Music therapy offers hope for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's
Music might help people with cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, a study suggests.
Frank Russo, a cognitive scientist doing research at Ryerson University in Toronto, is using new technology to probe the link between sound and the parts of the brain that control movement.
Music therapy can help Parkinson's patients walk and people with Alzheimer’s remember, with song lyrics surfacing in the brain even among people who have lost the ability to recognize their own relatives.
Russo is hoping to develop a clearer picture of how music can rehabilitate damaged circuitry and hopes to apply that research to conditions ranging from autism to stroke.
CBC's Kim Brunhuber reports on how music therapy might grow as the population ages.
To listen to the report, visit: http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/story/2012/12/28/music-as-therapy.html?cmp=rss
Majority of people with mental illness not treated, Ontario report says
The Canadian Press
A new report says the majority of people with mental illnesses or addictions in Ontario are not being treated for their conditions.
The report says that's despite the fact that the burden of mental illness in the province is higher than that of all cancers combined and all infectious diseases combined.
Co-author Dr. Paul Kurdyak says that there would be a public outcry if the percentage of diabetes sufferers getting treatment was as low as the proportion of mental illness sufferers getting help.
The report, produced by Public Health Ontario and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, says the overall burden of mental illness and addictions in Ontario is 1.5 times higher than that of all cancers and seven times higher than all infectious diseases.
"Approximately 60 to 65 per cent of people with depression and as many as 90 per cent of those with alcohol-use disorder remain untreated," says Kurdyak, chief of general and health systems psychiatry at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
"Yet there are effective therapies available for people suffering from these disorders."
Another co-author, Dr. Jurgen Rehm, said people don't seek care because of the stigma attached to these disorders, particularly for problematic alcohol use. Rehm is director of CAMH's Social and Epidemiological Research Department.
Positive psychology may help overcome fear, trauma
Baseer Syed, Toronto Star
When Shannon Polly served as a juror for a drug case recently, she did something that made her go into panic mode: she sniffed a vial containing a dangerous illegal drug.
As part of the trial, jurors were asked to smell a closed vial of PCP to determine whether the drug has an easily distinguishable odour. Polly did so as directed, but a second later she felt she had made a terrible mistake — because she was pregnant.
Instantly, her heart started to race and her throat went dry.
“I started to ‘catastrophize,’” says Polly, who works as a corporate communications trainer, facilitator and coach in Washington, D.C.“I thought to myself, ‘what if my baby comes out deformed? My husband would hate me and divorce me, and my parents would disown me.’”
Polly says such sudden bursts of dark thoughts can happen to anyone, including someone such as herself: a practitioner of positive psychology. Polly was able to calm herself by applying one of the techniques she learned from new research into the science of positive psychology. She realized her fears were based on a false assumption, namely that sniffing a closed vial of PCP is harmful.
The technique, which she refers to as a “positive approach to coping with stress,” involves separating fact from fiction. She asked herself, ‘where is the evidence for what I am telling myself?’ Then she saw a gynaecologist, who confirmed that her fears were baseless.
In recent years there has been a large increase in public demand for learning about positive psychology, says Lisa Sansom, a Toronto organizational consultant and board member of theCanadian Positive Psychology Association (CPPA).
“The recent growth of positive psychology is enormous,” Sansom says. “It went from being an idea to a movement.”
To read the full article: http://www.thestar.com/living/health/article/1237153--positive-psychology-may-help-overcome-fear-trauma
Signs of Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer's Are Seen in Gait
Pam Belluck, New York Times
The way people walk appears to speak volumes about the way they think, so much so that changes in an older person’s gait appear to be an early indicator of cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Five studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver this month provide striking evidence that when a person’s walk gets slower or becomes more variable or less controlled, his cognitive function is also suffering.
Thinking skills like memory, planning activities or processing information decline almost in parallel with the ability to walk fluidly, these studies show.
In other words, the more trouble people have walking, the more trouble they have thinking.
“Changes in walking may predate actually observable cognitive changes in people who are on their way to developing dementia,” said Molly Wagster, chief of the National Institute on Aging’s behavioral and systems neuroscience branch. Experts said the studies could lead to developing a relatively simple tool that doctors could use to forecast, if not diagnose, possible Alzheimer’s disease.
“You can probably just watch them walk down the hall in your office and look for people who are starting to show deterioration in their gait and have no other explanation for it,” said William Thies, the chief medical and scientific officer for the Alzheimer’s Association. “If gait begins to deteriorate, we begin to have a conversation about how is your memory.”
While scientists have studied gait changes after a heart attack or stroke and in diseases like Parkinson’s, they have only recently begun studying connections between walking and cognition. For decades, people thought slower walking was just part of getting old, but research shows some changes in gait signify problems that go beyond normal aging.
What chronic stress does to your brain
Lorianna De Giorgio, Toronto Star
What does chronic stress do to your brain?
Yale University researchers have found that chronic stress plays havoc on the brain by blocking out an important gene that protects the brain from depression.
Neuritin — “an activity-dependent gene that regulates neuronal plasticity” that is important for normal brain function, not just protection against depression — is decreased by chronic stress,Ronald Duman, a neurobiologist at Yale University and his team report in the study. “Neuritin produces antidepressant actions and blocks the neuronal and behavioural deficits caused by chronic stress,” they say in the June edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Neuritin is found in all humans and animals, and researchers focused on neuritin in the hippocampus part of the brain — the place where memory is formed.
Duman and his colleagues exposed lab rats to high levels of stress to see how their brains reacted. Stressors included food deprivation, mixing up their day-to-night schedules and isolation.
“They are relatively mild (stressors) individually but when you do them continuously over time it adds up to a fair amount of stress for the animal,” Duman says.
“One of the first things we found was that chronic stress exposure decreased the amounts of this protein called neuritin, which has been linked to (the growth) of neural processes.
“The question was whether or not changes in this protein contribute to . . . stress and also whether the increase that we saw with anti-depressant in that protein could account for the effect of the anti-depressant on both the neural processes as well as on behaviour.”
To read the full article: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1225370--what-chronic-stress-does-to-your-brain
Toronto family physician Dr. Mike Evans recently released his second highly entertaining and educational health related video – 90:10 - What is the single most important thing you can do for your stress?
In it he discusses the types of stress that we face and how they affect us – and what we can do to manage our stress to minimize its negative impact on our health. Not to give away the ending (!), but Dr. Evans suggests the most important thing we can do is change our thinking and how we react to any given situation. 10% of life is what happens to us, 90% is how we react to what is happening. Our reactions are entirely within our control and are the key to governing our level of stress.
But how can we change how we think? Trying to maintain a sense of humour is important, as is keeping a positive outlook and preserving our relationships and our social support systems. But how do we fundamentally change the way we think? One option is to try Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Both programs emphasize being in the moment and letting go of worry and anxiety through relaxation techniques.
Mindfulness is a practice of “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment to moment basis”. It is essentially being “in the moment” by focusing your mind and attention only on the present. We tend to let our minds wander either to our to-do lists for the future or to relive some stresser that has occurred in the day that we are anxious about or feel we could have handled better. Either of these scenarios leads us to compound the level of stress that a situation would bring us by reliving it over and over. But focusing only on the present, usually through guided exercises and breathing techniques, we can see a difference in our stress levels almost immediately.
These programs can also be used as a form of treatment for more serious ailments like depression, hypertension and chronic pain. But many people can receive benefit from the basic principle of modifying our thinking and so these programs are of increasing interest to the general public.
Dr. Evans also says one key is to “keep it simple”. Don’t try to do too much at once when you are over-tired or feeling stressed. Just focus on one thing at a time, which sometimes means just putting one foot in front of the other and letting everything else go.
For those of you living in the Greater Toronto Area, the Artists’ Health Centre at Toronto Western Hospital offers both MBCT and MBSR programs several times throughout the year. These small group sessions are geared for professional artists of all disciplines and financial subsidy is available. For information visit www.ahcf.ca or call 416-603-5263.
You can also ask your doctor or healthcare provider for other groups near you.
How Feeling Lonely Can Shorten Your Life
Alice Park, Time.com
Is loneliness lethal? According to two new studies published online Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, living alone or feeling lonely can increase your chances of disability and early death.
In one study, researchers at Harvard Medical School followed nearly 45,000 people who had heart disease or were at high risk of developing it. Over four years, the study authors tracked the participants’ health and found that those who lived alone were more likely to die from heart attack, stroke or other heart-related problems than those who lived with others.
The association was especially marked by age: for the youngest participants, aged 45 to 65, living alone increased the risk of early death by 24%; in people aged 66 to 80, solitary living was associated with a 12% increased risk of death; among those over 80, there was no link between living arrangements and risk of heart-related death.
Why the differences? It could be that for middle-aged people, for whom living alone is much less common than it is for the elderly, the single life may be a marker for other psychological or social problems that can affect health — a poor support system, depression, loneliness, job- or relationship-related stress. For the elderly, however, living alone may be a marker of strength; if you’re 80 and living solo, you might be healthier and more independent than your peers who can’t manage on their own.
Living alone affects well-being in other, more practical ways, too: people who don’t have a partner or family member to remind them to eat right or take their medicines or to recognize signs of health problems are less likely to maintain good health.
Much previous research has linked social isolation with poor health outcomes, including depression, heart disease, sleep problems and other disorders, but it has never been clear what it is exactly about being alone that may be so harmful. In the second study published Monday, researchers led by Dr. Carla Perissinotto, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, report that it’s not just living alone, but having actual feelings of loneliness and isolation that matters.
In Perissinotto’s study, which involved 1,604 participants, average age 71, the researchers defined loneliness not by gauging the participants’ living situations, but by asking them to answerthree questions regarding feelings of aloneness: did they feel left out, isolated or that they lacked companionship? If the participants answered “often” or “some of the time” to any of these questions, they were considered lonely; if they responded “hardly ever” to all three, they were not.
The researchers checked in with the participants every two years for six years to evaluate certain day-to-day abilities like bathing, dressing, eating, walking and climbing stairs — all measures of overall health in the elderly. By the end of the study period, lonely people showed significantly more disability: they were 59% more likely to have lost the ability to perform tasks of daily living. For example, they were 18% more likely to suffer mobility problems and 31% more likely to have trouble climbing stairs than those who didn’t report feeling lonely.
Even more concerning, the lonely participants were 45% more likely to have died by the end of the study than those who weren’t lonely. “I was surprised by how strong the relationship actually was,” says Perissinotto. The association held even after she and her team adjusted for other factors that could influence the health outcomes, such as a previous diagnosis of depression or other medical conditions that could account for declining health.
To read the full article http://healthland.time.com/2012/06/19/how-feeling-lonely-can-shorten-your-life/#ixzz1yqRAQPLE
Page 2 of 8