Tag Archives: anxiety

Listening to music before and after surgery relieves pain and anxiety

Patients undergoing surgery should be allowed to listen to music before, after and during their operations because it is so effective at relieving pain, researchers have suggested.

A new study by Brunel University and Queen Mary University of London found that people who were allowed to relax to their favourite tunes saw their pain levels drop by two points on a scale of one to 10 while they needed less medication to feel comfortable.

The study of 7,000 surgical patients also found music made them less anxious and more likely to feel satisfied by the procedure.

Surprisingly, even listening to music while under general anaesthetic reduced patients’ levels of pain, although the effects were larger when patients were conscious.

“Around 4.6 million in England each year and music is a non-invasive, safe, cheap intervention that should be available to everyone undergoing surgery,” said lead author Dr Catherine Meads from Brunel University

“Patients should be allowed to choose the type of music they would like to hear to maximise the benefit to their wellbeing. However, care needs to be taken that music does not interfere with the medical team’s communication.”

The study follows a recent research that found patients are being put at risk by surgeons who listen to music while operating.

An analysis of 20 operations by Imperial College London found that nurses struggle to hear what equipment was being asked for while anaesthetists mistook the beat of the music for patient’s pulse rate.

However, for patients themselves, it appears that music can have a major impact, and could save the NHS millions in pain relieving drugs.

Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Paul Glasziou from Bond University, Queensland, Australia says, “Music is a simple and cheap intervention, which reduces transient discomforts for many patients undergoing surgery.

“A drug with similar effects might generate substantial marketing…The very high heterogeneity…of effects among trials in the accompanying study highlights a research opportunity—to identify how to maximise the effect.”

The research was published in The Lancet.

Source The Telegraph

Let GPs offer mindfulness meditation to patients, say experts

An ancient Buddhist approach to meditation rebranded as “mindfulness” should be made available to the millions of Britons who are suffering from stress, depression and anxiety, according to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF).
The call comes as new figures being released by the charity will show that more than one in four (29 per cent) of Britons regularly suffers from stress.
Nearly one in four (24 per cent) of people admit to being anxious on a regular basis, and more than one in seven (17 per cent) are often or always depressed.
The pressures of everyday life, and dealing with problems ranging from debt to work worries and relationship issues, are contributing to significant numbers of people succumbing to mental health problems.
And the scale of the problem illustrated by the snapshot of the country’s stress levels means that a new approach to dealing with mental health is needed, with more emphasis on prevention, says the charity. Stress, anxiety and depression are part of a wider picture of mental illness which costs Britain £100bn a year, according to campaigners.
Jenny Edwards, MHF chief executive, said: “We have just had a general election where for the first time mental health was a key issue addressed in the manifestos of the major parties.
“The public is calling for practical action. It’s now time to hold the incoming government to commit to significant steps.”
She added: “Of course adequate funding of mental health services is vital, but we also need a national prevention strategy, to help prevent mental health problems from developing wherever possible.”
Mindfulness aims to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, typically by meditation, yoga and breathing exercises aimed at increasing people’s awareness of themselves and their emotions, and so encouraging them to focus on living in the moment rather than dwelling on things that are beyond their power to control.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) for staving off depression, but only a handful of clinical commissioning groups make it available in their area, says the MHF. “We are calling for mindfulness to be available in all areas of the country, so that GPs can recommend it and Nice recommendations can be acted upon,” said Ms Edwards.
Medical experts are backing the calls for a new approach, to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week tomorrow.
Dr Liz England, mental health lead at the Royal College of GPs, said: “Often our patients do not want to be reliant on drugs in order to feel better, so alternative, evidence-based therapies for common mental health problems should be encouraged, as long as it is in line with an individual patient’s wishes.”
She added: “Mental health is a clinical priority for the college, and we would champion more research into finding new and effective therapies to treat mental health problems – the emergence of mindfulness therapy, and other treatments, such as talking therapies, is a step in the right direction to giving mental health the same parity of esteem as physical health.”
A spokesperson for the Royal College of Psychiatrists commented: “There is a growing evidence base for a wide range of psychological therapies that can help in the management of stress and mood disorders; including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
“The college supports calls for increased access to therapies and preventative interventions that can help build up resilience as well as support recovery.”

Case study

Andrea Shaw, 30, a student nurse from Sheffield.

Andrea shaw, 30, from sheefield first discovered mindfulness in 2010 after a bout of severe depression source: marjorie ellis-thompson

Andrea Shaw, 30, from Sheefield first discovered mindfulness in 2010 after a bout of severe depression

“I first discovered mindfulness in 2010, in the aftermath of an episode of severe depression. I have had mental health problems since I was a teenager, although I experienced a long period of being well at university. 

However, after my degree, I was faced with job and money worries, as well as family issues. I couldn’t cope and, as a result, I developed severe anxiety which eventually led to my depression.
Mindfulness is about accepting your present experience, just as it is, whether that’s good, bad or neutral. 
Reduced anxiety may happen, or it may not; learning to accept life’s experiences is the true value of mindfulness. You could be going through some pretty awful emotions but mindfulness will allow you to manage them more effectively.
Mindfulness is not a cure all; I don’t think that’s the point. But I find it extremely useful as a way of living and a way of being. I’m just so glad that I gave it a chance.”
Source The Independent

SARAH VINE: I’ve learned to defeat anxiety – and so can you

So far, it hasn’t been the best week for the female of the species. Yesterday, researchers in the U.S. claimed there is no real evidence that a diet rich in red wine and chocolate is good for you (they’re lying, obviously).

And on Monday, the Mental Health Foundation published a report saying that anxiety among women has increased significantly since 2009.

Note the language here: ‘anxiety’, not depression. The two are not the same thing. And I should know. Because a few years ago I was diagnosed with something called ‘generalised anxiety disorder’.

I know, it sounds as if one of those silly made-up syndromes designed to legitimise something that essentially amounts to being a bit useless.

But the only reason I ended up with this diagnosis was because I was exhibiting some very real and uncharacteristic symptoms.

Having always been a lazybones, I began waking early, worried about everything and nothing in particular.

I developed a slight buzzing in my ears, as though a small insect with a very urgent appointment were struggling to get out.

Sometimes, I would get a big lump in my throat, which sort of sat on my chest and made it hard to breathe.

My fingers would start to swell up, and I felt as if I needed to plunge my body in cold water. I had lots to do but never seemed to get anything done.

I went to see my GP, who assured me I wasn’t dying (health fears are another symptom) and referred me to a nice lady who explained that I wasn’t mad at all; I was just very, very worried — about the children, my career, my husband’s career, the yobbos hanging round outside our house, the world’s bees dying out, asteroids falling from space — you name it: general anxiety disorder.

Anxiety, she said, was a healthy human reaction to danger. But if a person, for whatever reason (and I’m sure these latest numbers are at least partly related to the financial crash of 2008/9), finds themself in a series of highly stressful situations, the panic button can get stuck.

'The key for me was training myself not to worry about things i can't control; and learning to live in the moment. people call this mindfulness, and it is all the rage on the mental wellness scene'

‘The key for me was training myself not to worry about things I can’t control; and learning to live in the moment. People call this mindfulness, and it is all the rage on the mental wellness scene’

Women especially are prone to this, since they are natural multi-taskers. Just as they juggle their busy lives, they also juggle their worries.

Men, by contrast, are much better at compartmentalisation. It’s not that they worry less; it’s just that they don’t worry about all the worries all the time.

Anyway, the good news is there are things you can do to break the cycle. The key for me was training myself not to worry about things I can’t control; and learning to live in the moment.

People call this mindfulness, and it is all the rage on the mental wellness scene. But don’t let that put you off, because it really works.

I was recently on an aircraft that got caught in a very strong crosswind. It was a seriously bumpy ride; in fact, the pilot made two aborted landings before diverting elsewhere.

I won’t pretend I wasn’t shaken. But, to my surprise, I wasn’t nearly as hysterical as I might have been.

This was because, as the craft flipped wildly from side to side, I focused on the land below, admiring the beauty of the landscape and simply refusing to let my brain play out the consequences of hitting the Tarmac at 150 miles an hour.

Every time my mind tried to press the panic button, I gently but firmly guided it away. After all, there was no point: I couldn’t control the wind and I wasn’t flying the plane.

That makes it sound as if I’ve turned into some weird, ultra-rational Mr Spock character; I haven’t.

I can be just as batty as I’ve ever been (just ask my husband). But I know how to clear my mind. It doesn’t always work, of course. But it helps a lot.

Source Mail Online

Women over 60 make up nearly a third of all hospital admissions for anxiety: New NHS figures show older women may have more to worry about

Women over 60 make up nearly a third of all hospital admissions for anxiety, NHS figures show.

Experts say many are unable to cope with the ‘emotional burden’ of caring for ill husbands, elderly parents or grandchildren.

Others may be affected by breast cancer, osteoporosis or insomnia or are just struggling to come to terms with retirement.

Experts have warned that older women might have a more pronounced predisposition towards anxiety because they have more to worry about

Experts have warned that older women might have a more pronounced predisposition towards anxiety because they have more to worry about

Last year a total of 8,720 patients were treated in hospital for anxiety of whom 2,440 were women over 60.

The highest numbers were recorded among women aged 65 to 69 with 437 admissions last year, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

This compares to just 243 for men in the same age group and 328 among women a decade younger aged 55 to 59.
Across all age groups, women were far more likely than to be admitted for this condition comprising 60 per cent of all cases.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE said: ‘Many women tend to take the caring role and it is not surprising that when they reach their 60s the emotional burden of care can become intolerable.

‘The majority of the carers who contact us are women, who may be responsible for partners facing illness, elderly parents, or children.

‘Women who find themselves bearing these responsibilities tend to neglect their own physical and mental health until they reach crisis point.’

Psychologists pointed out that once women reach their late 60s they are at higher risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis, insomnia and dementia.

Many also struggle to come to terms with retirement and miss colleagues, the structure of the working day as well as the salary.

Dr Jennifer Wild, consultant psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London said: ‘It might be changes in physical health and changes in socio-economic status.

‘We know that when women or men have physical health problems they are much more likely to be anxious or depressed.

‘That age group is much more likely to have physical health problems it may be breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, there could be mobility problems.

‘Sleep problems also become more common and we know that when people sleep they are much more likely to become depressed.

‘It’s difficult to take things at face value without having some idea about what’s going on physically.

‘In that age group there may be changes in financial income due to retirement.

‘They may have changes in income and they may have anxiety around not working.’

The figures also showed that girls aged 15 to 19 are more likely to be treated in hospital for stress than any other group.

There were 306 cases last year compared to 172 for boys of the same age.

Admissions for anxiety and stress were marginally lower than last year, the figures show.

And younger age groups tend to be more likely to be admitted for stress while anxiety is commoner in older generations.

Alan Perkins, chief executive of the HSCIC, said: ‘Hospitals have dealt with fewer admissions for anxiety and stress compared to last year but the higher rates of anxiety in the older generation could be an area for concern.’

Sam Challis, of the mental health charity Mind, said: ‘The fact hospital admissions for stress were amongst the highest in women age 15-19, underlines the concerning scale of severe mental health problems amongst young girls.

‘Hospitalization in itself should be a last resort when it comes to mental health treatment.

‘It is an indication that a patient has reached crisis point, that they have nowhere else to turn and need urgent help.

Source Mail Online

Understanding anxiety and mental health stigma

On the one hand, anxiety is a serious and debilitating disorder. On the other, it can be a useful evolutionary response to threat.

Understanding how anxiety works might help to destigmatise mental health issues.

If you look at the facts and figures on the mental health charity Mind’s website, you’ll find that around 1 in 4 people will experience some sort of mental health problem each year.

About 10% of these people will see their doctor and be diagnosed as having a mental health problem, and of this group, a small proportion will in turn be referred to specialist psychiatric care.

Of these people, precisely none resemble the breathtakingly ignorant costumes that have recently been withdrawn from Tesco and Asda. If you want to know what someone with a mental health issue looks like, just look around you.

One of the most common types of mental health issue is anxiety – about 9% of people in Britain meet the criteria for mixed anxiety and depression, for example.

We all feel anxious from time to time, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Isaac Marks and Randy Nesse argued in 1994 that anxiety is an important emotion that has been shaped during the course of human evolution.

If we are in a potentially dangerous environment, being anxious increases our awareness of our surroundings and puts us in a state of physiological readiness to deal with any threats.

However, when an anxiety response kicks in too often, and in situations where it is not needed, it becomes a debilitating problem. In serious cases, anxiety can make it incredibly hard for the person to function.

There’s now a wealth of research that is trying to tap into the mechanisms involved in both sub-clinical and clinical forms of anxiety.

By understanding what happens when we become anxious, we might be able to get a clearer idea of how and why things go wrong in anxiety disorders.

For example, a new study published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience has suggested one potential contributing factor – how smells are processed.

In the study, Elizabeth Krusemark and Wen Li from the University of Wisconsin put participants in an MRI scanner, and asked them to rate a number of smells on different dimensions, such as pleasantness, intensity, pungency and familiarity.

They were then shown a series of pictures that were picked to create feelings of anxiousness, and asked to rate the smells a second time.

The researchers found that odors that were initially rated as being neutral were rated as unpleasant after the participants had been made to feel anxious.

They also found that activity in a brain area called the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (pgACC) became linked to activity in the olfactory orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). The pgACC is a region that is associated with emotional reactivity, whereas the olfactory OFC is involved in perceiving smell – so in other words, anxiety created a stronger link between an area involved in smell and an area involved in emotion.

This finding might have important implications for our understanding of the biological mechanisms that underpin anxiety.

Our connection to the world is through our senses; sight, sound, touch, taste and smell (among others).

Although this is likely to be only one part of a very complex process, Krusemark and Li’s results suggest that anxiety can have an effect on how we actually perceive the world around us – things that normally smell indistinct or uninteresting seem to become offensive when we’re anxious.

This potentially creates an undesirable feedback loop – if we’re smelling nasty things and creating a more negative impression of our surroundings, this could in turn impact on our emotional wellbeing, making us feel more distressed and ultimately more anxious.

There are many reasons why the “mental patient” Halloween costumes weren’t funny.

For one, the costumes tap into an extremely unhelpful stereotype that people with mental health issues are a group that should be avoided or ostracised.

But it’s also important to understand that if anxiety colours our perception of the world around us, these sorts of stereotypes may reinforce negative distortions and cause further suffering, regardless of whether or not it was meant as a joke.

It’s great that Asda have apologised and made a donation to Mind, but the whole furore highlights yet again how much still needs to be done to dismantle the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Source The Guardian

Video Games And TV ‘Make Children Depressed’

Too much time watching television and playing on computers is making children depressed and anxious, a new report claims.

Children who spend too much time watching television or playing computer games could be at a higher risk of anxiety and depression, a major report has claimed.

A link between time spent in front of screens and lower levels of wellbeing amongst children is a major cause for concern, according to a study by Public Health England.

Higher levels of TV viewing are contributing to lower self-worth, lower self-esteem and lower levels of self-reported happiness.

The briefing paper is released as a new Change4Life campaign encourages families to use the back to school period to adopt healthier behaviours – one of which is reducing children’s screen time.

Children who spend more time on computers and playing video games tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression, said Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s Director of Health and Wellbeing.

“There are many complex factors that affect a child’s wellbeing such as the wider environment they live in and their social, financial and family circumstances, but there are also some very simple things we can all do every day with our children to help improve their health and wellbeing.

“Our goal is to encourage families across England to sign up to Change4Life to make a healthy change to their new term-time routines, which will hopefully then become part of their everyday lives.”
Little girl using a laptop computer Children who do more physical activity do better at school

The study reveals that children doing more physical activity are more likely to concentrate better in school, enjoy good relationships with classmates, and display lower levels of worry, anxiety and depression.

But some parents were sceptical about the report findings.

Jemma Murphy, a mother of two from Handforth, Cheshire, said she allows her children, Casper, aged four and Summer, three, to watch some television whilst encouraging other activities in the home and outside.

“My children don’t watch television hour after hour but they do watch it sometimes because it’s often the only time I can get things done around the house,” she told Sky News.

“But we also have craft days and go to the park or for walks to get them out of the house. It’s a balance.”

Lil Caprani, Director of Communications, Policy and Campaigns, The Children’s Society said: “When we asked children about their wellbeing as part of our Good Childhood Report, we found a strong association with being active and being happy.

“Things like cycling, swimming or playing football all had a clear relationship, but simple things like just going for walks were associated with higher wellbeing.”

Source Sky News

Scientists discover brain’s ‘misery molecule’ which affects stress, anxiety and depression

Researchers believe that the protein – named CRF1 – could also be linked to depression.

A team from Heptares Therapeutics, a medical company based in Hertfordshire, used one of the world’s most powerful x-ray machines to study the brain’s pituitary gland.

It has long been known that the gland controls stress, depression and anxiety by releasing stress chemicals, the Sunday Times reports.

Now, scientists have discovered the response is triggered by CRF1 – which is found in the outer membranes of pituitary cells.

Fiona Marshall, chief scientific officer at Heptares, told the paper: ‘Stress related diseases such as depression and anxiety affect a quarter of adults each year, but what many people don’t realise is that these conditions are controlled by proteins in the brain, one of which is CRF1.’

She added that now they have worked out the structure of it and how it works it could open up potential to design drugs to control it.

CRF1 sits in pituitary cells and detects the stress molecules detected by the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain which produces hormones that control, body temperature, hunger and moods – among others.

When it picks one of these molecules up, it triggers the parent cell to release the hormones which lead to stress and anxiety, the paper reports.

Using the Diamond Light Source, based in Harwell, Oxfordshire, which produces powerful x-ray beams, researchers were able to study the protein’s structure and pin point areas which could be targeted by new drugs.

Ms Marshall said they had identified a ‘crevice’ which would be an ideal area to aim a molecule which could be specially designed to block CRF1 – effectively disabling it.

She said the team now hope to use this research method to analyse molecules involved in type 2 diabetes – with the hope of one day developing a drug which can be taken orally as opposed to the injections which sufferers of the condition have to use.

Source Mail Online