What Can Green do for You, the Unfortunate Strength of Stigma, and a Side of Fries

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What Can Green do for You, the Unfortunate Strength of Stigma, and a Side of Fries

The Latest  in Mental Health Research (and other stuff)

No Cannabis, No Peace: Says Science

A study recently published in Molecular Psychiatry shows that defects in the endocannabinoid system are linked to the development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Scientists aimed to explore the neural mechanisms that underlie the key markers of PTSD, which include a heightened sense of anxiety and distress accompanied by an inability to effectively extinguish the emotional consequences of traumatic memories.

Cannabis plant

The study finds that the glucocorticoid action that is involved in fusing emotionally distressing memories is mediated by cannabinoid type 1 (CB¹) receptors. CB¹ receptors can be activated by three major substance systems that include endocannabinoids (which are produced within the body), synthetic cannabinoids, and plant cannabinoids (such as THC, which is conveniently produced by the cannabis plant).

This new research provides a more knowledgeable understanding of PTSD’s neurobiological foundation, which can ultimately lead to opportunities for mechanism-based pharmacotherapies that can more dramatically alleviate the pain and distress that millions of individuals with this disorder experience on a daily basis.

Translation: more scientific evidence that cannabis may be one of the most effective PTSD treatments.

Can I Get a To-Go Box for this Heart Attack?

You know when you’re savoring something really yummy at a restaurant? Like when you’re cutting into a thick juicy steak, picking up a heaping forkful of creamy pasta, or licking up the remnants of gooey warm chocolate that was glazed so beautifully only moments ago over something cold and decadent and is now unrecognizable to neither man nor beast at the table. (You know, at those beast-friendly places.) There might be a moment between plate and mouth when you think to yourself: This can’t be good for me.

Much to the shock and dismay of no one, you are absolutely right! In a study recently published online in the JAMA Internal Medicine, scientists analyzed the nutritional information of 26 sit-down restaurant chains for 685 meals and 156 desserts.

Researchers found that the average meal contains 1,128 calories, more than half of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommendation of 2000 calories-a-day. The study also found that on average, the meals included 89% of recommended limits for fat, 60% of the daily cholesterol limit, and 151% of the limit for sodium. One hundred. Fifty one. Percent.


According to the New York Daily News, the FDA is currently working on legislation that will require restaurants with over 20 locations to post nutritional information on all their menus. The food won’t change; your access to information will. Potentially. And potential knowledge, my friends, is potential power.

Now then, who wants to go halfsies on a basket of fries?

Cage Match or Love Fest?

It has only been two weeks since Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), threw down a well-articulated gauntlet. In his barbed statement, Insel challenged the validity of the upcoming edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). I know: acronym overload (AO).

Since then, however, it seems that Insel and APA President-elect, Jeffrey Lieberman, have been playing nice. The two issued a joint statement a few days ago entitled “Shared Interests.” Awwies. In the carefully crafted missive, the two state that the DSM and Insel’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) pet-project, are not competing, but complementary, frameworks.

#damagecontrol, anyone?

The love letter ends with a significant statement which highlights the serious need for cooperation between professionals and organizations, in practice and not only in name. “By continuing to work together, our two organizations are committed to improving outcomes for people with some of the most disabling disorders in all of medicine.”

Sharing is, indeed, caring.

Mental Health Stigma? Still Alive and Kicking

A report recently published in the American Journal of Public Health highlights that the general population’s view of mental illness still needs a little work. And by a little, I mean a lot. A survey conducted in 16 countries showed that, overall, people perceive mental illnesses, such as depression and schizophrenia, as being rooted in biology rather than in character deficit. Researchers also found, however, that individuals across the world maintain negative beliefs about people with such illnesses, particularly schizophrenia.

Survey results demonstrated that people are uncomfortable with the idea of someone with a mental illness marrying into the family, taking care of their children, or in a position of authority or power. People also reported that they feared individuals with mental illnesses may behave violently. The study’s researchers concluded that more emphasis needs to be placed on implementing educational campaigns that teach people about what mental illness really means. Such measures will hopefully facilitate the reduction of mental health stigma and promote inclusion.

Telling Our Stories

In an effort to reduce stigma, as part of Mental Health Awareness Month (and also forever after that), 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!


Seriously though, let’s get some fries.



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