What to know about generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) causes feelings of intense anxiety, worry, or nervousness about everyday life. People with GAD struggle to control these feelings, and the condition tends to interfere with daily activities and personal relationships.

GAD, a type of anxiety disorder, is very common. It affects 3.1% of the population (or 6.8 million adults) in the United States in any given year. It is more common in women.

Living with anxiety can be challenging. However, like other anxiety disorders, GAD is highly treatable. Some of the most effective treatments include psychotherapy, medication, and making lifestyle changes.

Full story at Medical News Today

Doctors more likely to prescribe opioids later in the day

A vast array of known factors play a role in the current opioid crisis, and a recent study may have identified yet another. The authors conclude that doctors are more likely to prescribe opioids later in the day and when appointments are running late.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid-related drug deaths increased by 88% each year from 2013 to 2016.

Each day, more than 130 people in the United States died from opioid-related drug overdoses in 2017–2018.

Full story at Medical News Today

Chronic cocaine use modifies gene expression

Chronic cocaine use changes gene expression in the hippocampus, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.

Chronic drug users learn to associate the drug-taking environment with the drug itself, reinforcing memories that contribute to addiction. These memories are thought to be created by changes in gene expression in the hippocampus and potentially involve the gene FosB, but the exact mechanism is unknown.

A.J. Robinson and colleagues at Michigan State University examined how cocaine exposure affected expression of the FosB gene in the hippocampus. Mice that were administered cocaine daily showed increased expression of FosB compared to mice that received saline. Chronic cocaine use caused epigenetic modification of the gene, leading it to becoming more active. Additionally, when the scientists blocked the changes made to FosB, the mice were unable to form associations between cocaine and the environment where they received it, implicating epigenetic regulation of the gene in drug memory formation.

Full story at Science Daily

False missile alert may have ‘benefited’ people with anxiety

New research from the American Psychological Association has examined the effects of a missile strike alarm — which turned out to be false — on the anxiety levels of Twitter users.

On the morning of January 13, 2018, the residents of Hawaii received an emergency alert urging them to seek shelter.

They received a message stating that a missile strike was headed toward them.

The message quickly became viral; an employee of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (EMA) mistakenly sent the alarm over radio, television, smartphones, and other wireless devices, accompanied by the disclaimer “this is not a drill.”

Full story at Medical News Today

Want To Feel Happier Today? Try Talking To A Stranger

The doors open wide, you enter, and they close behind you. As the elevator begins its ascent, you realize it’s just you and one other person taking this ride. The silence soon grows uncomfortable.

Pop quiz. What’s your go-to move?

  • A) stare at your shoes
  • B) pull out your cell phone
  • C) make brief eye contact
  • D) initiate chit chat

If your answer was B, you’re like far too many of us, eyes glued to our phones, attention focused on the digital world.

Many of us tend to do just about anything to avoid conversation or even eye contact with strangers. And smartphones make it easier than ever to do that: A recent study found the phones can keep us from even exchanging brief smiles with people we meet in public places. But a body of research has shown that we might just be short-changing our own happiness by ignoring opportunities to connect with the people around us.

Full story at NPR