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News on Health & Science

Drink To Remember

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Alcohol in moderate quantities challenges the brain, thus improving memory, reports Roger Highfield

A glass or two of wine can boost our ability to remember, says a new study. Scientists have found that moderate amounts of alcohol challenge the brain and it responds by improving the memory…..…CLICK & SEE

The findings rubbished the notion of drinking to forget, as they also show drinking enough to exceed the limit for driving means you are more likely to remember the embarrassment of a boisterous binge   from making an indecent proposal to dancing without your trousers on.

“Contrary to popular belief, we also found that excessive levels of alcohol enhanced memories of highly emotional stimuli,   said Prof. Matthew During of the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

“Our work suggests that heavy drinking actually reinforces negative memories.”

With Dr Maggie Kalev, he studied the effects on memory of moderate levels of alcohol consumption, equivalent to a glass or two of wine a day, and found they can enhance memory.

Moderate levels of alcohol challenge the brain and it responds by improving memory, said During.   It is like the best way to build strength in a muscle is to challenge the muscle. But you have to get it just right.

Kalev added that low levels of alcohol “promoted neutral memories, such as remembering objects”. The research has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

An earlier study by scientists from The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, suggested that alcohol affects our memory for details more than our memory of a major event.

That suggested why, after recovering from a binge, one may not remember dancing on a table, or much about the place where the drinking occurred. However, you may still have a lingering feeling that a good (or bad) time was had.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Facts About Depression

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Learn the facts about depression, and what you can do to treat it.
In any given one-year period, 9.5% of the population, or about 18.8 million American adults, suffer from a depressive illness. The economic cost for this disorder is high, but the cost in human suffering cannot be estimated. Depressive illnesses often interfere with normal functioning and cause pain and suffering not only to those who have a disorder, but also to those who care about them. Serious depression can destroy family life as well as the life of the ill person. But much of this suffering is unnecessary.

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Most people with a depressive illness do not seek treatment, although the great majority — even those whose depression is extremely severe — can be helped. Thanks to years of fruitful research, there are now medications and psychosocial therapies such as cognitive/behavioral, “talk,” or interpersonal that ease the pain of depression.

Unfortunately, many people do not recognize that depression is a treatable illness. If you feel that you or someone you care about is one of the many undiagnosed depressed people in this country, the information presented here may help you take the steps that may save your own or someone else’s life.

What’s a Depressive Disorder?
A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.

Types of Depression:
Depressive disorders come in different forms, just as is the case with other illnesses such as heart disease. Brief descriptions of the most commmon types of depressive disorders are given below. However, within these types there are variations in the number of symptoms, their severity, and persistence.

Major depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime.

A less severe type of depression, dysthymia, involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable, but keep one from functioning well or from feeling good. Many people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.

Another type of depression is bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness. Not nearly as prevalent as other forms of depressive disorders, bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes: severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual.

When in the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of a depressive disorder. When in the manic cycle, the individual may be overactive, overtalkative, and have a great deal of energy. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, the individual in a manic phase may feel elated, full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees. Mania, left untreated, may worsen to a psychotic state.

Symptoms of Depression and Mania:
Not everyone who is depressed or manic experiences every symptom. Some people experience a few symptoms, some many. Severity of symptoms varies with individuals and also varies over time.

Depression :
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Insomnia, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
Restlessness, irritability
Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain .
Mania :
Abnormal or excessive elation
Unusual irritability
Decreased need for sleep
Grandiose notions
Increased talking
Racing thoughts
Increased sexual desire
Markedly increased energy
Poor judgment
Inappropriate social behavior
Causes of Depression
Some types of depression run in families, suggesting that a biological vulnerability can be inherited. This seems to be the case with bipolar disorder. Studies of families in which members of each generation develop bipolar disorder found that those with the illness have a somewhat different genetic makeup than those who do not get ill. However, the reverse is not true: Not everybody with the genetic makeup that causes vulnerability to bipolar disorder will have the illness. Apparently, additional factors, possibly stresses at home, work, or school, are involved in its onset.

In some families, major depression also seems to occur generation after generation. However, it can also occur in people who have no family history of depression. Whether inherited or not, major depressive disorder is often associated with changes in brain structures or brain function.

People who have low self-esteem, who consistently view themselves and the world with pessimism or who are readily overwhelmed by stress, are prone to depression. Whether this represents a psychological predisposition or an early form of the illness is not clear.

In recent years, researchers have shown that physical changes in the body can be accompanied by mental changes as well. Medical illnesses such as stroke, a heart attack, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and hormonal disorders can cause depressive illness, making the sick person apathetic and unwilling to care for his or her physical needs, thus prolonging the recovery period. Also, a serious loss, difficult relationship, financial problem, or any stressful (unwelcome or even desired) change in life patterns can trigger a depressive episode. Very often, a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors is involved in the onset of a depressive disorder. Later episodes of illness typically are precipitated by only mild stresses, or none at all.

Evaluation and Treatment:
The first step to getting appropriate treatment for depression is a physical examination by a physician. Certain medications as well as some medical conditions such as a viral infection can cause the same symptoms as depression, and the physician should rule out these possibilities through examination, interview, and lab tests. If a physical cause for the depression is ruled out, a psychological evaluation should be done, by the physician or by referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

A good diagnostic evaluation will include a complete history of symptoms, i.e., when they started, how long they have lasted, how severe they are, whether the patient had them before and, if so, whether the symptoms were treated and what treatment was given. The doctor should ask about alcohol and drug use, and if the patient has thoughts about death or suicide. Further, a history should include questions about whether other family members have had a depressive illness and, if treated, what treatments they may have received and which were effective.

Last, a diagnostic evaluation should include a mental status examination to determine if speech or thought patterns or memory have been affected, as sometimes happens in the case of a depressive or manic-depressive illness.

Treatment choice will depend on the outcome of the evaluation. There are a variety of antidepressant medications and psychotherapies that can be used to treat depressive disorders. Some people with milder forms may do well with psychotherapy alone. People with moderate to severe depression most often benefit from antidepressants. Most do best with combined treatment: medication to gain relatively quick symptom relief and psychotherapy to learn more effective ways to deal with life’s problems, including depression. Depending on the patient’s diagnosis and severity of symptoms, the therapist may prescribe medication and/or one of the several forms of psychotherapy that have proven effective for depression.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

From: The National Institute of Mental Health

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News on Health & Science

Insecurity may impact your immune system

Feeling insecure in close relationships may take a toll on the immune system, preliminary Italian research suggests………...click & see 

A team led by Angelo Picardi from the Italian National Institute of Health in Rome reports its findings in Psychosomatic Medicine.

In a study of 61 healthy women the researchers found that those who had difficulty establishing close, trusting relationships showed signs of weaker immune function.

Specifically, lab experiments showed that the women’s “natural killer”immune system cells were less lethal compared with those from other study participants.

Whether this means they’re more susceptible to disease is unknown, and for now the answer to that question is a “very prudent maybe”, says Picardi.

The findings are in line with research showing that chronic stress can impair immunity, and the extent of the impact may depend on how an individual perceives and responds to stress.

In short, personality traits may affect immune function. The researchers looked at the trait known as “attachment insecurity,”characterised by difficulty trusting and depending on others, feeling uncomfortable with emotional intimacy or worrying about being abandoned by loved ones.

A person’s “attachment style”forms in childhood, based on a child’s relationship with his or her parents, says Picardi. And it affects and is further shaped by romantic relationships later in life. So attachment style can be seen as a fairly stable trait that affects a person’s response to stressful events.

Picardi says attachment insecurity affects people’s ability to regulate emotions, including how they perceive and deal with stress—which may affect the body’s physiological response to stress.

For their study, Picardi and team recruited a random sample of female nurses, who were younger than 60 years old, had no chronic illnesses and no history of major psychiatric disorders.

The researchers measured the women’s attachment style using standard questionnaires and collected blood samples to study the function of their immune system cells.

The study found, women with greater attachment insecurity had lower activity in their natural killer cells, key defenders against illness.

Picardi noted that in other research, his team found associations between insecurity and certain skin diseases related to immune dysfunction.

These include plaque psoriasis, a condition where scaly patches form on the skin, and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss.

Source:The Times Of India