Friday, May 31, 2013

REPOST: "For Kids With ADHD, Sleep Disturbances May Interfere With Emotional Memories"

As it is, ADHD causes many inconveniences to those who get afflicted with it.  On top of that, recent studies suggest another undesired sequela affecting one's emotional sphere. Learn more by reading this TIME article:

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Kids and adolescents with ADHD often struggle to keep their emotions in check. ADHD has also been linked to sleep disorders, which is one of the reasons a team of German researchers sought to determine how sleep influences the consolidation and processing of emotional memories.

Brain imaging studies have shown that ADHD alters the structure and functions of areas of the brain important to processing emotions, like the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala and the hippocampus. Scientists have speculated that a disrupted connection between these areas of the brain could contribute to a patient’s day-to-day emotions.

Among healthy children and adults, sleep facilitates the processing of emotional stimuli, so the researchers wanted to see if there were processing differences between healthy study subjects and participants with ADHD. For their study, researchers led by Alexander Prehn-Kristensen of University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein analyzed the emotional memory processing of 16 children with ADHD, 16 healthy children and 20 healthy adults.

In the study, the participants were shown photos that were either emotionally negative, like a snake or growling bear, or emotionally neutral, like an umbrella or lamp. Previous research has shown that emotionally charged images usually have a greater brain response, and are more likely to be remembered.

“During daytime, people suffering from ADHD often have problems focusing on the relevant information and ignoring irrelevant information. Here, we wanted to look whether the described daytime problem in contrasting between relevant and irrelevant information is also observable during sleep,” says study author Alexander Prehn-Kristensen, study researcher from Christian-Albrecht-university in Kiel, Germany in an email response.

All the participants were shown the photos in the evening and had their sleep monitored by the researchers using electroencephalogram (EEG) measurements to track brain activity. The next day, the participants were tested on their recollection of the emotion-inducing images.

The healthy kids without ADHD were better able to recall the images compared to the kids with ADHD and even the healthy adults. These kids had higher activity in the frontal region of their brain and could remember the emotional images better than the neutral ones. Emotional experiences are typically easier to remember than neutral memories.

Prehn-Kristensen says more research is necessary before any therapeutic or clinical conclusions should be drawn. Since the children’s memories were observed in an artificial context, they cannot presume these results carry over to day-to-day memory experiences. However, they do shed light on how brain activity issues during sleep could be responsible for emotional processing for kids with ADHD.

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

More updates on psychiatry-related conditions may be found on this Dr. Gary Zomalt Facebook page.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

'Be kind to yourself' and other advice for people who wish to be happy

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It seems that many people need to be reminded time and again of the importance of self-compassion. This is especially true for highly driven individuals who want to attain more out of their lives.

In the pursuit of happiness and success, many people tend to forget about their own needs. The accomplishment of goals takes precedence over everything else that they neglect their health and well-being for even the smallest of gains. Often, many people may sacrifice the time they can spend in the presence of their friends and loved ones for their careers – and they end up regretting doing so.

Indeed, life is in movement. It is in the pursuit of a lofty goal or a series of smaller objectives. It is in growth. However, all of this must not be done at the cost of losing oneself. Greatness and happiness can be achieved without people being too hard on themselves.

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Practicing self-compassion is only the beginning. When individuals learn to think about themselves positively – considering their needs, strengths and weaknesses, and what they want – they can begin to work on things that truly matter to them.

They can seek a job that makes them happy, and they won’t have to worry about finding motivation to do their best at work. With constant drive and motivation, individuals can maximize their productivity during work hours. This, in turn, allows them to have time for other pursuits such as their hobbies or investing in meaningful relationships with friends and family.

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Dr. Gary Zomalt is a psychotherapist and the owner of 3R Counseling & Consulting. Find more resources on happiness and success through this Facebook page.