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Diabetes and mood swings: Effects on relationships

Diabetes and mood swings: Effects on relationships

Written by Rachel Nall, RN, BSN, CCRN

Diabetes is a condition that impacts the way a person’s body uses sugar for energy. However, diabetes affects much more than blood sugar. It can impact nearly every body system and have an effect on a person’s mood.

Stress associated with managing diabetes as well as concerns about potential side effects can all contribute to changes in mood. In addition, the actual highs and lows of blood sugar levels may also cause nervousness, anxiety, and confusion.

It is important for people to recognize their own individual symptoms of high or low blood sugar. They must also ensure they seek support for any concerning mental health symptoms they might experience.stress and mood swings

Watching these mood swings can often be difficult for friends and family to understand. However, learning why a person may experience mood changes related to diabetes and being supportive can help to promote a stronger, healthier relationship.

How do diabetes and mood swings go together?

Diabetes can have many effects on a person’s mood. For example, managing diabetes can be stressful. A person may be constantly worried about their blood sugar and whether it is too high or too low.

Adjustments to their diet and constantly checking their blood sugar can also add to a person’s stress and enjoyment of life. As a result, they are more likely to experience feelings of anxiety and depression.

Blood sugar swings can cause rapid changes in a person’s mood, such as making them sad and irritable. This is especially true during hypoglycemic episodes, where blood sugar levels dip lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

Hyperglycemic episodes where levels spike higher than 250 mg/dL may cause confusion in people with type 1 diabetes, but are much less likely to in those with type 2 diabetes.

When a person’s blood sugar returns to more normal ranges, these symptoms often go away. In fact, changes in mood and mental status can be one of the first signs that someone’s blood sugar levels are not where they should be.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the mental symptoms associated with low blood sugar levels may include:

  • feeling confused
  • feeling anxious
  • having difficulty making decisions

Symptoms that indicate a person may have high blood sugar levels include:

  • difficulty thinking clearly and quickly
  • feeling nervous
  • feeling tired or having low energy

Having diabetes can also cause a mental health condition called diabetes distress. This condition shares some elements of depression, anxiety, and stress.

While a person may not have symptoms severe enough for a doctor to diagnose them with a more severe mental illness, these symptoms can affect the quality of life for a person with diabetes.

An estimated 33 to 50 percent of people with diabetes experience diabetes distress at some point during the course of their disease. The sources of distress can include the responsibilities of managing the condition to worrying about potential complications.

Effect of diabetes on mental health

People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for experiencing depression.

Depression is a serious mental health condition that can cause a person to feel hopeless about life, have low bouts of energy, and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. In very severe cases, depression can cause a person to feel as if life is not worth living and even contemplate suicide.

A diabetes diagnosis can also add to a person’s experience with depression. For example, a person who struggles with depression often lacks motivation and energy to engage in healthful behaviors. This could include healthful eating or exercising regularly.

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Improve Mental Health

A leisurely walk can boost mood, psychological well-being

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Regular exercise is considered key for improving and maintaining physical health. When it comes to psychological health, however, new research suggests that you do not need to hit the gym in order to reap the rewards.

Researchers from the University of Connecticut (UConn) in Mansfield found that simply going for a leisurely walk can improve mood and boost subjective well-being, particularly for adults who are normally sedentary.

Leisure walk for mental healthLead study author Gregory Panza, of the Department of Kinesiology at UConn, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the Journal of Health Psychology.

While a number of studies have shown that physical activity can benefit psychological health, Panza and team note that it remains unclear how the intensity of physical activity impacts subjective well-being, defined as a person’s own evaluation of their lives.

The researchers decided to investigate this association further with their new study, which included 419 healthy, middle-aged adults.

The physical activity of each adult was monitored over 4 days using accelerometers, which participants wore on their hips.

Additionally, subjects completed questionnaires detailing their daily exercise routines, psychological well-being, level of depression, whether they experienced pain and its severity, as well as the extent to which pain disrupted their day-to-day activities.

Light, moderate activity led to greatest improvements in well-being

The researchers found that adults who were sedentary had the lowest levels of subjective well-being and the highest levels of depression, which indicates that lack of physical activity is detrimental to psychological health.

Overall, the team found that people who engaged in physical activity demonstrated greater subjective well-being. However, the benefits of physical activity were found to vary by intensity.

Light-intensity activity, for example, was associated with greater psychological well-being and lower depression, while moderate-intensity activity was linked to higher psychological well-being and reduced pain severity.

Light-intensity activity was defined by the study as a leisurely walk that does not noticeably raise heart rate, breathing, or sweating. Moderate-intensity activity was defined as walking a mile in 15 to 20 minutes, with a slight increase in heart rate, breathing, and sweating.

Notably, the study results revealed that sedentary adults who increased their exercise levels to light or moderate activity demonstrated the greatest increases in subjective well-being.

However, vigorous-intensity activity – defined as jogging or briskly walking a mile in 13 minutes, with very noticeable increases in heart rate, breathing, and sweating – appeared to have no impact on subjective well-being. However, the researchers say that this is not necessarily a bad finding.

“Recent studies had suggested a slightly unsettling link between vigorous activity and subjective well-being,” says study co-author Beth Taylor, associate professor of kinesiology at UConn. “We did not find this in the current study, which is reassuring to individuals who enjoy vigorous activity and may be worried about negative effects.”

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Positive Thinking

 

Positive Thinking

Natasha Smith, MA, LCPC – Online Counselor and Therapist

Positive thinking and taking action are two of the most important factors associated with better living, great health and achievement.  Focus more on creative planning, happiness and success and you will invite people who will enjoy being around you and genuinely want to assist you, because they are connecting with the energy that positive thinking creates deep within us.

The first step in understanding how to gain stronger outcomes from positive thinking is to examine our basic attitudes we have toward life.  In certain instances, do we find ourselves filling the “glass” only half up or full.  Positive thinking is something that we must internalize deep within ourselves and make a decision to reach success.

Positive thinking takes more than merely speaking the words, but to know them enough to put into action.  The power of buying into what we think and putting the foot work into making the necessary changes for healthy living goes a long way in terms of creating the most out of our relationships with both self and others.

Getting bigger and biggerInner work is required to reach a level of developing a mature and creative style of processing positive emotions and behaviors.  There are moments when it helps to visualize what we are experiencing in the moment- to examine our self-talk messages: “I feel angry and therefore, I react in anger” rather than realizing deeper layers of anger and how they hinder us from remaining focused on many of our successes.

Researchers have addressed the importance of offering  positive affirmation to encourage you towards great success.  Affirmations are positive self-statements that we give ourselves regarding the type of goals, plans we have.  What we continue to tell ourselves and reflect on psychologically or verbally becomes engraved on the subconscious mind.  This alters the way individuals see things, their habits, attitudes and behaviors.

The best thing about developing positive thoughts is that it can manifest into great things.  Affirmation is one way to get the ball rolling and gearing you in the right direction.

If you need additional assistance, feel free to talk more with a qualified therapist.  Many clients with deeper issues pertaining to poor lifestyle dynamics respond a great deal to negative self-talk or evaluation which only helps to reinforce negative responses to outside influences.  From clinical experiences, negative ideas and attitudes perpetuate not only escalating tension, however, continue fights between clients in group settings.  One’s social skills may be heavily impacted by how they see changes going on in their environment.  In order to establish success, you have to make a decision to be happy and process stronger resolutions.

Meet Natasha Smith, MA, LCPC here for further support

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.

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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.”

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Stressful situations show the head and the heart don’t always agree

depressionThe head and the heart of people who suffer from high levels of anxiety react to stressful situations differently, researchers at the University of Birmingham have found.

The research, which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, showed that the way people with high levels of anxiety feel that they are responding to a task and the way their body actually responds to the task are not related to each other.

Researchers from the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, measured general everyday anxiety levels in 180 adolescents and then recorded their heart rate while they were resting and during a psychological stress task, such as a maths test under time pressure with social evaluation, in the laboratory. They used the difference between heart rate during the stress task compared to rest to determine their actual biological responses.

They found that people with higher anxiety in everyday life reported higher somatic symptoms (eg, feeling that their heart is racing) immediately before and during the stress task. However, there were no associations between people’s actual biological responses to stress and somatic symptoms during stress. There were also no associations between people’s biological responses and general anxiety.

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How Inactivity Changes the Brain

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

Exercise and brain developmentA number of studies have shown that exercise can remodel the brain by prompting the creation of new brain cells and inducing other changes. Now it appears that inactivity, too, can remodel the brain, according to a notable new report.

The study, which was conducted in rats but likely has implications for people too, the researchers say, found that being sedentary changes the shape of certain neurons in ways that significantly affect not just the brain but the heart as well. The findings may help to explain, in part, why a sedentary lifestyle is so bad for us.

Until about 20 years ago, most scientists believed that the brain’s structure was fixed by adulthood, that you couldn’t create new brain cells, alter the shape of those that existed or in any other way change your mind physically after adolescence.

But in the years since, neurological studies have established that the brain retains plasticity, or the capacity to be reshaped, throughout our lifetimes. Exercise appears to be particularly adept at remodeling the brain, studies showed.

But little has been known about whether inactivity likewise alters the structure of the brain and, if so, what the consequences might be.

So for a study recently published in The Journal of Comparative Neurology, scientists at Wayne State University School of Medicine and other institutions gathered a dozen rats. They settled half of them in cages with running wheels and let the animals run at will. Rats like running, and these animals were soon covering about three miles a day on their wheels.

The other rats were housed in cages without wheels and remained sedentary.

After almost three months of resting or running, the animals were injected with a special dye that colors certain neurons in the brain. In this case, the scientists wanted to mark neurons in the animals’ rostral ventrolateral medulla, an obscure portion of the brain that controls breathing and other unconscious activities central to our existence.

The rostral ventrolateral medulla commands the body’s sympathetic nervous system, which among other things controls blood pressure on a minute-by-minute basis by altering blood-vessel constriction. Although most of the science related to the rostral ventrolateral medulla has been completed using animals, imaging studies in people suggest that we have the same brain region and it functions similarly.

A well-regulated sympathetic nervous system correctly directs blood vessels to widen or contract as needed and blood to flow, so that you can, say, scurry away from a predator or rise from your office chair without fainting. But an overly responsive sympathetic nervous system is problematic, said Patrick Mueller, an associate professor of physiology at Wayne State University who oversaw the new study. Recent science shows that “overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system contributes to cardiovascular disease,” he said, by stimulating blood vessels to constrict too much, too little or too often, leading to high blood pressure and cardiovascular damage.

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How the Architecture of the Brain Shapes Its Functioning

brainThe structure of the human brain is complex, reminiscent of a circuit diagram with countless connections. But what role does this architecture play in the functioning of the brain? To answer this question, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, in cooperation with colleagues at the Free University of Berlin and University Hospital Freiburg, have for the first time analyzed 1.6 billion connections within the brain simultaneously. They found the highest agreement between structure and information flow in the “default mode network,” which is responsible for inward-focused thinking such as daydreaming.

Everybody’s been there: You’re sitting at your desk, staring out the window, your thoughts wandering. Instead of getting on with what you’re supposed to be doing, you start mentally planning your next holiday or find yourself lost in a thought or a memory. It’s only later that you realize what has happened: Your brain has simply “changed channels” — and switched to autopilot.

For some time now, experts have been interested in the competition among different networks of the brain, which are able to suppress one another’s activity. If one of these approximately 20 networks is active, the others remain more or less silent. So if you’re thinking about your next holiday, it is almost impossible to follow the content of a text at the same time.

To find out how the anatomical structure of the brain impacts its functional networks, a team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, in cooperation with colleagues at the Free University of Berlin and the University Hospital Freiburg, have analyzed the connections between a total of 40,000 tiny areas of the brain. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, they examined a total of 1.6 billion possible anatomical connections between these different regions in 19 participants aged between 21 and 31 years. The research team compared these connections with the brain signals actually generated by the nerve cells.

Their results showed the highest agreement between brain structure and brain function in areas forming part of the “default mode network,” which is associated with daydreaming, imagination, and self-referential thought. “In comparison to other networks, the default mode network uses the most direct anatomical connections. We think that neuronal activity is automatically directed to level off at this network whenever there are no external influences on the brain,” says Andreas Horn, lead author of the study and researcher in the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

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10 Tips to Build Your Resilience

rabbit_img1Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after a misfortune, blessed with such an outlook, resilient people are able to change course and soldier on (Psychology Today).

Here are the ten steps to build your resilience:

  1. Have the courage to be imperfect
  2. Take time for yourself
  3. Join a social club; do some course if you are not working.
  4. Be active in as many ways you can
  5. Have good company. Find time with your friends.
  6. Be aware that laughter is the best medicine! Find reasons to laugh out louder!
  7. Sleep at least 8 hours everyday (Read Sleep Hygiene Handout)
  8. Seek help when you need; asking help is a positive behavior!
  9. Remember, this too shall pass…
  10. Don’t bottle up. Talk to someone who you can trust. Remember, today’s friend could turn tomorrow’s enemy. So, think twice before sharing all your too personal and private things with a friend. This is where counseling with a trained professional is recommended.

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