Saturday December 7, 2019

Social Isolation Can Lead to Increase in Stress

Researchers have found that long-term chronic isolation causes the build-up of a chemical in the brain, that increases stress, aggression, and fear.

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But, administration of a drug that chemically blocks NkB-specific receptors enabled the stressed mice to behave normally, eliminating the negative effects of social isolation.
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have found that long-term chronic isolation causes the build-up of a chemical in the brain, that increases stress, aggression, and fear.

The mice isolated for two weeks showed behavioral changes like increased aggressiveness towards unfamiliar mice, persistent fear, and hypersensitivity to threatening stimuli.

When encountering a threatening stimulus, mice that have been socially isolated remain frozen in place long after the threat has passed, whereas normal mice stop freezing soon after the threat is removed, the research said.

Although the study was done in mice, it has potential implications for understanding how chronic stress affects humans and has potential applications for treating mental health disorders, said lead author Moriel Zelikowsky, a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology in the US.

social isolation
A new study suggests meditation can reduce stress and anxiety. VOA

Previous studies have determined that social isolation for two weeks in mice resulted in the upregulation of the signaling molecule neuropeptide, tachykinin 2 (Tac2)/neurokinin B (NkB) — a short protein molecule.

In the new study, published in the journal Cell, the team found that chronic isolation leads to an increase in Tac2 gene expression and the production of a neuropeptide called neurokinin B (NkB) throughout the brain.

But, administration of a drug that chemically blocks NkB-specific receptors enabled the stressed mice to behave normally, eliminating the negative effects of social isolation.

Also Read: Father’s Stress Linked To Kids’ Brain Development

On the other hand, artificially increasing Tac2 levels and activating the corresponding neurons in normal, animals led them to behave like isolated and stressed, the research showed.

Suppressing the Tac2 gene in certain different brain parts, increased fear behaviors, or aggression accordingly, implying that it must increase in different brain regions to produce the various effects of social isolation, the researchers said. (IANS)

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One-Third Patients Diagnosed with Lung Cancer Have Depression

One-third of lung cancer patients have depression says study

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Depression- lung cancer
Studies have found that About one-third of patients newly diagnosed with the most common form of lung cancer show signs of depression. Lifetime Stock

About one-third of patients newly diagnosed with the most common form of lung cancer have moderate to severe symptoms of depression, a new study suggests.

For many of these patients — particularly those with severe symptoms — depression occurs in a toxic blend of high levels of anxiety, traumatic stress, impaired day-to-day functioning and significant pain and other physical symptoms, findings published in the journal Lung Cancer showed.

“The results suggest doctors need to screen lung cancer patients for depression and then act to refer patients for care,” said study lead author Barbara Andersen from the Ohio State University in the US.

“Some oncologists may have a mindset that ‘of course, you’re depressed, you have lung cancer.’ This may show an under-appreciation of the breadth of depressive symptoms and other difficulties which accompany it,” Andersen said.

Depression
In such patients, depression occurs in a toxic blend of high levels of anxiety and traumatic stress. Lifetime Stock

Patients with moderate or severe depressive symptoms are more likely to have lower quality of life and worse disease outcomes compared to those also diagnosed with lung cancer but with mild or no depressive symptoms.

According to the researchers, data came from 186 patients at one cancer hospital who had been recently diagnosed with advanced-stage non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for 85 per cent of all lung cancer cases.

Patients completed a telephone survey measuring psychological and physical symptoms, stress and day-to-day functioning.

Results showed that eight per cent of the patients scored at the severe depressive symptom level and 28 per cent had moderate depressive symptoms.

Nearly all (93 per cent) of the patients with severe depression said the depressive symptoms made it difficult to do their work, take care of things at home and get along with other people.

Compared to other cancer patients, those with high levels of depressive symptoms were much more likely to report severe physical symptoms, including 73 per cent who said they experienced ‘quite a bit’ or ‘very much’ pain.

Depression in patients
Patients with moderate or severe level of depression are more likely to have lower quality of life. Lifetime Stock

Every one of the patients with severe depressive symptoms said they had severe or moderate issues functioning with their usual activities such as work, study, housework and family or leisure activities.

In general, those with moderate depressive symptoms saw negative effects that were somewhat less — but still significant — than those with severe symptoms, the study found.

But there were two striking differences between the groups.

One was in the severity of generalised anxiety disorder (or GAD) symptoms, the most common anxiety disorder.

About 11 per cent of those with moderate depressive symptoms had moderate to severe GAD, compared to 73 per cent of patients with severe depressive symptoms.

Also Read- Children of Diabetic Mothers May Develop Heart Risks: Study

Second, many fewer of the patients with moderate depressive symptoms had impairments in self care (eight per cent versus 33 per cent in those with severe depressive symptoms), mobility (33 per cent versus 73 per cent) and usual activities (38 per cent versus 100 per cent). (IANS)