How long-term depression alters the brain

Depression has become a common mental health problem. For some, this condition lingers for many years, and scientists now strive to understand how that might affect the brain, and how treatments should be adjusted to address these changes.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), across the United States, 8.1 percent of people over the age of 20 have depression over any given 2-week period.

For some people, depression might only be episodic and overcome within a matter of weeks or months.

Full story at Medical News Today

The road to wisdom runs through hardship, study finds

How does somebody become wise? A plethora of writers and philosophers has tried to answer that question. Now, research gives the answer, and the route is anything but straightforward.

A famous Japanese proverb says, “Fall down seven times, and stand up eight,” implying that there is much to be gained from resilience in the face of obstacles.

The idea that learning from hardship can help us to grow as people is one that spans centuries and continents.

Full story at Medical News Today

How to stop catastrophizing

Catastrophizing is a way of thinking called a ‘cognitive distortion.’ A person who catastrophizes usually sees an unfavorable outcome to an event and then decides that if this outcome does happen, the results will be a disaster.

Here are some examples of catastrophizing:

  • “If I fail this test, I will never pass school, and I will be a total failure in life.”
  • “If I don’t recover quickly from this procedure, I will never get better, and I will be disabled my entire life.”

Full story at Medical News Today

Smartphone addiction creates imbalance in brain, study suggests

Researchers have found an imbalance in the brain chemistry of young people addicted to smartphones and the internet, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 46 percent of Americans say they could not live without their smartphones. While this sentiment is clearly hyperbole, more and more people are becoming increasingly dependent on smartphones and other portable electronic devices for news, information, games, and even the occasional phone call.

Along with a growing concern that young people, in particular, may be spending too much time staring into their phones instead of interacting with others, come questions as to the immediate effects on the brain and the possible long-term consequences of such habits.

Full story at Science Daily

Cocaine addiction leads to build-up of iron in brain

Cocaine addiction may affect how the body processes iron, leading to a build-up of the mineral in the brain, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. The study, published today in Translational Psychiatry, raises hopes that there may be a biomarker — a biological measure of addiction — that could be used as a target for future treatments.

Cocaine is one of the most widely-used illicit drugs in the Western world and is highly addictive. A report last year by the UK government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs found that almost one in 10 of all 16-to 59-year-olds have used cocaine in their lifetime. Cocaine use was implicated in, but not necessarily the cause of 234 deaths in Scotland, England and Wales in 2013. However, despite significant advances in our understanding of the biology of addiction — including how the brains of people addicted to cocaine may differ in structure — there is currently no medical treatment for cocaine addiction; most individuals are treated with talking or cognitive therapies.

Full story of cocaine addiction and iron in the brain at Science Daily