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Sunshine helps Improve Mental Wellness

Posted By NWI, Monday, November 7, 2016

A study released by Brigham Young University have found that the environmental factor that has the most effect on people’s mental health is the number of hours of daylight, regardless of whether a person suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder or not.


Two researchers cross-referenced psychological data from the city of Provo, UT with meteorological data on the number of hours of light, cloudiness, rain, and pollution, and found that the single largest environmental factor effecting the mental health of Provo residents was the number of hours in a day.


With the earlier sunset due to the end of daylight saving time for many Americans, getting enough sunlight to maintain a positive mental outlook can be a challenge, so be sure to get outside during work breaks to help your body and mind remain balanced.


Tags:  Depression  Mental Health  Sunshine 

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Mindfulness as Effective as some Anti-Depressants

Posted By NWI, Monday, November 7, 2016

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry has concluded that mindfulness exercises can be as effective in battling depression as some drugs.


The meta-analysis of data collected on 1258 patients between 2010 and 2014 shows that patients who engaged in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) had a reduced risk of depressive relapse within a 5-year period compared with those who did not receive MBCT. Additionally, comparisons with active treatments such as prescription drugs also showed a reduced risk of relapse within the same period. There was also some evidence to suggest that a greater severity of depressive symptoms prior to treatment was associated with a larger effect of MBCT compared with other treatments.


To read the full study in JAMA Psychiatry, click here


Tags:  Antidepressants  Depression  Happiness  Mindfulness  Psychiatry 

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Face Image – an Extension of Body Image

Posted By NWI, Monday, April 4, 2016

When it comes to how people feel about their bodies, there is only a tiny fraction of us who would say “I wouldn’t change a thing.”  Many people would (and do) make small changes to their physical appearance, like losing a couple pounds, or perhaps changing their hair color.


But what might cause whole subsections of the population who feel that their appearance is substandard, especially with aspects that are out of the person’s control?


That’s what professor David Frederick of Chapman University was trying to figure out when he studied 303 Asian-American women from the University of Hawaii and UCLA.


He found that the Asian-American women scored very similarly to white American women in regards to overall satisfaction with their bodies and weight, but found that a much larger percentage, 56- 57% compared to 34%, of Asian-American women reported to be at least somewhat unsatisfied with their face regarding eye shape, nose shape, or face shape.


What could cause such a disparity between the groups in regards to the satisfaction with their own faces (a term Frederick coined “Face-Image”)?


Frederick chalks up the disparity to the difference and influence between Eastern and Western cultures.

Eastern cultures tend to focus more on the collective group rather than the individual, which is favored by the West.  Therefore, if a person under the influence of Eastern cultural norms doesn’t fit into society’s prevailing ideals of beauty, she is more likely to be affected emotionally. In a similar situation, a white American woman, having been brought up with Western ideals of individuality, is more likely to shrug off physical deviations from the societal standard  as being unique.


Additionally, couple in the fact that Asian-American women also face different challenges as a minority of the population than white American women. Some of this dissatisfaction with “face image” can be attributed to the feeling of “not fitting in” with the prevailing culture.


This begs the question: What can we, as wellness professionals, do to help encourage inclusive societal standards when it comes to physical differences, in order to help women and men of minority races alleviate negative feelings toward their physical features?


To read more about Frederick’s study, check out this link.

Tags:  Body Image  Depression  Mental Health 

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Witnessing Violence Harms Children’s Mental Health

Posted By NWI, Monday, April 4, 2016

With the constant flow of media surrounding us all, it’s difficult to prevent our children from being exposed to images of violence, but ongoing research is finding that children who see violent acts either via media or first-hand have more problems with anxiety and decision-making.


According to the research of Dr. Daniel J. Flannery, 12% of kids who have either been victims of violence in school or have witnessed violence in school have anxiety levels that may necessitate intervention.


Children who witness violence are also more likely to grow up with the idea that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems – perhaps without consequence – and are more likely to propagate violence against others. Adolescents who have witnessed violence have elevated levels of anger and depression, and are more likely to display suicidal tendencies.


To read Flannery’s initial findings in childrens’ mental health, click here.

Tags:  anxiety  children  depression  mental health  violence 

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Discrimination Has Real Mental Health Impacts

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, February 2, 2016

People who have experienced discrimination are more prone to mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. This is the conclusion of a study performed by the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California - Los Angeles.

Doctors Vickie Mays, Susan Cochran, and Gilbert Gee began studying the mental health effects of discrimination on Asian Americans in 2007.  Gee sought to understand the clinical effects of discrimination on individuals and populations, beyond the obvious feelings of sadness and loss of self-worth.

The research shows that experiencing extended amounts of discrimination can lead to real and significant changes in how the brain operates, effecting decision-making and information processing centers, ultimately finding that people who live through significant bouts of discrimination are conditioned to lose the ability to think as clearly as they potentially could.

Since the original 2007 study pertaining to Asian Americans, the findings have been extrapolated out to Latinas/Latinos, African Americans, and homosexuals.

To read the full article on the UCLA discrimination research click here.

Tags:  Anxiety  Depression  Discrimination  Mental Health  Multi-Cultural 

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Benefits of Talk Therapy on Depression Overstated

Posted By NWI, Monday, October 5, 2015

Findings in the journal PLOS One explain that the benefits of talk therapy for patients with depression have been largely overstated.

The researchers were aware of the overstatement of the efficacy of antidepressant medication due to publication bias – namely that studies performed with positive results were more likely to draw attend be published than studies with negative results. They extrapolated that idea out to the same sort of effect occurring with studies on treatments performed to alleviate depression without medication.

By researching past studies that had not garnered much attention or publication due to negative outcomes, the researchers found that nearly 30% of all studies found negative results on the effectiveness of talk therapy working to treat depression, thereby taking into question the average efficacy of the treatment overall.

To read the research, visit journals.plos.org.


Tags:  Depression  Mental Health  talk therapy  therapy  Wellbeing  wellness 

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Social Media Use Affects Teen Mental Health

Posted By Jeff Rice, Monday, August 3, 2015

Teens who use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more than two hours per day are more likely to deal with mental illnesses, says a new study by Canadian researchers at the Ottawa department of public health published in the July issue of Cyberpsychology.

Though a causal relationship has not been established, a trend has been established between tendencies like psychological distress and suicidal thoughts and heavy use of social media sites. This does not necessarily indicate whether social media use causes mental distress, or whether people who are mentally distressed gravitate toward social media use, but it does indicate that heavy social media use and mental distress tend to go hand-in-hand. 

Study author, Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga, M.D., intoned that the correlation may be attributable to the anonymity of social media, which increases the likelihood of cyber-bullying.  There is also the tendency of social media users to compare themselves to others on sites which can over-represent the use of drugs and alcohol.

Sampasa-Kanyinga urges parents to monitor their childrens’ use of social media, restrict it to less than two hours per day, and watch for changes in eating, sleeping, mood and other unusual behavior.

To read the full study, visit cyberpsychology.eu

Tags:  Depression  Health  Social Media  Suicide  Teens  Wellness 

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A Good Side to Depression?

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Is there a good side to depression? Researchers from McMaster University and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health think there might be!

In a November 2014 study, researchers devised a test to discover the “roots” of depression. The results of the test suggested that depression might be a coping mechanism. Deep analytic thought, a common trait of depressed individuals, might actually help depressed individuals work through complex issues like a death or a divorce, for instance.

The flip side is that an individual might concentrate so heavily (often involuntarily) on the particular issue that they may allocate too many mental resources to the issue and undermine attention on other life functions. In this way, the deep rumination disrupts things like eating, sleeping, social interactions, etc. Or rather, the negative things we associate with depression.

The researchers defined deep analytic thought as “a type of distraction-resistant thinking that is characteristic of clinical and sub-clinical depression alike.” While the researchers made specific strides to underline the seriousness of depression as a mental health concern, they believe that understanding the underlying cause of depression could play a significant role in its treatment.The paper, "Measuring the bright side of being blue," appears in the peer-reviewed, open access journal PLOS ONE (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0112077). It outlines a set of 20 questions the researchers used to gauge the level of an individual’s deep rumination as well as the research methodologies and results of the study overall. The answers to the questions, they suggest, would allow a clinician to tailor the type and level of care that an individual receives by providing additional insights to the depressed individual.



Journal Reference:

Barbic, S.P., Durisko, Z., and Andrews, P.W.Measuring the bright side of being blue: A new tool for assessing analytical rumination in depression.  PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (11): e112077 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0112077


Tags:  December 2014  Depression  Emotional  Mental Health 

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Emotional Wellness Breakthrough: First Blood Test to Diagnose Major Depression Developed

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, September 22, 2014

Are you depressed? How do you feel? These questions once touched on a gray area that some individuals would rather not visit. Plus, the answer or diagnosis was often based on observation on non-specific symptoms. Pride, shame, fear, disbelief: There are many reasons why individuals might avoid self-diagnosing and/or listening to the diagnosis of a healthcare professional.

Realizing that many individuals who needed mental care avoided seeking it, the mental health community did its part to educate populations. Depression is often the result of a chemical imbalance and not a mark that there is something “wrong” with the individual.

The gray area is beginning to clear as researchers from Northwestern University have developed a blood test that provides the first scientific diagnoses of major depression. It also can identify individuals who are at risk for depression.

The test measures levels of nine RNA blood markers. (RNA molecules are the messengers that interpret the DNA genetic code and carry out its instructions.) Even better, the blood test predicts who will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy.

Why is this good? This will provide the opportunity for more effective, individualized therapy for people with depression by not only showing who might benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, but also by showing the impact of such therapy through ongoing testing.

Plus, the study suggests that the test could increase diagnosis. Currently, according to the background research for the study, a subjective diagnosis takes between two to 40 months to identify major depression and many cases are not diagnosed. This test will be faster and more accurate.

Finally, because the test can identify individuals who are vulnerable to depression, those individuals can be treated preemptively so they stay “well,” instead of waiting for treatment until they are unwell.

The next step is to test the method on a larger population.




E E Redei, B M Andrus, M J Kwasny, J Seok, X Cai, J Ho, D C Mohr. Blood transcriptomic biomarkers in adult primary care patients with major depressive disorder undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy. Translational Psychiatry, 2014; 4 (9): e442 DOI: 10.1038/tp.2014.66

Northwestern University. (2014, September 17). First blood test to diagnose depression in adults. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140917121229.htm

Tags:  Depression  Emotional  October 2014  Social 

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Suicide: Could you identify the risk factors?

Posted By NWI, Monday, September 1, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Last month (August 2014) brought us the untimely death of a revered American comedian: Robin Williams. While it was no secret Robin had struggles (alcohol and drug abuse) while showing a humorous public face, many were still shocked at his passing and apparent suicide.

While his death is a tragedy for his family, friends, and fans, it also speaks to the human condition and numerous cases of mental disease in the population. Some go undiagnosed, or worse, some are diagnosed and untreated due to unfounded social taboos. Mentalhealth.gov estimates (for a one year snap shot) that as many as one in five adults experience a mental issue, while an article posted on Psychology Todays website estimated (again in a one year snap shot) that as few as three in 100 adults seek help for depression.

So could you identify the warning signs of suicide?

What these statistics reflect is a population where depression might be more common than we think. If you "feel down," have depressive feelings, or feel you may have a mental disease...or know someone who may be experiencing these feelings, you are not alone and it is ok to seek help. To treat these feelings and symptoms, we must work to demystify mental illness—most people experience it during their lifetime.

So what should you do if you have these feelings or you fear someone you care about has these feelings? What are the warning signs before someone attempts suicide?

Taken from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the following are the key warning signs of a suicidal person. 

  • Most of the time, people who kill themselves show one or more of these warning signs before they take action: 
  • Talking about wanting to kill themselves, or saying they wish they were dead
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as hoarding medicine or buying a gun
  • Talking about a specific suicide plan
  • Feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Feeling trapped, desperate, or needing to escape from an intolerable situation
  • Having the feeling of being a burden to others
  • Feeling humiliated
  • Having intense anxiety and/or panic attacks
  • Losing interest in things, or losing the ability to experience pleasure
  • Insomnia
  • Becoming socially isolated and withdrawn from friends, family, and others
  • Acting irritable or agitated
  • Showing rage, or talking about seeking revenge for being victimized or rejected, whether or not the situations the person describes seem real
  • Individuals who show such behaviors should be evaluated for possible suicide risk by a medical doctor or mental health professional.

What To Do When You Suspect Someone May Be at Risk for Suicide

  • Take it Seriously 
  • 50% to 75% of all people who attempt suicide tell someone about their intention.
  • If someone you know shows the warning signs above, the time to act is now.
  • Ask Questions
  • Begin by telling the suicidal person you are concerned about them.
  • Tell them specifically what they have said or done that makes you feel concerned about suicide.
  • Don't be afraid to ask whether the person is considering suicide, and whether they have a particular plan or method in mind. These questions will not push them toward suicide if they were not considering it.
  • Ask if they are seeing a clinician or are taking medication so the treating person can be contacted.
  • Do not try to argue someone out of suicide. Instead, let them know that you care, that they are not alone and that they can get help. Avoid pleading and preaching to them with statements such as, “You have so much to live for,” or “Your suicide will hurt your family.”
  • Encourage Professional Help
  • Actively encourage the person to see a physician or mental health professional immediately.
  • People considering suicide often believe they cannot be helped. If you can, assist them to identify a professional and schedule an appointment. If they will let you, go to the appointment with them.
  • Take Action
  • If the person is threatening, talking about, or making specific plans for suicide, this is a crisis requiring immediate attention. Do not leave the person alone.
  • Remove any firearms, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used for suicide from the area.
  • Take the person to a walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital or a hospital emergency room.
  • If these options are not available, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for assistance.
  • Follow-Up on Treatment
  • Still skeptical that they can be helped, the suicidal person may need your support to continue with treatment after the first session.


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Risk factors and warning signs. Retrieved on August 15, 2014 from https://www.afsp.org/preventing-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs

Rubin, E. (Jan. 20, 2011). How many people are treated for depression? Demystifying Psychiatry. Retrieved on August 15, 2014 from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/demystifying-psychiatry/201101/how-many-people-are-treated-depression.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mental health myths and facts. Retrieved on August 15, 2014 from http://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/


Tags:  Depression  Emotional  September 2014  Social  Suicide 

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