Can cognitive behavioural therapy really change our brains?



CBT is used to treat many depression and anxiety disorders

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of talking therapy that's used to treat a wide range of mental health problems, from depression and eating disorders to phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It recommends looking at ourselves in a different way that might prove useful for all of us in everyday life. But what happens to our brains when we have CBT?
What is cognitive behavioural therapy?

CBT is based on the idea that problems aren't caused by situations themselves, but by how we interpret them in our thoughts. These can then affect our feelings and actions.


The way we think about a situation can affect how we feel and how we act

For example, if someone you know walks by without saying hello, what's your reaction?

You might think that they ignored you because they don't like you, which might make you feel rejected. So you might be tempted to avoid them the next time you meet. This could breed more bad feeling between you both and more "rejections", until eventually you believe that you must be unlikeable. If this happened with enough people, you could start to withdraw socially.

But how well did you interpret the situation in the first place?
Common errors in thinking style
Emotional reasoning - e.g. I feel guilty so I must be guilty
Jumping to conclusions - e.g. if I go into work when I'm feeling low, I'll only feel worse
All-or-nothing thinking - e.g. if I've not done it perfectly, then it's absolutely useless
Mental filtering - e.g. noticing my failures more than my successes
Over generalising - e.g. nothing ever goes well in my life
Labelling - e.g. I'm a loser

CBT aims to break negative vicious cycles by identifying unhelpful ways of reacting that creep into our thinking.

"Emotional reasoning is a very common error in people's thinking," explains Dr Jennifer Wild, Consultant Clinical Psychologist from Kings College London. "That's when you think something must be true because of how you feel."

CBT tries to replace these negative thinking styles with more useful or realistic ones.

This can be a challenge for people with mental health disorders, as their thinking styles can be well-established.
How do we break negative thinking styles?

Some psychological theories suggest that we learn these negative thinking patterns through a process called negative reinforcement.


Graded exposure can help people confront their phobias

For example, if you have a fear of spiders, by avoiding them you learn that your anxiety levels can be reduced. So you're rewarded in the short term with less anxiety but this reinforces the fear.

To unlearn these patterns, people with phobias and anxiety disorders often use a CBT technique called graded exposure. By gradually confronting what frightens them and observing that nothing bad actually happens, it's possible to slowly retrain their brains to not fear it.
How does cognitive behavioural therapy work on the brain?

Primitive survival instincts like fear are processed in a part of the brain called the limbic system. This includes the amygdala, a region that processes emotion, and the hippocampus, a region involved in reliving traumatic memories.

“Brain scan studies have shown that overactivity in these two regions returns to normal after a course of CBT in people with phobias.

What's more, studies have found that CBT can also change the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher-level thinking.

So it seems that CBT might be able to make real, physical changes to both our "emotional brain" (instincts) and our "logical brain" (thoughts).

Intriguingly, similar patterns of brain changes have been seen with CBT and with drug treatments, suggesting that psychotherapies and medications might work on the brain in parallel ways.
How effective is cognitive behavioural therapy?

Of all the talking therapies, CBT has the most clinical evidence to show that it works.

Studies have shown that it is at least as effective as medication for many types of depression and anxiety disorders.

But unlike many drugs, there are few side effects with CBT. After a relatively short course, people have often described long-lasting benefits.

"In the trials we've run with post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] and social anxiety disorder, we've seen that even when people stop the therapy, they continue improving because they have new tools in place and they've made behavioural and thinking style changes," Dr Wild explains.

CBT may not be for everyone, however.

Since the focus is on tackling the here and now, people with more complicated roots to their mental problems which could stem from their childhood, for example, may need another type of longer-term therapy to explore this.

CBT also relies on commitment from the individual, including "homework" between therapy sessions. It can also involve confronting fears and anxieties, and this isn't always easy to do.

Ultimately, as with many types of treatment, some people will benefit from CBT more than others and psychologists and neuroscientists are beginning to unravel the reasons behind this.

Source..BBC

The trickle-down case for designer babies


Our pick of the week from around the web, including the decline of Wikipedia, biology’s brave new world and an astronaut fact-checking the film Gravity.

Death in space
An astronaut fact-checks the film "Gravity". Getting a puncture in your space-suit isn’t all bad. “When you’re slowly running out of oxygen, everything seems funny. You slowly nod off. I experienced this phenomenon in an altitude chamber during my training as an astronaut. At some point, someone in the group starts cracking bad jokes. Our brains are gentle with us. A person who dies alone in space dies a cheerful death.”

The decline of Wikipedia
Wikipedia’s community has built a magnificent resource, but its glory days are gone. The volunteer workforce of the English-language Wikipedia has shrunk by more than a third since 2007, and is still shrinking. The “loose collective” running the site today, 90% male, operates a “crushing bureaucracy” with an “often abrasive atmosphere” that deters newcomers. “It looks like Wikipedia is strangling itself.”

Gambling with civilisation
William Nordhaus’s book, "The Climate Casino", gives a calm and reasoned view of the dangers from climate change. But that won’t be enough to win over the sceptical and the indifferent. “Given the current state of American politics, the combination of self-interest, ideology, and hostility to science constitutes a huge roadblock to action, and rational argumentation isn’t likely to help. Meanwhile, time is running out.”

Biology’s brave new world
All the key barriers to the artificial synthesis of viruses and bacteria have been overcome. “The biologist has become an engineer, coding new life forms as desired.” Which may produce breakthroughs in public health; equally, it may produce plagues and other horrors on a global scale, as the science gets easier to replicate. “The tracking of novel DNA and life forms should be implemented on a voluntary or mandatory basis immediately.”

The origins of the concept of species
The concept of “species” is a useful organising tool for science, not a category that exists in nature. “We really do see the patterns in the world we name species. The mistake arises in thinking that our perceptual biases somehow give us the structure of the world”. Usage comes from Athanasius Kircher, a 17th Century Jesuit who calculated how many kinds of animal could have fitted on to Noah’s Ark, and used the Latin word species for “kind”.

The greatest philosopher of the Twentieth Century
The title may well belong to FP Ramsey, who died at 26, having “figured out the principles governing subjective probability, and so opened the way to decision theory, game theory and much work in the foundations of economics… Contemporary debates about truth, meaning, knowledge, logic and the structure of scientific theories all take off from positions first defined by Ramsey.” He translated Wittgenstein, who overshadowed him.

Bad government software
Why do so many government software projects go off the rails? “Big, custom projects are unique by definition, so they are sold as promises, not as finished products. Every vendor promises the same thing, so the one who promises to do it at the lowest cost often wins; when the project turns out late, bad, and over budget, too many executives have too much invested in its success to admit defeat.”

Source..BBC

The scientific way to find a perfect partner



What are your chances of finding Mr or Ms Right? How many people should you date before you decide to settle down? Maths has the answer.

Peter Backus at the University of Warwick, UK, calculated that he had a 1 in 285,000 chance of meeting the woman of his dreams in any given night in London. Not great odds: that’s 400 times fewer than the best estimates of how many extra-terrestrial life forms there are.

So how many people should you date before you decide to settle down? Fortunately there’s a formula to find this out, and it’s called Optimal Stopping Theory. The theory says if you reject all suitors for the first 37% of your dating time, then after that period you should pick the next person who surpasses all others you’ve seen before. This method has been seen in fish choosing suitors. It’s also supposed to work in other areas too, like hunting for houses. So now you know.

For more videos subscribe to the Head Squeeze channel on YouTube.

If you would like to comment on this video or anything else you have seen on Future, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.

Source..BBC

Hacking our senses to boost learning power


Some schools are pumping music, noises and fragrances into the classroom to see if it improves exam results – could it work?

What did your school smell like? Was it noisy or peaceful?

It might not seem important, but a growing body of research suggests that smells and sounds can have an impact on learning, performance and creativity. Indeed, some head teachers have recently taken to broadcasting noises and pumping whiffs into their schools to see whether it can boost grades. Is there anything in it? And if so, what are the implications for the way we all work and study?

There is certainly some well-established research to suggest that some noises can have a detrimental effect on learning. Numerous studies over the past 15 years have found that children attending schools under the flight paths of large airports lag behind in their exam results.

But general noise seems to have an effect too. Bridget Shield, a professor of acoustics at London South Bank University, and Julie Dockrell, now at the Institute of Education, have been conducting studies and advising politicians on the effects of all sorts of noises, such as traffic and sirens, as well as noise generated by the children themselves. When they recreated those particular sounds in an experimental setting whilst children completed various cognitive tasks, they found a significant negative effect on exam scores. “Everything points to a detrimental impact of the noise on children’s performance, in numeracy, in literacy, and in spelling,” says Shield. The noise seemed to have an especially detrimental effect on children with special needs. `

Shield says the sound of “babble” – the chatter of other children, is particularly distracting in the classroom. Architects that fashion open-plan classrooms in schools would do well to take this on board. “People are very distracted by speech – particularly if it’s understandable, but you’re not involved in it.” This phenomenon is also known as the irrelevant speech effect, she says, adding that “it’s a very common finding in open-plan offices as well.”

Whether background sounds are beneficial or not seems to depend on what kind of noise it is – and the volume. In a series of studies published last year, Ravi Mehta from the College of Business at Illinois and colleagues tested people’s creativity while exposed to a soundtrack made up of background noises – such as coffee-shop chatter and construction-site drilling – at different volumes. They found that people were more creative when the background noises were played at a medium level than when volume was low. Loud background noise, however, damaged their creativity.

This makes sense for a couple of reasons, says psychologist Dr Nick Perham, at Cardiff Metropolitan University in the UK, who studies the effect of sounds on learning but was not involved in the study. Firstly, he says, sounds that are most distracting tend to be very variable. A general hum in the background suggests a steady-state sound with not much acoustical variation. “So there’s not much there to capture your attention – nothing distracting the subjects,” he says. At the same time, the background noise might cause the subjects to be in a slightly heightened state of arousal, says Perham. You don’t want too much or too little arousal. “Medium arousal is best for good performance. So it might be that a general hum in the background gives an optimum level of arousal.” With that in mind, Perham suggests there may be some benefit to playing music or other sounds in an art class or other situations where creativity is key.

Many teachers all over the world already play music to students in class. Many are inspired by the belief that hearing music can boost IQ in subsequent tasks, the so-called Mozart effect. While the evidence actually suggests it’s a stretch to say classical music boosts brainpower, researchers do think pleasant sounds before a task can sometimes lift your mood and help you perform well, says Perham, who has done his own studies on the phenomenon. The key appears to be that you enjoy what you’re hearing. “If you like the music or you like the sound – even listening to a Stephen King novel – then you did better. It didn’t matter about the music,” he says
Source..BBC

What causes coronary heart disease?

Your heart is a pump the size of a fist that sends blood around the body

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is arguably the the UK's biggest killer. CHD develops when the blood supply to the muscles and tissues of the heart becomes obstructed by the build-up of fatty materials inside the walls of the coronary arteries.
What is coronary heart disease?

Your heart is a pump the size of a fist that sends oxygen-rich blood around your body. The blood travels to the organs of your body through blood vessels known as arteries, and returns to the heart through veins.

Your heart needs its own blood supply to keep working. Heart disease occurs when the arteries that carry this blood, known as coronary arteries, start to become blocked by a build-up of fatty deposits.

How common is CHD?
CHD causes round 74,000 deaths each year. That's an average of 200 people every day
In the UK, there are an estimated 2.3 million people living with the condition
About one in six men and one in nine women die from the disease
Death rates are highest in Scotland and northern England
In the past couple of decades, deaths from CHD have nearly halved due to better treatments

Source: British Heart Foundation

The inner lining of the coronary arteries gradually becomes furred with a thick, porridge-like sludge of substances, known as plaques, and formed from cholesterol. This clogging-up process is known as atherosclerosis.

The plaques narrow the arteries and reduce the space through which blood can flow. They can also block nutrients being delivered to the artery walls, which means the arteries lose their elasticity. In turn, this can lead to high blood pressure, which also increases the risk of heart disease. This same process goes on in the arteries throughout the body, and can lead to high blood pressure which puts further strain on the heart.

If your arteries are partially blocked you can experience angina - severe chest pains that can spread across your upper body - as your heart struggles to keep beating on a restricted supply of oxygen. You are also at greater risk of a heart attack.

Some people have a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis due to genetic factors - one clue to this is a family history of heart disease in middle-age. Lifestyle factors that increase the risk include an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, diabetes, high blood pressure and, most importantly, smoking.

However, in the past couple of decades deaths from coronary heart disease have nearly halved, thanks to better treatments.
What happens during a heart attack?

A heart attack happens when one of the coronary arteries becomes completely blocked. This usually happens when a plaque, which is already narrowing an artery, cracks or splits open. This triggers the formation of a blood clot around the plaque, and it is this blood clot that then completely blocks the artery.

With their supply of oxygen completely blocked, the heart muscle and tissue supplied by that artery start to die. Emergency medical intervention is needed to unblock the artery and restore blood flow. This may consist of treatment with drugs to dissolve the clot or thrombus, or a small operation done through the skin and blood vessels to open up the blocked artery.

The outcome of a heart attack hinges on the amount of the muscle that dies before it is corrected. The smaller the area affected, the greater the chance of survival and recovery.

While a heart attack will always cause some permanent damage, some areas may be able to recover if they are not deprived of blood for too long. The sooner a heart attack is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chance of recovery.
Other heart diseases

Other diseases that commonly affect the heart include:
Chronic heart failure - CHD is one of the main causes of heart failure. It affects around one million people in the UK, and many more have it but haven't been formally diagnosed. Here, the heart doesn't works effectively as a pump, and fluid gathers in the lower limbs and lungs. This causes a variety of symptoms and significantly reduces quality of life.
Infection - bacterial infections such as endocarditis are much rarer these days thanks to antibiotics, but can damage the valves of the heart as well as other tissues. Viral infections can damage the heart muscle leading to heart failure, or cause abnormal heart rhythms.
Congenital heart disease - a number of defects can develop in the heart as a baby grows in the womb. One example is a hole in the heart, also known as a septal defect. Congenital heart disease may cause abnormal blood flow and put excessive strain on the infant's heart after it has been born.
Cardiomyopathy - a disease of the heart muscle that can occur for different reasons, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, viral infection, high alcohol intake and thyroid disease.
Source..BBC

How to Get Rid of Whiteheads

WhiteheadsWhiteheads are small white bumps caused by clogged skin pores. Thus, they are similar to blackheads. However, unlike blackheads they appear white or yellow in color.

The reason is that the sebum, dirt, dead skin cells, etc. trapped in the skin pores do not get exposed to the oxygen in the air as the follicles have narrow opening to the skin surface.

In case of blackheads, though, the follicles have a wider opening, thereby allowing air to enter follicles. Hence, the plugged material turns dark in color due to oxidization of melanin.

A whitehead, also known as a closed comedone or milium (plural milia), is a form of acne. It is usually painless but can be infected with P.acnes bacteria. More often than not, whiteheads appear on the face, particularly on cheeks temples, and forehead.

Some people are more prone to blackheads and whiteheads than others because their sebaceous glands produce sebum with oleic acid rather than linoleic acid which is calming to the skin and does not lead to the development of hard plugs.
How to Get Rid of Whiteheads

Here are 10 suggestions to help clear whiteheads.
  1. Facial Steaming
  2. Baking Soda Deep Pore Cleanser
  3. Milk and Lemon Juice
  4. Tea Tree Oil
  5. Cornstarch and Vinegar
  6. Almond and Honey Face Scrub
  7. Oatmeal Mask
  8. Deep Pore Cleansing Strips
  9. Benzoyl Peroxide
  10. Extraction
  • Facial steaming can be done about once a week to open up your pores and loosen up the buildup of oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. For this, you need to boil a pan of water and pour it in a large bowl. Put a few drops of an essential oil like that of lemon, chamomile, rosemary, etc. in it and place your face over the bowl to expose it to the steam for 5-10 minutes. Alternatively, you can dip a towel in warm water, wring it, and then place it on your face for a few minutes and repeat the procedure two to three times. After this steam treatment, you may soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and apply it on the affected areas.
  • Add four tablespoons of baking soda in a cup of warm mineral water. Apply this mixture on your face and leave it for about 10 minutes. Finally, remove the mask and follow up with a moisturizer. Preferably, follow this remedy after facial steaming.
  • Mix one tablespoon each of lemon juice and salt (preferably dead salt) in two tablespoons of whole milk. Rub this recipe on your face. Rinse it off after 15 minutes to reduce whiteheads. Regular application of this milk and lemon juice face pack can also nourish and soften your skin.
  • Soak some tea tree oil on a cotton ball and dab on the affected area to fight bacteria and cure blackheads, whiteheads, and acne breakouts. It helps reduce acne scars, too.
  • Take cornstarch (absorbs oil) and apple cider vinegar (works as an astringent) in a ratio of 3:1. Mix both the ingredients in a bowl and apply the resultant paste on the affected area for about 15-30 minutes. Finally, wipe it off with a clean washcloth and wash your face with lukewarm water, followed by a cold water rinse to close the pores.
  • Grind a handful of blanched almonds. Take two tablespoons of this paste and a tablespoon of pure honey (preferably manuka honey) and a little lemon juice. Exfoliate your skin with this almond and honey facial scrub and wash it off after 15-20 minutes.
  • Add a tablespoon of honey in two tablespoons of oatmeal. Heat the mixture slightly in a microwave. Apply it on your face and after 20 minutes, remove it with lukewarm water to clear blocked pores. Instead of honey, you can combine oatmeal with plain yogurt, too. After exfoliation, wrap an ice cube in a piece of cotton cloth and run it over your face. It helps close the pores.
  • Regularly apply a cleanser, followed by deep cleansing pore strips to reduce whiteheads by pulling away the buildup dirt and sebum. It can help treat mild acne as well. Plus, you may use facial cleansers containing alpha hydroxyl acids and salicylic acid.
  • Application of an over-the-counter treatment containing at least 5% benzoyl peroxide inhibits acne growth by killing the bacteria and exfoliates dead skin. Thus, it is often recommended for healing whiteheads. After applying this remedy, though, make sure moisturize your face lightly as benzoyl peroxide tends to dry out your skin. Follow this treatment two times in a day for about four to six weeks. Antibiotics are used at times, but most antibiotics are not effective in preventing as well as curing whiteheads.
  • There is also the option to consult a dermatologist or skin care specialist and get your whiteheadsextracted by an expert. An instrument called whitehead extractor is used for this purpose.
Source..how to remove that

Concentration Difficulty..symptoms..causes


What is concentration difficulty?

Concentration difficulty is a decreased ability to focus your thoughts on something. Concentration difficulties can be related to difficulty staying awake, impulsiveness, intrusive thoughts or concerns, overactivity, or inattention. They can be caused by medical, cognitive or psychological problems or may be related to sleep disorders or medications, alcohol or drugs.
Medical conditions that are known to cause difficulties with concentration include a variety of chronic illnesses, sleep apnea, heavy metal poisoning, infections, pain syndromes, traumatic brain injury, and stroke. Cognitive problems that can be associated with concentration difficulties include attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, vision disorders, delirium, and dementia. Psychological conditions that can interfere with concentration include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder (alternating periods of depression and elevated mood), emotional trauma, and stress.Concentration difficulties may be long-term, established conditions, as in the case of attention deficit disorder, or they may arise as a result of illness or another event.
Depending upon the cause, concentration difficulties may resolve with appropriate treatment.
Any changes in concentration abilities that do not have a directly identifiable cause or that last more than a day or two should be evaluated by a medical professional without delay. Seek prompt medical carefor new onset, progressive, or worsening difficulties with concentration. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if the symptoms come on suddenly or if they are associated with head trauma, changes in level of consciousness or alertness, the worst headache of your life, high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), loss of sensation, seizures, or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations or delusions.
SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with concentration difficulty?

Concentration difficulties may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Conditions that lead to concentration difficulty may involve several different body systems.... Read More About Concentration Difficultysymptoms
CAUSES

What causes concentration difficulty?

Concentration difficulties can be caused by medical, cognitive or psychological problems or may be related to sleep disorders or medications, alcohol or drugs.... Read More About Concentration Difficultycauses




Source..Local Health
Custom Search

A News Center Of Health News By Information Center

NEWS INFO CENTRE