Looking for links between Parkinson’s and bipolar disorder

A new systematic review and meta-analysis ask whether bipolar disorder is associated with developing Parkinson’s disease. Although the authors conclude that there is a link, it is a tough question to unpick.

Bipolar disorder (BD), which people once called manic depression, tends to begin around 20 years of age.

Characterized by cyclic episodes of depression and mania, BD affects an estimated 2.8% of adults in the United States each year.

Scientists do not know why BD occurs in some people but not others, although evidence suggests that the dopamine system might play a role.

Full story at Medical News Today

What are the links between alcohol and anxiety?

It is not unusual for people to use alcohol to alleviate anxiety. However, over time or in excess amounts, drinking alcohol can lead to increased levels of anxiety and stress.

For anyone prone to anxiety, it can be easy for one drink to turn into more and lead to a growing dependence on alcohol.

According to a review study that looked at anxiety and alcohol use disorders, this relationship can become a dangerous, self-perpetuating cycle.

Full story at Medical News Today

How do antidepressants affect gut bacteria?

Newly published research in rodents and ongoing research in humans examines the effects of psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants, on the composition of gut bacteria.

More and more studies are supporting the role of the gut microbiota in psychiatric conditions.

Anxiety and depression are only some of the mental health conditions that researchers have linked to changes in the composition of the gut microbiota.

For example, a recent study that Medical News Today has reported on listed a range of bacteria that contribute to creating neuroactive compounds in the gut — that is, substances that interact with the nervous system, influencing the likelihood of developing depression.

Full story at Medical News Today

Dopamine and serotonin: Brain chemicals explained

Dopamine and serotonin are chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, that help regulate many bodily functions. They have roles in sleep and memory, as well as metabolism and emotional well-being.

People sometimes refer to dopamine and serotonin as the “happy hormones” due to the roles they play in regulating mood and emotion.

They are also involved in several mental health conditions, including low mood and depression.

Dopamine and serotonin are involved in similar bodily processes, but they operate differently. Imbalances of these chemicals can cause different medical conditions that require different treatments.

Full story at Medical News Today

Adults who mix cannabis with opioids for pain report higher anxiety, depression

A researcher from the University of Houston has found that adults who take prescription opioids for severe pain are more likely to have increased anxiety, depression and substance abuse issues if they also use marijuana.

“Given the fact that cannabis potentially has analgesic properties, some people are turning to it to potentially manage their pain,” Andrew Rogers, said in describing the work published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. Rogers focuses on the intersection of chronic pain and opioid use, and identifying the underlying psychological mechanisms, such as anxiety sensitivity, emotion regulation, pain-related anxiety, of these relationships. Rogers is a doctoral student in clinical psychology who works in the UH Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory and its Substance Use Treatment Clinic.

Under the guidance of advisor Michael Zvolensky, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Professor of psychology and director of the lab and clinic, Rogers surveyed 450 adults throughout the United States who had experienced moderate to severe pain for more than three months. The study revealed not only elevated anxiety and depression symptoms, but also tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and sedative use among those who added the cannabis, compared with those who used opioids alone. No increased pain reduction was reported.

Full story at Science Daily