Mental and Emotional Problem News

Browse our library of news below or learn more about mood disorder symptoms, diagnosis and causes.

AVATAR Therapy Shows Promise in Schizophrenia Treatment

Man with schizophrenia smoking a cigarette

A new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry has found that the use of avatars representing auditory hallucinations of persons with schizophrenia, can help reduce symptoms of this disorder in affected patients. The study involved a comparison between avatar therapy and supportive counselling, finding that the former was significantly more effective at reducing hallucinations. The study is the first to look into the effectiveness of avatar therapy on patients who continue to have hallucinations despite medication and other treatments.

A New and Promising Approach to Schizophrenia

The study is promising for a vast majority of persons with schizophrenia, since around 70% of them have auditory hallucinations that can be uncomfortable and distressing. Around 25% of people who are treated for hallucinations continue to suffer them, even while receiving treatment.

Weather and mental health: sunshine found to be key

Overcast Sky

Sunshine matters. A lot. The idea isn't exactly new, but according to a recent study, when it comes to your mental and emotional health, the amount of time between sunrise and sunset is the weather variable that matters most, and not just for Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers.

Your day might be filled with irritatingly hot temperatures, thick air pollution and maybe even pockets of rainclouds, but that won't necessarily get you down. If you're able to soak up enough sunlight, your level of emotional distress should remain stable. Reduce sun exposure time, though, and your levels of distress can spike.

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Depression risk increased by oxidative and nitrosative stress and resulting autoimmunity

White Blood CellsA recent study sheds new light on the previously noted association between oxidative and nitrosative stress and depressive illness, pointing the finger squarely at autoimmune reactions.
 
The research was conducted at the Maes Clinics in Bangkok, Thailand. Michael Maes has been instrumental in establishing patterns of immune system dysfunction in chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and other environmental illnesses and here turns his attention to the immune components of major depression. 

Previously, investigators have discovered that people diagnosed with major depression have a high degree of oxidative and nitrosative stress (O&NS) in their bodies. What this means is that highly reactive molecules based on oxygen and nitrogen are present in quantities greater than their bodies can neutralize with antioxidants. O&NS is known to cause damage to cells and tissues of the body. This latest study looked at how the immune system of depressed patients responded to such damage and how this related to depressive symptoms.

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Insomnia relieved naturally by brain cooling cap

Skull Cap Induces Sleep​It has been demonstrated that using a device incorporated into a cap and designed to cool the brain of the wearer during sleep is a safe and effective treatment for primary insomnia.
 
Researchers explain that a reduction in metabolic activity in the brain's frontal cortex occurs while falling asleep and is required for restorative sleep. However, insomnia is associated with increased activity in this same brain region. One way to reduce cerebral metabolism is to use frontal cerebral thermal transfer to cool the brain, a process known as "cerebral hypothermia."

The findings of the research were presented at SLEEP 2011, the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), by Dr. Eric Nofzinger, professor and director of the Sleep Neuroimaging Research Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

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Junk food diet linked to depression and anxiety

Burgers & FriesFor the first time scientists have shown that, in women at least, the consumption of a poor quality diet, high in junk foods, increases the risk for depression and anxiety.
 
The findings suggest that making healthy dietary choices such as regularly consuming fresh fruits and vegetables and eating whole grains, nuts and seeds, and oily fish, while limiting processed and junk foods, may help to prevent mood disorders. 

The scope of the study did not allow the researchers to determine whether women already suffering from depression and/or anxiety may benefit from switching to a healthier diet but plans for a study that will answer this question are being prepared and funding sought. Previous research has suggested that individual nutrients obtained in adequate amounts through consumption of a healthy and balanced diet (e.g. omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish) might be beneficial in the treatment of mood disorders.

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