Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

The stigma experienced by patients with psychiatric disorders

From the 24 July 2013 post at KevinMD.com

“It don’t matter how many men you shot in Memphis,” the saying goes, “if your name is Sierra or Sequoia, you can’t sing the blues”. In a sense, this adage reworks an older, more bitter joke from the civil rights era, the one that begins “some of my best friends are …” and ends with “but you wouldn’t want your sister to marry one.” Both statements embody stigma, the social effects of being someone who violates others’ expectations or fails to fit into an assigned social niche.

Stigma attached to illness has a long, ignoble history. The most classic example, the devalued social role of lepers, illustrates its classic elements: fear and avoidance. Deformities elicit basic revulsion in many, while infections also trigger fear of contagion. Historically, some of the positive stigma that doctors enjoy reflects our ability to transcend our fears and provide care to those whom society would consign to the desert beyond the pale of a socially integrated life.

In modern times, patients with psychiatric disorders (including addictions) experience stigma in painful and damaging ways. The American Journal of Public Health devoted its entire May edition to the consequences of the stigma that plagues those with mental illness and the disordered behaviors that it often causes. The bottom line of the Journal’s complex assessment across many articles: stigma kilIs. According to Hautzenbuehler et al, increased health care costs, poorer health outcomes and, most tellingly, premature death are all consequences of having a psychiatric disorder of any kind. While we all intuitively “get” why people with schizophrenia or addictions might face stigma based on their disruptive, non conforming behavior and the frustration caused by the intractability of their conditions, the negative consequences of having a psychiatric disorder also extend to otherwise normal appearing people with depression and anxiety, and, most tragically, to children.

Read the entire post here

 

July 25, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , | 3 Comments

Infographic: How Social Media affects our Brain?

 

From the 13 December blog posting at Assisted Living Today
   http://assistedlivingtoday.com/p/resources/social-media-is-ruining-our-minds-infographic/ 

Social media use across the globe has exploded. As more and more people flock to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, it’s becoming clear that social media is having a profound effect on not just our lives but on our brains too. Scientists are researching how social media impacts cognitive functions and development, like multitasking skills, our ability (or inability) to focus, how our brains are getting rewired,  to name a few. All of which appear to be drastically affected by social media participation. To help shed more light on this phenomenon, we’ve created this infographic: “How Social Media is Ruining Our Minds.” We encourage you to share it on your favorite social media sites (ironic, huh?). You also can embed the infographic on your website using the code below. We ask only that you credit us, Assisted Living Today the leader in finding top assisted living facilities, as the source.

How Social Media is Ruining Our Minds

 

January 15, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New definition of addiction: Addiction is a chronic brain disease, not just bad behavior or bad choices

From a 15 August 2011 Science Daily news article

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has released a new definition of addiction highlighting that addiction is a chronic brain disorder and not simply a behavioral problem involving too much alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex. This the first time ASAM has taken an official position that addiction is not solely related to problematic substance use.

When people see compulsive and damaging behaviors in friends or family members — or public figures such as celebrities or politicians — they often focus only on the substance use or behaviors as the problem. However, these outward behaviors are actually manifestations of an underlying disease that involves various areas of the brain, according to the new definition by ASAM, the nation’s largest professional society of physicians dedicated to treating and preventing addiction…..

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August 16, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Food May Act Physiologically Like A ‘Drug Of Choice’ For Some

From a 19 July 2011 Medical News Today article

Authorities in the field of foodaddiction at the University of Florida say new research indicates that overeating andobesity problems might be effectively tackled if people would limit their food choices.

Editorializing in the August edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nicole M. Avena, Ph.D., a research assistant professor, and Mark S. Gold, M.D., chairman of the UF College of Medicine’s department of psychiatry, suggest modern living presents many delicious possibilities for people at mealtime – too many for people who respond to food as if it were an addictive drug…

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August 1, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

Addiction As A Brain Disease

Source: The National Institute on Drug Abuse, ...

Image via Wikipedia

From the 29 April 2011 Medical News Today article

One can look at drug addiction as a moral issue, a social ill, or a criminal problem. But Lynn Oswald’s experience studying the neuroscience of addiction tells her that it is something else entirely: a disease of the brain.

“Addiction is a brain disease because differences in the way our brains function make some people more likely to become addicted to drugs than others-just as differences in our bodies make some people more likely to develop cancer or heart disease,” says Oswald, PhD, RN, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing.

However, the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie a person’s risks for alcohol and drug abuse are not well understood by scientists. Oswald is hoping to change this. She is currently at work on a study funded by a five-year $3 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that aims to answer questions about why some people become addicted to drugs and others do not.

“There is growing evidence that vulnerability for substance abuse may stem from pre-existing variances in brain function,” she says.

“These variations could be something that a person is born with or the result of changes that take place later on. Like other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, risks for drug use disorders seem to be influenced by both genes and environment. Scientific evidence continues to grow about the effects of environmental stress on the body. We now know that the brain is a very plastic organ and various life experiences, such as severe stress, can also change the way the brain works.”

April 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Authors Explain Why Certain Foods Can Be Addictive

From the 11 April 2011 Medical News Today article

Can some people react to certain foods the same way an alcoholic or addict gets “hooked” on their substance of choice? Yes, according to a new study that will appear in the August 2011 print issue ofArchives of General Psychiatry…

…Increasingly, the scientific literature suggests that sugar consumption, in any form, may be the culprit. Yet in their new book, TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust(BSH, 2011), the Griesels point out that our bodies are perfectly capable of consuming, processing and thriving on “natural” foods. However, it is these totally unnatural man-made products that are causing the problems.

“The rise of obesity and other modern diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabeteshypertension, high triglycerides and hypoglycemia, to name a few-along with so-called ‘food addiction’- are all the end result of consuming too many of these ‘engineered’ modern foods in our daily diets,” say Dian and Tom.

Tom says, “These modern foods are deliberately designed to stimulate and excite our taste buds and brains. They all contain refined carbohydrates which, after becoming nutritionally neutered via processing, are often produced with refined sweeteners-both real and artificial, fats and problematic trans-fats, unnaturally high amounts of dietary omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable and manufactured oils, salt, a cornucopia of artificial chemicals, dyes and additives that make these packaged items lethal to our health and addictive to many.”

“Processed food manufacturers know this and create their formulas and recipes with this in mind. They hope you will become addicted to their product. Packaged food items are the highest-profit items in a grocery store; consequently, they are allotted the most space. It is profits, not health, that drive these products, advertising and sales,” elaborates Dian.

“Manufacturers would like us to believe that if it tastes good, it can’t be that bad. They often use marketing tricks or artificial food dyes to fool consumers into thinking that this stuff is healthier than it is,” says Tom.

The Griesels’ conclusion: Refined and processed foods are hazardous to our health, particularly to those who have increased sensitivity to them. Work on satisfying your urges and cravings with the whole natural foods we were all designed to eat. Eat some fruit when the sweet craving strikes.

 

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Do Your Genes Tilt You Toward Thrill-Seeking?

Scientists have found a dozen mutations associated with the urge to do exciting things

THURSDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) — Do your genes predispose you to thrill-seeking?

Scientists looking into this question have found a dozen gene mutations associated with the urge to do exciting things.

This urge, called “sensation seeking” by researchers, has been linked to the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical that carries messages in the brain. In research that involved 635 people enrolled in a study on addiction, the scientists looked at 273 genetic mutations — involving a change in just one letter of the DNA — known to occur in eight genes with roles related to dopamine.

That number was eventually narrowed down to a dozen potentially important mutations. When those 12 gene variants were combined, they explained just under 4 percent of the difference between people who are sensation seekers and those who are not. This may not seem like much but it is “quite large for a genetic study,” according to study first author Jaime Derringer, a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota.

However, she added, it’s too early to start screening people for these mutations because not enough is known about how genes affect behavior.

While sensation seeking has been linked to a range of behavior disorders, such as drug addiction, it can be a positive trait.

“Not everyone who’s high on sensation-seeking becomes a drug addict. They may become an Army Ranger or an artist. It’s all in how you channel it,” Derringer said.

The study appears in the current issue of the journal Psychological Science.

 

October 11, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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