New research conducted on mice suggests repeated heavy drinking causes synaptic dysfunctions that lead to anxiety.
- The study was conducted on mice, who were given the equivalent of five drinks daily for 10 days.
- Images of the alcoholic mice brains showed synaptic dysfunctions related to microglia (immune cells in the brain).
- The results suggest that regulating TNF, a signaling protein related to systemic inflammation, may someday play a part in treating alcohol addiction.
3D surface rendering of confocal maximum projection images showing volume reconstruction of PSD-95 within CD68 structures in microglia (Iba1+ cell) on tissue sections from prefrontal cortices of WT and TNF KO mice after exposure to EtOH or H2O
The role of TNF in anxiety<p>But the new study revealed an interesting finding about TNF. To find out how TNF interacts with anxiety, the researchers gave to the alcoholic mice a drug called <a href="https://www.drugs.com/mtm/pomalidomide.html" target="_blank">pomalidomide</a>, which blocks the production of TNF. After, the mice showed improved synaptic functioning and less anxiety-like behaviors.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This study suggests that regulating the levels of TNF might eventually be useful when treating alcohol addiction," Relvas told Inverse.</p>
Pixabay<p>Still, it's unclear whether or how TNF regulation might work its way into alcohol addiction treatments. After all, even if science can fix the anxiety aspect of alcoholism, heavy drinking still exacts heavy tolls on other parts of the body and brain.</p><p>For now, it's probably best to keep your drinking within moderate levels: <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/appendix-9/" target="_blank">Most</a> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/health/alcohol-drinking-health.html" target="_blank">research</a> suggests that having one to two drinks per day yields no significant negative health consequences.</p>
The number of people with dementia is expected to triple by 2060.
Are you mentally exhausted? Here's how to tell (and what to do about it).
- Mental exhaustion is a symptom of long-term stress. It can affect physical well-being, causing a person to feel physically exhausted.
- There are some things you can do yourself to alleviate your mental strain, which will then eliminate some of the mental exhaustion you're feeling.
- Seeking medical assistance for mental exhaustion is common, with therapists working alongside patients to help develop healthy coping mechanisms and doctors assisting with treatments such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications where needed.
What is mental exhaustion?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyODkzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTc4NTU3OX0.iBdbs1EPqupUid5hsvZGyfNiEM_lsMvZM7UHHq8Z41Q/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C188%2C0%2C97&height=700" id="9b597" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b02945182cfd16b4010fea2238310c05" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="illustratioon woman leaning over desk stressed and exhausted concept of mental exhaustion and burnout" />
Knowing the symptoms of mental exhaustion can help you understand when to seek help.
Credit: Vectorium on Shutterstock<p>According to <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/mentally-exhausted#symptoms" target="_blank">Medical News Today</a>, mental exhaustion can affect physical well-being, causing a person to feel physically exhausted.</p><p><strong>What are the symptoms of mental exhaustion? </strong></p><ul><li>Low emotional resilience</li><li>Feeling stressed or anxious</li><li>Cynicism or pessimism, feeling like nothing is going right</li><li>Apathy (a feeling of not caring)</li><li>Difficulty concentrating</li><li>Feelings of helplessness</li><li>Physical exhaustion or fatigue</li><li>Sleep problems (sleeping too much or too little)</li><li>Feelings of being overwhelmed</li><li>Low motivation</li><li>Feeling distracted or on edge</li><li>Difficulty with memory</li><li>Headaches</li><li>Drastic weight gain/loss</li><li>Changes in appetite</li><li>Depression/depressive symptoms</li><li>Suicidal ideation </li><li>Irritability </li></ul><p><strong>What is the difference between stress and mental exhaustion? </strong></p><p>Stress is something we all experience - it's the body's natural response to situations that are new, scary, worrisome, etc. The biological response is a surge of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) that helps us react quickly to perceived threats or high-pressure situations. With stress, once the "threat" has been removed, your body will stop the surge of hormones and you should go back to your normal state. </p><p>Mental exhaustion, however, is a symptom of long-term stress. When you are continually dealing with things that activate your body's natural stress response, your cortisol and adrenaline levels remain high. Eventually, this begins to interfere with your body's normal functions (such as digestions, sleep, your immune system, etc.). </p><p><strong>What causes mental exhaustion? </strong></p><p>Mental exhaustion or "burn out" are terms that are often used to explain the feeling of being overworked or generally stressed about things relating to your work, but mental exhaustion can be caused by a long period of persistent stress in any areas of your life. It could be work, it could be your home life, or it could be a combination. </p><p>Mental exhaustion can be caused by high-pressure jobs, working long hours, being dissatisfied at work, being the caregiver for an ill loved one, living with a chronic illness, the sudden death of a loved one, poor work-life balance, lack of social support, or a number of other factors. </p><p><strong>How can I tell if I'm emotionally exhausted?</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-chronicles-infertility/201905/8-questions-check-if-youre-emotionally-exhausted" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Psychology Today</a> has an incredibly helpful "emotional exhaustion inventory" to check your status: </p><ol><li>I smile less frequently than I used to, even in situations I typically would find funny.</li><li>My senses seem dulled, so food tastes flat, music doesn't move me, back rubs give me no pleasure/release, and I reach for black or grey clothes.</li><li>I can't sleep. Either I can't fall asleep, stay asleep, or all I want to do is sleep. </li><li>Socializing is difficult. When I am with friends or family, I feel disconnected and have a hard time paying attention to what they say.</li><li>I get startled easily by voices, noises or movement. I feel jumpy and jittery. </li><li>I am more irritable than I used to be, especially in lines, online and on the phone. </li><li>My anxiety level is higher than usual, and crowds and traffic make me feel claustrophobic. </li><li>I cry more easily, particularly during movies, sad news reports, sentimental stories and even shows with happy endings.</li></ol><p>If any of these statements sound familiar, you could be dealing with mental/emotional exhaustion.</p>
How can you treat mental exhaustion?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyODkzMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTM2NzMyM30.87ZoD3LF4QI42oZwslTSxhH1LV6LYYjeXsXXKIHvqUU/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C353%2C0%2C354&height=700" id="6e07c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="edca51bb754a009eaf4a32a819fdc856" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="therapy illustration" />
Seeking medical assistance for emotional exhaustion can help you get back on track.
Credit: Evellean on Shutterstock<p>How can mental exhaustion be treated? There are some things you can do yourself to alleviate your mental strain and thus eliminate some of the mental exhaustion you're feeling.</p><p><strong>Remove the stressors in your life. </strong></p><p>If you're overwhelmed with your tasks at work, consider asking for help or delegating some of your tasks to others, if possible. If you're feeling overwhelmed at home, consider enlisting the help of a babysitter or house cleaner to eliminate some of your stress. </p><p><strong>Keep a journal. </strong></p><p>Writing can be extremely therapeutic. Writing about things you are thankful for (especially at a time in your life where you are overwhelmed) can positively impact your mental health way more than you realize. <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-chronicles-infertility/201905/8-questions-check-if-youre-emotionally-exhausted" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Research</a> has showed that people who practice gratitude (and gratitude expression exercises) often have a higher sense of well-being, fewer symptoms of physical illness, reduced stress, and higher relationship satisfaction.</p><p><strong>Exercise regularly.</strong></p><p>While you may not have time to visit the gym, there are many ways you can incorporate a bit of exercise into your daily activities, such as taking the stairs more often than the elevator at work, waking up early to go for a walk/run or even doing some physical activity while watching television at the end of the day. </p><p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1469029210000117" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2010 study</a> of 533 Swiss police officers and emergency service corps found that exercise was associated with enhanced health and actually protected against stress-related health problems. The participants of this study also reported feeling better prepared to cope with the chronic stress of their jobs. </p><p><strong>Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine. </strong></p><p>Meditation, according to a 2013 Bangkok study, lowers cortisol levels in the blood, which may then lower the risk of diseases associated with stress. If you're not into meditation, other forms of relaxation including yoga, deep breathing exercises, massage, aromatherapy, or tai chi may also be helpful. </p><p><strong>Adjust your sleeping patterns. </strong></p><p>Sleep is essential for your emotional well-being. <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-exhaustion#treatment-and-coping" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">HealthLine</a> suggests developing a bedtime routine and sticking to it. It can also be particularly helpful if this routine occurs at roughly the same time every evening. This can be doing some light reading for a few minutes before bed at the same time every night, for example. </p><p><strong>Seek medical assistance from a doctor and/or therapist. </strong></p><p>Mental exhaustion is an incredibly real and difficult thing to cope with, and seeking medical treatment for it could be one of the best choices you make. A therapist, for example, can provide you with the tools you need to cope with daily stressors. A doctor can talk to you about your symptoms and potentially prescribe medicines (such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications) if they feel it may be helpful. </p>
Join Radiolab's Latif Nasser at 1pm ET today as he chats with Malcolm Gladwell live on Big Think.
Can voters really predict who will be a good leader? Malcolm Gladwell joins Big Think Live to discuss this how lotteries could, in theory, distribute leadership more effectively, from government elections, college admissions, and grant applications.
A team of researchers have discovered the brain rhythmic activity that can split us from reality.
- Researchers have identified the key rhythmic brain activity that triggers a bizarre experience called dissociation in which people can feel detached from their identity and environment.
- This phenomena is experienced by about 2 percent to 10 percent of the population. Nearly 3 out of 4 individuals who have experienced a traumatic event will slip into a dissociative state either during the event or sometime after.
- The findings implicate a specific protein in a certain set of cells as key to the feeling of dissociation, and it could lead to better-targeted therapies for conditions in which dissociation can occur.
What is dissociation?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bd2f1f29418bd4805bf1282001dca814"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XF2zeOdE5GY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Dissociation is an experience commonly described as a feeling of sudden detachment from the individual's identity and environment, almost like an out-of-body experience. This mysterious phenomena is experienced by about 2 percent to 10 percent of the population.</p><p>"This state often manifests as the perception of being on the outside looking in at the cockpit of the plane that's your body or mind — and what you're seeing you just don't consider to be yourself," explained senior author Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, <a href="https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/09/researchers-pinpoint-brain-circuitry-underlying-dissociation.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in a Stanford Medicine news release</a>. Deisseroth is a professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.</p><p>Nearly three-quarters of individuals who have experienced a traumatic event will slip into a dissociative state either during the event or in the hours or even weeks that follow, according to Deisseroth. Most of the time, the dissociative experiences end on their own within a few weeks of the trauma. But the eerie experience can become chronic, such as in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, and extremely disruptive in daily life. The state of dissociation can also occur in epilepsy and be invoked by certain drugs. </p><p>Until now, no one has known what exactly is going on inside the brain triggering and sustaining the feeling of dissociation — and so it has been a challenge to figure out how to stop it and develop effective treatments. </p>
New Research: The Molecular Underpinnings of Dissociation<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyNjk3My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNTQ3MTI1NX0._nJoxm1eDcTsHsy1Y27JxNl2uR5hlbEYDWYoQlO0EAU/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C121%2C0%2C121&height=700" id="26e86" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1094af23e35a498a8a6b691f1d0cbfaf" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="neurons" />
Neurons from a mouse spinal cord
Credit: NICHD on Flickr<p>Last week, in a study published in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2731-9" target="_blank">Nature</a><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2731-9">,</a> Deisseroth and his colleagues at Stanford University uncovered a localized brain rhythm and molecule that underlies this state.</p><p>"This study has identified brain circuitry that plays a role in a well-defined subjective experience," said Deisseroth. "Beyond its potential medical implications, it gets at the question, 'What is the self?' That's a big one in law and literature, and important even for our own introspections."</p><p>The authors' findings implicate a specific protein existing in a particular set of cells as key to the feeling of dissociation. </p><p>The research team first used a technique called widefield calcium imaging to record brain-wide neuronal activity in lab mice. They observed and analyzed changes in those brain rhythms after the animals had been administered a range of drugs that are known to cause dissociative states: ketamine, phencyclidine (PCP), and dizocilpine (MK801). At a certain dosage of ketamine, the mice behaved in a way that suggested that they were likely experiencing dissociation. For example, when the animals were placed on an uncomfortably warm surface, they reacted to it by flicking their paws. However, they signaled that they didn't care enough about the unpleasantness to do what they would typically do in such a situation, which is to lick their paws to cool them off. This suggested a dissociation from the surrounding environment.</p><p>The drug produced oscillations in neuronal activity in a region of the mices' brain called the retrosplenial cortex, an area essential for various cognitive functions such as navigation and episodic memory (a unique memory of a specific event). The oscillations occurred at about 1-3 hertz (three cycles per second). The authors then examined the active cells in more detail by using two-photon imaging for higher resolution. This revealed that the oscillations were occurring only in layer 5 of the retrosplenial cortex. Next, the researchers recorded neuronal activity across other regions of the brain. </p><p>"Normally, other parts of the cortex and subcortex are functionally connected to neuronal activity in the retrosplenial cortex," Ken Solt and Oluwaseun Akeju wrote in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02505-z#ref-CR1" target="_blank">Nature</a>. "However, ketamine caused a disconnect, such that many of these brain regions no longer communicated with the retrosplenial cortex."</p><p>The scientists then used optogenetics, a method of manipulating living tissue with light to control neural function, to stimulate neurons in the mice's retrosplenial cortex. When the scientists did this at a 2-hertz rhythm, they were able to cause dissociative behavior in the animals analogous to the behavior caused by ketamine without using drugs. The experiments conducted by the team displayed how a particular type of protein, an ion channel, was essential to the generation of the hertz signal that caused the dissociative behavior in mice. Scientists are hopeful that this protein could be a potential treatment target in the future. </p>