Hate Those Stressful Office Parties? Just Fake It, Study Suggests

Though they often dread social events, many introverts find they’re not as bad as feared and some have learned to fake an outgoing personality to get through the experience.

In the business world, socializing is a key to success, said Erik Helzer, who led a team that examined the psychological implications for both introverts and extroverts. Helzer is an assistant professor of management and organization at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School in Baltimore.

“We’re told, ‘You ought to do this. It will help your career,'” he said in a university news release. “But that doesn’t mean we look forward to it. In fact, many people do not.”

For the study, Helzer and colleagues asked 146 university students to spend 30 minutes interacting with strangers in a cocktail party environment.

Full story at Health Day

NIH Study Shows Many Preteens Screen Positive for Suicide Risk During ER Visits

A research team found nearly one-third of youth ages 10 to 12 years screened positive for suicide risk in emergency department settings. As part of a larger study on youth suicide risk screening in emergency departments, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, and collaborators sought to explore how frequently preteen youth ages 10 to 12 screened positive for suicide risk. Notably, 7 percent of the preteens who screened positive for suicide risk were seeking help for physical – not psychiatric – concerns. The study appears online March 11 in Hospital Pediatrics.

“Typically, suicidal thoughts and behaviors are seen in older teens. It was troubling to see that so many preteens screened positive for suicide risk, and we were alarmed to find that many of them had acted on their suicidal thoughts in the past,” said Lisa Horowitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., a clinical scientist in the NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs (DIRP) and an author on the paper. “This study shows that children as young as 10 who show up in the emergency department may be thinking about suicide, and that screening all preteens — regardless of their presenting symptoms — may save lives. Otherwise, they may pass through our medical systems undetected.”

Full story at NIMH

Stress: A feeling of control may limit its negative effects

Researchers conducted a study on rats and revealed that the possibility of controlling the source of stress may be key to reducing its impact.

Everybody experiences stress at some point in their lives.

Sometimes, stress can be a positive force and lead to positive outcomes.

However, when it becomes chronic, it might produce a range health complaints.

These may include headaches, muscle tension, chest pain, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, and mental health conditions.

Full story at Medical News Today

Child’s elevated mental ill-health risk if mother treated for infection during pregnancy

Risks for autism and depression are higher if one’s mother was in hospital with an infection during pregnancy. This is shown by a major Swedish observational study of nearly 1.8 million children.

“The results indicate that safeguarding against and preventing infection during pregnancy as far as possible by, for instance, following flu vaccination recommendations, may be called for,” says Verena Sengpiel, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and last author of the study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Maternal infection with certain infectious agents, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) or the herpes virus, are already known to be capable of harming fetal brain development and boosting the risk of certain psychiatric disorders.

Full story at Science Daily

Psychedelic microdosing in rats shows beneficial effects

The growing popularity of microdosing — taking tiny amounts of psychedelic drugs to boost mood and mental acuity — is based on anecdotal reports of its benefits. Now, a study in rats by researchers at the University of California, Davis suggests microdosing can provide relief for symptoms of depression and anxiety, but also found potential negative effects. The work is published March 4 in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

“Prior to our study, essentially nothing was known about the effects of psychedelic microdosing on animal behaviors,” said David Olson, assistant professor in the UC Davis departments of Chemistry and of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, who leads the research team. “This is the first time anyone has demonstrated in animals that psychedelic microdosing might actually have some beneficial effects, particularly for depression or anxiety. It’s exciting, but the potentially adverse changes in neuronal structure and metabolism that we observe emphasize the need for additional studies.”

Full story at Science Daily

What are mania and hypomania?

Mania and hypomania are periods where a person feels elated, very active, and full of energy. Hypomania is a milder form of mania.

Mania and hypomania both involve periods when the individual feels excited or experiences an energized mood. They differ in how severe these mood changes are:

  • Mania is a severe episode that may last for a week or more. A person may feel uncontrollably elated and very high in energy. These symptoms interfere with daily life, and in severe cases, a person may need to go to the hospital.
  • Hypomania is an episode that lasts for a few days. People may feel very good and function well. Family or friends may notice mood or activity changes, while the person with the hypomania may not.

Full story at Medical News Today

Neuromelanin-Sensitive MRI Identified as a Potential Biomarker for Psychosis

Researchers have shown that a type of magnetic resonance imaging — called neuromelanin-sensitive MRI (NM-MRI) — is a potential biomarker for psychosis. NM-MRI signal was found to be a marker of dopamine function in people with schizophrenia and an indicator of the severity of psychotic symptoms in people with this mental illness. The study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

“Disturbances affecting the neurotransmitter dopamine are associated with a host of mental and neurological disorders, such as schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease,” said Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIMH. “Because of the role dopamine plays in these disorders, the ability to measure dopamine activity is critical for furthering our understanding of these disorders, including how to best diagnose and treat them.”

Neuromelanin is a dark pigment created within dopamine neurons of the midbrain — particularly in the substantia nigra, a brain area that plays a role in reward and movement. Neuromelanin accumulates over the lifespan and is only cleared away from cells following cell death, as occurs in neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Researchers have found that NM-MRI signal is lower in the substantia nigra of people with Parkinson’s disease, reflecting the cell death that occurs in these patients.

Full story at NIMH

The US adoption system discriminates against darker-skinned children

When it comes to adoption, Americans might assume that each child is treated equally. But research shows that darker-skinned children are repeatedly discriminated against, both by potential adoptive parents and the social workers who are charged with protecting their well-being.

Social workers are often called upon to assess a newborn’s skin color, because skin color influences potential for placement. As a 2013 NPR investigation found, dark-skinned black children cost less to adopt than light-skinned white children, as they are often ranked by social workers and the public as less preferred.

According to Washington University law school professor Kimberly Jade Norwood, “In the adoption market, race and color combine to create another preference hierarchy: white children are preferred over nonwhite. When African-American children are considered, the data suggest there is a preference for light skin and biracial children over dark-skinned children.”

Full story at The Conversation

What to know about panic attacks at night

A panic attack is a sudden, intense onset of distress or fear. These feelings heighten for around 10 minutes until starting to fade. Panic attacks can occur at any time of the day or night.

People may experience a panic attack without warning. Others may have frequent, unexpected attacks.

Those who have frequent panic attacks may begin to identify certain triggers, such as stress at work or fear of flying. However, nocturnal panic attacks may happen without a trigger and even wake a person from sleep.

Some people with a panic attack may feel as though they are having a heart attack and seek medical treatment.

Full story at Medical News Today

Neuromelanin-Sensitive MRI Identified as a Potential Biomarker for Psychosis

Researchers have shown that a type of magnetic resonance imaging — called neuromelanin-sensitive MRI (NM-MRI) — is a potential biomarker for psychosis. NM-MRI signal was found to be a marker of dopamine function in people with schizophrenia and an indicator of the severity of psychotic symptoms in people with this mental illness. The study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

“Disturbances affecting the neurotransmitter dopamine are associated with a host of mental and neurological disorders, such as schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease,” said Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIMH. “Because of the role dopamine plays in these disorders, the ability to measure dopamine activity is critical for furthering our understanding of these disorders, including how to best diagnose and treat them.”

Neuromelanin is a dark pigment created within dopamine neurons of the midbrain — particularly in the substantia nigra, a brain area that plays a role in reward and movement. Neuromelanin accumulates over the lifespan and is only cleared away from cells following cell death, as occurs in neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Researchers have found that NM-MRI signal is lower in the substantia nigra of people with Parkinson’s disease, reflecting the cell death that occurs in these patients.

Full story at NIMH