Depression is organic...and genetic.

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Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Nikki Nyx » Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:22 pm

Researchers have pinpointed a gene that keeps important brain cells in mice from crossing their wires, providing a possible link between brain wiring and mood disorders like depression.

Without the gene, called Pcdhαc2, mice acted more depressed, researchers report April 28 in Science.

Nerve cells, or neurons, that produce the chemical messenger molecule serotonin extend long projections called axons to various parts of the brain. Serotonin released from the tips of the axons signal other neurons in these target areas to influence mood and other aspects of behavior. For efficient signaling, the axon tips must be properly spaced.

In the new work, scientists from New York City, St. Louis and China found that such spacing is disrupted in mice lacking the Pcdhαc2 gene. As a result, serotonin-signaling circuits are not properly assembled and the mice exhibited behaviors indicating depression.

IMAGE: In a healthy mouse (left), nerve cells (white) that release serotonin extend through the hippocampus. But when a specific gene is knocked out, those nerve cell wires clump together (right).
Image
Read the article here.
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Gord » Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:05 pm

This seems to show that they can mimic depression by altering where serotonin is produced in the brain. It doesn't show that this is the cause of most depression, or even that it can happen in humans.

From the article:

...disabling this gene can cause mice to behave in a way that is reminiscent of depression.

That's about all that can be said about it so far, I think.
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jun 13, 2017 2:58 am

Like cancer, I think depression has many different causes..... and cures. Avoiding both one of the charms of a good life.
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Nikki Nyx » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:22 am

Gord wrote:This seems to show that they can mimic depression by altering where serotonin is produced in the brain. It doesn't show that this is the cause of most depression, or even that it can happen in humans.

From the article:

...disabling this gene can cause mice to behave in a way that is reminiscent of depression.

That's about all that can be said about it so far, I think.

True. It seems to be an avenue worth pursuing past this stage, though.
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Nikki Nyx » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:24 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:Like cancer, I think depression has many different causes..... and cures. Avoiding both one of the charms of a good life.

That may be the case with all mood disorders. I would add that there are different types and degrees of depression as well.
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Phoenix76 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:07 am

Being a person who suffers from PTSD, I can offer a little to the discussion. I do remember my Doctor telling me that depression was caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. True or false, I really don't know, but considering that they treat the illness with drug therapy then perhaps there is truth in it. But I'll tell you my story and you can debate or dismiss it. It is still good therapy to talk about it.

I was in the Army for seven years (volunteer) and did a tour of duty in Vietnam (also volunteer). I've often been called crazy, but there you go. I was over there in 1968 and when I returned home, the public attitude towards us was disgusting. We were called rapists and baby killers, and we were even spat on. Very much a leftist reaction at the time.

I stayed in the Army for a few more years, then resigned due to lack of interest of the newcomers I was trying to train. so I headed back to civvy street and just disappeared into the masses.

In 1994, some 26 years after my Vietnam adventure, I went to the Doctors for a normal check up, and I just cracked up like a baby, well, like something. I just went to pieces. Diagnosis was severe depression. I was put on medication and basically let go my own way. As time went by, I was getting deeper and deeper into the black hole. I was suicidal and had it all planned out for when the time came - when you finally developed that inner peace when you decide, well that's it.

I remember a counselor telling me that everything we spoke about was strictly confidential - unless I told her that I was going to self-harm. I laughed and said, if I get fair dinkum, you will read about it in the paper, you will never know beforehand.

Anyway, Doctors finally realized that I had developed an immunity to the medication and put me on some new stuff. still on that new stuff today, plus one more so I can sleep at night instead of having nightmares. I still sleep apart from my wife because I was bloody dangerous when the nightmares hit.

Well got myself to see a psychologist. See I still has this faint flicker of light that said I wanted to survive. But I told her at our first visit that I didn't think she would be able to do any good but that I would make a genuine effort. Well long and short of it was, she was able to get inside my head and help to understand what had caused it all. Now after Vietnam, and even when I was there, I never saw that I had a problem. Look some rotten {!#%@} happens in a war, but I figured I was on a pretty even keel and was in control of my feelings.

Yes of course Vietnam turned out to half of the story, just one particular incident, but the other half knocked my for six. I'd spent my 22nd birthday in 'Nam and also our 2nd anniversary. Add to that, my wife worked for department of Army and was the first person to receive that daily cas reports. She must have gone through hell. Sadly I lost her in the early '70's. Unfortunately I wasn't there the night she died. Had I been, I probably could have saved her, I knew what to do, but.

I realize that I may not have been successful, but what was eating at me was the fact that I was not there to try. So there you have it, that is the story of my depression. Yes it was a relief, in part, to understand what was behind it all, but I still never talked about Vietnam. I'd march on ANZAC Day but never wore my medal. So whilst I was a lot more controlled, I was not out of the woods.

In 2013, 45 years after the battle that affected me, I noticed a re-union notice for my old unit. I couldn't go to it, but something snapped, if that is the right word. So I got hold of my wife, who only knew I'd been to 'Nam, nothing else, and told her the whole story, every terrible detail, the killing, the killed. Also told my two boys.

That was the greatest load off my mind ever. It was like a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Even dug out my Vietnam medal and put it with my other service medals, and now proudly wear them on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. They are our two major days of remembrance.

So there you are, all you budding psychologist and psychiatrists. Please feel free to comment any way you wish. There is no way that any of you could upset me no matter what, so if it grabs you, go for your life.

But as to whether depression is simply an imbalance of chemicals in your brain or whether it is something else, I don't know. I don't know whether it is possible for a traumatic experience to alter the chemical balance in your brain or if it something else.

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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Matthew Ellard » Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:29 am

Phoenix76 wrote:Being a person who suffers from PTSD,
By coincidence, my father Group Captain Ellard was the RAAF psychiatrist who specialised in PTSD for service men. Dad did two tours of Vietnam, but at that time his concern was drug and alcohol abuse in RAAF fighter pilots (they were destroying their brains and thus knowledge & experience.)

There are no easy solutions. The Americans "got it right" in WWII when they moved their "shell shock" treatment centres back near the front line. It's hard to explain why that worked, but it worked. I think the benefit is that the men retained their dignity and their fellow comrades would learn together that PTSD is just a medical condition and no one is a lesser person from suffering PTSD. :D

Dad had a large psychiatric practice "The North Side Clinic" in Sydney, where he seemed to pickup a variety of psychiatrists from other services and nations. It took me a while to work out as a kid that the Hungarian and German psychiatrists were from the other post war team.
:D

Principles of military psychiatry / PTSD history / ADF Health
http://www.defence.gov.au/Health/infoce ... 81-84.html

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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Phoenix76 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:42 am

Yes, aware of the American treatment of shell shock Matthew, unfortunately mine happened 26 years later so couldn't go back to the front line. Actually, apart from the day I arrived and the day I left, I was never off the front line.

But it is certainly just another medical condition, unfortunately it has taken our stupid lot a long time to accept that. In the meantime, a lot of blokes hid it from the world and ended up topping themselves.

As for being organic, well I don't know what that means. As for genetic, well I'm the first in line with my lot, so I'm lost there as well.

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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Matthew Ellard » Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:48 am

Phoenix76 wrote:Yes, aware of the American treatment of shell shock Matthew, unfortunately mine happened 26 years later ......
I totally understand. One of the larger military compensation court cases was sailors on the HMAS Melbourne who suffered PTSD years later. It was absolutely legitimate.

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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Phoenix76 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:38 am

Yes, will never forget that. HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Voyager. It was something that was so hard to accept. Took a while for the realization to actually set in.

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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:06 am

LunaNik wrote:
bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:Like cancer, I think depression has many different causes..... and cures. Avoiding both one of the charms of a good life.

That may be the case with all mood disorders. I would add that there are different types and degrees of depression as well.

As a general thought "different types and degrees of (whatever you want to propose)" applies to just about every conception, expression, and appreciation of this world. So powerful an idea, its worthwhile using even when its wrong.
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:17 am

I used to be "suspicious" of ptsd. It is an exaggerated response to a situation. Now...I always assumed it could happen now and then but not as frequently as it apparently was. I mean: "Are we not Men?" I flew into Vietnam, saw what I think were some tracer rounds fired at me but maybe they were just lights...but no where near any "action" at all. STILL--years later I had some uncomfortable dreams. I wouldn't even call it ptsd nor depression. Just a few friends of mine got shot down and killed, and I was in rotation to go that stopped as the war stopped. So...still no big belief in ptsd.

On my travels, I packed a pair of swim goggles and flippers and when possible, I went snorkeling in all the waters of the world. Twice I was approached by smaller sharks and if I had not seen them coming and put a stick between me and them, I'm sure I would have received a test bite. Still no trauma....BUT...I would not swim in cloudy water nor without a stick. Twenty years after these events...I was in my swimming pool one night and got the overpowering sense of dread that a huge shark was about to attack me. I had to get out of the water. Daytime swimming in my home pool was fine....but I can no longer close my eyes or go underwater in my pool at night. I assume this is a full blown ptsd event? Whether or not, close enough in my view. To be a complete egotist: if it has happened to me.... it can happen to anybody.

..........and we are all egotists.
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Nikki Nyx » Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:47 pm

Of course we are. It's human nature. I thought the same about panic attacks...until I had one. Everything people say about them is true. I didn't know what was happening at the time, nor could I control it. My heart was beating a mile a minute and my lungs felt compressed. My vision narrowed and focused, like the room was getting smaller, and my hearing became painfully acute. I had an overwhelming feeling of impending doom that I couldn't articulate. A few minutes later, all the sensations faded.

It so happened that, at that time, I was under an incredible amount of stress. Every so often, I had another panic attack, and every time, I had no idea what was happening. Over the years, they lessened. They're rare now, and I recognize them for what they are and can stave them off. I never in a million years thought something like that could happen to me. I'm not a control freak in the usual sense, because I don't feel the need to be in control of everything, but I dislike not being in control of myself and my actions. And those panic attacks scared me for that reason.
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:25 pm

Panic attacks and ptsd must be closely related. One difference from your report is that in the swimming pool there is not stress, rather, just the opposite.

In survival school, I thought the people who turned out to have claustrophobia were somewhat weird. Ha, ha.... it made more sense when they would throw a cockroach in the box with you.... but even then. I mean: this is training, they aren't going to kill or maim us........................ are they? ha, ha. Good times.

Swimming wasn't that much fun to begin with.
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Nikki Nyx » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:46 pm

At the time I had the initial panic attack, I wasn't experiencing imminent stress. It was just that I had an ongoing excessively stressful situation in my life. But the immediate situation was fairly relaxing; I was sitting with a friend and having a beer when all of a sudden my spidey senses went off.

Ugh. Phobias are the weirdest. I work to overcome mine, because they're irrational. The fear is hugely out of proportion to the reality of the situation. I used to have arachnophobia, so I read up on spiders. Since I live in New England, there's not much to fear. We have exactly one native poisonous spider: the Northern Widow. And the last specimen was collected in 1957. The Wolf Spider is creepy and fast, but benign. And the Daddy Long Legs is beneficial to have around, because it eats all kinds of annoying pests. When I find one in my house, I gently pick it up and take it outside.

However, I don't think I'd enjoy being in a small box with a cockroach. :slapfight:
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:25 pm

It is "a conversion process" to find out we aren't all even "we" think we are. Gives me a measure of humbleness when considering my fellow man.........and my future. A very physical world....... the brain being physical..... the mind and all appreciations being tied to that brain.

I hate materialism....but thats what IT is.
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Matthew Ellard » Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:59 am

I have a couple insignificant points

I get massive anxiety problems concerning exams. I still have dreams about sitting my HSC (school exams) from thirty five years ago. I think that's quite common.
:D

I think Military psychology is its own unique field. In essence you are trying to get people to do things which aren't natural to humans. I studied organisational and industrial psychology and, away from the military, I can see most psychological models in commerce being repeated over and over again, through history. Yet for military psychology models the parameters keep changing. I guess (but don't know) that is because the nature of humans on the battlefield keeps changing, whereas commerce doesn't change that much.

The Australian euphemism, in WWII, for coward on reports was "LMF" (Low Morale Fibre). That was simply insulting to good troops who probably had very useful skills in other areas in the military. Phoenix would be very aware that the greatest insult a man could make against another man in Australia, in WWI was to hand them a white feather, suggesting they were a coward. That was a bad period in history.

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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Gord » Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:54 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:(Low Morale Fibre)

Moral

This is moral fibre: http://moralfibrefood.com/

This is morale fibre: https://moralefiber.blog/

:P
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Phoenix76 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:07 am

Yes the Australian Military perhaps has a lot to answer for over the years. It has only been in recent conflicts that they have come to admit the mental injuries inflicted on soldiers.

But depression or PTSD, call it what you want, isn't fussy who it picks on. I mean, I had no fears, no phobias - still don't, yet all those years later my head said "enough", and I lost all confidence, all ability to control my feelings. And it took a long time to work out why.

Is it ever cured? From where I sit now, I would say no. Controlled, yes that is maybe the best you can do. I've been on these happy pills, as I call them, for 23 years. You would think that by now I could throw them away. But I can assure you, that if I don't take them for just 3 days, that black dog is chewing on my ankle already. So I'll be taking them for the rest of my days, but that's okay because at least I've got quality of life.

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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Nikki Nyx » Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:45 pm

Matthew Ellard wrote:I have a couple insignificant points

I don't think your points are insignificant, given that the discussion has branched out into other mental health issues.

When I make the claim that depression is organic, I don't discount that experiences can be the trigger for the organic dysfunction. The stress response shows that experiences can trigger biological responses. What I do reject is the dualism view of mental health—that, somehow, mental health is separate from brain functioning.
Last edited by Nikki Nyx on Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Nikki Nyx » Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:03 pm

Phoenix76 wrote:Yes the Australian Military perhaps has a lot to answer for over the years. It has only been in recent conflicts that they have come to admit the mental injuries inflicted on soldiers.

But depression or PTSD, call it what you want, isn't fussy who it picks on. I mean, I had no fears, no phobias - still don't, yet all those years later my head said "enough", and I lost all confidence, all ability to control my feelings. And it took a long time to work out why.

Is it ever cured? From where I sit now, I would say no. Controlled, yes that is maybe the best you can do. I've been on these happy pills, as I call them, for 23 years. You would think that by now I could throw them away. But I can assure you, that if I don't take them for just 3 days, that black dog is chewing on my ankle already. So I'll be taking them for the rest of my days, but that's okay because at least I've got quality of life.

I'm not comparing my experiences to yours in any way, except in the sense of taking medication to prevent symptoms.

I have ADHD. Skipping my medication, which only happened once due to incompetence at the doctor's office, is a disaster. I'm unable to sleep, because I can't get my brain to be quiet. My thoughts race, jumping from idea to idea in a nonsensical sequence of snippets. It's like allowing your computer's keyboard mouse functions, then putting a weight on the keys...random programs and files open rapidly as the weight activates the keys, but there's no meaning to any of the activity.

During the day, I can't concentrate. It's as if my brain's automatic sensory filters don't work. Instead of filtering out stimuli that my conscious mind doesn't need, it pays attention to everything. Everything is screaming for my attention at once, and there's so much input that I'm unable to even classify it, never mind prioritize it. It's exhausting. But the medication allows me to both sleep at night and focus during the day. And I'll probably take it for the rest of my life which, I agree with you, is fine.
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Phoenix76 » Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:36 am

I can fully understand LunaNik. And yep I know all about a brain that won't stop. Same as you, jumps from one thing to another. Gets very crowded in there. And even when you do go to sleep, it still doesn't stop. Can't remember my last dreamless night. At least the nightmares seem to have gone, well mostly, and I generally can't remember my dreams, but my head is forever busy. Ah well, such is life.

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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Dimebag » Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:05 am

Any of you guys ever tried those mindfulness exercises? I never really took that stuff very seriously, but gave it a shot. If anyone is familiar with Sam Harris, he has a few of these guided mindfulness things. I tried it once and actually once it was done I felt much less distracted by intrusive thoughts and more focussed on being "in the moment". Who knows, it could have been entirely a placebo effect, but maybe there's something to it. In fact I'm sure the topic must have come up on here once or twice at least.

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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Gord » Thu Jun 15, 2017 11:14 am

What mindfulness exercises?
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:49 pm

Dimebag wrote: Who knows, it could have been entirely a placebo effect, but maybe there's something to it.

placebo: a well established mechanism demonstrating the mind-body connection.

What other than placebo (mind control) was there?
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Nikki Nyx » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:54 am

Dimebag wrote:Any of you guys ever tried those mindfulness exercises? I never really took that stuff very seriously, but gave it a shot. If anyone is familiar with Sam Harris, he has a few of these guided mindfulness things. I tried it once and actually once it was done I felt much less distracted by intrusive thoughts and more focussed on being "in the moment". Who knows, it could have been entirely a placebo effect, but maybe there's something to it. In fact I'm sure the topic must have come up on here once or twice at least.

"Mindfulness" is a catch phrase for focusing on what you're doing and "being in the moment." It can be helpful for a number of things, but ADHD isn't one of them, unfortunately.

I have found a version of it helpful for pain control, at least the pain of fibromyalgia, which originates in the brain as a dysfunctional perception of sensory stimuli. When my pain level is high, I try to find a pastime that requires a great deal of concentration: developing an idea into a short story, playing a complicated computer game, etc. The idea is distract my attention from the pain as much as possible, rather than focusing on it. It helps...to an extent.

There is evidence that these types of brain exercises, when practiced regularly, can make measurable differences in brain activity. (Note: Although the study in the link lacked a passive control group, I believe its findings are still valid. I'll look for additional studies when I have time.)
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
—Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein

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Dimebag
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Dimebag » Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:57 am

LunaNik wrote:
Dimebag wrote:Any of you guys ever tried those mindfulness exercises? I never really took that stuff very seriously, but gave it a shot. If anyone is familiar with Sam Harris, he has a few of these guided mindfulness things. I tried it once and actually once it was done I felt much less distracted by intrusive thoughts and more focussed on being "in the moment". Who knows, it could have been entirely a placebo effect, but maybe there's something to it. In fact I'm sure the topic must have come up on here once or twice at least.

"Mindfulness" is a catch phrase for focusing on what you're doing and "being in the moment." It can be helpful for a number of things, but ADHD isn't one of them, unfortunately.

I have found a version of it helpful for pain control, at least the pain of fibromyalgia, which originates in the brain as a dysfunctional perception of sensory stimuli. When my pain level is high, I try to find a pastime that requires a great deal of concentration: developing an idea into a short story, playing a complicated computer game, etc. The idea is distract my attention from the pain as much as possible, rather than focusing on it. It helps...to an extent.

There is evidence that these types of brain exercises, when practiced regularly, can make measurable differences in brain activity. (Note: Although the study in the link lacked a passive control group, I believe its findings are still valid. I'll look for additional studies when I have time.)

Interesting. Are you aware of any studies which use mindfulness as a treatment for stress/anxiety/depression? It seems to me that it would prove useful in regulating stress levels.

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Nikki Nyx
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Re: Depression is organic...and genetic.

Postby Nikki Nyx » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:11 am

Dimebag wrote:Interesting. Are you aware of any studies which use mindfulness as a treatment for stress/anxiety/depression? It seems to me that it would prove useful in regulating stress levels.
Yep. Here you go.
"A practice review of the benefits of mindfulness found that mindfulness-based therapies decrease depressive symptoms and anxiety and reduce psychological distress. [sic] A recent meta-analysis based on 19 studies found that mindfulness- and acceptance-based interventions are associated with robust and substantial reductions in symptoms of anxiety and comorbid depressive symptoms."

Mindfulness is basically an upscale version of counting to ten when you're angry. :wgrin: Jedi mind tricks.
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
—Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein


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