Obsessive Fears Arise in Response to Compulsions in OCD

By Rick Nauert, PhD


The chicken-and-egg question regarding obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), for the most part, is usually answered by identifying obsessive fears as driving the behaviors such as repetitive hand-washing.

A new study effectively reverses the order, finding that the repetitive behaviors themselves (the compulsions) might be the precursors to the disorder, and that obsessions may simply be the brain’s way of justifying these behaviors.

New research suggests performance of repetitive behaviors may lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This interpretation goes against popular beliefs that behaviors  found that in the case of OCD the behaviors themselves (the compulsions) might be the precursors to the disorder, and that obsessions may simply be the brain’s way of justifying these behaviors.

Full story at PsychCentral

Exercise Helps Women To Fight Cigarette Cravings, But The Effect Is Short-Lived

By Christopher Fisher, PhD


Dozens of studies on whether moderate exercise can curb the nicotine cravings of women smokers have added up to an apparent contradiction: it seems to work in short-term, well controlled lab experiments, but then fizzles out in treatment trials. A new study may explain why and help researchers devise a practical therapy.

The explanation suggested in the results of research led by David Williams, an assistant professor of community health at Brown University, is that while exercise does help improve the mood of smokers and curtail their cravings, the effect is short-lived.

“What we found is that although there is no chronic effect of exercise on cigarette cravings and affective withdrawal symptoms, there is an acute effect that diminishes over a period of several hours to 1-2 days, but can be renewed with each bout of exercise,” said Williams, first author of the study published May 11 in the journal Addictive Behaviors. “One implication for these findings is that exercise may be a useful treatment strategy, but it has to be done frequently enough and consistently enough because the effects that it has diminish over time.”

Full story at The Behavioral Medicine Report

Psychological Self vs. No-Self

By Ron Crouch


As a therapist and a meditation teacher, I live a surreal life. At the office I’m helping people to gain greater self-esteem, more positive self-regard, and encouraging them to see themselves as competent, empowered and strong. But when I teach meditation I strongly encourage people to see that the self is an illusion. On the outside it could seem as if I’m working against myself.

It’s the same for a lot of people who meditate. Most meditators accept that no-self is a core truth of reality. But many have also taken intro to psychology classes and have read a lot of self help books that promote healthy acceptance of the self. It is not unusual for people who regularly attend meditation retreats to also do a lot of self-development, such as adult education and travel. Clearly, in meditation circles, it can seem like we are pretty mixed-up about ourselves. It’s as if we have a love-hate relationship with the “self.”

Full story at Buddhist Geeks

Ending a Midlife Affair with Meds

By Paulina Porizkova


I felt guilty. I felt unnatural. I felt ashamed. Finally, I broke down and confessed my dirty little secret to a girlfriend and found that she not only knew what I was talking about, but she was doing it, too. And the more I opened up about it, the more I found that I was not alone. Women in their late 30s and 40s were all having the same affair.

With an antidepressant.

I started taking Lexapro after my anxiety attacks came back and, for all intents and purposes, practically crippled me. I’ve always had anxiety attacks, or panic attacks as some know them, but after years of learning how to deal with them, I thought I had them under control. While my kids were little, the anxiety attacks even subsided to the point where they hardly bothered me. But at the stroke of 40, they came back worse than ever.

Full story at Huffington Post

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Turning Off Stress

By Medical News Today


Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect soldiers after combat or ordinary people who have undergone harrowing experiences. Of course, feelings of anxiety are normal and even desirable – they are part of what helps us survive in a world of real threats. But no less crucial is the return to normal – the slowing of the heartbeat and relaxation of tension – after the threat has passed. People who have a hard time “turning off” their stress response are candidates for post-traumatic stress syndrome, as well as anorexia, anxiety disorders and depression.

How does the body recover from responding to shock or acute stress? This question is at the heart of research conducted by Dr. Alon Chen of the Institute’s Neurobiology Department. The response to stress begins in the brain, and Chen concentrates on a family of proteins that play a prominent role in regulating this mechanism. One protein in the family – CRF – is known to initiate a chain of events that occurs when we cope with pressure, and scientists have hypothesized that other members of the family are involved in shutting down that chain. In research that appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Chen and his team have now, for the first time, provided sound evidence that three family members known as urocortin 1, 2 and 3 – are responsible for turning off the stress response.

Full story at Medical News Today

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