Feeling depressed? Mahjong might be the answer

When it comes to boosting mental health among older Chinese, it might be as simple as a game of mahjong, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.

Regularly playing the popular tile-based strategy game was one of several types of social participation linked to reduced rates of depression among middle-aged and older adults in China in the study appearing in Social Science & Medicine.

“Global economic and epidemiologic trends have led to significant increases in the burden of mental health among older adults, especially in the low- and middle-income countries,” said Adam Chen, an associate professor of health policy and management at UGA’s College of Public Health and study co-author.

Full story at Science Daily

Feeling angry: Mental health and what to do

Anger is a normal emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. However, if a person feels unable to control their anger, it can cause problems in relationships and at work. It might also affect their quality of life.

Anger is an integral part of the body’s “fight, flight, or freeze” system, which helps protect us from threats or danger.

However, high levels of unresolved anger may have a negative impact on health. According to the American Psychological Association, anger has links with inflammation in older adults. This could lead to chronic diseases.

Research from 2015 suggests that the overall lifetime prevalence of intense, inappropriate, or poorly controlled anger in the general population in the United States is 7.8%. Anger seems to affect more men than women, and it also seems more prevalent among younger adults.

Full story at Medical News Today

Buttigieg unveils plan to improve mental health care and fight addiction

Ahead of a campaign trip to New Hampshire, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg released a plan to expand mental health care services and fight addiction, with the goal of preventing 1 million deaths over the next nine years.

The plan would strengthen enforcement of “parity” requirements between mental health care and other services and substantially reduce the number of people incarcerated due to mental illness and addiction.

The policy aims to prevent 1 million “deaths of despair” by 2028, including deaths due to drugs, alcohol and suicide. The plan would also ensure that at least 75% of people who need mental health care and addiction treatment get the care they need by the end of Buttigieg’s first term in office.

Full story at CBS News

Among Hurdles For Those With Opioid Addictions: Getting The Drug To Treat It

Louis Morano knew what he needed, and he knew where to get it.

He made his way to a mobile medical clinic parked on a corner of Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, in the geographical heart of the city’s overdose crisis. People call it “the bupe bus.”

Morano, 29, has done seven stints in rehab for opioid addiction in the past 15 years.

Buprenorphine is a drug that curbs cravings and treats the symptoms of withdrawal from opioid addiction. One of the common brand name drugs that contains it, Suboxone, blends buprenorphine with naloxone.

Combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, it is one of the three FDA-approved medicines considered the gold standard for opioid-addiction treatment.

Full story at Kaiser Health News

Schizophrenia: Genes related to circadian rhythms may be disrupted

New research examines the brains of people with schizophrenia and finds disrupted patterns of expression in genes linked with sleep-wake cycles.

Worldwide, schizophrenia is one of the top 15 leading causes of disability, affecting about 1% of the world’s population.

In the United States, slightly more than 1% of adults, about 3 million, may be living with schizophrenia, according to some estimates.

The condition causes several symptoms, including impaired thought processes, emotions, and social behavior. People with schizophrenia also frequently experience insomnia and disrupted sleep-wake cycles.

Full story at Medical News Today

Stressed at school? Art therapy reduces teenage girls’ headaches

Teenagers report higher levels of stress than adults, and cite school as the highest contributing factor, according to the American Psychological Association’s annual report. A summary from 2013 concluded that while stress among Americans was not new, “what’s troubling is the stress outlook for teens in the United States.”

In response, recently some schools have turned to mindfulness-based programs as a way to alleviate stress among their students. These programs could benefit from more research into what activities students find most useful.

In a pilot study led by the University of Washington, researchers explored art-based mindfulness activities that schools could use to reduce headaches, a common side effect of stress in adolescent girls. The test group of eight teenage girls gave feedback on which activities they preferred.

Full story at Science Daily

From Insomnia To Sexsomnia, Unlocking The ‘Secret World’ Of Sleep

We tend to think of being asleep or awake as an either-or prospect: If you’re not asleep, then you must be awake. But sleep disorder specialist and neurologist Guy Leschziner says it’s not that simple.

“If one looks at the brain during sleep, we now know that actually sleep is not a static state,” Leschziner says. “There are a number of different brain states that occur while we sleep.”

As head of the sleep disorders center at Guy’s Hospital in London, Leschziner has treated patients with a host of nocturnal problems, including insomnia, night terrors, narcolepsy, sleep walking, sleep eating and sexsomnia, a condition in which a person pursues sexual acts while asleep. He writes about his experiences in his book The Nocturnal Brain.

Full story at npr.org

Can we blame procrastination on our genes?

People often assume that procrastination is a choice and that the personality trait — which sees people delay necessary tasks — is a sign of laziness. However, new research suggests that genes may play a role.

Previous research has associated both biological and psychological factors with procrastination. The results of a 2018 study showed that people with a tendency to procrastinate had a bigger amygdala — the section of the brain that processes emotions.

The same research team has now studied whether there is an association between the trait and genetics.

After examining identical and fraternal twins, the authors of a previous study, which featured in Psychological Science, concluded that 46% of the tendency to procrastinate might be down to genes. However, researchers still do not know the specific genetic difference that could result in this trait.

Full story at Medical News Today

Apathy: The forgotten symptom of dementia

Apathy is the most common neuropsychiatric symptom of dementia, with a bigger impact on function than memory loss — yet it is under-researched and often forgotten in care. A new study has found that apathy is present nearly half of all people with dementia, with researchers finding it is often distinct from depression.

Although common, apathy is often ignored as it is less disruptive in settings such as care homes than symptoms like aggression. Defined by a loss of interest and emotions, it is extremely distressing for families and it is linked with more severe dementia and worse clinical symptoms.

Now, research led by the University of Exeter and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in LA has analysed 4,320 people with Alzheimer’s disease from 20 cohort studies, to look at the prevalence of apathy over time.

Full story at Science Daily

Can a Budget Make You Happier?

Clever websites and smartphone apps have made creating a household budget easier, though it’s still an unappealing chore for some. But what if using a tool that makes you smarter about money could also make you happier? That would make budgeting a lot more attractive.

What’s the connection? Budgeting causes you to rethink spending decisions, and by cutting back on some expenses that are less meaningful to you, you’ll have money to put toward things that give you pleasure.

Most budgets start with a list of monthly expenses. Some are necessities, like rent or a mortgage, food, utility bills and insurance. At first glance you might think other expenses, like entertainment and clothing, are more easily chopped. But put every item on the list through a happiness prism.

Full story at Health Day