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Our genes responsible for the way we act?

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New Delhi: As Indians have the issues of intolerance and violence, genetic experts are researching on this hoary discussion, whether Indian genes can influence people towards anti-social behaviour in the society.

Again we are back on the same debate nurture versus nature.

The answer may not be easy to find, but some experts say that the monoamine oxidase A or MAOA gene involved the parameter of emotions and behaviour and can predispose certain humans towards anti-social behaviour if they have had adverse childhood experiences.

Many studies in the past have linked genes with offensive behaviour, but the fallouts have often been unpredictable. Recently a study by researchers in Montreal, Canada, though, found that genetics may indeed play a key role in violent behaviour.

The team from the University of Montreal found that certain polymorphism (change of form) of MAOA gene may disrupt the regulation of emotions and behavioural inhibition in the brain.

“The study found that men with a less frequent variant of the MAOA gene (approximately 30 percent of them) were at a higher risk of exhibiting anti-social behaviour in adolescence and in early adulthood compared to those without this variant, but who also have been exposed to violence as children,” informs Dr Manish Jain, senior consultant (psychiatrist) from BLK Super Speciality Hospital in the capital.

“It implies that even when exposed to the same environment some may develop anti-social traits based on their genetics while others may not,” Dr Jain told reporters.

According to Dr Sameer Malhotra, director (mental health and behavioural sciences) at Max Super Specialty Hospital, genes and environment live the individual lives both effects the personality profile of an individual.

So are we any nearer to a clear-cut answer?

“Through genes, one inherits vulnerability factor. Environmental factors in conjunction with the vulnerability can influence behaviour. Anti-social behaviour is linked to conduct disorder in childhood. At times, association with family history of alcoholism or drug abuse and aggression are also observed,” Dr Malhotra said.

“High levels of neurotransmitter dopamine that is involved in the regulation of emotions and problems in the frontal brain cortex are also reported in such people,” he adds.

Other experts feel that people who are victims themselves or have witnessed violence in childhood are more likely to have anti-social tendencies as teenagers and adults.

“The impact on personality would depend on overall environment and positive experiences and the resolution of past experiences, but statically, this statement would be correct that there would be more chances of aggressive tendencies in the absence of support and intervention,” explains Dr Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare.

“There are many social psychological factors which have a significant impact and to say what percentage would be genes would still need more research, though,” he adds.

Dr JC Barnes who is a criminologist from the University of Texas at Dallas found that genes can be a strong predictor of whether someone strays into a life of crime.

The research mainly focusses on whether genes are likely to cause a person to become a life-course persistent offender, which is characterised by anti-social behaviour during childhood that may later progress to violent or serious criminal acts.

“The overarching conclusions were that genetic influences in life-course persistent offending were larger than environmental influences,” says Dr Barnes.

Crime is learned, there is no specific behaviour for it. “But there are likely to be hundreds, if not thousands, of genes that will incrementally increase your likelihood of being involved in a crime even if it only ratchets that probability by one percent,” he points out. “It still is a genetic effect. And it’s still important.”

Although research has not concluded genetic basis for antisocial tendencies, the influence of genetics and environment cannot be ignored.

“The child’s initial behaviours and learning are moulded through parenting and family interaction. The temperament with which the child is born along with parenting behaviour styles influence one another,” explains Dr Shobhana Mittal, consultant psychiatrist at Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences in New Delhi.

Children from broken homes, single parents or from families where there is substance abuse, physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse tend to have poor family bonding. Disrupted family atmospheres affect the overall emotional health of the child as well as contribute to the child’s personality and coping abilities.

“With immature coping skills, children at times do not understand how to manage anger, frustration resulting in anger outbursts or aggressive behaviour. This further makes the child vulnerable to external influence from their peers,” elaborates Dr Sunil Mittal, director of Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences (CIMBS), in New Delhi.

“A recent genetic analysis of almost 900 offenders in Finland revealed two genes associated with violent repeat offenders were the MAOA gene and a variant of cadherin 13 (CDH13) gene. Those with these genes were 13 times more likely to have a history of repeated violent behaviour,” Dr Jain told reporters.

Although the role of genes cannot be ignored anymore, the jury may still be out on a definite answer.

But as the experts point out, if a lethal gene is lurking there somewhere, it may make a person a little more prone to act out the bad experiences in life. (IANS)

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Healing Emotional Trauma for A Peaceful Mind, Body and Soul

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Healing emotional trauma
Healing emotional trauma is hard but not impossible. Pixabay
  • Emotional trauma is never ending; always finds its way back to you.
  • Dealing with it and facing reality is the way to heal yourself.
  • Accepting, forgiving and letting go are the first steps to healing emotional trauma.
  • Surround yourself with people who love for you are.

Emotional pain has a way around people; it always comes unannounced which we have no control over. But dealing with the emotional trauma is something we do have control over. Just like a bruise or a scar the emotional trauma also goes away but you can’t escape it as it’s a part of your life whether you like it or not. Augustus wasn’t wrong in saying that pain demands to be felt in the famous John Green novel “The fault in our stars”. Healing emotional trauma the right way is when you face it.

  1. Acceptance

The first step to healing emotional trauma is accepting it. If you keep something locked away it eventually goes bad and smells, just like that accepting the existence of the pain is necessary to get rid of it. Don’t throw fits and instead embrace the situation because everything does happen for a reason no matter how bad. The important thing to remember is to keep the faith.

Healing emotional trauma
Accept the situation and believe that you can overcome it. Pixabay

  1. Healing emotional trauma involves Forgiveness

Grudges can sometimes destroy your inner peace more than you could imagine it to be. When you hold on to a something for too long your arms start to pain and eventually give up on you. Similarly, holding on to grudges hurts you more than the person you’re holding it against. The smart choice for healing emotional trauma would be to let the baggage go unless it’s Gucci.

  1. Don’t think and ruin it for yourself

Overthinking a situation ruins your inner peace and also makes you intensify the graveness of the pain. What’s done is done, don’t ruminate on it for long. The best option would be to chuck it and move on with your life.

Healing emotional trauma
Forgiving and forgetting is the first step to healing emotional trauma. Pixabay

  1. Surround yourself with people who motivate and encourage you

    Acceptance
    Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are. Pixabay

Dealing with emotional pain can be nerve wrecking and facing reality alone can be scary. In times like those, you need people who will understand you and accept for who you are. Toxic people who put you down or fail to understand you as a person are not the right way to heal your emotional trauma.

-Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram; Twitter: @TanyaKathuria97

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Is Your Child Not Getting Enough Sleep Due to Early School Hours? He is at risk of Developing Depression and Anxiety, Says New Study

School timings not only affect the sleeping habits but also the daily functioning of the body, which can harm the child's physical and mental health

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Unhealthy sleeping patterns can lead to major health problems like obesity, heart disease and others in adulthood, Wikimedia

New York, October 9, 2017 : Is your child not getting ample sleep due to early school hours? Beware, your kid is more likely to develop depression and anxiety, warns a new study. The study reveals that children, who start schooling before 8:30 a.m., get insufficient sleep or barely meet the minimum amount of sleep, that is 8-10 hours, needed for healthy functioning of the body.

“Even when a student is doing everything else right to get a good night’s sleep, early school start times put more pressure on the sleep process and increase mental health symptoms, while later school start times appear to be a strong protective factor for teenager,” said Jack Peltz, Professor at the University of Rochester in the US.

School timings not only affect the sleeping habits but also the daily functioning of the body. It aggravates major health problems like obesity, heart disease and others in adulthood. The study, published in the journal Sleep Health, suggested that maintaining a consistent bedtime, getting between eight and 10 hours of sleep, limiting caffeine, turning off the television, cell phone and video games before bed may boost sleep quality as well as mental health.

ALSO READ Prolonged Depression Can Change Structure of Your Brain

The researchers used an online tool to collect data from 197 students across the country between the ages of 14 and 17. The results showed that good sleep hygiene was directly associated with lower average daily depressive or anxiety symptoms across all students.

The risk of depression was even lower in the students who started school after 8:30 a.m. in comparison to those who started early. “One possible explanation for the difference may be that earlier starting students have more pressure on them to get high quality sleep,” Peltz stressed. (IANS)

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Understanding Social Anxiety Disorder And The Myths Associated

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Social anxiety disorder is characterized by a significant amount of fear in one or more social situations. Flickr

Every human being once in his/her lifetime experience social awkwardness and it is not odd to experience it. Social anxiety is a general psychological problem, and yet we feel odd to share it because we are conditioned to believe that the problem is associated with being “abnormal”. This social anxiety may happen while you are presenting in a board meeting; reciting a poem in school, talking to strangers at parties.

People who experience it feel as though they are being constantly judged by the people around them. An article by writer and author Arlin Cuncic states that between 2% and 13% of the population is thought to have the problem to a level that it would be considered social anxiety disorder.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder is a disorder in which people face social anxieties to an extent that it starts affecting their daily life activities. It is one of the most common mental disorders. People who face this problem feel as though they are the only ones to be suffering from the problem.

Causes:

Social Anxiety Disorder is believed to have generated from both environmental and genetic factors. Sometimes it may be just one of them or a combination of the both.

  • Genetic factors: It is believed that an imbalance in the neurotransmitter serotonin, a brain chemical which regulates emotions and moods play a role in the development of social anxiety disorder.
  • Environmental factors: Experienced bullying as a child, sexual abuse, and overprotective family environment can be some of the environmental factors.

Also ReadIs Vaping Safer Than Smoking? New Research Suggests Why You Should Switch 

Myths associated with social anxiety disorder:

Myth 1- Social Anxiety is only fear of speaking in public

The fact is that social anxiety is anxiety and fear experienced in any/every social situation like- public speaking events; meeting strangers and interacting with them; going to spaces which mark the presence of a lot of public; disagreeing with someone.

Myth 2- Social Anxiety means that you’re only nervous

The fact is that social anxiety is not just nervousness but a collection of several symptoms like trembling hands, irrational thinking, and sweat.

Myth 3- Social Anxiety is a problem that you just have to live with

Living with social anxiety is not an advice to be given. What if a person’s social anxiety reaches a level where he/she cannot move from his/her home? There are medically proven solutions to this problem. Effective medication and behavioral therapy are highly recommended in cases of social anxiety disorder.

Despite living in the 21st century and being cognizant of human psychology and its growing problems, we associate mental health problems with being “crazy” and a “shame” to the society. If we need to combat psychological problems, we must start educating people and especially children about it. There must be textbook lessons and interactive sessions on mental health for children. If children are cognizant of the problems from a very young age, most of the psychological illness, the world is facing would be easily controlled.

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.