Treating Severe Trauma in Iraq

Trauma doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone, anywhere throughout the world and, unfortunately . . . . . . not everyone has similar access to resources for treating trauma or PTSD. So, what can we do to reach survivors of trauma who have limited access to treatment options? Paul Bolton, MBBS and a team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, wanted to test the effects of PTSD treatment provided by workers who had access to few resources and little training opportunities. To complete this study, Bolton coordinated 20 community health workers in Iraq. The…

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An Exercise to Boost the Brain’s Natural Anti-Anxiety Drug?

Is there an exercise that can boost feel-good chemicals in your brain while reducing anxiety and improving your mood? The answer is yes – it’s yoga. Now yoga isn’t the only exercise that’s been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety, but Chris Streeter, MD and her colleagues from the Boston University School of Medicine conducted a study that compared the efficacy of yoga to walking. Initially, Streeter and her team determined that yoga reduced anxiety, improved mood, and boosted the anti-anxiety neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. Next, researchers randomly assigned participants to either a yoga group or…

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Greater Empathy – In Just 3 Hours?

How attentive, empathetic, and caring was your physician the last time you had to go to the doctor’s office? Or, if you’re a physician, do you ever wonder how your patients perceive you? We recently reported on a study that showed severity of cold symptoms decreased among patients treated by physicians who demonstrated high levels of empathy. Empathy is a crucial skill when working with people who are sick or facing the diagnosis they most fear. So a training program to help medical practitioners develop a greater sense of attentiveness and empathy could offer patients tremendous support and relief, no…

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Can Traumatic Memories Be Changed?

Experiences that are distressing, painful and, perhaps, even traumatic are unavoidable in life. But are there ways we can work with people to prevent memories of traumatic events from developing into PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)? One possibility that’s being investigated for accomplishing this is a method called “updating.” This approach uses verbal techniques to change how traumatic memories are consolidated in the brain. Basically, “updating” tries to decrease the conditioned fear response that can lead to PTSD. You see, there’s a period of time known as the “consolidation window,” when fear memories are being established and strengthened in the brain….

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Injury, Illness, and PTSD

Does serious illness increase the risk of developing PTSD? We wrote about this topic back in 2011. At that time, a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reported that 20-51% of patients who suffered musculoskeletal injuries went on to develop PTSD. Another study, from the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, found that 36-45% of the 121 ovarian cancer survivors in their longitudinal study experienced PTSD at some point between the start of their chemotherapy treatments and their 3-month post-treatment follow-up appointment. Overall, that’s a lot of patients developing PTSD after undergoing treatment for illness or injury….

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A Different Way to Handle Stress – Can Brain Science Help?

Stress – it’s often (if not always) a regular part of life. But everyone handles it differently, and many people are frequently on the search for ways to deal with it more effectively. Now, while stress triggers are usually different from person to person, the brain is actually hardwired to process stress in a certain way. So sometimes, this hardwiring can make stress feel more intense – and the reactivity that can come along with it often only compounds the problem. In this video clip, Rick Hanson, PhD explains why the brain is wired this way, and what needs to…

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