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This isn’t so much of a post as a query to see if anyone has had experience with this therapy (EMDT).  I know of therapists who use this procedure, but I am curious to hear if anyone has had experience of it themselves, and what the results have been like. 

I am kind of sceptical I must admit, but the brain certainly is an interesting organ, and mine certainly doesn’t always behave in a predictable manner!

Here’s an excerpt from this fascinating article from SciAm:

A research team studying brain signals in mice accidentally stumbled upon what could be an important discovery that could lead to understanding and successfully treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The finding identifies a new potential target for treating the psychological syndrome, which affects some 2.2 million Americans and is characterized by symptoms including anxiety and excessive behavior such as repeated hand washing and pulling out one’s own hair.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center made the discovery after deleting a gene in mice while studying neuronal communication in the striatum, a structure in the midbrain that plays a role in information processing, decision making and movement. They had set up 24-hour video surveillance of the critters in their cages after the animals developed skin lesions on their heads and necks four to six months after their birth.

“These mice stay by themselves and are grooming themselves all the time,” says Guoping Feng, an assistant professor of neurobiology at Duke and co-author of a report on the findings published in Nature. He says the mice also show telltale signs of anxiety, hewing to the sides of their cages and staying out of both bright and open spaces.

“We were not specifically looking for OCD … the phenotype itself is by accident,” notes Feng. But, the serendipitous discovery shows “how synaptic dysfunction can lead to abnormal function.”

Obsessive thinking is characteristic of most anxiety disorders. If you ever find yourself stuck on a specific fear, then you’ve experienced obsessive thinking. Unfortunately, OCD is typically characterized in the media as purely obsessive behaviors while ignoring the obsessive thinking that causes these behaviors. This is why any research on OCD is beneficial to anyone experiencing chronic fear.

The Washington Post has a fascinating article on morality, empathy, compassion and their relation to happiness. More importantly, however, recent studies have shown that this morality is actually hardwired into the human brain, likely the result of an evolutionary adaptation that made our species more successful than those without a sense of morality.

While the whole topic certainly provides a lot of food for thought, I’m sharing this with you because I believe that being a moral person is beneficial for everyone, including ourselves. In a sense, having compassion and acting morally can also be selfish as such action brings us joy, happiness, and a sense of self-worth. This model of belief is an ancient tenet of Buddhism and many other religion and spiritual traditions and I find it amusing that only now are scientists investigating this. As much as I love science and rationality, I often find that the uber-skeptics are the same people who completely disregard tradition wisdom in the belief that it’s all nonsense. The research noted in this article verifies the hypothesis that morality has a positive effect on the brain:

The results were showing that when the volunteers placed the interests of others before their own, the generosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex. Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.

So again, I urge you to consider the possibility that one of the best methods for treating anxiety and depression is to stop focusing on yourself and begin to turn your thoughts outward. I’ve personally found this to be a wonderful antidote to anxiety, but I don’t believe I’m alone in this. Helping others is not just something we should do, it’s something we must do.

Read the rest of the article. There’s a lot of interesting speculation about the role this plays in our bodies, minds, human cultures, and even our system of laws.

Take a look at this:

Kingston, ON) – Surprisingly, people with mild depression are actually more tuned into the feelings of others than those who aren’t depressed, a team of Queen’s psychologists has discovered.
“This was quite unexpected because we tend to think that the opposite is true,” says lead researcher Kate Harkness. “For example, people with depression are more likely to have problems in a number of social areas.”

Personally, I’ve always believed that people who are prone to depression — myself included — tend to be more socially receptive. That isn’t to say that we’re more social, but rather that we are particularly sensitive to the feelings of others.

What do you think?

A year ago you didn’t find people talking so freely about their mental illness. I was extremely excited to find this article in our local newspaper. I hope it continues, it’s the only way we really make progress.

Charleston, SC – Most of us take our mental health for granted since it’s a basic part of who we are. But mental health is a major aspect of everyone’s life that needs to be protected. “I told everybody I do not have a mental illness, I have a brain tumor. For the first 2 years I was diagnosed, I convinced everybody I did not have bipolar.” Donna Lynch believed the negative stigma that exists about mental illness…that she would be seen as crazy. “Most of the time when we hear about mental illness something horrific has happened. A person with mental illness goes crazy Virginia Tech.” But Donna notes that there are dozens of mental illnesses, the majority of which do not cause a person to become violent. “Eating disorders, autism, alzhemiers, dementia anything that’s a chemical imbalance and that’s what mental illness is a chemical imbalance.” Mental illness is a disease that is highly treatable with medications and therapy. Donna was told she would never be able to work. Now she’s a peer support specialist at the Berkeley Community Mental Health Center helping patients with recovery skills. The Berkeley Community Mental Health Center serves up to 1800 patients with a variety of mental illness. Donna says they are helping these patients live successful lives in spite of their disease. Donna says she’s living proof. “I literally am a success story from the center and I’m not the only one I know people I’ve seen come there that I’ve literally seen their lives turn around.” And changing lives is the goal of Mental health awareness month which is this month to promote mental wellness.

As if you weren’t already feeling bad about yourself because of your poor diet, now you have another reason to get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Take a look at this from Reuters:

The imbalance of fatty acids in the typical American diet could be associated with the sharp increase in heart disease and depression seen over the past century, a new study suggests.

Specifically, the more omega-6 fatty acids people had in their blood compared with omega-3 fatty acid levels, the more likely they were to suffer from symptoms of depression and have higher blood levels of inflammation-promoting compounds…

[…]

Hunter-gatherers consumed two or three times as much omega-6 as omega-3, Kiecolt-Glaser’s team notes in their study, published in Psychosomatic Medicine, but today Westerners consume 15- to 17-times more omega-6 than omega-3.

The researchers investigated the relationship among fatty acid consumption, depression and inflammation in 43 older men and women. The 6 individuals diagnosed with major depression had nearly 18 times as much omega-6 as omega-3 in their blood, compared with about 13 times as much for subjects who didn’t meet the criteria for major depression.

Just in case that doesn’t make much sense to you, here’s the gist: eat more foods with omega-3 fatty acids, and less foods with omega-6 fatty acids. This doesn’t mean you should avoid omega-6, but that we should try to balance our omega-3s with our omega-6s.

Phew. Could our dietary requirements get any more complicated? Personally, I believe that if you’re interested in the optimal diet and don’t want to bother with juggling all of the different components, just eat as the Okinawans do.

Take a look at this article from SciAm:

The big news in this study is that at least some cortical inputs to the amygdala — those from the prelimbic cortex — are involved in the expression of conditioned fear. This involvement gives learned fear a previously unrecognized anatomical component. And it establishes that there is at least one difference between the networks underlying the expression of innate and learned fears.

These observations have far-reaching implications. First, they suggest that the expression of learned fear is flexible and subject to modulation by the prelimbic cortex, depending on the circumstances; our expression of learned fears is less rigid and less automatic than the expression of innate fears, which are beyond the reach of the cortex.

These observations also raise the possibility that hyperactivity in the prelimbic region might contribute to human anxiety disorders that are caused by over-expression of learned fear, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. If that proves true, reducing the activity of the prelimbic cortex might constitute a useful strategy for the treatment of these debilitating disorders, while leaving innate fear responses intact. If learned fear is necessary, so is our ability to control it. This study reveals some dynamics that might be crucial in exercising that control.

This is good news for us. Although it’s a bit technical, what’s really being said here is that learned fear is within the reach of our thinking brain. That means we’re able to change learned fear and, subsequently, completely recover from anxiety disorders. This is probably not news to most of us (myself included) who have subscribed to this belief for quite some time now, but many people still insist that anxiety disorders are innate fears that we are born with. This research shows (yet again) that this is patently false.

Take a look at this article from today’s Washington Post.

Up to 25 percent of people in whom psychiatrists would currently diagnose depression may only be reacting normally to stressful events such as a divorce or losing a job, according to a new analysis that reexamined how the standard diagnostic criteria are used.

[…]

The new study, however, found that extended periods of depression-like symptoms are common in people who have been through other life stresses such as a divorce or a natural disaster and that they do not necessarily constitute illness.

The study also suggested that drug treatment may often be inappropriate for people who are experiencing painful — but normal — responses to life’s stresses. Supportive therapy, on the other hand, may be useful — and may keep someone who has been through a divorce or has lost a job from going on to develop full-blown depression.

Read the rest.

Here’s a snippet:

My first attack happened a week before my graduation from college. I was in bed, painting my nails bright red, when my heart began racing. I had the sensation that I was watching myself from above — not alive but not quite dead. (I’d later learn that a sense of dreamlike unreality — depersonalization — is a hallmark of panic.)

I wondered at first if I were being punished for drinking too much at a party the night before. Perhaps someone had spiked my drink. (Nobody had.) What if I were actually dying? (I wasn’t.) This is panic’s flailing logic. Other sufferers I know count coins to ground themselves; some clean out their closets. Back then, when the attacks were new to me, I used to match celebrities with their home towns. (I recall murmuring, “Rosie O’Donnell, Merrick, Long Island,” repeatedly.)

Read the article.

Study: Antioxidant Vitamins May Increase Health Risks.

According to the results of a new study, antioxidant vitamin supplements taken by people to promote their health may actually shorten their life. The findings were based on a review of dozens of studies on the health effects of vitamin supplements.

Funny isn’t it? It seems that nothing is healthy anymore.

"Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it." -- Mark Twain

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