Mental Health

Men's Mental Health - PatientsLikeMe member John films WebMD depression video

Brits are boosting men’s mental health — can the U.S. follow suit?

The British Royals’ passion for improving mental health is giving us all the feels — and possibly helping reduce male suicide rates in the U.K. Who’s raising awareness of men’s mental health in the U.S.? (See how PatientsLikeMe member John, pictured above, is doing his part!) Diverging stats in the U.K. and U.S. The U.K. has been making progress in terms of reducing male suicide rates and the stigma around men’s mental health, thanks in part to Heads Together campaign launched by Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry in 2016. Each of them have their own areas of focus in mental health advocacy. Kate deserves credit for coming up with the idea to join forces for one major campaign, Prince William says. He and his brother have also been opening up about their grief from losing their mother during their childhood. Unfortunately, U.S. suicide rates (among men and women) have been on the rise, according to the latest CDC report, and stigma still surrounds mental health — especially among men. The American Psychological Association (APA) says that about 6 million American men suffer from depression every year, but men are far less likely than women to seek help for their mental health. U.S. psychology researchers are studying “how …

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Health news: What’s making headlines in June

In case you missed it, check out this round up of some of the stories making headlines in June…   Parkinson’s disease: Apple Watch will now be able to monitor PD: Tech developers announced this month that the Apple Watch will now be able to track two common PD symptoms — tremors and dyskinesia — and map them out in graphs to help doctors (and patients) with PD monitoring. Fill me in. Study points to an “overlooked driver” of PD — Bacteriophages: What are bacteriophages or “phages”? Viruses that infect bacteria. New research shows that people with PD may have an overabundance of phages that kill “good” bacteria in the microbiome or gut, which could mean a new target for treating PD. More on the study. Lupus: How common are cognitive issues with lupus? Very. A doctor specializing in lupus research says nearly 40% of people with SLE have some level of cognitive impairment, such as trouble with attention, recall and concentration — so doctors should monitor it early and often. Read his Q&A. Lung cancer: Drug may replace chemo as initial treatment for many with NSCLC: New clinical trial results of the immunotherapy drug Keytruda show that it can be a more effective first treatment than chemotherapy for …

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The benefits of just a bit of exercise (+”forest bathing”?)

If frequent, long workouts aren’t in the cards, here’s some good news: A new research analysis based on decades’ of studies shows the potential mental health perks of even just a smidgen of light exercise. Also, see the results of a Japanese study on something called “forest bathing.” Exercise linked to good vibes “Even a Little Exercise Might Make Us Happier,” a recent New York Times headline proclaims. It might sound obvious, but it’s still positive news — especially for those who may not be able to meet physical activity guidelines for the general population (30+ minutes of exercise on most days). “According to a new review of research about good moods and physical activity, people who work out even once a week or for as little as 10 minutes a day tend to be more cheerful than those who never exercise. And any type of exercise may be helpful… The type of exercise did not seem to matter. Some happy people walked or jogged. Others practiced yoga-style posing and stretching.” For the published review, researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed the results of 23 studies since 1980 that explored the links between physical activity and happiness. The studies were mostly observational (not strict clinical trials) but …

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Parkinson’s disease + anxiety/depression: Stigma-busting for Mental Health Month

Stress. Anxiety. Depression. Have you experienced any of these along with Parkinson’s disease (PD)? As National Mental Health Month comes to a close, we’re highlighting how common these non-motor symptoms and mental health issues are among people with PD. Plus, see some new research on the prevalence of feeling demoralized (vs. depressed) with PD, and explore how members of the PatientsLikeMe community try to manage their mental health. Research shows that the vast majority of people with PD have non-motor symptoms (NMS) — with psychiatric symptoms (like anxiety, depression and psychosis) accounting for 60 percent of NMS in one large-scale study. “That’s why taking action is important,” says Andrew Ridder, M.D., a movement disorders specialist at Michigan Health. “If you or a loved one has had a new diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, we recommend an immediate evaluation for depression, mood and cognitive problems. Frequent monitoring should also be done throughout the course of the disease.” Dr. Ridder cites some key stats: About 5 to 40 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease have a clinical diagnosis of anxiety Between 17 to 50 percent of patients with Parkinson’s have depression “Anxious mood” and “depressed mood” are commonly reported symptoms of PD on PatientsLikeMe. Hundreds of members have reported a diagnosis of PD …

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Lights out: Bedtime tips to help you sleep through the night

Do you have a bedtime routine? Sleep is a challenge for many members in the mental health community — over 3,000 PatientsLikeMe members say they have difficulty sleeping through the night. Establishing a regular bedtime and better sleep hygiene is one way to help manage restless nights. Check out some pointers from around the web, and hear from other members about their nighttime rituals. Setting aside “worry time” and other sleep hygiene reminders Along with getting into a consistent sleep-and-wake cycle, building these habits into your nightly ritual might help: Set aside worry time— A few hours before you go to bed, take time to address and contemplate all you have on your mind (vs. letting it keep you up later). Go to bed only when you feel tired enough to sleep Prepare your brain and body for sleep with a signal it’s time to wind down, whether that’s a warm bath, dimming the lights or listening to soothing music Stop screens (phones, tablets and computers) an hour before bedtime. If you can it might be a good idea trying to make sure that none of these devices are in your bedroom. If you’ve just brought yourself something like a new corner TV …

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Can ketamine help when antidepressants don’t? A closer look at the off-label drug that’s in the spotlight

You may have seen ketamine making headlines recently as a promising drug therapy for treatment-resistant depression, or “TRD.” (What’s TRD? Health care professionals define it as receiving at least two different antidepressants– for at least six weeks in a row, and at an adequate dosage – but experiencing less than a 50% improvement in depressive symptoms.) So, how does it work and what does the research show so far? Get the facts below — plus find some helpful insight on side effects and more from PatientsLikeMe members who have tried ketamine.   Let’s back up — what is ketamine? Ketamine has been around since the 1960s, and over the years it has been used as an anesthetic, treatment for some types of pain and a sedative in certain instances. It’s also been abused as a “party drug” due to its hallucinogenic high. But in the 2000s, researchers discovered that ketamine could also have rapid antidepressant effects — in as little as 24 hours — for those with TRD when administered in a small, single dose IV infusion. A number of clinical trials have since linked the effects of ketamine with improvement in symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD), as researchers continue to …

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Health news: What’s making headlines this month

Let’s stay on top of the latest health news — in case you missed it, check out this round up of some of the stories making headlines in May. ALS May is ALS awareness month: Later this month, advocates from across the U.S. will head to Capitol Hill to meet with their legislators. Check out how you can get involved and join the fight against ALS. Congress passes $3 billion increase in NIH funding: $140 million of the increase will go to the BRAIN Initiative research projects that contribute to the knowledge and understanding of ALS. More info. Lupus May is Lupus Awareness Month: Nearly two-thirds of people know little or nothing about lupus beyond the name, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, which is promoting the “Go Purple” campaign. Get ideas for boosting awareness. A link between the “mono” virus and lupus? A new study published in Nature Genetics shows that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) — known for causing mononucleosis — may increase the risk of lupus and six other autoimmune diseases by changing how some genes are expressed. Check it out. Parkinson’s Disease “Suspect” Parkinson’s drug faces scrutiny: Following reports of hundreds of deaths and adverse events, the FDA is re-examining the safety of Nuplazid (pimavanserin), which …

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Getting out of bed: The “One hour rule” and other tips

Does getting out of bed in the morning ever seem like an overwhelming task? You’re not alone. PatientsLikeMe members are talking about it a lot in the mental health forum. Read on to learn what’s worked for others on difficult mornings. Give yourself no more than an hour Elyse Raffery, contributor to The Mighty, shared her strategy for the “One Hour Rule” to get out of bed on the days she’d rather not move from beneath the covers: “Within one hour of waking up, I have to be out of my bed. If I look at the clock when I wake up and it is 9 a.m., by 10 a.m., I cannot still be lying in bed. I am a competitive person, and even some gentle competition with my own brain helps me sometimes.” Louder alarms, brighter lights and more tips from PatientsLikeMe members Check out these practical morning tips from other members in the forum: “I got a much louder alarm. I went back to the classic two bell analog alarm clock… so loud that my cat bolts from the room.” “Now I have a routine where I get up, turn the light on, and listen to the radio for ten …

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PTSD Nightmares: Why they’re happening and what you can do

More than 1,600 members of the PTSD community on have reported experiencing severe nightmares, and there are dozens of forum threads tagged with topic. So, we took a deeper dive into PTSD nightmares and some of the research-backed approaches you can try to help manage them. How common are nightmares after trauma? The quick answer: Very common. According to one study, 71% to 96% of people with PTSD experience nightmares. And the number is even higher for those also living with another mental health condition like panic disorder. At least 50% of people with PTSD suffer from nightmares that incorporate elements or contain exact replications of a traumatic event (these are called replicative nightmares). An additional 20-25% experience post-traumatic nightmares that don’t exactly replay the trauma memory, but are symbolically related to the traumatic event. Why do PTSD nightmares happen? Scientists have been studying dreams for years, but they still don’t fully understand how or why we dream. Matthew Walker, a psychology researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, has one theory. Walker found that during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the chemistry of the brain actually changes. Levels of norepinephrine — a kind of adrenaline — drop out completely. REM sleep is the only time of day when this happens. …

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9 mental health podcasts worth listening to

Podcasts are an easy (and usually free) way to stay on top of what’s new across a wide variety of topics — they’re kind of like internet radio on demand, and usually broken up into episodes that you can download on your computer, device or phone. Below, we rounded up 9 podcasts focused on mental health that are worth checking out. While podcasts can act as complements to your mental health care plan, they’re not intended to be a substitute for therapy or medication.   Mental Illness Happy Hour   The New York Times described this podcast as a “a safe place in which he [the host] and his guests talk about their fears, addictions and traumatic childhoods.” This is a weekly podcast that features interviews with people from all walks of life and explores mental illness, trauma, addiction and negative thinking.   The Psych Central Show   This weekly podcast takes an in-depth look at topics related to psychology and mental health. Hosts Gabe Howard and Vincent M. Wales discuss everything from online counseling and the toll of texting to dealing with narcissistic coworkers and more.   The Hilarious World of Depression   This podcast aims to tackle the …

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