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There are loads of perks to having an anxious friend. Sure, we tend to overthink things. We worry about every possible thing that could go…
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A new comprehensive literature review by an integrative medicine specialist suggests dream loss is at the root of many of the health concerns attributed to sleep loss.
The review by Rubin Naiman, PhD, appears in the “Unlocking the Unconscious: Exploring the Undiscovered Self” issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Naiman is a sleep and dream specialist at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
The paper details the various factors that cause rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and dream loss. Typical sleep follows a pattern in which deeper, non-REM sleep is prioritized by the body. Only later in the night and into the early morning do people experience dreaming, during REM sleep.
“We are at least as dream-deprived as we are sleep-deprived,” noted Dr. Naiman, UA clinical assistant professor of medicine.
He sees REM/dream loss as an unrecognized public health hazard that silently wreaks havoc by contributing to illness, depression and an erosion of consciousness.
“Many of our health concerns attributed to sleep loss actually result from REM sleep deprivation.”
The review examines data about the causes and extent of REM/dream loss associated with medications, substance use disorders, sleep disorders and behavioral and lifestyle factors.
Naiman further reviews the consequences of REM/dream loss and concludes with recommendations for restoring healthy REM sleep and dreaming.
Source: University of Arizona
New research finds that patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have increased levels of brain cell inflammation.
Importantly, researchers at the University of Manchester discovered that the inflammation was present only in patients with MDD who were experiencing suicidal thoughts.
This link suggests nerve cell inflammation, rather than a diagnosis of MDD, is associated with suicidal thoughts. The research, led by Dr. Peter Talbot and colleagues appears in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
“Our findings are the first results in living depressed patients to suggest that this microglial activation is most prominent in those with suicidal thinking,” said Dr. Talbot. Previous studies suggesting this link have relied on brain tissue collected from patients after death.
“This paper is an important addition to the view that inflammation is a feature of the neurobiology of a subgroup of depressed patients, in this case the group with suicidal ideation,” said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.
“This observation is particularly important in light of recent evidence supporting a personalized medicine approach to depression, i.e., that anti-inflammatory drugs may have antidepressant effects that are limited to patients with demonstrable inflammation.”
In the study, first author Dr. Sophie Holmes and colleagues assessed inflammation in 14 patients with moderate-to-severe depression who were not currently taking any antidepressant medications.
Immune cells called microglia activate as part of the body’s inflammatory response, so the researchers used a brain imaging technique to measure a substance that increases in activated microglia.
The evidence for immune activation was most prominent in the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region involved in mood regulation and implicated in the biological origin of depression. This finding confirmed the results of a previous study that identified altered microglial activation in medication-free MDD patients. Smaller increases were also found in the insula and prefrontal cortex.
“The field now has two independent reports — our study and a 2015 report by Setiawan and colleagues in Toronto — showing essentially the same thing: that there is evidence for inflammation, more specifically microglial activation, in the brains of living patients during a major depressive episode,” said Dr. Talbot.
This link suggests that among depressed patients, neuroinflammation may be a factor contributing to the risk for suicidal thoughts or behavior.
According to Dr. Talbot, the findings “emphasize the importance of further research into the question of whether novel treatments that reduce microglial activation may be effective in major depression and suicidality.”
like a promise to myself
i will try to remember
that it is possible to hold
two opposite truths
at the same time.
it is possible
to think i am broken and be imperfectly whole
to have healed and grown and need to heal and grow some more
to feel isolated and ask for help
to have a setback while making progress
to feel scared and be strong
to take a step forward without knowing all of the answers
to be overwhelmed and make it through another day
to feel unworthy and be deeply loved
to be vulnerable and safe
to recover while making mistakes
to feel afraid and do it anyway
to doubt myself and trust myself
to walk through a storm and find moments of peace
like a promise to myself
i will try to remember
that it is possible to hold
two opposite truths
at the same time.
it is possible.
New research finds that mothers often worry, but babies of anxious mothers may also spend more time focusing on threats in their environment.
Using a novel experimental design, Pennsylvania State University scientists used eye-tracking technology to measure how long babies spent looking at happy, neutral, and angry faces. They found that the babies with anxious moms had a harder time looking away from an angry face — which they could view as a threat — than babies whose moms were not anxious.
Researchers believe the study findings, published in in the journal Emotion, could help give clues about which children are at risk for developing anxiety later in life.
“Once we learn more about the pathways to anxiety, we can better predict who’s at risk and hopefully help prevent them from needing treatment later on,” said Dr. Koraly Pérez-Edgar, a professor of psychology.
“Treatment is difficult for the child and parent, it’s expensive and it doesn’t always work. If we can prevent anxiety from developing, that’s a whole lot better. Let’s find out which kids are at the highest risk and intervene.”
Previous research has found that focusing too much on threat could potentially increase anxiety, and some forms of therapy focus on turning attention away from threat as a way to lower anxiety.
“Paying too much attention to threat, even as infants, could possibly set up this cycle. The more you fixate on threat, the more opportunity you have to see the world as a threatening place, which could help lead to more anxiety,” Pérez-Edgar said.
“Additionally, we think that risk factors in biology and potentially mom’s anxiety could also make that more likely.”
To examine the relationship between a mother’s anxiety and her baby’s attention to threat, researchers recruited 98 babies between the ages of four and 24 months.
The research team was led by Pérez-Edgar, and included Drs. Kristin Buss, professor of psychology at Penn State, and Vanessa Lobue, assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University.
The study methodology included investigators asking babies’ mothers questions about their anxiety levels. Also, the babies themselves were placed in front of a screen that was equipped with an eye tracker, a strip that ran along the bottom of the monitor and followed the movement of the babies’ irises using infrared.
As each baby focused on the screen, their gaze was measured while happy, neutral and angry faces appeared one at a time. Once the baby was focused on a face, a second image was flashed in their peripheral vision to distract them.
“By the time you’re a few months old, a reflex develops where you’ll automatically turn and look if something pops up in your peripheral vision,” Pérez-Edgar said. “This became a conflict for the babies, because they were focused on the face but then had this reflex to turn and look.”
The researchers found that the more anxious a baby’s mother was, the more time her baby spent looking at the angry faces before turning to look at the image in their peripheral vision. This suggests that the babies with anxious moms had a harder time disengaging from a potential threat in their environment.
Additionally, the researchers found that the age of the baby did not matter. The babies with anxious moms spent a longer time looking at the angry face whether they were four or 24 months old, suggesting a potential genetic element.
“It doesn’t seem like the babies are learning to pay more attention to threat from their anxious moms. If that were true, the older babies might have more trouble turning away because they’ve been around their moms longer than the younger babies,” Pérez-Edgar said.
“This seems to suggest that there may be a shared genetic or biological component.”
Pérez-Edgar said the results give powerful clues about where to keep looking to learn more about how anxiety develops in children. In a future study, Pérez-Edgar, Buss, and Lobue will take a closer look at how mothers’ anxiety affects babies over time, instead of at one instance.
Source: Penn State
Sleep is difficult to come by for older Americans as a new poll reveals 46 percent of individuals report trouble falling asleep one or more nights a week. Moreover, most Americans appear to believe that poor sleep is a normal aging characteristic.
University of Michigan investigators administered the National Poll on Healthy Aging to a national sample of older people and discovered that more than one-third of survey participants use some sort of medication to help fall asleep at night.
Respondents reported they had not informed their physician that their sleep posed a problem. Half believed — incorrectly — that sleep problems just come naturally with age.
Investigators explain that those who turn to medications may not realize that prescription, over-the-counter, and even “natural” sleep aids carry health risks — especially for older adults — either alone or in combination with other substances.
In fact, national guidelines strongly warn against prescription sleep medicine use by people over age 65.
Despite this, the nationally representative poll of people ages 65 to 80 found that eight percent of older people take prescription sleep medicine regularly or occasionally. Among those who report sleep troubles three or more nights a week, 23 percent use a prescription sleep aid.
Most who use such drugs to help them sleep had been taking them for years. Manufacturers and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say such drugs are only for short-term use.
Researchers explains that sleep issues are not uncommon and that medication are not the only solution.
“Although sleep problems can happen at any age and for many reasons, they can’t be cured by taking a pill, either prescription, over-the-counter or herbal, no matter what the ads on TV say,” said poll director Preeti Malani, M.D., a University of Michigan physician trained in geriatric medicine.
“Some of these medications can create big concerns for older adults, from falls and memory issues to confusion and constipation,” even if they’re sold without a prescription.
“The first step for anyone having trouble sleeping on a regular basis should be to talk to a doctor about it,” she said.
“Our poll shows that nearly two-thirds of those who did so got helpful advice, but a large percentage of those with sleep problems simply weren’t talking about it.”
She notes that non-medication-based sleep habits are the first choice for improving sleep in older people. In all, 46 percent of those polled had trouble falling asleep one or more nights a week. Fifteen percent of the poll respondents said they had trouble falling asleep three or more nights a week.
Other health conditions can contribute to sleep difficulties. Twenty-three percent of poll respondents who had trouble sleeping said it was because of pain. And 40 percent of those with frequent sleep problems said their overall health was fair or poor. Other reasons for sleep troubles included having to get up to use the bathroom at night, and worry or stress.
Insomnia and other irregular sleep patterns can interfere with daytime functioning, and are associated with memory issues, depression, and an increased risk of falls and accidents. Even so, many said they didn’t see sleep issues as a health problem — in fact, this belief was the most common reason that poll respondents said they didn’t talk to their doctor about sleep.
This also highlights the need for doctors to ask their older patients about their sleep habits and what they’re doing to address any issues they may be having.
“We know that sleep is a critical factor for overall health as we age, and this new research highlights sleep problems as both a significant health issue for older adults and an under acknowledged one both by patients and their providers,” said Alison Bryant, Ph.D., senior vice president of research for AARP.
“We need to help people understand that lack of sleep is not just a natural part of aging.”
In all, 14 percent of the poll respondents said they regularly took a prescription sleep medication, prescription pain medication, an over-the -counter (OTC) sleep aid, or a herbal supplement to help them sleep. Another 23 percent took one of these options occasionally; most of the occasional users said they chose OTC sleep aids.
The most recent sleep criteria established by the American Geriatrics Society, which guides the use of medications among older people, gives a strong warning against use of prescription sleep drugs, which are sold under such names as Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata.
Meanwhile, even though OTC sleep aids can be purchased without a doctor’s guidance or prescription, they still carry health risks for older people, Malani said. Most of them contain diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that can cause side effects such as confusion, urinary retention, and constipation.
Among poll respondents with frequent sleep problems who took something occasionally to help them sleep, OTC sleep remedies were the most common choice. But among those with frequent sleep issues who took something on a regular basis to try to sleep, prescription sleep medications were the most common option, with 17 percent reporting use.
Use of melatonin and other herbal remedies may be perceived as safer, but less is known about their potential side effects and they are not subject to the FDA’s approval process for medications, said Malani. But any issue that prompts someone to buy an OTC or herbal remedy on a regular basis is something they should discuss with their doctor, she added.
Source: University of Michigan
New research discovers that an abrasive management style may actually help an individual feel good about themselves, but only for a short while.
Indeed, the Michigan State University study, discovered bullying and belittling employees starts to take its toll on a supervisor’s mental state after about a week.
“The moral of the story is that although abuse may be helpful and even mentally restorative for supervisors in the short-term, over the long haul it will come back to haunt them,” said Russell Johnson, Michigan State University associate professor of management and an expert on workplace psychology.
The study appears in the Academy of Management Journal.
While numerous studies have documented the negative effects of abusive supervision, some bosses nevertheless still act like jerks, meaning there must be some sort of benefit or reinforcement for them, Johnson said.
Indeed, the researchers found that supervisors who were abusive felt a sense of recovery because their boorish behavior helped replenish their mental energy and resources.
Johnson said it requires mental effort to suppress abusive behavior — which can lead to mental fatigue — but supervisors who act on that impulse “save” the mental energy that would otherwise have been depleted by refraining from abuse.
The findings extended across cultures as Johnson and colleagues conducted multiple field and experiments on abusive bosses in the United States and China. They collected daily survey data over a four-week period and studied workers and supervisors in a variety of industries including manufacturing, service, and education.
The benefits of abusive supervision appeared to be short-lived, lasting a week or less. After that, abusive supervisors started to experience decreased trust, support, and productivity from employees — and these are critical resources for the bosses’ recovery and engagement.
Investigators discovered that although workers may not immediately confront their bosses following abusive behavior, over time they react in negative ways, such as engaging in counterproductive and aggressive behaviors and even quitting.
To prevent abusive behavior, the researchers suggest supervisors take well-timed breaks, reduce their workloads and communicate more with their employees.
Communicating with workers may help supervisors by releasing negative emotions through sharing, receiving social support, and gaining relational energy from their coworkers.
Source: Michigan State University
New research indicates high rates of sleep problems among youth continuing through teenage years and into early adulthood. The study also suggests that although the sleeping issues come from a variety of issues, many can be controlled with early training on maintaining an active lifestyle.
In the study, investigators from James Cook University and the University of Queensland tracked more than 3600 people from the age of 14 until they were 21. Reports of sleep problems were significant as “just over a quarter of the 14-year-olds reported sleep problems, with more than 40 percent of those still having sleep problems at 21,” said lead investigator, Dr. Yaqoot Fatima from JCU’s Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health.
She said the causes of sleep problems were different at different ages.
“Maternal factors, such as drug abuse, smoking, depression, and anxiety among mothers are the most significant predictors of adolescent sleep problems in their children, at 14-years-old.
“For all people studied, being female, having experienced early puberty, and being a smoker were the most significant predictors of sleep problems at 21 years.”
She said adolescent depression or anxiety were linking factors for sleep problems between the two ages.
“It’s a vicious circle. Depression and anxiety are well-established risk factors for sleep problems and people with sleep problems are often anxious or depressed,” she said.
Dr. Fatima said that as well as the traditional factors, excessive use of electronic media is emerging as another significant risk.
“In children and adolescents, it’s found to be strongly associated with later bedtime and shorter sleep duration, increasing the risk of developing sleep disturbances,” she said.
Dr. Fatima said the study was worrying as it revealed a high incidence of persistent sleep problems and possible concurrent health problems among young people — but it also strongly suggested an answer to the problem.
“Even allowing for Body Mass Index and other lifestyle factors, we found that an active lifestyle can decrease future incidence and progression of sleep problems in young subjects.
So, early exercise intervention with adolescents might provide a good opportunity to prevent their sleep problems persisting into later life.”
Fatima believes future research should investigate the factors that appear to extend a young adults’ sleep problems into adulthood, and how these may be prevented.
Source: James Cook University