No Scientific Evidence That Probiotics Improve Anxiety Symptoms In Humans, Finds Study – David DiSalvo

2.jpg

A new review and analysis of several studies has found that probiotics do not improve self-reported anxiety symptoms in humans, although there was evidence of minor improvements in rodents.

The study reviewed 36 preclinical studies in total, 14 involving humans and 22 involving rats and mice. That’s a decent-sized sampling of the research covering a variety of probiotic strains, and it turned up zero evidence that humans with self-reported anxiety symptoms benefited from taking any of them.

“Probiotics did not significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety in humans and did not differentially affect clinical and healthy human samples,” the study concluded.

One of the strains, Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus, did appear to reduce anxiety symptoms in rodents, but further analysis showed that effects were most pronounced only for the sickest of the specimens, and even in those animals the results weren’t dramatic.

Probiotics are one of the strongest selling nutritional products in the world, with annual US sales exceeding $3.3 billion in 2016. That market size is predicted to more than double by 2025. Clearly a large chunk of the supplement-buying public has confidence in these products, and the marketing push is only intensifying. But this study, like others turning up similar findings, suggests caution is warranted.

“I think people should wait — that’s the best takeaway here,” said lead study author Daniel J. Reis, a doctoral student of clinical psychology at the University of Kansas. “We’re in the early days of this research into probiotics. I’ve seen a lot of stories hyping probiotics as helpful for anxiety. We’re not saying they do nothing, but we have a lot to figure out before we know if they can be used therapeutically.”

Why some effects were found in rodents and not in humans isn’t clear, but the researchers noted that the differences in dosage between humans and rodents were significant.

“If you control for the weights of animals versus humans, animals are getting much larger doses of probiotics in these experiments by one or two orders of magnitude. Sometimes the doses were hundreds of times higher than we see in human studies,” said Reis in a press statment.

The researchers also noted that while this study didn’t find anxiety-reducing benefits for humans, it’s still possible that a pathway exists for certain strains to yield therapeutic effects. And they were clear that the anxiety levels among the human participants in the reviewed studies weren’t necessarily “clinically elevated.” Future research has an opportunity to delve more deeply among that expanding population.

“We see a lot of pathways between our digestive systems and our brains,” Reis said. “We see nervous system connections, the inflammation response — these microorganisms seem to be able to influence the human brain through this gut-brain axis. We wanted to know if changes to the microbiota could improve mental health. But in terms of research, it’s all at a very preliminary stage.”

And that, for the moment, is the big takeaway on probiotics – the research is still very preliminary, despite marketing claims of conclusive results. Evidence supporting the claims just isn’t there, at least not yet.

Scientific research is nearing a consensus that bacteria in our digestive systems affect our brains. The microbiome in our guts, populated by billions of bacteria, appears to play a significant role not only in our digestive health, but also our mental health. Exactly how this happens is still being worked out, with each new study turning over another proverbial rock of possibilities. Despite these advances, we don’t yet know how, or if, probiotic supplements can improve our mental health by influencing gut bacteria. The marketing of these products is far ahead of the facts, as a quick review of what we know will show.

First, a brief sampling of the latest bacteria-brain research, which includes a study that found specific hormonal exchanges enabling communication between gut bacteria and the brain. This is especially noteworthy because the hormone in question is cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone”– a well-established indicator of stress levels in humans and other mammals. The study was conducted in pigs, which share several physiological similarities with humans, and it identified a possible communication pathway between gut bacteria and the brain that uses cortisol as a channel to send “messages.” The implications of this research will take some time to unravel, but one initial takeaway is that our stress-response system may play a key role in how gut bacteria communicate with the brain.

1.jpg

Another recent study suggests that gut bacteria may influence anxiety and depression. This study was conducted with mice raised in a sterile, germ-free environment devoid of bacterial influence. Researchers exposed these mice to gut bacteria and watched what happened compared to mice that were raised in a normal, germy environment.  The germ-free mice exposed to bacteria developed anxiety and depression symptoms on par with the human equivalent. The researchers identified a specific brain region influenced by the bacteria, and suspect that our early-life exposure to bacteria may predispose us one way or another to anxiety and depression later on. Again, the conclusions are speculative, but the research is exciting because it moves us a little closer to figuring out what’s going on.

More studies like these are underway and another wave is in the planning phase. So why, with all of this research, can’t we make grand claims for the promise of probiotics? After all, if we have even an inkling that gut bacteria affect our brains (and we certainly have more than an inkling at this point) then why not jump onboard the probiotic supplement express?

The reasons can be boiled down to a few big ones.

The probiotic philosophy is to blast the gut with billions of allegedly “good” bacteria, in hopes of populating out the bad ones. While re-populating the gut with good bacteria sounds plausible, there’s little scientific clarity around which gut bacteria are objectively “good” or if that qualification is even valid. Bacteria can be “good” or “bad” depending on a slew of variables. Even less clear is which bacteria influence the brain and how they’re exerting their influence.

But let’s say we could achieve perfect clarity on that point, there’s still an enormous gastric obstacle ahead. Whether you’re ingesting a probiotic with one billion or 30 billion live bacterial cultures, they still have to survive your stomach acid to do anything worthwhile. Only a couple types of bacteria have proven resistant enough to survive that peril (lactobacillus and bifidobacteria), which means almost everything else in your pricey probiotic capsule is toast.

But let’s say that problem is solved by a fantastic pill coating – what will this army of bacteria do once they arrive in your gut?  We simply don’t know enough to know for sure. Last year a review of probiotic trials in humans concluded that the research “demonstrates a lack of evidence for an impact of probiotics on fecal microbiota composition in healthy adults.” In other words, we don’t know precisely what probiotics are doing in the gut – and there’s at least a possibility that they aren’t doing much to make a difference.

Given how little we understand about what probiotics can accomplish in our guts, jumping to a further conclusion that they can improve our mental health is really reaching. That hasn’t stopped those marketing these products from making outlandish claims, but that’s standard operating procedure for a large chunk of supplement marketing.

Where actual science is concerned, we don’t yet know if probiotics can achieve the promises made for them, or what sort of probiotic formula will prove effective. We may eventually find out that probiotics need to be tailored to a given person’s microbiome like bespoke clothing. Once that’s established (if it can be established), then perhaps we’ll have a better opportunity to understand how probiotics might improve our mental health – assuming the underlying theory holds up over time.

Right now, we don’t know enough to justify the claims made for probiotic supplements. The marketing is leagues ahead of the evidence, and we’d do well to view these claims with skepticism. Perhaps one day probiotics will give our brains a boost, but we’re just not there yet.

If everyone who reads our articles and like it , that would be favorable if you send us your donations…THANK YOU

Advertisements

New Study Discovers Neurons That Rewrite Traumatic Memories – Andréa Morris

1.jpg

An estimated one-third of people will suffer from stress or fear-related disorders at some point in their lifetime. Certain traumatic memories can stick with us and wreak havoc, causing chronic anxiety, depression, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One of the most successful trauma treatments available is a behavioral therapy called “exposure therapy.”

A method that involves re-exposing the patient to traumatic stimulus in a controlled environment in an effort to break the association of fear or anxiety. A new study out today in the journal Science examines how exposure therapy works on a cellular level and shows the effectiveness of this type of therapy relies principally on recall neurons rewriting traumatic memories.

Neuroscientist don’t yet fully understand how neurons store our memories. The mystery fuels a considerable debate in the field: Do exposure-type therapies work by suppressing a memory trace of fear and replacing it with a new memory trace of calm and safety? Or does the process involve a rewriting of the neurons that are active during traumatic recall?

Although the authors of this new study say suppression may still play a role, they were able to observe for the first time neuronal reprogramming of long-term traumatic memories.

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL) discovered long-lasting trauma (remote fear) reduction in the brain is correlated with activation of the same neurons involved in memory storage. Looking at mouse brains, the scientists zeroed in on a group of neurons in the dentate gyrus.

The dentate gyrus is part of the hippocampus; an area critical for memory encoding, retrieval, and abatement of fear. Previous studies show the dentate gyrus plays a crucial role in generating contextual memories of fear. It also appears to generate new neurons, a process called neurogenesis.

The mice in this study were genetically modified to carry a gene that emits a signal–a fluorescent protein–following neuronal activity. The researchers used a fear-training exercise to give the mice long-lasting traumatic memories. This allowed the scientists to pinpoint a group of neurons in the dentate gyrus involved in storing and recall of long-term traumatic memories.

The mice then went to therapy (fear-extinction training) a mouse-in-a-lab approximation of exposure therapy. The scientists discovered that some of the neurons active during the recall of traumatic memories were still active when the rodents no longer showed fear. And the less the mice were afraid, the more cells were reactivated. It’s the first indication that this group of neurons in the dentate gyrus may be involved in storing memories as well as reducing the impact of traumatic memories.

2.jpg

The researchers put the mice through exposure therapy again, this time reducing the excitability of the recall neurons. With the recall neurons turned down, the mice showed less fear reduction (exposure therapy less effective) compared to the controls. The researchers then dampened the excitability of other neurons in the dentate gyrus, but found these other neurons didn’t seem to influence fear reduction.

Finally, the researchers excited the recall neurons during exposure therapy and saw that the mice showed a decrease in fear, demonstrating that the particular group of neurons in the dentate gyrus involved in recall are also critical for fear reduction.

“Our findings shed, for the first time, light onto the processes that underlie the successful treatment of traumatic memories,” says neuroscientist Johannes Gräff, whose lab conducted the study.

If everyone who read the articles and like it, that would be favorable to have your donations – Thank you.

Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade And The Question Of Why – Henna Inam

1.jpg

The question “why?” has been reverberating through my head.

This week, many of us experienced a stunned sadness. The suicides of two celebrities, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, left us wondering what happened. What did we miss?

The Bourdain and Spade suicides have opened up new questions about my assumptions about dream careers.

Bourdain and Spade had achieved significant success. They were at the top of their fields. They were engaged in work that they were passionate about.

They had fame. They had fortune.

 They had somehow figured out their unique talents and were fully expressing them to create positive impact for so many.

They had family and friends who loved them and fans who adored them.

The place they reached is the place many of us aspire to. For many of us, isn’t the dream to find our passion? To connect with our talents? To live our passions out loud? To impact others positively? To love and be loved? To find work that is not just a paycheck but fills us? Isn’t this what self-actualization is about? I imagine nirvana lives just on the other side of self-actualization. Does it?

At the height of what seemed on the outside were enviable lives well lived, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain chose to end it all.

2.jpg

I am not a mental health expert. I can’t even begin to fathom what was going through their minds when they made the decision to leave. But, here are some questions that are going through my mind this week. I urge us to reflect on these questions as we go about pursuing our dream careers:

Most of us assume that we will be happy when (fill in the blank). The fill in the blank can be the next achievement, the corner office, the success of the side gig, the perfect partner. What if we will not be happy “when”?

I imagine both Bourdain and Spade experienced some sense of emptiness or despair. As we go about pursuing dreams important to us, what are the just-beneath-the-surface moments of emptiness we feel? What is the emptiness we avoid? What do we seek on the outside to fill that emptiness?

Suicide rates have increased by 25% in the last 20 years. Almost always, loved ones are surprised. Who are the people that we can reach out to help us when we feel despair? Who are the people in our lives we can reach out to, to be of help? What are the signs we need to be aware of?

There is still too much shame around mental health issues. How do we as a society and as individuals stop hiding behind masks of perfect Facebook-worthy lives? How do we acknowledge our humanity to others in a vulnerable way? How do we create the space for others to share what’s not perfect in their lives?

What is the cost to us of creating a public persona that is all about the positive? Success. Fun. Fame. Adventure. How painful and lonely must be the discord between the real experience of emptiness and the image of fullness that we feel we must display to the world.

What if our assumptions about the pursuit of the dream that will ultimately make us happy and successful are wrong? What if there is a dark underbelly of the human experience in each of us that we’re missing as we seek self-actualization? What would it be like to claim that dark underbelly? To accept that we are each flawed and that may never change? To accept that there is less within our control than we would like to accept?

3.jpg

Would our dreams be different if they emerged from an acknowledgment of our imperfections and most painful emotions?

I imagine that each one of us will have different answers to these questions. I leave you with a quote from Bourdain in celebration of being curious: “That without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, moribund.”

What are the questions you have as you process the passing of Bourdain and Spade? I welcome your thoughts and reflections.

If everyone who read the articles and like it, that would be favorable to have your donations – Thank you.

How To Keep Writing When Life Throws You A Punch — EVELYN KRIEGER

How do you keep writing when life throws you a punch?

via How To Keep Writing When Life Throws You A Punch — EVELYN KRIEGER

Psychology – How I Trained Myself to Worry Better – Haley Goldberg

1.jpg

We’re in a golden age of tracking: We track our steps, our sleep, our time on Facebook and other sites we deem “productivity killers” (looking at you, Instagram). But one thing we still don’t track or think about much: the amount of time we spend worrying.

It makes sense—it’s not like a wrist tracker or Google Chrome extension could measure or sense the time we spend worrying about the future. But if we had something that could track our worry time? I know I’d probably end each day with the 10,000-step equivalent.

Congrats, you worried for a solid three hours total today!

We spend a lot of time worrying. A 2017 survey of 2,000 millennials showed that the average respondent spent the equivalent of 63 full days a year worried and stressed out. That’s like June and July—all lost to worry.

There are many reasons why we worry, but one of the main reasons is simply because we can. Unlike all other animals on the planet, we have the power to look into the future—with all its uncertainty and fuzziness—and reflect. And that stirs up the worry machine as we try to figure out what’s going to happen and how we’ll react.

It can feel productive, and studies show that we often believe worrying helps prevent negative outcomes or helps us find a better way of doing things.

But here’s the thing: Most of what we worry about never happens. A study from the University of Cincinnati showed that 85 percent of what we worry about never actually happens. And the 15 percent of things that do happen? The study showed we’re typically able to handle it better than expected or it teaches us an important lesson, according to the Huffington Post.


Most of what we worry about never happens.


This paradox of worry—so all-consuming yet unproductive—is summed up best by Mark Twain, who famously said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

Ease the Worry

So, let’s all just stop worrying, OK?

Just kidding—I know firsthand it’s not that easy. I’ve been told to just “stop worrying” for years and, well, it just doesn’t happen like that. And reaching inbox zero with our worries is actually impossible. We’re wired to have some level of worry to protect ourselves—it’s why we look both ways before crossing the street.


I’ve been told to just “stop worrying” for years and, well, it just doesn’t happen like that.


But the constant worrying about things that haven’t happened or things that aren’t even on the menu for the near future? We can take steps to curb overthinking.

Through trial and error, many late-night Google searches of “how to actually stop worrying,” and talking to other worry-inclined people, I’ve found a few techniques that help me ease worry and cut back on those 63 full days of dread.

Before we get into tips, it’s important to recognize that “worry” and “anxiety” are close friends but very different psychological states. Psychology Today offers a great breakdown of the differences. If you feel overwhelmed by your worries or in anxiety territory, it might be time to seek help from a professional. As someone who worries and has anxiety, I can’t recommend therapy enough.

But now, some tips for the casual worrywart:

1. Turn your ‘what if’ into ‘I can.’

Even if we know most of our worries won’t come to fruition, it still can feel hard to let go of our “what if” scenarios. What can help: refocusing from the “what if” to the “I can.” By that I mean, “I can problem solve” or “I can handle it.”

Dwelling on issues isn’t productive—but problem solving is. “Ask yourself what steps you can take to learn from a mistake or avoid a future problem,” Amy Morin, a psychotherapist, explains in Psychology Today. “Ask yourself what you can do about it.”

But some slippery worries don’t come with a solution—they’re so far in the future, we can’t even take steps in the now. In those cases, it’s helpful to release a little control and focus on “I can handle it.”

It’s a method that works for Joymarie Parker, 30, the co-host of the Joblogues podcast and a self-proclaimed worrier. Parker says when she switches from trying to control the future to trusting she can handle whatever comes, it helps her redirect her thoughts.

“When you can release the need for things to happen one way and accept however they happen, you’ll thrive and you’ll survive in that,” Parker says. “I like to think, ‘This can go really well or not so well, but I’m OK with both of those outcomes.’ And a lot of times when we worry it turns out to be nothing or it was manageable. Whatever happens, we always come out of it on the other side.”


“Whatever happens, we always come out of it on the other side.” —Joymarie Parker


2. Set a time to worry.

Setting a designated time to worry can help you cut back on overthinking and recognize how much time you give those might-happen-but-probably-won’t-but-here’s-what-I’d-do-if-it-did thoughts. It’s a great way to ease into cutting back on worrying without forcing yourself to go cold turkey.

“Stewing on problems for long periods of time isn’t productive, but brief reflection can be helpful,” Morin explains.

Morin recommends setting aside 20 minutes of “thinking time” each day. “During this time, let yourself worry, ruminate or mull over whatever you want,” she writes. “Then, when the time is up, move onto something more productive.”

2.jpg

I’ve found having a confined time to worry makes me prioritize my worries. It helps me weed out the highly irrational (What if I broke my leg tomorrow?) and focus on the worries that I can act on (What if I don’t finish that project by tomorrow?).


I’ve found having a confined time to worry makes me prioritize my worries.


A set time to think also helps me stay “worry-lite” throughout the rest of the day. If a worry pops up outside of my scheduled time, I swipe it aside like a bad push notification and tell myself to “revisit during thinking time.” And when I do get to my thinking time? Half the time I find myself forgetting what nagged at me earlier in the day—another cue it wasn’t important to begin with.

3. Call your worries out.

Like I said earlier, we tend to love tracking our habits and finding ways to optimize our time. But worrying essentially goes against that goal to get more done in less time. Reminding myself of how unproductive it is to worry actually helps me calm it down.

As much as it can feel like worry is motivating me, or it shows that I care about something, I know 99 percent of the time it’s stopping me from actually living my life. When a worry pops up, I like to challenge it with a “Is this useful?” It helps me connect back to the present me—the “me” who actually has things to do and people to see—and it helps me dismiss the worries that don’t serve me.

I’ve accepted that I’ll never “stop worrying”—I’m a proud worry wart for life. But like my Fitbit shows me how much time I spend sitting, noticing my worries helps me see the time I lose to irrational “what ifs.” Now, I’m starting to reclaim that time.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure by your donations – Thank you.

Living with Anxiety and Depression

*I am honored that Author Renee Antonia has provided a guest post while on her WOW: Women on Writing Book tour. She will talk about her experience with anxiety and depression, which inspired her book I’m Not Okay. .* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. By clicking on the link provided and purchasing the book mentioned in […]

via Living with Anxiety and Depression — Strength 4 Spouses

When Anxiety Fears Relaxation

To continue the ongoing guest blog spots on The Bipolar Writer blog for mental health awareness month, today I am featuring a guest post from Alys. You can find her blog @ https://alysjournals.com/ When Anxiety Fears Relaxation: Productivity Anxiety I’ve been battling with anxious thoughts for as long as I’ve had a sense of self; being […]

via When Anxiety Fears Relaxation: Productivity Anxiety — The Bipolar Writer

6 Ways To Cope With Depression & Lift Your Mood

how to cope with depression when you're feeling down

Some days, you just can’t bear to feel depressed for another minute. Are you looking for some things that you can do to help with depression when you simply can’t stay down?

Do you have days where you wake up depressed and wonder how you are going to get through your day? Where you know that you have to function but you just don’t know how?

When it comes to coping with depression, here are 6 things you can do right now to lift your mood and bring yourself out of it — even for just a few moments:

1. Get some exercise.

 

One of the quickest and most effective ways to alleviate depression is getting some exercise.

Exercise produces endorphins, which are chemicals that elevate your mood. So, simply put, it’s mighty difficult to be depressed when endorphins are racing through your body.

And don’t think that you have to go for a long run or hit the gym — although you certainly can. Research shows that all it takes is 30 minutes of exercise that raises your heart rate to get those endorphins raging.

So go for a walk, dance around your living room, and play with your kids. Do whatever you can do get that heart rate elevated and those endorphins activated.


RELATED: How To Deal With Depression And Anger At The Same Time


2. Eat a good breakfast.

Eating when you are depressed can seem almost impossible. But eating a healthy and protein-filled breakfast is an excellent way to elevate your mood.

Seratonin, another chemical mood enhancer, is produced by the breakdown of proteins in the body. Eating a protein-rich breakfast will, like exercise, produce chemicals in your body that alleviate depression.

So make yourself some eggs for breakfast. Or maybe some yogurt with fruit and nuts. Perhaps a chia seed pudding. Even cereal with milk will give you a good protein and serotonin boost first thing in the morning to get you on your way.

3. Have sex.

 

There are two things that happen when you have sex. The first is that you feel emotionally connected to someone and the second is that your orgasm generates all sorts of feel-good chemicals — chemicals that, once again, counteract that depressed feeling.

The other thing that happens is that sex keeps your mind off your depression and an excellent way to get rid of depression is to ignore it completely. Without your attention depression tends to slink away, unhappy that it isn’t occupying your every thought.

So have sex. You will be glad you did!

4. Schedule a coffee with a friend.

I know that when you are feeling depressed, getting out and talking with someone, anyone, seems daunting. But it has been proven that spending time with loved ones elevates one’s mood every time.

When we spend time with friends, the love, and laughter that we share trigger those feel-good chemicals, dopamine, and serotonin. So just by interacting with someone, sharing words and thoughts and laughs, you can raise your mood.


RELATED: 5 Ways To Hold Up Your End Of The Relationship When You Have Depression


5. Smile.

 

Did you know that the act of smiling actually elevates one’s mood?

The act of smiling, of your muscles working together to turn your mouth upwards, activates the release of those mood-enhancing chemicals — dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. Once again, your body will be flooded with things that will reduce your depression immediately.

6. Do something nice for someone else.

An excellent way to lift your depression is to do something nice for someone else.

This world that we live in can be a very challenging place, with people rushing around with their own agendas, caught up in their worries. You are probably that way too.

So think about what it feels like when someone does something nice for you.

How about that gentleman who opened the door for you? Or the barista who put an extra shot in your cup, no charge. Or the lady who ushered you forward in the grocery line because you only had one item. Didn’t those small things make you feel great?

Do those kinds of small things for someone else and make someone else’s life a better place. By doing so, you will once again activate those feel-good chemicals in your body, ones that will wash that depression away.

So you see, there are things that you can do to help get rid of depression when you simply can’t be down.

Get some exercise, eat well, fool around, hang out with friends, smile and help others. All of those things will take you outside of yourself and make you feel better.

You can do it!

However, if your depression doesn’t get lifted, or it comes back, it is essential that you see your primary care doctor right away, to make sure that it doesn’t get worse and so that you can be happy.


RELATED: 5 Things You Must Try Before Turning To Mood-Boosting Medicines


Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live. Contact her for help or email her at mitzi@letyourdreamsbegin.com.

lifehack.org | Anxiety vs Depression: What’s the Difference and How to Deal with Them? — mukeshbalani.com

mukeshbalani.com | “You heard it here first…if you haven’t already heard it elsewhere”… Anxiety vs Depression: What’s the Difference and How to Deal with Them? Mental health awareness has come a long way in the past few years. Yet whilst anxiety, depression and the like are talked about far more now than they ever were, […]

via lifehack.org | Anxiety vs Depression: What’s the Difference and How to Deal with Them? — mukeshbalani.com

How Can A Person Deal With Anxiety

“How can a person deal with anxiety? You might try what one fellow did. He worried so much that he decided to hire someone to do his worrying for him. He found a man who agreed to be his hired worrier for a salary of $200,000 per year. After the man accepted the job, his […]

via “How Can A Person Deal With Anxiety!” — Fighting for a Future