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Study Finds Smallest Preemies Not at More Risk of Adult Mental Health Issues
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Study Finds Smallest Preemies Not at More Risk of Adult Mental Health Issues

A population health study of very preterm and very-low-birth-weight individuals finds that these early births are not associated with anxiety and mood disorders later in life.

The finding challenges earlier research that suggested increased risks. The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and University of Warwick researchers studied nearly 400 individuals from birth to adulthood. Half of the participants had been born before 32-weeks gestation or at a very low birth weight (less than 3.3 pounds), and the other half had been born at term and normal birth weight.

The research team, led by Drs. Julia Jaekel (UT) and Dieter Wolke (UW), assessed each participant when they were six, eight, and 26 years old using detailed clinical interviews of psychiatric disorders.

“Previous research has reported increased risks for anxiety and mood disorders, but these studies were based on small samples and did not include repeated assessments for over 20 years,” said Jaekel.

Their results? At age six, children were not at an increased risk of any anxiety or mood disorders, but by age eight — after they had entered school — more children had an anxiety disorder.

By 26, there was a tendency to have more mood disorders like depression, but the findings were not meaningfully different between the two groups.

This study is the first investigation of anxiety and mood disorders in childhood and adulthood using clinical diagnoses in a large whole-population study of very preterm and very-low-birth-weight individuals as compared to individuals born at term.

The team also found that having a romantic partner who is supportive is an important factor for good mental health because it helps protect one from developing anxiety or depression.

However, the study found fewer very-preterm-born adults had a romantic partner and were more withdrawn socially.

“Adults without support from romantic partners are at increased risk to develop anxiety and mood disorders,” said Wolke.

“Social support is important to prevent anxiety or mood disorders.”

It is also the largest study that’s been done following very-preterm-born children from childhood to adulthood.

Researchers believe the large sample size and study design provide compelling and reassuring evidence that very-preterm birth is not associated with an increased risk of psychiatric mood and anxiety disorders.

Source: University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Social Anxiety Exposures: Travelling Abroad & Facebook Live
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A couple of weeks ago, I put feelers out there, to see if you lovely lot would be interested in me doing a blog series, describing what things I’ve been doing to tackle my social anxiety and any exposure experiments I’ve been doing. The initial idea seemed to go down quite well, so now I’m putting it into practice.

Before I just go ahead and tell you what I’ve been upto, I first want to explain what I mean by “social anxiety exposures” to anybody that’s scratching their head in confusion at this point. Exposure Therapy is a common type of treatment for anxiety, usually used in CBT, where you face your fears gradually. You’re basically exposing yourself to the thing that scares you but in smaller, easier steps and instead of doing things like, avoiding the situation, running away, making excuses to leave, you stay in the situation until your anxiety level drops.

I love this kind of therapy technique and even talk about it in my free anxiety guide. It’s been a long time since I finished therapy but I always make sure I keep up with using the techniques I learned there.

Here’s just a few things I’ve done in the last few weeks, while tackling my social anxiety…

 

Social Anxiety Exposures, Travelling Abroad

 

Travelling Abroad

I’ve travelled abroad before, in fact I’ve been much further away from home in the past but it had been such a long time, that for some reason I became extremely anxious on the lead up to our weeks holiday in Spain. I had a number of anxiety attacks weeks before, mostly to do with the actual trip and managing to get to the hotel okay and also because of money. I am a constant worrier when it comes to money. That stuff is like poison to me. It turned out okay in the end though and we managed to scrape some spending money together and I definitely enjoyed myself.

This holiday actually forced me completely out of my comfort zone. First of all, I wore a bikini on my chubby bod in front of everyone at the pool and on the beach… something I was absolutely dreading. Secondly, I ate in the busy all-inclusive restaurant full of people 3 times a day, every day… eating around people for me is hard but being in a crowded place is even harder. Thirdly, going new places is a scary thing with social anxiety and when you’re practically somewhere new everyday, that’s a lot of exposure!

 

Facebook Live

A big shout out to Fiona from Fiona Likes To Blog who got me seriously out of my comfort zone for a Facebook Live interview. I was kinda shitting myself beforehand but I practised dropping my typical safety behaviour of over-preparing for every situation and instead I took it as it came. This was a good decision! Not only was it very easy to talk to Fiona anyway, I’m starting to realise that the less I prepare for things, the more natural and flowy they are.

You can see our FB chat here.

 

Going without make-up

Lately I’ve been pushing myself to do things I typically find uncomfortable and one of those things is, going out without any make-up on. I hate myself without make-up and normally would die before letting someone see me without a full face of slap on but in the past few weeks I’ve actually left the house without a stitch of make-up on, completely bare-faced! This is a big deal for me, as some of my PCOS symptoms are embarrassing, making my anxiety really bad and I use make-up as a way to conceal that.

My take-away from doing this, is that nobody actually gives a fuck or notices my flaws. It’s definitely in my head that people are judging me all the time.

 

Social Anxiety Exposures series.

 

I’d love to hear what you have all been up to in the last few weeks to tackle your anxiety, feel free to post in the comments!

The post Social Anxiety Exposures: Travelling Abroad & Facebook Live appeared first on Anxious Lass.

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Am I Going Crazy? Or Is It My Period?
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Am I Going Crazy? Or Is It My Period?

**Trigger warning for men. This post is about the female menstrual cycle. Don’t read if the topic makes you uncomfortable.** If you’re a woman, I’d…

The post Am I Going Crazy? Or Is It My Period? appeared first on wE'Re AlL mAd HeRe.

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Social Anxiety Disorder: A Day in the Life (University)
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What follows is a post that I wrote a couple of years ago now, for another site, but was never published. I’ve decided to post it on here while I’m working on mega-updates on everything that has happened in my life (SA-related and otherwise) since the last time I updated my blog regularly. It’s amazing to see how much things have changed for the better since I wrote this post.


 

“This isn’t so bad”, I say to myself as I sit eating lunch in my university’s canteen. My hands are shaking, and I’m sitting alone while almost everyone else in the room seems to sitting with friends, but at least now I can actually stay in the canteen without having a panic attack. I would never have been able to do this way back during my first year of university. I look around the canteen and see other students talking and laughing with their friends and classmates. There seem to be hundreds of indecipherable conversations going on all around me. But I don’t need to decipher them to know that all of those students can do what I cannot. A wave of sadness and acceptance washes over me. “Try not to think about it”, I tell myself, “Think of the progress you’ve made. Things are better now”. Yet the progress seems like nothing at all compared to the misery, anxiety, and loneliness that I still feel on a daily basis.

I am 21 years old and about to go into my final year of university. It has taken me a year longer than most to get to this point, due to how difficult my mental health issues have made university for me. Everyone always says that these will be the best years of your life. So why have my university years been one of the most lonely and miserable periods of my life? I feel like an alien compared to other students. I have never been to a nightclub or student party, and my social life is almost non-existent. I spend my entire weekend at home. Even the thought of going out socially with a group of other students is enough to make me feel sick with anxiety. I have not managed to make a single friend at university, despite having been there for four years now. At least I do have a small number of friends now. I didn’t have any friends at all (except one online friend) until about a year ago. The friends I do have are still not close friends, though. I only see each of them about once every 2 or 3 months, so I am still very lonely and isolated. Making friends has always been difficult for me. I’d love nothing more than to have a group of close friends to spend time with and talk to, but my anxiety prevents this from happening. I don’t even have anyone that I chat with at university, so university is an extremely isolating experience for me. My anxiety has also prevented me from ever being in a relationship. Much like friendships, this is something which I long for intensely, but it is still an impossibility for me. I can’t even have a basic conversation with a member of the opposite sex without suffering from intense anxiety.

I have had social anxiety disorder for as long as I can remember. It has made life difficult in a lot of ways, throughout every stage of my life so far. Throughout my time at university, my anxiety has gotten in the way so much. Just sitting with other students in a lecture theatre is enough to make me anxious. I almost always sit on my own, as I am too afraid to sit with other students. I worry that they wouldn’t like me. I worry that they would take one look at me and then wonder why the socially awkward loner is disturbing them. Tutorials are even worse. I hate group work, because this usually involves me awkwardly having to go up to another group of students (if I can manage this without a panic attack) and ask them if I can join their group. I’m usually too anxious to contribute anything to the conversation. I used to have panic attacks during classes, and had to leave the room. I was convinced that my classmates and tutors could all see what a freak I was, and that they all thought I was pathetic. Group presentations were even worse, and would have been completely impossible without the aid of propranolol.

In addition to the anxiety, I have also suffered from episodes of severe depression since I was 14 years old. I believe that the depression results from all the ways in which social anxiety disorder limits my life. When I was 17, not long after starting my first year of university, I had the worst depressive episode of my life. I would get back from university each day and cry because I could not even have a simple conversation with anyone. I could not make friends. I was alone and miserable, and no one seemed to even notice me. I would cry myself to sleep most nights, until eventually I was no longer even able to cry. I thought about suicide a lot. One day, I decided that I could cope no longer. I had a really bad panic attack at university, left, and then decided that I would commit suicide by jumping from a suspension bridge (something I had been thinking about for months). Thankfully, despite my intense anxiety, I do have one good friend (who I met through the internet), and they, with the help of someone else, managed to talk me out of suicide. I continued to feel the same for months afterwards, but was somehow able to get through it. In some ways, that part of my life feels unreal to me, made real only by the scars on my arm. Yet in other ways, in spite of all my progress, I am still alone, still have no close friends or any chance of being in a relationship, and anxiety still pervades my life.

I am brought back to the present moment as I notice the girl sitting diagonally across the table from me. She sits alone, with her head down, shoulders hunched, and earphones in. She looks like a first year. I wonder if she too has social anxiety disorder, and if she is in the same personal hell that I am in. I wonder how many other people have to go through this loneliness, anxiety, and misery on a daily basis, longing for friends and human connection, but unable to obtain them. Social anxiety disorder is the third most common mental health problem, thought to affect 7-13% (Bryce and Saeed, 1999; Furmark, 2002) of the population in western countries. Yet the condition is almost unheard of among the general public. In my experience, the vast majority of mental health professionals do not know how to treat it, and many have never even heard of it, and refuse to accept that it a serious, life destroying disorder which can lead to depression and suicide. That’s why I’m writing this article. I want there to be more awareness of this crippling anxiety disorder. I want there to be more help and support available, and therapy that actually works. I don’t want anyone else to go through all of the pain, loneliness and misery that I have been through, and continue to go through.

A guy comes over to my table and asks if I’m interested in a gym membership. I manage to surprise myself by actually being able to make eye contact and not stumble over my words. I reply that I’m not interested. It’s not that I don’t like to exercise; it’s that my anxiety prevents me from exercising in front of other people. I still haven’t been able to face this fear. “Try not to focus on it”, I once again tell myself, “Focus on all the progress you’ve made”. While social anxiety continues to control my life, it is true that I have made considerable progress over the last couple of years. To give just a few examples, I passed my driving test, went along to some social groups, went along to a couple of job interviews, and even managed to get myself a job in a supermarket (a socially anxious person’s idea of Hell). While working there has been very difficult for me, it has also helped me a lot with my anxiety. I feel a lot less anxious in shops and other public places now. I just hope the progress can continue and that I won’t be lost to social anxiety disorder.

I remind myself that despite all the pain that comes with having depression and an anxiety disorder, despite all the times I felt I couldn’t go on with life and that suicide was my only option, I am still here. And I wouldn’t still be alive if I didn’t have hope that things can get better. If you’re struggling with social anxiety disorder or depression, I just want you to know that you’re not alone. I want you to know that you are stronger and braver than you know. You have to be to live with these conditions. I hope that someday, mental illnesses will receive as much care and attention and physical illnesses, and everyone who suffers from social anxiety disorder will be able to get the treatment they need, and go on to live a life that they can be content with, free from chronic misery and loneliness. I have decided that even if I achieve nothing else with my life, it will not be for nothing if I can raise awareness of social anxiety disorder in some way.

 

References:

Bryce, T.J. and Saeed, S.A. (1999). Social Anxiety Disorder: A Common, Underrecognized Mental Disorder. American Family Physician. 60(8): 2311-2320.

Furmark, T. (2002). Social phobia: overview of community surveys. Acta Psychiatricia Scandinavica. 105(2): 84-93.

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Social Anxiety Exposures: Travelling Abroad & Facebook Live
howlongdopanicattackslast.com

A couple of weeks ago, I put feelers out there, to see if you lovely lot would be interested in me doing a blog series, describing what things I’ve been doing to tackle my social anxiety and any exposure experiments I’ve been doing. The initial idea seemed to go down quite well, so now I’m putting it into practice.

Before I just go ahead and tell you what I’ve been upto, I first want to explain what I mean by “social anxiety exposures” to anybody that’s scratching their head in confusion at this point. Exposure Therapy is a common type of treatment for anxiety, usually used in CBT, where you face your fears gradually. You’re basically exposing yourself to the thing that scares you but in smaller, easier steps and instead of doing things like, avoiding the situation, running away, making excuses to leave, you stay in the situation until your anxiety level drops.

I love this kind of therapy technique and even talk about it in my free anxiety guide. It’s been a long time since I finished therapy but I always make sure I keep up with using the techniques I learned there.

Here’s just a few things I’ve done in the last few weeks, while tackling my social anxiety…

 

Social Anxiety Exposures, Travelling Abroad

 

Travelling Abroad

I’ve travelled abroad before, in fact I’ve been much further away from home in the past but it had been such a long time, that for some reason I became extremely anxious on the lead up to our weeks holiday in Spain. I had a number of anxiety attacks weeks before, mostly to do with the actual trip and managing to get to the hotel okay and also because of money. I am a constant worrier when it comes to money. That stuff is like poison to me. It turned out okay in the end though and we managed to scrape some spending money together and I definitely enjoyed myself.

This holiday actually forced me completely out of my comfort zone. First of all, I wore a bikini on my chubby bod in front of everyone at the pool and on the beach… something I was absolutely dreading. Secondly, I ate in the busy all-inclusive restaurant full of people 3 times a day, every day… eating around people for me is hard but being in a crowded place is even harder. Thirdly, going new places is a scary thing with social anxiety and when you’re practically somewhere new everyday, that’s a lot of exposure!

 

Facebook Live

A big shout out to Fiona from Fiona Likes To Blog who got me seriously out of my comfort zone for a Facebook Live interview. I was kinda shitting myself beforehand but I practised dropping my typical safety behaviour of over-preparing for every situation and instead I took it as it came. This was a good decision! Not only was it very easy to talk to Fiona anyway, I’m starting to realise that the less I prepare for things, the more natural and flowy they are.

You can see our FB chat here.

 

Going without make-up

Lately I’ve been pushing myself to do things I typically find uncomfortable and one of those things is, going out without any make-up on. I hate myself without make-up and normally would die before letting someone see me without a full face of slap on but in the past few weeks I’ve actually left the house without a stitch of make-up on, completely bare-faced! This is a big deal for me, as some of my PCOS symptoms are embarrassing, making my anxiety really bad and I use make-up as a way to conceal that.

My take-away from doing this, is that nobody actually gives a fuck or notices my flaws. It’s definitely in my head that people are judging me all the time.

 

Social Anxiety Exposures series.

 

I’d love to hear what you have all been up to in the last few weeks to tackle your anxiety, feel free to post in the comments!

The post Social Anxiety Exposures: Travelling Abroad & Facebook Live appeared first on Anxious Lass.

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Mouse Study Sheds Light on Role of Anxiety in Insomnia
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Mice Research Sheds Light on Role of Anxiety in Insomnia

For many being anxious, stressed, or even being too excited can cause sleepless nights. Although emotions are recognized to affect wakefulness and even cause insomnia, the underlying mechanisms for why this occurs has been unclear.

Now, from an animal study, Japanese researchers believe they have discovered a neurochemical root cause on how emotions can trigger insomnia. Scientists believe the finding could led to future discovery of drug targets for anxiety disorder and/or sleep disorders.

Investigators explain that biological responses occur when we evolutionarily encountered predators, or as we adapt to a novel environment or expect a reward.

These stressful or emotionally salient situations require individuals to shift their behavior to a vigilant state, altering their physiological conditions through modulation of autonomic and endocrine functions. This response begins in a part of the brain called the amygdala, specifically in the nucleus of the nerve nexus called the stria terminalis (BNST). The amygdala is generally considered a key player in stress response, fear, and anxiety.

The BNST controls endocrine and autonomic reactions in response to emotionally-salient stimuli along with behavioral expression of anxiety and fear. The region does this by sending projections to various brain regions including relay nuclei of the autonomic nervous system, hypothalamic regions and the central nucleus of the amygdala.

Dr. Takeshi Sakurai, vice director of the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, and his team found that acute optogenetic excitation of GABAergic neurons in BNST during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep in mice resulted in immediate transition to a wakefulness state.

The stimulation did this without the function of orexins, highly important neuropeptides for maintaining wakefulness. Notably, stimulation of the same neurons during REM sleep did not show any effects on sleep/wakefulness states.

Prolonged excitation of GABAergic neurons in BNST evoked a longer-lasting, sustained wakefulness state, and it was abolished by administering a receptor blocker in advance, meaning that orexins are involved in this phenomenon.

“Our study revealed a role of the BNST GABAergic system in sleep/wakefulness control, especially in shifting animals’ behavioral states from NREM sleep to wakefulness.

“It also provides an important insight into the pathophysiology of insomnia and the role of orexin in arousal regulation, which will hopefully lead to the first step to develop remedies for sleep disorders,” Sakurai said.

Source: University of Tsukuba

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tune in to blis.fm tomorrow for my live interview
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tomorrow june 21 from 8:00pm – 9:00pm EST tune in to blis.fm to hear me *live* in-studio on divergent thought.  divergent thought, co-hosted by three diverse black men, is a radio show that offers thoughtful insights into situations that impact our world. the studio is located here in washington d.c. i will share my own story to raise awareness about mental illness and offer some of my favorite resources for people who are struggling. and, most importantly, i will learn from charles, barrington and daryl about their own cultural experiences and perceptions of mental illness. you can learn more about them by clicking here.

i am so excited that they asked me to join in a discussion about mental health. when i asked charles (pictured above in the center) why he wanted to feature me on tomorrow’s show, this was his response:

“we want to have a conversation about mental health because it is often stigmatized as a taboo subject. many individuals feel like talking about mental health and asking for help is a sign of weakness. we know better. we want to shine a light on the topic to reiterate that there is never a reason to walk alone and suffer in silence. just because people cannot see the scars doesn’t mean that they are not there. we want people to know more about mental health so that they are more willing to talk about it. even if talking about it doesn’t necessarily help them, it might help someone else.”

please visit the divergent thought webpage to listen along live! you can even call in with a question towards the end of the interview. if you can’t join us tomorrow, there will be a podcast of the interview to share in the next few days.

stay tuned and wish me luck!
xo,
amy

The post tune in to blis.fm tomorrow for my live interview appeared first on blue light blue.

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Getting Enough Sleep, How Long Do Panic Attacks Last.
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Can lack of sleep cause longer panic attacks? Growing older often means a loss of the youthful ability to enjoy a deep, restorative slumber as periods of wakefulness, frequent bathroom trips, and anxiety are common. As such, growing older is characterized by less sleep. New research, however, finds that elders would benefit from the quantity […]

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Specific Brain Region Influences Anxiety and Emotions in Healthy Adults
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Specific Brain Region Influences Anxiety and Emotions in Healthy Adults

Emerging research suggests the size of a specific area of the brain appears to influence emotional regulation in healthy people.

In a study of healthy college students, University of Illinois investigators discovered individuals with a relatively small inferior frontal cortex (IFC) — a brain region behind the temples that helps regulate thoughts and emotions — are more likely than others to suffer from anxiety.

These individuals also tend to view neutral or even positive events in a negative light, researchers report.

Investigators evaluated sixty-two students. Brain structural data from neuroimaging scans and responses to standard questionnaires were used to determine anxiety levels and predilection for negative bias.

Previous studies of people diagnosed with anxiety have found similar correlations between the size of the IFC and anxiety and negative bias, said University of Illinois psychology postdoctoral researcher Sanda Dolcos, who led the study with graduate student Yifan Hu.

But the new findings are the first to see these same dynamics in healthy adults, the researchers said.

“You would expect these brain changes more in clinical populations where anxiety is very serious, but we are seeing differences even in the brains of healthy young adults,” Dolcos said.

The study, reported in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, also found that the relationship between the size of the IFC and a student’s negative bias was mediated by their level of anxiety.

“People who have smaller volumes have higher levels of anxiety; people who have larger IFCs tend to have lower levels of anxiety,” Dolcos said.

And higher anxiety is associated with more negative bias, she said. “How we see this is that the higher volume of the IFC confers resilience.”

“We found that larger IFC volume is protecting against negative bias through lower levels of trait anxiety,” Hu said.

Anxiety appears to be on the rise on college campuses. According to the American College Health Association, nearly 60 percent of students report at least one troubling bout of anxious worry every year.

“There is a very high level of anxiety in the student population, and this is affecting their life, their academic performance, everything,” Dolcos said. “We are interested in identifying what is going on and preventing them from moving to the next level and developing clinical anxiety.”

Anxiety can interfere with many dimensions of life, causing a person to be on high alert for potential problems even under the best of circumstances, Hu said. Negative bias also can interfere with a person’s commitment to activities that might further their life goals, she said.

Understanding the interrelatedness of brain structure, function and personality traits such as anxiety and their behavioral effects such as negative bias will help scientists develop interventions to target specific brain regions in healthy populations, Hu said.

“We hope to be able to train the brain to function better,” she said. “That way, we might prevent these at-risk people from moving on to more severe anxiety.”

Source: University of Illinois

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