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Could Yogurt Help Treat Depression?

Could Yogurt Help Treat Depression?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva


Could something as simple as yogurt help with treating depression?

Depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the United States, affecting 16.1 million adults each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Now researchers at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine have made a discovery that they hope can change the way we treat depression and potentially help millions of people.

So what’s the answer, you ask? Well, it comes in a variety of flavors, is creamy and often fruit is added to the concoction. It’s yogurt, and the majority of us eat the stuff on a semi-regular basis.  If this study holds merit, I may have to head to the nearest grocery story and grab a couple of cups.

After all, depression is not an easy mental illness to have in any capacity. It can be debilitating preventing a person from participating in their normal routines. The findings could offer an alternative to depression treatment not thought of in the past.

It turns out, the bacteria in yogurt could play a role in fighting depression. Researchers have yet to prove the theory on humans, however, in the future, this may become possible. The researchers believe future clinical studies will confirm these results.

“The big hope for this kind of research is that we won’t need to bother with complex drugs and side effects when we can just play with the microbiome,” said Alban Gaultier, Ph.D., the lead researcher on the study.

“It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take, and fix your health – and your mood.”

Of course, researchers note that depression is a complex disorder with a variety of treatment options. Still, this is a simplistic take on a treatment for depressions and researchers have long been fascinated by the role of our gut microbiome on mental health. In fact, there have been theories on how gut impacts our mood that date back hundreds of years.

Gut Microbiome and Bacteria

A while back, we even wrote an article about how gut bacteria could treat eating disorders. There is a project that allows people to send in their bowel movements (yes, poop!) for gut bacteria research. For quite some time, fecal transplants treated a variety of bowel irregularities. Fecal transplants are exactly what they sound like. They involve putting one person’s feces (yes, poop!) inside the colon of someone else.  The bacteria in the feces eventually aids in rebalancing the gut.

Obviously, eating yogurt sounds like a simpler alternative than a fecal transplant. Scientists believe that microbes in the gut produce neuroactive compounds which influence mental health.

“The question that we wanted to ask is, does the microbiome participate in depression?” said Gaultier.

Through the study with mice, researchers examined the gut bacteria in mice before and after exposure to stress. They discovered that the loss of the bacteria Lactobacillus triggered depression symptoms, which researchers defined as lethargy-type symptoms.

“A single strain of Lactobacillus is able to influence mood,” said Gaultier.

Researchers only looked at one strain of the microbe, but they believe other strains with similar properties could also have a similar effect.

Still, if eating yogurt can ward off depression, why is it that so many people who may still struggle with depression? The answer Is simple:

“There are many mechanisms involved in driving depression. We have found one that is clearly important, but there are also other contributors to this complex condition,” explains Gaultier.

Overall, these findings are a step in the right direction when it comes to potential depression treatments. In the meantime, those with depression should continue to follow the advice of their doctor before switching to yogurt as a treatment for depression.

Depression is a complex disorder; therefore a study like this will remain inconclusive for quite some time. What do you think? Does this hold any merit? Could yogurt help with depression? Regardless, if you are struggling with this debilitating illness, please call now. We want to help you get on track. Do not wait. Call today.

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International Overdose Awareness Day 2016

 

International Overdose Awareness Day 2016

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Today, August 31, marks International Overdose Awareness Day. On this day, the goal is to raise global awareness of overdoses and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths. This day is intended to acknowledge the grief felt by friends and family who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a drug overdose.

The Shocking Reality

The tragedy of a drug overdose is preventable.  Today is a day to spread awareness to others about the disease of addiction.  Drug addiction is a global phenomenon; however, the United States, in particular, is facing a major drug epidemic. More deaths were reported from drug overdoses in 2014 than any other year on record. Deaths from overdoses are up among all genders, races, and nearly all ages. This is a disease that does not discriminate.

Out of these shocking numbers, three out of five drug overdose deaths involve opioids. Overdoses from opioids such as prescription opioids and heroin have nearly quadrupled since 1999. Overdoses from opioids killed over 28,000 people in 2014. Half of these deaths were related to prescription opioids.

Between 2013 and 2014, the number of drug overdoses increased a total of 6.5 percent. The year 2014 had a total of 47,055 drug overdoses in the United States. These numbers continue to climb as the prescription painkiller epidemic continues to be a major issue.

To spread the message of awareness, International Overdose Day focuses on commemorating those who have been affected by drug addiction. While today is intended to encourage the message of prevention, it also aims to encourage a message of hope.

Principles of Harm Reduction

The Harm Reduction Coalition affirms that “we will not end the overdose crisis until we place people who use drugs, along with their families and friends, at the center of our policies and strategies. “

The coalition aims to accomplish this task by ensuring that those who use drugs and their loved ones have access to information intended to treat and support them without the fear of stigma or arrest.

Furthermore, naloxone remains one of the most powerful tools in preventing opioid overdose deaths. Naloxone is a medication that works to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose.  Recently, there has been a push to increase the access the public has to naloxone. In many places, naloxone can now be purchased via pharmacies like CVS, and even in school nurses offices.

Still, according to the Harm Reduction Coalition, the United States is in a state of emergency.

“ We can no longer accept incremental progress; we must demand urgent action to save lives.”

Five Areas Needing Improvement

The Harm Reduction Coalition calls for immediate action in these five areas to increase access to naloxone:

  1. Funding: Congress should fully fund the President’s request for $12 million in Fiscal Year 2016 to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide grants to states to support broader naloxone access.
  2. Cost: The rising cost of naloxone by manufacturers in recent years is a deep concern. This increase threatens to limit the distribution of naloxone, especially by community-based programs that reach those most vulnerable to opioid overdoses. When prices increase, it directly increases the likelihood of more overdose deaths. Therefore, the coalition calls upon naloxone manufacturers and developers to price their products responsibly to ensure the best possible distribution.
  3. Access:Despite improvements in the access to naloxone, access remains limited and inadequate. Prescribers and health care professions play a vital role in ending the overdose crisis. Therefore, there should be an effort by all parties to develop guidance, education and training, resources, and support tools aimed at increasing awareness and access to the drug.
  4. Availability:Many states are working to make naloxone available through pharmacies through arrangements and agreements. These efforts should increase and broaden to ensure the widest availability of naloxone.  In addition, the Food and Drug Administration should develop, facilitate and expedite the regulatory pathways needed to ensure naloxone can be sold over the counter. Over-the-counter naloxone should be available to the market by 2018.
  5. Awareness: Despite the rising number of overdose deaths in the past decade, there still is not a national awareness campaign to educate the public and those most at risk about the signs and symptoms of opioid overdose. Countless anecdotal reports suggest that the lack of awareness is a critical factor in many preventable overdose deaths. Therefore the HHS and CDC must develop broad national awareness campaigns; that spreads information on how and where to obtain naloxone.

Ways to Raise Awareness

In addition to the guidelines suggested by the HHC, the International Overdose Awareness Day website aims to raise awareness through innovative technologies like there overdose aware app. The app raises awareness amongst those who are experiencing drug use and their families. The app shares information on what an overdose is, and the main overdose symptoms.

The website also has an area where those who have been directly affected by drug addiction overdoses can write a tribute to their story and grieve anyone they have lost. These tributes are where many share the impact drug use and overdoses have had on their family and friends.

How are you spreading awareness of International Overdose Awareness Day? If you are struggling with drug addiction, do not wait for it to progress into an overdose. We can help you get back on track. Please call toll free.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

How Young is Too Young for ADHD Medication?

How Young is Too Young for ADHD Medication?

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Author: Shernide Delva

A new report states that more than 10,000 American toddlers ages 2 or 3 years old are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which leads many experts to question if giving toddlers this kind of medication is safe. According to pediatric guidelines, ADHD medication like Ritalin and Adderall should not be given to children before the age of 4.

There has always been wide criticism of prescribing ADHD medication in young children. Typically, children in their earliest stages of life tend to be full of energy, very curious and adventurous. Diagnosing toddlers at such a young age is controversial due to the fact that it is hard to tell if the child’s behavior is an actual condition or just a part of growing up.

For now, we still do not know for sure if these medications provide any real benefit at such a young age. What we do know, however, is that medications like ADHD can have serious side effects. They interfere with sleep and suppress appetite.  Because toddlers typically need large amounts of sleep for proper development, giving medication that promotes an irregular sleep schedule can be incredibly problematic.

The report also discovered that toddlers who were covered by Medicaid insurance were especially prone to be put on medication like Ritalin and Adderall. They were also the most likely to be diagnosed with ADHD below the age of 4.  The data was presented at the Georgia Mental Health Forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta, and several outside experts strongly criticized the use of ADHD medication in children that young.

Even more concerning, the Academy of Pediatric does not even address the diagnosis of ADHD in children under 3 years old, let alone even mention the use of stimulant medications for children this young. The safety and effectiveness of these drugs have barely been explored in that age group.

“It’s absolutely shocking, and it shouldn’t be happening,” said Anita Zervigon-Hakes, a children’s mental health consultant to the Carter Center. “People are just feeling around in the dark. We obviously don’t have our act together for little children.”

This is not the first time ADHD diagnoses for children this young were criticized. Last year, a nationwide C.D.C. survey found that 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 have received a diagnosis of this disorder and one and five will get one during childhood.

The most commonly prescribed medications are Ritalin or Amphetamines. While these drugs may calm a child’s hyperactivity and impulsivity, it also carries the risk of growth suppression, insomnia and hallucinations.

Furthermore, very few scientific studies have examined the use of stimulant medications in young children. One study conducted in 2006 found that ADHD medications could reduce hyperactive symptoms in children however that study only studied about a dozen 3-year-olds and no 2-year-old. Also, the research was sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, had significant financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that made ADHD medications.

Still, many doctors stated that they understood using stimulant medication in toddlers under rare circumstances. There are often cases in which nothing would calm a toddler down who was harm to himself or others. as stated by Keith Conners, a psychologist and professor at Duke University.

While there are some extreme cases that stimulants may be beneficial for, Dr. Doris Greenberg, a behavioral pediatrician in Savannah, Ga., who also attended the presentation, is certain that there should not be 10,000 such cases in the United States per year.

“Some of these kids are having really legitimate problems,” Dr. Greenberg said. “But you also have overwhelmed parents who can’t cope and the doctor prescribes as a knee-jerk reaction. You have children with depression or anxiety who can present the same way, and these medications can just make those problems worse.”

In the presentation, many doctors suggested that children could be suffering from anxiety symptoms that are not being addressed in the right manner. Rather, parents are going to their doctors out of desperation to find some sort of solution. While, ADHD medication may be useful in some cases, more often than not, other options should be explored?

What do you think? Is it safe to prescribe drugs like this to children at such an early age? Ultimately, it is up to the parent of these children to make that personal decision. With all the media focus on prescription drugs, it would be advisable to take caution and become informed when making decisions involving taking drugs like this for long periods of time. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Alcohol Killing Americans in Record Numbers

Alcohol Killing Americans in Record Numbers

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva 

There has been an influx of media attention on the heroin and painkiller epidemic which is now at record numbers. The focus in the media has been on the rise in overdose fatalities from heroin and prescription painkillers. Overdoses have more than tripled in the last decade and the numbers continues to rise at alarming rates. While raising awareness of the opioid epidemic is necessary and much needed, we still cannot take our attention away from the drug killing Americans the most: alcohol.

The biggest threat to Americans remains to be alcohol. Americans are dying from alcohol abuse at numbers that exceed anything we’ve seen in the past 35 years. The CDC estimates that in just the last year, over 30,700 people died from alcohol-related causes, including alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis of the liver.

In a little over a decade, the number of Americans who have died from alcohol have risen by 37 percent.  In 2014, more people died from alcohol-induced causes than from painkillers and heroin combined, says the CDC.

If you think these numbers are high due to alcohol-related accidents, you are wrong. These numbers do not even include deaths caused by alcohol like drunken driving incidences, and murders committed under the influence. If we were to count those deaths, the death toll would be up to 90,000.

Why do these numbers continue to climb? Researchers conclude it is simply because Americans are drinking more. The statistics prove this conclusion:

  • Americans who drink at least once a month rose from 54.9% to 56.9%.
  • 51.9% of women reported drinking at least monthly in 2014, up from 47.9% in 2002.
  • Binge drinking by women is up to 17.4% from 15.7% in 2002.

All in all, binge drinking is the major culprit. People who drink the most are at the highest risk for alcohol-related death. According to past research by Cook, the top 10% of American drinkers consume close to 74 drinks a week on average. Drinking at this rate is linked to a range of health complications, including cirrhosis, cancer, brain damage, drunk driving and other accident fatalities.

For more moderate drinkers, the health effects of alcohol remain less clear. The research and data from moderate drinking has been all over the place. Some data suggests moderate alcohol consumption; around one-to-two drinks per day may actually be healthy.

However, there is a gray line when it comes to moderate to harmful drinking. A recent study revealed that when used alone, alcohol was the deadliest recreational substance, followed by heroin and cocaine. For this reason, many are urging public health officials to shift focus away from the dangers of drugs like pot and LSD and focus more on educating people about the dangers of drinking.

Alcohol is a dangerous substance that when used in excess, can cause serious health consequences.  However, since alcohol remains more accessible than any other drug, it increases the risk of abuse. Alcohol is a socially accepted drug and has played a role in our culture for so long that many do not even realize they have a problem until it is too late.

Alcoholism is a serious disease and if you feel your drinking is getting out of control, do not wait to be a statistic, get treatment today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

How Lights and Magnets Can Help Fight Drug Addiction

magnetphotoMagnets may be the next solution to treat drug addiction. According to a new study, transcranial magnetic stimulation has been shown to reduce cravings in cocaine addicts. The treatment has been used for decades for treatment-resistant depression, yet a number of studies have found the treatment to be effective for a number of other disorders.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS in the past has been used to treat OCD, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and migraines; however the results have been mixed. Now, a growing body of research supports that TMS may have applications for various kinds of addictions and addictive behaviors such as alcoholism, smoking and binge-eating. So far, most of the studies have been on a small scale however results have been generally positive.

Optogenetics Light Therapy

Two years ago, Antonello Bonci, a researcher at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, published a study in the journal Nature. The team stimulated the rats brains with a new technique called optogenetics. Optogenetics is a fairly new biological technique which involves the use of light to control cells in living tissues.  Optogenetics introduces light-sensitive proteins into the brain and activates the proteins with light beams. The light activates the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with addiction. Interestingly, after the treatment, the rats showed less interested in cocaine.

Shortly after the results were release, a newspaper in Italy published an article about the work. Turns out, a man whose son struggled with cocaine addiction and suicide thoughts saw the article and pondered if the same treatment could help his son overcome his cocaine addiction. He went to researchers at the University of Padua in Italy who agreed that that work sounded promising.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatment

In collaboration, Bonci and the doctors in Padua led a new study that looked at the effect of TMS on cocaine cravings. Subject received treatment using a small figure eight-shaped magnetic device placed near the skull which delivered painless pulses to the brain for five consecutive days. Afterward, the magnetic treatment continued once a week for three weeks.

The study enrolled only 29 subjects but the results generated exciting results in the addiction treatment community. Out of the 13 subjects who received the all-TMS protocol, 10 showed “significant improvements” in reducing the drug craving.

“I have met with these patients, I have seen them, I have seen their families,” said Bonci. “They are alive, they are well…something has clearly happened to these people.”

For now, no one truly knows how TMS works. One theory is that is stimulates the production of certain neurotransmitters like dopamine. Perhaps it enhances neural connectivity. When it comes to addiction, another theory is that is “scrambles” the brain’s craving signals.

Furthermore, we still do not know if TMS will be just as effective when tested on larger and more diverse populations. Like we mentioned, this study was very small, yet promising. One criticism is that the study used mostly Caucasian men and that the participants were “treatment seekers” who were motivated to get better. There needs to be future studies that are more diverse and focus on different types of people.

“This is a pilot study—we have a lot of work to do,” Bonci said in regards to the results. “I think that we will know, in just a few years, if this will become an accepted treatment [for a variety of addictions].” 

Bonci plans to launch larger, more placebo –controlled, double blind studies in the future to confirm his results. Until then, there continues to be a growing number of drugs aimed at reducing cravings and the neural reward for using. However, many of these drugs have side effects. TMS would be a treatment that would be largely free from side effects. The only side effect known is the occasional headache.

What do you think? Could light and magnets be the answer to combating addiction? Either way, the more options we have to treat addiction, the better. The time is now to take advantage of all the latest forms of treatment available to help you overcome your addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Author: Shernide Delva

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