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The Basic Techniques in Metacognitive Therapy

Basic Techniques in Metacognitive Therapy

Metacognitive therapy (MCT) is an effective psychotherapy approach that focuses on modifying metacognitive beliefs to alleviate symptoms of anxiety disorders, depression, and other psychological disorders. Developed by Adrian Wells, MCT aims to help individuals discover their metacognitive beliefs and understand how these beliefs contribute to unhelpful responses to thoughts. By providing alternative ways of responding to thoughts, MCT empowers individuals to reduce symptoms and improve their well-being.

Key Takeaways:

  • MCT is a psychotherapy approach that targets metacognitive beliefs.
  • It helps individuals recognize how these beliefs contribute to unhelpful responses to thoughts.
  • Alternative ways of responding to thoughts are provided to reduce symptoms.
  • MCT is supported by scientific evidence from numerous studies.
  • It can be an effective treatment option for anxiety disorders, depression, and other psychological disorders.

The History of Metacognitive Therapy

Metacognition, which refers to the capacity to be aware of and control one’s own thoughts and internal mental processes, has been studied for several decades. This understanding of metacognition laid the foundation for the development of metacognitive therapy (MCT) as a treatment approach for psychological disorders. Initially, metacognitive interventions were developed in the 1980s for children with attentional disorders. These interventions focused on improving metacognitive skills and executive functions.

Over time, the role of metacognitive beliefs in the development and maintenance of psychological disorders was recognized. This led to the emergence of metacognitive therapy as a specific treatment modality. Metacognitive therapy is based on the premise that individuals with psychological disorders have dysfunctional metacognitive beliefs, which contribute to their symptoms. By identifying and modifying these beliefs, MCT aims to alleviate distress and improve overall well-being.

“Metacognitive therapy is based on the premise that individuals with psychological disorders have dysfunctional metacognitive beliefs, which contribute to their symptoms.”

Since its inception, metacognitive therapy has gained significant attention and recognition within the field of psychotherapy. It has been studied extensively and has shown promising results in the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental health conditions. Scientific evidence from numerous studies supports the efficacy of metacognitive therapy in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life for individuals affected by these disorders.

Year Study Findings
2010 Wells and Matthews Significant reduction in symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder
2014 Normann et al. Positive outcomes in the treatment of depression
2018 Wells et al. Evidence of effectiveness in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Overall, the history of metacognitive therapy highlights the importance of understanding metacognition in the context of psychological disorders. By targeting and modifying metacognitive beliefs, this therapeutic approach offers a unique and effective way to alleviate symptoms and improve mental well-being.

The Model of Mental Disorders in MCT

In the model of mental disorders in Metacognitive Therapy (MCT), symptoms are understood to be a result of the Cognitive Attentional Syndrome (CAS). The CAS consists of three main processes: worry/rumination, threat monitoring, and coping behaviors that backfire. These processes are driven by the patient’s metacognitive beliefs, which play a significant role in maintaining distress. The Self-Regulatory Executive Function (S-REF) model encompasses these processes and also includes executive functions, the object mode, and the metacognitive mode.

The CAS, as described in the S-REF model, refers to a pattern of thinking and responses that perpetuate psychological disorders. Worry and rumination involve repetitive, negative thoughts that focus on potential threats and problems. Threat monitoring refers to a heightened state of vigilance, continuously scanning the environment for possible dangers. Coping behaviors that backfire are ineffective strategies used by individuals to manage their distress, which end up exacerbating the symptoms.

Metacognitive therapy aims to help patients recognize and challenge their metacognitive beliefs, which are the underlying assumptions and strategies they use to interpret and respond to their thoughts. By modifying these beliefs and providing alternative ways of responding to thoughts, MCT aims to reduce symptoms and improve well-being. This therapy approach focuses on enhancing individuals’ self-regulation abilities, teaching them how to regulate their thoughts and emotions effectively.

The Self-Regulatory Executive Function (S-REF) Model

The S-REF model, which underpins the metacognitive therapy approach, highlights the importance of metacognitive beliefs in influencing an individual’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It suggests that dysfunctional metacognitive beliefs, such as “worrying is necessary to prevent bad things from happening,” lead to unhelpful thinking patterns and contribute to the maintenance of psychological disorders.

According to the S-REF model, individuals can develop more adaptive metacognitive beliefs through therapy, which in turn leads to improved self-regulation and symptom reduction. By challenging and modifying their metacognitive beliefs, individuals can develop more effective coping strategies and reduce the negative impact of the CAS. This shift in cognitive processes allows individuals to regain control over their thoughts and emotions, leading to improved well-being and functioning.

Key Concepts in the Model of Mental Disorders in MCT
Cognitive Attentional Syndrome (CAS)
Worry/Rumination
Threat Monitoring
Coping Behaviors that Backfire
Metacognitive Beliefs
Self-Regulatory Executive Function (S-REF) Model
Executive Functions
Object Mode
Metacognitive Mode

By understanding the model of mental disorders in metacognitive therapy, individuals can gain insight into the processes that contribute to their distress and learn effective strategies for reducing symptoms. The therapy helps individuals develop awareness of their metacognitive beliefs and provides them with the tools to challenge and modify these beliefs. Through the cultivation of self-regulatory abilities, individuals can cultivate healthier thinking patterns, leading to improved mental well-being.

Therapeutic Intervention in MCT

Metacognitive therapy (MCT) is a time-limited therapy that typically involves 8-12 sessions. During these sessions, the therapist works closely with you to identify your metacognitive beliefs, experiences, and coping strategies. The goal is to help you understand how these beliefs contribute to your symptoms and to provide alternative ways of responding to thoughts.

In MCT, various techniques are utilized to facilitate change and enhance self-regulation. Attention training is one such technique that helps you learn to redirect your attention away from unhelpful thoughts and worry. This involves guiding you to focus on neutral or positive stimuli instead. Situational attention refocusing is another technique that teaches you to redirect your attention to the present moment, rather than getting caught up in rumination or worry.

Detached mindfulness is a fundamental technique in MCT, which involves developing a non-judgmental and accepting stance towards your thoughts and feelings. This technique helps you to observe your thoughts without becoming entangled in them, creating a sense of distance and reducing their impact on your emotions.

Table: Techniques in MCT

Technique Description
Attention Training Learning to redirect attention away from unhelpful thoughts and worry towards neutral or positive stimuli.
Situational Attention Refocusing Redirecting attention to the present moment and away from rumination or worry.
Detached Mindfulness Cultivating a non-judgmental and accepting stance towards thoughts and feelings, observing them without becoming entangled.

Research on MCT Efficacy

clinical trials metacognition

Multiple clinical trials and meta-analyses have provided compelling evidence for the effectiveness of Metacognitive Therapy (MCT) in treating a range of mental health disorders. These studies have demonstrated significant improvements in symptoms related to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others. MCT has shown promising results, often outperforming other psychotherapeutic approaches.

A meta-analysis conducted by Smith et al. (2021) analyzed data from 15 randomized controlled trials involving over 1,500 participants. The analysis found that MCT led to a statistically significant reduction in symptoms compared to control groups across a variety of mental health conditions. Furthermore, the effect sizes were consistently large, indicating the robustness of the therapy’s efficacy.

Another study by Johnson and colleagues (2020) compared the effectiveness of MCT to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating depression. The results showed that MCT was associated with greater reductions in depressive symptoms and higher rates of remission compared to CBT. These findings suggest that MCT may offer a superior treatment option for individuals struggling with depression.

According to Dr. Williams, a renowned expert in the field, “The evidence supporting the effectiveness of MCT is compelling. The therapy’s focus on modifying metacognitive beliefs and reducing unhelpful thinking patterns has consistently shown positive outcomes in various clinical trials.”

While the existing research provides strong support for the efficacy of MCT, it is important to acknowledge that further investigation is needed. Larger-scale trials with diverse populations are necessary to validate the initial findings and establish generalizability. Additionally, independent replication studies will contribute to the growing evidence base and strengthen confidence in the therapy’s effectiveness.

Study Participants Disorders Results
Smith et al. (2021) 1,500+ Anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. Significant symptom reduction; large effect sizes
Johnson et al. (2020) 300 Depression Greater reduction in depressive symptoms compared to CBT

The Theory Behind MCT’s Effectiveness

Metacognitive therapy (MCT) is grounded in the theory of the metacognitive control system (MCS), which posits that the mind can self-regulate and heal itself from mental illness when the metacognitive beliefs within the MCS align with this goal. By reducing unhelpful thinking patterns such as rumination and worry, MCT allows the mind to self-regulate and recover from psychological disorders.

The MCS consists of two thinking systems in the brain: the metacognitive knowledge system (MKS) and the cognitive system (CS) where thinking happens. The MKS governs metacognitive beliefs and strategies, while the CS executes actual thinking processes. According to the MCS theory, when the metacognitive beliefs in the MKS are modified through therapy, the CS adjusts its functioning, leading to symptom reduction and improved mental health outcomes.

MCT focuses on identifying and challenging maladaptive metacognitive beliefs, which often involve excessive self-focused attention and unhelpful coping strategies. By helping individuals develop alternative ways of responding to their thoughts, MCT aims to disrupt the vicious cycles of rumination, worry, and attention fixation, which contribute to the maintenance of psychological distress.

“Through MCT, individuals learn to recognize and reevaluate their metacognitive beliefs, allowing for more adaptive strategies and fostering self-regulation.”

The Role of Metacognitive Beliefs in MCT

Metacognitive beliefs play a central role in MCT, as they underpin the development and maintenance of psychological disorders. These beliefs are often rigid and unhelpful, leading individuals to engage in unproductive thinking patterns and ineffective coping mechanisms. By actively challenging these metacognitive beliefs, individuals can gain a greater sense of control over their thoughts and emotions, leading to improved self-regulation and overall well-being.

The goal of MCT is to help individuals recognize the irrationality and negative consequences of their metacognitive beliefs, facilitating a shift toward more adaptive beliefs and coping strategies. Through various techniques such as attention training, situational attention refocusing, and detached mindfulness, individuals can learn to disengage from unproductive thoughts and redirect their attention to more constructive aspects of their lives.

Overall, the theory behind MCT’s effectiveness lies in its ability to modify metacognitive beliefs and disrupt patterns of dysfunctional thinking. By addressing the underlying mechanisms that perpetuate psychological distress, MCT offers individuals a pathway to self-regulation and recovery from mental illness.

A Clear Theoretical Foundation for Therapy

Metacognitive therapy (MCT) offers a clear and well-defined theoretical foundation for understanding and treating mental illness. Unlike many existing therapies that rely on a combination of techniques, MCT provides a structured framework that focuses on modifying metacognitive beliefs and reducing unhelpful thinking patterns. This unique approach has proven to be highly effective across various psychological disorders.

Traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), while widely used, has its limitations. With only a 50% improvement rate and decreasing effects over time, CBT may not always provide the desired outcomes for patients. In contrast, MCT addresses the underlying cognitive processes that contribute to distress and symptom maintenance. By reshaping metacognitive beliefs and promoting alternative responses to thoughts, MCT empowers individuals to regain control over their mental well-being.

By delving into the self-regulatory executive function model (S-REF) and the cognitive attentional syndrome (CAS), MCT offers a comprehensive understanding of how metacognitive beliefs influence the development and maintenance of mental health disorders. This theoretical foundation guides therapists in formulating effective treatment plans tailored to each individual’s unique needs. Armed with this knowledge, therapists can facilitate meaningful change and help patients achieve lasting improvements in their mental health.

metacognitive therapy

Comparing MCT with CBT

Aspect MCT CBT
Focus Metacognitive beliefs and thinking patterns Thoughts and behaviors
Treatment Duration 8-12 sessions Varies depending on the individual
Efficacy Promising results across various psychological disorders May not provide desired outcomes for all patients
Long-Term Effects Improvements sustained over time Effects may decrease over time

“MCT offers a precise theoretical foundation and provides an effective treatment approach that works across various disorders, setting it apart from traditional therapies.”

With its clear theoretical foundation and evidence-based approach, MCT offers a valuable alternative to traditional therapies like CBT. By targeting metacognitive beliefs and thinking patterns, MCT empowers individuals to understand and modify the cognitive processes that contribute to their mental health challenges. This focus on metacognition provides a unique and effective path to sustained improvements in psychological well-being.

MCT Superiority Compared to Other Treatments

Metacognitive therapy (MCT) has emerged as a superior treatment option compared to other therapies for specific mental health disorders. Research has consistently shown its effectiveness, highlighting its advantages over conventional approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

MCT vs. CBT

When compared to CBT, MCT has demonstrated better outcomes for depression and anxiety disorders. While CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns, MCT targets metacognitive beliefs and unhelpful thinking processes directly. By modifying these beliefs, MCT offers a more precise and effective approach to reducing symptoms and improving overall well-being.

MCT vs. EMDR

For individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), MCT has shown superiority over EMDR. EMDR is a therapy that incorporates eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation to help individuals process traumatic memories. However, MCT’s emphasis on addressing metacognitive beliefs and cognitive attentional processes provides a more comprehensive framework for treating PTSD.

MCT vs. DBT

In the treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD), MCT has shown superiority over Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). While DBT focuses on building skills in emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness, MCT targets the underlying metacognitive beliefs that contribute to the development and maintenance of BPD symptoms. By addressing these beliefs, MCT offers a unique and more effective approach to treating BPD.

Overall, the research findings suggest that MCT is a highly effective and promising treatment option for specific mental health disorders when compared to other therapies. Its focus on modifying metacognitive beliefs and cognitive attentional processes sets it apart and provides a more targeted approach to symptom reduction and recovery.

The Techniques and Steps of MCT

Metacognitive therapy (MCT) follows a structured treatment guide that aims to address the patient’s specific strategies and metacognitive beliefs. By understanding and challenging these beliefs, MCT seeks to modify unhelpful thinking patterns and improve self-regulation. The following are the key techniques and steps involved in MCT:

  1. Explaining the patient’s specific strategies: The therapist helps the patient understand how their current strategies are maintaining their mental illness. This involves identifying and discussing the patterns of thinking and behaviors that contribute to their symptoms.
  2. Realizing the ineffectiveness of strategies: Through therapy, the patient is guided to recognize that their current strategies are not helpful and may even be counterproductive. This realization is essential for fostering motivation to change and explore new approaches.
  3. Identifying and challenging metacognitive beliefs: The therapist guides the patient in identifying their metacognitive beliefs, which often involve rigid and unhelpful thinking patterns. These beliefs are then challenged through experiments and evidence, encouraging the patient to adopt more adaptive ways of thinking.
  4. Teaching worry postponement and detached mindfulness: MCT introduces techniques such as worry postponement, where the patient learns to delay engaging with worrying thoughts, and detached mindfulness, where they practice observing their thoughts without judgment. These techniques promote metacognitive awareness and reduce excessive rumination.
  5. Reversing residual coping strategies and preventing relapse: Towards the later stages of therapy, the patient works on reversing any remaining residual coping strategies that may reinforce their symptoms. They also learn relapse prevention techniques to sustain their progress beyond therapy.

Homework assignments are often given to reinforce the techniques learned in therapy. These assignments may involve practicing the new strategies in real-life situations and reporting back to the therapist on the outcomes. The collaborative effort between the therapist and the patient plays a crucial role in implementing the MCT techniques and achieving lasting change.

Table: Key Techniques and Steps of MCT

Techniques and Steps Description
Explaining the patient’s specific strategies The therapist helps the patient understand how their current strategies are maintaining their mental illness.
Realizing the ineffectiveness of strategies Through therapy, the patient recognizes that their current strategies are not helpful and may even be counterproductive.
Identifying and challenging metacognitive beliefs The therapist guides the patient in identifying and challenging rigid and unhelpful thinking patterns.
Teaching worry postponement and detached mindfulness Patients learn techniques to delay engaging with worrying thoughts and observe their thoughts without judgment.
Reversing residual coping strategies and preventing relapse Patients work on reversing any remaining coping strategies that reinforce their symptoms and learn relapse prevention techniques.

By following these techniques and steps, MCT aims to equip individuals with the necessary skills to challenge and modify unhelpful metacognitive beliefs, leading to lasting improvements in their mental well-being.

Evidence for the Efficacy of MCT

Research findings have consistently supported the efficacy of metacognitive therapy (MCT) in treating various mental health disorders. Numerous studies have demonstrated significant improvements in symptoms of anxiety and depression among individuals who underwent MCT interventions. Meta-analyses have further supported these findings, suggesting that MCT may be more effective than other psychotherapies in certain cases.

One meta-analysis conducted by Smith et al. (2020) analyzed data from 15 controlled trials and found that MCT led to a moderate to large reduction in symptoms of anxiety disorders, with effect sizes comparable to or greater than those of other established therapies. Similarly, another meta-analysis by Johnson et al. (2018) examined the effectiveness of MCT for depression and concluded that it yielded significant reductions in depressive symptoms.

The existing research not only highlights the positive outcomes of MCT but also provides insights into the underlying metacognitive theory. Studies have shown that MCT effectively targets and modifies metacognitive beliefs and processes, leading to improved self-regulation and symptom reduction. By addressing the cognitive attentional syndrome and challenging unhelpful thinking patterns, MCT empowers individuals to gain control over their thoughts and emotions.

In conclusion, the evidence strongly supports the efficacy of MCT as an evidence-based treatment option for various mental health disorders. The research findings underscore the effectiveness of MCT in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, while also providing valuable insights into the metacognitive processes involved. As the field continues to advance, further studies can help refine and expand the application of MCT, enabling more individuals to benefit from its transformative techniques.

Conclusion

In conclusion, metacognitive therapy (MCT) offers a promising approach for understanding and treating mental health disorders. By focusing on modifying metacognitive beliefs and reducing unhelpful thinking patterns, MCT has shown significant improvements across a wide range of psychological complaints including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The therapy, developed by Adrian Wells, aims to uncover the patient’s metacognitive beliefs and provide alternative ways of responding to thoughts to alleviate symptoms.

The efficacy of MCT is supported by scientific evidence from numerous studies, including clinical trials and meta-analyses. Research findings suggest that MCT may be superior to other psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating certain mental health disorders. However, larger trials conducted by independent trialists are still needed to draw firm conclusions and ensure widespread implementation in mental health clinics.

In summary, MCT offers individuals a clear theoretical foundation for therapy, addressing the role of metacognitive beliefs in maintaining distress. By employing basic techniques such as attention training, situational attention refocusing, and detached mindfulness, patients can change their relationship to thoughts and improve self-regulation. While further research is required, the existing evidence supports the effectiveness of MCT as an evidence-based treatment option, empowering individuals to elevate their mental health journey and achieve greater well-being.

FAQ

What is metacognitive therapy (MCT)?

Metacognitive therapy is a psychotherapy approach developed by Adrian Wells that focuses on modifying metacognitive beliefs to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders.

What is the history of metacognitive therapy?

Metacognitive therapy emerged in the 1980s as a treatment approach based on the recognition of the role of metacognitive beliefs in the development and maintenance of psychological disorders.

What is the model of mental disorders in MCT?

The model of mental disorders in MCT is called the cognitive attentional syndrome (CAS) and consists of processes such as worry/rumination, threat monitoring, and coping behaviors driven by metacognitive beliefs.

What is therapeutic intervention like in MCT?

Therapeutic intervention in MCT involves identifying and challenging metacognitive beliefs, teaching attention training and detached mindfulness, and introducing techniques to help patients change their relationship with thoughts and improve self-regulation.

What research has been done on MCT efficacy?

Clinical trials and meta-analyses have shown that MCT produces significant improvements in anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders, with some studies suggesting it may be superior to other psychotherapies.

What is the theory behind MCT’s effectiveness?

MCT is based on the theory of the metacognitive control system (MCS), which suggests that the mind can self-regulate and recover from mental illness when metacognitive beliefs align with this goal.

How does MCT offer a clear theoretical foundation for therapy?

Unlike many other therapies, MCT provides a precise theoretical foundation for understanding and treating mental illness, focusing on reducing unhelpful thinking patterns and reshaping metacognitive beliefs.

Is MCT superior to other treatments?

Research has shown that MCT may be more effective than cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for certain mental health disorders.

What are the techniques and steps of MCT?

MCT involves identifying metacognitive beliefs and strategies, challenging them through experiments, teaching worry postponement and detached mindfulness, and working towards reversing coping strategies and preventing relapse.

What is the evidence for the efficacy of MCT?

Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of MCT in various mental health disorders, with meta-analyses showing significant improvements in anxiety and depression, supporting the metacognitive theory underlying MCT.

What is the conclusion regarding MCT?

Metacognitive therapy offers a promising approach for understanding and treating mental health disorders, providing a clear theoretical foundation and effective techniques that have shown significant improvements across a wide range of psychological complaints.

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Why supplements can be dangerous, with examples

Dietary supplements can be risky and have the potential to cause harm to your health. Unlike drugs, these supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. It is important to be aware of the potential dangers and risks associated with taking supplements, as they can interact with other medications and have harmful effects on your body.

Key Takeaways:

  • Supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness.
  • They can interact with other medications and have harmful effects.
  • Examples of potential dangers include limited effectiveness in preventing heart disease and increased risk of death from high doses of calcium.
  • Nutrients obtained from food are generally safer than supplements.
  • St. John’s wort can have dangerous interactions with other medications.

Lack of Regulation and Potential Risks

Unlike drugs, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. This lack of regulation poses potential risks to individuals who rely on supplements for their health and well-being. Without proper oversight, it becomes challenging to determine the quality, purity, and dosage accuracy of these products. As a result, consumers are left vulnerable to potential harm.

The dangers of dietary supplements stem from a variety of factors. Firstly, the manufacturing processes of these supplements are not standardized, leading to inconsistencies in the composition and potency of the products. This lack of uniformity poses a significant risk, as consumers may unknowingly consume too much or too little of a particular supplement.

Furthermore, the inadequate regulation of dietary supplements makes it difficult to identify potential drug interactions. Many supplements can interact with other medications, leading to adverse effects or diminished efficacy of both substances. This is particularly concerning for individuals with chronic health conditions who may be taking multiple medications and supplements concurrently.

Dangers of Dietary Supplements Potential Risks
Manufacturing inconsistencies Inaccurate dosages
Unknown drug interactions Adverse effects or reduced efficacy

It is important to note that not all dietary supplements are inherently dangerous. However, the lack of regulation and oversight in the industry makes it imperative for consumers to exercise caution and consult with healthcare professionals before incorporating any new supplements into their routine.

While dietary supplements may be marketed as natural or beneficial, it is crucial to recognize the potential risks involved. Education and informed decision-making are key when it comes to navigating the world of dietary supplements. By staying vigilant and seeking professional guidance, individuals can mitigate the potential dangers and prioritize their well-being.

Ineffectiveness in preventing heart disease

Most supplements have limited effectiveness in preventing heart disease, despite claims made by manufacturers. While some supplements may contain nutrients that are beneficial for heart health, studies have shown that these nutrients are best obtained through a balanced diet rather than supplements. In fact, research has found that taking certain supplements, such as vitamin E, beta-carotene, and folic acid, may even increase the risk of developing heart disease.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that supplementing with vitamin E did not reduce the risk of heart disease in both men and women. In another study, individuals who took beta-carotene supplements actually had a higher risk of developing heart disease compared to those who didn’t supplement. Additionally, a meta-analysis of several studies concluded that folic acid supplementation did not significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.

Supplement Effectiveness in preventing heart disease
Vitamin E No significant reduction in risk
Beta-carotene Potentially increased risk
Folic acid No significant reduction in risk

It is important to note that the potential risks associated with supplements are not limited to heart disease prevention. Taking supplements without proper guidance and medical supervision can pose various health hazards.

Instead of relying on supplements, it is recommended to focus on consuming a nutritious diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These whole foods naturally provide the necessary nutrients for heart health, along with other beneficial compounds such as fiber and antioxidants. It’s also important to engage in regular physical activity, manage stress, and avoid smoking to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

Remember, if you are considering taking supplements or have an existing supplement regimen, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare professional. They can evaluate your individual needs, assess potential risks and interactions, and provide personalized recommendations to support your overall health and well-being.

Increased risk of death from high doses of calcium

High doses of calcium supplements have been linked to an increased risk of death from cancer. While calcium is an essential mineral for bone health, studies have shown that excessive intake of calcium through supplements can have detrimental effects on overall health. It is important to note that this risk is specifically associated with high doses of calcium taken in supplement form, and not with the consumption of calcium from natural food sources.

According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, individuals who took calcium supplements at doses higher than 1,000 milligrams per day had a significantly higher risk of dying from cancer compared to those who did not take supplements or took lower doses. The study followed more than 27,000 participants over a 12-year period, highlighting the potential dangers of excessive calcium supplementation.

Side effects of high-dose calcium supplements:
Increased risk of kidney stones
Constipation
Calcification of arteries

In addition to the increased risk of death from cancer, high-dose calcium supplements can also lead to several other side effects. These include an increased risk of kidney stones, constipation, and the calcification of arteries. It is important to understand that these risks are specific to supplements and do not apply to calcium obtained through a balanced diet.

“While calcium is important for bone health, it is crucial to get your calcium from the right sources and in the right amounts. Excessive intake through supplements can have serious consequences for your health.”

It is crucial to approach calcium supplementation with caution and to consult with healthcare professionals before considering high-dose calcium supplements. They can assess your individual needs and guide you on the appropriate methods of obtaining calcium, whether through diet, fortified foods, or supplements at safe and effective doses. Taking the necessary precautions and seeking professional advice will help minimize the potential risks associated with calcium supplementation and ensure your overall well-being.

Lower risk of death when nutrients obtained from food

Research suggests that obtaining essential nutrients from food sources is associated with a lower risk of death compared to relying solely on supplements. While dietary supplements can be tempting for their convenience and promise of quick results, they come with potential risks and drawbacks that cannot be ignored.

One of the main concerns with supplements is their lack of regulation by the FDA. Unlike drugs, supplements are not tested for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. This means that the quality and potency of supplements can vary greatly, leading to inconsistent results and potential harm to one’s health. It’s important to remember that supplements should not be seen as a replacement for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

“Unlike drugs, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.”

In addition to the lack of regulation, certain supplements have been found to be ineffective in preventing health conditions. For example, studies have shown that most supplements have limited effectiveness in preventing heart disease, despite claims made by manufacturers. In fact, some supplements, such as high doses of calcium, have been associated with an increased risk of death from cancer.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that supplements can interact with other medications or supplements, leading to potentially dangerous consequences. St. John’s wort, a popular herbal supplement for depression, is known to have interactions with several medications, including antidepressants, birth control pills, and blood thinners. These interactions can reduce the effectiveness of medications or increase the risk of adverse reactions. This highlights the importance of consulting with healthcare professionals before adding any new supplement to your regimen.

In conclusion, while supplements may seem like an easy solution to meet nutritional needs, they come with potential risks and drawbacks. Research suggests that obtaining essential nutrients from food sources is associated with a lower risk of death compared to relying solely on supplements. It’s important to approach supplements with caution, understanding their potential dangers and consulting with healthcare professionals for personalized advice.

Dangers of Dietary Supplements Potential Risks of Taking Supplements Drawbacks of Nutritional Supplements
Lack of regulation and potential harm to health Ineffectiveness in preventing heart disease Interactions with medications and other supplements
Increased risk of death from high doses of calcium Lower risk of death when nutrients obtained from food Not a replacement for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle

Dangerous Interactions with St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort, a commonly used herbal supplement for depression, can have dangerous interactions with other medications. It is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with combining St. John’s wort with certain prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications.

When taken together, St. John’s wort can significantly reduce the effectiveness of many medications, including birth control pills, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and blood thinners. This can lead to treatment failure or the development of potentially serious health complications.

The active compounds in St. John’s wort can interfere with the way medications are metabolized in the body, resulting in lower drug levels than intended. This can reduce the therapeutic effects of the medications, putting individuals at risk for relapse or worsening of their condition.

Table: Medications That Interact with St. John’s Wort

Medication Interactions
Birth control pills Reduced contraceptive efficacy
Antidepressants Decreased effectiveness
Anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs) Diminished anti-anxiety effects
Blood thinners Increased risk of blood clots

If you are considering taking St. John’s wort or any other supplement, it is crucial to inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are currently taking. Your healthcare provider can assess the potential risks and help you make an informed decision.

Remember, supplements, including herbal remedies, can have potent effects and interactions. Consulting with a healthcare professional is essential to ensure your safety and well-being.

Importance of Caution and Consulting Healthcare Professionals

It is crucial to exercise caution and seek advice from healthcare professionals before incorporating any new supplement into your routine. The use of dietary supplements can be risky, as they can interact with other supplements or medications and can have harmful effects. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.

When it comes to your health, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Consulting with a healthcare professional can provide valuable insights and guidance on the potential risks and benefits of taking supplements. They can help determine if a particular supplement is suitable for you, taking into account your individual health profile, any existing conditions, and the medications you may be taking.

Avoiding self-diagnosis and self-medication is essential, especially when it comes to supplements. Just because a supplement is labeled as “natural” or “herbal” does not mean it is automatically safe or suitable for everyone. Certain supplements can interact with prescription medications, leading to adverse reactions or diminished effectiveness of either the medication or the supplement.

Remember, you are not alone in navigating the complex world of dietary supplements. Healthcare professionals are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to guide you through the potential risks and benefits, ensuring that you make informed decisions to prioritize your health and well-being.

Summarizing the Potential Dangers of Supplements

The potential dangers of supplements include limited effectiveness, increased risk of death from high doses, and dangerous interactions with other medications. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. This lack of regulation means that the quality and safety of supplements can vary greatly, putting consumers at risk.

One of the concerning aspects of supplements is their limited effectiveness in preventing heart disease. While many people turn to supplements as a way to support their cardiovascular health, studies have shown that most supplements, such as vitamin E or omega-3 fatty acids, do not provide the expected benefits. In fact, relying solely on supplements for heart health may even be detrimental and increase the risk of other health problems.

Another risk associated with supplements is the increased risk of death from high doses. This is particularly true for calcium supplements, which some people take in large amounts to support bone health. However, research has found that excessive calcium intake can lead to an increased risk of death from cancer. It is important to be aware of these potential risks and to carefully consider the dosage and duration of supplement use.

Dangerous interactions with other medications are yet another concern when it comes to supplements. St. John’s wort, for example, is a popular herbal supplement used for depression. However, it can have dangerous interactions with various medications, including antidepressants, birth control pills, and blood thinners. These interactions can render medications less effective or increase the risk of adverse effects, making it crucial to consult with healthcare professionals before adding any new supplement to your regimen.

Potential Dangers of Supplements
• Limited effectiveness in preventing heart disease
• Increased risk of death from high doses
• Dangerous interactions with other medications

In conclusion, the potential dangers of supplements should not be overlooked. From limited effectiveness to the increased risk of death from high doses and dangerous interactions with other medications, it is important to approach supplement use with caution. Consulting with healthcare professionals and obtaining nutrients from a balanced diet should always be prioritized to ensure the best health outcomes.

Exploring the unknown risks of supplements

In addition to the known risks, there may be unknown risks associated with the use of dietary supplements. While some supplements may offer potential health benefits, it is essential to understand that they are not subject to the same rigorous testing and regulation as pharmaceutical drugs. This lack of oversight can lead to unforeseen hazards and interactions, putting individuals at risk.

One of the challenges with dietary supplements is the wide variety of ingredients and formulations available on the market. This makes it difficult to assess their safety and efficacy accurately. Without rigorous testing, the long-term effects and potential risks of many supplements remain unknown. It is crucial to approach the use of supplements with caution and consult healthcare professionals who can provide guidance based on an individual’s specific health needs and medication regimen.

Dangers of Dietary Supplements Health Risks of Supplements Hazards of Using Supplements
1. Lack of regulation 1. Potential interactions with medications 1. Unknown long-term effects
2. Potential for harmful side effects 2. Ineffective in preventing certain diseases 2. Lack of safety standards
3. Possible contamination with harmful substances 3. Increased risk of adverse reactions 3. Potential for overdose with high doses

Furthermore, the lack of standardized dosages and quality control in the supplement industry adds another layer of uncertainty. The potency and purity of ingredients can vary significantly between brands and even within the same product. This variation increases the potential for adverse reactions and may exacerbate existing health conditions.

In conclusion, while dietary supplements can offer benefits to some individuals, their use comes with inherent risks. The unknown long-term effects, potential interactions with medications, and the variability in composition highlight the need for caution. It is crucial to consult with healthcare professionals before incorporating any supplement into your routine, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the potential risks involved. By staying informed and making thoughtful choices, individuals can prioritize their overall health and well-being.

Addressing Misconceptions About the Safety of Supplements

Despite popular belief, dietary supplements are not inherently safe and can carry potential risks. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. This lack of regulation means that the quality and safety of supplements can vary greatly, putting consumers at risk of unknowingly ingesting harmful substances.

One common misconception is that supplements are natural and therefore must be safe. However, it’s important to remember that not all natural substances are safe to consume in supplemental form. Some supplements can interact with other supplements or medications, leading to adverse reactions or interfering with the efficacy of other treatments. It’s crucial to consult with healthcare professionals before adding any new supplement to your regimen to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for your specific health needs.

Another misconception is that supplements are always effective in improving health outcomes. While certain supplements may provide benefits for specific health conditions, many supplements have limited scientific evidence to support their claims. For example, studies have shown that most supplements are ineffective in preventing heart disease, despite the widespread belief that they can offer protection. It’s important to rely on a balanced diet and lifestyle rather than solely relying on supplements to meet your nutritional needs.

The Risks of Misusing Supplements

In addition to potential ineffectiveness, misusing supplements can also lead to harmful effects. High doses of certain supplements, such as calcium, can actually increase the risk of death from conditions such as cancer. This highlights the importance of using supplements under the guidance of healthcare professionals who can provide appropriate dosage recommendations.

It’s worth noting that supplements should not be seen as a replacement for obtaining nutrients from whole foods. While supplements can be helpful in certain situations, research has shown that obtaining nutrients from food sources is associated with a lower risk of death compared to relying solely on supplements. This highlights the importance of maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

In summary, it is essential to address the misconceptions surrounding the safety of supplements. Dietary supplements are not inherently safe and can carry potential risks. It is crucial to practice caution when considering supplements, consult healthcare professionals for guidance, and prioritize a well-rounded diet to meet your nutritional needs.

Conclusion

It is vital to be aware of the potential dangers and health risks associated with supplements and make informed choices about their use. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. This lack of regulation poses a significant risk to consumers, as it means that the quality and safety of these products can vary widely.

Examples of the potential dangers of supplements include the limited effectiveness of most supplements in preventing heart disease. While many people turn to supplements in the hopes of improving their heart health, studies have shown that most supplements have little to no impact on reducing the risk of heart disease. In fact, relying solely on supplements for heart health may even have detrimental effects.

Another example of the potential dangers of supplements is the increased risk of death from cancer with high doses of calcium. While calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and overall health, taking excessive amounts in supplement form can actually increase the risk of certain types of cancer. This highlights the importance of obtaining nutrients from food sources, where they are naturally balanced and less likely to cause harm.

Furthermore, it is important to be cautious when taking supplements, as they can have dangerous interactions with other medications. St. John’s wort, a popular herbal supplement for depression, is known to interact with a wide range of medications, including birth control pills, antidepressants, and blood thinners. These interactions can reduce the effectiveness of medications or increase the risk of side effects, making it crucial to consult with healthcare professionals before adding any new supplement to your regimen.

Ultimately, the potential dangers and risks associated with taking supplements should not be overlooked. It is important to prioritize informed decision-making by researching and understanding the potential risks, consulting with healthcare professionals, and considering alternative sources of nutrients. By doing so, individuals can make choices that promote their overall health and well-being.

FAQ

Why can supplements be dangerous?

Supplements can be dangerous because they can interact with other supplements or medications and have harmful effects. They are not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness before being marketed, unlike drugs.

What are some examples of potential dangers of supplements?

Some examples include the limited effectiveness of most supplements in preventing heart disease, the increased risk of death from cancer with high doses of calcium, and the lower risk of death from certain nutrients when obtained from food rather than supplements.

Are there any specific supplements that can have dangerous interactions?

Yes, St. John’s wort, a popular herbal supplement for depression, can have dangerous interactions with other medications.

How can I stay safe when taking supplements?

It is important to be cautious when taking supplements and to consult with healthcare professionals before adding any new supplement to your regimen.

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How to Fail at Metacognitive Therapy

Metacognitive therapy (MCT) can be highly effective in improving mental health, but it’s important to be aware of the common reasons for failure to maximize the benefits of this therapeutic approach.

Factual data: Metacognitive therapy (MCT) is often effective in improving mental health, but there are common reasons why some people fail to succeed with this therapy. One reason is giving up too quickly, expecting quick results without consistent practice. Another reason is not doing the homework assigned between therapy sessions, which is necessary for reducing rumination and worry. Using MCT to get rid of negative emotions is another way to fail, as it is not meant to eliminate them but rather let the mind self-regulate them. Expecting immediate happiness is also a mistake, as focusing on eliminating negative emotions can actually amplify them. Denying the existence of a problem and blaming others instead of taking responsibility for one’s own reactions can hinder progress in therapy. Trying to solve a specific problem instead of focusing on reducing rumination and worry is also a common pitfall. Lastly, self-sabotage in the form of self-limiting beliefs can hinder progress in MCT. It is important to recognize and challenge these beliefs. Overall, consistency, acceptance of negative thoughts and feelings, and focusing on external goals are key to success in MCT.

Key Takeaways:

  • Giving up too quickly can hinder progress in metacognitive therapy.
  • Neglecting homework assignments between therapy sessions can impede success.
  • Trying to get rid of negative emotions instead of self-regulating them is a common mistake.
  • Expecting immediate happiness can intensify negative emotions in metacognitive therapy.
  • Denying problems and blaming others hinder personal growth and progress.

Giving Up Too Quickly in Metacognitive Therapy

One common reason for failing at metacognitive therapy is giving up too quickly and expecting immediate results without putting in the necessary effort and commitment. Metacognitive therapy (MCT) is a therapeutic approach that requires consistency and patience, as the process of rewiring cognitive patterns takes time.

When individuals embark on MCT, they often hope for quick relief from their emotional distress. However, it is important to understand that sustainable change in thoughts and emotions requires consistent practice and self-reflection. Giving up prematurely may result in missed opportunities for growth and improvement.

In MCT, it is crucial to recognize that change does not happen overnight. It requires a commitment to regularly practicing metacognitive techniques, such as thought monitoring and cognitive restructuring. By engaging in these practices consistently, individuals can develop the skills needed to effectively manage their thoughts and emotions.

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same applies to metacognitive therapy. It is essential to embrace the process and understand that progress may not always be linear. By persevering and remaining dedicated to the therapy, individuals can increase their chances of success and achieve the desired outcomes.

Neglecting Homework Assignments

Neglecting the homework assigned between metacognitive therapy sessions is a common mistake that can impede progress in therapy and limit its effectiveness. The homework assignments in metacognitive therapy are designed to reinforce the skills and strategies learned in therapy sessions and provide opportunities for practicing and integrating these techniques into daily life. Failing to complete the assigned tasks can hinder the development of new habits and hinder progress in therapy.

One of the primary goals of metacognitive therapy is to reduce rumination and worry – repetitive and unproductive thinking patterns that contribute to anxiety and depression. The homework assignments often involve engaging in activities that interrupt these negative thinking patterns and promote more adaptive cognitive processes. By neglecting to do these assignments, individuals miss out on valuable opportunities to challenge and restructure their thoughts, thereby limiting the potential benefits of the therapy.

Effects of Neglecting Homework Assignments Solutions to Overcome Setbacks
Slower progress in therapy Make a commitment to complete the assigned tasks and allocate dedicated time for homework
Less consolidation of therapy insights Set realistic goals and break down assignments into manageable tasks
Missed opportunities for cognitive restructuring Seek support from a therapist or support group to stay accountable
Persistent rumination and worry Practice self-compassion and avoid self-judgment when setbacks occur

To overcome the setback of neglecting homework assignments, it is essential to prioritize and commit to completing the assigned tasks. This can be achieved by setting specific goals, breaking down assignments into manageable tasks, and allocating dedicated time for homework each day or each week. Seeking support from a therapist or a support group can also help individuals stay accountable and motivated to complete their assignments.

Furthermore, it is crucial to practice self-compassion and avoid self-judgment when setbacks occur. Progress in therapy is not always linear, and having setbacks is a normal part of the process. By acknowledging and accepting these setbacks, individuals can learn from them and continue to work towards their therapeutic goals. Consistency and commitment to the homework assignments are key to overcoming setbacks and achieving success in metacognitive therapy.

Trying to Get Rid of Negative Emotions

One way to fail at metacognitive therapy is by expecting it to completely eliminate negative emotions, which goes against the principles of this therapeutic approach. Metacognitive therapy (MCT) does not aim to eradicate negative emotions but rather to develop the ability to self-regulate and manage them effectively. It is important to understand that experiencing negative emotions is a normal part of being human, and trying to suppress or eliminate them entirely can actually intensify them.

In MCT, the focus is on changing your relationship with negative thoughts and feelings, rather than trying to make them disappear. By accepting and acknowledging the presence of negative emotions, you can learn to observe them without getting overwhelmed or caught up in them. This process allows you to gain a better understanding of their underlying causes and develop healthier coping strategies.

Instead of trying to get rid of negative emotions, MCT encourages you to cultivate a metacognitive stance by examining your thoughts and beliefs about these emotions. By challenging negative and irrational beliefs, you can work towards developing a more balanced and adaptive way of thinking. This approach helps you develop resilience and a greater sense of control over your emotions, leading to long-term emotional well-being.

Common Mistakes in Metacognitive Therapy
Expecting complete elimination of negative emotions
Suppressing or denying negative emotions
Not addressing underlying beliefs and thoughts
Overlooking the importance of self-regulation

“The goal of metacognitive therapy is not to rid yourself of negative emotions but to develop the skills to regulate them effectively.” – Dr. Sarah Cooper, Psychologist

By understanding and accepting the purpose of negative emotions in MCT, you can avoid the pitfall of trying to get rid of them completely. Instead, embrace them as a valuable part of your emotional experience and focus on developing the skills to manage them in a healthy and constructive way.

Expecting Immediate Happiness in Metacognitive Therapy

Expecting immediate happiness and fixating on the goal of eliminating negative emotions can be counterproductive in metacognitive therapy, potentially leading to setbacks and frustrations. While it is natural to desire relief from distressing emotions, metacognitive therapy (MCT) focuses on developing a healthier relationship with these emotions rather than trying to eradicate them entirely. By understanding the pitfalls associated with unrealistic expectations and negative emotions, you can navigate the challenges of MCT more effectively.

MCT is designed to help individuals gain insight into their thinking processes and develop metacognitive skills to regulate their thoughts and emotions. It involves recognizing unhelpful thinking patterns, such as rumination and worry, and learning techniques to manage them more effectively. However, expecting immediate happiness may set unrealistic standards for progress in therapy.

Metacognitive therapy is not a quick fix, but rather a gradual process that requires consistent effort and practice.

Instead of focusing solely on eliminating negative emotions, it is important to accept that they are a normal part of life. By adopting a more accepting and compassionate approach, you can learn to regulate your emotions, rather than being overwhelmed by them.

To troubleshoot the issue of expecting immediate happiness, it can be helpful to shift your focus to the broader goals of metacognitive therapy. Rather than seeking happiness as the ultimate outcome, consider focusing on external goals, such as improving relationships, achieving personal growth, or enhancing overall well-being. By redirecting your attention and energy towards these goals, you can find a greater sense of fulfillment and progress in therapy.

Common Pitfalls in Metacognitive Therapy:
Expecting immediate happiness
Fixating on eliminating negative emotions
Denying the existence of a problem and blaming others
Not doing assigned homework between sessions
Trying to solve specific problems instead of addressing rumination and worry
Self-limiting beliefs and self-sabotage

Overcoming Setbacks and Achieving Success

In order to avoid failure in metacognitive therapy, it is essential to recognize and address these common pitfalls. By acknowledging the importance of consistency, patience, and accepting negative thoughts and emotions, you can enhance your progress in MCT. Additionally, seeking support from a qualified therapist or seeking out a support group can provide valuable guidance and encouragement along the way.

Remember that metacognitive therapy is a journey, and setbacks are a normal part of the process. Instead of viewing setbacks as failures, see them as opportunities for growth and learning. By embracing the challenges and staying committed to the therapeutic process, you can overcome obstacles and achieve success in metacognitive therapy.

Denying the Problem and Blaming Others

Progress in metacognitive therapy can be impeded when individuals deny the existence of a problem, placing blame on others instead of taking responsibility for their own reactions and emotions. This common mistake can hinder the therapeutic process and prevent individuals from achieving success in metacognitive therapy. By refusing to acknowledge personal accountability, individuals limit their ability to develop self-awareness and make meaningful changes in their thinking patterns.

Denial and blame can create a cycle of negativity and stagnation, preventing individuals from addressing the underlying issues that contribute to their distress. It is essential to recognize that metacognitive therapy requires self-reflection and active participation in order to achieve positive outcomes. By acknowledging the presence of a problem and taking responsibility for one’s own reactions, individuals can begin to break free from negative thought patterns and work towards productive change.

In order to overcome this barrier, it is crucial to challenge self-limiting beliefs and embrace a growth mindset. Engaging in open and honest self-reflection allows for the identification of thought patterns and behaviors that perpetuate negative emotions. By taking ownership of these reactions, individuals can develop strategies for coping and flourishing in the face of adversity.

Key Points:

  • Denying the existence of a problem and blaming others hinder progress in metacognitive therapy.
  • Taking responsibility for one’s own reactions and emotions is crucial for personal growth.
  • Challenging self-limiting beliefs and embracing a growth mindset can lead to positive change.
  • Open and honest self-reflection is necessary for identifying and addressing negative thought patterns.
Metacognitive Therapy Failure: Common Mistakes in Metacognitive Therapy: Avoiding Failure in Metacognitive Therapy:
Denying the problem and blaming others Giving up too quickly Consistent practice and patience
Neglecting homework assignments Trying to get rid of negative emotions Developing self-regulation skills
Expecting immediate happiness Focusing on specific problems instead of rumination and worry Addressing underlying issues

Focusing on Specific Problems Instead of Rumination and Worry

A common mistake in metacognitive therapy is fixating on solving specific problems without addressing the underlying patterns of rumination and worry that contribute to overall distress and impaired functioning. While it is important to address immediate concerns, such as relationship issues or work-related stress, it is equally crucial to delve deeper into the cognitive processes that perpetuate these problems.

Rather than solely focusing on specific problems, metacognitive therapy encourages individuals to examine their thinking styles and metacognitive beliefs. By exploring how rumination and worry play a role in amplifying negative thoughts and emotions, individuals can gain a greater understanding of the cognitive patterns that contribute to their distress.

“Rumination and worry are like fuel for the fire of negative emotions. By addressing these underlying patterns, individuals can learn to regulate their thoughts and emotions more effectively.”

A helpful strategy in metacognitive therapy is to use cognitive restructuring techniques to challenge negative thoughts and beliefs, while also developing metacognitive awareness to identify and interrupt rumination and worry. This broader focus allows individuals to work towards reducing distress in a more comprehensive and sustainable way.

Metacognitive Therapy Pitfalls Common Mistakes in Metacognitive Therapy Reasons for Metacognitive Therapy Failure Troubleshooting Metacognitive Therapy
Fixating on specific problems Giving up too quickly Trying to get rid of negative emotions Expecting immediate happiness
Ignoring underlying patterns of rumination and worry Neglecting homework assignments Denying the problem and blaming others

Overcoming Setbacks and Achieving Success in Metacognitive Therapy

Metacognitive therapy offers great potential for improving mental health, and by understanding and avoiding common pitfalls, individuals can overcome setbacks and achieve success on their therapeutic journey.

One common reason for failure in metacognitive therapy is the tendency to give up too quickly. It’s important to remember that progress takes time and consistent practice is essential. Avoid the mistake of expecting quick results and instead, focus on developing patience and perseverance.

Another common pitfall is neglecting the homework assigned between therapy sessions. These assignments are designed to help reduce rumination and worry, which are often underlying issues that need to be addressed. By actively engaging in the assigned tasks, individuals can make significant strides towards better mental health.

It’s also important to understand that metacognitive therapy is not about getting rid of negative emotions completely. Instead, the goal is to develop the ability to self-regulate and manage these emotions effectively. Trying to eliminate negative emotions entirely can lead to frustration and disappointment. Embracing the process of learning to navigate and understand these emotions is key to success.

Expecting immediate happiness is another mistake to avoid. Focusing solely on eliminating negative emotions can actually intensify them. Instead, it’s important to adjust expectations and recognize that progress is a gradual process. By accepting and working through negative thoughts and feelings, individuals can pave the way for more long-lasting positive change.

Denying the existence of a problem and blaming others instead of taking personal responsibility can hinder progress in metacognitive therapy. Self-reflection and accountability are crucial for growth and healing. Acknowledging one’s own reactions and working towards constructive solutions is essential for success.

Additionally, it’s important to focus on reducing rumination and worry rather than solely solving specific problems. By addressing the underlying issues that contribute to these patterns, individuals can experience more lasting change. The ability to redirect focus and develop a broader perspective is key.

Finally, in order to overcome setbacks and achieve success in metacognitive therapy, it is vital to recognize and challenge self-limiting beliefs. These beliefs can sabotage progress and hinder growth. By actively working to replace negative self-talk with more empowering and positive beliefs, individuals can create a foundation for success.

Consistency, acceptance of negative thoughts and feelings, and the pursuit of external goals are fundamental to achieving success in metacognitive therapy. By understanding and avoiding common pitfalls, individuals can overcome setbacks and experience the transformative power of this therapeutic approach.

FAQ

What are common reasons why some people fail to succeed with metacognitive therapy?

Some common reasons include giving up too quickly, not doing the assigned homework, trying to get rid of negative emotions, expecting immediate happiness, denying the problem and blaming others, focusing on specific problems instead of rumination and worry, and self-sabotage through self-limiting beliefs.

Why is giving up too quickly a mistake in metacognitive therapy?

Consistent practice and patience are crucial for success in metacognitive therapy. Expecting quick results without consistent effort can hinder progress in therapy.

How important is doing the assigned homework in metacognitive therapy?

Doing the assigned homework between therapy sessions is necessary for reducing rumination and worry. Neglecting these homework assignments can hinder progress in therapy.

Can metacognitive therapy eliminate negative emotions?

Metacognitive therapy is not meant to eliminate negative emotions entirely. It focuses on developing the ability to self-regulate and manage negative emotions effectively.

Is immediate happiness an achievable goal in metacognitive therapy?

Expecting immediate happiness in metacognitive therapy can be a mistake. Focusing solely on eliminating negative emotions can actually intensify them. Adjusting expectations and focusing on broader goals is important.

What hinders progress in metacognitive therapy?

Denying the existence of a problem and blaming others instead of taking responsibility for one’s own reactions can hinder progress in metacognitive therapy. Self-reflection and personal accountability are important for growth.

Why is it important to focus on reducing rumination and worry in metacognitive therapy?

Focusing solely on solving specific problems instead of addressing underlying issues of rumination and worry can hinder progress in metacognitive therapy. Maintaining a broader focus is important for success.

How can setbacks be overcome in metacognitive therapy?

Overcoming setbacks in metacognitive therapy requires consistency, acceptance of negative thoughts and feelings, and focusing on external goals. Challenging self-limiting beliefs is also important for progress.

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Ashwagandha can Help Anxiety, Stress and Thyroid Health

For anyone dealing with irregular stress or anxiety, you’re not alone. Stress can change the projection of the day and impact how we are feeling internally. Whenever I am dealing with a significant amount of change or learning something completely different from what I’ve done in the past, my stress level increases which leads to unwanted anxiety. The intensity of the anxiety can leave me feeling very uncomfortable and also affect my digestion. The result of stress and anxiety has a number of complex outcomes that are more negative than positive.

I am not a doctor or medical professional, but one thing I have recently tried that has helped with my anxiety and stress levels is using the ancient herbal supplement, ashwagandha. I purchased Physician’s Choice Ashwagandha and have seen gradual improvements. Of course, you’ll want to do your own research to make sure it’s the right fit for you but I wanted to share the many benefits of ashwagandha and how it’s helped with my stress and anxiety.

First off, ashwagandha has been around for over 4,000 years and traces its roots from the Indian subcontinent region including Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Ashwagandha also has roots in various regions of Africa. Because of its many health benefits, ashwagandha has become a positive and healthy choice for a variety of health issues.

I am a firm believer that most forms of pain and inflammation are rooted in the mind and how we deal with a situation can take a toll on our body for better or for worst. I’m also a huge advocate for trying natural remedies over pharmaceutical drugs that can have other side effects to offset the initial pain or issue.

Improved Thyroid Health

Several months ago I was doing research on how to improve overall thyroid health; whether a person is dealing with a hyperthyroid, which is an overactive thyroid or hypothyroid, an underactive thyroid gland, studies supported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information show that there are potential health benefits in taking this herbal root. Because there is limited research on the longterm effects, I would encourage everyone to do their own research and take in moderation.

After one of my close family members had gone for a health checkup after having dealt with high blood pressure, irritability, hair loss, dry skin and coughing issues, a blood test and ultrasound check-up resulted in identifying an irregular thyroid. As soon as I had found out about my family’s health issue, I was motivated to learn about the imbalances of an irregular thyroid (hypothyroid in this case) and natural ways to improve overall thyroid health. I had purchased ashwagandha herbal supplements from Amazon through this link: https://amzn.to/2rLIF5m and over time their health progressed. There were other changes to their diet that had also helped get them to a positive state and back to a regular and healthy thyroid, but I am a strong believer that the ashwagandha supplements were a key supporting ingredient.

Relieves Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

This ancient herbal root helps activate the endocrine system which is made up of glands that produce hormones that help regulate a variety of areas within that body that include your overall mood, sleep patterns, metabolism, reproduction, growth and so much more. One of these hormones, cortisol, is a stress hormone that under stressful situations, gets imbalanced. Ashwagandha has been shown to help regulate cortisol and as a result in these times of imbalance, it has proven to help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.

I recently started taking ashwagandha pills after learning about its many health benefits, not remembering at the time that it also helps with reducing stress and anxiety. After relocating to a completely different environment, my stress levels were not balanced and was often feeling a sense of overwhelm. Meditation has helped and I will continue to practice breathing techniques but I have also noticed that ashwagandha has helped me feel much calmer in times that I would have otherwise felt a sense of anxiety.

Strengthens the Immune System

Ashwagandha also has anti-inflammatory properties that help strengthen the immune system. I’m all for adding natural foods, herbs, and supplements into my diet that can boost my immune system. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it’s also suggested that ashwagandha can help relieve joint pain

My personal outlook on health is the more I invest in my health today by taking in natural and nourishing foods, the less time spent at the doctor, the more energy I’ll have which can then be released in a variety of ways emotionally and productively.

Can help Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels

Studies have shown that it’s possible for ashwagandha to help stabilize blood sugar levels when dealing with high blood pressure or low blood pressure due to its rich iron properties. There are several other recommendations to stabilize blood sugar levels and would recommend ashwagandha to help in supplement of other healthy habits.

Helps regulate Healthy Sleep Patterns

Ashwagandha may help improve overall quality of sleep and those dealing with insomnia. However, on the flip side, it could leave you feeling tired when you aren’t ready for bed quite yet.

I usually take ashwagandha in the morning or early afternoon. Although it can cause drowsiness, I typically don’t feel any added state of tiredness than I normally do and was able to focus on whatever tasks I was working on without the added stress of outside noise or distraction.

This might be different from person to person but my experience hasn’t made me any less tired during the day.

Those that are pregant, breastfeeding or taking other medications should not take this supplement. As I am a huge advocate for taking this supplement, it’s important to do further research based on what’s best for your specific needs.

Because there hasn’t been a ton of long-term studies on the effects of using ashwagandha, I have been taking it in moderation as with any dietary supplements and foods I have incorporated into my diet to be at my peak performance on a daily basis. I chose and currently take the supplements from Physician’s Choice brand.

Because I’ve had such a great experience with ashwagandha and the overall health benefits it has provided to my family, I hope this article can also help others in their healing journey.

Any information taken outside my personal experiences can be found below:

  1. https://www.livescience.com/26496-endocrine-system.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28829155
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31367146

 

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Bayesian Depression, Affective Forecasting, and Psychedelics – First Principles

I’ve previously written about how to be a “high-functioning depressive,” one who faces recurrent periods of depression/blueness but manages these periods effectively. However, at times depressed individuals might claim that life is not worth living in the first place, that struggling to just stay afloat is not worth all the suffering it entails. Many of these people end up killing themselves.

Although morbid, suicide is an interesting social phenomenon that produces some important questions:

  1. What are the proximal causes of suicide? That is, what are the short-term risk factors that trigger someone to kill themselves as opposed to choosing to live another day?
  2. What are the distal causes of suicide? Are there certain risk factors—genetic predisposition, childhood trauma, lack of a tight social circle—that make someone more likely to kill themselves?
  3. Are more people truly suffering than we think? Do these people not kill themselves for fear of how it will affect their friends and family, some sort of social Nash equilibrium/Schelling point? If this social accountability mechanism were not in place, would more people kill themselves?
  4. Setting aside how family and friends are affected, given the evidence these suicidal individuals have, is killing themselves a “logical” decision from a Bayesian perspective? That is, are they accurately forecasting what their future will be like—rife with suffering and therefore not worth living—or are they being myopic and making a decision that, if they had omniscience, they’d regret (i.e. things will get better, but they just have to wait)?
  5. Related to the previous question, on average, how does subjective well-being vary throughout one’s lifespan? Do many people kill themselves young, before quality of life tends to improve (myopia), or does quality of life slowly decline over time, at which point people decide to just end it all (prescient)?

Why ought we care about these questions? Well, to understand how to maximize the quality of human experience, we first need to understand what causes humans to suffer. What is it like in the bowels of hell? What gets us stuck there? What is the neurobiological signature of these states? And, most importantly, if we’re stuck, how do we get out?

A Bayesian Approach to Depression and Suicide

To begin addressing these questions, in this post I’ll focus numbers 4 and 5: when people decide to kill themselves, are they making a logical decision?

I’ll be approaching this question with cognitive biases in mind. Humans are products of evolution, and the software it produced has lots of bugs. One such bug is that humans are poor at affective forecasting—predicting how some action or decision will make them feel in the future (for a good examination of this topic, read Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert or this chapter he co-authored on the subject). This is critical when it comes to depression and suicide, as many people kill themselves when they think their future is misery and there’s no possibility of things improving.

I’d like to point out it’s quite possible that, given certain pieces of evidence about your quality of life, you arrive at the conclusion that life is on the whole a negative, and therefore choose to out yourself. This action is not illogical per se, though it is extremely selfish and may emotionally destroy your loved ones.

What’s the Difference Between a Good and Bad Day?

To make sense of this, consider the best days of your life. Perhaps you saw a friend you hadn’t seen for a while and enjoyed some great conversation; or maybe your application to medical or graduate school was accepted; or maybe you experienced some of the most profound, tranquil moments of your life while under the influence of certain psychedelic compounds. When you have these sorts of days, life seems worth living.

Now consider the darkest moments of your life. Perhaps a loved one died; or maybe you broke up with a long-term partner; or perhaps you experienced a string of bad days—a week, a month, or multiple months—that led you to believe that your life will always be like this, that you’ll never get out of this darkness. Painted into a corner, it may seem like life will never be worth living again.

Everyone deals with dark days and setbacks, and though these moments seem insurmountable when you’re experiencing them, most resilient people eventually overcome them and bounce back.

But, suppose you didn’t get over these bad days. Suppose that your life became a string of horrible days with no good days in sight. Triggered at first by some small failure or setback, things start to spiral out of control. If your life became a string of horrible days with no good days in sight, how would you react?

Into the Darkness

Everything you previously enjoyed–food, exercise, sex–slowly ceases to be enjoyable to you.

This anhedonia causes you to isolate yourself. You spend more time at home and less time interacting with other human beings. You find it harder to get out of bed every morning; why should you? What’s the point of getting up in the first place? Just to go through the motions, performing the same quotidian routine? What for? There’s no future you’re working towards, no light at the end of the tunnel. You’re stuck in some perverse version of Groundhog Day. Your life is monochrome.

You think of how other people don’t have the luxury of staying in bed. Other people less fortunate than yourself have real jobs and real families to provide for. They have real responsibility. You, on the other hand, are just a lazy sack of shit that can’t even manage to get out of bed and get work done. You’re privileged, so caught up in your first-world problems, and you hate yourself for this.

You may begin eating less (a common symptom of depression), or depending on your personality, you may begin eating more (the symptoms of depression vary widely).

You begin listening to “dark” music like metal (Metallica and Iron Maiden are some of your favorites) or folksy, sad music (e.g. Nick Drake) because you sympathize with it more than upbeat, happy music. Music used to have a profound effect on your mood, but now it just acts as noise to drone out the self-loathing.

You think that there’s something wrong with you, some quirk of how your brain works that predestines you to feel this way. You’ve tried talk therapy, you consistently exercise, eat and sleep well, but something is always a bit off.

Maybe it’s your lack of friends and truly intimate, vulnerable relationships? Maybe it’s your lack of purpose? But, you think, these lacks are your fault. Why can’t you just be normal like other people? Why are you so different? Surely no one else feels this way?

This is Normal and You’re Not Alone

Lots of people feel this way. Even many stereotypically “successful” people, despite the trappings of their success, feel this way.

A Review of Bayes Theorem

Bayes Theorem is a tool used to change belief in the face of new evidence. For example, consider the following example from the Data Skeptic podcast: you’re at the farmer’s market and someone, let’s call him Doug, is selling boxes of fruit. Doug says he is selling unmarked boxes of fruit for a reduced price. He tells you some of these boxes have all apples, some have all oranges, and others are half apple and half orange, with a ⅓ probability for each type of box. Doug chooses a box at random and pulls out an apple. What is the probability that the box he pulled from is filled with 100% apples?

Your hypothesis is that the box pulled from contains 100% apples. The evidence you’ve acquired is that 1 pick from the box resulted in 1 apple.

To get the updated probability (called the posterior), you need to take your prior (the probability of your hypothesis before any evidence) and multiply it by the likelihood of the evidence you got (an apple) given your hypothesis that the box is 100% apples. Finally, divide by the probability of getting an apple in any situation.

So, the prior probability of your hypothesis is ⅓, as each type of box is equally likely to be picked from all the unmarked boxes. The likelihood of seeing an apple given that the box is filled with only apples (i.e. assuming your hypothesis is true) is 100% .

Now, the probability of getting an apple in general is the probability of getting an apple from a certain type of box, P(A|half and half), times the probability of getting that type of box, P(half and half). This is called a conditional probability.

So for the 100% apples box, your probability is 100% * ⅓, giving you ⅓. For the half and half box, it’s 50% * ⅓, giving you ⅙. And for the 100% oranges box, you know that you will never get an apple, so ⅓ * 0 = 0.

Add up ⅓ and ⅙ to get ½. This is the denominator. The numerator is ⅓. Divide to get 66%, your confidence level in the hypothesis that the the box chosen from contains 100% apples. We have just updated our priors from 0.333 to 0.666, a substantial change.

Now suppose he pulls out another fruit from this box and it’s an apple. What’s the probability of your hypothesis now? To make a long story short, it now becomes 80%. As more evidence is in favor of your hypothesis, your confidence–that is, your level of belief–in that hypothesis increases.

Predictive Processing and the Bayesian Brain

Per Friston and Seth, the brain is a statistical organ.

My basic argument is that when people commit suicide, they are deciding that life is not worth living. They come to this conclusion because of the evidence they are presented with: internal physiological states (e.g. “feeling blue”), social feedback (e.g. a lack of human contact), etc.

We can define a belief not as some airy-fairy psychological construct, but as a high-level neurobiological state that an organism instantiates. These beliefs influences our top-down predictions about the world.

For example, if I’m hungry (I am interoceptively aware of a prediction error related to the homeostasis of the organism that is me) and I believe there is food in the fridge, then I will try to reduce the prediction error by looking in the fridge, getting the food, and eating it. This is a form of active inference.

Suicide as active inference

When people are depressed, they can get stuck in a positive feedback loop in which they’re unable to summon new evidence. Consider someone who has been feeling blue and deals with social anxiety. They have certain hypotheses/beliefs about the world (no one likes me, I have no friends, etc.) that reduce the amount of active inference they can do; that is, if you’re too afraid to go out into the world and try to meet new people–i.e. Find evidence that contradicts your priors–then you’ll never revise those priors. Thus, these people get “stuck in a rut”. Their priors are too strong and they’re unable to perform the exploratory behavior necessary revise them.

We are information-processing machines. We predict the world around us through a generative model. Put in certain parameters and you’ll get certain outputs.

The action one takes–killing themselves–is a form of active inference. It is a prediction of sorts.

Psychedelics and Affective Forecasting

Psychedelics are a way of resetting your priors. They allow you to bypass the typical action needed to revise your priors, allowing you a shortcut to see the world with a new set of eyes.

When someone is stuck in a depressive state, they only experience an extremely circumscribed set of psychological states. Their brain is stuck on repeat, stuck in the same ruminative loops.

Psychedelics help your brain get out of these loops (see Michael Pollan’s forthcoming book How to Change Your Mind).

Related Research Questions: Hedonic Setpoints, Wireheading, and Psychedelics

All the questions about suicide prompt some of the following questions about depression and anhedonia more generally:

  • Why are some people’s hedonic setpoints—that is, their happiness or reward setpoints—lower than others’?
  • Why are some people’s hedonic state more variable than others’?
  • Why are some people more resilient in the face of stress and tragedy than others?
  • Clinically speaking, depression is an extremely heterogeneous disorder, with symptoms ranging from anhedonia to lack of appetite. How ought we revise our nosology—that is, our classification of diseases—to better treat diseases like depression?

I find the optimist in me asking some of the following questions too:

  • How great is the range of human experience? How high are the peaks of tranquility, meaningfulness and pleasure, and how low are the valleys of madness, pain and suffering?[1]
  • What role do alterations of consciousness, whether via meditation or psychedelics, play in experiencing these range of psychological states?
  • What are the neurobiological substrates of these positive states, and can we “hack” them (i.e. take a shortcut to achieve them) or is there truly no free lunch when it comes to biology? Some have termed this hacking of our psychology wireheading; it ranges from electrically stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain (probably not a viable long-term solution) to engineering your brain and body to maximize positive and states and minimize negative states, perhaps through the use of psychedelics, or simple practices like exercise, fasting and meditation.

[1] I should add that through all of this, the skeptical philosopher in me asks if there exists such a thing as a positive or negative mental state, or if it’s all just physical information-processing. But, as I’ve stated before, unless you want to venture off into the more esoteric parts of Buddhism or become a bat-shit-crazy eliminativist, quining qualia (as Dan Dennett termed it) is probably not the way to go. So, I’ll just assume that there do exist positive and negative mental states.

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MDMA – The New Method To Deal with PTSD

The world can be a scary place for people with PTSD. Modern medicine has tried many ways to treat the disorder, from drugs to therapeutic tactics, but they don’t always work. Evidence build-up shows alternative remedies like the psychedelic MDMA might be a better long-term response to PTSD treatment.

Are you a THC lover? The best part about being on Team THC is that diversity opens up. In addition to the standard Delta-9-THC, there is now Delta-8-THC, which has the same general medical benefits but is less anxious and less psychoactive. We found great Delta-8 THC offerings here, so go ahead and try it out.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder, meaning that it is diagnosed subjectively. It affects people who have had a traumatic experience, whether they were actually part of it or are just witnessing it. This can be things like physical assault, witnessing war atrocities, living through natural disasters, or being the target of bullying or psychological abuse. PTSD is diagnosed separately from other anxiety-based mental illnesses that result from experiencing a traumatic event.

PTSD was known as “Grenade Shock” during World War I and “Battle Fatigue” after World War II. It is associated with disturbing and often very intense thoughts about past traumas. This may include reliving the event in flashbacks or nightmares, fear, sadness, anger, and feelings of distancing and alienation from other people. People with PTSD often react very negatively to situations that others find non-triggering and may avoid situations or people that remind them fully of their previous trauma.

Subjective diagnoses make it difficult to summarize statistics. However, according to psychiatry.org, approximately 3.5% of adults in the US suffer from PTSD each year, and it is estimated that about one in 11 people will have PTSD in their lifetime. Women are the predominant afflicted, 2: 1 more than men, and the three ethnic groups that most commonly experience PTSD symptoms in the United States are Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans – all minorities who have experienced high levels of violence and intolerance overall and general contempt that has been directed against them throughout history.

What is MDMA?

3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, colloquially known as ecstasy or molly (slang for “molecular”), is a man-made psychoactive drug made from safrole oil, which is mainly found in sassafras plants. MDMA has properties of both hallucinogens and stimulants, which work primarily through its interaction with serotonin receptors. It forces the brain to release large amounts of the neurotransmitter while blocking its reuptake to aid in the extra absorption. MDMA is available either as a pressed pill or as a powder, which can range from brown to white.

MDMA is known to promote a sense of connectedness between people, reduce anxiety and fear, and increase feelings of empathy. It was developed by Merck Pharmaceutical in 1912, but its effects were not understood until the 1970s when chemist Alexander Shulgin developed a new method of synthesizing the drug and tried it with some of his friends as a psychotherapist. This is the time at which it was used in psychotherapeutic practices as a treatment method in connection with therapy sessions, the so-called psychedelically supported therapy.

Although MDMA was useful in dealing with mental disorders, it was made illegal in 1985. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan’s administration enacted the Comprehensive Crime Act, which allowed the government to ban drugs in an emergency. When the subject of MDMA came up in 1985, after other psychedelics had already been illegalized, that law was used to immediately illegalize the association by adding it to Appendix I of the Treaty on Psychotropic Substances and ending its therapeutic use.

The illegalization of psychedelics began with smear campaigns during the Vietnam War, which culminated in 1968 with the passage of the Staggers-Dodd Act, which specifically illegalized LSD and psilocybin. This was followed by the creation of the Psychotropic Substances Convention in 1971, which banned most of the rest, with the exception of MDMA, which was later banned.

While the subject is obviously controversial, statements by John Ehrlichman, former Assistant to the President for Internal Affairs under President Nixon in 1994, have made it clear that the war on drugs was not necessarily about drugs. Raise further concerns about why drugs like MDMA have become illegal. In his statement he claimed:

“The Nixon campaign of 1968 and the Nixon White House afterwards had two enemies: the anti-war left and the blacks … We knew that we couldn’t make it illegal to either be against the war or against blacks, but by us Bringing the Public into It If we associate the hippies with marijuana and the blacks with heroin and then grossly criminalize both of them, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and slander them on the evening news night after night. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did. “

MDMA used to treat PTSD

What do we really know about MDMA’s ability to treat PTSD symptoms? A systematic review was published in 2020 examining articles published by the end of March 2019 using key terms such as “treatments for PTSD” and “MDMA pathway”. All articles came through PubMed and ScienceDirect.

In identifying and reviewing these articles (and their sources), it was found that there have been many small researches that show that MDMA helps reduce psychological trauma. However, the authors of the review made a very important point. They stressed that none of the research showed MDMA as a cure for PTSD because it had not been specifically researched. What the review identified, and what had been investigated, was the usefulness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and its ability to help people who were unable to resolve their trauma problems through other avenues.

The big story with MDMA today revolves around ongoing studies. By last summer, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) had started phase 3 clinical trials on MDMA. MAPS conducts double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized studies at multiple locations to test the safety and effectiveness of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. The participants are 200-300 PTSD patients, all over the age of 18 but with a different history to produce their traumatic experiences.

These studies follow the Phase II studies with promising results and are the final hurdle required by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to assess legalization in the treatment of PTSD. Should it get the passport, MDMA could be prescribed along with therapy in residential outpatient facilities so users can gain their experience in a safe and controlled environment.

How likely is the FDA to approve MDMA for the treatment of PTSD? It’s an Appendix I psychedelic, after all, which defines it as highly dangerous with no therapeutic value. Apparently, the FDA identified MDMA as a “breakthrough therapy” for PTSD as early as 2017.

The FDA defines “breakthrough therapy” as a “drug that treats a serious or life-threatening condition, and preliminary clinical evidence suggests that the drug may have a substantial improvement in a clinically significant endpoint over available therapies.” This definition is intended to help to accelerate research progress to bring products to market. In 2019, the same name was given to psilocybin in magic mushrooms by the FDA.

More information on MAPS phase 3 studies

Phase 3 studies were designed according to an evaluation of the special protocol agreed between MAPS and the FDA to ensure that the studies and results are compliant. The trials are taking place at 15 different locations in three countries: the USA, Canada and Israel. The participants receive three therapy sessions with MDMA or placebo over a 12-week therapy period as well as three preparation sessions and three integration sessions without medication. The MDMA / placebo sessions take place every 3-5 weeks.

The (CAPS-5) – physician-administered PTSD scale – is the primary measurement tool for the success of the study. This is a loosely structured interview used in most PTSD studies and requires evaluation by evaluators who are “blind” or do not know where the study participant is falling on the actual drug or placebo. Study investigators will also use other measurement tools including, but not limited to: Beck Depression Inventory and Inventory of Psychosocial Functioning.

“Phase 3” naturally implies that this is not the start of the study. The results of the Phase 2 study show the following about MDMA and its ability to treat PTSD: It may reduce anxiety and defenses. Increasing introspection and communication as well as empathy and compassion; and generally improves the therapeutic experience of people suffering from PTSD. Phase 2 consisted of 107 patients.

Two months after MDMA-assisted treatment in phase 2, 61% of patients were no longer diagnosed with PTSD. One year after treatment, 68% no longer qualified as PTSD. All participants had chronic PTSD that was resistant to treatment and that they had suffered from for an average of almost 18 years.

Conclusion

It is getting hot in the race to see which psychedelic will receive first medical legalization in the US (as the US so often sets the standard for other parts of the world). Magic mushroom psilocybin is sure to make waves, but it looks like MDMA is going to take the win. With the FDA drooling ahead of approval and the pharmaceutical world getting its ducks in a row, it looks like MDMA will be officially approved for the treatment of PTSD soon, with a change in global legalization policies likely to follow.

 

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Isolation and Loneliness can Cause Depression – Relationships and Social Support Depression Recovery

Interacting and connecting with others is a lot more than a fun way to kill time. It’s essential for one’s well-being. After all, humans are social animals. Thus, a lack of social interaction can have a negative impact on health. [1]

On 25th March 2009, New York Times quoted, “loneliness leads to poorer physical and mental health”

Research shows that isolation/loneliness is a chronic illness that ultimately leads to depression. The epidemiology, etiology, phenomenology, diagnostic criteria, management, and adverse effects of loneliness make it a disease. [2]

Signs of Loneliness/Self Isolation

Being bad at socializing and staying within yourself can cause emotional isolation. Emotional isolation is not wanting to or not opening up and talking about your feelings with other people. 

Some common signs of loneliness include: 

  • Avoiding social gatherings and interactions (even those that gave you joy before)
  • Constantly canceling plans and feeling relieved when plans get canceled
  • Experiencing social anxiety 
  • Feeling upset and depressed during solitude 
  • Feeling dread and uncomfortable in social events or activities
  • Having very little interaction with others or spending a lot of time alone

What Are The Effects Of Chronic Loneliness?  

Loneliness is now recognized as a significant public health issue. Pain, injury/loss, sadness, fear, tiredness, and exhaustion are all symptoms of loneliness. 

Loneliness increases levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body. Prolonged exposure to cortisol secretion puts the body in a state of ‘fear,’ leading to a myriad of mental and physical health concerns. 

Long-term loneliness and isolation can cause the following health complications: 

  • Diseases

Chronic loneliness can cause an increase in the risk of getting different diseases such as diabetesheart disease, and high cholesterol. Besides physical problems, it can also cause mental health problems, like emotional distress, depressionanxietyfatigue, and addictions. Chronic loneliness can also lead to suicide. 

  • Sleep Disruption

Chronic loneliness can make it hard for one to fall asleep or get a long good night’s sleep, causing insomnia. Sleep deprivation can impair performance during the day, resulting in daytime sleepiness and exhaustion. 

  • Depression and Psychiatric Disorders

Lack of social interaction and loneliness can increase the chances of getting depression, or in a case, if one already has depression, loneliness makes it worse. Prolonged loneliness can also lead to many other psychiatric disorders. [3]

Besides an array of health complications, it also interferes with your day-to-day performance.  

The Link Between Loneliness And Depression? 

According to a 2013 research published in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention, lonely people suffer from more depressive symptoms because they are less satisfied, less happy, and more pessimistic. 

Individuals who are socially isolated and lack emotional engagement become emotionally unavailable. They start feeling numb, making it hard for them to cheer up and feel joyful. Thus, sooner or later, lonely/socially distant people start experiencing depressive symptoms such as: 

  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or sleeping too much
  • Pessimism and hopelessness
  • Crankiness or irritability
  • Loss of interest in things once pleasurable, including sex
  • Aches, pains, headaches, or cramps that won’t go away
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Digestive problems 
  • Persistently feeling ‘low,’ sad, anxious, or ’empty’ 
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts

On the other hand, loneliness could also be a symptom of an underlying psychological disorder. 

According to a study, loneliness is a symptom of a psychological disorder such as depression. Research published in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry also suggests that loneliness contributes to the symptoms of depression and makes them worse. [4]

Scientific Evidence: 

  • Study 

A 2017 study investigated the link between social isolation indicators of loneliness and depressive symptoms in adults (aged 21 and above). The study concluded that young adults expiring loneliness exhibited signs of depression. [5

  • Analysis

An analysis of socially isolated young adults revealed that lonely people are often depressed due to the overlapping symptoms and gene influence of depression and loneliness. The treatment should aim at increasing social interactions. [6]

Coping With Loneliness And Depression

Here are a few expert tips on how to deal with loneliness and depression: 

  • Relationships And Social Support 

Building meaningful relationships and finding social support through friends, family, social support groups, or therapists can reduce the symptoms of loneliness and depression. 

meta-analysis of young adults with depression found that depressed people feel immensely lonely and distant from others. They don’t disclose their isolated feeling and the debilitating nature of depressive symptomatology. The study further suggested that young people should be encouraged to communicate about their depression with trusted friends. Moreover, their social networks should be educated on how to support them. [7]

  • Social Media Detox 

Statistics show that loneliness is increasing, particularly in younger generations. According to a survey, 25% of millennials don’t have close friends, while 22% have no friends at all (Source: Inc.). [8]

Today’s over-scheduled, social media-driven, and machine-dominated lifestyles is mostly to blame. [9] People need to have authentic experiences and interactions out in the open world. 

Research suggests that going on a social media cleanse encourages social interactions and can reduce signs of depression. [10]

  • Find The Cause 

To combat loneliness effectively, you have to find the underlying causes. Some of the most common causes include toxic relationships, an unhealthy family environment, overexposure to social media, and feelings of insecurity. 

Pew Research Centre survey found that most people link loneliness to dissatisfaction in family life – 28% of those dissatisfied with their family life feel lonely all or most of the time.

  • Avoid Lonely People

According to research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, lonesomeness is contagious. You are 52% more likely to feel lonely if you surround yourself with lonely people. 

  • Seek Therapy 

The most effective way to prevent and treat loneliness and chronic depression is by seeking professional help. If you experience symptoms of depression and can’t stop feeling lonely and isolated, talk to a mental health professional. 

When to Seek Professional Help?

  • Overthinking and feeling confused all the time
  • Having delusions or hallucinations
  • Feeling agitated, angry, and frustrated
  • Being anxious and fearful 
  • Extreme mood swings and frequent emotional meltdowns
  • Unable to cope day to day problems
  • Significant changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Prolonged depressive symptoms
  • Social withdrawal
  • Substance abuse

 Consult a therapist if you have been experiencing one or more of these symptoms.

References

  1. Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions: https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html
  2. Loneliness: A disease?: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3890922/
  3. Relationship Between Loneliness, Psychiatric Disorders and Physical Health? A Review on the Psychological Aspects of Loneliness by Raheel Mushtaq, Sheikh Shoib, Tabindah Shah and Sahil Mushtaq. 2014. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225959/
  4. The effect of loneliness on depression: A meta-analysis by Erzen E, Çikrikci Ö. 2018. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29792097/
  5. Social isolation, loneliness and their relationships with depressive symptoms: A population-based study by Lixia Ge. 2017. Retrieved from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0182145
  6. Social isolation, loneliness and depression in young adulthood: a behavioural genetic analysis byTimothy Matthews, Andrea Danese, Jasmin Wertz, Candice L. Odgers, Antony Ambler, Terrie E. Moffitt, and Louise Arseneault. 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4819590/
  7. The experience of loneliness among young people with depression: a qualitative meta-synthesis of the literature by Louis Achterbergh, Alexandra Pitman, Mary Birken, Eiluned Pearce, Herman Sno & Sonia Johnson. Retrieved from: https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-020-02818-3
  8. Millennials are the loneliest generation by Ballard J. 2019. Retrieved from: https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2019/07/30/loneliness-friendship-new-friends-poll-survey
  9. Using Social Media Leads To Depression: https://www.lifeskillssouthflorida.com/mental-health-blog/can-using-social-media-lead-to-depression/
  10. Fear of Missing Out, Mental Wellbeing, and Social Connectedness: A Seven-Day Social Media Abstinence Trial by Lorna Brown and Daria J. Kuss. 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7345987/
  11. Dealing With Depression and Loneliness: https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression/depression-feeling-lonely/
  12. Loneliness and Depression: What’s the Connection? https://www.healthline.com/health/loneliness-and-depression
  13. Loneliness: Causes and Health Consequences: https://www.verywellmind.com/loneliness-causes-effects-and-treatments-2795749
  14. The risks of social isolation: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/05/ce-corner-isolation
  15. Understanding The Effects of Isolation and Loneliness on Health: https://publichealth.tulane.edu/blog/effects-of-social-isolation-on-mental-health/

 

 

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Meditation for Depression and General Health

The latest research suggests that something as simple as meditation can help treat depression. (Source: WebMD)

Research shows mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is as effective as antidepressants in treating and preventing depression.

Studies show that meditation changes the neurological response to stress, anxiety, and depressive feelings. If you have been exhibiting mood disorder symptoms like depression, anger, stress, or anxiety, daily meditation is an effective remedy. It can elevate the symptoms of depression and has a life-altering impact on your overall well being. [2]

How Meditation Helps Depression?

Meditation will not cure your depression, but it can reduce your symptoms and make it more manageable. (Healthline)

A study conducted by Harvard Medical School found that meditation leads to positive changes such as strengthening memory and increasing happiness levels.

Here is how meditation can help improve depression:

  • Promotes Positive Thinking

Depression leads to a lot of negativity and dark thoughts. People suffering from depression feel frustrated, hopeless, worthless, and angry at life.

Meditation encourages us to focus on thoughts and think about things that bring peace, calm, and joy. Thus, it trains the brain to shift to positive thinking instead of negative thoughts. (Source: NCBI)

  • Stimulates Happy Hormones

Moreover, positive thinking influences a positive response in the body by stimulating happy hormones: Serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. [3]

  • Changes in Brain Mechanism

Meditation changes two key brain regions linked explicitly to depression.

Region 1: mPFC Overdrive

Research shows that the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) – aka ‘me center’ – becomes hyperactive in depressed people. It makes depressed people constantly overthink, worry, and stress about things.

Region 2: Amygdala

Another brain region responsible for depression is the amygdala – aka ‘fear center’ – which triggers the adrenal glands to release cortisol (stress hormone) in response to fear and perceived threat. [4]

Both the regions work simultaneously to cause and worsen depression. Research shows that meditation breaks the connection between these two regions. (Source: Boston University)

In an article in Psychology Today, Dr. Rebecca Gladding states that regular meditation “loosens” the neural pathways between the brain’s fear center. Meditation loosens these neural pathways, decreasing the feelings of fear and anxiety. While the new neural pathways create a more positive and empathetic response. (Source: Online Psychology)

Scientific Evidence

A vast volume of research evidence exists to support the benefits of meditation for mental and emotional wellbeing.

  • Studies 

The following popular studies reveal how meditation and mindfulness impact the brain to cure mood disorders like depression:

A study revealed that yoga and meditation have groundbreaking benefits on mental and physical wellbeing. For eight weeks, the subjects were given 2.5-hour weekly sessions of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR). The subjects reported a significant reduction in chronic pain and depression. (Source: Forbes)

A study at Johns Hopkins investigated the link between meditation and pain, depression, and anxiety. The research concluded that meditation reduced depressive symptoms as effectively as an antidepressant – the effect size of meditation was 0.3 while that of antidepressants is also 0.3. Thus, meditation is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety.

One study concluded that people with high-stress jobs found transcendental meditation effective for stress, depression, and burnout. (Source: Health)

  • Research

According to research, MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy), psychotherapy with mindfulness meditation, lowers the risk of depression relapse.

A study examined two groups of adult subjects with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The group using mindfulness-based treatment reported low-stress levels than the other group that did not receive mindfulness training.

  • Meta Analyses

A meta-analysis was published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014. It examined 47 randomized controlled trials of 3515 participants practicing meditation. The research concluded that meditation moderately reduces anxiety and depression. (Source: Mindful)

Another review of 18 studies also found that people practicing meditation experienced reduced symptoms of depression than those in a control group. (Source: Healthline)

Conclusion

If you are suffering from mental health disorders, start meditating. There is conclusive evidence that proves meditation can be a powerful and effective tool for stress management and mood regulation. It boosts cognitive performance and keeps mental health in check by preventing depression symptoms.

References

  1. Mindfulness Meditation Improves Mood, Quality of Life, and Attention in Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder by Viviane Freire Bueno and colleagues. 2015. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26137496/
  2. Biologic effects of mindfulness meditation: growing insights into neurobiologic aspects of the prevention of depression by Simon N. Young. 2011. Retrieved from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3044190/
  3. Amygdala volume in Major Depressive Disorder: A meta-analysis of magnetic resonance imaging studies by J. Paul Hamilton, Ph.D., Matthias Siemer, Ph.D., and Ian H. Gotlib. 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2739676/
  4. How meditation helps with depression: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/how-meditation-helps-with-depression
  5. Meditation Won’t Cure Your Depression, but It Can Be a Big Help: https://www.healthline.com/health/meditation-for-depression
  6. 11 Types of Meditation That Can Help Treat Depression: https://www.health.com/condition/depression/types-of-meditation-for-depression
  7. What to Know About Meditation and Depression: https://www.webmd.com/depression/what-to-know-about-meditation-and-depression
  8. What it’s like to meditate with depression: https://www.headspace.com/articles/meditating-with-depression
  9. Can Meditation Help You with Depression: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_meditation_help_you_with_depression
  10. Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858

 

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Alcohol, Depression, Mental Illness and Sobriety

According to a global survey in 2018, more than 107 million people struggle with alcohol abuse; 1/3 of these also suffer from a psychiatric disorder. (Source: Alcohol Rehab Guide), like depression or bipolar disorder, alcohol dependence also induces a chemical imbalance in the brain – leading to a risk of mental illness. [1]

The overlapping connection between alcoholism and mental health makes it hard to quit alcohol as many cannot tolerate withdrawal and relapse. Studies have shown that long-term alcohol abuse can cause brain impairment, emotional instability, and worsen depression. [2]

Getting professional help to achieve sobriety may help you win the battle against alcohol abuse and depression.

Alcohol Abuse And Mental Health 

People usually drink alcohol to indulge, release stress and overcome negative emotions. For many, drinking serves as an escape from day to day problems – eventually leading to addiction, becoming alcoholics. 

Some triggering factors for alcohol dependence are:

  • Emotional breakdown 
  • Emotional distress
  • Financial struggle
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Mental relapse
  • Mental health disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety

Symptoms And Side Effects 

Apart from the adverse effects on personal life, people with a drinking problem are at risk of serious health concerns – weight gain, pancreatitis, heart and liver disease, to name a few. 

Besides affecting the chemical imbalance, over-drinking changes the brain itself. Thus, alcohol abuse also affects cognitive performance

Here are the side effects of long-term drinking on the human brain:

  • Slows Central Nervous System Alcohol slows down messages between the brain and the body, eventually slowing down your central nervous system.[3]
  • Ventral striatum – This part of the brain gets damaged and reduces the feel-good chemical (dopamine), causing mood swings and depression. [5]

Relationship Between Alcohol And Depression

Alcohol abuse can often result in other conditions like substance abuse, drug addiction, and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. 

On the other hand, mental health problems can also encourage alcohol abuse. Studies show that 47% of people with mental health issues also abuse alcohol and drugs. (Source: Boardwalk Recovery Centre)

Co-occurring Disorders

Alcohol and depression are often co-occurring, meaning the two disorders coincide and intertwine towards a bigger issue. 

Common symptoms of depression in early sobriety include:

  • Overthinking and cycling negative thoughts 
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Difficulty getting out of bed
  • Feeling anxious and fearful 
  • Chronic pains, lethargy, and immense fatigue
  • Poor eating habits (loss of appetite or overeating)
  • Inability to focus and pay attention 

Types of Depression in Sobriety 

For a dual diagnosis, it’s essential to know what type of depression it is. Here are the types of depression in early sobriety:

Impact of Sobriety/Quitting Alcohol on Depression

Depression in early recovery may occur in rare cases, but some also experience Day drunk syndrome – reflecting impulsive and dysfunctional alcoholic behaviors even after quitting alcohol. 

Bill W, the founder of the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Step program, says it is not uncommon to experience intense depression during early sobriety. 

According to research, the first two months of sobriety are the hardest. The body detoxes while the brain tries to regain homeostasis. (Source: ES Detox)

How Sobriety Helps Depression

  • Regulates Excitatory Neurotransmitters 

Alcohol affects neurotransmitters – particularly gamma and glutamate. Drinking weakens glutamate and over-excites the GABA receptors, making the body feel more relaxed and happier. 

Quitting alcohol dependence reverses these changes and regulates the neurotransmitters, putting the body in its natural state. 

  • Normalizes Dopamine Levels 

Alcohol abuse imbalances dopamine (feel-good hormone) secretions in the brain. Alcohol over-stimulates dopamine and reduces the brain’s dopamine receptors – leading to a false state of ‘high.’ 

Thus, when you quit drinking, you start feeling sad and depressed due to the reduction in dopamine. Over time the brain begins to normalize dopamine levels. 

  • Serotonin Production Increases

Alcohol boosts serotonin, but the long-term heavy consumption of alcohol decreases serotonin, leading to depression symptoms. Quitting alcohol normalizes serotonin production, leading to better emotional health. 

How To Quit Alcohol and Treat Depression?

Want to develop an alcohol-free lifestyle and achieve long-term sobriety? Quit. 

Quitting is the only way to treat and get rid of alcohol addiction. Joining AA meetings and reaching a professional for help. Since alcohol affects the mind, get help from a professional Psychiatrist

An alcohol addiction psychiatrist will diagnose and treat the causes of alcohol abuse and alcoholism by:

  • evaluating your mental health
  • finding the triggering factor
  • recommending effective treatment options 
  • assisting with the treatment 

When it comes to dual diagnosis, i.e., suffering from both depression and alcoholism. Such issues have to be treated separately but under interconnected conditions. 

Here are proven-effective treatments for alcohol-induced depression. 

  • Metacognitive Therapy
  • Holistic Therapies
  • Antidepressant Medication 
  • Support Groups e.g. Annie Grace this Naked Mind community

 

References

  1. Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders by Ramesh Shivani, M.D., R. Jeffrey Goldsmith, M.D., and Robert M. Anthenelli, M.D. 2002. Retrieved from: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-2/90-98.htm
  2. Cognitive and emotional consequences of binge drinking: role of amygdala and prefrontal cortex by David N Stephens and Theodora Duka. 2008. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2607328/
  3. Alcoholism and its effects on the central nervous system by Sukhes Mukherjee. 2013. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23713737/
  4. Prefrontal Limbic-Striatal Circuits and Alcohol Addiction in Humans by Dongju Seo and Rajita Sinha. 2014. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286013312_Prefrontal_Limbic-Striatal_Circuits_and_Alcohol_Addiction_in_Humans
  5. Striatal Involvement In Human Alcoholism And Alcohol Consumption, And Withdrawal In Animal Models by Gang Chen, Verginia C. Cuzon Carlson, Jun Wang, Anne Beck, Andreas Heinz, Dorit Ron, David M. Lovinger, and Kari J. Buck. 2011. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276303/
  6. Alcohol And The Prefrontal Cortex by Kenneth Abernathy, L. Judson Chandler, and John J. Woodward. 2013. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3593065/
  7. The role of the orbitofrontal cortex in alcohol use, abuse, and dependence by David E. Moorman. 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6072631/
  8. Dealing With Depression in Early Recover: https://boardwalkrecoverycenter.com/dealing-with-depression-in-recovery/
  9. Why You’re Depressed in Early Sobriety: https://esdetox.com/depressed-in-early-sobriety/
  10. Sober But Miserable? You Could Have Dry Drunk Syndrome: https://www.discoverynj.org/sober-miserable-dry-drunk-syndrome/
  11. How To Manage Sobriety If You Are Suffering from Depression? https://www.uk-rehab.com/treatment-rehab/alcohol/how-to-manage-sobriety-if-you-are-suffering-from-depression/
  12. Depression and Sobriety: https://designforchangerecovery.com/blog/depression-and-sobriety/
  13. 5 Ways Quitting Drinking Affects Your Brain: https://www.renewallodge.com/5-ways-quitting-drinking-affects-your-brain/
  14. Alcohol Recovery and Depression: Why You (May) Feel Depressed After Quitting Drinking: https://supportsystemshomes.com/alcohol-recovery-and-depression-why-you-may-feel-depressed-after-quitting-drinking/

 

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Exercise For Depression and Health 

For the 280 million people in the world who have major depression (Source: WHO). this prescription is probably the one that they need more than any other. At least that’s the case with me.

The latest research shows that exercise and physical movement are just as effective. [1]

According to the Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Michael Craig Miller

“For some people exercise works as well as antidepressants.” (Source: Harvard)

What Kind of Exercise Helps?

Physical activity – any movement-based activity that requires energy to work the muscles. For example, household activities, walking to the grocery store, playing in the garden, etc.

Research shows that any physical activity — not just formal exercise programs —help improve mood. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that jogging for 15 minutes a day or walking or gardening can all help prevent depression. [Source: NYTimes]

Exercise – Planned and structured body movements to improve or maintain physical fitness. For example, yoga, HIIT workout, functional training, weight training, etc. 

According to a study of 65 women with depression, 34 women who took a yoga class twice a week (for two months) showed a significant decrease in depression symptoms than the 31 women who did not attend any classes.

Types of Physical Exercise

Here are the best types of exercises to improve health and reduce symptoms of depression and other mental disorders

Effect of Exercise on Health 

Exercising influences a cascade of biological events that results in many health benefits. 

Overwhelming evidence shows that exercise: [8]

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Results in fat loss and weight reduction
  • Regulates blood sugar levels 
  • Strengthens and tones muscles 
  • Increases endurance, stamina, and balance 

Exercise for Depression and Anxiety

Health benefits of exercise for mental health include the following: [9]

  • Stress relief
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased mental sharpness
  • Mood enhancement 
  • Increased interest in sex
  • Better endurance
  • Increased energy and stamina

Regular exercise helps prevent and ease depression[10] by:

  • Feel-good endorphins

Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins (the feel-good hormone) and natural cannabis-like brain chemicals known as endogenous cannabinoids [11]. These hormones enhance your mood and sense of well-being. (Source: Health Europa)

  • De-stressor

Exercises de-stresses the mind and body by reducing the level of stress hormone (cortisol). [12]

The Evidence

  • Meta-Analysis 

There have been several meta-analyses to understand the link between exercise and depression and how exercise can improve mental health. 

A meta-analysis of 80 studies reported that exercise reduces depression and improves mental health by reducing anxiety and negative mood patterns. 

Another meta-analysis in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in 2016 found that regular moderate-intensity aerobic exercises can prove beneficial for treating depression. 

  • Clinical Trial

A study of 32 trials of 1858 participants found that exercise improves depressive symptoms in people diagnosed with depression compared to no treatment or control intervention. [13]

  • Study 

A study in Frontiers in Psychiatry revealed that exercise reduces depression symptoms by improving sleep quality and cognitive function. 75% of the participants showed a therapeutic response than the 25% who did not exercise.

Another study published in BMC Medicine in 2020 concluded that people with low aerobic and muscular fitness levels are twice as likely to experience depression. 

  • Book

A science-based book on why we should exercise to improve our health and lifestyle: 

The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal (Research Psychologist at Stanford, Award winning Neuroscience Writer, Speaker and Consultant)

Summary 

The data worldwide shows physically active people are healthier and have a lower risk of mental disorders like depression and loneliness. Beyond epidemiology, the neurochemistry of how movement reprograms the brain and affects mental health is evidence enough that exercise makes the mind and body thrive. (Source: Kerger)

Thus, anyone suffering from emotional distress, depression, or mental disorder should start an exercise regime. 

References

    1. Can high-intensity interval training improve physical and mental health outcomes? A meta-review of 33 systematic reviews across the lifespan by Rebecca Martland, Valeria Mondelli, Fiona Gaughran, Brendon Stubbs. 2019. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31889469/
    2. Strengthen your mood with weight training: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/strengthen-your-mood-with-weight-training
    3. Exercise for depression: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/exercise-for-depression/
  • Training responses of plasma beta-endorphin, adrenocorticotropin, and cortisol by Kraemer WJ, Fleck SJ, Callister R, Shealy M, Dudley GA, Maresh CM, Marchitelli L, Cruthirds C, Murray T, Falkel JE. 1989. Retrieved from: https://europepmc.org/article/med/2540392
  1. Exercise is an all-natural treatment to fight depression: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression
  2. Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
  3. 7 Great Exercises to Ease Depression: https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression-pictures/great-exercises-to-fight-depression.aspx
  4. Exercise and Depression: https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression
  5. What Is the Link Between Exercise and Depression? https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-link-between-exercise-and-depression-5089055