Author: Shernide Delva
Each year, more than 300 million people are affected by depression. Depression is a debilitating illness that is difficult to treat.
What if there was one gene that played a key role in depression? Furthermore, what if that gene could be identified and even manipulated to actually treat depression?
Shockingly, this could all be a possibility. Researchers have discovered a gene that may play a central role in depression. This gene either protects us from stress or triggers a downward spiral depending on its level of activity.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM). It was the first to pinpoint in detail how one particular gene, known as Slc6a15, is a key role in depression. The study found the same link in both animals and humans.
“This study really shines a light on how levels of this gene in these neurons affects mood,” said the senior author of the study, Mary Kay Lobo, an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology.
“It suggests that people with altered levels of this gene in certain brain regions may have a much higher risk for depression and other emotional disorders related to stress.”
Potential Treatment Solution?
A study like this could help with treating depression in the future, and that help is desperately needed.
Nearly 800,000 people die annually from suicide. It is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 to 29. Beyond that, depression destroys the quality of life for tens of millions of patients, and their families suffer too. Although environmental factors play a significant role in many cases of depression, genetics are equally as important.
This is not the first time this gene was studied. Back in 2006, Dr. Lobo and her colleagues found that the Slc6a15 gene was common in specific neurons in the brain. They recently demonstrated that these neurons were important in depression.
Connection to Anhedonia
Her lab decided to investigate the specific role these neurons have in depression. In the latest study, she and her team focused on a particular area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This region is crucial in the brain’s “reward circuit.”
When you eat a delicious meal or participate in any kind of enjoyable experience, neurons in the nucleus accumbens are activated letting you know the experience is enjoyable. When a person is depressed, it ‘s hard to experience any kind of enjoyment, a condition known as anhedonia.
Researchers discovered subset neurons in the nucleus accumbens called D2 neurons. These neurons respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a central role in the reward circuit.
Mainly, these subset neurons responded to feel good chemicals like dopamine which is lacking in those with depression. Next, they studied mice susceptible to depression. These mice tended to withdraw from activities and exhibit behavior indicating depression such as social withdrawal and lack of interest in the food they would normally enjoy.
Dr. Lobo found that when the mice were subject to social stress, the levels of the Slc6a15 gene in the D2 neurons of the nucleus accumbens was noticeably reduced. The researchers also studied mice in which the gene had been reduced in D2 neurons. When those mice were subjected to stress, they also exhibited signs of depression. Furthermore, when researchers increased the levels of Slc6a15 levels in D2 neurons, the mice showed a resilient response to stress.
So what does this mean?
Next, Dr. Lobo looked at brains of humans who had a history of major depression and who had committed suicide. In the same region of the brain as the mice, the gene Slc6a15 was reduced. This indicates that the link between gene and behavior is found in both humans and mice.
In the future, manipulating these genes could help improve depression. While it is still unclear how Slc6a15 operates in the brain, Dr. Lobo states it may work by altering neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
This research could lead to therapies that focus specifically on this particular gene to treat depression. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, call now. Do not wait.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Does anyone else remember that episode in Game of Thrones when Cersei Lannister (played by the amazing Lena Headey) was marched naked through the streets of King’s Landing for the “walk of atonement”? During this public ritual punishment, the Queen Mother is followed by Septa Unella, who rings a bell to attract the attention of the crowd while repeatedly crying out “Shame!” to encourage the people to leer and jeer at Cersei.
Remember how well that worked out… for everyone… especially Septa Unella?
Well, in case you are one of those people who have never watched this show and have no clue what I’m talking about… SHAME!
But seriously, the thought of it drives home a big point about how people try to use shame and disgrace to modify the behaviors they disapprove of. People in modern times, outside of the 7 kingdoms, will say stuff like “shame on you” or “you should be ashamed of yourself” in an attempt to deter someone from doing something they do not agree with. Sometimes, with good intentions, parents use this tactic as an alternative to physical punishment. Other times people will use shame to manipulate and control others.
But does shame really work? In the case of shaming people with addiction, it doesn’t seem to go far at all.
Shame VS Guilt
One thing people first have to understand is the difference between shame and guilt. Some would say that someone who has no shame is someone who lacks humility or a conscience. People may say that if you don’t feel ashamed, you must think you are too good for others or have no consideration of others. However, that is not necessarily the case.
When someone feels guilt, that is something from within that compels us to see the fault in our own actions. Guilt is based on your own view of something you have said or done that has been harmful to others. It is the consciences way of keeping us in check. Guilt and shame are not the same thing.
Shame is how we experience the disapproval of others. It is the adverse emotional response to being singled out and judged by others for being wrong or doing wrong. So guilt tells us that we know something we are doing is wrong, but shame is the outside world telling us it is wrong even if we don’t feel that inside.
To sum it up:
Acting with clear knowledge that a behavior is unacceptable is what typically inspires feelings of guilt. Thus, it is associated with a specific behavior and is not likely associated with psychological distress such as depression.
Shame can relate specifically to one’s entire self. It says “I am wrong” instead of “my choice was wrong”. This can put people at risk of developing unhealthy conditions like:
Why Shaming Doesn’t Work
Shaming someone into changing is manipulating their fear or social isolation or criticism to control their behavior. Our connection to each other is so crucial for out well-being, both psychologically and physically, that it can often be used against us. For some people the level of social rejection from shaming will scare them into avoiding that emotional punishment. Yet there is still an issue with this method at its core.
It’s like in that movie Inception, when Leonardo DiCaprio taught us all how to dream within a dream (I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately). At one point they talk about how an idea implanted in the mind won’t take if the mind knows it wasn’t organic; if it didn’t come from within.
Shame can be like that. If you tell someone that they should be ashamed of themselves for using drugs, they might stop because they need the social connection. However, if they do not themselves see that their drug use is harming themselves and others, then shaming them will drive them into hiding to avoid persecution.
For many who suffer with substance use disorder the addiction itself has an extreme emotional attachment of some kind. If the individual is motivated enough to use drugs, or believes they are capable of control without consequence, the shame will only result in them hiding their problems even more and further isolating themselves.
Shame and Stigma and the Self
The shame of the stigma of addiction can be counterproductive to an addict getting help. Ultimately, shame can drive stigma and further damage the individual’s chances of personal development. People can internalize shame and sabotage their self-worth, which often causes people to care less about their own safety.
If their choices are being dictated by anxiety then the destructive habits can increase as the shame drives them to remove themselves from those who disapprove of them. This isn’t only true for addiction. Shame can influence other adverse actions, such as:
Shaming people with addiction or people with mental health disorders is only supporting the stigma that make them feel separated from us. Telling an addict to be ashamed of themselves for their addiction may force them to do something, but this strategy is vastly ineffective when compared to compassion and support.
Research has shown shame is especially damaging when inflicted by someone who the individual is deeply connected to. Parents, family members, spouses and loved ones who shame each other create lasting imprints on one another. That strong emotional leverage can create an even deeper divide between us and the ones we love by diminishing our self-worth.
So shaming our loved ones who struggle with addiction may be less likely to inspire them to get help and more likely to scare them away from asking us for help when they need it.
No Pain No Shame
So to clarify, shaming someone may seem like it gets the job done, but in reality it is not effective at motivating healthy behaviors. In fact, shaming someone creates social withdrawal and undermines self-esteem. For someone struggling with substance use disorder, there is probably already enough feelings of disconnect of self-defeatism without being shamed.
Again, this doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with someone about how their behavior is impacting you. Setting boundaries and being honest is still important, but doing so in a compassionate way is more conducive to encouraging someone to do the right thing for the right reasons.
If we want to avoid hurting one another, we should avoid trying to shame each other into doing what we want. Shaming people with addiction isn’t going to heal their affliction. Making them feel separate and alone will not inspire the kind of change that creates stronger bonds. Focusing on celebrating good deeds can help a lot more than dwelling on every bad one and holding it over someone’s head.
Nurturing recovery is more powerful than shaming addiction.
Having a family member who has suffered can be harder on you than you know. Too many people don’t know how to get the help they need for their loved ones, and too many of our loved ones suffer for too long because they are afraid of the affects that the ones they care about most will face. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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Why is Everyone Talking about Turmeric?
No really, I want to know.
Recently, we published an article about the connection between chronic pain and addiction. The article garnered a variety of comments, and many people suggested that those with chronic pain use turmeric to treat their symptoms. Truthfully, this is far from the first time I have heard turmeric suggested for medical purposes.
Where is all the hoopla about turmeric coming from? Is turmeric the new kale?
Not exactly. In fact, turmeric has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. In India, turmeric was used for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb.
It was not until recently that scientists caught on to what Indians have known for a long time: turmeric contains strong medicinal properties. It helps with virtually all types of medical problems.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color. The compounds in turmeric are called curcuminoids; the most important is called Curcumin. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin is known for its anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
Surprisingly, the Curcumin content in turmeric is not that high. It’s estimated to be around 3% by weight. Therefore, if you want the full medicinal benefits of turmeric, it is recommended to take turmeric extracts that contain mostly Curcumin itself. Otherwise, it would be challenging to reach these levels on your own simply by using turmeric spice.
Curcumin is not absorbed into the bloodstream, so it is recommended to consume black pepper with it. Black pepper contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of Curcumin by 2000%.
To sum it up: Turmeric contains Curcumin, a substance that has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Recently, the spice gained a huge following from those who benefit from its medicinal properties. As we enter an era where more people are opposed to prescription medications, natural alternatives are making a major comeback.
Turmeric Medicinal Benefits
There have been thousands of peer-reviewed articles proving the benefits of turmeric and the healing compounds Curcumin. In fact, turmeric is the most frequently mentioned medicinal herb in all of science! Other popularly studied herbals include garlic, cinnamon, ginseng, ginger and milk thistle.
Compared to conventional medicine, the benefits of turmeric equal to that of many pharmaceutical drugs. In fact, some studies report that using Curcumin is more advantageous than certain prescription drugs.
Health Benefits of Turmeric:
Turmeric offers similar benefits to painkillers, anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, cholesterol drugs, and so much more.
Some specific benefits are:
Preventing Blood Clotting
Turmeric is shown to offer the same benefits as medications intended to slow and prevent blood clots such as aspirin, Clopidogrel (Plavix) and warfarin. Unlike some of these drugs which pose serious health risks like excessive bleeding and hemorrhage, turmeric has no known side effects unless taken in very heavy doses. Since the mid-1980s, the Curcumin in turmeric has been suggested by researchers as a better alternative to those with vascular thrombosis.
While there are not many studies conducted on humans, dozens of trials have proven that turmeric is especially effective in correcting depression symptoms in laboratory animals. Curcumin was found to be as effective as antidepressants in managing depression. More studies are needed to understand the mood enhancing properties of Curcumin fully.
Arguably the most powerful and popular use of Curcumin is its ability to control inflammation. The journal Oncogene revealed several anti-inflammatory compounds. The study found Curcumin to be among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world, even compared to aspirin and ibuprofen. Diseases today like cancer, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, high cholesterol and chronic pain are partly related to inflammation.
As mentioned below, Curcumin helps with inflammation. A study conducted compared the benefit of Curcumin in turmeric to arthritis drugs that had side effects like leaky gut and heart disease. The study found the highest improvement in patients who took Curcumin compared to the rheumatoid arthritis medication. Since there are fewer side effects in the use of Curcumin, this could be a better option for patients struggling to manage their arthritis.
One of the most widely accepted properties of Curcumin is the pain management properties. Research released discovered that Curcumin naturally activates the opioid system in diabetics rap. Typically manipulated by painkillers, this natural process serves as the body’s inherent pain-relieving response. However, Curcumin does not have the risk of opioid dependency like painkillers such as oxycodone do, therefore the risk fo dependency diminishes.
Could Turmeric Help Combat Opioid Epidemic?
The benefits of turmeric go so much further than this article. Of course, is always crucial to talk about different treatment options with your doctor. Do not attempt to change your regimen without professional guidance.
Still, turmeric could help with pain management, which may improve the risk of opioid dependency overall. What are your thoughts? Could turmeric really make a difference? Have you used it?
Nevertheless, if you are struggling with addiction or mental illness, please reach out. We want to help you. Do not wait. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
The opioid epidemic has reached record-breaking numbers, and with that shift comes many seeking to recover from opioid addiction. However, the withdrawal process for opioids can be a very uncomfortable process.
It is advisable to seek medical treatment to recover from opioid dependence. This process usually involves detox and professional treatment to address the addiction. It is a bad idea to try and quit cold turkey on your own terms.
Without professional addiction treatment, people who quit opioid use on their own risk severe complications. While opioid withdrawal is not fatal necessarily, related complications can be dangerous. Even with the utmost determination and preparation, the painful side effects of withdrawal can cause even the strongest-willed person to relapse.
How Addiction and Withdrawal Works
In the brain, opioids target receptors that govern things like mood, emotion, feeling of reward and the natural pain response. When opioids hit these receptors, they cause them to over-fire, leading to short-term feelings of euphoria. Over time, the intensity of these feelings dwindles leading to the need to take more of these substances to feel good. That is why dependence begins to occur.
With regular use, your brain rewires, and eventually, the use of opioids will be the only way to feel pleasure. All other activities that gave you joy will fall by the wayside, and your main goal will be to obtain your next high.
All of this can happen relatively quickly, sometimes within a few weeks. What makes addiction to opioids severe is the level of tolerance that quickly follows. Within a week of using the drug, you may find you need to take more to achieve the same effects, and if you continue to use that amount regularly, your addiction will become much more severe. Eventually, you will need several times more a day than a doctor would ever prescribe—a recipe for a very difficult withdrawal.
Withdrawal occurs when your body tries to adjust to not having the substance anymore. When you quit cold turkey, it is like seeing the wall you are leaning on crumble. It can have very shocking effects on your system.
Opiate Withdrawal Complications
It can take weeks to recovery from substance abuse. The effects of withdrawal can be severe. Within a few days, you are likely to encounter a few of these withdrawal symptoms.
A few days later, more severe symptoms can occur like:
- Painful abdominal cramping
- Severe nausea
- Chills and shivers
Opioid addiction may cause you to experience hallucinations, severe body tremors, and even suicidal thoughts. It is important to be aware of these symptoms and to have medical professionals monitoring you throughout the process. Medical professionals also have medications and holistic alternatives to help guide you through the detox process.
The biggest risk during the detox period is that you will relapse. People who quit cold turkey often start off feeling strong and determined, but severe withdrawals completely change that mindset. Many reach a point in which they would do absolutely anything to get ahold of the drug, even if it means hurting others.
Sadly, if you relapse after withdrawal, you have a higher chance of not surviving the next high. Because your tolerance decreases during detox, your body will not handle the same amount of opioids that you were used to taking. Therefore, if you relapse and take the same amount of opioid medication that you did prior, you may accidentally overdose.
While withdrawal itself may not be fatal, the instances of addicts dying due to relapsing after withdrawal are common. Furthermore, there are cases of addicts dying during the withdrawal process. Some addicts forget to keep themselves hydrated which can lead to electrolyte disturbances. The body is also prone to infections or other complications, which can have deadly consequences.
Overall, quitting cold turkey is a bad idea. It may seem like a simple solution at first, but please understand the danger you risk by doing this on your own. Remember, so many people are struggling with addiction. Instead, call us today. We have professionals waiting to get you on the right track. Recovery is possible. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Since late last week, the tragic story of the sudden death of rock legend Chris Cornell has taken some heartbreaking and bewildering turns. While the initial reports held no details of the singer’s unexpected death, more recent reports have indicated the cause of death was suicide. However, as the story continues Chris Cornell’s family is skeptical and openly critical of this conclusion. Now some are speaking out saying it was drugs, and not depression, responsible for the sudden passing.
Born Christopher John Boyle, the 52 year old Seattle, Washington native was one of the most recognizable voices of American rock music. His famous and powerful vocal belting technique along with an impressive voice range has inspired countless artists and soothed the rock genre with its passionate and often brooding words. The guitarist, singer and songwriter is best known as lead vocalist for the bands:
Cornell was also the founder and front man for Temple of the Dog, a tribute band dedicated to his friend, the late Andrew (Andy) Wood. Andy, Chris Cornell’s roommate who played in the band Mother Love Bone, died in 1990 from a heroin overdose.
He is also known for his numerous solo works, soundtrack contributions since 1991. Cornell is credited as one of the architects of the 1990’s grunge movement
Chris Cornell was found in the MGM Grand Detroit in the early hours of Thursday morning, May 18, 2017. He had only hours earlier been on stage performing with his Soundgarden band.
Since his teenage years Chris Cornell struggled through multiple battles with addiction and roads to recovery. In one 2006 interview Cornell actually talked about having a bad experience with PCP at age 14 and developed a panic disorder. He admitted that as the child of two alcoholics, drinking ultimately led him back to drugs in his late 20s.
The rocker managed to get off of drugs and alcohol between around the year 1980 up until 1997. Around 1997 his first marriage was failing, and the band Soundgarden had split up. Cornell resorted to using substances including the powerful prescription opioid OxyContin.
In 2002 Cornell checking into rehab, and afterward commented on the experience stating:
“It was a long period of coming to the realization that this way (sober) is better. Going through rehab, honestly, did help … it got me away from just the daily drudgery of depression and either trying to not drink or do drugs or doing them and you know.”
Chris Cornell also noted in an interview in 2011 that the biggest difference he had noticed when Soundgarden had reunited and began making music together was that the presence of alcohol was no longer constant. Without conversation, it had just been removed from the picture.
Wife Vicky Refutes Suicide Reports
Although he was a profoundly emotional musician with a catalog of melancholy or blues melodies, many have called into question whether Chris Cornell would actually knowingly take his own life, including his wife, Vicky. Reports have said Vicky does not believe Cornell was suicidal. Less than 24 hours after the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Chris Cornell had died as a result of suicide by hanging himself, Cornell’s wife and attorney openly challenged that conclusion. Lawyer Kirk Pasich said in a statement:
“Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris – or if any substances contributed to his demise,”
The statement also said the family found these implications disturbing, and that Chris Cornell was a recovering drug addict who had been taking a prescription anti-anxiety medication Ativan. The statement added:
“The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions,”
The statement included medical literature indicating that,
“Ativan can cause paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech and impaired judgment.”
The Night Of
Vicky shared her heartbreak over the loss of her husband of 13 years, the father of their two pre-teen children, and told interviews that Cornell, a devoted husband and father, had come home to spend Mother’s Day with his family between shows, and flown to his next stop Wednesday.
“When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do,”
“When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him.”
In her own words Vicky reasserted the belief that his anti-anxiety medication had played a bigger role in the tragic events, stating:
“What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details. I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life. The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know. Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us.”
Cornell leaves behind his wife Vicky, their two children- Toni, 12 years old and Christopher, 11 years old- as well as his 16 year old daughter Lillian Jean from his first marriage to Susan Silver, the former manager for Soundgarden.
Chris Cornell on Black Days
Some might argue the following statement supports the suicide claims, but others could argue it supports the doubts presented by Cornell’s family. Back in 2014, Chris Cornell had spoken in depth with Rolling Stone magazine for a 20th anniversary edition of his band Soundgarden’s ground-breaking Superunknown album. When asked about the song “Fell on Black Days” he had said,
“I’d noticed already in my life where there would be periods where I would feel suddenly, “Things aren’t going so well, and I don’t feel that great about my life.” Not based on any particular thing. I’d sort of noticed that people have this tendency to look up one day and realize that things have changed. There wasn’t a catastrophe. There wasn’t a relationship split up. Nobody got in a car wreck. Nobody’s parents died or anything. The outlook had changed, while everything appears circumstantially the same.”
“No matter how happy you are, you can wake up one day without any specific thing occurring to bring you into a darker place, and you’ll just be in a darker place anyway. To me, that was always a terrifying thought, because that’s something that – as far as I know – we don’t necessarily have control over. So that was the song I wanted to write.”
What this may suggest is that beneath how happy Chris Cornell was with his family and his future, some part of his perspective could have made him even more vulnerable to a sudden shift created by a powerful medication designed to impact emotions.
Anti-Anxiety Drug Ativan
Is it possible that anti-anxiety medication could have played a part in Chris Cornell’s apparent suicide? According to the list of side-effects for Ativan and the common opinion of experts as to the risks associated with these drugs, absolutely.
Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam. This prescription drug calls into the category of benzodiazepine (benzo) medications. Lorazepam is typically used for treating:
- Anxiety disorders
- Sleep problems
- Active seizures
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Nausea or vomiting from chemotherapy
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, serious side effects of using Ativan include:
- Worsening depression
- Unusual mood or behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
- Dizziness, drowsiness
- Slurred speech
- Lack of balance or coordination
- Memory problems
The truth is, Ativan is intended for short-term use, specifically for treating anxiety. In fact, the FDA advises against using any benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam, for longer than four weeks. There is a very real risk of dependence, withdrawal symptoms and even overdose.
The Dangers of Legal Drugs
Back in March 2016 we wrote about how data shows that in the last two decades deaths by overdose of anti-anxiety drugs have quadrupled, which coincides with a tripling rate of these drugs being prescribed. What is even worse, independent reviews from different research groups showed that in many cases the pharmaceutical companies were misrepresenting suicides or suicidal thoughts in their own research reports.
Could the unusual behaviors and slurred speech Vicky described of Chris Cornell be signs of something else at play? Could a lifetime of struggling with a panic disorder, depression and drugs have been exacerbated by the presence of a chemical that worsened his depression, throwing his mood into chaos and flooding his vulnerable state with thoughts of suicide have been the cause of such a heartrending and desperate act? Drugs, legal or not, can devastate.
Now, there is definitely a shadow on the sun.
We have seen time and time again how legal, medical drugs have destroyed amazing and talented individuals. We saw it with Michael Jackson and Prince. We’ve seen how depression plays into the same tragedies, such as with the loss of Robin Williams. Still, one thing Chris Cornell spoke of with addiction is that it becomes glorified by the fact drugs kill famous people, and the world weeps, while ignoring the everyday tragedies of the unknown but extraordinary, everyday people. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135