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Spirituality in Psychology

Tracie Timme

 

Spirituality in Psychology

An academic paper by

Tracie L. Timme – Online Counselor and Therapist

This paper is about exploring the use of spirituality in the practice of psychology and how it could potentially strengthen their bond with their patients.  There could be a better understanding of issues and treatment if spirituality were apart of therapeutic practices.

Psychology got its start in ancient times from philosophy.  Psychology remained part of philosophy until nineteenth century (Leahey, 2004).  Here we have the beginning of the mind-body problem.  To some the mind was our essence and the body a mere vessel.  When the physical body died, the soul moved on to an afterlife (Leahey, 2004).  The soul (mind) has the spiritual world knowledge, whereas the body has the physical world knowledge (Leahey, 2004).

spirituality-in-psychologyEverybody but atheists, have a faith that they follow.  It has been addressed that psychologist show gain education and knowledge as to the role that religion and spirituality plays on personal factors (Shafranske, 2010).  There was an introduction of value in different consciousness in therapeutic practices.  It is very important for the therapist to integrate the patients’ spirituality in the course of interventions (Shafranske, 2010).  It is also important to take into consideration the personal and professional influences of inspiration from the therapists’ point of view.  This can greatly impact how the therapist entices the patient to open up, and help the therapist to relate better to the patient (Shafranske, 2010).  “This leads to an associated point: Given the lack of attention given to the religious and spiritual dimension in most psychology training, how prepared are clinicians to be mindful of the potential impacts their religious and spiritual commitments have on their professional practice, to appropriately and ethically integrate spirituality in psychological treatment, or respond to emergent transcendent experiences” (Shafranske, 2010, pp. 125)?  This seems to mean that therapists should have the understanding to be able to mindfully talk about spirituality in their practice and treatment plans for their patients.

Spirituality is hard to define, but it has been explained a few ways.  One is that spirituality can be called one’s highest or ultimate values or reality, and the relationship one has with those realities or values (Braud, 2009).  A second way is the belonging or link to the transcendental ground of being.  Another is how people relate to God, other humans, or Earth.  Some refer to it as how committed one is to practicing a particular faith.  However, it is important to distinguish between healthy practices and beliefs and ones that are unhealthy to well-being (Braud, 2009).  Yet another general term by Lindholm and Astin is involving the process inside when you look for personal authenticity, wholeness, and genuineness; transcending one’s center, having a deeper sense of connecting to self and others from having relationships and community, having meaning, direction, and purpose in life, being open enough to the possibility of a relationship with a higher being that is above human existence and knowing, and having a value for the sacred (Braud, 2009).  There are other definitions of spirituality for femininity and other cultures.  But they were not included in the ones above.

There is a relatively new field of psychology called transpersonal psychology.  In addition to conventional ways, transpersonal psychologists use heuristic research, intuitive inquiry, organic inquiry, and integral inquiry.  These are depicted in these psychologists by a higher level of integration and inclusiveness in the whole person, more variety of benefits and functions in a session, sources of inspiration, more ways of knowing, topics and questions researched, different ways of gathering, using, and explaining information, including epistemology and ontology, and ethical thoughts and values that are relevant  (Braud, 2009).  This gives a broader perspective of all aspects of the issues at hand.

When we think in terms of helping people with their psychological issues, it just makes sense to include everything you possibly can to understand what the patient is going through and how they see thing possibly running their course.  Because a lot of people do follow some sort of faith, it is important for the therapist to know as much as possible about their patient’s spirituality, in order to help them the best way possible and include every aspect of that person as a whole.  Having this knowledge will provide the best treatment plan for that specific patient.

REFERENCES

Braud, W. (2009). Dragons, spheres, and flashlights: appropriate research approaches for studying workplace spirituality. Journal Of Management, Spirituality & Religion, 6(1), 59-75.

Leahey, T. H. (2004).  A history of psychology: Main currents in psychological thought (6th ed.).  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Shafranske, E. P. (2010). Advancing “the boldest model yet”: A commentary on psychology, religion, and spirituality. Psychology Of Religion And Spirituality, 2(2), 124-125.

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Tracie Timme is a Privileged ProvenTherapist. See her Profile for counseling support.

Women and addiction

Tracie Timme

 

Women and addiction

An academic paper by

Tracie L. Timme – Online Counselor and Therapist

 

This paper will look at women and addiction.  Women have differences in treatment from men, so this paper will examine the differences between the etiology of addiction in men and women.  Because men and women differ on many things, we will also look at the specific needs of women in treatment.  This paper will discuss both the good and bad aspects of using single and co-ed gender groups in treatment.  In addition, this paper will also see the co-occurring issues women face when they are in treatment.

Men and women differ in their makeup.  When men and women drink the same amount of alcohol, even when the body weight is calculated for, women have a higher blood alcohol level (Frances, Miller, & Mack, 2005).  Men have more body water and less body fat than do women.  Men also have more alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which is an enzyme in the gastric mucosa.  This enzyme increases the metabolism of alcohol in the stomach, therefore allowing less to pass into the bloodstream (Frances et al., 2005).  Women have a faster metabolism when it comes to alcohol, less of a tolerance for it, and their blood alcohol concentrations have great variability.  These factors lead to more unpredictable reactions to alcohol that are more intense.  A lot of the differences come from the differences in our blood.  Women have menstrual cycles; therefore the plasma levels vary depending on the time of the month.  When it comes down to the environment vs. genetics thoughts, it appears that women are more susceptible to environmental factors and men are more likely to have genetic factors influencing them (Frances et al., 2005).

addictionThere are few same-gender programs, but the few that there are have programs to meet the specific needs that women have, such as those that have dependent children.  There is also a growing concern for older women who have not had addiction problems in the past; those who have lost many people they love, have declining health, and have access to prescription drugs, may fall into addiction.  Women who are retiring may be lost and confused now that they do not feel they have meaning in their life (Matheson, 2008).

One concern that has been reported by women when in a treatment program that is co-ed is that they are afraid of being a target and being harassed sexually by the male staff members and the males in the group; this is a concern because there is still such a bad stigma attached to females with addictive disorders and who are in treatment (Matheson, 2008).

Women face many problems other than their addiction when they seek treatment.  In the past, when women had a problem with addiction, their families tried to keep them secluded and out of the treatment setting.  Many families figured that in isolation, the woman’s problem would just go away (Wechsberg, Luseno, and Ellerson, 2008).  Very often when a woman did finally get to attend a treatment program, she already had poor mental and physical health.  Not to mention the fact that the women had to still care for their families and could not leave home.  Many have issues with transportation and child care.  According to Najavits, Rosier, Nolan, and Freeman, 2007, women have more health problems related to substance use disorders (SUD), they are, higher rates of death, co-occurring mental health disorders, more stigma and social isolation, and get addicted quicker.  Depression often occurs with substance use and women, clinicians need to determine with is the primary problem, and which the secondary is.  The question to be answered is whether depression lead to abuse or abuse lead to depression.  Often if the abuse lead to the depression, depressive symptoms diminish when substance use decreases (Frances et al., 2005).  Women more often seek medical help for things such as anxiety, depression, infertility, sleeplessness, peptic ulcers, and hypertension.  When a woman complains of these things, the clinician should delve deeper into whether or not the woman has an alcohol or drug problem (Frances et al., 2005).

It seems women benefit more from a same-gender treatment center setting.  Women can feel safer and receive care that is specifically tailored to meet their needs.  They can be with others who understand exactly what they are going through.  Same sex clinicians would also benefit women with addiction problems, they can feel more comfortable talking with another women, this way they do not fear the judgment and thoughts of a man who they may feel sees them as promiscuous, asking for it, a slut, or a monster (Wechsberg et al., 2008).

There seems to be a great need for more funding and services for just women with addictions.  They have many more needs as do their male counter parts.  For the most part men with addictions do not need to seek care for children to attend a treatment program.  Since males are generally the bread winners, they often have benefits to help them cover cost for treatments.  Less fortunate women most often do not get the medical help they need because they do not have access to it.  We, for the best interest of this world, need to recognize the need for treatment programs that specialize in the problems that women face when they have an addiction and need treatment.

References

Frances, R. J., Miller, S. I., & Mack, A. H. (Eds). (2005). Clinical textbook of addictive disorders (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford.

Matheson, J. L. (2008). Women’s Issues With Substance Use, Misuse, and Addictions: One Perspective. Substance Use & Misuse, 43(8/9), 1274-1276.

Najavits, L. M., Rosier, M., Nolan, A., & Freeman, M. C. (2007). A New Gender-Based Model for Women’s Recovery From Substance Abuse: Results of a Pilot Outcome Study. American Journal Of Drug & Alcohol Abuse, 33(1), 5-11.

Wechsberg, W. M., Luseno, W., & Ellerson, R. (2008). Reaching Women Substance Abusers in Diverse Settings: Stigma and Access to Treatment 30 Years Later. Substance Use & Misuse, 43(8/9), 1277-1279.

Click here to contact Tracie Timme for your counseling needs.

Memory and Learning

Tracie Timme

 

MEMORY AND LEARNING

An academic paper by

Tracie L. Timme – Online Counselor and Therapist

 

This paper is about memory and learning, and how it is connected.  This paper will describe the role that memory plays in classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning, and the role it plays in the social learning theory.  We all have memories.  To learn something may be considered a memory for what was learned.  We can learn by being conditioned to respond in a certain way.  We can be taught that if we pass our tests in school, we will be rewarded with ice cream, or if we do badly on our tests we will have something taken away, classical conditioning.  We can learn from how a situation turns out according to our actions.  We can learn that if put things where they belong, we can find more easily, or we can learn that if we leave things just laying around we will have more difficulty finding them again, instrumental conditioning.  We can pick things up by just being with other people.  If we visit friends or family in the south, we can come home with somewhat of a southern accent, or we might catch ourselves saying things that we would not normally say, social learning theory.

Once you learn something, it is in your memory somewhere.  Learning is when you gain knowledge of something (Terry, 2009).  Memory is that knowledge that you have acquired that is recalled.  Short-term memory is brief and generally forgotten within 15 – 30 seconds if it is not rehearsed.  Long-term memory lasts longer and is stored more permanently (Terry, 2009).  When you learn something, you just know it, like how to read a map.  When you memorize something, you remember it for a specific reason, like a grocery list.  Once you use that list, some components from the list disappear and are forgotten.

Hoarders Just throw it all away!Learning and memory happen every day whether we realize it or not.  We learn and memorize things through classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning, and most definitely through social learning theory.  Classical conditioning is when at least two events, possibly more are connected in a relationship.  Classical conditioning happens when there is a difference in the response to one of the events, thus showing something was learned (Terry, 2009).  In classical conditioning, there are four components and they are acquisition, extinction, generalization, and discrimination.  Acquisition occurs when there is a conditioned response to the conditioning event.  Memory’s key role in this is that the response is remembered to recall and use again. Extinction occurs when there is no longer a conditioned response to the conditioning event.  The role of memory in this component is to remember a different response so the old response disappears.  Generalization occurs when there is a generalization of conditioning events to get the same conditioned response.  A response is remembered and carried over to other events that are similar.  Discrimination occurs when the conditioning events are seen differently and are able to have the conditioned response to the specific conditioning event instead of similar events.  Specific events are remembered to elicit that response.

We also learn things through instrumental conditioning.  Instrumental conditioning happens when the consequence and action are linked.  When there is an action performed, there is always an outcome, so positive and some negative.  Both positive and negative outcomes are remembered.  We remember the positive outcomes because we like they way we feel, or we like what happens as a result from our actions.  We remember the negative outcomes as well because they are negative.  We do not like to feel bad, so we remember negative outcomes in order to avoid the actions that create them.  People become addicted to substances because they like the way those substances make them feel.  Children will do whatever they can; to avoid getting caught in an act that they know will cause them to be punished.  Either the child will learn and remember that not performing that action at all, or they will learn a better way to accomplish what they want.

We all learn through social learning whether we want to admit it or not.  Some of this social learning is great, and some of the social learning we pick up is not.  Memory plays a part in social learning in that, we see our peers do something and they get rewarded for doing it.  Others we see do something, we also see get punished for doing so.  We remember how our peers were rewarded or punished.  We remember these things in order to act in the manner that our peers did, or not to behave like them.  In an office setting, we see our coworkers use the company computers for personal things.  We see them get away with it by changing the screen when a boss walks by.  Therefore, we think we can do the same.  But what we may not see, behind the scenes, is that the company is taking measures to keep track of the computer use, to be able to follow websites that are visited and from which computers they originate from.  Out of site from others, they may very well be reprimanded.  A good social learning is learning from what we see our associates do when confronted with a group of higher administrative personnel.  We can learn how their words, facial expressions, and body language affect the outcome of the meeting.  We can then recall them so we can do the same when in a similar situation.  We can also learn proper etiquette and good manners when in public places by watching how others behave.

Learning and memories happen continuously.  We are often conditioned and condition others without realizing it.  When we pick a crying child or and over excited puppy, we are conditioning them to continue that behavior.  Instrumentally we condition ourselves to eat healthier because we want to look and feel better.  Socially we learn so much we do not even know where some things came from.  Maybe a friend noticed a different walk you have all of a sudden.  We learn all the time.  Just think what we could learn if we really paid attention to the things we do, people we see, and the places we go.              

References

Terry, W.S. (2009). Learning & memory: Basic principles, processes, and procedures. (4th ed.) Boston: Pearson.

Click here to contact Tracie Timme for your counseling needs.

Improving memory by suppressing a molecule that links aging to Alzheimer’s disease

In a new study conducted by the Sagol Department of Neurobiology at the University of Haifa and published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers report that they’ve found a way to improve memory by manipulating a specific molecule that is known to function poorly in old age and is closely linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Getting bigger and biggerThe researchers even succeeded, for the first time, in manipulating the molecule’s operations without creating any cognitive impairment.

“We know that in Alzheimer’s, this protein, known as PERK, doesn’t function properly. Our success in manipulating its expression without causing any harm to the proper functioning of the brain paves the way for improving memory and perhaps even slowing the pathological development of diseases like Alzheimer’s,” said Prof. Kobi Rosenblum, who heads the lab in which the research was done.

Previous studies at the University of Haifa and other labs throughout the world had shown that the brain’s process of formulating memory is linked to the synthesis of proteins; high rates of protein production will lead to a strong memory that is retained over the long term, while a slow rate of protein production leads to weak memories that are less likely to be impressed on a person’s long-term memory and thus forgotten.

In the current study, the researchers, Dr. Hadile Ounallah-Saad and Dr. Vijendra Sharma, both of whom work in Prof. Rosenblum’s lab at the Sagol Department of Neurobiology, sought to examine the activity of a protein called elF2 alpha, a protein that’s known as the “spigot” or regulator that determines the pace of protein synthesis in the brain during memory formation.

From earlier studies the researchers knew that there are three main molecules that act on the protein and either make it work, or stop it from working. During the first stage they sought to determine the relative importance and the task of each one of the molecules that control the activity of efF2 alpha and as a result, the ability to create memories. After doing tests at the tissue and cell levels, the researchers discovered that the main molecule controlling the efF2 alpha’s activity was the PERK molecule.

“The fact that we identified the PERK as the primary controller had particular significance,” said Dr. Ounallah-Saad. “Firstly, of course, we had identified the dominant component. Secondly, from previous studies we already knew that in generative diseases like Alzheimer’s, PERK performs deficiently. Third, PERK acts on various cells, including neurons, as a monitor and controller of metabolic stress. In other words, we found a molecule that has a major impact on the process of creating and formulating memory, and which we know performs deficiently in people with Alzheimer’s disease.”

During the second stage of the study, the researchers sought to examine whether they could manipulate this molecule in rats in a way that would improve memory. To do this they used two accepted methods, one using a drug called a small-molecule inhibitor and the other making a genetic change to the brain cells using a type of virus also used in gene therapy.
After paralyzing PERK’s activity or reducing its expression through gene therapy (which was done with the help of Dr. Efrat Edry, of the University’s Center for Gene Manipulation in the Brain), the researchers measured a 30% increase in the memory of either positive or negative experiences. The rats also demonstrated improved long-term memory and enhanced behavioral plasticity, becoming better able to “forget” a bad experience. In other words, on a behavioral level it was clear that manipulating PERK by either of two methods improved memory and cognitive abilities.

When the researchers examined the tissues on a cell and molecular level, the discovered that the steps they’d taken had indeed stopped the expression of PERK, which allowed the “spigot” — the elF2 alpha protein — to perform better and increase the pace of protein synthesis. Even more, there was a clear correlation between memory function and the degree to which PERK was suppressed; the more efficiently PERK was suppressed, the better the memory function.

But the researchers faced another problem. Previous studies that had manipulated PERK in general in genetically engineered animals led to fixated behavior. “The brain operates in a most sophisticated fashion, with each action closely linked to many other actions,” said Dr. Ounallah-Saad. “In our study we succeeded in maintaining such control of the PERK that it didn’t influence the retrieval of existing memories, or do anything other cognitive damage.”

Read full story here…

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Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist from California Joins the ProvenTherapists Team

Janeen Wilson, a qualified and experienced Family Therapist and Counselor has started her online counseling clinic at ProvenTherapy.com. She is available to potential clients for individual and couples therapy through live chat or email service.

JaneenPress Release – 21 Nov. 2014: Janeen Wilson, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California (August 2006) has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Janeen began practicing therapy in 2000 working with a variety of different therapeutic issues and problems. Janeen initially began working with women in Domestic Violence and with adolescent boys struggling with psychiatric issues, bipolar issues and attachment disruption that were in a Residential Treatment setting. Janeen has worked with all ages of children in school based settings and their families addressing issues related to family dynamics, ADHD and emotional disruption. Janeen became very interested in an strength based evidence approach (Multi Dimensional Foster Care) and was formally trained as a Program Director and Family Therapist through this program (MTFC). With this training she focused on assisting families in reuniting youth from foster care back to their homes and strengthening their family systems. She has also worked with families as the Director of the Family Stabilization Team in Boston, MA to prevent youth from being removed from their home, as an Outpatient Therapist and with specialized populations such as the blind. Janeen has worked with a variety of different types of people in different areas, ranging from the tundra in Alaska to urban Boston, rural and urban Pennsylvania as well as in Southern California.

Issues Janeen has worked with ranges from working with the blind community, SED children and their families, Adoption, Foster Care, as well as Addiction and Trauma. Janeen has also been formally trained to work with firefighters to address their specific needs related to work and trauma.

For the last two years Janeen has been working as a Individual and Family therapist in an inpatient dual diagnosis residential setting for individuals struggling with addiction and mental health/trauma issues. Now she has opened her virtual clinic at https://www.proventherapy.com.

Read full press release here…

Stress-related inflammation may increase risk for depression

Preexisting differences in the sensitivity of a key part of each individual’s immune system to stress confer a greater risk of developing stress-related depression or anxiety, according to a study conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published October 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

depressionInflammation is the immune system’s response to infection or disease, and has long been linked to stress. Previous studies have found depression and anxiety to be associated with elevated blood levels of inflammatory molecules and white blood cells after a confirmed diagnosis, but it has been unclear whether greater inflammation was present prior to the onset of disease or whether it is functionally related to depression symptomology.

Specifically, the new study measured the cytokine IL-6 in non-aggressive mice prior to and after repeated social stress invoked by an aggressive mouse. They found that IL-6 levels were higher in mice that were more susceptible to stress than in “stress-resilient” mice. They also found the levels of leukocytes (white blood cells that release IL-6) were higher in stress susceptible mice before stress exposure. The researchers then validated the increased levels of IL-6 in two separate groups of human patients diagnosed with treatment-resistant Major Depressive Disorder.

The Mount Sinai study results revolve around the peripheral immune system, a set of biological structures and processes in the lymph nodes and other tissues that protect against disease. Inflammation is a culprit of many disease conditions when it happens in the wrong context or goes too far. Under normal conditions when the immune system perceives a threat (e.g. invading virus), inflammatory proteins called interleukins are released by white blood cells as an adaptive mechanism to limit injury or infection. However, in some instances, the immune system may become hyper responsive to an “insult,” leading to chronic dysregulation of inflammatory processes that ultimately cause disease.

“Our data suggests that pre-existing individual differences in the peripheral immune system predict and promote stress susceptibility,” says lead author Georgia Hodes, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher in Neuroscience. “Additionally, we found that when mice were given bone marrow transplants of stem cells that produce leukocytes lacking IL-6 or when injected with antibodies that block IL-6 prior to stress exposure, the development of social avoidance was reduced compared with their respective control groups, demonstrating that the emotional response to stress can be generated or blocked in the periphery.”

Evidence in the current study is the first to suggest that Interleukin 6 response prior to social stress exposure can predict individual differences in vulnerability to a subsequent social stressor.

The research team, led by Scott Russo, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience, exposed mice to two social stress models that are translational to social stressors experienced by humans. They measured blood levels of cytokines in non-aggressive mice before and after repeated social defeat stress invoked by exposure to an aggressive mouse for 10 minutes daily for 10 days or after 10 days of witnessing defeat of another mouse, a purely emotional stressor. The researchers classified the non-aggressive mice as susceptible based on a preference to spend more time near an empty cage rather than near a new mouse on a subsequent social interaction test, whereas resilient mice showed the opposite pattern. Interleukin-6 was the only cytokine significantly elevated in susceptible mice compared with unstressed and resilient mice.

Full story continues here…

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Want to improve long-term memory? This will help…

Think that improving your long term memory is all brain training and omega-3 supplements? Think again. A new study from researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta suggests that working out at the gym for as little as 20 minutes can improve long-term memory.

Memory exercisePrevious studies have shown that memory may be improved by several months of aerobic exercises, such as running, cycling or swimming. However, the findings of the new study – published in the journal Acta Psychologica – demonstrate that a similar memory boost can be achieved in a much shorter period.

Exercise protects against depression

A new study, published in the journal Cell, investigates the mechanisms behind the protection from stress-induced depression offered by physical exercise. 

Support for depression and mental healthExercise has well-known benefits against symptoms of depression.

Last year, an updated systematic review by UK researchers analyzed 35 randomized controlled trials on the subject involving a total of 1,356 participants diagnosed with depression.

The systematic review found that exercising was as beneficial for people with depression as psychological therapy or taking antidepressants. However, the researchers cautioned that higher quality studies are needed to confirm the results.

Scientists know that during exercise, there is an increase in skeletal muscle of a protein called PGC-1a1. The researchers behind the new study – from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden – wanted to see whether this protein increase might be implicated in the protective benefits of exercise.

Genetically modified mice with high levels of PGC-1a1 in skeletal muscle (that showed many characteristics of well-trained muscles) were exposed – along with normal mice – to a stressful environment in the lab. This involved being exposed to loud noises, flashing nights and having their circadian rhythm reversed at irregular intervals.

After 5 weeks of being exposed to mild stress, the normal mice developed symptoms of depression, whereas the genetically modified mice displayed no depressive behavior.

“Our initial research hypothesis was that trained muscle would produce a substance with beneficial effects on the brain,” says Jorge Ruas, principal investigator at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet.

Investigating the genetically modified mice further, the researchers made the discovery that – as well as the elevated levels of PGC-1a1 – the mice also had higher levels of KAT enzymes. These enzymes convert kynurenine – a substance formed during stress – into kynurenic acid. The exact function of this acid is not known, but patients with mental illness are known to have high levels of it.

Kynurenine conversion process ‘may be protective mechanism’

When normal mice were given kynurenine as part of the study, the researchers found that they exhibited symptoms of depression. However, when the elevated PGC-1a1 mice were given kynurenine, their behavior seemed unaffected.

The researchers also noticed that even when the PGC-1a1 mice were administered kynurenine, their blood did not show raised levels of kynurenine. This is because the KAT enzymes in the trained muscles of the PGC-1a1 mice were able to quickly convert it to kynurenic acid. The researchers think that this quick conversion process therefore, is a protective mechanism.

“In neurobiological terms, we actually still don’t know what depression is,” says Mia Lindskog, researcher at the Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet. “Our study represents another piece in the puzzle, since we provide an explanation for the protective biochemical changes induced by physical exercise that prevent the brain from being damaged during stress.”

Read full article here…

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Work-related stress is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes

depressionWorkplace stress can have a range of adverse effects on health with an increased risk of cardio-vascular diseases in the first line. However, to date, convincing evidence for a strong association between work stress and incident Type 2 diabetes mellitus is missing.

Risk of diabetes about 45 percent higher

As the team of scientists headed by Dr. Cornelia Huth and Prof. Karl-Heinz Ladwig has now discovered that individuals who are under a high level of pressure at work and at the same time perceive little control over the activities they perform face an about 45 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who are subjected to less stress at their workplace.

The scientists from the Institute of Epidemiology II (EPI II) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) in collaboration with Prof. Johannes Kruse from the University Hospital of Giessen and Marburg examined data prospectively collected from more than 5,300 employed individuals aged between 29 and 66 who took part in the population-based MONICA/KORA* cohort study. At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had diabetes, while in the post-observation period, which covered an average of 13 years, almost 300 of them were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The increase in risk in work-related stress was identified independently of classic risk factors such as obesity, age or gender.

Holistic prevention is important – also at the workplace

“According to our data, roughly one in five people in employment is affected by high levels of mental stress at work. By that, scientists do not mean ‘normal job stress’ but rather the situation in which the individuals concerned rate the demands made upon them as very high, and at the same time they have little scope for maneuver or for decision making. We covered both these aspects in great detail in our surveys,” explains Prof. Ladwig, who led the study. “In view of the huge health implications of stress-related disorders, preventive measures to prevent common diseases such as diabetes should therefore also begin at this point,” he added.

Read full article here…

Talk to an online counselor if you have work related stress.

Psychological stress ‘increases risk of stroke’

Depressive symptoms in particular, but also chronic stress in life, increase the risk of older people having a stroke or transient ischemic attack, says researchers, who found feelings of hostility, but not anger, were also a risk factor for cerebrovascular disease.

stroke risk factorsThe study of over 6,700 people aged between 45 and 84 years, reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, compared the rates of full and mini-stroke between people of different psychological profiles rated via questionnaire.

Compared with people who had healthy psychological scores, those with the poorest scores showed the following percentage increases in their likelihood of suffering a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA):

  • 86% for a high score on depressive symptoms
  • 59% for the highest ratings of chronic stress.

On the effect of feelings of hostility – “which is a negative way of viewing the world” and was assessed by the person’s “cynical expectations of other people’s motives” – this resulted in a doubling of the risk versus people who did not score highly on this profile. Feelings of anger, however, had no effect.

Dr. Susan Everson-Rose, lead author and associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, says:

“There’s such a focus on traditional risk factors – cholesterol levels, blood pressure, smoking and so forth – and those are all very important, but studies like this one show that psychological characteristics are equally important.”

The chronic stress was measured using ratings for five different domains of the participants’ lives:

  • Personal health problems
  • Health problems of people close to them
  • Job or ability to work
  • Relationships
  • Finances.

Decade-long study covered six American cities

The data for this analysis came from a study across six US sites known as the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.

The 6,749 participants were from a mix of ethnic backgrounds across Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, Forsyth County, NC, Los Angeles, CA, New York City, NY, and Saint Paul, MN.

The almost equal numbers of men and women showed no evidence of cardiovascular disease at the start of the research in the early 2000s.

During the first 2 years of the recruitment, the baseline ratings of depression and chronic stress were assessed, and the subjects were monitored for an additional 8.5 to 11 years.

During the study, 147 strokes and 48 TIAs occurred, and the researchers did a statistical analysis at the end to compare the rates of disease between different levels of psychological health.

Possible biological mechanisms

The authors say they have excluded the possibility that the stroke results could be explained by poor psychological health tending to have a bad effect on physical lifestyle (people experiencing “stress and negative emotions typically have more adverse behavioral risk profiles, and experience difficulty in maintaining healthy lifestyles and adhering to treatment recommendations”).

The lifestyle factors taken into account were:

  • Smoking
  • Physical activity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Body mass index
  • Blood pressure.

Independent of these factors, if depression and stress can be assumed to have a direct causal effect on stroke, then, the authors offer only theoretical ideas about what the biological link might be.

“Stress and negative emotions activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis,” they write, and this activation of the brain’s stress center influences blood clotting, among a number of other effects listed in the paper.

But these factors were not tested in the study. Another pathway that was tested, that of inflammatory effects, was tested to some extent, but “little evidence” was shown for it.

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