Anxiety

MDMA and Psilocybin: The Future of Anxiety Medication?

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When my wife texted me from the other side of the apartment last Thursday I knew things could not be good. Four simple words: Chris Cornell is dead. While I haven’t remained up on Soundgarden or Cornell’s solo career over the last two decades, Badmotorfinger and Superunknown, along with the Temple of the Dog record, were essential high school and college listening, memories for life.

Of course you want to know what happened at such times. The NY Times initially reported potential suicide, a claim quickly verified around the web. Impatient animals we are, song lyrics and life episodes were immediately dissected for clues, including the fact that the last song Soundgarden performed was a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying.” All so poetic, this story wrapped up with the perfect bow of rock star misery.

Or is it? Cornell’s family rebutted that his medication is to blame. He might have taken a higher dosage of Ativan than usual, an anti-anxiety drug also prescribed for insomnia. Side effects include suicidal thoughts, mood swings, confusion, hallucinations, feeling unsteady, and memory problems. Cornell’s wife noticed that he was slurring his words earlier that evening.

While we’ve gotten better at solving hardware problems—torn meniscuses, faulty heart valves, various cancers—we’re still working with an ancient operating system when it comes to our software. One of the failures of modern medicine is its inability to treat emotional pain, writes neuroscientist Marc Lewis and addiction specialist Shaun Shelly:

Modern medicine has confirmed the overlap of bodily and mental maladies through painstaking research, and yet treatment for psychological problems lags far behind a cascade of stunning advances in the treatment of physical ills – advances that have doubled the human lifespan and improved our quality of life immeasurably.

We’ve put a lot of faith—too much, Lewis and Shelly argue—on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work by—well, no one is exactly sure, which is a big part of the problem. If you’re suffering from mild or moderate anxiety or depression side effects likely outweigh benefits. And yet in numerous countries they are the most commonly prescribed group of pharmaceuticals for treating emotional distress. One JAMA report stated that 16.7 percent of American adults filled at least one psychiatric drug…

Chris Cornell’s Wife Issues Statement, Blames Anxiety Medicine for Suicide

Chris Cornell’s wife Vicky issued a statement speculating whether his suicide was the result of too much anxiety medication.

Vicky Cornell, the wife of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, issued a statement Friday morning where she remembered her late husband, who died Thursday morning at the age of 52, and speculated whether his suicide was the result of taking too much of his anxiety medication.

“Chris’s death is a loss that escapes words and has created an emptiness in my heart that will never be filled. As everyone who knew him commented, Chris was a devoted father and husband. He was my best friend,” Vicky wrote.

“His world revolved around his family first and, of course, his music second. He flew home for Mother’s Day to spend time with our family. He flew out mid-day Wednesday, the day of the show, after spending time with the children. When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do.”

However, following Soundgarden’s concert Wednesday night, Vicky…

5 Simple Tips to Reduce Stress and Stop Anxiety Quickly

Anxiety is a medical condition and people of all ages face this challenge of facing their unknown fears and still move ahead in life.1 It is a tough challenge which often require medical intervention and lifestyle changes to achieve a balance in our personality so that we remain under control in situations which are stressful and unknown to us.

Small changes can actually help to overcome this situation and make it easier to deal with the challenges if one is ready and prepared.

But how to ease anxiety? Here are some important tips for overcoming anxiety easily:

Completing your to do list

Stress and anxiety often occurs when we fail to accomplish what we plan. Office pressure, family commitments, social pressure and life in general puts many things on our to-do lists to complete during the day.

Failing to complete all of them on time creates stress and anxiety.

Try to limit your to do list to 4 or 5 items and if you are unable to do so, make sure you at least time bucket them and get at least 25% to 40% off your list.

It will not only relieve your stress and anxiety but would also allow you to feel empowered and accomplished.

Complete the tasks slowly instead of rushing towards them. Doing things at slow pace would also help you…

I Promise These 10 Low GI foods can Keep You Fuller For Longer!

The glycemic index helps diabetics make smarter food choices, but it’s also a useful tool for everyone who wants to improve their health by eating low glycemic foods. In a nutshell, the theory behind the glycemic index is that certain types of food provide you with energy for a longer period of time. Meanwhile, other foods may feel filling at first, but they quickly lead to a sudden energy drop.

How Does the Glycemic Index Work?

Every food that contains carbohydrates can be rated on the glycemic index scale. Items that are low calorie, high in fiber and not overly processed score better because they are low glycemic foods. Scores range from 0 to 100, and this determines where each food fits on the glycemic index scale: 1

• Low Glycemic Foods – 0 to 55

• Medium Glycemic Foods – 56 to 69

• High Glycemic Foods – 70 or higher

Do I Need Low Glycemic Foods?

Do you experience an energy crash an hour or two after each meal? Or perhaps you find yourself sluggish at work after dining out with coworkers? Both of these issues can be caused by making unhealthy food choices.

If a large percentage of your calories are coming from high glycemic foods, you’re going to end up feeling very poorly. You’ll also get hungry more quickly. This is a vicious cycle because it causes you to keep increasing your calorie consumption, which leads to weight gain.

The reality is that everyone needs to eat a balanced diet, and sticking primarily with low glycemic foods is a major component of improving your health. It’s okay to eat medium or high glycemic foods from time-to-time, but the trick is to balance them as much as possible with vegetables and fruits from the low glycemic category.

What Are the Side Effects of a High Glycemic Diet?

After eating a lot of high glycemic foods, you’re likely to feel sluggish and run down. You may even feel ill if you’re not used to consuming poor quality calories. Doing this for too long can have an impact on your overall physical and mental health. In fact, studies have found that people who stick with a low glycemic index diet have a reduced risk of developing numerous medical conditions, including: 2

• Depression

• Type 2 diabetes

• Cardiovascular disease

• Breast, colon, pancreas and prostate cancer

• Gall stones

• Stroke

• Metabolic syndrome

• Chronic kidney disease

• Uterine fibroids

Diabetes: Managing the Risk

The most common issue that occurs from ingesting too many high glycemic foods is high blood sugar. Although this doesn’t automatically mean you have type 2 diabetes, it’s definitely a step toward developing this disease.

People who have diabetes face a long list of potential health complications, and they also typically have a lower quality of life. Due to this, it’s critical to do everything you can to reduce your diabetes risk. If you’re already diabetic, you can turn to low glycemic foods to help you manage your condition.

Making the switch to low glycemic foods will help you keep your weight down. Additionally, incorporating these healthier food choices will reduce your insulin levels and resistance. 3

Concentration and Memory Issues

Another big issue that can be caused by a lack of proper nutrients is impaired cognitive functionality. Many people feel fuzzy and have difficulty concentrating a couple of hours after eating a high glycemic meal.

To ensure a better level of brain function throughout the day, eat low glycemic foods along with some protein every 2-1/2 to 3 hours. 4 This will help balance your blood sugar and prevent the dips and peaks that accompany a…

This 25-Pound Blanket Could Help You Sleep Through The Night

Creators of a new extra heavy blanket have so far raised more than $1.6 million on Kickstarter to launch their product. And their blanket ― along with similar options already on the market ― may be the key to helping you sleep through the night.

The Gravity Blanket is a weighted bedspread with pockets of plastic pellets that cause it to weigh between 15 and 25 pounds. The blanket’s heaviness is meant to distribute pressure all over your body, touching pressure points that some research suggests can relieve anxiety and stress, lulling you into a restful sleep.

Gravity Blanket
Gravity Blanket

The idea behind Gravity Blanket is simple: Take it to bed, and let its heaviness simulate what the company’s founders call “the feeling of being held or hugged” ― not unlike the feeling from those weighted vests used during dental X-rays ― until you drift into bliss.

The product has clearly generated excitement, raising more than 77 times its Kickstarter goal in just eight days.

Gravity Blanket

This isn’t a new invention, however. Occupational therapists have used weighted blankets…

What if mental health first aid was as widespread as CPR?

One in every four Americans experiences mental illness, and a lack of police understanding can lead to tragedy. What if more of us were trained to deal with depression and anxiety? New York City plans to do it

In February 2010, off-duty police officer Joseph C Coffey was driving by a pond when he noticed a car partially submerged. He got out of his car and entered the water. He couldn’t open the front door, so he climbed through the back. There was a woman inside. As Coffey prepared to get her out, he began to sense that this wasn’t an accident. The woman wasn’t panicking. Instead, she was crying. She started talking about her personal problems.

Coffey had been trained for this. In Warwick, Rhode Island, where he oversees frontline patrol officers, he had developed the department’s crisis intervention team and co-authored a manual on mental health first aid for the National Council for Behavioral Health for use in law enforcement trainings. The Warwick Police Department has taught mental health first aid at its academy since 2008. So far, more than 11,000 officers have been trained.

That night in the pond, Coffey knew to listen more than he talked. He knew he had to work quickly, to keep the woman from harming herself further. And he knew to remind her that he was there to help her rather than to demand anything of her.

“[Reassuring the victim] is not always the first thing that a police officer may do, coming upon a scene,” he said. “I used my first name. I made her feel that her crisis was real to her. I offered her a blanket when I was able to reach her. [By comforting her], I was able to delay her from her intentions.”

Coffey received an award for preventing a suicide.

One in every four Americans experiences mental illness – a burden that carries heavy social, financial, and emotional costs. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the number one cause of disability in the world.

“More people are suffering and miss more time from work from depression compared to any other medical problem,” explains Bryan Gibb, director of public education for the National Council for Behavioral Health. Untreated depression, he adds, is also the number one cause of suicide – and at more than 40,000 US suicides a year, “that’s 40,000 people who die from mental illness”.

More people are suffering and miss more time from work from depression compared to any other medical problem

When that behavior is misunderstood, police interactions can lead to tragedy. Recent years have seen increased media attention of the problem. In 2014, Ezell Ford, who had been diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, was shot and killed by an officer in Los Angeles. That same year in Albuquerque, New Mexico, James Boyd – a homeless man with mental health issues – was shot and killed by police. Such incidents underscore the need for better law enforcement training in recognising and dealing with mental illness. “If an officer can recognise what they’re seeing may be a manifestation of mental illness, they can take a more appropriate action – which may not be arrest,” Coffey says.

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New York City is partnering with the National Council for Behavioral Health to make such trainings accessible to entire communities. ThriveNYC, a public initiative launched in November 2015 and led by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will provide $850m (£680m) in funding for mental health programmes over four years. A key investment will be providing mental health first aid training to 250,000 people, beginning with first responders such as police officers and firefighters. Because of the pervasiveness of mental illness (insured New Yorkers spend $17bn [£13.6bn] a year on treating anxiety, depression, and addiction), proponents of the plan believe first aid for mental illness should be taken as seriously as for physical illnesses and injuries.

The goal is to make mental health first aid as ubiquitous as regular first aid, such as CPR. Experienced bystanders can help prevent deaths, assess harmful situations, and seek appropriate medical treatment. The American Heart Association and The Red Cross train more than 20 million Americans each year in CPR.

The initiative is being driven largely by the leadership of Chirlane McCray, who is married to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. McCray was inspired by her own experiences with mental illness, both within her family and with a high school friend who took her own life. McCray has said that her parents suffered from depression that affected the whole family, but it was only “talked about in whispers and shadows”. A few years ago, her 18-year-old daughter Chiara told her parents she had been diagnosed with anxiety, addiction and depression. McCray remembers not knowing where to turn for support. “It was hard to figure out who I could trust and know what path to…

Will This Insanely Powerful Psychedelic Drug Someday Help Your Sanity?

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As we have mentioned on Big Think before, psychedelic drugs are currently enjoying a surge of new interest in medicine. Psilocybin is showing potential in the treatment of anxiety, and LSD shows promise against alcoholism. While some of these drugs were used previously for therapeutic purposes, their association with the counterculture proved dangerous to their legality. As such, only now are their potential benefits being reconsidered.

A recent study shows yet another psychedelic to have potent and potentially therapeutic effects. The drug is Ayahuasca, a concoction consisting primarily of the chemical DMT, with other elements added to aid in the absorption of the drug. DMT is incredibly powerful, users often report the sensation of being in a different world, and when brewed as Ayahuasca the length of a trip goes from five minutes to several hours. Ayahuasca is therefore regarded, justly, as one of the most extreme psychedelic drugs in existence.

The study by José Carlos Bouso and others examined the brains of 22 long term users of Ayahuasca. When their brains were measured for thickness in the posterior cingulate cortex it was…

Why Some People Are Born Anxious

Have you ever noticed that some people just seemed hard-wired to be stressed out? Maybe you feel like you’ve been dealt an anxious hand yourself. According to psychology professor Daniel Keating, how we deal with stress and anxiety may have been determined while we were still in the womb.

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This Week’s Discussion

In his new book, Born Anxious: The Lifelong Impact of Early Life Adversity – and How to Break the Cycle, Daniel Keating examines some of the biological underpinnings of stress. There’s new evidence to suggest that if you’re faced with some sort of adversity in your first year of life or even in utero, that can actually affect how you deal with stress later in life. (Adversity in this sense can mean many things; even if your mother was particularly worried about money or other factors of modern life while carrying you, for example, that might have an effect on how you regulate stress.)

It’s a matter of epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of how the same genes can express themselves…

Why FOMO Is Actually Social Anxiety and What You Should Do About It

Image from mussikatz.

You’re probably rolling your eyes at this point when you hear the term FOMO, but bear with me because it turns out that FOMO isn’t about fear of missing information. It’s about feeling anxious that you’re missing out on bonding time with your social group. Here’s what to do about that anxiety.

When you scroll through your Facebook feed or Snapchat stories and see your friends doing something fun together, you probably feel a little concerned why you weren’t invited. NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast (21:28) explains more:

In all of our experiments we’ve found that it’s really more a function of an anxiety that something might happen in a group experience that will shape the group history in the future that you may not be part of and that will undermine your group belongingness.

For example, you head to a family reunion and your friends back home decide to take advantage of sunny weather and have a BBQ in the park…