An increasing number of freshmen are feeling depressed and overwhelmed, according to an annual survey. “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2014,” surveyed over 150,000 students and found that 9.5% of respondents had frequently “felt depressed” during the past year, a significant rise over the 6.1% reported 5 years ago. Those who “felt overwhelmed” by schoolwork and other commitments rose to 34.6 percent from 27.1 percent.“It’s a public health issue,” said Dr. Anthony L. Rostain, a psychiatrist and co-chairman of a University of Pennsylvania task force on students’ emotional health. “We’re expecting more of students: There’s a sense of having to compete in a global economy, and they think they have to be on top of their game all the time. It’s no wonder they feel overwhelmed.” The survey also reported that students are spending less time watching television and surprisingly, a decline in drinking and smoking cigarettes among college freshman. How do you speak to young people about stress? What are your favorite strategies in dealing with stress?
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For years, exercise has been recognized as an effective way to prevent stress-induced depression, yet until now the mechanism had not been understood. It was initially believed that trained skeletal muscle produced a substance protective towards the brain. However, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden shared their findings using mice models showing something different. Instead of generating a protective substance in the body, the exercised skeletal muscle produces an enzyme that helps to excrete damaging, stress-related substances from the blood. Depression remains to be a widely misunderstood disorder, but this research reinforces the importance of exercise in its treatment and could provide insight into novel therapies. What other non-pharmacological interventions do you recommend to patients who experience stress-induced depression?
For additional information, please visit ScienceDaily.
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NIH and VA address pain and related conditions in U.S. military personnel, veterans, and their families: Research will focus on nondrug approaches.
Chronic pain and associated conditions have increasingly become a problem in the United States, especially in those who are currently serving or have served military time for our country. Thirteen research projects, which are to be funded $21.7 million within the next five years by the U.S. Veteran’s Affairs, National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and National Institute on Drug Abuse, will investigate non-pharmacological treatments for these conditions. Due to the current increase in opiate prescribing and abuse, alternative options are to be further explored. The research will investigate skills which can better manage symptoms of their conditions and prevent their progression. This is expected to help more appropriately treat these patients while driving down healthcare costs and curbing the overuse or misuse of opiate medications.
What do you think about the current opiate prescribing practices in this patient population? How do you currently manage patients with pain and related conditions?
For additional information, please visit NIH.
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In 2012, Achilles International, a non-profit organization that provides physical development opportunities for people with disabilities, had developed a training program for children with autism. The program involved helping the children train for a mainstream five mile race, and it has produced some anecdotal evidence that points to a link between running and the symptoms of autism. Achilles found that children with autism who run exhibit a decrease in descriptiveness and aggression, while exhibiting an improvement with social interactions. They say that running gives these children a way to refocus and to decrease stress. A grant provided by the Cigna Foundation will allow Achilles to research this link further. Achilles hopes to find how running effects the symptoms of autism in order to improve the quality of life for these children. How do you keep yourself focused and stress-free?
Find more information at The Washington Post
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Phthalate is a chemical substance that is known to make plastic more pliable. It is foreign to our bodies and can have negative effects on reproductive system. A new study in the journal Environmental Health reported that despite minimizing exposure from infant toys we are still consuming twice the amount recommended by the Environmental Working Group. What are your recommendations on minimizing phthalate exposure? Do you agree with the tips researchers provide?
For additional information, please see Washington Post.
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Several research studies have come to the same conclusion that sitting for long hours may lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular events, worsening mental health and risk of being disabled even with a consistent exercise regimen. Furthermore, results of a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, reported study participants who sat for more than 11 hours daily were at highest risk of mortality during the 12- year follow up. Sitting can lead to an increase in appetite and reduced muscle movement; thus the article suggests to break up sitting time about every half hour at work or home. How much time do you spend sitting daily? What are some methods you would recommend to your patients on how to reduce sitting time?
The article can be found at WebMD
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We are traditionally taught that exercise promotes a healthier lifestyle, however, where do we draw the line at too much exercise. Recent study performed by the American College of Cardiology suggests that those who run more than 20 miles a week do not have an increased life expectancy compared to those who run less. The article references a 2012 study performed by the Mayo Clinic suggest that excessive training may cause cardiovascular damage. With this being said, the author notes that like everything in life, moderation is key. How will this information change your workout and your recommendations to your patients?
The article can be found at CNN
The study can be found at ACC
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Cognitive decline and memory problems of Alzheimer’s disease may be related to a failure in the brain’s stress response system. The protein (REST) is found in the brains of developing fetuses and regulates by switching off genes to keep fetal neurons in an immature state until enough development is needed for proper brain function. REST is the most active gene regulator in elderly brains and appears to protect neurons in healthy older people from age-related stresses. People with Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, and other types of dementia have a depletion of REST in the key brain regions associated with memory. Dr. Yankner, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and lead author, and his team discovered REST switches off genes that promote cell death, protects neurons from normal aging, inflammation and oxidative stress. The researchers analyzed the brains of young adults ages 20 to 35 and found they contained little REST, while healthy adults between ages 73 to 106 had plenty. Possible development of new drugs for dementia may be seen in the future once more research and findings are established for REST protein. What are your thoughts about this research?
For additional information, please see The New York Times.
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1. Plan ahead. Plan excursions, travel and accommodations ahead of time.
2. Craft a budget. Figure out how much you want to spend prior to leaving therefore you can enjoy the vacation and not think about budget.
3. Choose your companions wisely. Vacation with family and close friends to minimize frustration.
4. Allow time to unwind. Be able to incorporate room for some down time between activities.
5. Try new things. Experiment with something new mentally and physically, like taking a walk down the beach.
6. Remember to refuel and stay hydrated.
7. Take a deep breath. Unexpected delays or miscommunication may arise, instead of feeling miserable, relax and enjoy your time away.
What strategies do you typically recommend your patients to unwind stress-free?
For additional information, please see Fox News.
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