Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley have found that people who suffer from chronic stress may experience long-term changes in their brain that makes them more prone to mood disorders and anxiety.
Associate professor of integrative biology Daniela Kaufer and a team of researchers have studied the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain that governs emotion and memory. They found that chronic stress causes the brain to generate fewer neurons and more myelin-producing cells than normal.
This results in more white matter in certain areas of the brain, disrupting the balance and timing of communication within the brain.
A new study published by JAMA Psychiatry suggests that participating in regular spiritual and religious practice may help protect against depression. Researchers believe this may be due to a thickening of the brain cortex that occurs with regular meditation or other religious and spiritual practices.
More research is necessary; however preliminary results of MRIs performed on 103 adults at varying risk for depression have shown a correlation between a thickening of the brain cortex and the personal importance of religious and spiritual practices.
It’s proven. People do settle. In fact, in one survey of 6,000 men, 31% of them openly admitted that they would settle for someone they didn’t love. And 21% even claimed they’d partner up with someone they found unattractive.
How many additional people settle, but would never admit it? How many people knew they were with the wrong person, even as they walked down the aisle?
Diving into this question takes us straight down the path toward the deeper issues in life, so let’s get to it. Here are four reasons why people settle, according to experience and research.
Why does lying, cheating and dishonesty persist? We all know it causes pain, right?
Not so fast. Researchers have been looking into the positive emotional benefits of cheating. What they are discovering is – well – disturbing.
A new study by the American Psychological Association has found that cheater’s often experience an emotional high after doing something unethical, as long as it does not directly hurt someone else. Cheaters are often motivated even when there is no tangible reward.
Participants in the study predicted that they would feel badly or at least ambivalent after activities such as cheating on a test or logging more hours than they worked. However, when they actually cheated, researchers found that subjects actually received a significant emotional boost instead.
Interestingly, people who gained from someone else’s misdeeds also felt better on average than those who didn’t. In one experiment participants were asked to solve math puzzles within a certain time frame. They were told they would be paid for each puzzle solved, with a second participant (actually an actor) grading them.
It’s an event like this that may lead many to experience anxiety and depression. In fact, an October 2013 study found that traumatic life events were the biggest determinant, beating out family history of mental health, income, education, relationship status and other social factors.
This study showed just how complex depression and anxiety are and how influential life events really were on the human psyche.
In the beautiful children’s book Love You Forever, Robert Munsch depicts the loving relationship between a mother and son.
In the story, the mother holds her child every night from the moment he is born all the way until he is a full grown man, and sings to him the touching song:
I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.
Then one day, the mother can no longer hold her son, and so he picks her up and sings her the same song he had grown up with. It’s a beautiful testament to the loving bond that a mother and child can have; and as we are beginning to understand, this amazing bond is critical for the proper development of an adolescent.
Over the last 20 years, science has begun to understand the relationship between autoimmune diseases and neuropsychiatric disorders. And the field has made significant strides.
Now, there may be some viable alternative therapies that are targeting psychiatric disorders from a more organic angle.
N-Acetyl Cysteine, NAC, is an amino acid that has been used to treat acetaminophen poisoning or reduce mucus that plagues certain lung diseases as well as cystic fibrosis.
NAC has also shown in clinical trials to help reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.
NAC has antioxidant properties to help address the inflammatory and oxidative damage that stunts cell reactivation and neuron growth. Studies have shown that mood disorder symptoms, such as apathy and depression, have been reduced and NAC was even shown to lessen cravings for cocaine, nicotine, and marijuana.
Research shows there is a possible link between childhood stress and chronic pain as an adult. It’s possible that the neurobehavioral mechanisms created in childhood could be the missing piece of the pain/PTSD puzzle.
A body in a state of stress produces a variety of chemicals, including catecholamines and cytokines. Catecholamines are released by the SAM, sympathetic adrenomedullary axis, and include the neurotransmitters adrenaline and noradrenaline. They run around in the bloodstream mobilizing energy and preparing the body for “fight or flight.”
Cytokines are groups of substances such as peptides and proteins that are secreted by immune system cells. These substances carry signals to other cells. During chronic stress, catecholamines can create a negative feedback loop by blocking certain neurotransmitters that affect mood, increasing chronic inflammation throughout the body.
In the first study of its kind, researchers at the Columbia University School of Public Health were able to link increased risk of obesity in women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD has been more present in the news, especially as it relates to war veterans. This particular study helps scientists more definitively associate the brain-body connection initiated by exposure to trauma.
The fear of social rejection is a driving force in many people’s lives. It explains why people are afraid of speaking in public, can be an underlying cause for mental illness such as social anxiety, and is the reason why many people prefer to keep to themselves.
Social pain is a term that many psychologists use to refer to the pain of rejection, public humiliation, and even the grief we feel when a loved one dies or a relationship ends.
Social pain may be linked to the experience of physical pain in the brain.