Transcendental meditation can help treat PTSD

Working with a cohort of young people with symptoms of PTSD and depression, researchers found that practicing transcendental meditation can help reduce or even reverse these symptoms.

Studies have shown that meditation practices can have a significant, positive effect on mental health and how well our bodies respond to stress.

Existing research has also found that different types of meditation can even help boost a person’s emotional intelligence.

Interest in meditation’s potential as a tool for coping with various mental health symptoms has risen in recent years, and now, a new study suggests that one type of meditation — called transcendental meditation — can successfully counteract PTSD and lower depression.

Full story at Medical News Today

Heavy drinking in teens causes lasting changes in emotional center of brain

Binge drinking in adolescence has been shown to have lasting effects on the wiring of the brain and is associated with increased risk for psychological problems and alcohol use disorder later in life.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics have shown that some of these lasting changes are the result of epigenetic changes that alter the expression of a protein crucial for the formation and maintenance of neural connections in the amygdala — the part of the brain involved in emotion, fear and anxiety. Their results, which are based on the analysis of postmortem human brain tissue, are published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Epigenetics refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves. Epigenetic modifications are involved in the normal development of the brain, but they can be influenced by environmental or even social factors, such as alcohol and stress. These kinds of epigenetic alterations have been linked to changes in behavior and disease.

Full story at Science Daily

Who is most likely to experience ‘hangxiety?’

New research has found that very shy people are more likely to have anxiety, possibly at debilitating levels, during a hangover. The findings also suggest that for these people, “hangxiety” might signal a higher risk of alcohol dependence.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD), a chronic condition, is characterized by a person’s inability to “stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.”

AUD reportedly affects around 15 million adults in the United States and over 620,000 adolescents aged 12–17.

Its symptoms may be either mild or severe, and there are several factors that raise the risk of AUD. These include family history, social pressure, and stress.

Full story at Medical News Today

Why feeling empathy could lead former drug users to relapse

Empathy, the awareness of another’s feelings and emotions, is a key feature in normal social interactions. But new research from the University of Minnesota suggests that empathy can have detrimental effects on an individual — and can push former drug users to relapse.

A group of researchers, led by Dr. Jonathan Gewirtz, performed a series of experiments to analyze links between empathy, stress, and drug use. First, they used behavioral conditioning to train a group of mice to mimic drug-seeking behavior. The mice were initially placed in a two-sided compartment, where a neutral saline solution was administered on one side and a dose of morphine on the other. When the treatment was repeated over the course of several days, the mice started associating one side with the drug treatment.

Next, the group of mice received only saline injections in either compartment for two weeks to mimic a period of sobriety.

Full story at Science Daily

Sex addiction may affect 10 percent of men, survey finds

Is sex addiction real? Researchers say it may be, or at least something close to it, and might be more common than anyone thought.

Ten percent of men and 7 percent of women say they have significant levels of stress and dysfunction because of their sexual thoughts or behaviors, the researchers reported Friday.

A national survey of more than 2,000 adults found on average, more than 8 percent of them reported symptoms of compulsive sexual behavior disorder — a persistent pattern of failure in controlling intense sexual urges that leads to distress and social impairment.

It’s definitely controversial, Janna Dickenson of the University of Minnesota and colleagues wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open.

Full story at NBC news