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Could Mental Health Security System be the Future of Public Safety?

Could Mental Health Security System be the Future of Public Safety?

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

If there are any other nerds out there like me, you may have come across an abstract animated series called Psycho-pass that rose in popularity a few years back in 2012. The show’s name fits firmly into the primary premise of the show, an authoritarian future dystopia, where omnipresent public sensors ceaselessly scan the mental states of every passing citizen. In the TV show, collected data on both present mentality and aggregated personality data is used to gauge the probability of an individual committing a crime, the rating referred to as that citizen’s Psycho-Pass. Law enforcement and public security utilizes technology tracking mental health of citizens in order to premeditate possible threats. The characters chase criminals who the system deems emotionally or psychologically at risk, and the show adds a few good twists of suspense and philosophical paradox.

Needless to say, I am a big fan of the series.

So of course, seeing a headline explaining a new research project that could make this kind of system a reality, it stirs up some curiosity. This abstract concept of machines reading the psychological profiles of everyday people as a security measure has jumped right out of the world of scifi-fantasy and could soon be another innovation that changes our world.

Could a mental health security system for the future of public safety?

How the Mental Health Security System Works

According to a new piece of research, published in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, a mental health security system is being developed that gives an analyses of the user’s brainwaves.

Most modern security systems require a PIN or password. Other biometric-based systems require a fingerprint or scans of an iris or retina. We have already seen this kind of stuff in the movies; voice-activated locks, palm-print thermal safes and other cool high-tech gadgets. Now, Violeta Tulceanu of the University of Iasi is adding a truly unique aspect to security; the emotion detector.

Upon reading the brainwaves the system is designed to automatically determine whether the user is in a fit mental state. After the test is complete the system will grant access to resources, but only if deemed appropriate.

Violeta Tulceanu states:

“The true engine of motivation is our capacity to perceive pleasure and fear pain, and thus, reward and punishment,”

“Our ability to react to dangerous situations is directly related to our capacity to relate to our environment, and our sense of self-preservation.”

In the new approach, Tulceanu trains the system to recognize a user’s “emotional fingerprint” using the patterns of electrical brainwaves. The system measures the brainwaves they generate in the presence of specific, evocative stimuli. The system has to have a baseline mental signature to cross-reference. Each emotional response is matched to a given pattern and these are then associated with particular configurations of the mental health security system. So someone mentally stable will set the standard for their future readings.

Once the profile is complete it can allow or preclude access to given resources. So the next time someone tries to get access, the system simply measures the current electrical brain activity and if the result of processing the credentials matches the “emotional fingerprint” access is granted or refused accordingly.

This is amazing because it not just recognizes brainwaves to allow authorized access, but it also determines whether or not someone’s current mental health should keep them from having access.

Why a Mental Health Security System Could Matter

Based on the core concept, this could all matter a great deal to public safety. If someone is in a well-balanced emotional state, when faced with external factors they probably react according to:

  • Context
  • Group expectations
  • Education
  • Cultural background
  • Social norms
  • Personal inclinations

However, humans are emotional. We feel. Some of us more intensely, but all of us included. So our decisions can be subject to:

  • Our wants/desires
  • Lust
  • Greed
  • Happiness
  • Sadness

We can even be influenced by psychoactive chemicals that might make particular resources inappropriate or hazardous. Perhaps a safe with a gun locked inside should only be accessible by someone of a stable mental and emotional state.

With this kind of mental health security system there could be another step to control:

  • Entry to a building
  • Access to computer resources
  • Even the withdrawal of money from ATMs

The research actually indicates this mental health security system could also have applications in:

  • Military
  • Electronic learning
  • Healthcare

What Could the Mental Health Security System Change?

Many may not notice at first, but this is a huge deal and if it gained momentum it could change a lot about our world. Thinking about it, anyone can suffer from depression, stress, or anxiety, as well as substance abuse. Some of us may not even be aware of our own issues with mental health until something devastating has happened. We all have the capacity to make detrimental decisions, and sometimes we also have the capacity to do so while accessing sensitive resources.

Let us look at just a few ways this could be a really big deal.

  • Public Safety

In the interest of public safety, we could consider access to an airport or a school. With the history of shootings and other attacks on citizens being perpetrated by people deemed to be in the grips of mental illness, could this new technology have the capacity to save lives by blocking off those who it perceives to be a threat?

Tulceanu suggests this mental health security system could ensure the safety and security of individuals and those around them that might be at risk if access is granted to particular resources.

  • Anti-theft

The mental health security system might be able to assess whether a person is acting responsibly and of their own accord. So if someone is being forced to access something, the security system could measure this emotional response as well and act further on the behalf of someone who could be being robbed or held hostage.

Is a Mental Health Security System Morally Just?

Here comes the philosophical debate. When looking at the possibilities of this technology, we also have to ask ourselves the same questions that crop up in the scifi stories; is this moral? Specifically, if it became a government tool, does it violate privacy or civil rights? Really ask yourself- is this a brighter, safer future? Or could it be misused for subliminal, psychological oppression?

Seriously, this is a tough call. It does sound like it could save a lot of lives. But some would ask- who has the right to say whether or not I’m mentally or emotionally stable enough to get my own money from the bank? Or to get on a plane? Who decides when you are too emotionally or mentally compromised to go to work? What if years from now you aren’t allowed to live in a certain neighborhood because of your place on the brainwave scale?

Would this kind of restriction on people based on an analyses of mental health be reinforcing the stigmas attached to mental health? If so, would people be discriminated against for mental health issues? In the TV show I referenced earlier, people with moderately risky mental health ratings were lawfully mandated to therapy; would that become part of the normal practice if a more comprehensive mental health security system was put into place?

These days, modern research techniques show that far from being indefinable, emotion is completely neurological. Emotion lives at the core of all learning mechanisms. This makes it possible to treat emotion more objectively. All this new research is extremely fascinating. Without being too sure which way to lean, I simply wonder what the world would think of a mental health security system.

The importance of mental health care and substance abuse treatment is paramount. As technology grows so does our understanding of how complex and critical these issues are. There is help for those who are struggling with dual diagnosis, and holistic healing is an empowering way to make a transformation that could change everything.

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8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Antidepressants

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Depression is a serious medical condition, and the decision to take antidepressants is a personal choice. The stigma behind mental illness often prevents those struggling with mental illness to seek help for their condition. Many people feel they can tackle their depression on their own, without the use of medication. While this may be true for some, for others, medication is a very real option.

If you are unsure whether or not you need medication for your depression, it may be a good idea for you to ask yourself a few questions before going on them. Also, you may want to explore options that do not require medication like seeing a therapist, changing sleeping and exercising habits, socializing and joining groups. All of these options should be a part of your long-term plan to fight depression.

Still, for some people, even after doing all of these things, their depression symptoms seem to linger. It is important to consider and understand what you need to feel better. Here are eight questions you should ask yourself before going on medication:

  1. Could my depression be the result of a medical condition?
    It is important to consult with your doctor so you rule out the possibility that your depression could be due to pre-existing medical conditions. Many health conditions can contribute to feelings of depression. Thyroid conditions and heart disease are some examples of conditions that result in depressive symptoms. Also, get a blood test done to monitor your vitamin levels. Deficiencies in iron, magnesium and B vitamins can make you feel sluggish and down.
  2. Could my depression be a side effect of another medication?
    Depression can be the side effect of prescription medications. If you recently added a new prescription around the time you felt depressed, make sure to talk to a doctor to see if there is a possibility you are affected by your medications.
  3. Have you suffered a recent loss?
    It is normal to feel intense emotions following a death, divorce, relocation, or retirement. Therefore, if you have become depressed following events like this, it is only natural. Learning coping methods through cognitive behavior therapy should be the first step when dealing with situational depression.
    “It’s important to remember that antidepressants treat symptoms and not root causes,” says Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, and author of You Are WHY You Eat.
    Ask yourself how long you have been depressed. Depression lasting less than six months may not require medication if treated with therapy and other methods.
  4. Am I exercising enough?
    Exercise boosts serotonin levels in our body which improves our overall mood and energy level. As hard as it is sometimes, it is important to move around. Aerobic exercise can be effective in preventing and treating depression. Aerobic exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals like neurotransmitters and endorphins. Lack of exercise can worsen depression. Try changing your exercise routine to see if you notice a decrease in your symptoms.
  5. Are you eating a healthy, well-balanced diet?
    A sugar-heavy diet can severely affect blood sugar levels which lead to feelings of low energy and depression. Also, issues in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to mood problems, including depression. Complex carbs have been found to boost levels of serotonin in your Try boosting levels of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin B12. Increasing your intake of nutritionally balanced meals can be the right step to reducing your symptoms.
  6. Am I socializing on a regular basis?
    As tempting as it may be to isolate yourself, being alone does not help with dealing with depression. Try to connect with friends and family. Join a local group in your community. Try joining a support group for depression like the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. They have support groups throughout the country to help those in need.
  7. Have you tried changing your behaviors?
    The best way to treat depression is to fight against it. When you feel like staying in bed all day, those are the times you need to get busy. When you feel the least social, that is a crucial time to call a friend. Some other positive ways to combat depression is to engage in mindfulness practices such as meditation or yoga. Talk to a therapist to come up with a plan to change your behavior. Take baby steps and try not to do too much at once.
  8. Are you drinking too much?
    Abuse of alcohol has been proven to make depression symptoms worse in various clinical studies. Alcohol can interfere with sleep, and further worsen problems of anxiety and depression. Alcohol also makes people prone to anger, aggression and violence. The occasional drink may be okay for some, but for others drinking is not worth the risk.

If you find you have addressed all of these issues and still struggle with depression, you may want to consider seriously talking to a professional about taking medication. This is especially true if you find depression inhibiting your daily functions.

Taking antidepressants is a very personal decision. It is up to you to decide, and you should not feel shame if you decide to go that route. Many people take medication, and it has helped them tremendously. If you are struggling to handle it all, give us a call. We can help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

Opioid Alternatives: Should Doctors Weigh Other Options?

Physical therapist helping patient on exercise staircase.

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Over the last decade, the increase in opiate painkiller abuse and heroin abuse has been alarming to say the least. The 2014 statistics state that a person dies every 4 minutes from a drug overdose or alcohol-related event. Prescription pain killer abuse is an epidemic in the United States and as a result, alternatives are being considered to prevent more and more people from developing a dependency to opioids. Are there better methods of managing chronic pain?

Many believe so and are pushing for a change. While opioid medications are effective at reducing pain, they are very addictive, and other alternatives should be looked at before doctors prescribe opioid medications.

So, what options are available? Fortunately, there are a variety of options available for pain relief that range from non-opioid medications to non-medicinal therapies. Discussing these options with your doctor can help provide you with a pain management program that has a lower risk for dependency.

The Best Opiate Alternatives

  • Over-the-Counter Acetaminophen
    Acetaminophen is a drug more commonly known by the brand name Tylenol. It is recommended as a first-line of treatment by the American College of Rheumatology. While scientists are not sure on how the drug works, most theorize the drug works by inhibiting the synthesis of chemical messengers called prostaglandins, which help to transmit pain signals and induce fever. This drug is non-addictive and can be very effective.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
    NSAIDs are more potent than acetaminophen and include anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aleve. These drugs work by reducing inflammation; however they run a risk of risk of organ toxicity, kidney or liver failure and ulcers. Use in moderation for optimum success.
  • Corticosteroids
    Steroids inhibits nerves in the body and provide pain relief. The drawbacks to steroids are that they can potentially accelerate join destruction. Other side effects can include immune system suppression, gastrointestinal issues and psychiatric effects.
  • Serotonin and Norepinephrine Re-uptake Inhibitors
    Anti-depressants may be appropriate for nerve, muscular and skeletal pain. They also help with insomnia and anxiety. This is a great alternative because these drugs do not have the same side effects of opioids.
  • Physical Therapy
    Physical therapy requires more work from the patient but can be extremely useful in improving physical healing and relieving pain long-term. Physical therapy can be done in sessions and recommended exercises can often be done at home.
  • Massage, Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care
    Acupuncture is an ancient art form that has been used for thousands of years. Some find acupuncture to be just as effective, if not more effective than medications. On the bonus side, it is a totally natural safe alternative to opioid medication.
  • Exercise
    Exercise is beneficial for so many reasons. Surprisingly, exercise has been shown to be healing for those with chronic pain. Low-impact exercises can help improve mobility and functionality. Activities like yoga and ta-chi can be helpful for many ailments.

Chronic pain affects millions. Whether we like it or not, pain is a real occurrence, and sometimes opioid medications may be the only option. However, if other alternatives and other methods of care can be promoted, it can help prevent the amount of patients suffering from dependence to these drugs. Often, taking a prescription opioid may not be the best option. As the prescription pain killer epidemic continues to gain media attention and  political awareness,more attention should be placed on prevention methods, as well as treatment.

Overall, ask your doctor to weigh the alternative options available. Together, both of you can decide the best method of pain management. What do you think? Should doctors weight other options? If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Could EMDR Therapy be Effective for Addiction Treatment?

Could EMDR Therapy be Effective for Addiction Treatment?

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and psychological stress. The therapy was originally developed by American psychologist Francine Shapiro  in the late 1980s primarily as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since the therapy has been able to help millions overcome psychological distress, the focus is now on whether EMDR therapy could be utilized to help addicts overcome their addictions and progress further into recovery.

But What is EMDR?                                                                                    

EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment which implements special eye movements to identify experiences that have overwhelmed the brain’s natural resilience or coping capacity.  Often, people who go through traumas such as war, rape assault, sexual abuse and others, have generated traumatic symptoms and harmful coping strategies.

When a person experiences a trauma, they usually acquire traumatic symptoms such as flashbacks, anxiety and insomnia. They may engage in isolating behavior and self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Through EMDR therapy, patients are able to learn how to reprocess traumatic information until it is no longer psychologically disruptive.

In EMDR therapy, there are several phases of treatment. The initial phase is going through a client’s history followed by a preparation stage. In the Rapid Eye Movement phase, the person focuses on a traumatic or troubling memory and identifies the belief they have about themselves in relation to that negative memory. An example would be a woman who associates the trauma of her being rape to her being dirty. The EMDR therapy wants to shift the thought of rape signaling the “I am dirty” response and shift it to “I am a worthwhile good person in control of my life” response. By teaching the brain how to respond in a different way to trauma, the patient learns how to shift their view on their traumatic memories in a healthier way.

To allow this to occur, the person must go over the memory repetitively and focus on the external stimulus that creates bilateral eye movement. Our brains naturally signal eye movements as a response to emotional stimuli. However, overtime, our body’s ability to cope with pain weakens.  In EMDR therapy, the therapist may guide the client’s eye by moving their finger.

After each set of bilateral movements, the individual is asked how they feel. The process continues until the memory is no longer disturbing. Each session lasts about an hour. Many patients see significant improvement after just one session. It is believed that EMDR therapy is effective because it by-passes the areas of the brain that have become stuck due to trauma and prevents the left-side of the brain from self-soothing the right side of the brain.

How EMDR Could Help With Addiction

During EMDR therapy, patients learn to “process” memories in a way that leads to a peaceful resolution. When it comes to addiction, often people try to cope with trauma or psychological issues through abusing substances. Jamie Marich, PhD., believes that EMDR is a complete therapy that can be used to combat issues such as addiction.

“If we accept that unhealed traumatic wounds play a major role in causing or at the very least exacerbating the seriousness of substance use and addictive disorders, yes, EMDR therapy can be very effective.”

Marich continues by explaining the EMDR can be an effective relapse prevention/recovery enhancement strategy that truly targets trauma. Unhealed PTSD and other trauma-related disorder pose a clear relapse risk.  By learning a series of EMDR protocols, therapists are able to teach their clients how to target cravings and feelings and let go of the addictive manifestations brought on from trauma.

“Since the beginning of my journey with EMDR in 2004, I’ve long viewed it as an effective relapse prevention/recovery enhancement strategy that truly targets trauma. It’s been clear to me from the beginning of my own journey with recovery, and as a treatment provider, that unhealed PTSD and other trauma-related disorders pose a clear relapse risk.”

If successfully implemented, EMDR can play a major role in addiction treatment. Many people come into addiction treatment with PTSD and EMDR is an effective method of treating PTSD. Addicts are often traumatized by their past or from traumas that relate to their drug use. EMDR provides tools to treat the underlying problems.

Learning how to process past traumas can be extremely beneficial for those trying to overcome addiction. Substances are often used as a way to cope with underlying psychological distress. Learning to overcome the distress can help prevent relapse and aid in successful recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Saffron: A Natural Alternative to Treating Depression

saffron

Author: Shernide Delva

Feeling down? Lift your mood by “spicing up” your life!

Saffron, an extravagant herb commonly used in Indian, Turkish, and Persian cuisine, is gaining popularity as an alternative treatment for depression.

Research has linked the red grass-like spice as a powerful tool in regulating mood and mental health. Several clinical trials show that saffron improves mild to moderate symptoms of depression.

Saffron is a flower that must be carefully hand-picked and dried. The process is extremely laborious making saffron one of the most expensive spices in the world.  Luckily, it does not take much of the spice to make a huge difference in your health.

The Benefits of Saffron are Endless.

Saffron has traditionally been used for its healing properties in treating asthma, insomnia, Alzheimer’s disease, joint pain and dry skin. Women have found the spice to be beneficial for menstrual cramps and some men use it to boost fertility.

However, what really stands out is the spice’s proven ability to reduce depression and anxiety.

Saffron for Mental Health: A Depression Fighter?

Researchers determined in clinical trials that saffron improves mild to moderate depression symptoms. Patients were given 30mg of saffron a day over a period of six to eight weeks. The outcome was that saffron was equivalent in effectiveness to therapeutic doses of antidepressants.

What Does This Mean for Mental Health?

  • Depression is a major health problem affecting 1 in 10 adults.
  • Drug antidepressants are taken by 11% of Americans for mental illness and depression.
  • Close to 90% of Antidepressant users suffer from various side effects like abnormal bleeding and sexual dysfunction.
  • A natural alternative could be a great way to combat depression without those hindering side effects.

Although researchers do not know why saffron produce antidepressant effects, researchers believe the high antioxidant content of saffron could have something to do with it.

Sexual Dysfunction is one of the most common side effects of using antidepressants and in a 2012 study, results show that using 15mg doses of saffron along with antidepressant medication could improve sexual function in both men and women.

You should also consider looking at alternative methods of treatment that also can improve your mental health such as:

  • Optimizing your Vitamin D
  • Exercising
  • Getting Plenty of Sleep
  • Proper Nutrition
  • Taking Omega 3 fats which have been proven useful for mood regulation.

Interested in Using Saffron for Depression?

  • Make sure you are buying 100% real saffron from a reputable dealer.
  • Ensure that the saffron only consists of the red filaments as those are the most beneficial.
  • Soak the saffron in broth, milk or warm water before you cook with it. This increases the potency and makes the saffron more effective.
  • An alternative way to use saffron would be to add it into a tea or some milk to consume. Combine  at least ten strands of the saffron into your drink with some sweetener of your choice. Mix it well and enjoy.
  • When taken at night, Saffron can also help treat depression that is associated with insomnia.

Weight Management

In addition to the mood-lifting properties of saffron, it also can help control compulsive eating. In 2010, a clinical trial showed that the mood enhancing properties of saffron could contribute to decrease snacking habits.

If you tend to reach for a snack when you are feeling down, try taking saffron as a way to curb those urges. Saffron mood boosting properties could help aid in maintaining a healthy exercise and nutrition regimen.

What the Future Holds for Saffron

Saffron continues to be researched for its antidepressant properties. The properties in saffron could be beneficial for treating mental illnesses like Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and other emotional and cognitive conditions.

Only time will tell where this ancient form of treatment will fit into our modern world.

Saffron is a great option for those looking for alternative treatment options for mild to severe  depression symptoms. Remember to always talk to your doctor before making any changes in your treatment plan and medications. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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