Mental and Emotional Problem News

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Depression exacerbates asthma in children


A new study has linked symptoms of depression and anxiety with severity of illness in children with asthma; also uncovering the mechanisms behind the association.

The research was carried out at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences by Bruce D. Miller, M.D. and Beatrice L. Wood, Ph.D., whose specialities are pediatrics and psychiatry. The primary findings of the study are that depressed children with asthma consistently show a dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system which is associated with increased airway adjustment.

The study is believed to be the first connecting emotional stress, depressive symptoms, autonomic nervous system dysregulation and airway function in childhood asthma.

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Disturbed sleep may be cause of depression and mental illness


New research suggests that as well as being a symptom of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, insomnia may also cause them.

Anyone who has gone without sleep adequate sleep for a night, whether as a result of social excesses or factors out of their control such as stress or noisy neighbours, knows that it impacts the way they feel the next day. If we don't get enough sleep we feel tired, irritable, unable to concentrate, and generally not ourselves.

Insomnia is defined by the medical profession as taking longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep on several nights each week which causes problems in daytime functioning. For a clinical diagnosis the problem must have persisted for more at least a month.

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Antidepressant effects of folic acid linked to opiate-like properties


A recent study conducted at the University of Santa Catarina in Brazil has shed light on the mechanisms behind the antidepressant effects of folic acid.

The study, due to be published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, suggests that the antidepressant effects exhibited by folic acid may in part be due to it stimulating the same receptors in the brain as opiate drugs like morphine.

It has been known for some time that morphine has mood elevating properties and recently scientists have started to look at its natural counterparts, known as endorphins, as a target for antidepressant therapy. They note the high concentrations of opioid receptors and endorphins in the limbic and hypothalamic areas of the brain, both of which are intimately involved with mood regulation. Opioid receptors and endorphins also interact with the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline which have long been implicated in depression. It is thought therefore that a deficiency of endorphins may also be involved in depression and that they, and agents that mimic them, may be a useful treatment.

The results obtained by the Brazilian researchers suggest that folic acid may be one such therapeutic agent.

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Important immune chemical associated with serotonin deficiency and depression


Researchers demonstrate that high levels of interferon-alpha in cerebrospinal fluid are associated with low serotonin concentrations and symptoms of depression.

Interferon is a mixture of proteins that the body makes in the even of viral infection. It has direct antiviral activity and also activates the portion of the immune system which is designed to deal with viruses. In this way specific immune chemicals are produced which aid in fighting off the virus. Interferon is divided into different types labelled alfa, beta, and gamma.

Interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) is produced as a medicine through genetic engineering processes and used as a treatment in viral diseases, particularly viral hepatitis.

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Natural depression treatments advocated by eminent scientist


A prominent UK scientist has co-authored a new book promoting diet, lifestyle changes and other natural alternatives to anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders.

According to the authors for many people suffering from depression the answer may not lie in popping pills but rather making a concious effort to smile, eating a diet high in oily fish and avoiding dairy products, sending fewer emails, and spending less money.

These are just a few of the recommendations made in Beating Stress, Anxiety and Depression. Unlike many books of this ilk it has not been written by a self-styled wellness guru but rather one of the UK's top scientists and a qualified psychologist.

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