News Everyone!

If you want to see more of the latest research and upcoming treatments for these or any other behavioral health disorder, check out the National Institute of Mental Health.

 

A recent study by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles calls into serious question the idea that synapses store memories - a theory that has dominated neuroscience for more than a century. They found that the chemical and molecular changes made when memories are formed remain present in the neuron itself even after they removed the synaptic connection. If supported, the work could have major implications for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Alzheimer's Disease.  You can read about it here.


Antidepressants are thought of for treating depression. Obvious, right? A new study shows that a common antidepressant, Lexapro, has benefits for reducing memory problems associated with stroke. Verbal and visual memory improved for those who suffered a stroke when taking Lexapro apart from its effect on reducing depression and problem-solving therapy.  Check it out here.


Reported in Cosmos (no, not "Cosmo"), two independent studies published in Cell  have identified neurons in the hypothalamus that are responsible for overeating, particularly sucrose consumption.  Okay, they only did it in rats, but the implications are enormous because these researchers used optogenetics to literally turn on and off these neurons that made the rats eat or not eat.  


Insomniacs rejoice! Researchers at Harvard School of Medicine and the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences have discoveredsleep-promoting circuit located deep in the primitive brainstem. This is only the second “sleep node” identified in the mammalian brain whose activity appears to be both necessary and sufficient to produce deep sleep. Published online in August in Nature Neuroscience, the study demonstrates that fully half of all of the brain’s sleep-promoting activity originates from the parafacial zone (PZ) in the brainstem. 


This is amazing. A 24 year old Chinese woman who had been living a pretty normal life went to the doctor complaining of nausea and vomiting for a month. She hadn't learned to walk until age 4 that continued to give her trouble. Chronic dizziness had also existed since that time. A brain scan revealed she was missing her cerebellum!!!  In it's place was a pocket of cerebral spinal fluid. This just shows how resilient the brain is at working around deficits - even of this magnitude!


You know those new pair of sunglasses you recently purchased?  The ones you picked over the other ones? It turns out that, even though they were the same price and style, you value them more than the ones you rejected.  Now, researchers know why.  It appears that the brain secretes a bit of dopamine (the neurochemical of pleasure) each time you choose one thing over another of equal value.  In essence, you're given a "reward" for your choice thus reinforcing your choice as the better one.  You can read about the details here.


Data concerning the long – term efficacy of laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy in the treatment of morbid obesity remain scarce. A recent study shows that after 5 years follow-up of 30 patients having undergone laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, almost 57% of excess weight loss was maintained - down by less than 10% from the first year.


A new treatment for obesity is in Phase III clinical trials that shows very promising results.  Tesofensine significantly decreases weight by approximately twice the weight loss produced by medications currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of obesity.


What does concrete and happiness have in common?  Not what you might think.  Researchers at Stanford University have found that happiness increases with setting concrete goals (as opposed to broad, abstract ones).  For instance, if you want to "feel less angry" then concretely list observable behaviors that reflect such. You may say instead, "I want to smile more often during the day", or "I'm going to increase my work out by 15 more minutes".  The researchers go on to say that increasing your own happiness increases the happiness of others.  Like laughter, happiness is contagious!


Researchers have found a very interesting finding about differences in religiousness and spirituality as they relate to human functioning.  Turns out that religiousness affects a person's behavior whereas spirituality affects a person's emotional functioning.  Religiousness, including formal religious affiliation and service attendance, is associated with better health habits, such as lower smoking rates and reduced alcohol consumption. Spirituality, including meditation and private prayer, helps regulate emotions, which aids physiological effects such as blood pressure.


New research by scientists from Sweden, Hungary and the UK demonstrates that galanin is an important stress mechanism in the human brain that influences how sensitive or resilient people are to psychosocial stress.  This might be a new way to treat depression and anxiety!


A new study suggests that facial recognition computer software is better at identifying people experiencing true pain than humans. The single most predictive feature of falsified expressions is the mouth - how and when it opens.  Persons faking pain open their mouths with less variation and too regularly.


Researchers have developed a blood test that accurately predicts 90% of the time how likely one will develop Alzheimer's Disease within two to three years.  The study focused on assessing cell membrane integrity, which is considerably less invasive and time consuming than current biomarkers.


Seems that Forgiveness is not just a good idea or concept.  It turns out that researchers have found that forgiveness has biological circuits in the brain.  By comparing brain activity of persons with seizures, the right parietal lobe functioning is significantly decreased.  This area is correlated with visual-spatial planning, spatial memory, and spirituality.


Researches have found a very interesting result regarding your relationship with your doctor.  It turns out that if you perceive your doctor as judging you about your weight, you're more likely to try and shed the pounds - but also less likely to succeed.


In a fascinating new study, researchers have found that spraying insulin into the nose improves memory in those with Alzheimer's Dementia.  Whether or not this will become a new treatment for this debilitating disease is uncertain, but still - fascinating!


More evidence shows that obesity, diabetes, and related conditions adversely impact our emotional and cognitive health.  It seems that learning and memory are reduced due to these medical conditions' putting chronic stress on the body.  Also, increased depression, pain, fatigue, and sleep problems occur with these conditions.


Mood disorders include major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder.

  • Approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder.
  • The median age of onset for mood disorders is 30 years.
  • Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders and substance abuse.

Sleep deprivation in children can produce symptoms similar to Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD).

  • Following a night of poor sleep, children are more likely to be hyperactive and have difficulty paying attention.
     
  • Many children with sleep apnea have larger tonsils and adenoids. The most common way to treat sleep apnea is to remove your child's tonsils and adenoid. This surgery is called a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. It is highly effective in treating sleep apnea.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, and other "addictive" behaviors are all part of an underlying disease process.  All of these behaviors result in an unusually high level of dopamine or opiate or both.


Depression can affect up to 10% of the population at any given time.  But the causes for depression vary considerably from person to person.  Research shows that a history of concussion, chronic stress, immune cell dysfunction, and inactivity by themselves or collectively can cause a clinically significant depressive disorder.  Depression is not a "state of mind" nor a "mental disorder", rather it is a disease process that varies in both severity and type.  You can read about the details here


A Saudi Arabian toddler is now the youngest bariatric surgery patient on record.  At two years old, this child underwent laproscopic sleeve gastrectomy and has had success.  He is only two years post-op so we won't know the longer term implications or outcomes for this particular case for quite a while.  But, still, WOW!


Emotional empathy - the ability to recognize, share in, and make inferences about another person’s emotional state - is critical for establishing and maintaining relationships.  Without it, we have great difficulty responding to and engaging others to help when suffering occurs.  Turns out, the brain has specific areas that, when damaged, create deficits in empathy.  A new study details where in the brain empathy originates. You can read it here.


Robert Heinlein said it best: “A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness."  New research seems to back up that very thing.  Psychologist have found that rudeness and incivility have a more lasting, detrimental effect on us than previously thought.  In short, manners matter.  Read the article here.


More evidence that sugar is a drug.  Researchers followed a group of women after giving them a milkshake and measuring brain activity, specifically in the Striatum, which is part of the reward center of the brain. After about six months, they repeated the procedure and found that Striatum did not respond as before - it showed less response than previously measured.  They concluded that the ingestion of sugar desensitizes the brain's reward center and leads to increased intake of sugar to achieve the same amount of pleasure.  If this finding is replicated, it suggests that the brain requires more and more sugar to achieve the same amount of pleasure - just like cocaine, opiates, and other drugs that create tolerance when used. You can read more about it here.


Sleep is restorative in so many ways.  A recent study shows that it actually helps with flushing out toxins that build up in our systems during the day.  One of the things sleep helps flush out is beta amyloid - a protein that contributes to Alzheimer's Disease.


Peanut butter keeps getting better and better every day.  Case in point:  A new study suggests that smelling peanut butter can detect Alzheimer's before noticeable symptoms of memory loss become apparent to those closest to them.


A new study shows a disturbing and marked increase in new substance use disorders (SUDs) occurring at about the 2-year post-surgery period for women in their 40's who had the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) procedure.  Rates were based on a review of 7,199 electronic medical records. 


Many risk factors of dementia exist and researchers have known for a while that abnormal fat metabolism poses a risk for impaired memory and learning. People with high amounts of abdominal fat in their middle age are 3.6 times as likely to develop memory loss and dementia later in their life.  Read about it here.


A new, possible biomarker for Alzheimer's Disease is found.  Scientists have discovered that changes to a wishbone shaped structure in the brain called the Fornix is strongly related to whether or not someone goes on to develop Alzheimers.  More study is needed to confirm this finding, but it is a very promising direction toward advancing early detection and intervention.


A new study suggests that a significant number of people suffering with Bipolar Disorder (BPAD)  also have Attention Deficit / Hyperactive Disorder (AD/HD).  Their sample showed that about 15% of those diagnosed with BPAD have AD/HD compared to about 5% in in the general population.  Click here to read the study.


Yale School of Medicine researchers have discovered a protein that is the missing link in the complicated chain of events that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.


Insurance companies want you to believe that they will take care of you.  For the most part, they do their job covering "medical" problems.  But insurance companies continue denying (sometimes illegally) coverage for mental health despite Federal laws requiring them to do so.  If this has happened to you, post your experience on our blog.


Neuroscientists have discovered a new circuit in the brain (specifically, the hypothalamus) that starts and stops eating in mice.  It's unclear if the circuit works the same way in humans, but it does provide a promising direction for future research into obesity.  You can read about it here.  

A new medication is in the pipeline for treating obesity from "down under" (ok, in Australia).  Check it out here.


Two new medications for the treatment of obesity are FDA approved.  Qsymia and Belviq are effective for weight loss, but not nearly as effective as gastric surgery.  If you are struggling to lose those pounds in order to qualify for gastric surgery, these medications might be one way to achieve the weight loss required by your surgeon.


New studies show that ketamine and scopolamine are effective for rapid relief of depression.  Although initial results are promising, these medications are not yet approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression.


Ongoing clinical trials at Yale University show promising results for alleviating symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder using Riluzole - a medication currently FDA approved for treating Lou Gehrig's Disease. Some physicians are prescribing this medication "off label" to ease the suffering of this disabling disease.


 

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Change your thoughts and you change your world.
— Norman Vincent Peale