Exercise: Psych patients’ new primary prescription

When it comes to inpatient treatment of a range of mental health and mood disorders — from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia, suicidality and acute psychotic episodes — a new study advocates for exercise, rather than psychotropic medications, as the primary prescription and method of intervention. Findings from the study reveal that physical exercise is so effective at alleviating patient symptoms that it could reduce patients’ time admitted to acute facilities and reliance on psychotropic medications.

“The general attitude of medicine is that you treat the primary problem first, and exercise was never considered to be a life or death treatment option. Now that we know it’s so effective, it can become as fundamental as pharmacological intervention,” explains David Tomasi, a lecturer at the University of Vermont, psychotherapist and inpatient psychiatry group therapist at the University of Vermont Medical Center and lead researcher of the study.

Practitioners at inpatient psychiatric facilities — often crowded, acute settings in which patients experience severe distress and discomfort — typically prescribe psychotropic medications first, rather than natural remedies like physical exercise, to alleviate patients’ symptoms such as anger, anxiety and depression. In fact, Tomasi estimates that only a handful of inpatient psychiatric hospitals in the U.S. provide psychotherapist-supported gym facilities exclusively for these patients. Instead, practitioners rely on classical psychotherapeutic and pharmacological frameworks to treat psychiatric symptoms, which they monitor to determine when a patient is ready to be discharged from the facility.

Full story at Science Daily

Don’t let depression keep you from exercising

Exercise may be just as crucial to a depression patient’s good health as finding an effective antidepressant.

A new study of nearly 18,000 participants found that those with high fitness at middle age were significantly less likely to die from heart disease in later life, even if they were diagnosed with depression.

The research — a collaboration between UT Southwestern and The Cooper Institute — underscores the multiple ways in which depression may ultimately impact health and mortality. It also highlights the importance of overcoming a common dilemma among patients: How does one cope with hopelessness and still find motivation to exercise?

“Maintaining a healthy dose of exercise is difficult, but it can be done. It just requires more effort and addressing unique barriers to regular exercise,” says Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, co-author of the study and Director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care, part of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at UT Southwestern.

Full story at Science Daily

Stopping exercise can increase symptoms of depression

Stopping exercise can result in increased depressive symptoms, according to new mental health research from the University of Adelaide.

PhD student Julie Morgan from the University of Adelaide’s Discipline of Psychiatry has reviewed the results of earlier studies that examined the effects of stopping exercise in regularly active adults.

The results of her review are now published online ahead of print in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

“Adequate physical activity and exercise are important for both physical and mental health,” says Ms Morgan.

Full story at Science Daily

Clear effect of art therapy on severe depression

Create a picture of how you are feeling on this particular day, said the first exercise in the art therapy. After ten treatments the patients who suffered from severe or moderately severe depression had shown more improvement than the patients in the control group, shows research at Sahlgrenska academy.

“The conclusion is that it was the art therapy that facilitated their improvement,” says Christina Blomdahl, PhD at the institute of health and care sciences, licensed occupational therapist and art therapist.

As part of her dissertation she has allowed 43 patients with severe or moderately severe depression to undergo a manual-based art therapy that she has developed herself. The control group consisted of 36 people who all suffered from the same medical condition.

Full story at Science Daily

Twice weekly yoga classes plus home practice effective in reducing symptoms of depression

People who suffer from depression should participate in yoga and deep (coherent) breathing classes at least twice weekly plus practice at home to receive a significant reduction in their symptoms.

The findings, which appear in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, provide preliminary support for the use of yoga-based interventions as an alternative or supplement to pharmacologic treatments for depression.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is common, recurrent, chronic and disabling. Due in part to its prevalence, depression is globally responsible for more years lost to disability than any other disease. Up to 40 percent of individuals treated with antidepressant medications for MDD do not achieve full remission. This study used lyengar yoga that has an emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of posture and breath control.

Full story of yoga classes effective in reducing symptoms of depression at Science Daily

Treatment strategy for anorexia

New research conducted in adolescent rodents provides insights on the mechanisms behind anorexia nervosa and points to a potential treatment strategy.

In experiments involving food restriction and/or exercise, investigators found that the extent to which certain receptors are expressed in neurons in a particular region of the brain can influence whether an adolescent female rat develops anorexia nervosa-like behavior, such as to exercise, rather than eat, in spite of being hungry. The findings suggest that a risk factor for anorexia may be under-expression of these receptors, α4βδ-GABAA called receptors, following stress. Therefore, boosting the activity of these receptors may be a promising treatment strategy.

“Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, surpassing even that of depression, and currently, there are no accepted pharmacological treatments,” said Dr. Chiye Aoki, lead author of the Journal of Neuroscience Research article. “This makes the pursuit of effective medications particularly important. Rodent models enable scientists to separate cultural influences from the neurobiological basis of behaviors that are present in the illness.”

Full story on treatment strategy for anorexia at Science Daily

Exercise can tackle symptoms of schizophrenia

Aerobic exercise can significantly help people coping with the long-term mental health condition schizophrenia, according to a new study from University of Manchester researchers.

Through combining data from 10 independent clinical trials with a total of 385 patients with schizophrenia, Joseph Firth found that around 12 weeks of aerobic exercise training can significant improve patients’ brain functioning.

The study by Firth, Dr Brendon Stubbs and Professor Alison Yung is published in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

Schizophrenia’s acute phase is typified by hallucinations and delusions, which are usually treatable with medication.

Full story of exercise and schizophrenia at Science Daily

Exercise can help adults better cope with ADHD symptoms

Exercise, even a small amount, can help alleviate symptoms of ADHD in adults, according to a new study by University of Georgia researchers.

The study, released this month in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, found a single bout of exercise has psychological benefits for adults with these elevated ADHD symptoms. About 6 percent of American adults report symptoms consistent with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, which lead to anxiety, depression, low energy and motivation, poor performance at work or school and also increased traffic accidents.

“Exercise is already known as a stress reducer and mood booster, so it really has the potential to help those suffering with ADHD symptoms,” said the study’s senior author Patrick O’Connor, professor in the UGA College of Education’s kinesiology department. “And while prescription drugs can be used to treat these symptoms, there’s an increased risk of abuse or dependence and negative side effects. Those risks don’t exist with exercise.”

English football performance impaired by mental fatigue

Professional footballers and their coaches often complain about the mental fatigue induced by the stress of frequent matches.

Now research from the University of Kent has demonstrated for the first time that mental fatigue can have a negative impact on football performance by reducing running, passing, and shooting ability.

Professor Samuele Marcora of Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences worked with researchers from the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, and Ghent University in Belgium on the study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise.

Full story of English football and mental fatigue at Science Daily

Food and Emotions: 90 percent overlook key to weight loss, survey finds

Tens of millions of Americans vow each year to lose weight in the New Year, and while their intentions are good, most of the time their results are not. It’s estimated that only 8 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them.

Even if weight is lost initially, it usually returns. Studies show nearly 2 out of 3 people who lose 5 percent of their total weight will gain it back, and the more weight you lose, the less your chances of keeping it off.

“That’s not surprising,” said Diane Robinson, PhD, a neuropsychologist and Program Director of Integrative Medicine at Orlando Health. “Most people focus almost entirely on the physical aspects of weight loss, like diet and exercise. But there is an emotional component to food that the vast majority of people simply overlook and it can quickly sabotage their efforts.”

Full story of emotional component and weight loss at Science Daily