July 27, 2006

New Mental Health Research

The Research Front
Reprinted from Vol. 12, No 3, Thirty Thousand Days Journal

The Journal of Psychiatry reported on a study of 133 patients with atypical depression. In the double-blind, placebo controlled study, two thirds of patients with symptoms that included overeating, carbohydrate cravings and low sexual libido improved greatly after taking Chromium supplements.

Contrary to the popular belief that we all need more sleep, psychiatry professor Daniel Kripke of the University of California completed a six year study of more than a million adults and found that people who get only 6 to 7 hours a night have a lower death rate than those who get 8 hours of sleep. He also found . . .

that the risk from taking sleeping pills 30 times or more a month was not much less than the risk of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. "There is really no evidence that the average 8-hour sleeper functions better than the average 6- or 7-hour sleeper," Kripke says.

Our ability to form new memories diminishes as we age. And according to Nobel Laureate James D. Watson, "the most important long-term medical challenge now facing advanced human civilizations may not be to stop cancer or Alzheimer's disease. Rather, it may be to slow down the rate at which we lose the ability to generate new adult nerve cells." We'd like our bodies to remain healthy and our minds to remain sharp. But how do we do that? According to an ongoing study at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, having close friends and staying in contact with family members offers a protective effect against the damaging effects of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. David Bennett, one of the researchers heading the study, concluded:

"Many elderly people who have the tangles and plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease don't clinically experience cognitive impairment or dementia. Our findings suggest that social networks are related to something that offers a 'protective reserve' capacity that spares them the clinical manifestations of Alzheimer's disease."

The idea that chocolate can be an effective antidepressant has been challenged by new findings published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. Though you might receive a temporary lift, the high is short-lived and chocolate may even deepen the depression, according to the new comprehensive literature review.

In March, an FDA advisory committee said stimulants like Ritalin lead a small number of children to suffer hallucinations that usually feature insects, snakes or worms, and suggested that physicians and parents needed to be warned of the risk. The panel members said they hoped the warning would prevent physicians from prescribing a second drug to treat the hallucinations caused by the stimulants, which one expert estimated affect 2 to 5 of every 100 children taking them. Instead, they said, the right thing to do in such cases was to stop prescribing the stimulants.

Posted on July 27, 2006 12:42 PM
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