Fresh and Interesting Tidbits from the World of Research…

How to Get Over Depression

How to get over depression, panic attack symptoms, psychological disorders, how to deal with stress, addiction – and more. I want Chipur to be your reliable information go-to.

I’m always scouting relevant research for those enduring mood or anxiety woes. When I find something Chipur-worthy I typically devote a full article to it. But this go-round I’m bringing you three tidbits (more bang for your buck). Perhaps you’ll find them enticing enough to do some additional probing.

Let’s get after it…

Curtailing Fear Memory While Counting Sheep

Northwestern Medicine® scientists report in Nature Neuroscience they’ve reduced fear (emotional) memory by exposing study participants to a memory multiple times as they slept.

Participants were subjected to mild electrical shocks while viewing two different faces – and smelling a specific odorant for each face. That tied the face/odorant/fear knot. Throughout slow wave sleep, when memory consolidation is thought to occur, one of the two odorants was introduced – sans associated faces and shock. The purpose was to repeatedly reactivate the memory of the face – similar to exposure therapy.

When the participants awoke they were shown the face linked to the smell they’d been exposed to during sleep. And what do you know? Their fear reactions were lower than their fear reactions to the other face.

There was more than just participant report involved here. Using functional MRI and other measurement instruments, changes were noted in brain regions associated with memory, and in patterns of brain activity in regions associated with emotion. So there was objective evidence of a decrease in reactivity.

So what do you think? When developed, wouldn’t this emotional manipulation be the frosting on the traditional daytime exposure therapy cake?

Addiction: Does It Ever Go 100% Bye-Bye?

So it was the “Chicken or the egg?” dilemma for scientists at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital. They scratched their heads and wondered if those who abuse psychostimulants, such as cocaine, are more impulsive and show alterations in brain reward circuits because of their drug use. Or is it a matter of pre-existing abnormalities? (Now, were it the former one could reasonably expect brain “custom-tailoring” to normalize following prolonged abstinence.)

Digging-in, the research team compared neural responses between three groups of people (healthy controls, current drug-abusing cocaine users, former cocaine users who’d been abstinent an average of four years) who were asked to complete a task that resembles bidding on eBay items. The groups were also compared on levels of impulsivity and reward responding.

Well, turns out the active users showed abnormal activation in multiple brain regions involved in reward processing. The abstinent participants who were previously cocaine dependent showed differences in a subset of those regions. Both current and former cocaine users displayed similarly elevated impulsivity measures compared to healthy controls. And that indicates they had a pre-existing risk for addiction.

Cut to the chase? Prolonged abstinence from cocaine may normalize only a subset of the brain abnormalities associated with active drug use. And that’s important to know because the knowledge that some neural changes associated with addiction persist despite long periods of abstinence supports clinical wisdom that recovery from addiction is a lifelong process.

A Test for Suicide Risk? Yep!

According to a new German-Swiss study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, blood pressure, blood circulation, and activity in the sweat glands of the fingers can reveal if someone’s suicidal. Oh, and that would be with 97% accuracy.

Catch this. 783 depressed in-patients in Germany were tested for something known as hyporeactivity – reduced ability to react to assorted stimuli. See, a suicidal depressed individual reacts differently to environmental changes, compared to someone not in the same boat.

And that’s confirmed by previous research revealing there’s a strong correlation between hyporeactivity and suicide in depressed people. In fact, it’s been noted that hyporeactivity was present in up to 97% of depressed folks who later completed suicide. All of this said, I want to make sure you know everyone who has hyporeactivity is not suicidal; however, most all suicidal depressed individuals are hyporeactive.

On to the suicide risk test. Hyporeactivity can be measured by an individual listening to a pattern of tones, while body reactions are measured via sensors on the fingers. Virtually all people react the first time they hear a tone – an automatic general orientation reaction. But when the tone is heard again, the reaction decreases amongst – the hyporeactive.

According to one of the study scientists, “A depressed person has a biological inability to care about the surroundings, while a healthy person continues to react.” For the record, the use of the word “healthy” rubs me the wrong way.

Think about it – a reliable test for suicide risk. Is that a true life-saver, or what?

Let’s Wrap

Okay, okay – never at a loss for words, huh?! Well, you can pick and choose what you want to read; and pursue more knowledge if you’d like. Obviously, I find this shtuff fascinating. But it’s more than just that. I’m encouraged by the fact that the research worker-bees are buzzing away trying to find answers – relief and healing strategies – for those enduring trying emotional/mental circumstances. That’s comforting.

How to get over depression, panic attack symptoms, psychological disorders, how to deal with stress, addiction? Whole lotta’ shakin’ goin’ on…

As is so often the case, thanks to for the scoops.

Plenty more Chipur articles (565, to be exact) await your perusal. Chop-chop

  • Dr. Herby Bell October 16, 2013, 10:00 am

    Whoa, are you a button pusher or what? BTW, I wouldn’t have buttons if I didn’t like ’em being pushed. FASCINATING.

    Here…we’ve got this noggin full of fat and water and the thing–the most powerful processor in THIS Universe, the brain–heals itself and evidently, it? can assist us in healing each other!! How ’bout it!? Got amygdala and hippocampal smarts? I mean you are throwin’ my switch in that up-regulated way, Bill White!

    While we drive around frantically being stoked about how we can program our hand-held devices a la Star Trek, the truth IS, we can program and re-program our cranial held devices a la optimal genetic expression and thriving, good health!

    Dude, the future, She is bright! Thank you!

    • chipur October 16, 2013, 2:53 pm

      Nothing gives me greater pleasure (almost) than pushing your buttons, Herby. Same applies to up-regulating you. Too funny! We click because you’re a hoot, sharp, and so “outside the box.” Your visits and comments are a treat. And, yes, the future – she is bright…

  • Cathy Taughinbaugh October 16, 2013, 10:29 am

    Hi Bill,

    Always fascinating around here. The “Chicken or the egg?” dilemma jumped out at me. That is the question for so many parents who are struggling with the substance abuse of their children and their pre-existing abnormalities. Which came first and how to best treat both issues is the question that so many parents are faced with. I feel a sea change and hopefully in the near future we will have more answers and more available treatment. We know though that there is no finish line for addiction. That being said, recovery can be beautiful! Thanks!

    • chipur October 16, 2013, 6:31 pm

      Sure try to keep things “fascinating” around here, Cathy. Glad it’s working. Given your area of interest/expertise, you obviously picked-up on the addiction research. And that’s what I wanted – readers focusing upon the research that’s appealing to them. Yes, I can sense that “sea of change,” as well – and it’s research that leads the way. Hey, as someone who will have 29 years under his belt on the 3rd of next month, I can attest to the fact that recovery can be – and is – beautiful. You’re awesome to keep comin’ back and contributing. Thank you, Cathy…

  • Leslie Ferris October 22, 2013, 8:47 am

    Wow, Bill. Your articles never cease to amaze me. I learn so much every time I read one, and I admit it might take me a while to get through all 500+ of them! Anyway, the suicide risk part really got me. If there is such a thing, then why isn’t it used more? Do you think something like that will ever become a mainstream test in hospitals, etc? From my layman’s point of view, that would make so much sense…..

    • chipur October 22, 2013, 7:36 pm

      Hey, Leslie – thank you. Don’t think I’ve reached the “amazing” level, but I’ll go on your observation. How’s that? The suicide piece was interesting, wasn’t it? Certainly grabbed my attention as I was doing my perusing. You raise worthy questions. I doubt seriously that the “test” is used at hospitals, etc. And one of the reasons, I believe, is this. Let’s say a man is being treated for depression and he’s at his psychiatrist’s office for a routine appointment. His mood is especially low and he’s considering suicide. But when the doc asks if he’s having suicidal thoughts, he replies in the negative. The doc suspects he’s not telling the truth, so she asks if she can do the “test.” He consents and he tests hyporeactive. The doc says she wants to hospitalize him, but he refuses. So the doc has to consider drafting a certificate for involuntary hospitalization. But even though the man tested hyporeactive, he said he wasn’t having suicidal thoughts. Hmmm. Fact is, I don’t believe there’s anything in any state’s laws that would recognize the validity of the “test.” Therefore, the doc has nothing upon which to base an involuntary hospitalization. So until there are changes in the law, what good would the test do? ‘Course, I suppose it could be used to convince someone with poor insight that their circumstances merit immediate attention. Anyway, just a few thoughts.

      Always appreciate your visits and participation, Leslie…