Thursday, December 31, 2009

Runaway Vigilance Hormone Linked to Panic Attacks


Hi Everyone, I hope you are doing well. I am doing good. I had a great Christmas with my family, I hope you did too. I was happy to read this breakthrough about Panic Disorder. That is what I have but is controlled with paxil. New break throughs can lead to even better treatments for everyone. I will be sharing any updates on this discovery I receive. Happy New Year, may all of us have better mental health in 2010 and feel the peace that the women expresses in the picture above. Thanks for visiting my blog, Take Care, Janet:)

Science Update
December 28, 2009
Runaway Vigilance Hormone Linked to Panic Attacks
Translational Experiments in Rats, Humans Suggest New Medication Target

A study has linked panic disorder to a wayward hormone in a brain circuit that regulates vigilance. While too little of the hormone, called orexin, is known to underlie narcolepsy, the new study suggests that too much of it may lead to panic attacks that afflict 6 million American adults.

"Targeting the brain's orexin system may hold promise for a new generation of anti-anxiety treatments," said Thomas R. Insel, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. "This is a good example of how translational experiments in rats and humans can potentially yield clinical benefits."

NIMH grantee Anantha Shekhar, M.B., Ph.D., and colleagues at Indiana University and Lund University, report on their findings online Dec. 27, 2009 in the journal Nature Medicine. They showed that blocking orexin gene expression or its receptor prevented panic attack-like responses in rats. The study also revealed that panic disorder patients have excess levels of the hormone.

Orexin, also called hypocretin, is secreted exclusively in a circuit emanating from the brain's hypothalamus, known to regulate arousal, wakefulness and reward.

Panic attacks can be experimentally-induced by infusing susceptible humans with a normally innocuous salt called sodium lactate. The salt similarly triggers panic-like anxiety behaviors in susceptible rat strains, suggesting that something is altered in their arousal circuit. Since sodium lactate activated orexin-secreting neurons in panic-prone rats but not in control rats, the researchers hypothesized that something might be orexin.

Results of This Study
The investigators first discovered that increased gene expression in orexin-secreting neurons correlated with increases in anxiety-like behavior in panic-prone rats following sodium lactate infusions. Using a technique called RNA interference, they then protected the panic-prone rats from developing anxiety behaviors following the infusions by first injecting them with a genetically-engineered agent that prevented orexin genes from turning on. Blocking orexin receptors with a drug that specifically binds to it also blocked the anxiety like behavior following the infusions. This mirrored effects, seen in both rats and humans, of benzodiazepine medications used to treat panic disorder.

The excess sleepiness of narcolepsy, traced a decade ago to loss of orexin-secreting neurons in the arousal circuit, might seem to be an opposite state of a panic attack. However, the researchers demonstrated in rats that such sedation could not account for orexin's effects on anxiety. Also in rats, they traced orexin neurons to their end target to pinpoint the specific brain site that accounts for the anxiety effects, disentangled from cardio-respiratory components of the panic response.

Finally, by measuring orexin in cerebrospinal fluid of 53 patients, the researchers showed that those with just panic disorder had higher levels of orexin than those with both panic disorder and depression.

Taken together, these results and other evidence suggest a critical role for an overactive orexin system in producing panic attacks, say the researchers.
What's Next?

Medications that block the orexin receptor may provide a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of panic disorder, they add.

The research was also supported, in part, by NIH's National Center for Research Resources.

A key role for orexin in panic anxiety. Johnson PL, Truitt W, Fitz SD, Kelley PE, Dietrich A, Sanghani S, Traskman-Bendz L, Goddard AW, Brundin, L, Shekhar A. Nature Medicine. Epub 2009 Dec 27.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ava Maria

Hi Everyone, I hope you are all doing well. I am doing good. I decided to post this song on this blog in memory of my mother this Christmas. She always loved the holiday's being with her children and grandchildren. Raised a Catholic in her youth we played this song at her service. When I hear this song it brings her back to me. It is a beautiful song for a beautiful women. I will be updating on Mental Health again this week, I have gotten behind because I am working full time now. But I love to blog, and miss it when I don't, so thanks for continuing to visit my blog, Take Care, Janet.


Ave Maria! Maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden's prayer!
Thou canst hear though from the wild,
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banish'd, outcast and reviled -
Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer;
Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share
Shall seem this down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern's heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;
Then, maiden! hear a maiden's prayer;
Mother, list a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! stainless styled!
Foul demons of the earth and air,
From this their wonted haunt exiled,
Shall flee before thy presence fair,
We bow us to our lot of care,
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden's prayer,
And for a father hear a child!
Ave Maria!

Monday, December 21, 2009

NAMI StigmaBuster

NAMI StigmaBuster Alert: December 18, 2009

Send Your Governor a New Year's Card
Happy New Year

NAMI's top priority for 2010 is to save state mental health services from massive state budget cuts.

Mental illness does not discriminate. It can strike anyone at any time and affects Democrats and Republicans alike. But with so many issues competing for decreasing state funds during a period of economic crisis, your voices are needed to speak out for thousands of individuals living with mental illness.

Too many times, mental illness is overlooked, marginalized, trivialized or stigmatized.

Without state and local mental health services, too many people living with mental illness end up in emergency rooms, hospitalized, in shelters, on the street or in jail.

State budget proposals are being drawn up now.

* As we approach the New Year, please send holiday cards-the bigger the better-to your governor and state legislators. Write "Please protect and strengthen mental health care in 2010. We can't take anymore cuts." Add a few short personal comments.
* Ask family and friends to do so as well.
* Here is a link to governors' statehouse postal addresses. Please check your state government's Web sites or other sources for addresses of your state legislators.

What a Year! Looking Back on 2009
The Soloist

NAMI's StigmaBusters made some strong steps forward this past year.

* The movie The Soloist premiered and is now a possible contender for an Academy Award in 2010. Nathanial Ayers, the violinist living with schizophrenia, on whom the movie is based, performed at the NAMI national convention.
* Actress Glenn Close launched the Bring Change2Mind campaign, joining the fight against stigma.
* NAMI launched its "Puzzle Pieces" public service announcements (PSAs) encouraging people to connect with and support people living with mental illness.
* During Mental Illness Awareness Week, PBS television stations broadcast Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness, a provocative look at the mental health care system and indictment of stigma.

Happy Holidays

Thank you for your support this past year. Best wishes for a happy, healthy holiday season and the New Year.
We look forward to further progress in 2010.
Your support will continue to help make a difference in the new year.
Out of the Inbox
Because of the large number of StigmaBuster messages received, they cannot all be answered individually; however, we appreciate every e-mail and do review every stigma report and prioritize them for action.
We also appreciate receiving copies of responses. They are important in helping to coordinate strategy and pursue genuine dialogue. You are our eyes and ears! Your help makes a difference!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Recalling Emotional Memory Opens Window of Opportunity to Re-Write it


Hi Everyone, I hope you are doing well, I am doing good. Sorry I have gotten behind on posting here. I just got a new job and have been working a lot and getting ready for the holiday with my family. I think this research is a great breakthrough for people who suffer PTSD, and many others disorders. I think it would help me with my anxiety disorder because I often wonder if some of it is PTSD from watching my mother suffer with her mental illness to the point of suicide in front of us young kids, I don't remember much of my childhood, the mind is kind, but that stuck out in my mind at the age of 10. A lot of memories of her driving off in an ambulance. My panic or anxiety disorder did not start until I was away from home and settled in my new home with Pete and Christa. It was as if it was a safe place to finally release all of that stress, although I did not know it at the time. My anxiety disorder is under control because of medicine, but I wonder if this type of treatment would make it possible to not be dependant on medicine. I think this will help a lot of people who have so many traumatic events in their lives to break free of the chains that still can bind us, especially men and women of war. Thanks for visiting my blog, Take Care, Janet :)

Press Release
December 09, 2009
Non-Invasive Technique Blocks a Conditioned Fear in Humans
Recalling Emotional Memory Opens Window of Opportunity to Re-Write It

Scientists have for the first time selectively blocked a conditioned fear memory in humans with a behavioral manipulation. Participants remained free of the fear memory for at least a year. The research builds on emerging evidence from animal studies that reactivating an emotional memory opens a 6-hour window of opportunity in which a training procedure can alter it.

"Our results suggest a non-pharmacological, naturalistic approach to more effectively manage emotional memories," said Elizabeth Phelps, Ph.D., of New York University, a grantee of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Phelps and NIMH grantee and NYU colleague Joseph LeDoux, Ph.D., led the research team that reports on their discovery online Dec. 9, 2009 in the journal Nature.1

"Inspired by basic science studies in rodents, these new findings in humans hold promise for being translated into improved therapies for the treatment of anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)," said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D.

The results add support to the hypothesis that emotional memories are reconsolidated – rendered vulnerable to being modified – each time they are retrieved. That is, reactivating a memory opens what researchers call "reconsolidation window," a time-limited period when it can be changed.

"This adaptive update mechanism appears to have evolved to allow new information available at the time of retrieval to be incorporated into the brain's original representation of the memory," explained Phelps.

Earlier this year, LeDoux and colleagues exploited this potentially clinically important insight to erase a fear memory in rats. They first conditioned rats to fear a tone by pairing it with intermittent shocks. A day later, the rats were re-exposed to the tone, reactivating the fear memory. They then underwent a process to rewrite the fear, called extinction training, in which the tone was repeatedly presented without shocks.

However, the timing of this extinction training proved critical. Fear of the stimulus was erased only in rats trained within a 6-hour reconsolidation window after re-exposure to the feared tone. Fear responses returned in animals trained after the window closed, when the memory had apparently already solidified.

Normally, extinction training suppresses but does not erase the original fear memory. By first reactivating it – sounding the tone – just prior to extinction training, LeDoux and colleagues permanently erased the fear memory.

In the new study, Phelps and colleagues similarly conditioned human participants to fear colored squares by intermittently pairing them with mild wrist shocks.

As with the rats, a day later, the memory was first reactivated by re-exposing participants to the feared squares. A measure of nervous system arousal confirmed that they experienced a fear response. Extinction training – repeated trials of exposure to the colored squares without shocks – followed.

Again as in the rats, a day later, the fear response was banished only in human participants who underwent the extinction training soon after the fear reactivation. Those trained after the 6-hour consolidation window remained afraid of the squares – as did a control group that received extinction training without first experiencing reactivation of the fear memory.

In a follow-up experiment to gauge long-term effects a year later, 19 of the original participants received a potent regimen to re-instate the fear: four shocks followed by presentations of the colored squares.

Remarkably, those who had undergone extinction training within the reconsolidation window were largely spared significant effects. By contrast, those whose training had been delayed 6 hours or who hadn't experienced fear memory reactivation prior to extinction training experienced significant reinstatement of the fear response.

In a similar experiment, the researchers also confirmed that the fear memory was blocked only for the specific colored square for which fear memory was reactivated prior to extinction training. The effect did not generalize to a differently colored square associated with the shocks. This indicated that memory re-writing during reconsolidation is highly specific and that prior reactivation with the specific stimuli is critical.

"Timing may have a more important role in the control of fear than previously appreciated," Phelps suggested. "Our memory reflects our last retrieval of it rather than an exact account of the original event."

Evidence suggests that the behavioral manipulation may work through the same molecular mechanisms in the brain’s fear hub, the amygdala, as experimental medications under study for quelling traumatic emotional memories.

"Using a more natural intervention that captures the adaptive purpose of reconsolidation allows a safe and easily implemented way to prevent the return of fear," suggest the investigators.

diagram of fear re-writing procedure

Performing a behavioral manipulation during a memory reconsolidation, or updating, window of time following retrieval (red line at top) extinguished a conditioned fear memory in human subjects.

Source: Gregory Quirk, Ph.D., University of Puerto Rico3

fMRI scan showing amygdala

Evidence suggests that the behavioral manipulation may work through the same molecular mechanisms in the brain’s fear hub, the amygdala (yellow/red), as experimental medications under study for quelling traumatic emotional memories. Functional magnetic resonance imaging scan showing activation of the amygdala.

Source: Elizabeth Phelps, Ph.D, NYU


1Preventing the return of fear in humans using reconsolidation update mechanisms. Schiller D, Monfils MH, Raio CM, Johnson DC, LeDoux JE, Phelps EA. Nature. 2009 December 9.

2Extinction-reconsolidation boundaries: key to persistent attenuation of fear memories. Monfils MH, Cowansage KK, Klann E, LeDoux JE. Science. 2009 May 15;324(5929):951-5. Epub 2009 Apr 2.PMID: 19342552

3Editing out fear. Quirk GJ, Milad MR. Nature. Epub 2009 Dec 9.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How to help a friend or relative who has bipolar disorder?, and Support for caregivers

Hi Everyone, I hope you are doing well, I am doing good. I am reaching the end of my series on Bipolar Disorder. I hope this information was helpful to anyone who needed it. I will be doing more series as there is so much to cover on this topic. Thanks for visiting my blog, Take Care, Janet :)

If you know someone who has bipolar disorder, it affects you too. The first and most important thing you can do is help him or her get the right diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make the appointment and go with him or her to see the doctor. Encourage your loved one to stay in treatment.

To help a friend or relative, you can:
* Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement
* Learn about bipolar disorder so you can understand what your friend or relative is experiencing
* Talk to your friend or relative and listen carefully
* Listen to feelings your friend or relative expresses-be understanding about situations that may trigger bipolar symptoms
* Invite your friend or relative out for positive distractions, such as walks, outings, and other activities
* Remind your friend or relative that, with time and treatment, he or she can get better.
Never ignore comments about your friend or relative harming himself or herself. Always report such comments to his or her therapist or doctor.

Support for caregivers

Like other serious illnesses, bipolar disorder can be difficult for spouses, family members, friends, and other caregivers. Relatives and friends often have to cope with the person's serious behavioral problems, such as wild spending sprees during mania, extreme withdrawal during depression, poor work or school performance. These behaviors can have lasting consequences.

Caregivers usually take care of the medical needs of their loved ones. The caregivers have to deal with how this affects their own health. The stress that caregivers are under may lead to missed work or lost free time, strained relationships with people who may not understand the situation, and physical and mental exhaustion.

Stress from care giving can make it hard to cope with a loved one's bipolar symptoms. One study shows that if a caregiver is under a lot of stress, his or her loved one has more trouble following the treatment plan, which increases the chance for a major bipolar episode. It is important that people caring for those with bipolar disorder also take care of themselves. One way to get support for yourselves is to join a local support group. They are usually held at mental health facilities, or at a local hospital. You may find you can get respite help to allow yourself some time off, which will only lead to better mental health for both you and the loved on with the disorder.