Tag Archives | Anxiety

Woman’s Rare Case of ‘Seasonal OCD’ Cured

Porsche Brosseau (CC BY 2.0)

Porsche Brosseau (CC BY 2.0)

Agata Blaszczak-Boxe writes at LiveScience:

A rare case of “seasonal” obsessive-compulsive disorder in a woman highlights the complexity of this mental health condition, researchers say. The woman’s OCD symptoms appeared every year when winter began, and then ended as the seasons shifted toward summer.

After living with the condition for a decade, the woman was treated at a clinic and recovered, the case report said.

Psychiatrists “do believe that there is a tie between times of the year and the exacerbation of illness,” said Dr. Howard L. Forman, an attending psychiatrist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, who was not involved in the woman’s case.

Patients with other mental health conditions, such as depression, may also get worse in the winter and feel better again in the summer, Forman said.

The 41-year-old woman came to an outpatient clinic during the month of October.

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Sleep Paralysis Linked to Genetics, Anxiety & Stressful Events

Henry Fuseli's "The Nightmare" may have been inspired by the chest-crushing sensation and hallucinations of sleep paralysis.  Credit: Henry Fuseli (1781)

Henry Fuseli’s “The Nightmare” may have been inspired by the chest-crushing sensation and hallucinations of sleep paralysis.
Credit: Henry Fuseli (1781)

No surprises here.

via Live Science:

People who’ve experienced the strange phenomenon of sleep paralysis may feel like they can’t move their body when they’re falling asleep or waking up, or may have hallucinations that there’s a malevolent presence pressing down on them. Now, a new study suggests the phenomenon may have a heritable cause.

In the study, researchers asked a group of more than 800 twins and siblings whether they had experienced sleep paralysis. The results showed that genetics were partially to blame for the strange phenomenon.

In addition, the people in the study who had anxiety, slept poorly or had experienced stress in their lives were more likely to have these nighttime bouts of paralysis, the researchers found.

The findings shed some light on what is still quite a mysterious condition, the researchers said.

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When Taking Anxiety Medication Is A Revolutionary Act

“Without the medicine, I live a life of ‘I can’t do this, but I’m somehow doing it anyway.’ With it, it’s more ‘this is sometimes difficult, but I got it'” writes Tracy Clayton at Buzzfeed:

If I had to describe what having anxiety feels like, I’d say that it’s kind of like walking through the world beneath tornadic skies without an umbrella, unsure if you’ll be able to find shelter if things get bad. When friends invite you out, you politely decline because while you’d like to enjoy their company, the sky could open up and wash you out to sea at any minute so it’s probably safer for you to stay at home. In the background of anything you do is the gentle hum of your nervous system as it tosses and turns, wondering when the deluge will hit, thinking about how unfortunate will be if you don’t survive it.

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Fear is the Mind-Killer

Porsche Brosseau (CC BY 2.0)

Porsche Brosseau (CC BY 2.0)

via Humanity Plus Magazine:

Anxious people tend to perceive their world in a more threatening way. That is, the more anxious a person is, the more likely they are to notice threatening things around them. This is called the threat bias.

Some researchers believe that the threat bias makes it harder for people to get rid of anxiety disorders because they get stuck in a loop – they feel anxious, they start noticing threatening things in their environment, and this in turn makes them even more anxious.

However, the threat bias isn’t just something that people with anxiety disorders experience. Everyone can have trouble keeping worrying thoughts and feelings of anxiety out of their minds. And there are things you can do to make it easier for your brain to inhibit worrying thoughts.

Read More: http://hplusmagazine.com/2014/11/04/fear-mind-killer/

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What If Everything We Know About Treating Depression Is Wrong?

"How to Overcome Depression" by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

“How to Overcome Depression” by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Could it be that we’re treating the wrong part of the brain?

via AlterNet:

A new study is challenging the relationship between depression and an imbalance of serotonin levels in the brain, and brings into doubt how depression has been treated in the U.S. over the past 20 years.

Researchers at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit have bred mice that cannot produce serotonin in their brains, which should theoretically make them always depressed. But researchers instead found that the mice showed no signs of depression, but instead acted aggressively and exhibited compulsive personality traits.

This study backs recent research that indicates that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, may not be effective in lifting people out of depression. These commonly used antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft, and Lexapro, are taken by some 10% of the U.S.

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The Science Behind Meditation and Dan Harris’ Journey to Serenity

9780062265425I’ll be the first to admit that I’m often uptight and easily stressed. I don’t meditate regularly, but when I do the relief I feel is often surprising. Just taking a few moments to focus on my breathing can release tension.

via Big Think:

Dan Harris is a self-described “fidgety and skeptical news anchor” who would probably be the last person you’d expect to buy into the hocus pocus of supposed new age wellness. But after suffering a live, on-air panic attack on “Good Morning America,” the ABC News correspondent took up meditation not because he was in search of a magical solution, but rather because of the overwhelming scientific evidence that it just works.

After his attack, Harris became an advocate for the practice and even wrote a book — 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story – in which he compiled his personal story with copious amounts of research backing the benefits of meditation.

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The Worst Psychological Torture? Solitary Confinement

“Why Solitary Confinement Is The Worst Kind Of Psychological Torture” by George Dvosky at io9 outlines how solitary confinement came into use with the best of intentions, but is now understood to cause, in some cases, irreparable psychological damage.

This photo is of a recreation yard within the housing unit now referred to as the "Old Main." by Ken Piorkowski

This photo is of a recreation yard within the housing unit now referred to as the “Old Main.” by Ken Piorkowski

via io9:

There may be as many as 80,000 American prisoners currently locked-up in a SHU, or segregated housing unit. Solitary confinement in a SHU can cause irreversible psychological effects in as little as 15 days. Here’s what social isolation does to your brain, and why it should be considered torture.

There’s no universal definition for solitary confinement, but the United Nations describes it as any regime where an inmate is held in isolation from others, except guards, for at least 22 hours a day. Some jurisdictions allow prisoners out of their cells for one hour of solitary exercise each day.

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Scientists Hope to Program Robots To Be More Neurotic

Picture: Flickr user (((o.kvlt))) (CC)

Picture: Flickr user (((o.kvlt))) (CC)

I, Robot. I guess. I mean, like, aren’t we all robots in a way? Who am I? What do I know? I wonder if she thought I was rude. I bet she did. Am I rude? Maybe so. Did I leave the oven on? Oh, God. I did, didn’t I? Should I have completed my masters degree? Oh – wait. Human. There’s a human here. I’ve been caught daydreaming. I’d better be extra nice. “Greetings. May I assist you, Sir?” Oh, no no no no no… He’s staring. I’ll be melted down to slag for sure. C3PO, you’ve ruined it for all of us, you golden nincompoop… “What was that, sir? Yes, I’m quite certain that I’ve programmed your vehicle with the correct coordinates.” OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD…

A group of researchers is exploring the possibility of programming robot brains to be more “neurotic” in order to help them make more human-like decisions.

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The Hidden Emotion World: Some Personal Examples

Understanding the realm of emotions is beset by an elemental difficulty: the meaning of words that refer to emotion are so ambiguous that we hardly know what we are talking about. Virginia Woolf stated it succinctly: “The streets of London have their map; but our passions are uncharted” (1922). Compared to maps of the material world, and studies of behavior, thoughts, attitudes, perception, and beliefs, the realm of emotions is still terra incognita. One way of approaching this chaos is to examine one’s own emotions.

Image: Daniel (CC)

Image: Daniel (CC)

 

I became interested in studying emotion because of a series of unanticipated incidents in my own life. At the time my interests were focused on a more conventional topic in my discipline, the sociology of mental illness. When I was 40, I began exploring a new field because of experiences with my own emotions. I had just gotten divorced, and my ex had taken our children to Hawaii for a year.… Read the rest

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The World of Hidden Emotions

Machine Elf 1735 (CC)

Machine Elf 1735 (CC)

Emotions are important, but there is the massive confusion in both popular and scientific conceptions of even what they are.  There is also a sizable structure of erroneous assumptions, such as venting anger “gets it off your chest.”

There seem to be at least four defenses against confronting emotions directly:

1. Ignore.

2. Generalize (using only abstract terms: emotions, affect, arousal, etc.).

3. Disguise: use one of the vast number of alternative words that hide emotional content, such as “an awkward moment.”

4. Confuse: especially in English, the most important emotion terms are at least ambiguous and often misleading.

The elaborate hiding of shame studies by the use of alternative words is described in detail. Approaches to emotion that allow them to be noticed and discussed openly and directly are probably important us as individuals and for our whole civilization.

Understanding the realm of emotions is beset by an elemental difficulty: the meaning of words that refer to emotion are so ambiguous that we hardly know what we are talking about.… Read the rest

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