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Friday Roundup – This Is Your Brain on Porn, Gut Out of Here, and Sleeping the Depression Away

Attention lovely readers! We at Healthshire will be providing you with a weekly Friday roundup of the latest in mental health news. Let us do all the work and be your one-stop-shop for all things current!

This Is Your Brain on Porn, Gut Out of Here, and Sleeping the Depression Away

The Latest  in Mental Health Research (and other stuff)

Pornography Changes the Brain

According to an article in The Telegraph, people who are regular viewers of pornography are rewiring the neural circuitry in their brains.

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Psychiatrist Norman Doidge, author of The Brain that Changes Itself, observed a trend in his male patients who watched porn. Doidge noticed that his patients experienced increasing difficulty in becoming aroused with their partners, whom they still found attractive. Many of his patients resorted to fantasizing about porn to become aroused.

Doidge writes “Pornography satisfies every one of the prerequisites for neuroplastic change.” The neurotransmitter dopamine, which releases pleasurable feelings, plays a pivotal role in this process. As more porn is watched, the more dopamine is triggered, and the sensations and behavior become more and more intertwined. The process can also facilitate “tolerance” in individuals who regularly watch porn. More intense (and weird, to be sure) porn is needed to achieve the same levels of arousal.

Click here to read more about this pornemonen (see what I did there?).

Minding Gut Bacteria

A growing body of evidence links the bacteria in the gut with a possible influence on the mind. In a recent NPR article, Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, believes that gut microbes can directly influence the way the mind works.

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Mayer’s belief is that our digestive system’s bacteria may play a role in molding our brains during our development. This includes the potential of affecting mood, feelings, and behaviors that progress into adulthood.

Click here to read more about Mayer and his research.

Treating Depression by Treating Insomnia

Insomnia is a common co-occurring condition accompanying many mental health disorders, chief among them depression. A recent article in the New York Times notes a study that focuses on a new form of cognitive-behavior therapy that was developed specifically to target insomnia (CBT-I). The study highlights how CBT-I can possibly attenuate symptoms of depression along with those linked to insomnia.

Researchers at the Ryerson University in Toronto followed 66 individuals with dual diagnoses of insomnia and depression for eight weeks, during which they received CBT-I sessions. The sessions included educational components, instructing participants on how to implement a more structured sleep schedule, and the perils of stimulating activities before bed such as watching TV or using the computer.

Researchers found that almost 90% of individuals who resolved their insomnia with CBT-I also saw a reduction in their depression symptoms.

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The study is the first of four that target sleep and depression. The next three studies will be conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, Stanford, and Duke. The National Institute of Mental Health is funding all four studies.

Telling our Stories

In an effort to bring mental illness out of the shadows and reduce stigma, we are especially interested in hearing about you and your stories related to mental health. Be sure to visit Healthshire’s “telling our story” section. Spend some time reading the stories or submit your own!

Recently, Healthshire partnered with a local mental health clinic to provide intensive outpatient services to two individuals with addiction issues. Many individuals bravely came forward to share their experiences about the complex issues that arise with substance use. You can read  their submitted stories here.

 

This week’s roundup is dedicated to the legacy of John F. Kennedy.

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