Phone therapy helps with depression, study says

Phone Therapy Helps DepressionReceiving psychotherapy over the phone is showing promise for people with depression, according to new research. A study published Tuesday found patients counseled over the phone were less likely to drop out of treatment compared to those who got face-to face counseling.  Researchers also found people who talked to their therapist on the phone got better at the same rate as those who spent time on the counselor’s couch.

"This research gives us a pretty clear indication that providing therapy via technology can be a useful strategy," says Lynn Bufka, assistant executive director, practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association.

Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago conducted the study which was the first large trial comparing face-to-face therapy with telephone therapy. Their findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In this study, 325 people with major depressive disorder received 18 sessions of one of the two types of therapy. The scientists found that more people dropped out of treatment, usually in the first five weeks, when they went to see their therapist instead of talking on the phone.

Full story of phone therapy for depression at CNN Health

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Finally, a treatment for that buzzing in your ears

Treatment For Buzzing EarsImagine the incessant, grating sound of buzzing in your ears – or constant beeping, whistling, dripping, or clicking.  Imagine the chatter of crickets or birds resonating in your head all day long.

Then realize that there are no actual birds or crickets. No dripping faucet. No clicking or whistling happening in the vicinity.

That is a small glimpse of life with tinnitus:  The perception of sound, that doesn’t exist, manufactured by the brain. 

"I hear tree frogs and crickets and bugs, and really loud noise on top of that," said Ginny Morrell, 60, who has suffered with tinnitus for two years. "It started one day and never went away. It never wavers, 24 hours a day."
Morrell says she fills her life with sound – a radio during the day, a television droning in the background while she sleeps – as a way to drown out the din.  It’s a distraction that sometimes works.

"It’s not going to kill me, it’s not cancer," said Morrell.  "But it might drive me crazy."

But according to a new study, the most effective treatment for Morrell’s tinnitus may involve just the opposite of what she’s currently doing: Rather than ignoring the sound, focus on it.

Full story of ear buzzing at CNN Health

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Learn something new – your brain will thank you

Train Your Brain Something NewThe idea that learning a new skill – say juggling, cooking, or playing guitar – can be like an addiction is no joke.

I should know. As a college professor/scientist, who has written about the dynamics of narcotics and self-control, I have spent the last 3 1/2 years all but addicted to learning to play guitar. Despite lacking anything that might remotely resemble musical talent, I find no day is complete without at least a little bit of time on the guitar.

Even listening to music can be a little like a drug. A brain imaging study that came out last year proved what many scientists long suspected: Listening to music can lead the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the brain’s universal signal for pleasure, an internal system that tells the brain (sometimes rightly, sometime wrongly) that it is doing the right thing.

Drugs elicit dopamine artificially by fooling the brain, while activities like sex and eating elicit dopamine naturally. Listening to music taps into the dopamine system in part because hearing something new is a signal that the brain is learning something, and we have evolved to enjoy acquiring new information.

Full story of brain feeding at CNN Health

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Training Our Brains to See Ourselves in a More Attractive Light

Training The Brain To Love OurselvesResearchers at the Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology have designed a programme called Mírate bien (Take a good look at yourself). It is a tool designed to enable us to learn to love our bodies and faces; and to improve our physical self-concept. Initiatives of this kind are routinely applied at educational establishments and high schools, but in this case there is a difference. The students participating in the programme are not asked to do any kind of physical activity. It is the cognitive side that has to be trained here: to restructure our perceptions so that we have a more realistic awareness about our image.

Inge Axpe is one of the researchers who has worked on the design of this programme, and has submitted a thesis in which she provides details about this and about the pilot programme carried out using it at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). It is entitled Diseño y evaluación de un programa para la mejora del autoconcepto físico (Design and evaluation of a programme designed to improve physical self-concept). She has also had papers published on it, for example, in the journal Revista de Psicodidáctica.

Full story of training the brain at Science Daily

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Patient: Alzheimer’s plan OK, but too late for me

Alzheimers Patient on TestingWhen Phil Kreitner’s wife Sherril Gelmon comes home and asks what he did all day, he has to pause to think. It’s hard enough to remember what he did five minutes ago. And where he keeps the different cereals he likes to mix in the morning.

Kreitner, 72, of Portland, Oregon, is one of many aging Americans living with mild cognitive impairment, a condition marked by memory impairment that may progress into the more severe Alzheimer’s disease. He’s participating in a clinical trial aimed at testing a treatment for dementia, and believes furthering research is critical for combating the brain disease.

"I walk around all [expletive] day telling myself ‘Why can’t you remember that? You’ve got to remember that! Why aren’t you remembering that? How can you try to remember that?’ ” says Kreitner, who was the subject of a CNN profile in 2011.

He’s excited that the Obama administration has committed to investing in more clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, with the goal of effective treatment and prevention by 2025. But when that deadline arrives, Kreitner isn’t sure he’ll still be around – he may not live to see the benefits of that research.

Full story of alzheimer’s patient at CNN Health

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