Laughter Is Good Medicine

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Anthropological research suggests laughter and humor are genetically built-in, and that humor, historically, has functioned as “a social glue.” The critical laughter trigger for most people is not necessarily a joke or funny movie, but rather another person
  • Laughter is contagious. The sound of laughter triggers regions in the premotor cortical region of your brain, which is involved in moving your facial muscles to correspond with sound
  • While children laugh on average 300 times a day, adults laugh only 17 times a day on average. Suggestions for how to get more laughter in your life are included
  • In one study, even after adjusting for confounding factors, the prevalence of heart diseases among those who rarely or never laughed was 21% higher, and the ratio of stroke 60% higher, than among those who laughed every day
  • Benefits of laughter have been reported in geriatrics, critical and general patient care, rehabilitation, home care, hospice care, oncology, psychiatry, rheumatology, palliative care and terminal care

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Confessions of a Renegade Psychiatrist

I felt this sensation in the pit of my stomach – it was a combination of sympathy and anger – listening to Annie tell me, through tears, about her postpartum journey into the world of psychiatry.  Continue reading

Cognitive Decline Linked to Periodontal Disease

A groundbreaking study from the United Kingdom has connected gingivitis and oral health to cognitive decline. The study’s findings are backed up by a multitude of research supporting the mechanisms. Continue reading

Newtown School Shooter Needed Nutrition, not Drugs like Fanapt from Novartis

Adam Lanza, the mass murderer in the Newtown School shooting, reportedly took the pharmaceutical drug Fanapt, made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. According to the drug company’s literature, published on the packing insert, Fanapt is prescribed to treat schizophrenia in adults. Fanapt was approved Continue reading

Dangerous Association Noted Between Mental Illness and Obesity CME

Clinical Context

Obesity is common among patients with mental illness, occurring in up to 60% of patients with bipolar disorder, 70% of patients with schizophrenia, and 55% of patients with depression. A review by Taylor and colleagues in the current issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry analyzes why mental illness is associated with higher rates of obesity. Continue reading

Genetic Variation Increases Risk of Metabolic Side Effects in Children on some Antipsychotics

Associated with increased blood pressure and elevated blood sugar levels Continue reading

Bipolar Disorder – The Roller-Coaster Disease

New research suggests that between 4 and 6 percent of the population have bipolar disorder.

Many people, children and adults alike, love to go to amusement parks and ride on roller-coasters and other fast rides. These rides can scare the living daylights out of some, as they go through their bolting ups and downs, and even sometimes turning the rider upside down as they whip along their way. Riders describe an exhilarating adrenalin rush that is combined with accompanying anxiety, panic, and all-out fear as they go through the experience. Once the ride is over and one’s adrenalin lift comes back to normal, equilibrium sets back in, the highs and lows of this experience subside Continue reading

To Ditch Dessert, Feed the Brain

If the brain goes hungry, Twinkies look a lot better, a study led by researchers at Yale University and the University of Southern California has found.

Brain imaging scans show that when glucose levels drop, an area of the brain known to regulate emotions and impulses loses the ability to dampen desire for high-calorie food, according to the study published online September 19 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

“Our prefrontal cortex is a sucker for glucose,” said Rajita Sinha, the Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry, and professor in the Department of Neurobiology and the Yale Child Study Center, one of the senior authors of the research.

The Yale team manipulated glucose levels intravenously and monitored changes in blood sugar levels while subjects were shown pictures of high-calorie food, low-calorie food and non-food as they underwent fMRI scans.

When glucose levels drop, an area of the brain called the hypothalamus senses the change. Other regions Continue reading

Depression is NOT a Chemical Imbalance in Your Brain – Here’s Proof

What Causes Psychological Distress?

Answering this question is the holy grail of psychiatry. Even before there were psychiatrists, such troubles were blamed on things like evil spirits, or an imbalance of “humors.”

The latter was treated by bloodletting, which is perhaps the longest running tradition in medicine, originating in the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece, persisting for some 2,500 years through the Industrial Revolution. It was the “aspirin” of the day, used for just about every conceivable condition from pneumonia to depression. Yet, there was never any evidence that it did any good, and many times the patients died. Of course, it was always assumed it was the disease that killed them, rather than the treatment. Continue reading

Summer Camp for Kids with ADHD

Camp STAR, the Chicago area’s only summer camp offering evidence-based therapy for children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and other behavioral, emotional and social difficulties, begins its fourth season in June.

The camp, whose name stands for Summer Treatment for ADHD and Related Issues, is a partnership of the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Jewish Council for Youth Services.

The director of Camp STAR, Dr. Mark Stein, professor of psychiatry at UIC’s Institute for Juvenile Research, says that the program is not only effective in reducing ADHD symptoms, but in teaching skills to children and their parents that can improve social functioning. Children with ADHD and associated problems often struggle Continue reading