By Tara MacIsaac
Here’s a look at what your dog’s breed may say about you. Researchers at Bath Spa University surveyed 1,000 dog owners, compiling data about the owners’ personality traits and their dogs’ breeds.
The researchers presented their findings to the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in 2012.
Stanley Coren, a psychologist and author of “Why We Love the dogs We Do,” also discussed the connection between owner personality traits and dog breeds, in an interview with Modern dog Magazine.
Romantic love tends to light up the same reward areas of the brain that are activated by cocaine. But new research shows that selfless love—a deep and genuine wish for the happiness of others—actually turns off the brain’s reward centers.
“When we truly, selflessly wish for the well-being of others, we’re not getting that same rush of excitement that comes with, say, a tweet from our romantic love interest, because it’s not about us at all,” says Judson Brewer, adjunct professor of psychiatry at Yale University now at the University of Massachusetts.
As reported in the journal Brain and Behavior, the neurological boundaries between these two types of love become clear in fMRI scans of experienced meditators.
The reward centers of the brain that are strongly activated by a lover’s face (or a picture of cocaine) are almost completely turned off when a meditator is instructed to silently repeat sayings such as “May all beings be happy.”
Such mindfulness meditations are a staple of Buddhism and are now commonly practiced in Western stress reduction programs.
The tranquility of this selfless love for others—exemplified in such religious figures such as Mother Teresa or the Dalai Llama—is diametrically opposed to the anxiety caused by a lovers’ quarrel or extended separation. And it carries its own rewards.
“The intent of this practice is to specifically foster selfless love—just putting it out there and not looking for or wanting anything in return,” Brewer says.
“If you’re wondering where the reward is in being selfless, just reflect on how it feels when you see people out there helping others, or even when you hold the door for somebody the next time you are at Starbucks.”
Source: Yale University
Originally published on www.futurity.org
MONTREAL—The development of physical aggression in toddlers is strongly associated genetic factors and to a lesser degree with the environment, according to a new study led by Eric Lacourse of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. Lacourse’s worked with the parents of identical and non-identical twins to evaluate and compare their behavior, environment, and genetics.
“The gene-environment analyses revealed that early genetic factors were pervasive in accounting for developmental trends, explaining most of the stability and change in physical aggression, ” Lacourse said. “However, it should be emphasized that these genetic associations do not imply that the early trajectories of physical aggression are set and unchangeable. Genetic factors can always interact with other factors from the environment in the causal chain explaining any behavior.”
Over the past 25 years, research on early development of physical aggression has been highly influenced by social learning theories that suggest the onset and development of physical aggression is mainly determined by accumulated exposure to aggressive role models in the social environment and the media.
However, the results of studies on early childhood physical aggression indicate that physical aggression starts during infancy and peaks between the ages of 2 and 4. Although for most children the use of physical aggression initiated by the University of Montreal team peaks during early childhood, these studies also show that there are substantial differences in both frequency at onset and rate of change of physical aggression due to the interplay of genetic and environmental factors over time.
By James Chi
People who suffer severe and chronic depressions age sooner, according to a new study.
The team of researchers in California and the Netherlands noticed people with depression have shorter telomeres than their healthy peers. Telomeres are strands of chromosome caps that shorten as people age. The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry on Nov. 12, 2013.
Based on these measurements, the researchers found that those who are clinically depressed for 2 years abnormally aged 7 to 10 years. Also, people who experienced the most severe depression had the shortest telomeres.
According to the study, while depression tends to induce harmful lifestyle habits—such as drinking, smoking, taking drugs—that shorten people’s lifespans, depression itself is also responsible for premature aging. Even though the researchers can’t confirm a direct correlation between depression and aging, psychological distress does take a toll on the body.
Tags: chinese medicin, psychology
Chinese medicine is a complete healing system that first appeared in written form around 100 B.C. Since that time, China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam have developed their own distinct versions of the original Chinese system.
Qi (also spelled “chi”) is an essential concept in Chinese medicine. Qi is a form of vital energy that exists both inside and outside the human body. At the root of every function of the human body and the universe around us is a form of qi.
Chinese medicine describes human physiology and psychology in terms of qi, correlating qi with specific mental and physical processes and emotional states. Different kinds of qi commonly referred to in Chinese medicine include blood qi, organ qi, nutrition qi, meridian qi, and pathogenic qi. Pathogenic can enter the body from sources such as wind, dampness, heat, cold, and dryness.
The quality of qi is described in terms of yin and yang. Yin and yang are opposite energies but exist interdependently. Yin qi is defined as cold or cooling energy, and yang qi is defined as hot or warming energy.
To be healthy, a person needs to have a balance of yin and yang because yang needs yin’s nourishment in order to function, and yin needs yang in order to be produced and utilized. Human beings are considered healthy when qi is circulating freely and there is a balanced flow of yin and yang.
When yin qi is deficient, then yang qi is in excess, and symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, restlessness, elevated blood pressure, and constipation can manifest.
When yang qi is deficient, yin qi is in excess, and symptoms such as increased sensation of cold, feelings of fatigue, diarrhea, slow metabolism with water retention, low blood pressure, and psychomotor retardation can occur.
In Chinese, the words for the different emotions are followed by the word “qi.” For example, anger is called “anger qi” and joy is called “joyful qi.” Therefore, when an intervention is made with acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine, it not only aims to affect the physical functions of the body, but also the mental functions and emotions.
Qi circulates through energy channels called meridians. The meridians form a web-like system that connects different parts of the body together and supplies qi to every part of the body. Chinese medicine relates each meridian with specific mental, physical, and emotional functions.
In Chinese medicine, mental functions and emotions are not confined to the brain but are viewed as the interaction between the brain and the meridians. Another way of looking at it is that the brain is part of each individual meridian, and each meridian’s health affects the brain.
The lung meridian is associated with grief, and thus people in the grieving process may be more susceptible to upper respiratory infections. The biomedical model might explain this reaction in terms of diminished immune responsiveness due to chronic stress induced by grief. Chinese medicine would characterize the problem as an emotional stressor causing imbalance in the lung meridian, thus causing it to become deficient in qi.
In the West, one of the most well-known treatment methods of Chinese medicine is acupuncture, which is also one of the oldest treatment methods. Acupuncturists insert extremely thin needles into the body at strategic points in order to rebalance the flow of yin and yang through the meridians
Acupuncture treatments are used alone or integrated with conventional medicine to treat a variety of psychiatric conditions, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, pain, addiction, and depression.
In Chinese medicine, major depression is seen as the extreme psychiatric manifestation of an excess of yin and a deficiency of yang. Mania is the opposite, being the result of an extreme manifestation of excessive yang and deficient yin.
The abnormal transition between extreme yin and extreme yang is similar to the pattern of cycling in bipolar disorders. Thus, acupuncturists place needles in the body with the goal of rebalancing yin and yang.
Dr. Yang is a board-certified psychiatrist and is a fourth-generation doctor of Chinese medicine. His website is taoinstitute.com
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By Henry Jom
Modern science has verified what the ancients believed about one’s heart—that the heart is a center of higher wisdom. It can actually remember things and it functions much like the brain.
The heart’s structure is similar to that of the brain: it has an intricate network of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins, and support cells.
“There is a brain in the heart, metaphorically speaking,” said Dr. Rollin McCraty of the HeartMath Institute, a non-profit that offers treatments based on the connection between heart and brain. “The heart contains neurons and ganglia that have the same function as those of the brain, such as memory. It’s an anatomical fact,” he said.
“What people don’t know that well is that the heart actually sends more information to the brain [than the brain does to the heart],” he added.
Dr. J. Andrew Armour coined the term “heart brain” in 1991; he has also called the heart a “little brain.”
According to Harvard Medical School, chemical “conversations” between the heart and the brain affect both organs. Depression, stress, loneliness, a positive outlook, and other psychosocial factors influence the heart. The health of the heart can also affect the brain and the mind.
As neuro-cardiology (the study of the brain and heart connection) has developed, researchers have found that negative emotions throw both heart rhythms and brainwave patterns out of sync.
Stress responses, for example, take a toll on the body, contributing to high blood pressure, the development of artery-clogging plaque, and brain changes that may contribute to anxiety and depression, according to Harvard Medical School.
Conversely, when a person experiences positive emotions, heart rhythms and brainwave patterns are harmonious and coherent.
Heart as an Emotional Center
The heart as an organ is linked to the concept of heart as an emotional center. The heart sends messages through physical pathways to the brain, which are then interpreted as emotion.
McCraty explained: “Heart beats are similar to morse code, with these messages reflecting one’s emotional state.”
McCraty has worked as a psycho-physiologist for nearly 30 years. One technique he works with through the HeartMath Institute is “heart-focused breathing.”
While breathing deeply, the patient directs attention to the heart, which “shifts the physiology and facilitates changes in the body’s rhythms,” McCraty said.
Heart and brain wave patterning has been measured to observe the effects of this technique, showing greater coherence.
Tags: Body & Mind, psychology
By Fae Price
Wanting to do something and actually doing it are two very different things. Especially when you have conflicted desires, such as the desire to indulge in fattening foods and the desire to lose weight.
Having to choose one over the other, most people end up choosing the one that is easier to do, in this case the overeating. When people really want to turn things around, they often try to use sheer willpower to push through the difficult circumstance. This often fails, as there is just not enough positive motivation to keep you on track. However, if you want to turn things around, try the following these tips to get you started right now on the path to getting the things you want.
1. Know what you want
To start, do you know what you really want? The best way to get started on the path to achieving your dreams is to fully immerse yourself in them. Indulge in some daydreaming. Imagine your perfect life. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? Try to see it as clearly as possible, and after you do, write it down! Write bullet points, or even write the story. Capture the ideas on paper so that you know what you are really moving toward and you know what it is going to look like when you get there.
2. You need to see it to believe it
After you get the idea of what you want to work toward, create a visual reminder to inspire you along the way. Some ways to do this are to create a vision board or collage of pictures that represent the things you want. Hang it where you will see it often. Make a copy and shrink it to carry around in your wallet and car. You can also do something more simple, such as just hanging a picture of someone you admire greatly that reminds you of what you are working toward, or even just writing an intention statement in a place where you can see it often.
3. Set some goals
After you have your big vision and your motivation, break the goal down into SRM goals. This stands for specific, reachable, and manageable. Having a goal such as “I will lose 30 pounds” is great, but it isn’t something you can actually DO. A goal you can do is more like “eat 4 servings of vegetables a day and only 1 soda.” These goals are going to be the baby steps along the path that lead you to your vision.
4. Get a buddy
This is an often overlooked step that can really enhance your results. Just sharing your goals with someone and being accountable to them can help a lot—helping them reach their own goals too is even better. Just make sure to choose a buddy that is supportive, and not one who feels threatened or doesn’t believe in your desire to change.
5. Get inspired
The Internet is full of free videos on everything. The kinds that are perfect for reaching your goals are videos of other people who did the same thing you wanted to do … and succeeded! There are many heart-warming videos that describe all the struggles they had to overcome, how they did it, and tips that would have helped them along the way. It is hard to NOT be motivated after watching videos like this.
6. Educate yourself
If you got this far and you are still struggling, it may be because you need more information on how to achieve some of your goals. Maybe you want to go to college, but you don’t know how to apply. Maybe you want to design a website, but are clueless about computers. In these cases, you may need to start with getting more information, such as calling some friends and family that have college degrees to ask them how they started, or taking a computer class at a local community college.
7. Change your ‘I can’t’ mentality
The biggest roadblock to success is often just ourselves. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to succeed, to do things right, and to never fail. But that isn’t really how life works. Failure is a part of it. And even if you are clueless or have no skill in what you want to achieve, you just have to start at the bottom and work your way up slowly. This can be frustrating for some people, as it takes a lot more determination when you aren’t naturally talented and successful at something. But that certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t. The only things you can’t do are the things you don’t want badly enough or aren’t willing to try hard enough to get. Even if other people tell you you can’t, they are not right. Success if much more about hard work and determination than about luck and natural skill.
8. Just start
Finally, don’t make all the plans and then just decide it’s too much work or that you will fail anyways so why try. If the goals are still too big or not specific enough, chop them into smaller pieces. If you feel like a loser, watch some inspiring videos. Chances are, someone even less skilled and farther behind than you already achieved what you want to achieve. If you really want something, don’t let anything stop you! Get up, repeat these steps over and over until you’re ready, and then … leap!
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, meditation, psychology, Society, Spirituality, sustainable development
By Rosemary Byfield
How teachers cope with demands in the classroom may be made easier with the use of “mindfulness” techniques, according to new US research.
Learning to pay attention to the present in a focused and non-judgemental or mindful way on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course helped teachers in the study to feel less stressed and to avoid burnout.
Dr Richard Davidson, chair of the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States, is the study co-author. “The research indicated that simple forms of mindfulness training can help promote a certain type of emotional balance, leading to decreased stress,” he said in an interview on the Centre’s website.
“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.
“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.
Stress, burnout, and ill health are increasing burdens experienced by teachers in schools leading to absenteeism and prematurely leaving the profession.
“This is an area where mindfulness may be particularly important and interesting,” he said.
“We wanted to offer training to teachers in a format that would be engaging and address the concerns that were specifically relevant to their role as teachers,” said lead researcher Lisa Flook in a statement.
Researchers trained 18 teachers to use MBSR techniques designed to handle difficult physical sensations, feelings, and moods and develop empathy for pupils in challenging situations.
Randomly assigned teachers practised a guided meditation at home for at least 15 minutes per day and learned specific strategies for preventing and dealing with stressful factors in the classroom. These included “dropping in”, a process of bringing attention to breathing, thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations; and ways of bringing kindness into their experiences, particularly challenging ones.
Mindfulness originates from Buddhist meditation but was developed for secular use in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme at the University of Massachusetts in the United States.
“The most important outcome that we observed is the consistent pattern of results, across a range of self-report and objective measures used in this pilot study, that indicate benefits from practising mindfulness,” Flook said.
Study participant and teacher Elizabeth Miller found that mindfulness could be practised anywhere, and at any time.
“Breath awareness was just one part of the training, but it was something that I was able to consistently put into practice,” Miller said.
“Now I spend more time getting students to notice how they’re feeling, physically and emotionally, before reacting to something. I think this act of self-monitoring was the biggest long-term benefit for both students and teachers.”
In Britain, teachers Richard Burnett and Chris Cullen developed the Mindfulness in Schools project, “.b” or “Stop, Breathe and Be!” programme. After experiencing the benefits of mindfulness themselves they wanted to teach it in the classroom. Their course is now taught in 12 countries.
Tags: Body & Mind, psychology
Motivation • Paul Hudson •
We are our own greatest enemy. We doubt ourselves, complicate our lives, cloud our minds with unimportant thoughts and negativity, we punish ourselves, hate ourselves and then feel sorry for ourselves because “outside forces” are making our lives a living hell. Life is beautiful — you’re making yours a living hell all on your own. Each of us does things from time to time that make living happily more difficult than it needs to be.
Surely some of us have it difficult because those are the cards that we’re dealt, but most of us — especially those who are better off financially and don’t live on the streets — make our very own lives more difficult for ourselves. But there are things you can do to stop the miserable cycle that you have found yourself in — a cycle that I know all too well. Here’s 20 of them:
1. Stop Running From Your Problems and Procrastinating.
Problems don’t go away on their own. You can either make them go away or live with them. If you know you can’t live with them, then don’t procrastinate because the weight of them on your mind only increases over time. If you have a problem, then accept that you have a problem and face it — deal with it. Life is a long list of problems that must be overcome. The faster and better you overcome them, the better and happier your life will be.
2. Stop Lying To Yourself.
People will lie to you left and right throughout your life; don’t add to the pile of lies. It is one thing for others to be lying to you and an entirely different issue if you’re lying to yourself. You are the only person that you can trust…but if you have a habit of lying to yourself, then you can’t even trust yourself. You have to be able to rely on yourself and on what you believe.
If you know something to be false, then stop convincing yourself that it is or could possibly be true. Improbable is one thing, but impossible is another. Feeding yourself lies or half-truths will lead to the forming of a reality that doesn’t actually exist past the confines of your psyche.
Tags: Body & Mind, books, health, meditation, psychology, Science, Spirituality
By Leonardo Vintini
According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, every time we learn or experience something new, hundreds of millions of neurons reorganize themselves.
Dr. Dispenza is known throughout the world for his innovative theory concerning the relationship between mind and matter. Perhaps best known as one of the scientists featured in the acclaimed 2004 docudrama What the Bleep Do We Know, his work has helped reveal the extraordinary properties of the mind and its ability to create synaptic connections by carefully focusing our attention.
Just imagine: In every new experience, a synaptic connection is established in our brain. With every sensation, vision, or emotion never explored before, the formation of a new relationship between two of more than 100 thousand million brain cells is inevitable.
But this phenomenon needs focused reinforcement in order to bring about real change. If the experience repeats itself in a relatively short period of time, the connection becomes stronger. If the experience doesn’t happen again for a long period of time, the connection can become weakened or lost.
Science used to believe that our brains were static and hardwired, with little chance for change. However, recent research in neuroscience has discovered that the influence of every corporal experience within our thinking organ (cold, fear, fatigue, happiness) is working to shape our brains.
If a cool breeze is capable of raising all the hairs on one’s forearm, is the human mind capable of creating the same sensation with identical results? Perhaps it is capable of much more.
“What if just by thinking, we cause our internal chemistry to be bumped out of normal range so often that the body’s self-regulation system eventually redefines these abnormal states as regular states?” asks Dispenza in his 2007 book, Evolve Your Brain, The Science of Changing Your Mind. “It’s a subtle process, but maybe we just never gave it that much attention until now.”
Dispenza holds that the brain is actually incapable of differentiating a real physical sensation from an internal experience. In this way, our gray matter could easily be tricked into reverting itself into a state of poor health when our minds are chronically focused on negative thoughts.
Dispenza illustrates his point by referring to an experiment in which subjects were asked to practice moving their ring finger against a spring-loaded device for an hour a day for four weeks. After repeatedly pulling against the spring, the fingers of these subjects became 30 percent stronger. Meanwhile, another group of subjects was asked to imagine themselves pulling against the spring but never physically touched the device. After four weeks of this exclusively mental exercise, this group experienced a 22 percent increase in finger strength.
For years, scientists have been examining the ways in which mind dominates matter. From the placebo effect (in which a person feels better after taking fake medicine) to the practitioners of Tummo (a practice from Tibetan Buddhism where individuals actually sweat while meditating at below zero temperatures), the influence of a “spiritual” portion of a human being over the undeniable physical self challenges traditional conceptions of thought, where matter is ruled by physical laws and the mind is simply a byproduct of the chemical interactions between neutrons.
Dr. Dispenza’s investigations stemmed from a critical time in his life. After being hit by a car while riding his bike, doctors insisted that Dispenza needed to have some of his vertebrae fused in order to walk again—a procedure that would likely cause him chronic pain for the rest of his life.
However, Dispenza, a chiropractor, decided to challenge science and actually change the state of his disability through the power of his mind—and it worked. After nine months of a focused therapeutic program, Dispenza was walking again. Encouraged by this success, he decided to dedicate his life to studying the connection between mind and body.
Intent on exploring the power of the mind to heal the body, the “brain doctor” has interviewed dozens of people who had experienced what doctors call “spontaneous remission.” These were individuals with serious illnesses who had decided to ignore conventional treatment, but had nevertheless fully recovered. Dispenza found that these subjects all shared an understanding that their thoughts dictated the state of their health. After they focused their attention on changing their thinking, their diseases miraculously resolved.
Addicted to Emotions
Similarly, Dispenza finds that humans actually possess an unconscious addiction to certain emotions, negative and positive. According to his research, emotions condemn a person to repetitive behavior, developing an “addiction” to the combination of specific chemical substances for each emotion that flood the brain with a certain frequency.
Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.
The body responds to these emotions with certain chemicals that in turn influence the mind to have the same emotion. In other words, it could be said that a fearful person is “addicted” to the feeling of fear. Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.
Nevertheless, many are skeptical of Dispenza’s findings, despite his ability to demonstrate that thoughts can modify a being’s physical conditions. Generally associated as a genre of pseudo-science, the theory of “believe your own reality” doesn’t sound scientific.
Science may not be ready to acknowledge that the physical can be changed through the power of the mind, but Dr. Dispenza assures that the process occurs, nevertheless.
“We need not wait for science to give us permission to do the uncommon or go beyond what we have been told is possible. If we do, we make science another form of religion. We should be mavericks; we should practice doing the extraordinary. When we become consistent in our abilities, we are literally creating a new science,” writes Dispenza.
Tags: Body & Mind, health, psychology
NEW YORK—No doubt you have personally experienced the benefits of a well-designed building—just as you have also been troubled or frustrated by one that is designed poorly, even if you couldn’t put your finger on why. Research shows that the design of a building could affect your health or even be an aid in your healing process.
Age-old design concepts aim to provide better living and work environments. Basic design principles include natural lighting, proper ventilation, and something as simple and obvious as a good view. A lot of these principles have been ignored over the past 50 years, mostly for financial reasons, lack of interest, and simplistic beliefs such as “bigger is better.”
Sustainable design has been of growing interest to architects and clients across the building industry. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines have played a key role in reprioritizing the importance of healthily designed buildings. More evidence is coming forth to prove the effectiveness of a well-designed building.
Anastasia Harrison, director of Sustainability at design firm Gensler Associates, has more than 22 years of professional experience in architectural design and LEED consulting. At a recent seminar, she talked about research in to the benefits of green buildings. For example, 80 percent feel more comfortable and more at home in green buildings; 29 percent have a higher satisfaction rate and are hence more actively engaged; and the number of sick days in green buildings are reduced by 2–5 percent per year.
A Good View Is Good for Your Health
Views are also proving to aid the healing process. A study conducted by scientist Robert Olbrich over 10 years compared patients. One-half had views of brick walls while the other half had a view of nature. The latter were able to heal faster, and their stay time was one day shorter, according to Harrison.
Harrison described the considerations that went into designing a cancer institute in Arizona. They asked themselves, “How can we take people to the outside, or bring the outside into them. … So there are interior gardens and exterior gardens?” Simple design considerations that orient toward views include gardens on site, and those that alter the building form to allow views from deeper within the buildings make a difference.
Other psychological studies by Thomas Joseph Doherty were able to prove that the effect of well-designed buildings could lower blood pressure, relieve anxiety, lower stress, sharpen mental states, and lessen hyperactivity experienced by children while suffering.
These concepts are actually not groundbreaking. These are simple concepts that we have known for centuries. Consider the courtyard castles and monasteries of Europe, or the classic buildings of Rome surrounding open forums. All these enable greater connection to the outdoors, natural light, and good ventilation.
As environmental conditions worsen and health problems abound, there is more of an effort to find the causes. Reintegrating simple environmental considerations in today’s buildings is one solution.
“Improving the health of our planet is intrinsically linked to our own health. … The unprecedented developing drive over the past 50 years is putting unsustainable pressures on our planet and our health,” said Breeze Glazer, who works in architecture and design firm Perkins + Will.
Tags: Body & Mind, meditation, psychology, relationships, Spirituality, thoughts of the day
My comment: Read this! Many useful thoughts… One’s attitudes are of great importance.
Originally posted on Successify!:
This article is from Chiara Fucarino. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to address those with clinical depression or other mental illnesses.
There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a person living in the slums of a third world country could be happy and content. I have spent plenty of time amongst both groups to have seen it first hand. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.
Tags: Body & Mind, health, psychology
By Christine Lin, Epoch Times
NEW YORK—Mind and matter are like the chicken and the egg—and pain, both emotional and physical, is no different. Healers and scientists have long known that mental factors and physical symptoms are inextricably intertwined.
A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine in 2004 found that two-thirds of patients being treated for depression also reported physical pain such as frequent headaches, back pain, joint pain, and abdominal pain.
“Physical pain and depression have a deeper biological connection than simple cause and effect; the neurotransmitters that influence both pain and mood are serotonin and norepinephrine,” reads a 2004 National Institutes of Health report. “Dysregulation of these transmitters is linked to both depression and pain.”
While trouble with neurotransmitters play a huge role in both depression and pain, the story doesn’t end there.
Since the 1950s, doctors and drug companies have touted pillular anti-depressants as the go-to method for treating depression and certain cases of pain. In the process, patients were forced to counter side effects associated with these drugs with more drugs while pharmaceutical companies reaped the profits. Now, patients and health care providers alike are turning to other, lasting, and more intuitive ways to address the psychosomatic factors contributing to the twin distresses of pain and depression.
The Integrated Being
For 5,000 years, Chinese medicine has treated human health holistically. Its foundational philosophy says that a human being exists on the spiritual, emotional, and physical levels simultaneously, and that no one facet of human health can be fully understood without examining the others. Furthermore, people do not exist in a vacuum; they are also members of their community and the universe. Thus, when practiced fully, Chinese medicine integrates concepts from many fields that are today specialized and separate.
Chinese medicine believes that physical symptoms have their root causes in mental and emotional states that manifest in blockages of qi, which can be loosely translated as “life energy.” Likewise, since qi is the conduit for all human functioning, mental, emotional, and physical dysfunction can be treated by manipulating qi. On this framework sprang traditional Chinese healing methods such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, and qigong, just to name a few modalities commonly known to the West.
According to Dr. Jingduan Yang, a Chinese medicine doctor and psychiatrist practicing at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, a deficiency in yang qi or an excess in yin qi often manifests as depression. The same qi imbalances will affect other areas of functioning and present itself as pain.
Modern research is coming close to similar understandings of this complex relationship. The Scandinavian Journal of Pain in 2011 attempted to explain the connection this way:
“First, catastrophizing plays a central role in models of both pain and depression and hence might form an important link between them,” researchers wrote. “Second, emotion regulation is important in both depression and pain since they both can be viewed as significant emotional stressors.”
Dual Acting Treatments
Pain and depression often go hand in hand—sometimes the same traumatic experience triggers both, and the two conditions exacerbate each other.
Neuropathic pain, as opposed to common muscular aches and arthritic pain, derives from dysfunctions in the central nervous system or peripheral nervous system. Trauma causes disproportionate electrical activity in the nerves, and sufferers of chronic neuropathic conditions such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) experience normal touch or the slightest heat as pain.
Acupuncture acts on correcting the qi blockages that cause such pain and when used correctly can reduce the hypersensitivity associated with neuropathic pain. Used as a complementary treatment to conventional modalities, it can increase the rate of recovery while reducing stress. Since it works on the person’s qi, and qi regulates emotion, effective acupuncture boosts mood, too.
Another alternative treatment that acts on both the body and the brain is ketamine infusion. Ketamine is an anesthetic drug that, when administered by a qualified physician or anesthesiologist, acts on the nervous system to dampen excessive pain signals.
“It stops the transmission of pain from the body to the spine and to the brain, and gives the system the chance to reboot,” said Dr. Glen Z. Brooks, a New York anesthesiologist who offers ketamine treatments.
In cases of depression, ketamine promotes the growth of the synapses and lets the brain heal itself, reversing the structural causes of depression, according to Brooks.
The ketamine dosage and treatment plan for depression patients and pain patients are different, and must be customized to the person’s body weight, and so should be thought of as separate treatments, but patients with related conditions often see improvements in their symptoms.
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Tags: Body & Mind, health, psychology
By Rosemary Byfield
A tightness in the chest, a cold creeping rush enveloping the body, sweaty palms, palpitations, a racing heart. A feeling like one is dying. These are the symptoms of a panic attack.
TV presenter Anna Williamson is known as the bright and bubbly face of the ITV children’s show, Toonattik, and entertainment reporter on Daybreak. Yet, five years ago behind the “smiley” façade, Anna was suffering.
“It’s like you’re having a heart attack,” says Anna describing her panic attacks. “I didn’t identify what was happening to me, I just remember feeling so desperately unhappy and I didn’t know why.”
It was the most desolate, lonely time of her life. Anna knew she was fortunate to have a “fantastic” job and was also surrounded by close friends and family. So why did she feel like her life was “imploding”?
Away from the cameras she was troubled in her private life and embarrassed to admit to those close to her she wasn’t coping. Anna put pressure on herself to feel happier. The panic attacks worsened.
“Like a rabbit in the headlights you want to be anywhere else than where you are,” Anna says.
“It was so awful that I feared having a panic attack again. The fear of a panic attack created a panic attack. So I got locked in a cycle, where I thought: ‘I never want to feel like that again.’”
About 1 in 10 people will have severe anxiety or phobias at some point in their lives. However, most people with these problems never ask for treatment, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
‘Life changing’ therapy
Defeated, Anna took time off work, and despite the stigma, sought therapy. She felt the “tight elastic band” of emotions inside her start to unwind.
“I found counselling absolutely life changing.”
Tears came as the therapist asked questions that allowed Anna to pinpoint what was bothering her.
“It was so liberating. I remember walking out of that office an hour and half later knowing that I was going to be ok, because I had found someone who understands me,” Anna says.
Two sessions a week of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for three weeks helped Anna get back to work. CBT, which is available on the NHS, is a talking therapy that helps people to recognise and change habitual thinking patterns causing anxiety.
Every session was “more about self-discovery, more unburdening and unravelling of things that were going on in my head.”
Anna worked through the jumbled mess in her mind, filing it away with the help of CBT and, combined with anti-anxiety medication, felt better and better about herself. She also found a deep sense of relaxation using self-hypnosis.
Anna became a huge advocate of talking therapies and trained as a counsellor. She regularly volunteers taking calls from children on the free helpline Childline.
Online peer support
Recently, Anna is supporting another cause close to her heart: Elefriends.org.uk, a newly relaunched mental health online peer support platform.
“Anybody, you, me, can go on and just talk. It’s for like-minded people who are, perhaps, having a bad day,” says Anna, who explains that with the option to be anonymous, the forum is a safe place to share feelings and opinions about mental health problems.
“Maybe you can identify with someone,” Anna says.
Started on Facebook, Elefriends outgrew the limit of 5,000 friends. Mind, the mental health charity, secured Social Action Funding allowing Elefriends to expand to an unlimited platform. Thousands more people can now access the popular support network.
More than four out of five people feel that talking about their mental health problems helps, according to Mind.
President of Mind and the voice of the Elephant animations used on Elefriends, Stephen Fry said in a statement: “If you have a mental health problem, talking to someone who’s had a similar experience can be an absolute lifeline.”
Twenty per cent of people have to wait more than a year for talking therapies on the NHS. A Mind survey revealed that almost four out of five people who have accessed on- or offline peer support networks have found at least one kind of peer support effective.
One forum user, Sam, 31, who suffered depression for more than ten years, was signed off work for two months following bereavement, his mother being ill and a difficult time at work. A former colleague recommended he join Elefriends.
“No one will naively tell you to ‘get over it’ or be patronisingly over-concerned. You get empathy rather than sympathy and the support is mutual, which can help give you perspective and explore new ways of managing your mental health,” said Sam in a statement.
Another member, Katie, 31, has battled over the years with depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsions and self-harm. She wanted to use her experiences to help others, but found to her surprise that she got so much more support back from the community itself.
People may be concerned: Will they be employable if they speak out about their mental health problems?
For Anna, through confronting her demons, and going public has only helped her career.
“I’ve had more work since I’ve got to know myself better and corrected any errors in myself and I’m a much better TV presenter as a result of it,”
Anna hopes her story can inspire others.
“If one person identifies with my story, and takes heart and comfort in that, that’s the right reason for me to speak out about it.”