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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 6 February 2016
NEWS 4 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 6 FEBRUARY 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Chronic stress linked to early onset dementia and depression Chronic stress can lead to several brain changes linked to depression and even Alzheimer's, scientists warn. Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is projected to affect 80 million people in the next 20 years, yet most of its causes remain uncharted territory. Even though there are several triggers, one of its origins facilitating the leap from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to full-blown dementia, holds an alarming percentage. Women who had been through significant stressors in mid-life had a significantly (65 per cent) greater risk of developing dementia later on. Stressful events can trigger a cascade of reactions involving the stress hormones (glucocorticoids) and eventually lead to atrophy in the brain's hippocampus, which is responsible for memories and known to be most affected by Alzheimer's disease. Stress interrupts the normal function of the brain by triggering a cascade of reactions which involve glucocorti- coids (stress hormones), disturbing the entire body. Dr Linda Mah, from the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto, Canada, and her team looked specifically at neural circuits linked to fear and anxiety. The evidence from her research was published in the Current Opinion in Psychiatry journal, suggesting that "chronic stress and anxiety can damage key regions of the brain which deal with emotional responses, thinking and memory". The team studied the ef- fects of stress in three brain regions - the amygdala (associated with emotional responses), the PFC (associated with thinking), and hippocampus (associated with memory). Chronic stress would make the amygdala respond in a see-saw pattern, by becoming over-active whereas the PFC would become under-active. "Pathological anxiety and chronic stress are associated with structural degeneration and impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex (PFC), Chronic stress has been associated with neuropsychiatric disorders such as dementia. which may account for the increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia," lead author Linda Mah said. "Temporary episodes of anxiety, fear and stress - like how we feel before an exam or job interview, for instance Raising awareness for World Cancer Day TANIA SAMARTZA Cancer affects everybody in some way - we all know of a family member or a friend who has gone through some form of cancer. This disease takes the lives of 8.2 million people around the world every year, of which four million die prematurely, being between the ages of 30 to 69 years old. World Cancer Day is a glob- al event that takes place every year on 4 February. With countries all over the world being involved the aim is to get people talking about cancer on a global level, to raise awareness and to educate others on ways to prevent cancer. The theme for 2016 World Cancer Day is ‘We Can. I Can’. Ways in which ‘We Can’ fight cancer is to inspire and take action, create healthy envi- ronments, improve access to cancer care and work together for increased impact. How ‘I Can’ take action against cancer is to speak out, make healthy life choices, understand that early detection can save lives, ask for support and support others. World Cancer Day is the ideal opportunity to spread the word and raise the profile of cancer in people's minds and in the world's media. Show the world that We Can, I Can. Get involved in the fight against cancer. In Victoria alone there are reportedly 84 new diagnoses of cancer per day. The Greek community also feels the effects, with most Greek families being affected first hand, with a family member or friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. The Australian Greek Welfare Society holds Greek- speaking cancer support groups in Brunswick at head office on the second Friday of every month and in Clayton at the community centre on the second Monday of every month. These support groups are held in a safe environment where you can share your experiences, support each other and get information on the different types of services that are available. If you or someone you know may be interested in participating please call AGWS on 93889998. * Tania Samartza is a community health worker at the Australian Greek Welfare Society. For more information on how to get involved in World Cancer Day, please visit www.worldcancerday.org Further information for those affected by cancer is also available at www.cancervic.org.au - are part of normal life. But the scientists point out that when these emotional reactions become chronic they can 'wreak havoc' on immune, metabolic and cardiovascular systems, and cause damage to the brain." However, the researchers believe stress-induced dam- age to the brain may not be completely irreversible. Physical activity, meditation and in some cases antidepressants were found to be effective forms of treatment, boosting cell regeneration in the hippocampus. "Looking to the future, we need to do more work to de- termine whether interventions such as exercise, mindfulness training and cognitive behavioural therapy can not only reduce stress but decrease the risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders," Dr Mah added. For more information go to www.blackdoginstitute.org.au Insomnia a cause of depression Sydney’s Black Dog Institute explores the link between two of Australia’s most common disorders An Australian team of researchers has published a study in Lancet Psychiatry, endorsing sleep therapy as a differential treatment for depression. The team, consisting of researchers from universities in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and the US, studied the link between depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and insomnia. According to the results, four in five people with depression are also thought to have sleep disorders, while two in five insomniacs have undiagnosed depression. Moreover, the team introduced an online insomnia program called SHUTi, which they claim can suppress stress and depression. SHUTi is an automated program developed in the US, which takes people through a six-week regimen in order to address the psychological underpinnings of insomnia, at the cost of $200. Black Dog director Helen Christensen said the SHUTi study tracked more than 500 insomniacs with depression symptoms, but not a major depressive disorder, for six months after they completed SHUTi. "This program had the same level of effects expected of face-to-face treatment," she said. "It's an inexpensive way of inoculating the population at risk. They don't even need to see their GP." The program combines traditional everyday tips to improve the quality of sleep with cognitive behavioural therapy. Ally Nicolopoulos, 29, a PhD psychology candidate, has been suffering from insomnia since childhood. About two years ago, doctors attributed the problem to Ally Nicolopoulos, who has hardly slept for the past month, at the Black Dog Institute in Sydney. PHOTO: RENEE NOWYTARGER. mental illness, after she was diagnosed with depression. "I go through the day, get home and have absolutely no sleep. The next night, perhaps I get an hour because my body shuts down on me. I only sleep when my body decides it's had enough. It's like somebody getting into your brain and ripping it open," Ms Nicolopoulos told The Australian. "SHUTi helped me explain why sleeping tablets had given me little relief. It's making sense to me now. The insomnia is coming from a different source."
30 January 2016
13 February 2016