional independence and is considered a transitional stage between normal aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD).However, rates of conversion to AD are highly variable. Some 376 participants with aMCI from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) were studied over a median period of 36 months. The results of the study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reported that anxiety symptoms in amnestic mild cognitive impairment are associated with medial temporal atrophy and predict conversion to Alzheimer's disease.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Sixth Sense of Intuitive Knowing

Intuition is believed housed in the right frontal lobe or at least directed by that cerebral division-so every ‘normal’ human brain contains the mental faculty of intuition (although not everyone chooses to hone the skills it represents). Some say there is a sixth sense of intuitive knowing that is often seen in females because of the global way in which their brains are wired.

According to neuroscientist Beatrice de Gelder PhD, humans all process things that they’re not consciously aware of—it’s a sensation of ‘knowing.’ Because humans are also so dependent on a sense of sight they are not used to trusting their internal intuitive vision track. 

Joy Hirsch PhD, director of the fMRI Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center has been reported as saying, “If you find yourself in a situation that’s making you feel nervous, you may have spotted a reason for concern without even knowing it. Pay attention to the sensation.” You may want to take another look at your intuition and start building skills.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dreaming and Intuition

There are any number of interesting stories about individuals who had dreams that ended up assisting them in discovering new ideas.
  •  According to Encyclopedia Britannica, German chemist August Kekule von Stradonitz (1829–1896) is famous for having clarified the nature of aromatic compounds, which are based on the benzene molecule. He claimed to have had a dream while dozing in which he saw the figure of a snake that seized its own tail in its mouth, giving Kekule the idea for the benzene ring.
  •  James Dewey Watson, KBE (hon.), an American molecular biologist, geneticist, and zoologist and a co-discoverers of the DNA structure, reportedly got the idea from a dream. Reportedly he dreamed of a double sided spiral staircase—which makes sense when you recall that the spiral DNA strands look something like a twisted ladder.
  •   According to NOVA, one night Einstein was riding home in a Bern streetcar. Looking back at the famous clock tower that dominated the city, he imagined the streetcar racing away from the clock tower at the speed of light. His ponderings eventually resulted in the theory of relativity (events that were simultaneous in one frame of reference were not necessarily simultaneous in another) and the world's most famous equation, E = mc2.