Is There a Link between Depression, Anxiety and Minor Injuries?

One out of 10 U.S. adults goes to an emergency department every year for injury.  Most injuries are considered relatively minor and providers often don’t look beyond what’s initially required to help that person heal.  But what happens when a person arrives in the emergency department needing help for a minor injury and who also expresses symptoms of depression and anxiety?

Researchers wanted to find out how such patients fared long-term, something relatively well-studied for people with severe injury but uncharted for minor emergency treatment.  They turned to data they had collected from previous work about long-term recovery from minor injuries.

In that initial study, the researchers used standard criteria to identify 1,110 patients who had sustained minor injuries, after excluding those with head trauma, those with a previous psychiatric diagnosis and those hospitalized during the past year for another minor injury.  From this group, 275 men and women were randomly selected and interviewed at intake in the emergency room, as well as at three, six and 12 months after injury.

Along with the larger diagnostic exams that were given, they collected each patient’s symptoms of depression and anxiety using symptom-severity scales called the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale.

They learned that people with more symptoms of depression at the time of their injury still had trouble working a year later and more frequently required bed rest due to health problems. They found connections, though less substantial, for anxiety, too.

Although it’s unclear what’s driving the relationship between psychological symptoms at the time of injury and long-term recovery, they do know there is a range of symptoms which, if identified and evaluated, could change the way we allocate resources or suggest more intensive follow-up for certain people who might be at higher risk for poor recoveries.

It’s an important link between physical and mental well-being for these patients.

The study further validates that health care providers can’t separate people into psych and physical because there’s an interplay between both that’s important to understand.  If the goal is to get patients back to their normal activities, psychological wellness must be incorporated to treatment after injury in order to meet that goal.

The researchers noted that future research should focus on building a better understanding of the pathways through which psychological symptoms influence long-term recovery.

Beating Social Anxiety With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Have you ever had someone tell you… “Wow, you’re a really shy person.” It can be incredibly embarrassing. It’s difficult enough having to deal with social anxiety on a daily basis, it’s even worse when people point it out. The normal reaction to a statement like that for someone with social anxiety is probably to turn red, dart the eyes to the floor pretend to be completely invisible.

Social anxiety may seem silly to those who don’t have it, but for those that do it’s serious business. Social anxiety transforms even the smallest bits of social awkwardness into big mountains of fear and insecurity.

Thankfully, we now have more information and knowledge from psychology research on how to better manage social anxiety and not let it completely ruin people’s lives.

We’re constantly learning more in psychology and neuroscience about how to improve our lives and overcome certain obstacles and mental disorders. Interestingly, a new study has just come out in the journal Transactional Psychiatry with some incredibly promising results for those who suffer from social anxiety and excessive shyness.

After just 9 weeks of  cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), patients showed a significant reduction in social anxiety symptoms. But most surprisingly, the study found that the “fear center” in people’s brains – the amygdala – actually decreased in size by the time they were done with the course.

The shrinking of this “fear center” is neurological evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy can absolutely make a drastic impact on how our brains work.

Train your Brain to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Ever wonder how some people are able to handle extremely hectic schedules and still seem calm, relaxed and having fun while at it?  The answer is: They have effectively learned to manage stress and anxiety. We all know that stress can cause us to perform our work poorly and therefore, be less productive. When we have too much on our plate, we often end up not accomplishing what we planned to at the start of each day. You can guess what happens then – this causes more stress and adds anxiety which further compounds the problem!

The good news is that there are ways that you can train your brain to handle the stress and anxiety positively, resulting in increased productivity and more joy in your life.

There is exciting new research and positive case studies about a new treatment that has been used  to help treat stress and anxiety disorders in the brain. This treatment is referred to as neurofeedback and has been touted to be the savior when it comes to real-time treatments. This is an exciting development since many people are either unresponsive to brain-enhancing supplements or are simply looking for a safer and healthier alternative to drugs such as antidepressants – especially when treating children.

The mechanism fronted by neurofeedback is aimed at being more precise than previously available therapies. As such, it goes to target the dysfunction in the cognitive and emotional processes in the brain. These are the areas that underlie psychiatric disorders. It is hoped that treatments can be personalized to address the various challenges in the brain, taking to account that each patient has their own unique set of problems. Neurofeedback also studies phobia, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, obsessive compulsive behavior, ADD/ADHD, autism, depression, sleep disorders, chronic pain, learning differences, memory loss and migraines.  The best feature of neurofeedback is that it is safe. It eliminates the need for brain enhancing supplements and medication.

There are other safe, natural and free ways to train the brain to release ‘feel-good’ hormones to help stay relaxed and calm. The most obvious is by engaging in relaxing activities. These help wire the brain to be calm and relaxed as opposed to the normal day to day demands that stress us out.

A great ‘calming exercise’ is meditation. Meditation allows us to slow down all the activities going on in and around ourselves and find peace and serenity within. In so doing, it becomes much easier to notice when your internal balance is off and to how to react accordingly. Focusing on the now allows us to be more present and be sharp at mind.

Another way to reduce stress is to ward off anxiety. In most cases, our bodies overreact to a given threat – causing a rush of anxiety. When threats are overestimated, we find ourselves worrying too much, thus causing more stress. A great tool to manage anxiety is to remember a time when you truly felt strong and could cope with just about anything that was thrown at you. Next, make a list of all the various resources that can help you deal with the uncertainties of life. Then, try to meditate on how good it feels to be strong and safe. This good feeling helps the body come out with renewed energy and focus going into the future.

And finally – and this is sometimes harder than it sounds-  you need to learn to ‘let it go.’ We tend to hang on to the negatives in life. Let go of resentment, regret, pain and unrealistic expectations that you may have had in the past. Letting go allows one to be strong and gives one renewed energy to move on to better. Letting go can start off from something simple as saying goodbye to a friend, taking out the trash, donating some of your old stuff to charity, or just plain sending that email you have been procrastinating. Letting go helps one appreciate the past for what it was and move forward to the future with renewed focus. A simple exercise in ’letting go’ is to write yourself a letter describing how you’re feeling, then reading it aloud.  This ‘literal’ release of negative feelings allows the body to move on to a positive state with renewed feelings of calm and focus.