Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

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Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health’

Depression Is Still a Mystery — We Need a New Model

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 3, 2013

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.

Depression-solution-blockThe magazine ScienceNews begins a recent article on depression with a blanket judgment: “A massive effort to uncover genes involved in depression has largely failed.” A general reader would probably not feel the shock waves that spread from thisassessment. Gene research is always going up and down. That doesn’t change the public’s general sense that depression is being handled pretty well. Billion-dollar antidepressants continue to flourish. Somewhere in the future, better ones will improve the situation even more.

Informed opinion on the subject is very different, however, because the model for depression that has been accepted for decades counts it as a brain disorder, and brain disorders are rooted in genetics. The failure to find the genes involved in depression strongly suggest — as more than one prominent researcher now concedes — that the genes of depressed people are not damaged or distorted compared with the genes of people who aren’t depressed. What follows from that is another false assumption. The most popular antidepressants supposedly worked by repairing chemical imbalances in the synapses — the gaps between two nerve endings — where the culprit seemed to be an imbalance of serotonin. But serotonin is directly regulated by genes, and some key research indicates that drugs aimed at fixing the serotonin problem either don’t work that way or that there wasn’t a serotonin problem in the first place.

The ScienceNews report doesn’t leave much wiggle room for a laissez-faire attitude on this point: “By combing through the DNA of 34,549 volunteers, an international team of 86 scientists hoped to uncover genetic influences that affect a person’s vulnerability to depression. But the analysis turned up nothing.” Nothing doesn’t mean something.

If the chain of explanation running from genes to the synapses and finally to the pharmaceutical lab is broken, a host of doubts arises. Is depression a brain disease in the first place, or is it — as psychiatry assumed before the arrival of modern drug treatment — a disorder of the mind? The latest theories haven’t gone back to square one. What we know isn’t black and white. There are many variables in depression, which leads to some fairly good conclusions: Read the rest of this entry »

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Intelligent Humans Evolved To Worry, Say Scientists

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 13, 2012

Comment: Never try to be happy with respect to something else. There is no guarantee that you will be able to control others. So try to make yourself frame of reference if you really want to be happy:

A new study by researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in the US suggests that excess worrying could be a sign of intelligence.

Scientists found that high intelligence and worry both correlate with brain activity measured by the depletion of the nutrient choline in the subcortical white matter of the brain. According to the researchers, this suggests that intelligence may have co-evolved with worry in humans.

“While excessive worry is generally seen as a negative trait and high intelligence as a positive one, worry may cause our species to avoid dangerous situations, regardless of how remote a possibility they may be,” said Jeremy Coplan, MD, professor of psychiatry at SUNY Downstate. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Legacy of the CIA’s Secret LSD Experiments on America

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 25, 2012

Newly unclassified information blows wide the U.S. government’s covert operation to dose hundreds of unwitting Americans with LSD in the 1950s and ’60s.
Before LSD escaped the lab and was evangelized by hippies, the U.S. government was secretly testing the effects of the drug on hundreds of unsuspecting American civilians and military personnel. In a must-read feature on newly unclassified material on the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert operation, the MK-ULTRA program, which ran from 1953 to 1964, SF Weekly fully exposes the bizarre world of the CIA’s unethical drug tests.  The utterly-unbelievable-but-true story involved using hookers to lure in unwitting johns for undisclosed testing, narcotics agents who slipped drugs into drinks, and a U.S. marshal who held up a San Francisco bar not knowing he was high on acid.

It sounds like something out of a paranoid dream. And indeed, before the documentation and other facts of the program were made public, those who talked of it were frequently dismissed as being psychotic. But the U.S. government’s history of secret human experimentation ought to be kept in mind, particularly when we consider the power we grant to it and the way we regulate drugs.

The LSD experiments were purportedly carried out because the U.S. believed that communist Russia, North Korea and China were using the drug to brainwash captured Americans. Consequently, the CIA didn’t want to fall behind in developing and responding to this potentially useful technology.

So, incredibly, it decided to slip acid secretly to Americans — at the beach, in city bars, at restaurants. For a decade, the CIA conducted completely uncontrolled tests in which they drugged people unknowingly, then followed and watched them without intervening. In some cases, the agency used the drug to perform interrogations, but these procedures were conducted so inconsistently that they proved equally useless in providing useful data. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Does Our Consciousness Change the Structure of the Brain and Then Our Life?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 20, 2012

By Peter Baksa Investigative Journalist/Entreprenuer/Author of ‘The Point of Power’

Meditation and Neuroplasticity

After spending time interviewing Tibetan monks while in Beijing, China, at the Lama Temple, correlations between their rituals and how they aligned with modern neuroplastic science began to surface.  I was able to spend time with the Dali Lama himself and found that he was curious about the question “Does consciousness in and of itself,  force changes in the structure of the brain? ”  Does the mind create physiological change in the brain and then thereby alter life situations in the natural?  I decided to find out. 

In addition to the brain giving rise to thoughts, hopes, beliefs and emotions that add up to this thing we call the mind, could it be that the mind also acts back on the brain to cause physical changes in the very manner they were initiated?  If so, then pure thought (our consciousness) would change the brain’s activity, its circuits or even its structure.  Joe Dispensza suggests in his book “Evolve Your Brain” that if we choose to rely soley on our inherited circuits (DNA) we are stuck with those traits and patterns, good, bad or indifferent.

There are two ways to make new synaptic connections in the brain: to learn new things and to have new experiences. I am suggesting a third, and that is through observation of our thoughts and refining our consciousness. Hence, not only are our brains plastic enough to keep adapting though learning and experiences, but we can choose how to sculpt our minds by altering our perceptions intentionally. This supposition has also led to the discovery that neuroplasticity cannot occur without attention. So, if a skill becomes so routine that you can do it nearly automatically — like walking, for instance — then practicing it will no longer change the brain.  And if you take up mental exercises to keep your brain young, they won’t be as effective if you find yourself able to do them without paying much attention.  Like any good exercise, you need to change it up every so often. This, according to researcher Michael Merzenich.

How we choose to sculpt our minds has actual physical measurable changes etched within the grey matter of our brains. Such practices as meditation and Chi Gong can keep the old mental circuits active and form new ones, leading to a cycle of continual self-improvement. Of course, practitioners of meditation have been saying this for centuries. I asked Erdijanzi (age 23) a third-generation Tibetan Monk, “How much time do you spend in mediation per day?” He said he did not know.  It turned out that almost any free moment, even in between interview questions, he would turn to his Mala Beads to quiet his mind.  This practice was his chosen method of brain sculpting.  It also occurred to me that once the mind was quieted and an intention was inserted that the effect of this intention at the quantum level would be magnified and crystal clear, allowing for more effective manifestation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Two-Question Screen Can Help Doctors Spot Teen Alcohol Problems

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 15, 2011


Two questions asked during a regular pediatrician’s visit could help identify youth with drinking problems, according to a national expert group convened by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA), which just released guidelines for alcohol screening and treatment.

Despite the national drinking age of 21, about 7% of American 12-year-olds have had more than the odd sip of an alcoholic beverage. By age 18, that proportion rises to 70%. Children who start drinking before age 15 — outside of culturally appropriate settings like religious ceremonies or family meals in wine-drinking cultures — are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who start later.

While early deviant drinking doesn’t necessarily lead to alcoholism, it indicates that the young person may be at high risk for alcohol problems and other psychiatric disorders, and may benefit from early treatment.

MORE: Status: Drunk. Can Facebook Help ID Problem Drinkers?

The questions pediatricians should ask according to the NIAAA are these, with wording varied to be age-appropriate:

Do you have any friends who drank beer, wine or any drink containing alcohol in the past year?

How about you — in the past year, on how many days have you had more than a few sips of beer, wine or any drink containing alcohol?

Screening is obviously best done when parents are not present and after the child has been informed about the doctor’s confidentiality policy. Typically, pediatricians keep the information confidential unless the child is at immediate risk for alcohol-related harm by engaging in activities like daily drinking or drinking and driving. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mind Reading: How Pleasure Works

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 29, 2011

How does the brain create the experience of joy and desire? That’s the subject of David Linden’s new book, The Compass of Pleasure. A professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Linden studies memory. But here, he explores the basis of craving, addiction and satisfaction.

Many people have heard that the neurotransmitter dopamine is the brain’s “pleasure” signal, but it’s more complicated than that. What does it really do?

It has kind of a dual role. For example, if you have a person in a brain scanner who is hungry, and you show them a picture of food that they enjoy, you will see dopamine release in part of the pleasure circuit, a part called the striatum. If they actually get a chance to eat that food or any other food that they enjoy while in the scanner, you will also see release of dopamine.

Dopamine actually is what underlies the feeling of pleasure because we also know that if you ask people to report on about how much pleasure they’re getting from eating [or other pleasurable experiences] it matches the [level] of dopamine response.

The role of dopamine is tied up with both liking and wanting, and it’s probably even tied up with something more general called salience. Part of what dopamine does seems to be to say, ‘Here’s something going on that is emotionally relevant and likely important for continued survival or successful procreation, so wake up and pay attention.’

There are some studies in which some dopamine[-producing cells] in the brain are activated by both painful and pleasurable stimulation. Well, how can that be? Both pain and pleasure are salient. They say, ‘Hey this is important.’ Read the rest of this entry »

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Study: People May Be Born Good (or Bad) at Math

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 14, 2011


If you struggled through high school algebra, you probably thought you simply weren’t born good at math. You might have been right, at least according to a new study by Johns Hopkins University psychologists that suggests that math ability is linked to your inborn “number sense.”

Also known as “approximate number system,” number sense is inherent in all animals including humans. It’s what we use to instantly estimate how many people are in a meeting or how many free seats are in a movie theater. Animals use it to figure out where the most plants or game are and to track how much food they’ve gathered.

Now scientists have measured number sense in preschoolers — who are too young to have received any formal math education — and linked it to performance of tests of math ability. “The relationship between ‘number sense’ and math ability is important and intriguing because we believe that ‘number sense’ is universal, whereas math ability has been thought to be highly dependent on culture and language and takes many years to learn,” said study author Melissa Libertus in a statement.

MORE: Back-to-School Special: 5 Tips on Picking a Good School

Past research has associated number sense with math ability in older children, but the Libertus and her team’s study involved 200 younger children with an average age of 4. The children were given number sense test that involved viewing groups of blue and yellow dots on a computer screen and estimating which color group had more dots. (You can take the testhere.)

Each child then took math ability tests consisting of numbering skills (verbally counting items on a page), numeral literacy (reading Arabic numbers), calculation skills (solving addition and subtraction problems) and other abilities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stress and the Brain

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 24, 2011

Yes, stress and brain capacity inversely proportion­al and stress management is very important to keep the brain powerful and the given points are appreciabl­e.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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NEPAL: Mental health care neglected

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 30, 2010

KATHMANDU, 30 December 2010 (IRIN) – More than six million Nepalis – 20 percent of the population – had

Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN Women accounted for more than half of this year's deaths by suicide in Nepal

symptoms of mental health disease in 2010, according to the government, but the issue remains neglected and underfunded, according to experts.

“This is a major public health concern and we still do not have a proper mental health care system in place,” said Ram Lal Shrestha, director of local NGO Centre for Mental Health and Counselling-Nepal (CMC), which provides community mental health (MH) services

“MH issues have to be addressed urgently or a lot of lives will be at stake,” he added.

More than 15 years have passed since the government formulated its first MH policy in 1996, but little of the policy has been implemented, said NGOs.

The key components of the policy included ensuring access to all minimum MH services, training MH human resources, protecting human rights of the mentally ill, and improving awareness about this public health issue.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Do Positive People Live Longer?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 4, 2010

Huffington Post By David Hamilton, Ph.D.

Most people assume that positive thinking is just something that we do to help achieve our goals, or even to get through difficult times. But a host of exciting research has shown that attitude affects our health — so much so, in fact, that a positive attitude can add years to our lives.

Take the following study performed at Carnegie Mellon University, for instance. In the study, each of 193 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 was given nasal drops containing a cold or flu virus.

Participants were also assessed for their emotional style — whether they tended to experience positive emotions, like happiness, liveliness and calmness, or whether they tended to experience negative emotions, like anxiousness, hostility, and depressive tendencies. Each person’s health was then monitored in quarantine. Read the rest of this entry »

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